‘Why aren’t I allowed to play?’ Heartbreaking moment 11-year-old boy breaks down in tears as he’s told moments before a junior footy match he’s TOO BIG to take the field
- Ayla Hinekiteao’s son Leonidas was told he was ‘too big’ to play in a rugby match
- Leonidas had already played in earlier rounds of the Spring Sevens tournament
- He was deemed unable to play in his age group due to RA’s size for age policy
- ‘Don’t tell me my kids can’t play when he’s ready to kick off’ – Ms Hinekiteao
- Rugby Australia released a statement defending their decision to ban Leonidas
A devastated 11-year-old boy was left in tears after being told he was too big to play in a rugby union competition with his friends.
Ayla Hinekiteao’s son Leonidas was taken from the field in the fifth match of an eight-week Spring Sevens rugby tournament in Sydney earlier this month.
Leonidas played with his teammates in earlier rounds of the competition, but was removed from the field before kickoff by a New South Wales Rugby Union official because of his size.
The 11-year-old is far bigger than most of the children he plays against, and was pulled from the field due to the Rugby Australia size for age policy.
Leonidas left the field in tears after he was told he was too big to play rugby union with his friends
‘Just before the whistle blew an official from Waratahs approached us to say the ”big kid” can’t play anymore,’ the boy’s mother posted on Facebook.
Officials questioned Ms Hinekiteao about her son in weeks prior after a complaint from an opposing team, but he had been allowed to play.
‘If there was an issue with him playing in his own age group, don’t go and accept his registration and take my money. Call me to discuss this during the week, don’t go and tell my kids can’t play when he’s already tied his boots and is ready to kick off.’
Leonidas attempted to take the field with his team in a second match later that day, but the referee wouldn’t blow the whistle to start the game until he had left the field in tears.
His teammates left the field with Leonidas, and forfeited the game.
‘Sorry for posting this Leo, but at the end of the day you are still a kid and crying because you don’t fully understand what is going on and why you cannot play is allowed,’ Ms Hinekiteao’s post continued.
‘Love you heaps Leo, you are a great player and even better human full of amazing opportunities that will come later on in life – Australia will kick themselves when you play against them [for the] All Blacks.’
New South Wales Rugby Union released a statement defending their decision to remove Leonidas from the tournament, so the game can be ‘enjoyed by all in a safe way.’
Officials told Leonidas he was too big to play in his age group, with New South Wales Rugby Union releasing a statement defending their decision to remove Leonidas from the tournament, so the game can be ‘enjoyed by all in a safe way’
‘While it is not NSWRU or SJRU intention to prevent any player from participating in rugby, the player involved had been previously assessed in accordance with the policy and it was deemed he was required to compete in an older age division,’ the statement read.
‘We recognise that perhaps further attempts could have been taken to speak to all those involved; family, players and club; to minimise impact to the player, his team mates and the wider competition.
‘While the matter had tried to be addressed since the opening round of the competition, the miscommunication between all parties meant the matter had not been fully addressed.
‘We want to see the player involved stay part of our competition and we are continuing to work with the club to ensure he and his family can stay involved.’
Leonidas attempted to take the field with his team in a second match later that day, but the referee wouldn’t blow the whistle to start the game until he had left the field in tears