Australian Rugby irate over ‘international piracy’

Australian rugby league authorities took legal action Monday to try and prevent the defection of the code’s best player to French rugby union club Toulon.

Sonny Bill Williams, the Sydney Bulldogs star and New Zealand international, fled Australia for France at the weekend despite having four years remaining on his five-year contract.

The 22-year-old glamour boy didn’t tell his club, his mates or the National Rugby League (NRL) that administers the game.

NRL boss David Gallop excoriated Toulon for “international piracy” and pledged that Williams would never play professional rugby league in Australia again unless he returned to the Bulldogs in Sydney.

“Ultimately, if these proceedings were to reach the end conclusion and he was to ignore them, then he’s facing criminal charges,” Gallop said. “He’s liable to criminal charges which can involve arrest, can involve seizure of his assets in Australia.”

Williams is the third player in a month to forsake Australia for a lucrative rugby union contract in France. The game’s other big star, St George Illawara captain Mark Gasnier, also walked out from a Sydney club. More are rumoured to be negotiating with French clubs.

Retired Newcastle captain Matthew Johns, regarded as the best ever rugby league player, sounded the death knell for the game in Australia.

Not only are players defecting but spectator numbers are down and some clubs are in dire financial straits.

“I’ve never seen the game so vulnerable,” said Johns, who retired last year.

The irony is that the defection of league stars comes a decade after league happily poached top players from rugby union.

And Gallop didn’t complain when stars like Johns spent the southern hemisphere summer playing for English rugby league clubs.

Sapa-dpa –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.