One of the Rite Journey classes at Timaru Boys’ High School (NZ) has had their letter to the editor about violence published on the front page of the Timaru Herald.
Never before has that paper chosen to publish a letter to the editor on the front page…but these lads have put together a thoughtful, strong piece about violence in sport.
What an amazing group of young men…feeling passionate enough about this topic to take this action.

Here’s what was published on the front page:

The rugby brawl that occurred at the end of the Temuka-Geraldine senior rugby match on Saturday has drawn comment this week.

Yesterday the following was sent to the Herald by class 10 NL of Timaru Boys’ High School. It is unusual for us to present it in this way, but we felt it deserved special treatment.

Dear Editor

We are a group of Y10 students going through the Rite Journey programme at Timaru Boys’ High School. We are looking at stereotypes and the impact that the media has on creating these and the impact this can have on us. We have looked at the media’s response to State of Origin Game 1 with the Paul Gallen fight. The highlight reel on only showed this fight! No good plays, tries or good sportsmanship was evident.

We then looked at the recent developments of our local, club rugby senior game between Geraldine and Temuka. The player/coach quote on Monday of “a good old fashioned slugfest” and “the most exciting part of the game” surprised us. We are taught that fighting is not OK and that “it takes a bigger man to walk away”. We realise that the player/coach probably made these comments in the heat of the moment, but it appears as if the media glorifies these behaviours.

During this class our teacher showed us the TV3 news report on the death of the Kelston Boys’ student, Stephen Dudley, who was killed as a result of a fight after rugby practice. We were deeply saddened by this but pleased that the family has said “we need to address the culture of violence across our country so something like this doesn’t happen again”.

We are confused that violence at a rugby game is not seen as assault and that it is dealt with by a slap on the wrist and not by police. Is this why the 15 and 17-year-old boys who allegedly assaulted Stephen Dudley got it wrong? Did they think they would get away with it because the fight took place on a rugby field, after rugby practice?

Throughout our Rite Journey Programme we are challenged physically, mentally and emotionally. Our challenge to The Timaru Herald is to make a stand against the glorification of violence in our paper and to the people who make the decisions about assault that occur on the rugby paddock from spectators or players.

Why are these incidents not handled by police? What is the message they are wanting to send the youth of today?

– © Fairfax NZ News

The editor responded to their letter with his own opinion piece the following day. That can be read here:

Well done Class 10NL at TBHS for taking a stand.
Just Brilliant!