A Havelock North Intermediate 1st XV rugby team has decided to play on with a girl in their team at a school rugby tournament, and forfeit their points as a result.
Briar Hales, 11, had previously pulled out of her team after the disapproval of five opposition school principals who were against her playing with the boys.
"Points don't matter to them," said proud dad Dean Hales on Thursday, as he told Hawke's Bay Today the team would play on in the face of what has become an ever-growing storm.
Briar was the only girl in her school's 1st XV rugby team, and was told that competing with her team would lead to forfeiture of points for the team.
Briar's father Dean, who is assistant coach of the team, said her team had decided to back her.
"They are going to play with her, for them she is part of the team, and that's all that matters to the boys. They want to have fun and that's what the game should be about.
"She already plays Hawke's Bay touch with a lot of these boys so they could not understand why it was a big deal.
"When the decision was made to not let her play the boys were horrified. They were pretty upset. They just couldn't understand why she was not allowed to play.
"If teams don't want to play with her then they will just look stupid, but I am sure they will play.
"Girls and boys should be able to play together."
The team played together on Thursday in their annual 'Jarrod Cunningham Cup' fixture against Heretaunga Intermediate. They lost 51 - 0.
Havelock North Intermediate principal Julia Beaumont said on Wednesday the school was supportive of girls playing rugby and playing in the First XV if they are selected by the coaching team.
She said it was important to question when situations seemed unfair, and also important for students to learn the processes by which to have their voices heard.
"In this instance with the rugby game next week, we support the voices of the rugby players and their parents in how they choose to participate.
"The decision has been made that the team will play with Briar and forfeit the points."
The sports competition, in which Hales is now participating, is played between six Hawke's Bay Intermediate Schools - Havelock North, Hastings, Heretaunga, Napier, Tamatea and Taradale.
It is called Super Six and played throughout the year where the schools compete for a shield at each of the sports – the shield winner is the school with the most wins on the tournament day.
Heretaunga Intermediate School principal Michael Sisam said the Super Six was intended to promote maximum participation.
"Girls play sevens, boys play fifteens," Sisam said.
"The current structures state that girls play in girls' tournaments and boys play in the boys' tournaments."
Taradale Intermediate principal Rex Wilson said the "structure" was there for a reason and would not be changed when the competition was already under way.
"The structure of the competition was organised not for any individual student, but the majority.
"It is a gender-based structure to enable maximum participation especially from girls.
"We have found [in the past] if it is a mixed-gender, boys will dominate.
"The rules of the competition were established last year and it is up to the integrity of the people participating to maintain them."
Sisam said the schools were not opposed to making changes, but not until 2020.
"Any change is subject to advanced discussion and agreement across all intermediates.
"The sports committee does not want to jeopardise the current team structures as this may disrupt the ability of some of the teams to play."