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Joint statement re sanctions imposed on HAMB

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STATEMENT FROM NEW ZEALAND SECONDARY SCHOOLS ROWING ASSOCIATION AND HAMILTON BOYS HIGH SCHOOL 26 July 2023

The Schools Committee of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Rowing Association (NZSSRA) has sanctioned Hamilton Boys High School following an investigation and disciplinary process regarding breaches of NZSSRA rules and regulations at four of its regattas.

Hamilton Boys High School admitted:

  • failing to properly enter and/or substitute two student rowers at the 2021 New Zealand Secondary Schools Rowing Championships (Maadi Cup) and the 2022 North Island Secondary School Rowing Championships; and then
  • rowing those rowers as "novice" rowers in subsequent years at the 2022 North Island Secondary School Rowing Championships, the 2022 Maadi Cup and the 2023 North Island Secondary School Rowing Championships, when they were not eligible to do so.

Following the investigation, the School promptly admitted the breaches. In total there were 17 breaches, across 10 events in the Under 15 and Under 18 Novice boys' categories in these regattas.

In admitting the breaches HBHS Headmaster, Susan Hassall, has said:

"We were devastated to learn of the breaches and apologise unreservedly to all the schools participating in the regattas involved. The breaches do not reflect the school's approach to sport, and were, regrettably, the result of very poor judgment by one person in our rowing programme. Our rowing programme has grown significantly in recent years, and we clearly did not have sufficient systems in place to make sure such breaches do not occur. These breaches also occurred during the COVID period, which exacerbated the problem. We deeply regret the impact this has had on the students at other schools and can assure everyone that we are making significant changes to our rowing programme to make sure it never happens again."

The School has accepted the following sanctions, formally imposed on it by the NZSSRA Schools Committee:

  1. Disqualification - All crews from Hamilton Boys High School who competed in the 10 events where a breach occurred are disqualified. All points gained from those events are forfeited and all trophies and medals must be returned to NZSSRA. A list of the events and the adjusted results are to be put on the NZSSRA website.
  2. Conditional suspension - The School is subject to a conditional order of suspension from the membership of NZSSRA for a period that will include one NZSSRA regatta, should it take effect. The conditional nature of the suspension is that the suspension is itself 'suspended', on what is effectively a 'good behaviour' basis for a period of 2 years from the date of the Schools Committee's decision.
  3. Apology - The School is to provide a written apology addressed to NZSSRA for distribution to all NZSSRA Member Schools.
  4. Costs - The School will pay NZSSRA combined costs of $5,000 towards legal costs and the cost of replacement medals and associated administration.

In giving its decision, a spokesperson for the Schools Committee said:

"The breaches by Hamilton Boys High School were significant and affected a number of other schools and rowers. Suspension is the most severe sanction the NZSSRA can impose on its Member Schools. The conditional suspension provides Hamilton Boys High School with a warning that if it breaches the same rules again, all rowers at the School will be banned from competing at either a North Island Secondary Schools Championships or a Maadi regatta, even those rowers who were not at the School at the time or who row for it subsequently.

The sanctions imposed should serve as a reminder to all Schools that they must fully comply with the rules, no exceptions. In particular, those Schools with large rowing programmes must make sure they have all the necessary systems and checks in place to ensure entries and substitutions are made and done so in compliance with the rules".

There will be no further comment from NZSSRA or Hamilton Boys High School regarding this matter.

NZSSRA