Sonny Bill Williams is not the first conscientious objector within New Zealand sport - and probably won't be the last.

The circumstances are different but by making his stand against the bankers of the world, SBW is simply joining a list of other prominent Kiwi athletes who have taken similar stances.

And the names include two other household rugby names including former captain Graham Mourie and Michael Jones.

Internationally, there have also been some big name conscientious objectors.


Mourie, who played 61 matches for the All Blacks including 57 as captain, famously made himself unavailable for the Springboks' controversial tour of New Zealand in 1981.

He returned as captain later that year when the All Blacks toured Romania and France.
Jones' test career was affected by his strong Christian beliefs.

The majestic flanker's refusal to play rugby on Sundays resulted in him missing three games in the 1991 World Cup and he was left out of the All Blacks squad four years later for the tournament in South Africa as he would have been unavailable for the quarter and semi-finals.

Once asked how he reconciled his religious beliefs with rugby, Jones replied by quoting the Bible - it is better to give than receive.

Prior to Mourie and Jones, conscientious objectors within sport were rare.
Sports events were obviously affected or restricted, often by the sporting body itself, during the first two World Wars.

In the first World War, many athletes who weren't keen on going to battle invoked conscientious objector status.

But in 1916, the New Zealand government introduced military conscription and adopted a hard-line attitude against any sportsmen who were unwilling to serve.

And after the war ended two years later, the New Zealand Returned Soldier's Association (RSA) requested that regional and national sports bodies ban known conscientious objectors and military defaulters from all sporting competitions.

It was largely a symbolic stand and there is little evidence of any athletes actually being removed from sporting competition.

But not all followed the wishes of the RSA.

Some were concerned that pressure was being put on sporting administrators to fulfil a role that was the responsibility of the government.

Militant trade unionists also took exception to punishing people who had had the courage to stand by their convictions.