Scandal erupts around men over 20 caught playing schoolboy rugby

2012-05-28 00:00

SCHOOL rugby players who are suspected of being over-age for their teams will not be allowed to play matches.

This decision follows the alleged antics of young men masquerading as teenagers on the fields of top KwaZulu-Natal rugby schools.

“Schools agreed and took a decision that where there’s a question mark over the legality of a pupil’s documents, that pupil will not play,” said KZN Rugby Union Council president Graham MacKenzie.

A scandal broke out this weekend over men in their early twenties playing in under-19 teams, allegedly backed up by fraudulent documents purporting to confirm that they were teenagers.

MacKenzie fears there may be more pupils with fraudulent documents in school teams. He recommended that a consistent verification policy be put in place to avoid loopholes.

He said the association was shocked by the scandal.

“I’m not aware of similar cases in previous years. This is a first,” he said.

“Age is a massive issue. This is worrying and we’re sorry about the boys who might have been negatively affected.

“There are boys who might have not made it into the team because these older ‘boys’ took their spot as schools have limited number of players they can accommodate.”

A 22-year-old is regarded as a man and playing against an opponent aged 15 or 16 could have severe implications in terms of injuries, he said.

“It’s cheating,” MacKenzie added. “There is a whole question of fairness. It makes it an unfair contest and takes away other children’s opportunity of selection.”

He said the implicated pupils came from poor backgrounds.

However, he was confident that the association would be able to clamp down on corruption.

“We need to be careful that it doesn’t happen in the future.”

Trevor Kershaw, headmaster at Durban’s Glenwood Boys’ High — one of the schools where a young adult was allegedly caught out by his documents — called the scam “identity theft”.

“The pupil in front of you is not actually who you think he is,” he lamented.

Kershaw said that in Glenwood’s case a matriculant had been involved.

He told The Witness that the pupil was asked to produce his mother’s identity document and when he failed to do so the school became suspicious.

Since then, the Grade 12 pupil has not reported to school.

Kershaw said that once investigations were finalised, the affected schools would issue a joint press statement.

The KZN Department of Sports and Recreation said it learnt about the allegations in the media and was not in a position to comment.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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