All Black Codie Taylor joins us in the studio ahead of his game against Fiji this weekend. Video / NZ Herald
There’s been yet another twist in the long-running Auckland 1st XV poaching saga, with King’s College headmaster Simon Lamb writing to parents over a radical threat to have his school banned from all sports.
The boy at the center of an eligibility row will not be selected for the King’s College First XV rugby team, avoiding a potential boycott of the school’s sports programme.
King’s principal Simon Lamb notified other principals of the 1A rugby schools, and parents of students via a newsletter, that the school would be abiding by the recently instituted code of conduct governing the prestigious schoolboy competition.
This follows the Herald’s report on Thursday that the schools have threatened to blacklist King’s College if they select a promising young player who switched from Auckland Grammar earlier this year.
“As you will be aware, the College has been subject to unfortunate media attention overnight,” Lamb wrote to parents. “I would like to take this opportunity to clarify to you, as members of the King’s community, a College priority is to create and encourage opportunities for teams to participate in sporting codes and we do not intend to break the rules, including the 1A Rugby Code of Practice.”
The imbroglio occurred after the player switched from Auckland Grammar School 1st XV to King’s College in term one this year, triggering the two-year stand-down clause in the code.
This stand-down was agreed on after what one source described as “aggressive” recruiting by King’s late last year, which saw players taken from the ranks of fellow 1A schools De La Salle College and St Peter’s College.
It is understood the boy in question, who the Herald will not name, was not part of this recruitment drive and switched of his own volition.
His parents have engaged a leading QC to challenge the stand-down rules, believing it impinges on their child’s basic rights.
The Herald contacted the boy’s father, a former international sportsman, who emphasised their boy was not poached and was a full fee-paying pupil at the school, before saying the family would be making no further comment.
The 1A code of conduct differs from College Sport – the entity that governs school sport in Auckland – bylaws that state a player switching schools must stand down for half a season.
The family want the College Sport rules to apply in this case.
The QC’s letter – sent to the principals of the 11 other 1A schools on June 29 via Lamb states that: “In summary, my view is that [name withheld] eligibility is governed by the College Sport bylaws meaning that, if selected, he can play for King’s in the second half of the 1A competition including semifinals and finals (assuming he has by then played 50 per cent of the season for the 2nd XV).
“The seemingly more restrictive set of arrangements set out in a document signed by the 1A principals earlier this year do not apply to him.
“[Name withheld] understands the stand down under the regular bylaws cannot be avoided, but for the reasons in this letter I seek confirmation he will be eligible to play for Kings 1A from 4 July 2021 as well as the semifinals and finals (if selected and in other respects meets requirements in College Sport bylaws).”
The 11 1A principals, however, are resolute in their belief the player should be subject to a two-year stand down and not able to play for King’s against Liston College this Saturday.
They have made this feedback known to King’s and the QC and argued that the code of conduct is not a legally binding document and has never been presented as such or purported to be.
Without being legally binding its only way to remain effective is for the signatories to take whatever action they feel necessary. The Herald was told the principals are prepared to default all fixtures against King’s for the remainder of this year and also refuse to play them at any sport as a means to give the code the bite they feel it needs.
King’s College currently lead the 1A competition with five matches remaining.
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