Girl allowed to play in school's 1st XV rugby tournament

Briar Hales was previously told that she couldn't play.
Briar Hales was previously told that she couldn't play. Photo credit: Getty Images

A Hawkes Bay girl will be allowed to play in her school's 1st XV rugby team with the support of her male teammates. 

Five principals from the district previously decided not to let Briar Hales, from Havelock North Intermediate, play for the 1st XV at an annual 'Super Six' school tournament. Instead, she was told she could only play in the girl's sevens team.

However, in a post on the school's Facebook page today, principal Julia Beaumont said that had changed. 

"The decision has been made that the team will play with Briar and forfeit the points," she said. 

The post has received a positive reaction with people saying the school is showing "strong leadership" by allowing the 11-year-old to play. 

"The absolutely right and supportive decision HNI. Good luck guys smash it," one commenter said. 

"Awesome stuff! So proud of the boys who support their team mate regardless. Well done HNI."

One commenter said while they were thrilled she can play, they're disappointed they have to forfeit points. 

"Very happy that Briar will play and that the rest of the team is supporting her right to play. Still saddened that they will forfeit the points for standing up for what is right. Stand proud of the team members HNI."

The story grabbed national attention earlier in the week, with Sports Minister Grant Robertson saying Briar should be allowed to play. 

Her father Dean Hales told Newshub on Wednesday, that Briar's male teammates wanted her to compete with them. 

"She's pretty gutted. I actually had to tell her twice - she didn't really believe me the first time," he said. 

A previous joint statement to Newshub from the Hawke's Bay intermediate school principals said current structures state girls play in girls' tournaments, and boys play in boys' tournaments.

"The sports committee for the six schools are not opposed to making changes to the sports structures, however, teams have been formed and the competition is underway.

"While we fully understand the perspective of the family involved, we are mindful of being fair to all students participating in the competition in supporting the rules under which the 2019 season was established.

"This issue will be discussed at the end of the year."

Hawke's Bay Rugby chief executive Jay Campbell said its policy was that males and females could play together in mixed-gender games up to under-13 level.