Cistercian College threaten legal action over rugby rule

Thursday, 18 January 2018

CISTERCIAN COLLEGE, the Roscrea secondary boarding school renowned for its rugby prowess, have threatened High Court proceedings against a rule that might prevent nine of their players from participating in games this season.

The College are threatening legal action against the IRFU and Leinster Branch Schools Committee over the 20 month rule and have called for it be "urgently and immediately waived."

The Leinster schools committee rule was first introduced to prevent strong rugby schools from headhunting talented players from other schools and the rugby youth leagues.

The "20 month rule" dictates that a player has to be studying in a school before entering fifth year if they are to be allowed participate in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup.

Nine students in Roscrea are affected and one of the students who played rugby while enlisted in another school, only first came to Roscrea last September to repeat the Leaving Certificate.

The College have also said that in the last three years 11 potential new students did not accept a place at the College solely because the effect the rule would have on their ability to play rugby.

"The 20 month rule and with the ban on Leaving Certificate students participating in The Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup presents Cistercian College with grave difficulties," a statement from Cistercian College published in the national media read.

The College, who are represented by Andrew Cody of Reidy Stafford solicitors, said the rule challenges "the very core of its ethos and its commitment to pupils. As such, the college believes it has no remaining option but to take action to address this."

"The central principle for what is an unclear and flawed rule states that a boy joining a Leinster school must be in attendance at the school for 20 months before being eligible to play in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup and its feeder competitions. In applying this rule, the Leinster Branch schools committee are of the view that they are not stopping anyone attending a particular school nor are they preventing anyone from playing rugby."

"Due to a number of factors often unrelated to sport, Cistercian College have many students who start in fifth year and as such, we believe that the school is uniquely affected by this rule, a key point that the Leinster Branch schools committee has never acknowledged," the College argues.

"Over the last three years, eleven boys did not accept a place at Cistercian College as their reasonable individual request for exemption from this rule was denied. To arbitrarily deny any boy or girl the opportunity to represent themselves and their family at the highest level of schools sport is simply wrong regardless of the school involved.

"This academic year, the Leinster Schools committee have adjudicated on the fair and legitimate applications of nine Cistercian College students, young players and their families who have made real sacrifices and shown tremendous faith in committing their futures to the school despite the threat to the very future of Cistercian College less than 12 months ago. Each and every one have been rejected, despite due process, such as it is, being followed.

"Our concerns are not about trying to manufacture success in a schoolboy competition. It is about putting the hopes, aspirations and futures of the schoolboys involved first in allowing them the chance to compete.

"The legal representatives of Cistercian College has carried out a full review of the adoption and implementation of these rules and are satisfied that there are serious and fatal flaws contained which make the specific rules invalid and unenforceable," the statement said.


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