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St Kent's shocking u-turn in player poaching row

Author
Gregor Paul, NZ Herald,
Section
Sport,
Publish Date
Monday, 17 December 2018, 5:16p.m.
St Kentigern College was effectively kicked out of next year's 1A First XV competition for excessive poaching. (Photo / Getty)
St Kentigern College was effectively kicked out of next year's 1A First XV competition for excessive poaching. (Photo / Getty)

St Kentigern College has confirmed to its parental community and former pupil network that it needs to review its policy on sports scholarships and change the culture of its First XV.

In a letter to parents, head of St Kentigern David Hodge and chair of the board Dr. John Kernohan say, "some re-balancing is required in our approach to our First XV programme".

The letter also suggests the decision to review the school's sporting culture has been driven by negative feedback from fee-paying parents.

Hodge and Kernohan wrote: "We share the concern passed on by a number of you that the issues raised are important and our priority is to ensure our values are firmly embedded in our sports programme, just as they are in the rest of our activities.

"The trust board and senior management will make any changes that are needed to achieve this goal."

The prestigious school was informed two weeks ago that it has effectively been kicked out of next year's 1A First XV competition for excessive poaching.

St Kentigern admitted they had offered five elite players from outside the Auckland region full scholarships to bolster their First XV in 2019.

The move was within the rules set by College Sport but the other schools in the 1A competition felt it was unethical to recruit five boys, all of whom had played First XV for other schools in 2018.

St Kentigern refused to agree to sign a guiding principles document collaboratively created by the other schools in the competition setting out expectations around recruitment quotas.

As a result, they were informed that 10 of the schools in the 1A would next year boycott playing St Kents.

After the Herald broke the story that St Kents were effectively being kicked out, there has been a deluge of media commentary that has obviously not pleased the school's wider community.

St Kentigern would now appear to be ready to change both its long-term strategy towards scholarships and recruitment, while also looking to engage with the 1A schools to see if a compromise solution can be found so they can gain re-entry to the 2019 competition.

"We have been talking with many of you and know that you share our wish to see the current matters resolved quickly and amicably in the interests of good relationships across all schools and school sports generally," the letter states.

"We are disappointed at the way this matter has evolved, as most commentators seem to agree this is a broader issue in college sports.

"We had scheduled a review of our sports programme as a high priority for early 2019. Recent events have accelerated this review and we have committed to the following steps:

"Early in 2019, we will form a working group from our Community to consult with parents, students, staff and Old Collegians to prepare recommendations for changes to the sports programme to both address the issues that have been raised and ensure they do not recur in the future.

"We will review our approach to sports scholarships at the First XV level and more generally.

"In November we appointed Mr Richard Stead as the new director of sport. Mr Stead will be closely involved with this review and has our full support in moving forward with its recommendations.

"In relation to the current matter we are committed to finding a solution with the other Auckland schools and look forward to working towards this with the Independent Judicial Panel that has been set up by College Sport Auckland.

"What we want to see is that our boys get to enjoy playing rugby with their peers and that all schools have clear rules and transparency for future seasons."

 

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