Sonny Bill Williams did not even send a representative the court and if he takes the field tonight if expected; it’s widely believed SBW will not be able to return to Australia – as he would most likely be arrested for contempt of court upon arrival.
The court was satisfied Williams and Toulon received the legal papers requesting him to appear in court, after receiving confirmation that they were served to the player after they were thrown over a fence at the Toulon training ground and then handed to Williams.
NRL chief executive David Gallop welcomed the news and said the findings of Justice Austin highlighted the importance of a contract.
â€œThere have been numerous attempts to distract the game from the fundamental issue, which is that a contract is a binding commitment on the part of both the player and the club,â€ Gallop said.
â€œIt protects both parties and places responsibilities on both parties. The issuing of a NSW Supreme Court order in respect of those responsibilities should provide a stark reminder to Sonny Bill of the importance of him observing the terms of his contract.
“It is a very serious matter for such an order to be granted and anyone who breaks an order of the NSW Supreme Court would face contempt proceedings from that court.â€
The NRL and the Bulldogs could face months of legal wrangling in France in their attempt to stop Williams playing rugby union there.
International sports law experts say while the French are likely to take the Australian-issued injunction seriously; they will have to be convinced that they should enforce the order on their home soil.
Williams also faces the prospect of being sued if he ignores the injunction and plays with his new Top 14 rugby club Toulon in the south of France in line with the one-year contract he recently signed.
One London-based international sports lawyer, who asked not to be named, said it was possible to have the injunction enforced based on a series of complex global treaties.
However it is unlikely to be a speedy process, with the French courts possibly even wanting to retry the case before making a decision.
“The rules relating to that are really complicated and require a court in France to enforce a judgment in Sydney will have to go through loads of hoops to make sure that works,” the lawyer told AAP.
“The Australians will find it quite difficult to get an injunction and stop him playing in France this weekend.
“It’s complicated and will be quite difficult to do.”
The Australian-based legal firm Gadens Lawyers also believes there is a chance the French courts could reject the injunction.
“The French courts may take the view that enforcing the injunction would be against French public policy as it prevents a person from carrying on their trade,” the firm said in an overview of the case published on its website.
Before the NSW Supreme Court ruling, Williams’ new club was playing down the effect any injunction would have on their new star recruit.
“His contract is not contestable,” Nicolas Pironneau, the club’s talent scout who helped lure Williams to the south of France, told local newspaper Var-Matin.
“He is as free to play rugby and at RCT (Rugby Club Toulon) as he is to come from football or pole vaulting.”
But Williams does face the prospect of being sued if he ignores the injunction and returns to Australia at any time in the future.
“My instinct is if he flouts the injunction and sets foot in Australia he will probably be a wanted man and sought for contempt of court for ignoring the judgment,” another sports lawyer said.