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 Police Vetting

New Zealand Rugby and ensuring the welfare of Small Blacks


A great environment for Small Blacks Rugby

Tips for coaches and others working with children

Dealing with concerns, complaints or allegations

Understanding child abuse

About Police vetting

The Police vetting right to appeal

Acknowledgements and resources

A great environment for Small Blacks Rugby

The safety and welfare of children and young people involved in rugby is paramount.

Children in New Zealand look up to sports stars, coaches, team captains and referees as heroes. Children regularly play sport and develop close relationships with their team members, coaches and support staff.

As part of New Zealand Rugby’s focus on ensuring a safe environment for Small Blacks Rugby, all coaches registering for Small Blacks Rugby (aged 12 and under) and referees registering solely for Small Blacks Rugby in 2013 are required to undergo Police vetting.

Police vetting provides parents, families and whanau with the confidence that children are participating in sport supported by coaches and referees who are not considered as posing a risk to their safety.

Tips for coaches and others working with children

  • Know your physical boundaries and work within sight of others at all times
  • Know your emotional and verbal boundaries and be encouraging and positive on performance
  • Know your social boundaries, including not having sexual relationships with people you’re coaching and not touching people in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable
  • Minimise physical contact as much as possible
  • Protect yourself and a child from risk by avoiding being alone with a child
  • Maintain control at all times and avoid losing your temper
  • Make sure parents are clear about collection of their children from training and games
  • Plan appropriately for overnight and away trips, especially if you’re taking mixed or girls groups away, eg separate sleeping arrangements for adults to children and additional adult support.
  • Qualified personnel should attend to injuries wherever possible
  • Check whether your club/school has guidelines for photographing children.

Dealing with concerns, complaints or allegations

  • If you have serious concerns about a child’s welfare within the rugby environment or you have received a complaint or allegation, you should immediately raise it in confidence with a senior representative at your club/school and also with your Provincial Union.
  • It is also important to recognise that some allegations can be false or misconceived. You should ensure the person whom the allegation has been made about is not unfairly treated and not labelled as guilty.
  • Even though the allegation could be false or misconceived, the matter must be appropriately investigated.
  • If you have concerns about a child’s welfare away from the rugby field, you should contact Child, Youth and Family.
  • An Emergency?
  • If it’s an emergency and you suspect a child is at serious risk, or a crime against a child has been committed this must be reported. IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 111

Understanding child abuse

Child Abuse is defined in the Children Young Persons and their Families Act as:

  • The harming (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually), ill-treatment, abuse, neglect or deprivation of any child or young person.It includes emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
  • Emotional abuse occurs when a child’s emotional, psychological or social well-being and sense of worth is continually battered.
  • Neglect is a pattern of behaviour which occurs over a period of time and results in impaired functioning or development of a child. It is the failure to provide for a child’s basic needs.
  • Physical abuse can be caused from punching, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning or throwing the child. Physical abuse may also result from excessive or inappropriate discipline or violence within the family, and is considered abuse regardless of whether or not it was intended to hurt the child. Physical abuse may be the result of a single episode or of a series of episodes.
  • Sexual abuse includes acts or behaviours where an adult, older or more powerful person uses a child for a sexual purpose. While it may involve a stranger, most sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows and trusts.

For more information on understanding child abuse, including recognising the signs and what to do visit

About Police vetting

Police vetting aims to protect our more vulnerable members of society from any risks posed by people who may have displayed behaviour that could be detrimental to others’ safety and wellbeing

What Police vetting looks for

Police vetting searches the Police database for information held about the person being vetted.
Information released may include:

  • conviction history,
  • location of the court,
  • the date of the offence,
  • the offence itself; and
  • the sentence imposed.

Criminal conviction information is released in accordance with the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004.

Offences that will disqualify you from Small Blacks Rugby

A person that has been found guilty of certain offences against children and others will be automatically disqualified from coaching or refereeing Small Blacks Rugby.

Convictions warranting automatic disqualification are as follows:

  • Murder
  • Sexual offences
  • Indecency offences resulting in imprisonment
  • Kidnapping
  • Offences connected with child prostitution
  • Possession or publication of child pornography
  • Assault and/or violence and/or harassment towards a child
  • Possession of drugs for supply resulting in imprisonment
  • Recidivist drink driving resulting in imprisonment.
How Police vetting works

When you register to coach or referee for Small Blacks Rugby, you will be asked to complete a Police vetting consent form. You must bring a driving licence when registering.

The forms will then be provided to Police for vetting. The results of the Police check will be confidentially considered by a New Zealand Rugby authorised personnel.

If more investigation is required, in the interests of natural justice, a senior representative from New Zealand Rugby will discuss this information with you in confidence before making a decision concerning any registration application.

To ensure fairness to all Small Blacks coaches and referees, applicants who refuse to consent to Police vetting will be ineligible to coach or referee Small Blacks Rugby.


Police vetting right to appeal

As part of New Zealand Rugby’s focus on ensuring a safe environment for Small Blacks Rugby, all coaches registering for Small Blacks Rugby (aged 12 and under) and referees registering solely for Small Blacks Rugby in 2013 are required to undergo Police vetting.

In the interest of fairness, New Zealand Rugby provides a right of appeal should an individual fail Police vetting and wish to be involved in Small Blacks Rugby. 

What to do in the event of negative Police vetting result

Should an individual be notified they are disqualified from Small Blacks coaching or refereeing and wish to appeal, they must, within one week of disqualification advise, complete the following:

  1. Write to New Zealand Rugby providing reasons and details as to why Coach should be allowed to coach (referee) Small Blacks Rugby.  
  2. Provide a written reference from a Club or School office holder and one person of good standing in the local community (elected official, Police, Judge etc). 
  3. Be available for interview by the New Zealand Rugby Police Vetting Appeals Panel if required. 

New Zealand Rugby Police Vetting Appeal Panel

New Zealand Rugby Police Vetting Appeal Panel will convene within 48 hours of receipt of appeal to discuss and assess the decision.  Safety of the children will be the Panel’s paramount consideration and a decision will be binding.  

Appeal finding

The General Manager of Community and Provincial Union Rugby will contact the applicant and advise the result of the appeal, including factors considered. A written letter, copied to the Club or School office holder will confirm the Panel’s decision. The Panel’s decision is binding.


The appeal process is provided by New Zealand Rugby at no cost to the applicant, however any cost incurred by the applicant in completing the appeal must be met by the individual. 

Acknowledgements and resources