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Jack

my name is jack f. i played for the raptors, but switched to another club. i play hooker and when i left with one of my friends(connor), another of my friends(evan), told my family about the bounty. my friend and i where the victims of the bounties and i'm just glad that the consequences were placed and no one got seriously hurt.

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rugbysport

These coaches and the team are a bunch of thugs. The coaches deserve to be kicked out of the sport completely. To everyone reading this, please know this isn't what rugby is about. I know the coaches and I know that they do not have the best interest of the game at heart.

Concerned Parent

Someone should start a petition to have these 2 removed and banned for life. I also know them and they will do anything to manipulate people to get what they want. They have done nothing but lie to people and will continue until something is done. Raptor Rugby has been around for a year and should not be able to continue.

Gerry Palmer

As a parent for one of the
Raptor Rugby players who attended all of the games I can tell you this never happened. If this amature channel 7 news team ever took the time to check out the NCYRA web site under Conduct/Incidents you will find no Raptor Rugby player or parent has ever been red carded or yellow carded. 99.9% of the parents support the Van Tonder's. The player who made up the accusations needs to find another sport. Raptor Rugby dominated the upper age teams for a first year program and the other team coaches couldn't handle defeat!

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Paul Lynch

There is no written account of the proceeding of the NCYRA disciplinary committee meeting and decision on the NCYRA website. Surely this is a one off situation; can anyone recall a similar situation in the past?

There should be zero tolerance for this behavior in youth or any age level of rugby - if the coaches in question have admitted that they did indeed offer bounties to inflict harm or injury on opponents then a life ban from coaching rugby would send out the right signal.

Rugby Wade

I am have been involved in the NCYRA for several years (sat on the board, coached, was president of one of the teams etc) and I know that behavior like this has always been seriously frowned upon.
I still have a child playing in these programs and as a parent I am glad that the NCYRA made a strong response to this issue. As a coach I am glad that we are maintaining the standards we are supposed to be committed to and appropriately responding to violations.
Good response on the part of the NCYRA!

Raptor Parents

As a parent of Raptor players, all I can say is many of the people who have commented on this story do not know the truth. Raptor Rugby Players NEVER took out any opposing players on any team in any game to where they could not continue to play in the game.It was all hearsay, Raptor Rugby as a whole club DOES NOT condone any type of illegal playing. Our club has been ostracized because we were dominating every age division. We are a first year club and these "other" clubs did not like the way we came in and proved we had talent. Many of our kids are first time players and our supportive and talented coaches taught each one of our kids the game with only good intentions. Never were anyof our children asked or told to hit hard and take players out of the game. It is usurped to think of these kids (WHO ONLY REALLY WANT TO PLAY) hurting other kids to get paid! The media has the story incorrect and many of the "facts" were untrue. Raptors will be back and im sure we will again be "hated" on and someone will try and get us banned again.*INVICTUS UMUM SUMUS*

rugbysport

@ Raptor Parents. I know that you are wrong. Lets be honest. your team has thugs on it that dont "play" rugby but rather brawl. It was never hearsay. I know that for a fact as someone on the "inside". Teams like your and the rest of the "thug" mentality deserve to be punished. The kids that would actually like to play should find a team with morals and respect for the game.

autumntattenham@yahoo.com

My son played for the Raptors last year, on the very team (Under 14 age-group, middle schoolers) in which this bounty scandal allegedly took place. I continue to have my son train personally with Wes Jr. 3 times each week to work on his rugby skills. I am going to attend a BBQ at the Van Tonders residence this coming weekend. I don't consider them close, personal friends, but I do spend time with them and I can speak as to their characters. I can honestly say that neither my son, nor I, have ever heard anything from the Raptor organization or the Van Tonders regarding bounties to take opposing players out. Never. At the end of each training session, Wes Jr. stresses to my son to put his studies and his obligations to his family first, athletics second. He has been an extremely positive and kind influence in my son's life, and I have never witnessed anything but outstanding character and honor from Wesley Van Tonder, Jr. At every rugby practice and meeting that the Raptors had, I witnessed every coach encouraging good sportsmanship and integrity. Part of the team's motto is to play to win, but NOT at all costs. The Van Tonders are good people and, I feel, excellent role models.

