Here's hoping the hypocrisy surrounding the St Kentigern College rugby saga dies swiftly because any impending boycott action is a pretty slippery pathway to any preconceived notions of taking a moral high ground.

Frankly the demeanour of the 10 high schools in trying to ostracise the Auckland powerhouses' 1st XV teams from the 1A competition in the Big Smoke next year is appalling. It smacks of insincerity all the way through the dimly-lit corridors of the secondary institutions of education to the principals' offices.

Regrettably they have found an ally in Sport New Zealand head honcho Peter Miskimmin who advocates the need for mob-rule mentality to disenfranchise others on a misguided sense of elitism.

In saluting the Terrible 10, Miskimmin says Sport NZ "stands with the principals" who signed a letter pertaining to rules regarding poaching and welfare.


At the crux of the matter is the collective's disenchantment with the way St Kents go about enticing elite athletes to their fold, supposedly after losing to St Peter's College in the dying minutes of the final last year.

Reportedly their voracious drive, including a move to put their feelers outside of Auckland, comes with the promise of full scholarships to established 1st XV players.

The mob has deemed St Kents' "predatorial" appetite morally and ethically reprehensible.

Napier Boys' High School principal Matthew Bertram has waded into the debate, labelling St Kents' approach "brazen" as his school comes to terms with the disappointment of losing its 1st XV halfback to the Auckland private school next year.

It's a little rich for some to cry foul when neighbouring schools in a region — public, private or integrated — have helplessly watched pivotal players cross the floor for countless reasons, least of all to belong to sporting powerhouses.

I know because a decade ago my younger daughter was a thriving teenage cricketer. The "recruitment" here started at primary school.

Formally, and informally, schools offered her scholarships to attend with the promise of one-to-one cricket coaching and cash carrots. For females, it was to counter Hastings Girls' High School which didn't rate sport as an incentive in those days.

As parents we also faced the dilemma of doing what we thought was best for her. It was easy because we knew she was talented enough to progress in sport so HGHS was a no-brainer due to its academic excellence under the then highly acclaimed principal, Geraldine Travers, now a Hastings district councillor.


On graduating from high school, the overtures started coming from universities around the country with myriad scholarships but our resolve remained steadfast on education first.

Has our 22-year-old daughter, who at the age of 13 caught flights to receive random coaching from the likes of Gary Stead and Shane Bond at Lincoln, near Christchurch, underachieved as a cricketer even though she went on to play against England women in a warm-up game?

The jury's out on that but the fact remains we always had the choice of knowing what was available to talented teenagers.

It's fashionable now to champion female values but I vividly recall how I had fought lonely battles with primary, intermediate and secondary schools to convince them to co-opt adept cricketing girls into boys' teams with mixed success to Hawke's Bay male rep teams.

In the Bay alone, I have come across countless pupils who have switched to "elite" schools, including NBHS, in the hope of improving their lot either academically and/or through sports. Therein lies the hypocrisy of supporting any mob-rule agenda.

King's College, another independent fee-paying school, has succumbed to pressure in signing a letter pertaining to rules regarding poaching and welfare. Photo / Photosport
King's College, another independent fee-paying school, has succumbed to pressure in signing a letter pertaining to rules regarding poaching and welfare. Photo / Photosport

For Auckland rugby school principals to form a clique to try to coerce so-called "powerhouses" into toeing their line is tantamount to orchestrated bullying.

St Kents' refusal to sign the letter is commendable but King's College, another independent fee-paying school, has succumbed to pressure, albeit refusing to boycott matches against the former.

What is New Zealand Rugby's stance on this farce?

It has no jurisdiction, I hear. How convenient.

It's easy to stretch the hypocrisy syndrome to clubs, national provincial rugby and even the All Blacks.

In justifying rebellious behaviour and ignoring past indiscretions from schools taking the moral high ground now, Miskimmin says: "They are trying to preserve the integrity of sport, the integrity of the competition. They are acting in the best interests of their pupils."

What rubbish. Aren't St Kents and King's College doing that as well?

The reality is schools in this era are entities in their own right and are doing what they have to to remain viable. Is it unethical to do the same in academic pursuits?

If what Miskimmin advocates has any substance then one would expect Sport NZ to stand with the rest of the country in Mitre 10 Championship and Super Rugby franchises to ensure the likes of Canterbury and their hybrid baby, the Crusaders, don't go around poaching talent from other catchment areas, akin to Auckland in the yesteryear.

Ask any ardent rugby follower and they'll tell you the All Blacks are strong when New Zealand unashamedly boasts a robust and uncompromising provincial region and equally bolshy franchise.

Why is it then that high schools baulk at the idea of powerhouse schools?

And, no, don't play the "professionalism" card because "private schools" are no different to cash-laden Super Rugby franchises stripping lesser catchment areas of talent or signing imports.

Jump off the emotional rollercoaster and it becomes soberingly clear the laissez-faire policy makes perfect sense. The pedigree pathway is brutal but college rugby is the nursery of future All Blacks.

At a global level, Northern Hemisphere nations have stopped whingeing about the ABs to lure players from the Pacific Islands to help eventually chalk up wins.

To adopt the disgruntled principals' way is anything but responsible, fair and transparent, as Miskimmin will have you believe. It's forcing accelerant pupils back into the mainstream to make the rest of the classroom feel good about themselves.

If anything, the Terrible 10 are instilling mediocrity in young minds.

Hey, if you can't succeed then simply cause a division within the ranks.

Whatever happened to the values of learning from the success of others on the way to devising a better game plan?