Sunday 22 July 2018

Private school threatens High Court action over rules restricting pupils' involvement in rugby competition

Roscrea celebrate their victory in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup rugby competition
Roscrea celebrate their victory in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup rugby competition
The Leinster Schools Senior Cup. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Robin Schiller

A leading private school has threatened to take High Court action over rules restricting pupils' involvement in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup rugby competition.

Cistercian College Roscrea - which won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup for the first time in 2015 - has raised serious concerns over the '20-month' rule, which states that students must be enrolled in the school before fifth year in order to be eligible to play.

The Tipperary school claims nine of its pupils have been ruled as ineligible to play in the Bank of Ireland-sponsored tournament as a result of the rule, which it describes as having "serious and fatal flaws".

A solicitor's letter was sent to the Leinster Schools Branch after Cistercian College asked its legal representatives to carry out a full review of the implementation of the rules.

A spokesman for the branch last night told the Irish Independent: "Leinster Rugby can confirm that a solicitor's letter was received and we will not be commenting further at this time."

In a statement, Cistercian College said: "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 the Leinster branch schools committee has never acknowledged.

"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 has been rejected, despite due process, such as it is, being followed," the statement said.

The school has threatened to bring High Court proceedings against both the IRFU and the Leinster branch to challenge the ruling if the matter isn't "resolved amicably" before next Monday, allowing them take part in this year's tournament.

Regulation 8.6, also referred to as the '20-month' rule, was brought in on December 8, 2014 after a Blackrock team containing Irish international Joey Carberry won that year's trophy.

Carberry, who has since gone on to represent both Leinster and Ireland on several occasions, enrolled at the prestigious Booterstown school only in sixth year.

The rule is also designed to prevent players repeating sixth year in order to play in the Senior Cup.

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