Eligibility Regulations

In 2007 School Sport NZ introduced eligibility regulations for the events it sanctions. These were deemed necessary to recognise the importance of consistency, equity and fair play for participation in National and Island secondary school sporting events and to protect long held school values by:

  • ensuring all the educational needs of the young person were being considered, not solely their sporting development
  • maintaining a level playing field in school sport by preventing the formation of ‘super teams’ through “loading” a team with imported players.
  • protecting schools from being stripped of students they had worked to develop, students who were often leaders in many fields, not solely the sporting arena
  • providing a pathway for home grown players to get into and remain in their school’s premier teams and not find themselves superseded by short-term imports

1. Student Eligibility


a)      A student eligible to compete in National and Island secondary school events must:

              1. be enrolled as a bona fide (Year 9 or above) student at the school of representation and studying at least
                 80% of a programme that is part of the timetable provided by the school for at least four weeks immediately
                 prior to the event.

              2. have a satisfactory attendance record at the school.  The final decision will be at the Principal's discretion.

              3. be under 19 years of age at the first of January in the year of the competition unless specified otherwise
                  for a particular competition. NOTE: Rowing and Rugby events are U18 on January 1st through their event

      b)     The school must be prepared to authenticate a student’s birth date.  Organising committees may require
               validation by a birth certificate or passport.

      c)     All teams and individuals participating in National or Island events must be declared at the date prescribed

              by the sanctioned sporting body.


  1. In addition to the 4 week requirement, any Non Domestic student must have been enrolled in and have commenced their attendance at the school of representation on or before the first day of the term in which the event or qualifier is held.
  2. If an allegation challenging the enrolment history of a student as attested by the principal on the signed team entry material is provided in writing to the School Sport NZ CEO by a principal or a School Sport NZ event organiser, the principal of the team in question is responsible for providing to the School Sport NZ CEO the relevant ENROL record for the student.  The principal is responsible for attaining the consent of the student or their caregiver to supply the ENROL record to School Sport NZ.  If an ENROL record is not provided by the principal the student will be deemed to be ineligible.
  3. Other age divisions below the U19 age restriction are possible.
  4. Subject to the limits described in School Team Eligibility (1-6) below, students who otherwise meet the criteria in a) above and who transfer from one school to another are eligible to compete provided they are on the roll of the participating school and have attended classes for at least four weeks immediately prior to the time of the event.  (Dispensation for those who transfer within four weeks of the competition is at the discretion of the organising committee in consultation with School Sport NZ).
  5. Organising committees that want to allow Year 7 and 8 students to compete in their events or to compete in separate grade[s] associated with the secondary school event are encouraged to do so as long as this is made clear to all schools and to School Sport NZ when entries are taken. Secondary schools that have Year 7 or 8 students on their roll may include these students within their secondary school teams where the above has been notified. For events that have not been previously notified, in special cases [e.g. to complete a school team], the organising committee may grant dispensation to allow Year 7 and 8 students in secondary school competitions.
  6. A secondary school [host school] may offer sporting opportunities to students who attend community secondary schools [attached schools] not, by themselves, capable of entering normal secondary school events [e.g. special character schools with a secondary roll lower than 50 in any gender].  The school may enter teams of students from both host and attached schools in national and island events and will not be considered as ‘composite schools’ provided that

           -  all other eligibility rules regarding age and attendance of the students are met

           - the principals of the schools complete a written agreement on the terms that allow students from the
              ‘attached’ school[s] to play for a team[s] of the host school, the terms to include agreement that the student[s]

              from the ‘attached’ school will be part of the team[s] for the season and not selected only for certain fixtures. At least eight weeks prior to the proposed shared participation, the agreement[s] will be provided to School Sport NZ for its approval and to allow notification to the organising committee which will consider but is not
              bound to accept the recommendation of
School Sport NZ.

           -  the principal of the host school accepts responsibility for the team.

           -  The team[s] will compete under the name of the ‘host school’.

           -  Students will be named as representatives of the ‘host school’.

           -  An attached school will have only one host school [or one girls’ school and one boys’ school] for any/all of

            its students who participate in national and island secondary school events; this does not prevent the attached

           school entering students under its own name in sports where numbers may be viable [e.g. individual sporting


  1. School Sport NZ will consider applications from principals for exemptions of Year 13 students with Flexible Partnership Learning Agreements (3/2 dual enrolments) that are completing less than 80% of a course as offered by the school on a case by case basis. The school MUST supply a fully completed MoE template Flexible Partnership Learning Agreement and to be eligible for exemption consideration, the student must not be classified as New to School under School Sport NZ eligibility criteria.

2. School Team Eligibility

  1. A school team eligible to compete in School Sport NZ sanctioned events must not exceed the quota of students new to the school in the 2 years preceding the first day of the event as specified in the table below. For clarity, the student’s most recent enrolment date at the school must be used.  For the sport listed. teams are limited to a maximum two (2) non domestic students (or one for sports with a quota of one) and any non domestic student must always be included in the quota allowed. Domestic students are defined in Note 6 below.

Maximum Number of students enrolled within 2 years preceding the start of event (New to School Students - NTS) and Non Domestic Students (ND - who MUST be included in these maximum numbers).  New to School students who have been issued a Primary Caregiver Relocation Exemption (PCRE) whereby they are EXEMPT from these numbers. For clarity, the student’s most recent enrolment date at the school must be used.





