A principal who lost one of his 1st XV players to St Kentigern College says "a bad underbelly of secondary school sport" has been exposed.

The perennial national championship private school contender has been shunned from Auckland's top competition after being the only one of 11 schools who refused to sign a document about rules and conduct regarding player poaching and welfare.

St Kentigern revealed a few weeks ago that they had taken on five boys on full scholarships, all of whom played for first XVs at schools outside the Auckland area.

[Read more: St Kents kicked out of top rugby competition as rivals promise boycott]


Although there are no rules regarding how many students can be introduced from outside of Auckland, other schools felt St Kents' recruitment drive was a step too far, with the school also having recruited players in past years from opposing Auckland schools.

Massey College principal Glen Denham had seen that firsthand and labelled St Kentigern's conduct as "farcical".

"The biggest thing for me is the student who left us and went to St Kents, we loved him. The rugby was just the cherry; the cake was him and his education," Denham told NewstalkZB.

"Our teachers worked hard on him for three years, academically he'd really done well, and now St Kents are reaping the benefits not only from the academic stuff we've done with him but also sporting-wise.

"We just don't get to see that fruit blossom, and that's the saddest thing for us."

Dejected St Kents players. Photo / Photosport
Dejected St Kents players. Photo / Photosport

The Herald revealed yesterday that 10 schools formed a coalition and agreed to boycott matches against St Kentigern because of their recruitment policy, which they deem to be morally and ethically reprehensible.

Denham said they don't have the funding and resources to compete with what top schools can offer players.

He's hoping this fiasco exposes the practice of poaching that's happening throughout high schools.


"I'm glad that St Kents have been held to account," Denham said.

"It's about the spirit of the game. When you're bringing in players from other first XVs to bolster your first XV, it's just farcical."

[Read more: St Kentigern College head claims rugby programme endorsed by NZ Rugby]

Rotorua Boys High School principal Chris Grinter shared a similar sentiment with Newshub, revealing St Kentigern had poached one of their most promising players.

"We're upset that one of our young talents, that has been coming through the school for the last four years, has been offered an inducement to go to St Kents," he said.

"I don't think it's sour grapes - it's about a level playing field and fair competition for all schools.

"It has happened for years, but this targeted recruitment is taking it to another level and that is where the reaction has come from.