2011-2012 was the Raptors first year in existence. From what I have witnessed, the Raptor organization was not welcome on the rugby field from the beginning. There seemed to be an aversion by the established teams to have a new competitor in the game, and from what I understand, there were many attempts to undermine the new organization from the beginning and I could not understand why. Once we started playing in matches, and unofficially winning, the negativity from other teams was palpable at the matches.
I feel Dan Noyes at ABC7 missed the real report. I think where the real news story lies is in WHY the governing body of Northern California Youth Rugby Association conducted their hearing regarding the bounty accusations the way they did (conference call only, no hard evidence brought forth, no face-to-face witness, no initial warnings/reprimands?), how decisions are made in the organization, who stands to gain by shutting down a newly developed, winning team (that competes with established teams for players, turf, and funding), and who makes money off of all this? Neither the NCYRA nor the I-Team asked any of these questions. Also, the way the Raptors were shut down seems a questionable process. A child said something on the field during a match, another child reported it, an adult on the sidelines deducted that a bounty must have been offered, it was anonymously reported to the NCYRA, and the team is shut down during a conference call? So, potentially, anyone can say anything and have a tremendous impact on the operations of an entire team? Something must be missing. I believe there is corruption going on with the Northern California rugby scene, but I don't think it lies in offerings of bounty. I think the story is that established teams will resort to harsh, attention-grabbing accusations, the governing body chooses sides without any investigation whatsoever, and heavy-handed tactics and anonymous tips to the media are used to keep competition at bay. I'd like to know why. I agree that offering bounty in sports is reprehensible at any level, but I have seen no evidence of that here. I have only seen an organization shut down in an abrupt manner, without any independent investigation, all on a rumor. Did the possibility enter anyone's mind that a disgruntled player/parent may have a grudge against a team/coach and that maybe the accusation was false? Did it occur to anyone that maybe there are other motives for shutting down a competitive team and that, since it is clearly so easy to do, making bold allegations is the way to eliminate a strong team from the playing field?

I am sure there is more to this story than what I know or understand, but I feel that both the NCYRA and the I-Team let everyone down with their "investigations." As a rugby parent, and as a concerned citizen, I demand better investigation and reporting from all involved. I would like truth.

Autumn Tattenham
Mother of a U14 Fullback, Raptor Rugby 2011-2012

Values

I participated in the disciplinary hearing against the Van Tonders and their club, the Raptors. I can say that the bounty issue was confirmed and verified by numerous witnesses who testified. Sadly the bounty issue was not the only charge against these coaches, their players and their supporters. They were also accused of various other forms of misconduct including playing ineligible players, referee abuse and violating the spirit of the game, to name a few.

The bounty travesty seems to be the product of a club-wide culture the Van Tonders created that is contrary to the spirit of rugby in general and youth rugby in particular. From the very beginning of the youth rugby season the Raptors exhibited a win-at-all-costs attitude, casting anyone that stood between them and victory – their opponents, the referee, etc. – as their enemy. A few of the comments from Raptors parents above help illustrate how pervasive this culture has become. One uses the Latin expression for ‘We are invincible’, and they all reference how ‘dominant’ their teams were relative to the competition, while they imply that the charges against the Van Tonders were somehow a punishment from the other clubs who were afraid of being dominated. They really don’t get it.

Since its inception the NCYRA has gone to great lengths to make youth rugby a fair and fun opportunity for kids to learn the skills and values of a great game. The fact is, because all youth age groups from U6 through U14 (Middle School) are considered ‘developmental’, no scores or standings are reported or kept by the league. This is to ensure that the playing environment is always safe and that the spirit of good sportsmanship is respected by all players and clubs.

