More than a game?

St Kentigern College first XV celebrates winning the 2017 Auckland 1A competition. Photo: Getty...
St Kentigern College first XV celebrates winning the 2017 Auckland 1A competition. Photo: Getty Images
The man who ultimately oversees school rugby in New Zealand says the sport is not out of control and he is confident the stand-off between Auckland schools will be solved.

The state of school rugby and the poaching of players has been thrown into the spotlight after 10 Auckland schools announced they would not play St Kentigern College next year because of concerns over its recruitment policies.    

New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby Council chairman Garry Chronican, of Dunedin, said the issue centred around a change in policy where new-to-school and non-domestic pupils had been reduced to five from six for next year.

The proposal by the council had originally been set at four new-to-school pupils but after consultation a compromise was reached and the limit was set at five.    

New-to-school pupils are those who have enrolled at the school in the previous two years.    

Non-domestic pupils come from overseas, excluding Australia and the Cook Islands, although exemptions can be given to pupils who have a legitimate reason for shifting schools, such as a parent transferring.

The rule stops schools bringing in players when they are in years 12-13 and boosting their team every year.

Chronican was confident the issue in Auckland would be solved as "we don't want to see schools boycotting other schools".

St Kentigern College had been dominant in the Auckland 1A competition of recent years but lost in the semifinal of the competition last season to eventual winner St Peter's College.

St Peter's College was a school that developed its own programme and players. Chronican said schools needed to realise rugby was just part of education.

"We want to promote good rugby development programmes in schools. But schools are about learning and rugby is a small part of the deal."

The sport was not out of control and it was an issue for one school among the 375 high schools in the country.    

Schools wanted a level playing field and were taking a stand over it. "Schools and principals are standing up for what they believe is right."

Swirling around the whole drama is a teenage rugby review carried out by New Zealand Rugby over the past six months.

It has been completed and is sitting with the NZR board. Schools were expected to continue to control teenage rugby but New Zealand Rugby may have more say over governance at this level.

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