Mike's Minute: Banned players the big losers in rugby 'poaching' politics

Mike Hosking ,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 26 March 2019, 9:08AM


As someone quite rightly pointed out, the big losers in the Auckland rugby 1st XV poaching stoush are the kids. The kids are the innocent victims, the kids just want to play rugby and do well, and that is what drives sports.

Perhaps not so much as it used to, given we appear to live in an age where participation is increasingly trumping competitive spirit.

But the idea of a contest is to win. Saint Kentigern College, a private facility, which I have no doubt in some way played a part in it being the star of this particular show, has agreed to let a bunch of its imports sit out the first half dozen games.

And two players who joined sit out in the semis and finals.

It's those kids who now know before the season has even started, and having just joined the school so they could chase whatever their rugby dream is, that they are the ones who will not be playing later this year.

You can argue it's a handful of kids, so does that matter if the wider good is served? It's a point, not an award-winning one, but if numbers as opposed to individual dreams count, then a few players being put out isn't the end of the world.

But it must be remembered here that St Kents didn't break any rules. There is a rule about the number of players you can recruit from the city, and they didn't break that. And there is no rule over the number of players you can recruit from around the country. So given there are no rules, they can't be broken.

What drove this was upset from other sides, and basically the other sides packed a monumental sad, and were threatening to not play unless it was fixed. So in other words they bullied their way to victory.

Does St Kents recruit? They say no. They say families approach them. I am sure somewhere in the middle lies the real story.

But what we have here is a group of schools trying to defy gravity.

Kids want to win. The better you are, the more you want to win, and you want the best opportunities. Most parents will at least understand the sentiment.

Like it or not, as in life, there is hierarchy. There is a school that excels or specialises, there is a school whose marks are higher, whose pass rate is greater, whose team wins a lot. That is life, and all the other schools have tried to tip the status quo on its head by using the power of numbers to disadvantage a place that was running a successful programme.

In many respects, it's the whole education system in one small example. One size fits all, we should all be treated equal. It's a reasonable theory, just not applicable to the real world.

It's a hard lesson for gifted young athletes to have to suck up, good at rugby, but victims of politics.

Overnight Talk

Overnight Talk

12AM - 5AM