Gavin Hastings, the Scottish commentator in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup, said on Maori television, as we watched Sonny Bill Williams stripping off his shirt for all the world to see:
“Oh no – He’s taking it off. The girls are going to go nuts over this.” And of course they did. We all did: Even the commentators were amused. Then the 60,000 spectators at Auckland’s Eden Park, plus the whole world, watched the redressing of the rugby star by the All-Black doctor Deborah Robinson, who came on to the field to put a new, unripped shirt onto Sonny Bill’s second five eighth multi-million dollar torso. And what a torso: Michaelangelo’s David will be eating his heart out, back in Italy. Sonny Bill’s picture featured on the front page of our New Zealand Sunday Herald the following day, 11th Sepember 2011, and again, the same photo appeared front page on the Tuesday paper following the Saturday match, with the caption “How To Get A Body Like THIS >>>>>>>”. Page three gave the exercise programme to follow, should you wish to make a vain attempt to emulate Sonny Boy and his Greek-God-like physique.
Sonny Bill’s image, and his stripping stunt, is hot all over the world on the internet. He has ‘gone viral’. “He’s ripped all right”, reads the heading on the article in the New Zealand Sunday Herald, September 11 2011. As an All-Black with a perfect body, you couldn’t dream up a better publicity stunt if you tried. He was hot before, but he is just the hottest thing now.
Adidas are sending the ripped All Black rugby shirt back to China, to analyze what it was that made the shirt rip. It is probable that there was no defect with the shirt, though. And I doubt very much that Sonny Bill might have cut a wee nick in the shirt sleeve just prior to the game. These shirts come under the same huge stresses and tensions as the rugby players themselves, during a game of rugby – and if one sleeve is grabbed, held on to and pulled by the moving force of a weighty rugby man in action, what can you expect? The stitching will give eventually, and the shirt will rip.
Sonny Bill Williams has said that the shirt will go up for sale and that the proceeds will go towards a charity which he has supported for many years -In his own words, he has supported this charity ‘since I was a young man’, he said. How old is he? – 27? – Out of the mouth of babes. He is still a young man by my own reckoning.