With only just a few exceptions, all of the hundreds of coaches, administrators, referees and volunteers who donate their time to the sport do so in the hope that by sharing their passion and respect for rugby these kids will fall in love with the game just as we have. It would be a terrible shame if the negative publicity generated by this story somehow weakens or impedes the growing popularity of youth rugby.

Tuatara

So to all you Raptor parents out there, you are confirming that there is/was no bounty program in your club and that your son was never told by the coach or President to NOT talk about the bounty program?

TIA

Unfortunately the Van Tonders are just bad people. They are racist pigs that have no place around American children. TIA - This Is America and we wont tolerate this kind of behavior. They should never , EVER be aloud around youth sports again. The best thing that ALL the other youth rugby teams can do is boycott their games against the Raptors. Let them win every game by forfeit if they want but no team should stoop to their level.

Anon

According to the Raptor Rugby website, "Play to win – but not at all cost. Win with dignity, lose with grace. Learn the laws of the game. Respect opponents, referees and spectators. Enjoy the game." It doesn't appear the organization is fully representing these morals and values.

Placing bounties on children is absurd. Supporting these bounties is unimaginable.

Supporting the Van Tonder's actions and behavior allows them to continue the deception and manipulation of the Raptor parents and players.

A petition should be started to have these individuals banned from coaching children. My son was a player for this Rugby Club but we will not be returning. The Van Tonder's should come clean and own up to their actions. The Raptor children shouldn't have to stop playing because of the bounties.

Concerned Parent

I agree that there is absolutely no place in youth rugby for this type of behavior. Banning the coaches for life is an option that should be pursued. I also feel this information should be turned over to the District Attorney so that CRIMINAL ACTION could be pursued.

la marinda

wat an idiot...lol

Truth

The I team should have a story on John Fouts, the disgruntled former Raptors coach who is openly bragging about writing the "Anonymous" letter. He has been on 3 different Rugby Clubs in 2 years and takes personal vendettas out on every club that lets him go. His first team Diablo Rugby, let him go so he spread rumors out in the community that Diablo was no longer having a youth program sending kids to play elsewhere resulting in Diablo only having High School teams this year. He then moves to the Raptors and gets fired before the first game because of complaints of questionable coaching from players, parents, and other coaches. If I were Lamorinda, the club he is with now, I would be cautious not to piss him off or he'll write an "Anonymous" letter to the I Team or spread rumors about your club. I feel sorry for his son who is missing out on the opportunity to make friends and connect with one team because his father gets them thrown off of every team they are a part of. It must be hard having to move around and make new friends because of his father, he's probably used to it with his father going through 3 marriages and a failed business. John Fouts is a black hole for any organization, business, team, club or family.

Lies

Isn't it possible that Mr. Fouts left your program because he was opposed to your coaching methods and pattern of referee abuse?

Also, didn't Diablo lose its youth teams when your Raptors recruited all their kids?

I don't think that using lies, misrepresentations or slander will be the best way to overcome this disgraceful situation. For the good of youth rugby it is important that we learn from this episode and reslove to be ever more vigilant in our efforts to weed out player and coaching misconduct.

Richard

Just a few things not mentioned in the Noyse exposé....

The concerned (Lamorinda) parent lodging the complaint against the Raptors Club was also the Head Coach of the same Raptor middle school team he now says is involved in a bounty for hits program. This parent/coach was removed as a the coach by the Raptor club prior to their first game for insensitive and mean statements made to the children prior to their first real match. He left and took his son "the victim" over to Lamorinda team to play. Did anyone mention that the Van Tonders were celebrated coaches for Lamorinda Team before starting their own club?

