Ali Williams' fate following cocaine charges hangs on the benevolence - or otherwise - of France's state prosecutor.

The World Cup-winning former All Black faces a tense wait as the French legal systems weighs how it will treat Williams and former Wallaby star James O'Connor.

The two ex-rugby internationals have been charged by French police after being arrested for cocaine possession in Paris at the weekend.

Williams has been charged with buying the drug, while O'Connor faces charges of possession. The pair were reportedly arrested outside a nightclub near the Arc de Triomphe, in central Paris.

French correspondent Catherine Field told Newstalk ZB's Rachel Smalley that the case is now with the state prosecutor who will decide whether to make an example of Williams and O'Connor.


"[The prosecutor] will now decide whether this will be a case that will be fast-tracked through the courts - because it was such a small amount and for personal use - or whether it will be a larger court appearance - simply because both Williams and O'Connor are public names here in France, and are seen as role models for lots of people," said Field.

"French law does not make any distinction between the different types of drugs. As far as French law is concerned, it's just as bad, whether you have got cannabis, cocaine or heroin.

"It doesn't distinguish, either, between personal use or trafficking. The only place that comes into play is when the sentence is handed down."

After being taken away by police, Williams and O'Connor were drug tested and, while Williams' results reportedly came back negative, O'Connor was allegedly found to have cocaine in his system.

Williams, a key figure in the 2011 World Cup-winning All Blacks, is based Paris after coming out of retirement to play for Racing 92 this season.