Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brawling rugby schoolboys have suspensions cut

Last updated 14:27 19/09/2009

Former All Black Va'aiga Tuigamala is "elated" by today's successful appeal over the sentences for the Kelston Boy's High School rugby brawlers.

Five students from the Auckland school who were banned from playing rugby for their part in a brawl with rival Auckland Grammar School players have had their sentences drastically reduced.

They were initially suspended for between 10 and 16 months following the brawl during a game on August 15, while players from Auckland Grammar were suspended for between two and seven weeks.

Following an appeal before the Auckland Rugby Union appeal panel today, the Kelston students have had the sentences reduced to between seven and 14 weeks.

Mr Tuigamala, a Kelston old boy who had been critical about the original sentence, said today's outcome showed "common sense prevailing".

But he hoped the students involved had learned from the experience.

"The young men have done well in accepting their responsibility, taking it on the chin, standing up and being men," he said.

"I'm very proud of them. But at the same time they also know the lesson they learned and what they put their families through."

The Kelston Boys' board of trustees and principal had been "absolutely fantastic " in making the students take responsibility for th eir actions, with the students doing anger management courses and community service.

"Today's hearing is wonderful. I am absolutely elated for them, " Mr Tuigamala said.

Kelston lawyer John Haigh QC, said the original sentences were "unfair and unjust" but he was content with today's decision.

The students were "very pleased", he said.