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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 5. 1967.

Rugby men say reform should start at the top

page 12

Rugby men say reform should start at the top

There seems to be a growing resentment within some quarters of the university at the apparent non-restrictive membership of the University Rugby Club.

Following an editorial opinion in the last issue of this paper, I made some inquiries into the situation and found that there is a constitutional restriction on those wishing to play for the club.

The effects of this restriction is that membership is open only to those who do or have attended a university and who are or have been members of a Students Association. Those who are not current members of the Victoria Students Association are required to pay to the club a subscription of £1/1/-. With fourteen university teams entered in the Wellington competition it has only been necessary this year to collect a total of £15/15/- in subscription money from players.

Admin. errors

It is acknowledged that there have been instances when persons not meeting the membership requirements have played for varsity teams. But these instances are said to have been few, and are attributed to administrative errors. At the commencement of this season applications for membership were received from two players outside of the Wellington Province. Both, it seems, would have been assured of berths in the senior A team, but their applications were rejected because of no previous connections with a university. They are now playing senior A for other clubs in the Wellington Rugby competition. One, a 1966 Junior All Back, will be commencing studies at Victoria next year.

In their invitation for the recent tour of Japan by the NZU team the Japanese specifically requested that the best team available be sent on tour. In 1965 the Australians were prepared to accept the NZU team and the individual university teams on face value and several Australian players in the team admitted to having enrolled at a university just so that they could make the tour to New Zealand.

Within the Victoria Club and the student body, there seems to be a feeling of inevitability about more stringent elegibility requirements for university rugby players. It is agreed that these would benefit the "student life" but there is some doubt as to whether the present laxity adversely affects student players. The following three people connected with Victoria sport were prepared to give their views on the present situation:

Mr. A. Laidler, physical Welfare Officer, told Salient "sports clubs are a vital part of university life, and every student should feel he has the unqualified opportunity to represent his club at the highest possible level. At the moment his opportunities within the club seem limited by the knowledge that experienced, non-student players are denying him the opportunity to gain experience at top competition level for himself, whilst playing university rugby.


Mr. I. H. Boyd. Student Union Managing - Secretary, and Sports administrator at both Victoria and NZU level: "I do not see why graduates should not be allowed to continue playing for the University Rugby Club. That is the practice in the other university clubs such as Hockey. Cricket and Athletics. I do feel, however, that this is a matter which the Rugby Club could, and should, decide for themselves."

Mr.D. B. Barrowman. VUW Rugby Club Club-Captain, told Salient "on several counts the editorial in the last issue of Salient was misleading. It would have been nearer the truth if it had stated that only two or three senior A players were not at present studying at Victoria. Secondly, Otago University do play graduates. A player is allowed to continue playing for his club in the year following his graduation. It should also be realised that the club receives much support from the Medical School to which a student is attached for six or so years.

Average time

"From this it can be seen that the average time a player at Otago is a student is much longer than that of the player at a university like Victoria. It is also an acknowledged fact that Otago and Lincoln (which has similar elegibility rules to Otago) do experience administrative problems.

"I do feel, however, that as the University continues to grow, there will develop a trend towards more restrictive membership in the rugby club and that when the time is right, this will be a desirable thing. But I do not think that, as yet, the time is right."

It is not only in rugby that sportsmen masquerade as students. There are a number of sports clubs at Victoria that allow non-studying graduates to participate in their competitive activities. Even the Students Association, which refutes charges that it is a sporting body, will allow persons not engaged in studies at Victoria to become members on payment of the necessary fee. Perhaps, therefore, the reform should start at the top.