11-year-old left in tears after being told he can't play in rugby match because he's 'too big'
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Heartbreaking footage has resurfaced of an 11-year-old boy being told he was barred from playing with his teammates because he was ‘too big’.
It’s that age-old debate of whether grassroots rugby gradings should be judged on age or size, however, for young Leonidas Hinekitea he had already been five games into an eight-week season when he was told he can't play.
The video shows the 11-year-old being informed by an NSW Waratahs official that the youngster would no longer be permitted to step foot on the field.
The clip makes for tough viewing.
Hinekitea’s reaction tells the whole story, confused and very upset by the ruling in extremely sad scenes.
His mother Ayla took to Facebook at the time to explain that her son had gone halfway through the season without any sort of complaint.
She wrote: “Just before the whistle blew an official from Waratahs approached us to say the ‘big kid’ can’t play no more.
“My issue - if there was an issue with him playing in his own age group, don’t go and accept his registration and take my money.
“Call me to discuss this during the week don’t go and tell me my kids can’t play when he’s already tied his boots and is ready to kick off.
“Sorry for posting this Leo, but at the end of the day you are still A KID and CRYING because you don’t fully understand what is going on and why you cannot play is ALLOWED - 11 years old.”
Rugby Australia currently imposes a ‘size for age’ guideline for their grassroots grades rugby.
In the under 11 boys category players must be between 134cm and 16cm tall, and weigh between 29kg to 65kg.
Wanting to protect other children is understandable, especially in an environment where there is growing awareness of the impacts of concussions and head injuries.
However, while the young boy may have been out of the perimeters, the way in which he was informed he wouldn’t be allowed to play just moments before he was set to kick off is heartbreaking.
His mother Ayla noted that the entire team decided to walk with Leo as they didn’t feel it right to continue the game without him and subsequently forfeited the game.
People online were also left disgusted by his treatment.
One user commented on YouTube: “Shocking, just shocking. I was a little fella growing up playing league and those big kids running over me toughened me tf up!! Hope the kid is alright.”
Another wrote: “I feel for this kid, I wasn’t allowed to play football for a whole season due to being too big for the other kids, awful feeling nothing he can do.”
A third added: “This hit me right in my feels.... Let the kid play he could end up a superstar.”
Featured Image Credit: Storyful Viral/YouTube.
Topics: Australia, Rugby Australia, Rugby Union