Schools' anti-poaching rule lands stars in limbo

By Martha McKenzie-Minifie

More high school sports stars have been sidelined under a new "anti-poaching" rule, raising fears it is being used as a punishment.

Nine students who moved to Mt Albert Grammar this year were still waiting on their former schools yesterday to respond to a plea to allow them to play top-level college sport for their new school.

Headmaster Dale Burden said the case of New Zealand under-19 touch representative Lara Diamond-Brahne, 16, reported in the Weekend Herald, was to go before a commissioner now her former school, Auckland Girls Grammar, had decided against releasing her.

It is understood a case in East Auckland involving a netball player is in the early stages of mediation. Under new rules introduced at the end of last year, students who move schools can't play top-level inter-school competition for 12 months unless their old school gives permission.

The College Sport bylaw is designed to combat the poaching of high school sports stars - in the past lured to new schools by scholarships and other enticements.

It was argued that the resources of schools in poor areas were being plundered by colleges that could afford to.

The rule change had overwhelming support when it was passed at the special Auckland secondary school heads meeting in November.

Papatoetoe High School principal Peter Gall said premier-level competition had improved since a four-game stand-down was introduced about eight years ago.

He expected it to improve even more now the penalty has been increased.

"We had people who had great sporting success enticed away to others and I think any state school would say the same."

Mr Burden was adamant Lara was not lured to bolster Mt Albert Grammar School's sporting prowess. He feared that students who moved schools genuinely were missing out.

MAGS won the top-level Auckland secondary schools soccer, netball and rugby competitions last year.

"We don't need to go out and poach - they come knocking on the door," said Mr Burden.

He said talented athletes moving to Mt Albert Grammar had to sign affidavits to show they were not poached.

While he supported the rule when it was voted in, he now fears it could be used by schools to punish students who shift.

- NZ Herald

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