A club versus school dispute in Nelson's hockey competition has escalated after a competition final was defaulted without a ball being struck.
Accusations are flying from both sides of the row, with a Nelson College administrator saying Hockey Nelson is "murdering the game" by its decision not to allow school teams in the club competition.
The Hockey Nelson president has countered that the college was "trying to rule the competition" and wanted everything its way.
The dispute has become public after a Nelson College team - which had to join the Waimai United club to play in this year's competition - defaulted the third division final on August 31.
The team of college players was at a secondary schools tournament in Napier.
Nelson College hockey teacher-in-charge Jamie Brown said it had advised Hockey Nelson in March about the team's plans to attend the tournament.
"We had no idea we would make the [club] final but we've known about the Napier tournament dates for almost a year. We've been in contact with Hockey Nelson for the entire time," he said.
He said the date of the club final was only confirmed two weeks beforehand.
Mr Brown, who has coached the college team for five years, said it could have made the final at any other time and on any other week.
"These youngsters have made it and worked really hard to get there. They deserved to play the game.
"It's just so unfair, I really feel for the kids, I'm so gutted for them."
He said Hockey Nelson told him it would not reschedule the final because it would set an inappropriate precedent that would lead to teams wanting to change games all the time.
"It just baffles me. I've played hockey all over the world and I have never come up against a board like this."
As a result of the clash of dates, Hockey Nelson "threatened to invite" the team that just missed out on the final to play, Mr Brown said.
Up until a night before the final, he said he had been trying to organise a junior team to play in his team's place, but could not get the numbers.
He said he rang the opposing team to tell them of the lack of numbers the night before the final.
Nelson College sports co-ordinator Chris Lawton said the default was avoidable and the result of the decision to exclude college teams.
"This year has been just ridiculous. They are murdering the game," he said. "Our boys were forced to join a club at the beginning of the year and in no other sport does this type of thing happen.
"It's so silly because our boys took up an entire team. They should be able to decide for themselves."
Hockey Nelson president Diane Proudfoot said the board decided in February that the division one, two and three competitions would be exclusive to club teams.
She said the decision was made because the college was trying the "rule the competition".
"They wanted everything their own way and we have more than one team to consider," she said.
The new structure allowed players to play at their own ability level and to rise through the divisions as their individual skills developed. Such a progression could not happen if players had to remain in a school-only system.
"Nelson hockey seeks to make each grade as competitive as it can and has made this decision with Nelson's overall hockey in mind."
Ms Proudfoot, who is also secretary treasurer of Waimai United club, said by being affiliated with the club and failing to play in the third division final, the Nelson College team was in breach of a number of club protocols.
"They certainly did not inform the club they were not going to play.
"They even confirmed they were going to put forth another team the night before."
Waimai United arrived and warmed up for the final game, umpires took the field, a whistle was blown to start and no Nelson College team took the field. This resulted in a default, she said.
"As representative of the club it was pretty disappointing, pretty gutting and pretty embarrassing.
"I really feel for the other team that showed up," she said.
The club had not yet taken any action against the college but it planned to discuss the issue.
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