26 Mar 2019

Auckland rugby schools meet 'amicably' to restrict player poaching

5:20 pm on 26 March 2019

Schools participating in the city's premier rugby competition have agreed on a new set of conditions ahead of the 2019 season.

The Saint Kentigern College rugby team

The Saint Kentigern College rugby team Photo: PhotoSport

In an independent review panel decision released yesterday, Saint Kentigern College said it would stand down some of its new-to-school first-fifteen rugby stars for at least six games in the secondary schools first XV 1A tournament, after being chided for recruiting out-of-town players.

In a statement, College Sport Auckland (CSA) said the 10 schools, along with St Kentigern, met "amicably" this morning to sign a new set of conditions restricting player movements between first XV rugby teams nationwide.

Myles Hogarty is the principal of De La Salle in South Auckland and the spokesperson for 10 other schools in the 1A competition that were threatening to boycott games against St Kentigern in the upcoming season.

Mr Hogarty said schools would now not refuse to play against St Kentigern College's first XV.

Schools in the Auckland 1A competition are no longer able to offer partial or full academic scholarships to players in other first XV sides nationwide and will have to stand down any players that transfer to their school for the first six games of the tournament, including potential semi-final and final games.

As part of the eight new conditions, CSA detailed any form of "player recruitment or inducement to attract a student from another school's first XV rugby team" will not be permitted in the competition.

It said a student transferring schools with the potential to join the new institution's first XV programme within two years of enrolling had to be documented.

The behaviour of the St Kentigern College's management staff has been brought into question, with one condition underlining their position as "role models" to the players, and another reminding them to act "in the spirit of schoolboy sport" when communicating with other teams' management, as well as before and after games.

Alongside the conditions restricting player movements, a set of principles for the competition were established - ensuring both the players' best interests and the "true value of schoolboy sport" were upheld.

CSA review panel chair Tim Castle told RNZ other schools were not immune from allegations similar to those made against St Kentigern College.

"There has been a growing concern about teams being stacked with good players to the disadvantage of the competition."

Mr Castle said targeted player recruiting in secondary school rugby teams had to stop.

"Enough is enough."

CSA and the schools involved declined interview requests.

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