Breathe a heavy sigh of relief, New Zealand. Sonny Bill Williams will be available to play in the first Bledisloe Cup test after all. Clearly the rugby gods have smiled upon our beleaguered rugby nation.

When is a rugby match not a rugby match? It sounds like the start to a terrible joke told at a stuffy dinner party but that has been a big point of contention in the code over the past couple of weeks.

Of course your regular rugby viewer would think, "well it's a competitive match of meaningful consequence between two teams". But sorry bud, it's not quite that simple.

A contest involving three teams playing each other for 40 minutes is also a match now. In the ever-changing environment of sport, what constitutes a game is now blurred.


You have to hand it to Steve Hansen and the brains trust at New Zealand Rugby though. They're like the defence lawyer who convinced a jury that an armed robbery was just a prank.

This is a great thing for the New Zealand rugby fan base. We've finally got a break. After only having four of our five Super Rugby sides qualify for the playoffs we deserved a let-off.

Add that to the drawn test series against the British and Irish Lions and the Crusaders having to play away from the dour AMI Stadium for the final and it's been a tough few weeks for little old New Zealand.

And Hansen, boy he must be finally getting some rest after a few sleepless nights. Now he doesn't have to begrudgingly give the second-five slot to someone not named Sonny Bill.

The real losers in this situation are Counties Manukau. Not only does Sonny Bill miss a vital pre-season fixture, their fans don't get to see him play in the pivotal "game of three halves" match.

All satire aside, this whole suspension thing is a farce. Sonny Bill shouldn't be available for the opening Rugby Championship match... or the one after... and the one after that.

A suspension should count towards games either at the level where the offence took place or any above it.

So if a Super Rugby player was suspended for six games it would include the next half-dozen Super and international fixtures.

This ordeal is a bad look for World Rugby. They've blown up what constitutes a game of rugby and no one can feel confident in World Rugby's processes.

Sonny Bill should have been on the park when the Blues capitulated against the Sunwolves. He should play in the "game of three halves" as it is essentially a glorified training run.

World Rugby needs to have an emergency meeting. Until these loopholes are taken out of play, this kind of thing will keep happening.

And it isn't Sonny Bill's or the All Blacks' faults. Sonny Bill's reputation will take a hit unfairly because of who he is. New Zealand Rugby looks bad because they fought an already lenient ruling. World Rugby - well they look inept.

People can say all they like about the "biased Australian panel" who gave him four games in the showers but really you can't complain. If anything New Zealanders should be grateful.

Sonny Bill recklessly contacted the head with his shoulder and he should be serving a longer suspension.

But it seems World Rugby were the ones dazed and confused after the hit, not Lions winger Anthony Watson.