It takes a fair bit to get my blood really boiling, but this nonsense this morning out of Hawkes Bay did.
Briar Hales has been effectively excluded from her school’s rugby team for an upcoming tournament for what appears to be the great crime of being a girl.
Briar is 11 years old.
The people making this decision? The principals of the other five schools involved, citing “health and safety” as their reasoning as well as there being a girls sevens option Briar could (and in their view should) be playing in. They’ve also doubled-down on that by saying that if she does play, then her team won’t be eligible for any championship points.
So much for participation.
By account Briar is far from a novice in the game, and at her age she plays against boys every week. The only difference I can see with this tournament from her usual rugby experience is that she may face kids a year older than herself, but that itself isn’t any reason to exclude her.
It’s a spurious reason too given that it flies in the face of NZ Rugby’s own model for junior rugby; are these “professional educators” rolling up to a rugby club on a Saturday morning and telling any girls present they shouldn’t be playing? They’re only involved here because they can be and therein lies the problem; people who shouldn’t be making the decision are.
As for those other sports that those principals cite because they don’t want to set a “precedence” (evidently these professional educators can’t spell either), it doesn’t need to.
If Briar is good enough to make her school’s team, then she should play.
I seriously hope that Briar’s school, coach, and team take a stand and that she does regardless of the outcome. And those five principals hang their heads in shame.
Follow Scott on Twitter