Poaching must stop

No honour in ‘winning titles with a cheque book’.

No honour in ‘winning titles with a cheque book’.

File picture

St Kentigern College is unlikely to gain sympathy from Super 8 rugby schools, including Gisborne Boys’ High, after 10 Auckland schools announced a playing boycott of St Kentigern because of the scale of player “poaching”.

The private Auckland school signed five prominent players on scholarships from Rotorua Boys’ High School, Napier Boys’ High School, Whangarei Boys’ High School, Massey High School and St John’s College of Hamilton.

“The poaching of players needs to stop and the Auckland schools should be commended for taking a stand,’’ said former Gisborne Boys’ High School first 15 coach Tom Cairns. “It always seems to me to be a shame that schools who poach cannot develop their own talent,” he said.

“I don’t think there is a lot of honour in winning titles with a cheque book. It doesn’t really say much about the real spirit and values of a school.”

The schools in the Super 8 competition — Tauranga Boys’ College, Rotorua Boys’ High, Palmerston North Boys’ High, New Plymouth Boys’ High School, Napier Boys’ High, Hastings Boys’ High, Hamilton Boys’ High and GBHS — were deciding how to react to the St Kentigern issue.

“It is fair to say that historically we have been unified in our condemnation of poaching,’ said Mr Cairns, who is director of rugby and a deputy principal at Gisborne Boys’ High.

“This has long been an issue with some independent/private schools, particularly where players are being targeted later in their school lives.

“The past five or six years, in particular, have seen these schools grow massively elite teams, often nothing like their traditional makeup, which obviously makes it hard for other schools to compete.

“We fit into the category of schools who have been fighting the good fight at the top level but are finding it hard to stay on an even footing.

Schools feel St Kents has gone too far

“The sad thing for the students who leave and go to these schools is that they are often diminishing, not enhancing, their opportunities to be selected at higher levels of the game.

“It tightens the circle of talent within the school’s rugby framework at a national level.

“Students who compete in the Super 8 actually get better access and opportunity than guys who play in the Auckland competition.”

The 10 other schools who play in the Auckland 1A championship announced the boycott after writing three times to St Kentigern, but deeming their replies to be unsatisfactory.

There are no official rules regarding how many students can be introduced from outside of Auckland, but the other schools believe St Kentigern had gone too far in poaching top-line players who were already playing for their own first 15s.

The 10 schools have proposed extending the current rules to apply nationwide so that 1A schools cannot field more than two players in their team who played for another first 15 anywhere in New Zealand.

Mr Cairns said amendments to rules generally aligned with the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council rules for competitions.

That would be discussed in meetings such as for the Super 8.

Napier Boys’ High principal Matthew Bertram said what St Kents had been doing was “brazen” and unprecedented and the Super 8 schools he was chairman of supported the move.

Napier, who made the top four national final his year, have lost their halfback to St Kents.

Head of St Kentigern College David Hodge told The New Zealand Herald that his school did not poach “because we don’t need to’’.

“It’s quite clear that the reason that so many boys and their families want to come to St Kentigern is because of the quality of the education that they get here.”

New Zealand Herald rugby writer Gregor Paul said poaching had long existed in schoolboy rugby but St Kentigern had crossed the line.

“This is targeted, deliberate almost cynical behaviour by an institution that is supposed to be in the business of instilling within young men and women a value system and code of ethics that allow them to be good people.

“These students have been offered full scholarships for one reason only — to strengthen the St Kents First XV.”

Sport New Zealand boss Peter Miskimmin praised the principals of the 10 schools boycotting matches against St Kentigern College for taking a “leadership stand”.

The issue, he said, “was the development of kids versus winning at all costs”.

St Kentigern College is unlikely to gain sympathy from Super 8 rugby schools, including Gisborne Boys’ High, after 10 Auckland schools announced a playing boycott of St Kentigern because of the scale of player “poaching”.

The private Auckland school signed five prominent players on scholarships from Rotorua Boys’ High School, Napier Boys’ High School, Whangarei Boys’ High School, Massey High School and St John’s College of Hamilton.

“The poaching of players needs to stop and the Auckland schools should be commended for taking a stand,’’ said former Gisborne Boys’ High School first 15 coach Tom Cairns. “It always seems to me to be a shame that schools who poach cannot develop their own talent,” he said.

“I don’t think there is a lot of honour in winning titles with a cheque book. It doesn’t really say much about the real spirit and values of a school.”

The schools in the Super 8 competition — Tauranga Boys’ College, Rotorua Boys’ High, Palmerston North Boys’ High, New Plymouth Boys’ High School, Napier Boys’ High, Hastings Boys’ High, Hamilton Boys’ High and GBHS — were deciding how to react to the St Kentigern issue.

“It is fair to say that historically we have been unified in our condemnation of poaching,’ said Mr Cairns, who is director of rugby and a deputy principal at Gisborne Boys’ High.

“This has long been an issue with some independent/private schools, particularly where players are being targeted later in their school lives.

“The past five or six years, in particular, have seen these schools grow massively elite teams, often nothing like their traditional makeup, which obviously makes it hard for other schools to compete.

“We fit into the category of schools who have been fighting the good fight at the top level but are finding it hard to stay on an even footing.

Schools feel St Kents has gone too far

“The sad thing for the students who leave and go to these schools is that they are often diminishing, not enhancing, their opportunities to be selected at higher levels of the game.

“It tightens the circle of talent within the school’s rugby framework at a national level.

“Students who compete in the Super 8 actually get better access and opportunity than guys who play in the Auckland competition.”

The 10 other schools who play in the Auckland 1A championship announced the boycott after writing three times to St Kentigern, but deeming their replies to be unsatisfactory.

There are no official rules regarding how many students can be introduced from outside of Auckland, but the other schools believe St Kentigern had gone too far in poaching top-line players who were already playing for their own first 15s.

The 10 schools have proposed extending the current rules to apply nationwide so that 1A schools cannot field more than two players in their team who played for another first 15 anywhere in New Zealand.

Mr Cairns said amendments to rules generally aligned with the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council rules for competitions.

That would be discussed in meetings such as for the Super 8.

Napier Boys’ High principal Matthew Bertram said what St Kents had been doing was “brazen” and unprecedented and the Super 8 schools he was chairman of supported the move.

Napier, who made the top four national final his year, have lost their halfback to St Kents.

Head of St Kentigern College David Hodge told The New Zealand Herald that his school did not poach “because we don’t need to’’.

“It’s quite clear that the reason that so many boys and their families want to come to St Kentigern is because of the quality of the education that they get here.”

New Zealand Herald rugby writer Gregor Paul said poaching had long existed in schoolboy rugby but St Kentigern had crossed the line.

“This is targeted, deliberate almost cynical behaviour by an institution that is supposed to be in the business of instilling within young men and women a value system and code of ethics that allow them to be good people.

“These students have been offered full scholarships for one reason only — to strengthen the St Kents First XV.”

Sport New Zealand boss Peter Miskimmin praised the principals of the 10 schools boycotting matches against St Kentigern College for taking a “leadership stand”.

The issue, he said, “was the development of kids versus winning at all costs”.

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