One young rugby fan left Twickenham with the ultimate souvenir after Sonny Bill Williams handed him his winner’s medal.
Williams acted after seeing a security guard rugby tackle the boy, who had run on the pitch during the All Blacks’ lap of honour following their 34-17 Rugby World Cup final victory over Australia.
Williams, who was photographed intervening then handing the dumbfounded youngster his medal, told New Zealand’s One News afterwards: “I was walking around doing a lap of honour with the boys and a young fella came running out and he got smoked by the security guard, like full-on tackled him. I felt sorry for the little fella.
“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.”
Lines’ parents later wanted to return the medal, feeling “it was the right thing to do”, but Williams has insisted he can keep it.
Explaining his decision to give away his medal, he added: “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.”
All Blacks world record points scorer Dan Carter, who is retiring after Saturday’s final, described Williams’ gesture as “priceless” and added: “It just goes to show the kind of guy he is. He’s very giving. I’m not so sure if in the same situation I’d do it.”
He was then presented with a replacement by All Blacks captain Richie McCaw at the World Rugby Awards in London on Sunday.
Williams had earlier came on as a second-half replacement and his offload set up Ma’a Nonu to score the second of three New Zealand tries.