Rotorua Boys High upset with St Kentigern's 'targeted recruitment'

The AM Show 06/12/2018

Rotorua Boys High School principal Chris Grinter is disappointed at the rugby recruiting practices that have seen First XV rivals refusing to play St Kentigern's College next season.

The Pakuranga-based school, which has won three of the last four Auckland First XV titles, has been has been ostracised by 10 other local schools, after it admitted to recruiting young stars from opposition teams.

Other top rugby schools around the country are struggling to retain their players, including Rotorua Boys High, which has a rich rugby history, winning four national championships (1998, 2002, 2003, 2015) and the prestigious World Rugby Youth Invitational Tournament on two occasions.

Grinter, a former NZ Schools Rugby chairman, told The AM Show that one of their top players had also been headhunted by St Kentigern.

He was unaware of the specific details, but understood the scholarship would cover "all costs" for staying up in Auckland.

"I'm speaking on behalf of Rotorua Boys High and we’re upset that one of our young talents, that has been coming through the school for the last four years, has been offered an inducement to go to St Kents," he said.

"I don't think it's sour grapes - it's about a level playing field and fair competition for all schools.

"It has happened for years, but this targeted recruitment is taking it to another level and that is where the reaction has come from.

"History shows our promotion of young men in a rugby context would certainly be the equal of St Kents and our results at national competition are probably superior to St Kents."

Rotorua Boys High School rugby team. Photo: Photosport.

The 21-year-old was in the Auckland Grammar First XV that defeated St Kentigern College in the 2014 Auckland 1A final.

"I've seen it all now, just because they recruit doesn't mean you pull the plug," Ioane wrote on Instagram.

"Don't run from the competition, if you wanna be the best, you beat the best.

"St Kents make first XV competition harder, but it makes it better when you beat them."

He tagged Blues teammates Sam Nock and Dalton Papali'i, as well as Chiefs flyer Etene Nanai-Seturo, in the post. All three played for St Kentigern's First XV.

St Kentigern head David Hodge was adamant his school had not broken any rules.

"College Sport has a clear set of bylaws that regulate the 1A rugby competition," he said. "These bylaws include strict conditions on the recruitment of players.

"St Kentigern College totally respects and accepts these bylaws, and has, at all times, acted in accordance with them.

"We believe the schools involved in this action have acted out of self-interest and completely independently of College Sport.

"They are acting in contempt of the guidelines and bylaws set down by College Sport, both for the competition and in the manner in which any disputes between schools should be handled." 

Watch the full interview with Chris Grinter above.

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