Susan Hassall, head of Hamilton Boys' High School.
Rugby players from a top school have been caught
shoplifting at a world championship in Japan.
Hamilton Boys' High School's victory at the Sanix World Rugby
Youth Tournament has been clouded by the incident.
The school boasts an outstanding sporting pedigree and the
Fukuoka tournament this month was an unofficial global
Sources claim two to eight members of the school's first XV
were involved in the theft of clothing from a Japanese mall
during a two-hour bus stop on the way to a function.
The incident was reportedly captured on closed-circuit
television, and mall officials alerted the team coach, Nigel
Hotham. Hotham is understood to have immediately isolated the
players involved and had the stolen goods returned to the
store. Players from another overseas school were also
No charges were laid over the incident but the Herald on
Sunday understands the players involved were stood down from
the team, a situation which may be ongoing.
When asked if up to eight students had been involved, the
school's head, Susan Hassall, speaking from China, said the
number had been "exaggerated significantly".
"An incident did occur with another school as well as a
couple of boys from our school while our team was in Japan. A
couple of our boys were involved and other boys knew about
it. Those boys were dealt with immediately by Nigel [Hotham]
and it was resolved quickly.
"My version is it's not a story any more. They got swept up
in something they shouldn't have.
"The numbers are being exaggerated to make it into a story."
When asked what punishment those involved received, Hassall
responded: "If you're not prepared to divulge your source
then we're not prepared to discuss details of the
consequences, but I can say they are significant. All
instances of theft whether in New Zealand or overseas are
dealt with significantly seriously.
"It's not a difficult issue. It's not an issue at all. It's
being dealt with in the normal way. It didn't impact on the
excitement of the trip. The boys still did superbly well to
win over there. We've moved on.
"These boys did something wrong while overseas representing
our country. However, the huge majority of the team didn't do
anything wrong. We have to put that in perspective. It
doesn't blight the record of the whole team."
Hassall refuted claims a full assembly normally reserved to
celebrate such occasions was scaled back: "An assembly was
held and we had the same celebration we'd normally have."
The school clinched the world youth crown, beating South
Africa's Paarl High School 15-11 in the final. It was the
third time in five years they'd won the tournament.