Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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Very occasionally, things happen in sport that transcend it. Moments that are about more than skill, teamwork, iron will or ultra-competitiveness. Moments that stand apart from the excitement, the fans’ emotions, and the whole unscripted (and often unscriptable) drama that great sport can offer.
Such a moment happened on Saturday after the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham, UK, won by the All Blacks of New Zealand over Australia by 34 points to 17. Great sport it certainly was, a thrilling match played by two wonderful teams in a worthy culmination to this supreme global celebration of rugby.
But what happened just after the match topped everything for me. Star All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams made headlines around the world when he handed a 14-year-old fan, Charlie Lines, his World Cup winners’ medal after the youngster was brought down roughly by a security guard at Twickenham (in quite possibly the best English tackle of the tournament). The same Sonny Bill Williams who had gently consoled his opposite number, Jesse Kriel, after the Springboks’ painfully narrow 18-20 loss to the All Blacks in the semi-final. The same Sonny Bill Williams who had tweeted before the weekend’s final: “Any agency in London with a Syrian refugee that wants to go to the game tomorrow I have two tickets to give you. Let me know.”
Watch the video below. I challenge you not to be touched by what you see. There is no showboating in Williams’ concern for the boy’s welfare, no grandstanding in the grand gesture of planting the coveted medal around the delighted youngster’s neck. Watch Charlie’s face light up, his smile wider than Twickenham Stadium.
A beautiful moment after a game, so often brutal and unforgiving, had also been rendered beautiful by Sonny Bill and his comrades in black.
[The same Sonny Bill Williams consoling young South African centre Jesse Kriel, after the latter’s team lost by 18 points to 20 in a nail-biting semi-final]