College Sport: Southern Cross escape ban for over age player

By Campbell Burnes

Southern Cross Campus have escaped a ban for fielding an over-age player at last December's Condors Sevens. Photo / Dean Purcell
Southern Cross Campus have escaped a ban for fielding an over-age player at last December's Condors Sevens. Photo / Dean Purcell

Southern Cross Campus have escaped a ban for fielding an over-age player at last December's Condors Sevens.

The girl in question, whom the Herald has chosen not to name, helped Southern Cross to the semifinals of the Condors girls' under-15s section. She was 16.

Tournament director Phil Gaze says he was not made aware of the infraction until late in the afternoon, so no action was taken, but it was referred to the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council.

NZSSSC executive director Garry Carnachan says although Southern Cross breached the rules, there was "no deliberate attempt" to deceive.

"We have dealt with the principal, who has accepted full responsibility and assures me that their processes are changing so that it doesn't happen again," said Carnachan. "The coach has received a formal written warning. There were some mitigating circumstances around it which, as far as we are concerned, didn't warrant banning the coach."

Southern Cross principal Robin Staples said: "There was a staff illness and there was some confusion at the time as to who was with the team. But that's no excuse. Our processes were not good enough. We have taken the matter seriously. Clearly we had a coach who made a mistake and the girl was withdrawn at the finals stage.

"I'm keen that we are a fair-play school."

But Tangaroa College sports co-ordinator Kirk Jennings is disappointed at the light sanction against Southern Cross, saying he alerted administrators at several lead-up tournaments, in which the girl played, that she was over-age. Neither Staples nor Carnachan were aware of this.

Jennings says it is easy to access the database to verify a player's age and a quick check should have seen her or the school withdrawn. His Tangaroa under-15 girls side lost to Southern Cross at the Condors and Mt Roskill Grammar lost to them in the quarter-finals.

Jennings says there are several schools that could feel aggrieved that nothing was done earlier.

"What would have happened if Southern Cross had won the Condors?" he asked.

Gaze is hopeful there will be no more breaches.

Southern Cross is one of the top Auckland rugby schools for girls. It won the Auckland first XV title last season.

- NZ Herald

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