Happy Birthday, Sonny Bill Williams | People Magazine

Happy Birthday, Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

OPINION on SBW may be torn, but there is one thing that in utterly undeniable – a veritable sonic boom occurs when he breaks a tackle. Sonny Bill is the outright epitome of the modern rugby union player. He has huge pace for a man tipping the scales over 100kg, he is sharp and he possesses finer skills so deft that many a player would later emulate (or at least try) his talent. His presence on a team sheet alone would have many an opponent break out in a nervous sweat, but he is quite the timid fellow. SBW is gifted with great sportsmanship and a good sense of generosity. He is, however, a ferocious defender and is quite possibly responsible for a couple of broken ribs. The game’s greatest offloader turns 32 today and he is likely in the twilight of his career. It would be sad to see the back of him, but let’s enjoy his prowess while we can. Here are a couple of fun facts.

Sonny Bill Williams

  • He was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1985 to John and Lee Williams. He has however dual New Zealand-Samoan citizenship because his father was born in Samoa.
  • He has three siblings – John, Denise and Niall. His sister Niall is a member of the New Zealand women’s rugby sevens team.
  • Both Sonny Bill and Niall represented New Zealand at the Summer Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
  • SBW’s participation in the tournament was sadly curtailed early because of an Achilles injury in his first game.
  • He came from a struggling background and used this as his motivation to excel at sport. He was a gifted sportsman from a young age and participated in track and field, cross country and rugby despite being described as a “small, skinny white kid who was painfully shy”.
  • Coaches had to bump him up a couple of age groups in schoolboy rugby because his “freakish talent” may not be fair to others.
  • He is a centre by nature, but he has oddly played in the lock position as well.

Sonny Bill Williams

  • He is also only the second person to represent New Zealand in both rugby union and rugby league nationally. He has also divided public opinion because of this and has been labelled a ‘code-hopper’.
  • He is also an accomplished professional boxer. He has won all seven of his professional matches; the most notable bout came against South Africa’s Francois ‘The White Buffalo’ Botha. He is set to face fellow rugby player, Australia’s Paul Gallen sometime this year.
  • He made his professional rugby league in 2004 as a 19-year-old for the Canterbury Bulldogs. He would jump ship to the rival union code by representing French club Toulon from 2008-2010 before making his Super Rugby debut in 2011 for the crusaders.
  • He most prominently featured for the Chiefs in Super Rugby from 2012-2016. However, there was a break because he went back to league in 2013-2014 for the Sydney Roosters.
  • As of the 2017 season he represents the Blues in Super Rugby.
  • He made his debut for the All Blacks in 2010 against England after the New Zealand Rugby Union lured him back to the country from France.
  • Sonny Bill Williams
  • Interestingly his contract with the NZRU stipulates that he is allowed to box professionally alongside his rugby career.
  • He is only one of 20 players to be a dual Rugby World Cup winner. He was part of the winning All Blacks teams in 2011 and 2015.
  • He seemingly has career aspirations when he retires from rugby. He is a lover of fine clothing and has expressed a desire to design a range of his own.
  • He is the cousin of fellow New Zealand rugby player and Samoan international, Tim-Nanai-Williams.
  • Sonny Bill married Alana Raffie, a former nightclub dancer, in a secret ceremony in 2013. The couple have two children together.
  • He had a bit of a raucous past, but has since calmed down after he converted to Islam in 2008. Alana has also converted since they have been married. This also makes him the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks.


Robert is a descendant of the stout Macpherson Clan out of the Scottish Highlands and can claim Robert the Bruce as a far-off cousin. He suffers from a severe form of Collectors’ Disease and sports an assortment of small valuable curious. In his spare time he works a full-time job, but his real prowess lies within his musical aptitude as a drummer. He is a semi-amateur of the instrument and although he claims beating a drumhead one of the more primal sensations man can experience, he feels it to be an unnatural exercise to pursue. If he could have his way, he’d have breakfast every meal of the day and is a fan of all things Roald Dahl.

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