NZSRU calls for independent review of eligbility issues in Top 4 Competition

An independent investigation has been commissioned by the New Zealand Schools Rugby Union to look into matters raised by a recent eligibility issue involving Rotorua Boys High School.

The New Zealand Schools Rugby Union (NZRU) has issued a statement outlining a review of the policies and processes governing school boy eligibility which will be led by Former head of the Lotteries Commission Peter Dale.

According to the NZRU the investigation is the result of a breach of the rules in a Top 4 play-off match in August.

It says on the 28th of August in a match between New Plymouth Boys High School 1ST XV (NPBHS) and Rotorua Boys High School 1st XV (RBHS), two players were included on a signed team sheet for RBHS who were not eligible to play in the Top 4 competition.

NPBHS lodged a complaint with the NZSRU which prompted an investigation into the matter.

The NZSRU says, "the two ineligible players had previously been at RBHS but had left for a gap year before returning this year and rejoining the school. Under new eligibility rules applying this year they should have been counted as new students. Schools can only include six students new to the school in their squads for any given game. RBHS had eight in their squad for the game in question.”

NZSRU Chairman Garry Chronican adds that the investigation determined a genuine breach of the “new player to school” rules and it had occurred because the school had not been aware of the new rules.

Chronican says,“there is no evidence that this was anything other than a genuine mistake. The eligibility rules are there for good reason to prevent schools stacking their teams with new players and undermining the integrity of the competition.

“However, in this case we accept that RBHS actions were not deliberate and we allowed the team to continue in the Top 4 competition.”

He says RBHS continued on to win the competition and other matches according to the eligibility rules and no more than 6 “new to school” players took part in the finals.

Last week RBHS was relegated to last place in the Super 8 Competition which is a different tournament to the Top 4 and sanctioned by different bodies.

At the time Head coach of Rotorua Boys’ High First XV, Ngarimu Simpkins, told Te Kāea, he was confident the Super 8  ruling would not affect the national Top 4 title they currently hold.

The NZSRU believes the issue has raised questions about the robustness of its policies and procedures in this area and Peter Dale would be looking into the breach focusing on determining how the eligibility breach arose and making recommendations to avoid it happening again.

The review is expected to be completed in October.