Fakaongo Le’aamanu, Auckland Grammar School v St Kent’s College. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Auckland’s 1A 1st XV season will no longer be broadcast live after a group of principals from the competing schools said there is an unhealthy level of scrutiny and pressure on the student-athletes.
The decision was revealed today by the principals of the schools involved in the 1A rugby division.
In a statement, they said there needed to be a “strong and necessary emphasis on the wellbeing of students at a time when secondary schools rugby players are being exposed to an unhealthy level of scrutiny in both traditional and social media”.
The schools include: St Peter’s College, Kelston Boys’ High School, Sacred Heart College, DeLa Salle College, Saint Kentigern College, King’s College, Mt Albert Grammar School, Dilworth School, Auckland Grammar School, Liston College, Tangaroa College, Aorere College and in 2023, potentially St Paul’s College and/or Macleans College.
They also agreed that matches will not be live-streamed on social media and that no media interviews will be given before or during the season by coaches or players.
Select school matches were broadcast live, weekly on Sky Sport during the season.
The Auckland competition’s final has also, in recent years, been played at Eden Park and often before a large crowd.
Instead, schools will continue to encourage their student bodies and wider communities to continue to attend games in-person.
“As educators, we have become increasingly wary of organisations and individuals seeking to treat secondary schools rugby as an extension of the professional game,” Mt Albert Grammar School headmaster Pat Drumm said.
“The 1A schools have taken great strides in recent years in terms of the recruitment of student players, and we see this decision as a natural extension of our responsibility to the sport and to those who play it.”
The principals argued the “prestige” of the sport did not require further exposure or commercialisation.
They also insisted it would not disadvantage players who wanted to play professionally and said “those in charge of the professional game should have the necessary resources to evaluate these young men in a live setting”.
“In many cases, we are dealing with players as young as 14 or 15, and we do not believe they have the requisite mechanisms to cope with the, at times, unwanted and unregulated attention that has been allowed to develop in this space,” De La Salle College principal Myles Hogarty said.
“Too often we have seen the negative impacts of unnecessary hype. Many of our students already feel enormous pressure when they take the field.
“It is our job as principals to create safer environments for all of our students and we believe this course of action is entirely appropriate given what appears to be a greater emphasis than ever on commercialising school sports and the potential exploitation of those who choose to play it.”