Also not mentioned...there was a gag order in place by the NCYRA and the Van Tonders where expressly told not to talk to the media. The media knew that but decided not to show that piece of footage. Also that the investigation found no direct evidence of foul play and that a negotiated settlement was agreed upon and signed as there was no evidence other than hear-say and innuendo, all charges where dropped and the club was fully reinstated, with both the coaches being reinstated with probation upon completion of a coaching coarse.

Also not mentioned....what occurred to even think there was a bounty. My son plays for and was witness to the events leading to this shameful misuse of information against the Raptors Players. Prior to the start of the Raptors vs. Lamorinda first game the boys were out on the field stretching/warming-up when one of the boys said "Hey There's Jack" (the victim), someone stated "Hey five bucks to however Jacks Jack up" with others expanding on that note. My son says they were joking and laughing as it occurred, until their coach (Wes Jr.) walked up and said "Not it off guys we don't need that, get your head in the game". FYI the Raptor Player, Lamorinda witness they keep talking about are the same 12 to 14 years olds that were still on the Raptor team and were also involved in the supposed bounty discussion, the supposed witness was also one of the kids joking and making similar statements, once stating "I am going to take Jack out". My son has said, there was never any intention to hurt anyone and numerous times very passionately said the coach (Wes Jr.) was never involved in those conversations, until he walked up and said "Not it off guys" and that it was never discussed again until after the disciplinary actions were taken against the club. Oh yeah, the private meeting to suppress the kids from talking about the bounty, it was a pizza party held by the newly chosen team captain parents, and was held prior to anyone’s knowledge of the disciplinary action.

There is a lot more real and true information that needs to be put forward. But this whole issue of a bounty system is a travesty of truth and real justice. Anything coming from an angry and disgruntled x-employee with a vendetta should be taken with a gain of salt. My son is no "Thug" as has been stated above, he's a straight "A" student and involved in our community. Please stop making childish and very insensitive statements about children. This whole issue is a derivative of angry parents/coaches, who are sore losers to boot.

Please know the facts before attacking a child....Words, from the mouth of a babe, (Right or Wrong, are just words) and should not be twisted and turned into a spectacle for the self interest of a jealous and vindictive adult. Hopefully the truth shall prevail, and the children can play the game without the adult spin factor…..

Richard

For your information...the Raptor club was never Yellow Carded, Red Carded, nor was there ever even a letter from the referee's of any game. Our boys played with dignity, respect, and most of all fair.

Truth

@lies, Fouts was told to leave after telling the U14 team the practice before their first game that they were going to lose on Saturday. I don't know what type of "positive" coaching he was trying to perpetuate, but as a coach, even if he was going to face the All Blacks that Saturday, he should have given a better pregame speech to motivate his team. As for the pattern of referee abuse, it was before the first game, the season had never started. As for the Raptors recruiting all of the kids from Diablo, most of the kids were first year players, they were never part of any club. The few players that came to the Raptors from Diablo were because of Fouts. He was even confronted by the President of Diablo Rugby and a Coach about the rumors he was spreading about their club. That's the Truth!

Lies

Truth, you are right. My mistake. The pattern of referee abuse didn't start until the first game. Thanks for clearing that up!

Richard

Hey lies, (no name). There was never a letter or complaint from the referee's association and or an individual ref. Get your facts straight. Go to the NCYRA website and check their Disiplinary Records. Nothing!

Lies

Richard, the fact that there were no disciplinary records only means that there were no Red Card offenses. But to be clear, in youth rugby there should NEVER even be the smallest issue with the referees. The volunteer ref's are there to administrate fair and fun rugby for kids - not life and death contests. Among the worst occurrences of referee abuse I have ever witnessed at any level came during the few Raptor youth matches I saw. I have seen raptor players, coaches and families who were literally screaming over seemingly every call. And this was a youth match. There is no place in rugby for that kind of behavior.

And, contrary to your statement, there were many complaints by referees to the NCYRA, some of which led to the disciplinary action.

I congratulate NCYRA for taking decisive action in this case.

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