Sports row at top Durban schools

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Durban - Two of Durban’s biggest boys’ high schools will not play first-team sport against each other this term after one of them accused the other of unethical sportsmanship.

Glenwood High School and Westville Boys’ High, two of the city’s oldest rivals, have suspended top-level sport after a disagreement over a rugby player who Glenwood imported from Pretoria’s Waterkloof High School in 2011.

In another development yesterday, Durban High School said it, too, was uncertain if it would play sport against Glenwood after accusations that the latter tried to poach its top cricket and rugby players.

Glen Hagemann, who is head of the SharkSmart initiative, a school rugby programme overseen by Sharks Rugby that promotes fair play in sport, said he was aware of the animosity.

Speaking in general terms, he said that unethical behaviour happened in schools and created an environment which fuelled behaviour such as steroid use. Worst of all, it was destroying the fun of participating in school sport.

Hagemann said school sport was now being taken too seriously and was the primary marketing tool used on prospective parents and pupils.

“Unfortunately, people judge a school on its rugby results, as opposed to its academic results,” he said.

Westville principal Trevor Hall said the school was doing its best to resolve the “unhealthy situation” that existed with Glenwood.

The first casualty of the decision to cancel first-team sport was a cricket match between Westville and Glenwood, scheduled for this weekend, which had now fallen away.

The dispute, according to Hall and Glenwood principal Trevor Kershaw, began last March when Westville objected to Glenwood fielding Marne Coetzee, a prop they had recruited from Waterkloof High, in a first-team rugby match. Coetzee did not play and Westville won.

Westville’s objection to Coetzee was that his inclusion was not within the spirit of an agreement that major rugby-playing schools had with one another regarding under-19 players who had not progressed through the school’s ranks.

“This is where the disagreement started, and since then the two schools have been trying to find a way forward. Governing bodies and senior staff have been involved,” said Kershaw.

However, according to Hall, the issue was not settled, and Glenwood subsequently cancelled all rugby fixtures with Westville for 2013.

“We regarded that matter as having been resolved last year. However, Glenwood have respondedby cancelling the rugby fixtures,” said Hall.

With rugby now stopped, Westville went back to Glenwood with the view that the two schools should “either play all sports against each other or none at all”.

“Consequently, we cancelled the first-term fixtures against Glenwood,” said Hall.

Both Hall and Kershaw maintained there were ongoing negotiations between the schools in a bid to resolve the matter.

DHS has also been in conflict with Glenwood after accusations that the latter had poached a cricket coach, who then tried to take his best players from DHS with him..

A parent of one of the cricket players approached said the coach contacted his son shortly after moving to Glenwood.

“He sent me an SMS asking if my son would be keen to come have a look at Glenwood,” said the father, who asked not to be named.

Kershaw said an agreement had been reached between DHS and Glenwood, and that there would be sport between the two schools this year.

However, DHS acting principal Marie Vermaak said she could not confirm the two schools would be competing.

kevin.lancaster@inl.co.za

The Mercury


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