Lanka rugby in search of professionalism
in the island suffers from a huge shortage of qualified coaches
Revving up on fitness programmes and recruiting professional
coaches would be key ingredients rugby teams require in large
doses if they are to achieve success this season. The strength
and conditioning part in rugby is so vital it decides whether a
ruggerite plays to his potential or not. All ‘A’ Division rugby
teams have embraced this phenomenon with great interest. As a
result reigning champions Kandy Sports Club could find
themselves facing the toughest challenge from teams contesting
the A Division tournaments, this season.
Rugby is a game in which giant strides could be made, given the
fact that there is at least a semi-professional approach to the
game. In an ideal rugby set-up this would mean having two
coaches, a trainer and masseur. As with Sri Lanka rugby the last
two components in the equation remains neglected.
A person who rates strength and conditioning high on the list of
requirements to make a quality rugby player is renowned referee
and Chief Executive of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU)
Dilroy Fernando. He is an epitome of a fit person and said that
he made it a point to keep fit on a daily basis.
With rugby evolving into a professional sport, it demands
players to be dedicated to training. The call is clear: Players
have to meet certain criterion which specifies they carry a
healthy weight and possess the required fitness levels if they
are to make progress. Rugby coaches can’t be naive about what
happens inside sweaty gymnasiums. The present scenario in rugby
sees coaches working closely with trainers.
There are stories of players receiving wrong instructions from
trainers and as a result, running the risk being exposed to
unwanted injury. Stories are also doing the rounds that some
players are supplied with performance enhancing drugs and
inhalers by their trainers with the purpose of boosting the work
rate of players. Many coaches are of the opinion that as a
result they have been forced to update their knowledge on
fitness, just to keep a check on whether the trainer one employs
is genuinely capable of upgrading the strength and conditioning
Key teams like Kandy SC (John Taylor), Ceylonese Rugby and
Football Club (Tulagaese Tawita) and Colombo Hockey and Football
Club (Peter Michael) have obtained the services of foreign
coaches once again to boost their chances this season. The
rivalry between these three teams is fierce. Any one of these
teams will leave no stone unturned in its quest to show that it
has the potential to emerge as the winner. Skill-wise Sri
Lanka’s rugby players have shown huge potential. However, in
Fernando’s opinion, the stumbling blocks in the players’ path
are the shortcomings in the fitness programmes they follow. “The
problem Sri Lanka rugby faces is that there aren’t enough
qualified trainers in the country. When the SLRFU got renowned
fitness trainer Keith Roberts to do a training programme for the
players, it was a new experience for most of them,” Fernando
told The Nation in an interview in which he stressed his
comments on rugby were his personal opinion and not the rugby
Fernando encourages the presence of foreign coaches in Sri
Lanka. “Foreign coaches bring a lot of experience to the team.
They also have had a lot of exposure and this helps whatever
assignment they undertake,” he said.
According to Fernando a key fact that is hampering the growth of
Sri Lanka rugby is the lack of qualified local coaches.
“Coaching rugby in Sri Lanka is a lucrative occupation. Many Sri
Lankans take to coaching but they don’t have the necessary
qualifications to support their jobs. The SLRFU now insists that
coaches handling club teams should have obtained the IRB level 2
certificate. School coaches must be level 1 certified. Like in
any field, coaches now need to be qualified,” stressed Fernando.
leads France to 2-0 lead over Japan
Mauresmo of France reacts after defeating Ayumi Morita of Japan
in the Fed Cup tennis World Group play-off against Japan in
Tokyo on Saturday. Mauresmo won 6-0, 6-2. AFP
TOKYO, (AFP) - Former world number one
Amelie Mauresmo led France to a flying start as they took a 2-0
lead over Japan in the Fed Cup play-off tie for the World Group
The 2006 Wimbledon and Australian Open champion needed only 58
minutes to beat up-and-coming Ayumi Morita 6-0, 6-2, and then
Virginie Razzano made it two up by beating former world doubles
number one Ai Sugiyama 6-1, 7-5.
“I played a good match,” said Mauresmo. “She (Morita) was
probably a little bit tight, playing this first match today,
opening this tie at home for her.
“I just felt comfortable out there and I’m happy to take France
to have the first point and lead 1-0.”
Mauresmo took the first nine games in a row and when Morita
finally got into her rhythm, it was already too late to come
back into the match as Mauresmo stood firm in her service games.
“I was expecting her to really try to play with a lot of speed,
picking the ball up pretty early and moving me around,” said
“I just tried to take every opportunity that I would have and
not make too many unforced errors, which I was able to do. I
also try to play good in my service games. On this very fast
surface, it’s important,” she added.
Morita, 18, admitted that she was tense at the beginning of the
match because it was the first time that she played an opening
match in the Fed Cup.
