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Rotorua girl, 12, leaves league pitch in tears after being told she couldn't play with boys

A young rugby league player left a pitch in tears after being told by a tournament organiser she couldn't play with her team because she was a girl.

Rugby ball and posts.

Ngongotahā under-13 player McKenzie Anderson-Tito was playing at a tournament in Rotorua with a team she'd been part of for seven years.

However, she was pulled from the field after an organiser said girls aged 12 and over couldn't play in mixed teams.

McKenzie's mum, Cherie Anderson, told NZME that she noticed her daughter wasn't on the field, and was told by an organiser she couldn't play.

It was the first time the family had heard the "sexist" rule.

"I can't believe this is still happening in this day and age," Anderson said.

The team's coach wanted her to keep playing, but after an organiser said the final game wouldn't start until McKenzie left the field, the youngster did so with tears in her eyes.

"We'd had enough by the end of that. We just felt for our daughter, she was already embarrassed and we didn't want to hang around.

"There was no apology and the way the lady came across was terrible. She was really arrogant about it all and not really providing solutions to the problem."

New Zealand Rugby League told NZME that girls shouldn't play against boys aged over 12 as is was too dangerous, and it applied to McKenzie as it was an under-13 tournament.

The organisation said it was sorry for how the incident was handled, however.

"NZRL has a duty to ensure the safety of all players participating in rugby league; however, at no point do we wish to make anyone feel embarrassed."

Source: 1 NEWS