Published on NZ Herald
St Kentigern College has reacted to the decision to exclude them from Auckland’s top First XV rugby competition – by launching a stunning counter-attack against rival schools.
The Herald revealed today St Kents have been effectively kicked out of next year’s 1A First XV competition after a coalition of rival schools agreed to boycott the school because of their recruitment policy, which they deem to be morally and ethically reprehensible.
St Kents revealed a few weeks ago that they have taken on five boys on full scholarships, all of whom played for first XVs at schools outside the Auckland area.
Although there are no rules regarding how many students can be introduced from outside of Auckland, other schools felt this was a step too far.
As a result, 10 schools in the 1A competition where St Kents play are refusing to play the school in next year’s competition.
The Auckland schools have since created a document about rules and conduct they’ve all had to agree to regarding poaching and welfare.
St Kents refused to sign it, and therefore were informed no other school will honour their fixture against them in 2019.
The Herald understands St Kents have requested College Sport Auckland, the governing body of secondary schools sport, to investigate the recruitment of “several other schools” in the competition.
“A school has asked me to investigate that’s all I can say on the matter,” Jim Lonergan, chief executive of College Sport Auckland, told the Herald.
The Herald understands Kings College were also in the firing line for boycotts but have agreed to enact changes to their rugby programme.
Last year, King’s College won a partial victory in a legal fight to allow new female students to play for its elite sports teams, a saga that cost College Sport more than $100,000.
King’s College objected to a rule drawn up by College Sport designed to prevent wealthy schools stacking their top sports teams with talent poached from other colleges and encourage fair competition between teams in premier sport.
King’s lodged High Court proceedings against College Sport in November of 2016 after the body removed exemptions allowing King’s to bypass the “New to School” rule a month earlier.
Prominent lawyer Mai Chen wrote a letter to College Sport in September 2016 suggesting the proposed removal of King’s exemption may be in breach of the Bill of Rights Act.
After a series of mediation meetings, a compromise was reached, which saw girls who enrol at King’s in Year 11 considered new to school for one year instead of the usual two.
Girls new to King’s had been exempt to the restrictions because the school has admitted girls only in Years 12 and 13 since 1980.
But after King’s decided to allow Year 11 girls to enrol last year, their exemption was scrapped by College Sport.