All Blacks rugby player Sonny Bill Williams did not go home empty handed after all. He graciously placed his medal round the neck of a 15-year-old fan who was tackled to the ground by a security member when he tried to race to the pitch to join the jubilant team after their World Cup win.
When Charlie Lines' parents later offered to return the medal saying that it was the right thing to do, Williams insisted that the boy keep the medal. He was duly rewarded. The former New Zealand national heavyweight boxing champion was handed a replacement medal by All Blacks captain Richie McCaw at the World Rugby Awards in London on Sunday (1 November).
Inviting Williams to the stage to collect his medal, the master of ceremonies said: "World Rugby would like every winner to go home with a medal and they have found the final one." Williams received a standing ovation when he went on stage to collect the medal.
Explaining his decision to give his medal away to Lines, he said: "I know he'll appreciate it and when he gets older he'll be telling his kids - that's more special than it just hanging on a wall. Better for it to be hanging around his neck than mine. I'm sure he'll remember it for a while. His mum was pretty happy. He had an All Blacks jersey on so he might be a future All Black."
In his Instagram, Williams wrote: "Only takes one thing to change someone's life. Enjoy it Charlie bro." The boy had raced onto the pitch to celebrate the All Blacks' victory after they completed their lap of honour when they beat Australia 34-17 in the World Cup in Twickenham. He was however tackled to the group by a security member.
Williams however picked up Lines and allowed him to join in the celebrations with the other All Blacks players before placing the hard earned medal over his neck.
"He got smoked by the security guard, like full-on tackled. It was pretty sad. He's just a young fella obviously caught up in the moment. If that was a younger brother or cousin, I would have given the security guard a hiding.
"But I just picked the kid up and took him back to his old lady and tried to make the night more memorable for him," Williams added. The player came on as a second half replacement and his offload set up Ma'a Nonu to score the second of New Zealand's three tries during the final.