Sonny Bill Williams continues to take the world by storm at the Rugby World Cup, but this time it is his softer side instead of his silky skills that is attracting all the attention.
The All Blacks centre lit up social media after New Zealand’s 20-18 semi-final win against South Africa when he walked up to a devastated Springbok Jesse Kriel and offered him his hand and sympathies.
Kriel was sitting hunched over near the goal posts when Williams wandered over to commiserate after the titanic battle between the teams ended in a narrow loss for the 2007 champions.
Photographs show the dual international shaking Kriel’s hand, embracing him and then helping him to his feet as rain poured down at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday evening.
— Good Things Guy (@GoodThingsGuy) October 25, 2015
“He’s had a magnificent year, a magnificent tournament. I just said, ‘nothing but respect bro, you’ve had a massive tournament and I’m sure you will be around for years to come’,” Williams said after the match.
“It was 20-18. It could have gone either way. We could have been sitting on the ground there knowing that four years of hard work was over.”
“You can’t really console them, you can’t say things to make them happy, but you just have to say it could have been us.”
Fans took to social media to voice their admiration for the show of sportsmanship – one of many between players from rival nations at this year’s World Cup.
But Williams, a dual international and sometime boxer, has impressed throughout the tournament. On Friday he offered tickets to the semi-final to a victim of the Syrian refugee crisis.
“Any agency in London with a Syrian refugee that wants 2go to the game 2mrw I have two tickets to give you. Let me know.” he posted on Twitter.
Any agency in London with a Syrian refugee that wants 2go to the game 2mrw I have two tickets to give you. Let me know
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) October 23, 2015
Williams, a Muslim, has clearly been moved by the events happening in the Middle East and Europe and no doubt hopes that his offer may give some relief to a refugee from the country.
Williams’ offer received numerous messages applauding him for his generosity, including a message from Australian professional boxer, Billy Dib, who tweeted: “my brother you got a heart of Gold. May Allah reward you.”
It is not known if anyone picked up on the gesture.