News of Sonny Bill Williams' successful appeal has simply provided more fuel for his critics and those of the World Rugby judicial process.

The All Blacks midfielder will be available for the opening Bledisloe Cup match against Australia on August 19, after an independent appeal committee ruled the All Blacks' "game-of-three-halves" hit-out against Counties Manukau and Taranaki could count towards a four-game suspension received during the British & Irish Lions series.

Williams was shown a red card during the second test in Wellington, when he tackled Lions winger Anthony Watson with a high shoulder charge.

World Rugby has released a statement expressing surprise at the ruling, others using online forums have been less restrained in their reactions.


"Shocking decision," said one reader, responding to a story in the Daily Mail. "Rugby is becoming a joke and will soon end up like Football."

"This is way bigger than coming back early for a game," insisted another, citing the head injuries suffered by victims of dangerous tackles.

"This is a disgraceful decision. If SBW had any class, he'd sit himself out for six months. I fear for the future of rugby."

There's also a fair smattering of fans suggesting the All Blacks enjoy favoured treatment from the game's international judiciary process.