Australian court bans Williams from playing rugby in Franc

An Australian court on Friday blocked rugby league back rower Sonny Bill Williams from switching codes to play for French Rugby Union club Toulon.

The New South Wales Supreme Court granted an injunction to the Canterbury Bulldogs team against their former star after he walked out on a five-year contract and flew to France nearly two weeks ago.

The ruling, which came just 12 hours ahead of New Zealand-born Williams’ debut with Toulon, means he will be in contempt of court if he plays in Friday’s friendly.

“The evidence before the court satisfies that the first defendant (Williams) has failed to attend to his contractual responsibilities,” Judge Robert Austin said at the hearing at which Williams was not represented.

“There is evidence he has entered into a contract with the second defendant (Toulon) … and intends to play in a rugby match this evening.”

The judge noted the jurisdictional difficulties in the case as Williams has said he intends to remain in France, but said the Bulldogs and the National Rugby League (NRL) had proven Williams could be successfully sued for damages in Australia if the player breaches the order.

“My conclusion is that the making of an interlocutory interim injunction will not be futile,” the judge said.

The NRL has sought direct intervention from European rugby authorities –as well as the Australian justice system — to force Williams to return to the NRL.

Sapa-AFP –

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