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A rugby coach at an exclusive Auckland high school has been suspended for poaching a player from a poorer South Auckland school.

The suspension is part of a move by sport bosses to act on long-running concerns about the practice among secondary schools.

St Kentigern College 1st XV coach Tai Lavea - brother of former Auckland Blues star Tasesa Lavea - has been banned from any match day involvement with the team, after being found guilty of breaching tough recruitment bylaws to poach a player from Papatoetoe's Aorere College.

He is forbidden to act as coach, assistant coach, manager, video analyst or trainer with the 1st XV.

The move comes amid growing concern, and tougher rules, about rich schools raiding the talent of poorer areas.

St Kentigern is a decile 10 school; Aorere College has a decile rating of two.

"The protection of home-grown talent is every school's right," said ASB College Sport chief executive Manoj Daji.

"A winning-at-all-costs attitude at school and between schools is not what it should be about. The end result of this approach is a small number of super sport schools catering for a diminished minority."

Lavea is not banned from being a spectator - but if he is found to have had any contact with the team, it will lose any points won.

He is permitted to coach the team midweek, and can continue his coaching and developmental roles as the school's rugby manager.

The ban was originally imposed until August, but it is understood this has been cut on appeal to June.

St Kentigern College head Steve Cole said last night the decision was disappointing. "The coach did not, and did not intend to, actively coerce the student to follow him to his new employment at St Kentigern College.

"He did not have a reckless disregard for the [Auckland Secondary School Heads Association] bylaws, nor did he set out to deliberately flout them."

The case involving Lavea - a former Aorere College sports director - arose after Aorere asked Mr Daji to investigate an alleged breach involving a student's transfer to St Kentigern on a sports scholarship.

After an extensive investigation, Mr Daji ruled in Aorere's favour - a decision that St Kentigern unsuccessfully appealed against.

In his ruling, Mr Daji said the by-laws governing recruitment were explicit, and Lavea should not have been communicating withthe student, guardian or principal about the transfer.

Mr Daji said school principals were aware of the rules.

"In this matter I have been mindful of the implications of this transfer on student and coach. In the case of the student, he has not been prevented from playing rugby.

"Allowing such breaches to go unchecked has the potential to undermine the even playing field."

The student is still attending St Kentigern, as a boarder, and is still a member of the 1st XV, said the school's communications manager, Jane Kneale.

She said Lavea was a "very valued" member of staff.

Mr Cole said Lavea was "devastated by the sanctions ... but is greatly relieved at the significant reduction of his match-day suspension following the appeal".

Former All Black Buck Shelford said schools should be focused on doing their jobs and not poaching better players.

"They're creating schools like super clubs and like Super 14 franchises and that's their way of getting noticed, I suppose."

In an early communication with schools under the College Sport banner, Mr Daji cited the Melbourne Storm controversy.

"The latest storm across the Tasman provides secondary school sport in New Zealand with a timely reminder of the damage done to competitions," said Mr Daji.

The rules govern much of the sport for thousands of students a week from the 100 member schools in the Auckland region.

In 2008, two Auckland schools - Northcote College and Mt Albert Grammar - had three coaches sanctioned over unfair recruitment of players in basketball, rugby and netball.

- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: VAIMOANA TAPALEAO