“Why aren’t I allowed to play?”: 11-year-old’s heartbreak as he’s told he’s too big to play minutes before match
An 11-year-old boy was left devastated after being told that he was too big to play in a rugby union competition with his friends.
Leonidas Hinekiteao was taken from the field in the fifth match of an eight-week Spring Sevens rugby tournament in Sydney earlier this month.
He played with his teammates in earlier rounds of the competition but was removed from the field by an NSW Rugby Union official.
Leonidas is twice of the size of the children he plays against and was taken off the field due to the Rugby Australia size for age policy.
The policy states that players in under-10 to under-15 age groups must be assessed if they’re taller than a certain height and heavier than a certain weight.
An under-11 player, which was the category Leonidas was trying to play in, must be assessed if they are more than 164cms tall and weigh more than 65kgs.
While unclear as to what Leonidas measurements are, he was above these measurements.
His mother Ayla took to Facebook to share her outrage.
“Just before the whistle blew an official from Waratahs approached us to say the ''big kid'' can't play anymore,” the boy's mother, from Christchurch, New Zealand said.
“If there was an issue with him playing in his own age group, don't go and accept his registration and take my money,” she said.
“Call me to discuss this during the week, don't go and tell my kids can't play when he's already tied his boots and is ready to kick off.”
Leonidas attempted to take to the field with his team, but the referee refused to blow the whistle until he was off the field in tears.
Leonidas’ teammates left the field with him and forfeited the game.
“Sorry for posting this Leo, but at the end of the day you are still a kid and crying because you don't fully understand what is going on and why you cannot play is allowed,” Ms Hinekiteao's post continued.
Rugby NSW issued a statement to The Daily Mail about the incident.
“While it is not NSWRU or SJRU intention to prevent any player from participating in rugby, the player involved had been previously assessed in accordance with the policy and it was deemed he was required to compete in an older age division,” the statement read.
“We recognise that perhaps further attempts could have been taken to speak to all those involved; family, players and club; to minimise impact to the player, his team mates and the wider competition.
“While the matter had tried to be addressed since the opening round of the competition, the miscommunication between all parties meant the matter had not been fully addressed.
“We want to see the player involved stay part of our competition and we are continuing to work with the club to ensure he and his family can stay involved.”
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