|From amateurs to SLRFU’s
Interesting comparisons could be made between past and present
players during the Asian Rugby Championships which will be
worked off from November 18-25 in Colombo.
It’s essential to begin by saying that Sri Lanka’s rugby players
are well-drilled and sport a good chance of winning the Plate
Championships. Sri Lanka’s rugby players are now professionals
and get to train in an environment where they can concentrate on
rugby. This is because the rugby union insists that all those
who want to be in the national squad have to be in the payroll
of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU). This is quite a
contrast from the amateur set-up in which the country’s national
players trained when Sri Lanka last hosted the tournament in
Priyantha Ekanayake, who captained Sri Lanka in 1990, is of the
opinion that the players during his time were as well- prepared
as the present lot despite the sport then existing with an
amateur tag. “Preparations for the 1990 tournament began as
early as 1984 and this is why the team did very well against a
strong team like Hong Kong. Sri Lanka lost the match 26-16,”
said Ekanayake who is now President SLRFU.
Sri Lanka’s rugby players reached lofty heights during the
recent World Cup qualifiers but sadly will not play in the Cup
Competition of the upcoming Asian Rugby Championships. Does
being grouped with teams Sri Lanka has beaten like India,
Kazakhstan, Thailand, China and Singapore make the country’s
rugby players feel that justice hasn’t been done to their
talents? “We came very close to making it to the Cup
Championships on our performances at the World Cup qualifiers.
The players gained a lot of experience and exposure in playing
many matches. A point to be noted is that Sri Lankans began to
believe in themselves that they could become Asia’s number two
team,” Ekanayake said.
Sri Lanka’s rugby players unlike in the past have had the
opportunity to be involved in a very active rugby season which
makes them practise from January to December. The gruelling
domestic season and a hectic international calendar have kept
the players engaged in training for such a long time that a
present period of inactivity, due to the absence of national
coach Willie Hataraka, is viewed by Ekanayake as a welcome break
for the boys. Back in the early nineties Sri Lanka’s rugby
players had very little foreign assignments and as a result the
authorities had to organize matches for them, here and abroad,
to make the team competitive. The tour of Wales is one example
of a rare opportunity that came the player’s way.
Ekanayake had high praise for individuals like Malik
Samarawickreme and Ajith Abeyratne for the meticulous way in
which the rugby players were prepared for the 1990 Asian
Championships. A striking feature in the administrative set-up
then was that everyone was made to fall in line with the
existing system and make their contributions to rugby. The
sport, over the years, has embraced professionalism. The present
set-up sees the players training in keeping with the newest
methods and also receiving the backup from a professional
coaching team that comprises expatriates. But sadly however,
there exist a few individuals who tend to disrupt the present
system in operation with activities that hardly contribute much
to the game.
The Asian Championships are just days away and the SLRFU is a
beehive of activity. Interestingly the man who led the Sri Lanka
team when the country hosted the championships last time is now
heading the sport’s governing body. How would he compare the two
roles? “I wouldn’t like to make a comparison between the two
roles. The role that I played as captain is precious to me. I
was picked as Sri Lanka rugby captain on ability but came to be
SLRFU president because I was elected,” he said.
Spectators came in their numbers to watch Sri Lanka at the 1990
tournament. Amongst them would have been less than a few hundred
rugby players. At present the rugby player base in Sri Lanka
exceeds 100,000. Times have changed in comparison to the past
where spectators have now got used to seeing Sri Lanka emerge as
the winner in international competition. There might be no
excuse from fans if Sri Lanka doesn’t win the Plate Championship
at the tournament.
Squad of 24 picked for Caribbean tour
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka cricket selectors have picked a squad of 24 players in
preparation for the Sri Lanka ‘A’ tour of West Indies starting
Selection committee sources said that the final composition of
16 players would be selected during the second match of the
Duleep trophy tournament in India against South Zone from
If Sri Lanka ‘A’ qualifies for the final of the Duleep trophy
they return home on November 17 and will have only three days
before taking off to the Caribbean on November 20. If they fail
to qualify the team will return on November 9. The final is
scheduled to be played at Kolkata from November 12-15.
