Prolific NZ rugby nursery banished from Auckland schools competition

by Sam Phillips

A famous Auckland rugby nursery has been banished from the city's 1A 1st XV schools competition after 10 rival colleges aligned and took a stand against their recruitment drive.

St Kentigern College - the alma mater of current All Blacks captain Kieran Read and legends such as Jerome Kaino and Joe Rokocoko - will not square off against it's fiercest rivals in 2019 after the remarkable boycott was revealed by The New Zealand Herald.

The school admitted to recruiting five elite players from rival 1st XVs on full scholarships to enhance their premiership chances in 2019.

King's College - another elite Auckland rugby nursery - was also put on notice, according to the report, but agreed to ease their recruitment tactics.

"It's a serious issue and it needed a serious response," Mount Albert Grammar School principal Patrick Drumm said.

"We needed to take a strong leadership stand as a recruitment strategy like this is not what school sport should be about.

"The integrity and credibility of the competition is challenged by targeting elite players from around the country.

St Kents have been a dominant force in New Zealand schools rugby. Photo: Getty Images"We felt the time was right to try to have a moral and ethical discussion and while we had a positive meeting with King's that wasn't the case with St Kents."

St Kents were contacted three times in the past month by the 10 other schools asking to commit to new principles and a code of conduct.

The coalition - which includes fellow famous nurseries Auckland Grammar and Sacred Heart - proposed a change to the rules regarding recruitment which currently prohibit schools from poaching players in the wider Auckland region.

To circumvent these rules St Kents have targeted star talents from schools such as Rotorua Boys' High School, Napier BHS, Whangarei BHS, Massey High and St John's in Hamilton.

Principals from schools in those regions also backed the move made by the Auckland coalition.

"They're not building from the ground up, from year nine to 11," Napier Boys High principal Matthew Bertram said.

"They're going after the superstars and it's brazen."

In response, St Kents have asked College Sport - New Zealand's schools sport governing body - to investigate the recruitment of other schools in the 1A competition.