Size does matter, 71kg 10-year-old gets told

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2013
 Joshua Moe, 10, with PJ Lyne-Marster, left, 10,  and Rico Tyrrell, 9,  two mates he wants to play rugby with, but has been told he’s too heavy to play in his own age group
PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
WE'RE A TEAM: Joshua Moe, 10, with PJ Lyne-Marster, left, 10, and Rico Tyrrell, 9, two mates he wants to play rugby with, but has been told he’s too heavy to play in his own age group.

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A 10-year-old Porirua boy has torn down his rugby 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.

"They're allowed to stand on each other and push in the scrum in under-13s, and that's scary," he said.

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.

"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."

Wellington Rugby Football Union rules have a maximum weight for each junior rugby age group, while Wellington Rugby League grades its teams only by age.

Ms Moe said that, although Joshua was bigger than most of his classmates, his diet was not to blame.

Northern United Rugby chairwoman Fiona Perenara said the club would talk to the members involved, and to Wellington Rugby Union, before contacting Ms Moe about her complaint.

Wellington Rugby Union amateur rugby manager Will Caccia-Birch said he expected a dispensation would be made for Joshua.

Sport New Zealand said getting children to play sport was the priority, but safety was also an issue.

Wellington Rugby League general manager Jason Hemson said children's weight was not a safety issue for his sport. "We have two clubs in Porirua who would welcome Joshua with open arms."

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