Game on for private school sport after high-level Zoom talks
Independent and Catholic school heads expect inter-school sport will resume this weekend after a breakthrough marathon meeting last night with the state's chief health officer.
More than 20 headmasters from primary and secondary independent and Catholic schools walked away from a two-hour Zoom meeting with NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant shortly after 7pm on Wednesday night confident non-government school sport was back in play.
Non-government boys schools scrapped last Saturday's fixtures after strict rules confined competitions to public school-centric zones, which allowed government school sport to go ahead as planned.
Private and Catholic schools railed against what they saw as an unlevel playing field, which meant they were at a disadvantage to the government system.
The public school zones meant Asquith Boys High School in Sydney's northwest was free to play schools as far as 35km away - such as Randwick Boys High School - but private schools St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill could not play St Ignatius Riverview just 5km away.
In an email to Catholic Schools NSW chief executive Dallas McInerney, Dr Chant on Wednesday night relaxed the rules and assured non-government schools they were free to exercise discretion about what schools could compete against one another.
"I suggest that whatever configuration of inter-school activity is planned, it simply adheres to the same principle of avoidance of large numbers, minimising the number of schools that interact, and that the schools that do so are reasonably proximate to each other," Dr Chant wrote.
"For example, a competition that was limited to within the northern beaches of Sydney would be consistent with this principle.
"Competitions may run across local government areas (LGA) within regions, but if there are enough teams or players within one LGA a more local competition should be considered."
A return to school sport was critical for students' mental wellbeing, according to Mr McInerney.
"School sport has been a valuable outlet for school kids during the pandemic," he said.
"We know sport's positive effects and this clarity from the Chief Health Officer confirming inter-school sport can continue is great news."
Schools in the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools (GPS) - including The King's School, The Shore School and St Ignatius' College Riverview - were last night confident the winter season could resume this Saturday within the Sydney basin without the involvement of Northern Tablelands member school The Armidale School.
The top senior secondary teams within the GPS can fit in a shortened five-round rugby and soccer season if they compete every Saturday for the four remaining Saturdays before school holidays as well as one midweek round.
Schools in the city's other major private boys school sporting competition, the Combined Associated Schools - including Barker College, Cranbrook School and Knox Grammar - have already run and won the winter sports season but are keen to crack on with the athletics season in the lead-up to the track and field championship on September 17.
Of the 26 private girls schools in the Association of Heads of Independent Girls Schools (AHIGS), about 20 schools competed in hockey and netball at the weekend after jettisoning schools outside of Sydney from its competition and organising programs that mirrored the public school zones.
Originally published as Game on for private school sport after high-level Zoom talks