Sri Lanka ‘A’s one month tour of the Caribbean will comprise two
4-day unofficial tests at Guyana and at St. Kitts and five
limited-over matches, the first two being played under lights at
Antigua and the last three at Trelawney, Jamaica. The dates for
the matches have not been finalized yet.
This is the first time a Sri Lanka ‘A’ side is touring the
Caribbean. The national team has made two tours there in 1997
Sri Lanka ‘A’ squad for the West Indies tour:
Michael van Dort (CCC), Avishka Gunawardene (SSC), Mahela
Udawatte (Chilaw Marians), Tilan Samaraweera (SSC), Russell
Arnold (NCC), Jeevan Mendis (SSC), Tilina Kandamby (Bloomfield),
Jehan Mubarak (CCC), Chamara Silva (Panadura SC), Malintha
Warnapura (Colts), Kaushal Silva (SSC), Charith Sylvester (Chilaw
Marians), Kosala Kulasekera (NCC), Gayan Wijekoon (Chilaw
Marians), Malinga Bandara (NCC), Suraj Mohamed (SSC), Kaushal
Lokuarachchi (SSC), Akalanka Ganegama (NCC), Dhammika Prasad (SSC),
Ishara Amerasinghe (Colts), Thilan Thushara (NCC), Tharanga
Lakshitha (Bloomfield), Nuwan Zoysa (SSC), Nuwan Kulasekera
Swimming pool for Sirimavo Bandaranaike
At a press briefing held recently at The Holiday Inn Hotel it
was announced that the foundation-stone laying ceremony for the
proposed swimming pool at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya will
be held on 27th October, 2006 under the distinguished patronage
of The Minister of Education, Susil Premajayantha.
The swimming pool project, included in the school five-year
development plan, was forwarded in 2005 to the Ministry of
Education by the school development committee.
The Principal together with the past pupils association, the
school development committee and school development society has
launched many fund raising activities to make this a reality.
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
The Sri Lanka ‘A’ cricketers led by Tilan Samaraweera left for
India on Friday with newly appointed coach Chandika
Hathurusingha confident that his charges would do well in the
Duleep trophy tournament.
Sri Lanka ‘A’ face West Zone in their opening match at Cuttack
from October 27-30 and then take on defending champions South
Zone from November 4-7 at Kolkata.
Sri Lanka ‘A’ needs to finish on top of their group to qualify
for the final at Kolkata from November 12-15.
“More than looking at the victories our aim is to prepare the
players towards gaining national recognition. It does not mean
that we will not be aiming to win the tournament but we will
also have one eye on getting players to put pressure for places
in the senior team,” said Hathurusingha, a former Sri Lanka
“What we are trying to do is to create more opportunities for
the ‘A’ team players so that they will be prepared to take the
next step whenever there is a call for one,” he said.
Hathurusingha said that he had got an idea of the senior team’s
requirements after speaking to head coach Tom Moody.
“The senior side is more or less settled and Tom has an idea of
the type of players he will need for the World Cup. Our
immediate concern is to prepare the players in case of injuries
occurring,” he said.
In preparation for the Duleep trophy tournament, Hathurusingha
said his team played one 4-day and two 2-day practice matches.
“The players gave a good display in these games. The only grey
area was spin, but I am confident they will adjust quickly to
the Indian conditions,” he said.
Hathurusingha said since he took over three weeks ago, there has
been a marked improvement on the fitness levels of the team.
Sri Lanka ‘A’ team for Duleep trophy: Tilan Samaraweera
(captain), Jehan Mubarak (vice-captain), Michael Vandort, Mahela
Udawatte, Jeevan Mendis, Malintha Warnapura, Kaushal Silva
(w/k), Upul Chandana, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silva, Dhammika
Prasad, Tharanga Lakshitha, Akalanka Ganegama, Ishara
Amerasinghe, Kosala Kulasekera, Officials: Anura Tennekoon
(manager), Chandika Hathurusingha (coach), Ranjith