Asi, union at odds over age-grade fees

Hotili Asi
Hotili Asi
A former North Otago player believes using a debt recovery company to get him to cough up for his son’s fees to play representative age-grade rugby is over the top.

Hotili Asi, who played more than 50 games for North Otago and has played for Tonga, said although it was not a lot of money, he was staging a protest against the payment as he was unhappy with the direction the union is taking.

The union, though, has hit back, saying fees have to be paid and everyone was aware of them at the start of the season.

Asi, who was third division player of the year in 2001, was billed $75 by the North Otago Rugby Football Union for his son, George, to play for the North Otago under-12 team.

Asi said it was not a lot of money but he wanted to make a stand against the direction the union had taken over the past few years.

"We are wasting money bringing in players from overseas when there are perfectly good players here. They are wanting money out of our pocket for things that we do not need to be doing," he said.

It was ridiculous that the union was going on overseas tours which were not needed for the game in North Otago.

He said he was unaware he would have to pay the fees when his son signed up for the team.

Asi had one letter asking for the payment at the end of September and then received another letter about a month later, setting a time limit on when it had to be paid.

If the amount was not paid by the middle of next week then the matter would be put in the hands of a debt management company.

Asi said he was unhappy with the threat of using a company to recover the money.  He would be responsible  for paying all the costs of the debt recovery company should it go that far. Asi  would probably pay the amount but just wanted to take a stand and he had some support for what he had done.

The under-12 team played about four or five games. His son simply wanted to get out and play for his province.

North Otago Rugby Football Union chief executive Colin Jackson said the union had sent letters requesting payment and had no replies.  It had asked for the money and had no reply.

Player fees for representative teams had been around for more than a decade.He said the union was in good heart and had good support.

Fees were paid by the majority of  players so had to be paid by all, he said, when asked whether it was heavy-handed  to be using  a debt recovery company.

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