Williams allowed to tape play with sponsor logo-less kit
Sonny Bill Williams has been granted permission by New Zealand Rugby and the Blues to have the BNZ and Investec logos removed from his playing and training kits.
Williams taped over the logos on his jersey in his debut match for the Blues against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday. The Highlanders won 26-20.
It was the centre’s first match since rupturing his Achilles tendon at the Rio Olympics in August last year.
His decision to cover up the sponsors’ logos caused quite a bit of controversy, with some people believing he may face a charge of misconduct and even New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticising the master offloader for not being a team player.
However, the NZR and Blues have backed their star man, according to the Mail Online, saying in a joint statement: “New Zealand Rugby and the Blues have accommodated Sonny Bill Williams’ request to have advertising from the BNZ and Investec removed from his Super Rugby playing jersey.”
While the 31-year-old did not disclose his reasons for shunning the sponsors at the time, the two-time World Cup winner has confirmed that it was done on religious grounds.
“I want to be clear that this is nothing personal against the BNZ or Investec,” Williams said.
Williams converted to Islam in 2008 and the Muslim faith forbids financial institutions charging interest and fees on loans.
“My objection to wearing clothing that markets banks, alcohol and gambling companies is central to my religious beliefs and it is important to me to have been granted this exemption,” he added.
“I want to thank the Blues and New Zealand Rugby for working with me through this matter over the last couple of days and respecting my religion and accommodating my request.”