Exclusive by the National Reporting Team’s Lorna Knowles
One of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious private schools is being investigated for animal cruelty after the ABC obtained videos of members of the school’s top rugby teams crash-tackling sheep in a farm paddock.
The King’s School in Parramatta helped pioneer rugby union in Australia and has produced dozens of Wallabies players.
But the videos obtained by the 7.30 program threaten to tarnish the school’s proud sporting history.
The footage was posted on a private Facebook page by school teacher and coach James Hilgendorf and a fellow former professional rugby player, Hugh Perrett.
You can watch the video below. Post continues after video.
After the ABC contacted the school on Wednesday, the private page was removed.
The videos show the school’s first and second XV rugby teams running into a paddock, chasing and tackling young rams to the ground and dragging them to designated squares, where they are flipped over onto their backs.
The incident took place at a King’s old boy’s sheep farm in Orange, in central west NSW, during the April school holidays.
It has been condemned by farming and veterinary groups, but the school headmaster, Dr Tim Hawkes, has defended the incident, saying it was a rugby camp training exercise not dissimilar to shearing.
But RSPCA chief executive Steve Coleman told the ABC the footage was horrific and disgraceful.
“Innocent animals are potentially being harmed, if not injured. You’ve got young impressionable teenage boys who seemingly are under the direction of an adult who saw fit to film it. It’s subsequently been posted,” he said
“To me that must smack of a level of acceptability about what was happening on that particular day, and from an RSPCA perspective, it’s completely, completely unnecessary, unreasonable and how anyone could justify that kind of behaviour is beyond me.”