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April 27, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Tally-ho Vic athletes behave with pip-pip dignity, manners

The reviews were positive for the behaviour of the 2009 Victoria University of Wellington University Games squadron, who laid siege to the slur of negative publicity that has dogged the team since last year’s University Games fracas.

The squad of 280 athletes, who were housed in two motels and a marae in Hawera, were reportedly exceptionally well behaved, with not a single incident of misbehaviour reported.

Margaret Bailey, the manager of the Furlong Motel in Hawera where 40 Victorian athletes stayed, was positively glowing in her assessment of the athletes’ behaviour during their stay.

“We enjoyed [the] team and had no problem with them at all,” Bailey said.

“They were all very good, pleasant young people, and we would have no hesitation in having them stay with us again.”

The Komatua at the Taiporohenui Marae where 110 athletes stayed were equally forthcoming in praise for the team.

“They made it very easy and we would welcome them back anytime. Kia ora mai ra,” they said.

Victoria University of Wellington Student Association President Jasmine Freemantle spoke proudly of the team’s behaviour during the week-long tournament.

“It was a double whammy to win the shield and get such positive feedback. The behaviour of our athletes was of a very high standard,” she said.

“All the accommodation providers came without any prompting to us and said they would like to put out public statements in support of us. [At] the Furlong, where I was staying, they came and knocked on my door and asked if we had a blog and wanted to post something saying how great we were, and how well behaved the team was.”

Victoria Team Manager Brent Hayward said the praise was “unordinary,” but was well received all the same.

“We got positive feedback, and it’s not ordinary that you get contacted saying ‘You’re more than welcome to stay here in the future, your students are more than welcome back’,” he said.

Victoria University had experienced difficulty in finding accommodation in New Plymouth for the games, with many motels and accommodation providers reluctant to offer space to the team following a deluge of negative publicity.

The team found accommodation in Hawera, which provided a number of logistical difficulties for team members whose games were held an hour north in New Plymouth.

Controversy surrounded Victoria University in 2008 when 80 athletes were evicted from Rotorua’s Cleveland Motel for “unruly behaviour.”

The owners of the Cleveland Motel attempted unsuccessfully to charge the Victoria University Students’ Association for costs related to the apparent destruction caused by the students.

The unsubstantiated claims were dismissed by the Disputes Tribunal in February, and the Cleveland Motel was ordered to refund VUWSA $4114 in unsupported costs.

In response to calls from Salient, the Cleveland motel referred to students as “scum of the earth.”

In light of the publicity, all athletes were required by University Sport New Zealand to sign good behaviour contracts prior to attending the games.

Hayward said that the shining report card handed to Victoria’s athletes should provide enough capital for future accommodation providers, and that the treatment levied at the team was unjust.

“It’s a credit to the behaviour of our students on the back of some negative publicity. It reiterates what we’ve always said; that the publicity was unjust, and it just shows that we are a well-behaved university and moteliers and accommodation providers should be more than willing to take any of us on,” Hayward said.

Hayward thanked the team’s support staff for their assistance in ensuring the 2009 University Games experience was completely hassle free.

“I want to thank my Assistant Team Man-ager Victor Timu as well as all the sport coordinators, especially Tanya Wilson. Their efforts went a long way to Victoria defending the shield in ‘09. VUWSA has continued to fund and provide resources for our uni games team and Victoria University has made a significant contribution this year as well,” he said.

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