A trophy handed out to an All Black-producing rugby club is named after a convicted sex offender.

A movement is now underway, led by a victim of Catholic child sex abuse, to rename the Brother Claudius Cup, named after Marist Brother Claudius Pettit who sexually abused a boy at a Wellington school.

Auckland Marist Brothers Old Boys Rugby, which hands out a trophy for most tries scored, would not comment when contacted by Stuff on Tuesday.

Published in Stuff

Its website said Pettit taught for years at the Marist Brothers’ Primary School in Auckland.

“He was renowned as a keen and successful rugby coach. He also served on the committees of both the Auckland and the NZ Marist Brothers’ Old Boys’ Rugby Clubs. He lives in retirement in the Home of Compassion in Upper Hutt.”

What it does not mention is his conviction for sexual abuse on a boy in the rugby first XV at Lower Hutt’s St Bernard’s College, thought to be in the early 1990s. Nor does it mention Pettit – originally name Malcolm Thomas Pettit – died in 2015.

Since being contacted by Stuff, the website has been updated to say a new trophy is to be announced for the top try scorer.

In an email to the Marist Brothers, old boy and advocate Patrick Hill called for the award to be reallocated “to someone who is a role model for all”.

“As you can imagine, most people, including well known All Blacks who have come from your club, will not be aware that this award is in the name of a convicted paedophile and I cannot imagine anyone who would want to receive this award in the name of such a person.

“Please reallocate this award immediately and let me know when you have done so to ensure that any of his victims, and the general public, do not think that your rugby club supports paedophiles or reveres them in any way.”

Hill told Stuff he was particularly horrified with the fact the trophy was for most tries scored.

Hill was at St Bernard’s at the time of the abuse but was not a victim of Pettit. He was, though, abused by another brother, Patrick Bignell.

“Brother Claudius Pettit was heavily involved with boys sports at St Bernard’s College, particularly rugby and the first XV and after the abuse was discovered the other rugby team members were referred to Brother Patrick Bignell,” Hill said.

Brother Peter Horide, from Marist Brothers, confirmed Pettit was convicted for child sex abuse and – till being told of the trophy by Stuff – was not aware it existed.

“It is not appropriate for that name to be associated with an award,” Horide said.

The club boasts a long list of All Blacks, including John Kirwan, brothers Zinzan and Robin Brooke, Caleb Ralph, Pat Lam, and Doug Howlett.

St Bernard’s College would not comment on Tuesday.

By Tom Hunt
Published in Stuff
January 22, 2019