Top seven schools in elite sport meeting

By Terry Maddaford

Seven of Auckland's biggest and most successful sporting schools are understood to be secretly discussing breakaway "elitist" super-league competitions for rugby and soccer.

The schools' principals, or their representatives, met on Friday at Auckland Grammar School to discuss a number of sporting-related matters.

It is understood the schools involved were Auckland Grammar, Mt Albert Grammar, Kings College, Westlake Boys' High, Kelston Boys' High, Sacred Heart and St Kentigern College.

Some schools, not at that meeting, are concerned there are moves afoot to plan for new competitions which would threaten the long-running and successful Auckland 1A rugby and premier soccer championships.

Manoj Daji, chief executive of ASB College Sport, said he was aware of the meeting and its implications.

Speaking on behalf of College Sport and the Auckland Secondary Schools Heads Association's (ASSHA) chairman Byron Bentley, Mr Daji said: "We are extremely disappointed about the actions of seven member schools in considering such an option without consulting us as the governing body - their actions in holding secret clandestine meetings is unethical and unhelpful and in our view is definitely not in the wider and best interests of secondary school sport."

Mr Daji said the proposed breakaway competition was elitist and a kneejerk reaction to regulations that have been put in place to protect the even playing field and stop poaching of students.

"We would expect the full support of regional sporting organisations like the Auckland Rugby Union, and we have the support of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council, in not supporting such a competition as it has the potential to destroy the sporting programmes in a number of ASSHA schools and competitions."

Those at the meeting downplayed talk of a breakaway league.

Auckland Grammar School headmaster John Morris said he had made his school available for the meeting as it was a central meeting point but made it clear it was "not my meeting".

The meeting was called to look at the organisation of some competitions Mr Morris said. "The group talked about a number of issues involving sport in general. I think we can improve the organisation of sport across the board."

Mt Albert Grammar School headmaster Dale Burden said:

"The focus was on how we can maintain sporting excellence. There was no one school, no one person or no one idea behind it. It was simply a kindred group getting together to talk about how we can improve sport across the board.

"To make these suggestions, someone has gone off on a tangent."

Auckland Rugby Union chief executive Andy Dalton said he would be "very disappointed" if a breakaway happened.

"Arguably, the Auckland secondary school competition is the best in the world," said Mr Dalton. "It is very exciting. Before saying any more, I will be making some inquiries."

- NZ Herald

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