St Dominic's College ousts itself from Schoolboy Cup over 'several factors' detrimental to players

THEY'RE no strangers to the knockout nature of the competition, but St Dominic's College has executed an elimination unlike the norm — they've chosen to oust themselves.

Principal Jeffrey Regan decided in February to withdraw the school from the annual Australian Rugby League Schoolboy Cup for 2012 after noting several factors detrimental to his students.

Three main issues prompted the decision: a loophole in the rules allowing pathways students to compete, the draw forcing the school to play primarily against teams they already verse in another competition and the inconvenience of accommodating televised games.

While St Dominic's doesn't offer a rugby league scholarship program, some of their opposition do, resulting in competitors fielding pathways students who are not only older but often greater in ability, size and strength.

"There is an age thing on it but they're saying they're going to enforce it next year," Mr Regan said. "So it's still open to some sort of abuse."

Having competed in the cup since the year 2000, organisers automatically allocated the school a place in the 2012 draw despite the school making no formal application for inclusion.

And upon viewing their pool of four teams, Mr Regan noted two of the schools were opposition they had already challenged in the weekly Metropolitan Catholic Schools competition and were likely to face in the upcoming Combined Catholic Schools competition.

"The league came back with the offer that we can just double dip and make the games count as our MCS and Schoolboy Cup game," Mr Regan said.

"But if that's the case, we're not playing any more games or playing anyone different so it doesn't make much sense."

Complying with the schedule of televised Schoolboy Cup games also posed a problem because broadcast games are played on Friday nights — one day after the Thursday MCS game and one day before any out-of-school Saturday competition games.

In light of the conflict, organisers are seeking to schedule broadcast matches on Monday nights in 2013.

Mr Regan said there were also two other facets behind St Dominic's withdrawal from the cup.

Firstly, the school which won the cup in 2003 is "not the powerhouse we were" and "Penrith as a club is not really pushing kids in our direction".

Secondly, he said the introduction of the under-20s Toyota Cup competition had reduced the role of the Schoolboy Cup in bolstering a player's rugby league career prospects.

While cautious about withdrawing, Mr Regan said he was confident he'd made the right decision and added that St Dominic's would re-enter the competition in 2013 if his three major issues were addressed.

"In one sense it was a hard decision because I thought I'd get a fair bit of flak," he said. "But I haven't."

Year 12 students Joe Masters, Dale Cole and Lachlan Ruskin said they backed Mr Regan's decision despite the fact they are unable to compete next year.

Coach Dave Mackinnon also supported the withdrawal.

"The competition does need some restructuring and obviously we're taking a stance," he said.

"Hopefully changes can happen in future years and we can come back in."

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