Sonny Wool (2008–2020) was a sheep from the North Island of New Zealand.[1][2] Born in Dannevirke circa 2008,[3] he was named after All Black Sonny Bill Williams. He became famous after his feeding behaviour was used to correctly predict the winner of each of the New Zealand national rugby union team's matches at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. His role at the 2011 Rugby World Cup was compared to that of Paul the Octopus at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[4]

Sonny Wool's owner was Beverley Dowling.[5] His agent was Dan Boyd, who also designed the sheep's prediction process. The prediction process was designed so that Sonny Wool was presented with two boxes containing feed in the form of hay, each box marked on the outside with the flag of a national rugby union team in a forthcoming match. His choice of which hay to eat first was interpreted as indicating his prediction of a win for the country whose flag was on that box. Selections by the sheep were correct in all of New Zealand's matches in the 2011 Rugby World Cup,[6] though predictions for the other three quarter-finals turned out to be incorrect.

Sonny Wool had his own website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. He was reported to be under 24-hour security watch after receiving death threats.[7]


According to Dan Boyd, as a lamb, Sonny Wool predicted when it was going to rain. His manager described him as "a bit socially inept" who prefers the company of humans and has "got a few fetishes for things – one is light at night and he really likes rugby balls".[8]


2011 Rugby World Cup

Teams Stage Date Prediction Result Outcome
New Zealand  vs  Tonga Pool stage 9 September New Zealand[9] 41–10 Correct
New Zealand  vs  Japan Pool stage 16 September New Zealand[9] 83–7 Correct
New Zealand  vs  France Pool stage 24 September New Zealand[10] 37–17 Correct
New Zealand  vs  Canada Pool stage 2 October New Zealand[11] 79–15 Correct
Ireland  vs  Wales Quarter-finals 8 October Ireland[12] 10–22 Incorrect
England  vs  France Quarter-finals 8 October England[12] 12–19 Incorrect
South Africa  vs  Australia Quarter-finals 9 October South Africa[12] 9–11 Incorrect
New Zealand  vs  Argentina Quarter-finals 9 October New Zealand[13] 33–10 Correct
New Zealand  vs  Australia Semi-finals 16 October New Zealand[14] 20–6 Correct
New Zealand  vs  France Final 23 October New Zealand[15] 8–7 Correct

See also


  1. ^ "'Sonny Wool', the soothsaying sheep, takes predictable role at Rugby World Cup". The Australian. AFP. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  2. ^ Mitchell, Paul (2020-11-04). "Sonny Wool, 'New Zealand's psychic sheep' of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, dies". Stuff. Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  3. ^ Psychic sheep tips All Blacks – wool they win?, ABC News, 9 September 2011
  4. ^ Meet Sonny Wool; match-predicting sheep genius and Rugby World Cup 2011's answer to Paul the Octopus, Fox Sports, 9 September 2011.
  5. ^ Westbrook, Laura (5 October 2011). "Sonny Wool's a black sheep in the playoffs". Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  6. ^ It’s 4 from 4, Now do or die QF time for Sonny Wool!,, 3 October 2011.
  7. ^ Sonny Wool receives Death Threats,, 13 October 2011.
  8. ^ Rugby World Cup 2011: psychic sheep Sonny Wool meets Sonny Bill Williams and backs All Blacks to beat Canada, by Giles Mole, The Telegraph, 27 Sep 2011.
  9. ^ a b Sonny Wool picks Kiwis to beat Japan, Herald Sun, 16 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Sonny Wool says no merci". The Dominion Post. 23 September 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  11. ^ Migone, Paloma (27 September 2011). "Fans flock: When Sonny Wool met Sonny Bill". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  12. ^ a b c Rugby World Cup 2011: Sonny Wool the psychic sheep predicts England to beat France in quarter-finals, by Giles Mole, The Telegraph, 5 October 2011.
  13. ^ Move over Paul, here's Sonny Wool, by Brenden Nel,, 5 October 2011.
  14. ^ Westbrook, Laura (14 October 2011). "Not-so-pyschic Sonny Wool picks ABs". Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  15. ^ "Sonny Wool baaacks black for final". 21 October 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.