Independent Judicial Panel to investigate 1A rugby complaint

By letters dated 30 November 2018 and 5 December 2018, College Sport Auckland received formal letters of complaint from Saint Kentigern Trust Board over the actions of a group of ten principals who represent schools currently in the 1A/1XV schools rugby competition in Auckland:

  • Aorere College
  • Auckland Grammar School
  • De La Salle College
  • Dilworth School
  • Kelston Boys High School
  • Liston College
  • Mt Albert Grammar School
  • One Tree Hill College
  • Sacred Heart College
  • St Peter’s College

The complaint by the Saint Kentigern Trust Board is with regard to the ten principals writing, approving and agreeing to comply with what is described as an “Auckland 1A rugby Code of Practice and an accompanying set of Guiding Principles for that competition for 2019”. All ten principals have given notice that their 1st XV/1A competition teams will default any and all games against Saint Kentigern’s which has refused to comply with these newly drafted competition Code of Conduct and Guiding Principles protocols.

College Sport Auckland has been asked by Saint Kentigern to investigate the actions of the principals in promulgating, approving and agreeing to be bound by these protocols. Saint Kentigern complains that this attempt by a “subset of school principals” to “determine (new) conditions regarding a College Sport competition” undermines the rights and processes of College Sport Auckland; Saint Kentigern complains that the action taken by the ten principals questions the adequacy of College Sport Auckland to regulate its own competitions thus threatening to bring College Sport Auckland into disrepute.

College Sport Auckland is also asked by Saint Kentigern to determine if the behaviour and allegations against the ten principals is in keeping with their College Sport Auckland rules:

  • The requirement under College Sport Auckland rules that members will at all times work together in a spirit of good faith, mutual trust, respect and co-operation; and
  • Members will use their best endeavours to resolve any issues involving any sport issue relating to a participating school by direct contact, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

It is also asserted by Saint Kentigern that in developing a Code of Practice and the set of Guiding Principles the authors and signatories to it are attempting to change the rules around player eligibility under College Sport Auckland bylaws and rules; are acting outside of the existing Guiding Principles under College Sport Auckland rules, including that overall the best interest of the students concerned, including from both an education and a sporting perspective must be paramount in all decision-making.

So, in substance, College Sport Auckland is expressly asked to investigate the complaint by Saint Kentigern against the group of ten principals and their schools identified above to determine if what they have done is “in keeping with” College Sport Auckland rules. At issue is whether there have been breaches of the College Sport Auckland rules and/or bylaws applicable to all those participating in College Sport in Auckland.

Saint Kentigern requests that after investigation, if substantiated, appropriate sanctions be taken against those who have breached the rules or bylaws accordingly.

Part of the background to the complaint and the issue by the ten principals of a newly drafted rugby “Code of Practice for Auckland 1A competition” and a set of Guiding Principles for the competition includes the fact that all ten schools and their principals have taken issue with Saint Kentigern’s contemporary approach to recruitment, allegedly offering inducements (primarily by offering scholarships to that school) to current 1st XV rugby players at schools around the country so that they can play for Saint Kentigern in the Auckland 1A the school rugby competition year in 2019. It is said that four senior male students who are members of their current school’s 1st XV (Rotorua Boys High School, Napier Boys High School, Whangarei Boys High School and Massey High School) together with a fifth senior student who represented St Johns College Hamilton 1st XV in Term One 2018 but now has a scholarship and is already attending Saint Kentigern College in preparedness for 2019, are the subject of these inducements.

The ten schools referred to have publicly voiced their concern and resistance to a recruitment policy allegedly being pursued by Saint Kentigern, contending that doing so contravenes the spirit of the Auckland 1A rugby competition and the underlying purpose of competitive school boy sport. It is said that the approach by Saint Kentigern is generally against the spirit of the game and fails to take into account player welfare, and, a desirable more geographically spread development of skills and abilities in sport within and beyond the perimeters of the Auckland 1st XV 1A rugby competition.

Under the rules of College Sport Auckland its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has a broad discretion to investigate complaints of alleged breach of the rules or the bylaws. Such investigation by the CEO may be commenced upon receipt of a complaint by a member (principal) on behalf of a participating school – which is the position that has now occurred.  In this case the Saint Kentigern Trust Board has presented a formal complaint to College Sport Auckland requesting the investigation. Under the College Sport Auckland rules where the CEO considers the issue may more appropriately be dealt with by an Independent Judicial Panel, the CEO may refer the issue directly to an Independent Judicial Panel for investigation and determination.

The Board of College Sport Auckland has the power to appoint – and has this week appointed – an Independent Judicial Panel. The Independent Judicial Panel comprises three members. Under the Rules that Panel has power to determine any matter referred to it by the CEO in accordance with the Rules.

Having regard to the nature of the complaint by Saint Kentigern Trust Board, College Sport Auckland CEO, in accordance with his discretion and with the support of College Sport Board Auckland, has referred the issues, the subject of complaint, directly to the appointed Independent Judicial Panel for determination. The appointees to that Panel are:

  • Chair: Prominent New Zealand and international sports lawyer, Wellington barrister Tim Castle, a member of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport
  • Highly respected former All Black, Ian Jones, currently a Board member of Rosmini College
  • Highly experienced and well regarded Gail Thomson, former Principal of Diocesan School for Girls and former Chairperson of College Sport Auckland

The Independent Judicial Panel shall determine its own processes having regard to the nature of the issue before it. The Panel may request information or views from College Sport Auckland or any other person or organisation. Under the applicable Rules, principals and all others involved in the issue must cooperate fully with the investigation.

The Chair of the Independent Judicial Panel, Tim Castle, said today that the Panel would undertake its task as soon as possible in the New Year. He noted that the Panel may encourage the parties to any dispute to resolve the issues without having the matter determined formally; and that he would look at any opportunity the Panel might have to facilitate or initiate that course. Ultimately, if that did not occur successfully, the Panel would proceed with its investigation and determination.

The Executive Director of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council, Mr Garry Carnachan, welcomed the appointment of the Independent Judicial Panel to investigate the matter; and offered to provide relevant information to assist the deliberations of the Panel.

There will be no further comment or announcement by College Sport Auckland (unless approved by the Independent Judicial Panel) until such time as the work of the Panel has been completed and, as necessary, any decision or determination delivered. College Sport Auckland has requested (and the Panel has directed) that all parties involved in or connected to the subject of the investigation make no further public comment and instead comply fully and confidentially with the procedures and processes to be undertaken by the Independent Judicial Panel.


Issued for and on behalf of the CEO of College Sport Auckland, Jim Lonergan and College Sport Auckland Board Chairman, Mark Shanahan


Sole contact for all inquiries:
Tim Castle, Chair of the Independent Judicial Panel
PO Box 10048, Wellington 6143
Tel: 021 419 323