A top Auckland secondary school principal has slammed the idea of an elitist breakaway first XV rugby competition as "white versus brown" and "rich versus poor".
St Peter's College head Kieran Fouhy yesterday revealed that he had been invited to two meetings organised by a group of principals to discuss sporting excellence.
Mr Fouhy said he declined to go.
"I don't believe in who's at the table and who's not at the table. It's not right. It didn't smell right. I don't believe in dividing the playground up. I can't see the point of the club."
It is understood the meetings, held at Westlake Boys' High School and Auckland Grammar School, discussed super league-style rugby and football competitions separate from the existing championships run by ASB College Sport and the Auckland Secondary Schools Heads Association.
The schools involved are Auckland Grammar, King's College, St Kentigern College, Westlake Boys, Sacred Heart College, Mt Albert Grammar and Kelston Boys' High School.
All are high-decile schools except Kelston Boys, a decile 4 school who are the current Top 4 Tournament national rugby champions.
Mr Fouhy said it was somewhat silly not to include top rugby schools, such as De La Salle and Wesley College, both low-decile South Auckland schools.
He said his school, which has a decile 8 rating, would play all schools.
"It goes against fair play, really. Sport is about community and we want to build community with all schools - not with [just] some schools.
"I'm quite clear ... if we play a South Auckland school, a North Shore school, any central school, we will play them hard. It's not because they are rich or poor, white or brown, but it's because that is the school that has got there by merit."
Yesterday a letter signed by the principals of the seven schools was sent to the Herald in response to an article in yesterday's newspaper.
"Principals of schools regularly meet informally to discuss issues of mutual interest and to exchange ideas," it said. "The meetings held recently were convened to discuss sporting excellence and indeed sport for all in our schools."
It called suggestions of racism insulting and offensive.
"Our aim is simply to raise the bar in secondary school sport and our discussions were also about how we can ensure New Zealand continues to be at the very top of school sport globally."
Wesley College principal Ian Faulkner, whose school narrowly lost to Kelston in August, said when asked how he felt about an elitist competition: "I understood that's what the Auckland 1A competition was."
It was important for his school to be able to play against the best, but only in a sanctioned competition and not a renegade one, he said.
St Paul's College principal, Mark Rice, said he would wait to hear all the facts, but his initial reaction to the idea was: "No."
Elite or not
* Auckland Grammar, decile 10
* King's College, decile 10
* St Kentigern College, decile 10
* Westlake Boys' High, decile 9
* Sacred Heart College, decile 8
* Mt Albert Grammar, decile 7
* Kelston Boys, decile 4
* De La Salle College, decile 2
* Otahuhu College, decile 1
* Aorere College, decile 2
* Wesley College, decile 2
* St Paul's College, decile 3
* St Peter's College, decile 8.