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Sonny Bill permitted to wear Blues jersey without two sponsors, no change if he wears an All Black shirt

New Zealand Rugby will allow changes to accommodate SBW’s conscientious objection.

Image: Photosport/Joe Allison/INPHO

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS will be ‘accommodated’ by the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Auckland Blues after he taped over sponsors on religious grounds at the weekend.

Williams, who converted to Islam in 2008, has stated a conscientious objection to promoting alcohol, gambling and banks and so taped over the Bank of New Zealand logo on the collar of his jersey.

Today, the NZRU released a statement saying they will allow Williams to play in a Blues jersey without the presence of BNZ or Investec branding.

However, despite being recused from promotional activities for insurance giant AIG, the insurance giant will remain on any All Black jersey worn by Williams. NIB, also primarily associated with insurance, will remain as the main sponsor on his Blues jersey.

“I want to be clear that this is nothing personal against the BNZ or Investec,” the 31-year-old said in a statement today.

“It is important to me to have been granted this exemption. As I learn more, and develop a deeper understanding of my faith I am no longer comfortable doing things I used to do.

Beauden Barrett AIG marketing features prominently in the All Blacks' activities. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“So while a logo on a jersey might seem like a small thing to some people, it is important to me that I do the right thing with regards to my faith and hope that people respect that.”

Rugby general manager at NZR Neil Sorensen underlined that conscientious objections need to be genuine for the union to accommodate, and thanked the sponsors involved for their understanding in the case of the multi-sport phenomenon of Williams.

charl The sponsored Super Rugby logo, as modelled by Charlie Faumuina. Source: INPHO

NZR’s acceptance of Williams’ request does not extend to the presence of sponsors within the Super Rugby logo.

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Sean Farrell

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