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Is it the fair play?

The spectre of fielding ineligible players in school rugby terms seems to be repeatedly rearing its ugly head. Recent press reports indicate that many leading schools appear to be poaching players from other schools, some of whom are ineligible to be in school.

Certain schools are of the belief that they can field such players in non-tournament games. But the question that begs consideration here is not compliance or non-compliance with tournament rules, but the eligibility criteria of students after GCE O\Level examinations, to remain in school and this stems from Ministry of Education circulars.

Among other requirements, the circulars categorically state that any student who has taken the GCE O/Level exam in the first instance and is not successful in gaining entrance to the GCE A/Level class will be permitted to remain in school and take the exam at the very next opportunity the following year. If the student is unsuccessful even after the second attempt, such student is not eligible to remain in school. The regulations are as clear as daylight and it is a sad reflection of the times that these are being flouted because of the win-at-any-cost syndrome that prevails in schools.

A more important factor that arises when players are poached from other schools is what happens to the original player who has put in a lot of commitment and hard work to come up from the very junior level, to the next level and so on? When he comes to the higher level, his place is suddenly taken by a student who has been brought in from another school. Is this fair? If other lesser affluent schools can produce good players who are being poached by the better known schools, is it not a sad indictment on the latter that they do not have the coaching infrastructure to produce good players? Are we teaching our children values to the effect that winning at any cost must be the order of the day, even if it means fielding ineligible players.

Let us re-think this whole issue and be fair by the very students who keep the game live at the junior level of their respective schools and ensure they are not sidelined to make way for poached players. Let us also ensure that a level playing field is created for schools rugby with no ineligible players being included in any schools team!

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