London - World Rugby has released a statement expressing its surprise at the decision to allow New Zealand centre Sonny Bill Williams to face Australia.
Williams had his independent hearing result confirmed on Thursday, which decided that his four-week suspension would include New Zealand's “match” against Counties Manukau and Taranaki on August 11.
The All Blacks will play 40 minutes against each team, and the panel decided that it constitutes an official match and counts towards his ban.
This has allowed Williams to take on Australia on Saturday, August 19.
It led to a response from World Rugby, who stated: "While World Rugby respects the decision of the independent appeal committee to uphold the appeal by New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams against the matches that counted towards his four-week suspension, it is surprised by the committee’s interpretation of the definition of "match" (which is defined in Regulation 1 as "a game in which two teams compete against each other").
"With the appeal process having been exhausted, World Rugby will refer the interpretation of the regulation to the Regulations Committee when it meets in September to examine the findings in the context of the game’s regulations to ensure universal clarity and compliance with the meaning of the regulation moving forward."