Roskill team pays dearly
Members of an under-17 rugby team are heartbroken after being pulled from a semifinal earlier this month for unwittingly fielding an over-aged player.
The Roskill Districts team were replaced by Eden Gold, who went on to win against Eden Black and go through to the final.
A mother of one of the affected boys, Lisila Stowers, says the 18-year-old fielded in an earlier match had told them he was 17.
He only turned out once during the season, and didn’t provide a birth certificate or passport despite being asked for it.
It later became apparent the player was 18 after he was recognised by opposing players.
“We thought he was telling the truth,” she says.
“The boys are heartbroken and frustrated.”
Mrs Stowers believes other clubs have fielded over-age players this season and haven’t been punished, while her son’s team have been unfairly targeted.
She is also annoyed that eventual finalists Waitakere Maroon and Eden Gold were involved in a brawl earlier this season but are still allowed to contest the title.
“What can we do? We have been pushed away and shut out.”
Auckland Rugby Union club rugby manager Matt McHardy is confident there are no other cases of over-aged players taking part in the under-17 competition.
He does say there was an incident between Waitakere Maroon and Eden Gold at the start of the season, along with several problems at other clubs.
However he says managers from all the teams were called together soon after and told what behaviour was expected of their sides.
“Both teams that made the final haven’t put a foot wrong since.”
Roskill districts chairwoman Jo Moore says she feels for players who have put in plenty of hard work all season.
“We’ve got a lot of really shattered children.”
But she says the club didn’t have enough time to sort things out before the semifinal.
“I hear where the coaches are coming from. If we’d had more time we could have done something.”