Uproar over Montfort dropping rugby as CCA

Members of Montfort Secondary School's rugby team and their parents were left confused and frustrated after being informed last month that the sport would be phased out as a co-curricular activity (CCA) in the school after next year.

Since then, tributes from former rugby players of the school have poured in on Facebook with the hashtag "#keepMontfortrugby", imploring the school not to phase out the sport. An online petition has also been circulating.

The sport has been part of the school's CCAs since 2000. The school's former players include national rugby union captain Gaspar Tan, one of the coaches on the team.

At last year's Schools B Division Rugby Championship (Bowl), Montfort finished third.

The Straits Times understands that the players had been told last month that rugby would be discontinued, and that they were advised to join other CCAs.

ST also understands that players and their parents did not receive any explanation or reasons for the decision to phase out the CCA, although some parents were told that there were "safety concerns" due to injuries.

Parents whom ST spoke to expressed frustration at the lack of clarity surrounding the matter.

Project manager Adrian Tan, whose son Ian plays as a hooker on the team, told ST he has been trying to arrange a meeting with Montfort Secondary School's principal Mark Minjoot to seek clarification, but his efforts have been unsuccessful owing to clashing schedules.

"I just want to hear from him what the reasons are. If we can come to a common understanding and I can see his point of view, I'll accept it," said Tan.

"I'm just asking him to answer my question: Why close rugby?" added the 40-year-old.

In a statement on the school's Facebook page on Tuesday, the Montfort School Management Committee announced that it has "reviewed the rugby CCA matter thoroughly and decided to phase out the CCA".

The statement, addressed to students, parents and alumni of the school's rugby team, said the school is "working with the students and parents to select from the various transition options offered", and that "students with a fervent interest in the sport will be aided to pursue it via other avenues".

Minjoot declined comment in response to queries sent by ST, saying that the issue was an internal matter.

Yesterday, a Facebook post on the school's page informed parents of a "clarification session" on Nov 22 for those keen to find out more about the decision to phase out rugby.

Secondary Two student Ian, who started playing rugby last year when he joined the school team, told ST he was disappointed and saddened by the news.

"When I joined the school, I didn't see any other CCA that caught my eye," said Ian.

"Rugby has helped me a lot in making friends in secondary school, and I recently joined a club so that I can improve my skills.

"Everyone was quite sad when we heard the news."

Administrative executive Faith Tay, whose son is a Secondary Two player, said the situation was "frustrating" as parents were not involved in the decision-making process and there was insufficient information provided.

"It's very demoralising for the kids," added the 39-year-old.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2017, with the headline 'Uproar over Montfort dropping rugby as CCA'. Subscribe