There must have been tears in 200 million eyes.
Unless you’ve a heart of stone you’ll have felt your lip go a bit when Sonny Bill Williams gave his medal to the young fan who was tackled to the ground by a steward as he ran onto the pitch to celebrate with the All-Blacks’ 34-17 win over Australia in the rugby World Cup final.
Fair play to Williams for such a wonderfully selfless and generous act but I know I won’t be the only one to feel the class and code warrior in me stir just a little. Turns out the lad is 14-year-old Charlie Line, a boarder at the £11,550 a term Millfield School in Somerset.
Not that any of that is his doing, he’s just a kid and the world is a slightly better place today for the warmth and feel-good the incident created on TV screens around the globe. The reaction of the rugby authorities in later giving Williams a replacement medal is quality too.
But isn’t there a bit of us that cringes at such reckless generosity? Giving medals away in the immediate euphoria of victory may seem like a good idea at the time but it might not feel so good when his as-yet unborn seven-year-old looks up at Williams and says: ‘Can I show my friends your medals dad?’
Far more importantly, what would have happened to Charlie or any other teenager who ran on the pitch at a football match? Arrest? Court appearance? Life ban from football?
The rugby purists may argue that that’s the difference between the two sports and the two sets of followers. The oval ball code is a more dignified and respectful game with discipline among players and fans at a sufficiently high level to allow an incident such as young Charlie’s to be dealt with in a generous and spontaneous way - that was a decent tackle by the security guard mind you.
Would such uncontainable joy be seen in the same light had Charlie Smith, Wilson or Walker from High Green run on the pitch at Wembley?
I don’t mean to come on all Daily Mail about it but Charlie could have been anyone - thug, terrorist, psychopath.
Luckily for Williams, the victorious All Blacks and the watching world he was just a posh kid overcome by enthusiasm.