Should cross code conduct be considered in mitigation in rugby disciplinary cases? The Sonny Bill Williams decision

Published 17 August 2017 By: Graham Gilbert

Rugby player being tackled

As the dust has now settled on the British & Irish Lions’ Tour of New Zealand – the trophy split, the combined team picture taken, the long flight home done – it seems as good a time as any to reflect on a point that was widely regarded as hugely significant in the series: the sending of All Black Centre Sonny Bill Williams in the second test. Much ink has already been spilt considering the ramifications of this on the pitch, both during the match and in the next, less on considering the judicial process around it.

The Judicial Committee met on the evening of the 2 July and concluded[1] that Williams should be suspended for 4 weeks (the reasons for the decision were not published until the 26 July). However, it is open for discussion as to whether that could, or indeed should, have been longer.


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Graham Gilbert

Graham Gilbert

Graham is a barrister at 3PB. Having gained a wealth of knowledge in other areas, Graham has most recently begun accepting instructions in sports law matters and has a keen interest in regulatory and disciplinary aspects of the area, both domestically and internationally. He regularly prosecutes in prohibited substance matters for the British Horseracing Authority, as well as assisting with other disciplinary matters on the Authority's behalf.

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