An eight-year-old boy has found himself at the centre of a debate over junior rugby league regulations.

A video posted to Facebook shows the eight-year-old boy playing in the under nines, some are saying the young boy is twice his teammates’ size, reports 9 news.

The footage has sparked a fierce debate online about size versus weight within the league, and whether regulations should be changed.

The St Johns Eagles chairman, Nasser Matta, told News Corp his club is “just following the rules” and added that “there are some even bigger kids playing”.

“This boy’s a gentle giant,” he said.

“He’s aware of his size. He could pick up kids with one hand if he wanted to but he’s just a nice gentle boy. He’s a good kid from a good family who just loves playing footy.

“I don’t want the kid to think he doesn’t deserve to play footy because of his size.”

A parent from the opposing team, the Berala Bears, posted videos of Saturday’s match to Facebook, including one showing the team banding together to tackle him to the ground.

“It can be done,” he said triumphantly.

The proud parent said the St Johns Eagles team are “such an awesome side to play against”.

The NRL has faced calls to change the regulations for the junior league for years.

A change of policy, to create division using weight instead of age to prevent children from getting injured, is being trialled in Sydney’s west.

Canterbury Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle said the differing sizes of children is a “realistic” problem faced by the sport.
“This is one of the realistic challenges we face in our game,” he told News Corp.

“You move these boys up an age group and while their bodies are big enough to deal with it physically, they are not old enough mentally. It’s a tough one that the NSWRL is now looking at.”

UPDATE 3 August

7 sport reports that, after reading insensitive and cruel comments on social media, the boys’ parents were understandably reduced to tears.

To make matters worse, the boy has now been withdrawn from the team for this weekend’s game.

One dad of a teammate from the St Johns Eagles Under 8s – who compete in the Canterbury-Bankstown junior league said, he now has deep regrets over uploading the video to the team’s public YouTube page.

“We put all the highlights of the team’s tries there, but now we’ve made it private,” he said.

“The fact is the boy only joined the team six weeks ago – and has only scored three tries. It’s not like he’s knocking over kids every time he touches the ball. In fact, he’s very gentle and aware of his size.”

The father also added there were no complaints from the opposition on the day, Moorebank Rams.

The video predictably re-ignited the debate over weight-for-age competitions, a model the NSWRL is trialing in some Western Sydney competitions.

The below vision sparked the age versus weight debate

I am sorry but I really don’t think size should ever come into it – he is the same maturity as his peers in his age group, why on earth would you even consider putting him in a side with 12-13 year olds?

Do you think junior footy should be played according to age or size?

Share your comments

  • It’s a tough one, on one hand you don’t want injuries but on the other you want kids to be included.


  • Poor boy and parents. Children come in all shapes and sizes and that’s just reality, as do adults. Whatever decision they make in what team he plays in he shouldn’t be missing out like he is at the moment.


  • yeah this is sad that he has now been excluded from the sport! Wow i don’t want to think about what kind of a message that sends to a little child? poor lad


  • This is ridiculous and makes me so mad about the state of the world we live in.


  • I have a cousin who is 3 years younger than me. Although I am tall by the time I reached year 8 at school he was already taller than me, and just as slim. Size is not always an advantage.


  • Agree with Ray Hadley on this one – if he had to play against others his size he’d be playing in the Big League. How terrible that the video came to this ending, parents in tears, and child withdrawn from a game he obviously loves.


  • When my children played junior rugby league from 1980 on..there was a weight limit for junior team members. When did this change? and why?


  • Shouldn’t the leagues just use some common sense and if they see a kid miles bigger than all the others and in danger of hurting them, just put them up a grade. It will make a them a better player in the end because they are learning how to play with more of a challenge.


  • Footy should be played according to age of course !


  • Size should not be discriminated against!


  • Some kids are big for their age, others small – you can’t discriminate a child because of their size – let him play in his age group!


  • Junior footy should be based on age not size!


  • They are putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on this child. I would leave him where he is.


  • You can see how people think he has an advantage with his size, he s big! But no, leave him where he is, age not size. You cant penalise people for being tall or short for that matter


  • Poor kid, it only makes him not fit in wherever he gets put. Should be based on age not size, it isn’t his fault he genetically is larger than others, same goes for kids smaller….


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