Not a human right issue

Jo Moir at Stuff reports:

A 10-year-old Porirua boy has torn down his posters and binned his All Blacks duvet cover after his local rugby club made him feel “sad and fat”.

Joshua Moe has been told he has to play in the under-13s this season because – at 71 kilograms – he is too heavy to play in his own age group. But Joshua fears he will get hurt playing with boys who are older than him.

It’s great Joshua wants to play rugby, and I can understand his fear of getting hurt playing with older kids. However there is also a risk of kids his own age getting hurt when there is such a size and weight disparity.

The average weight for a 10 year old boy appears to be 32 kgs, so at 71 kgs Joshua is double their weight. The chance of them being damaged is significantly higher I would say than Joshua being damaged by 13 year olds who will still be smaller than him.

Last year Joshua received special permission to play in the Northern United under-11s team – a grade lower than the rules allowed for someone of his weight.

But at last week’s weigh-in for the new season, the club told him he had to move up to the under-13s. His mother, Vanessa Moe, queried the ruling, but was told he could either play in the under-13s or not at all.

She has now complained to the club, as well as to the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Human Rights Commission.

Oh Good God, this has nothing to do with the Human Rights Commission. Having weight restrictions for sports is hardly new. Boxing has it also.

“This has gone beyond rugby itself, and is now about a club making my son feel like crap and not wanting to play at all,” she said.

Joshua is looking to turn his back on rugby and plans to do swimming this year and have a go at rugby league next year.

“I want the rugby people to apologise and make the rules so it’s about age, not my size,” he said. “My friends all treat me the same, but the rugby club made me feel sad and fat.”

It’s awful Joshua feels like crap, and it is possible that the club officials handled it very badly. And some flexibility could well be desirable.

However at the end of the day a rule based on size/weight is not discriminatory – it is sensible and quite standard in many contact sports.

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