Basketball 3x3










Rowing- eights/octuples


Rowing - other boats


Rugby League


Rugby Union -15’s


Rugby Union – 7’s








Table Tennis








Water Polo


2.   Where the family or primary caregiver of a student has changed address and, as a consequence of the primary caregivers relocation, the student could not reasonably have been expected to remain at their previous school, an application for exemption may be submitted to the Regional Sports Director responsible for the region of the new school. The application must be on the official Application for Exemption form available at www.nzsssc.org.nz, be signed by the principal and parent/primary caregiver and have evidence of the address change attached as outlined on the application form. A MAXIMUM of 2 PCRE’s issued in any calendar year may be included in any team that has a School Sport NZ NTS quota. Any appeal must be lodged in writing with the CEO of School Sport NZ.

3.    Schools that allow entry for some students only at some time after Year 9 (e.g. girls in Year 12 and above) and The Correspondence School will not be bound by the numbers permitted here but will be restricted to those maximum numbers for each code when enrolling students who had previously represented another school in that code in a competition listed here.  For clarity, a school could not play in its Basketball team more than 2 girls who had previously competed for other school(s) in the ‘A’ or “AA’ Championships or their Premiership qualifiers. Special Circumstance Variation: For Girls Rowing only, at St Pauls Collegiate, Scots College and Kings College only a new to school student who provides a School Sport NZ waiver signed by her previous school principal to NZSS Rowing Assoc will be exempt from the quota of new to school students.

4.    Students who have attended a middle school and transfer at the end of the final year level of that middle school will not be considered new to school at their school of first enrolment following middle school.

5.    Teams from ‘host school/attached school’ agreements [see below] that introduce students ‘new to either school over the past two years’ must include these in the maximum number allowed in a team.

6.     Any final decision on the eligibility of a student or team will rest with School Sport NZ.


  1. Students who start their attendance at a school in year 9 and below are not included in the maximum permitted numbers here.  But see Clause 3. above
  2. The NTS criteria apply to all finals’ qualifiers unless negotiated otherwise with regional qualifying event organisers.
  3. Numbers apply to the whole squad registered for the competition or tournament. 
  4. It is expected that, for consistency, regions that conduct secondary school sports competitions will adopt these criteria and quotas for their ‘premier’ grades.
  5. Other sporting codes may apply for inclusion in or an extension to this list of events
  6. Domestic students are defined as:
    1. a NZ Citizen
    2. the holder of a residence permit
    3. an Australian citizen
    4. a NZ passport holder (e.g. Cook Islands)
    5. a dependent of a work permit holder, refugee, diplomat
    6. Exchange Students on MOE approved Exchange Organiser Programmes ( www.minedu.govt.nz/EPO )

or whatever definition the Ministry of Education currently applies.

3. Composite Teams

Composite teams will be permitted only if:

  1. all other eligibility rules regarding age and attendance are met
  2. the principals of the schools that the students attend agree
  3. one principal accepts responsibility for the composite team
  4. the team will be called by a name indicating that more than one school has contributed players
  5. In the premier level of any sport, the team will be permitted only through the preliminary round and will not be eligible for placing or competition trophies (but may be eligible for awards such as Fair Play and individual trophies.)
  6. Where appropriate and with the agreement of the event organiser and School SportNZ, Composite teams may compete for medal places in competitions below the premier level of that NZSSSC sanctioned event. Where events are either a qualifying event for or incorporate promotion to a higher level School SportNZ sanctioned event, Composite teams may not progress or be promoted to the higher level event ahead of a team from a single school.
  7. Composite teams should not be able to enter tournaments at the premier level of a sport when single school teams are on a waiting list.

4. Home Schooled Students

Individual Sports. 

  1. Where event organisers wish to do so, home-schooled students that provide current evidence of MoE approval for home schooling may participate in a School Sport NZ sanctioned event
  2. Home-schooled students are not eligible for medal placings however organisers may recognise a merit performance with a separate award/s.
  3. The parent of the home-schooled student must sign off a document with the event organiser accepting full responsibility for their student including the event health and safety plans.

Team Sports.

  1. For events below the premier level of a School Sport NZ sport, and where agreement of the event organiser is given, Home-schooled students may be included in the Composite Team of a member school, provided that the home-schooled students have been a part of the member school team for the season and not simply joining for the event.
  2. The member school principal of such teams is responsible for providing to the event organiser current evidence of MoE approval for home schooling for each home-schooled student included in the Composite Team.
  3. All other School Sport NZ regulations relating to Composite Teams will apply to such teams in (i) above, including the principal of the member school taking responsibility for all team members.
  4. Composite teams made up entirely of home-schooled students, i.e. not part of a member school team, will not be permitted in School Sport NZ sanctioned events.

5. Inducement to Transfer for Sporting Reasons (Poaching)

School Sport NZ does not condone any inducement of students to transfer from one school to another for sporting reasons, other than by way of publicly advertised scholarship.  Where a Regional Principals Association advises School Sport NZ in writing that it has investigated and is satisfied that inducement has taken place, School Sport NZ may, in support of the Regional Principals Association, invoke the procedures outlined in the School Sport NZ Integrity Framework and, if proven, impose a penalty which may include exclusion of a student(s), team or other personnel (coach, manager etc) from School Sport NZ sanctioned events.


We are currently reviewing eligibility regulations in relation to the release of Sport NZ Guiding Principles for the Inclusion of Transgender People in Community Sport in December 2022. If you would like to discuss this or would like support with transgender students in your school or sport, please contact Casey Redman - Diversity and Inclusion Lead.

Our highest priority for this work is the safety of all students, particularly that of the student who has been identified as gender diverse, as they should never be individually identified or singled out where possible.

We still have a lot of work to do before we can offer clear rules and bylaws but the work is underway and we are able to support with advice in the meantime.