The Sydney Junior Rugby Union has defended its decision to prevent an 11-year-old boy from competing in a sevens tournament in New South Wales due to his size.
Ayla Hinekiteao took to social media earlier this month to complain about the union’s decision to withhold her son, Leonidus, from playing in a Spring 7s tournament midway through the eight-week series.
“Sorry for posting this Leo, but at the end of the day you are still A KID and CRYING because you don’t fully understand what is going on and why you cannot play is ALLOWED – 11 years old,” she wrote on Facebook.
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“Just before the whistle blew an official from Waratahs approached us to say the ‘big kid’ can’t play no more.”
“Love you heaps Leo, you are a great player and even better human full of amazing opportunities that will come later on in life – Australia will kick themselves when you play against them [with the] All Blacks.”
The New South Wales Rugby Union has since released a statement to say that the decision to pull the youngster from the field was made “in compliance with the Rugby Australia size for age policy”.
“While it is not NSWRU or SJRU intention to prevent any player from participating in rugby, the player involved had been previously assessed in accordance with the policy and it was deemed he was required to compete in an older age division,” it said.
“Despite several attempts to get in contact with all those involved, the matter was then required to be addressed at the competition in person.
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“We recognise that perhaps further attempts could have been taken to speak to all those involved; family, players and club; to minimise impact to the player, his team mates and the wider competition.
“While the matter had tried to be addressed since the opening round of the competition, the miscommunication between all parties meant the matter had not been fully addressed.”
The statement read that the size for age policy was established to guarantee the game is “enjoyed by all in a safe way”.
“We want to see the player involved stay part of our competition and we are continuing to work with the club to ensure he and his family can stay involved.”
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