Aussie success raises questions over Maadi Cup

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2012

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The New Zealand Secondary School Rowing Association (NZSSRA) could be headed for troubled waters after an unfancied Australian school was the fastest qualifier in the Maadi Cup.

The big question now on the banks of Lake Ruataniwha is how sporting their rules are.

St Josephs Nudgee had tongues wagging after they edged out Auckland Grammar to win the first heat of the boys' under-18 eight and automatically qualify for the final of the blue riband event.

The rules, however, state that an Australian crew cannot take home the prestigious trophy and there is little debate about that.

Normally, the heat one winner would draw one of the favoured middle lanes, but that instead went to second-placed Auckland Grammar, along with the other heat winner, Westlake Boys High School.

The Australians will be relegated to the outside lane, one or nine, which is certainly an automatic disadvantage in the final.

While a number of old heads did not think it was fair, they were too coy to discuss the matter publicly.

On the bright side, should St Josephs get up and win they would be presented with a gold medal but so will the best New Zealand crew, basically ignoring the Australians' effort.

The records would also show a result of first equal, despite a time difference.

Two questions therefore arise, having allowed them into the regatta many feel they should be given a level playing field, or at least flat water. The other is over the awarding of two sets of the same colour medal, something not normal in a sporting contest.

Should the Australians get up in the eight the next NZSSRA annual meeting could be a bun fight.

Their rules allow rule changes only every four years and 2013 is one in that cycle.

Three years ago Westlake wanted the overseas crews excluded but instead got the exclusions clauses.

While the NZSSRA invited two Australian schools this year, only one school is allowed in each event.

Should they qualify two crews in a double final, for instance, only one would be able to race in the A-final, in the outside lane.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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