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NZ apply age restrictions

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The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) Board has approved a change to its Player Eligibility Regulations to prohibit the selection of players under the age of 18 for the country’s top domestic competitions.

The amended regulations come into effect for this year’s Air New Zealand Cup and AA Rewards Heartland Championship competitions. Players who are not 18 years old as at 1 July each year will not be permitted to play in these competitions.

NZRU Deputy Chief Executive Steve Tew said the decision was made in the interest of player welfare and was in line with the International Rugby Board’s guideline that players under the age of 18 should not be permitted to play against adults.

He said all the Provincial Unions and the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association had been consulted.

“The reality of professional rugby is that players are getting younger and the level and degree of contact is increasing. It is important that we manage our players’ development properly and integrate them into the Air New Zealand Cup and AA Rewards Heartland Championship when they are ready. We believe the age restriction rule will assist in this regard,” Tew said.

In an extension of this policy, Tew added that if a Provincial Union wished to select a player who is 18 at 1 July for either the Air New Zealand Cup or AA Rewards Heartland Championship, the Union must first obtain approval from the NZRU.

“Several factors will determine whether we allow an 18-year-old to play. These include the player’s position, whether the player is physically capable of playing rugby at this level and if participation in these competitions will enhance his mental and physical development.

“We have some amazing young athletes in New Zealand and we need to ensure that the NZRU and Provincial Unions are working together to bring them through to the professional ranks in a measured way that will benefit them in the long term,” Tew said.

 

365 Digital

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