The New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby Union (NZSSRU) will make changes to its procedures relating to the eligibility of players in the wake of issues raised in a Top 4 play-off match in August.
In the match between New Plymouth Boys' High School 1st XV and the Rotorua Boys' High School 1st XV (RBHS) played on 28 August, two players were included on a signed team sheet for RBHS who were not eligible to play in the Top 4 competition.
An independent investigation by Peter Dale made a number of recommendations which have been adopted by NZSSRU for the 2016 season.
1.NZSRU seek the assistance of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council (NZSSSC) to make a comprehensive revision of the rules and regulations for the competition, with a focus on eligibility rules, timely disclosure of relevant documentation, complaints/disputes/non-compliance processes including sanctions available, and clarification of roles and responsibilities.
2.NZSRU develop a Complaints Procedure for schools and NZSRU to follow in the case of a protest or complaint or non-compliance by a participant in an NZSRU competition that involves independent “judicial” personnel.
3.NZSRU consider an Appeals Process for its Disputes Committee decisions.
5.NZSRU should liaise with New Zealand Rugby and Super Rugby Licensees or Provincial Unions to see if more administrative support can be made available for organising the Top 4 championship.
The NZSRU will approach the NZSSSC to encourage the council to adopt recommendations 4 & 6. They are;
4.NZSSSC review its communications processes when changing or clarifying rules.
6.NZSSSC should consider the merits of using the ENROL data system and seek the authority of Ministry of Education to have sole adjudicating use of such data in the matter of eligibility disputes in a sporting context. In this way the NZSSSC [which makes the eligibility rules] can provide an independent sign-off of the accuracy of eligibility information in respect of each match.
NZSSRU Chairman Garry Chronican reiterated that the breach of rules by RBHS was not deliberate and there would be no sanction.
“It’s important that we learn from this incident and put in place robust new rules so there’s no repeat of the issues we have just dealt with. We’re all passionate about the game and we can fully understand the depth of feelings this issue has aroused. We’re confident the new processes we’re putting in place will make the rules easier to understand and apply.”
The NZSSRU has decided that RBHS, as this year’s National 1st XV Championship winner, would now be invited to attend the 2016 Sanix World Rugby Youth Invitational Tournament in April next year.
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