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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 13. September 12, 1957

N.Z.U. Rugby

N.Z.U. Rugby

At the Winter Council meeting of N.Z.U.S.A. Res. Exec, announced that no further progress had been made in solving the problem of eligibility for N.Z.U. Rugby team.

Res. Exec. had previously attempted to reach a compromise with the N.Z.U. Rugby Football Council, the basis of eligibility for N.Z.U. matches against provinces and overseas touring teams remaining as at present, while for matches against visiting university teams eligibility be in line with that for other sports under the jurisdiction of N.Z.U.S.A. The stalemate has apparently been caused through a difference of opinion within the Rugby Council. On the one hand Otago University, with their preponderance of full-time students, are adamant in their view that N.Z.U. teams should be composed of bona fide students. At the other extreme the local V.U.C. club is equally forthright in its claim that the status quo should be preserved: that anyone who plays for a University Club should be eligible to represent N.Z.U. (The V.U.C. delegates at the N.Z.U.S.A. meeting were instructed by our Exec, to support the view to our Rugby Club if the matter should be discussed.)

The whole question seems likely to remain in the present unsatisfactory state unless N.Z.U.S.A. itself makes some positive move to budge the Rugby Council from their entrenched position. The arguments of those who defend the existing lack of eligibility rules for N.Z.U. Rugby teams seem to be based on considerations of finance and prestige.

Obviously the question of finance is an important one and no doubt influenced our Exec. in its decision to support the status quo. But should one sacrifice first principles for this?

By name an N.Z.U. Rugby team would seem to represent a team representative of students in the six colleges. Some argument can be made for the inclusion of graduates of, say. two years standing, but certainly not of international players who have never completed a degree and whose attendance at lectures ceased some five or six years ago. Not for one moment would one wish to disparage the magnificent football turned on by a team including these same players against the Springboks at Athletic Park last year, but was that a truly representative N.Z.U. side?

The parallel with local College Clubs holds no water. The writer would be the first to rise against any suggestion that local clubs should be composed only of bona fide students. Quite obviously no club could continue to maintain senior teams without the experience and continuity supplied by graduates and ex-students. On the national scale the situation is quite different. Here there is no question of club spirit, of continuity from one season to another. An N.Z.U. team is a representative team, representative of contemporary students. For Rugby club administrators to claim, as they are understood to have done, that to have restricted eligibility for N.Z.U. teams to bona fide students would have deprived Victoria of the services of several of their most noted players is quite unreal, if in fact players have joined the V.U.C. Rugby Club only to gain N.Z.U. selection and the tours that go with it, then the local club is better without such players.

And then there is the question of prestige. Just what prestige the University in New Zealand gained from last year's Springbok game is debatable, particularly in view of the comments of Auckland's Tom Pearce.

The University and University Rugby gain little by lending their name to teams which, however good their football, are masquerading under false colours, if games against provincial and international sides can only be arranged with teams of N.Z.U. "old boys" then better they should not be arranged at all. But surely this would be unlikely when this year's bona fide students include such players as All Blacks J. B. Buxton. M. W. Irwin, H. J. Levien (all O.U.). W. J. Whineray (C.A.C.), and B. P. Molloy (C.U.C.).