“Amelie combined some fast balls with slow ones by hitting
slices and then suddenly hit hard for a winner. I was too slow
to reflect against them and I couldn’t play in my rhythm,” said
“Even if I’m not nervous, my first serves are no good, and I was
tight and I often mis-hit my strokes, which always didn’t get
past the net or went long. I couldn’t control anything at all.”
savours joy of six
(AFP) - England reject Matthew Hoggard bolstered his bid for
a Test recall by taking six for 57, his best County Championship
figures for five years, as Yorkshire dominated Hampshire on the
third day of their First Division clash at Headingley on Friday.
The 31-year-old, dropped by England after they lost the first
Test against New Zealand at Hamilton in March before going on to
win the series 2-1, added to the five wickets he’d taken
Thursday by striking with the first ball of the third day.
His return was his best for Yorkshire since he took seven
wickets in an innings against Somerset at Headingley five years
ago and, with conditions at Lord’s, where the first Test against
New Zealand starts on May 15, expected to assist swing bowlers,
Hoggard’s Test exile could soon be over.
Hoggard’s haul helped Yorkshire enforce the follow-on and at
stumps Hampshire, in their second innings, were struggling at
136 for four heading into Saturday’s final day of four.
“It is disappointing for Hoggy but we knew when he got left out
in New Zealand he would want to come back and prove a point,”
said Yorkshire stand-in captain Anthony McGrath.
“At the moment you can’t get that ball out of his hand, which is
great for us. He has done a fantastic job for England and as
many people have said it was harsh for him to be left out.
“We want him back playing for England but to do that he has got
to bowl like he did today - it is a two-fold thing,” McGrath
“But if we do lose Hoggy we have got the options to cover, so
it’s a great position to be in.”
Yorkshire captain Darren Gough, the former England fast bowler,
is hoping to return from a back injury in a one-day contest
against Derbyshire on Sunday, the same day that South Africa
quick Morne Morkel, the club’s overseas signing, is due to
“The Championship boils down to who has got the best bowling
attack,” said McGrath. “I know people talk about runs on the
board but you just have to look at (champions) Sussex.
“Take Rana (Naved) and Mushtaq Ahmed’s wickets out and it would
be a different story, so the more bowlers we have available, the
more options we have, the better.”
As if to emphasise McGrath’s point, former Pakistan leg-spinner
Mushtaq took five for 83 as Kent were bowled out for 204 in
reply to Sussex’s first innings 303 at Hove.
Ranking TT Championships
bags a triple crown
By Dhammika Ratnaweera
Ruvini Kannangara of Musaeus College won the girls under-12, 15
and 18 events to clinch a triple crown at the recently concluded
Western Province Ranking Table Tennis Championship held at S.
Thomas’ Indoor Stadium.
Eleven-year-old Ruvini was the highlight of the tournament which
was conducted by the Nugegoda Table Tennis Club. She was
adjudged the up-and-coming player of the tournament for her
In the girls under 12 final Ruvini beat Masthoora Amavi of
Buddhist Ladies College in two straight sets and then outclassed
Thilini Nadeesha of Girls High School, Mt. Lavinia in a
hard-fought four-setter to clinch the girls under 15 final.
Ruvini completed her triple crown by winning the girls under 18
final beating GH Shabi of St. Clare’s.
Samitha Abeyratne of Royal College was adjudged the most
outstanding player of the tournament. Samitha emerged open men’s
singles champion defeating Dushan Ranatunga of Isipathana and
also clinched the under 21 singles final defeating Sajith
Kavinda of St Benedict’s Kotahena.
National champion Rohan Sirisena, former national player WA
Buddhasiri and Nuwan Sampath, a national ranked player
distributed the awards.
U-8 (Boys): Virunaka Hendahewa (Royal) beat Vinuja Mendis
(Royal) 11/7, 11/7. (Girls): Mihinsa de Alwis (Lyceum Wattala)
beat Imashi Liyanagama (GHS Mt. Lavinia) 8/11, 11/8, 11/5.
U-10 (Boys): Rasheed Azees (Royal) beat Rumal Intikab (Royal)
(Girls): Chamathsara Fernando (GHS Mt. Lavinia) beat Thanuri
Gayara (Visakha Vidyalaya) 11/2, 11/8.
U-12 (Boys): Kulanaka Hendahewa (Royal) beat WGM Bhanuka (Royal)
11/9, 11/9. (Girls): Ruvini Kannangara (Musaeus) beat Masthoora
Amavi (Buddhist Ladies) 11/7, 11/5.
U-15 (Boys): Oshadi Warunajith Kottahachchi (Royal) beat Dushan
Ranatunga (Isipathana) 11/4, 11/9, 8/11, 11/9. (Girls): Ruvini
Kannangara (Musaeus) beat Thilini Nadeesha (GHS Mt. Lavinia)
10/12, 11/9, 11/5, 11/5.
U-18 (Boys): Samitha Abeyratne (Royal) beat Oshadi Warunajith
Kottahachchi (Royal) 11/4, 11/5, 11/7. (Girls): Ruvini
Kannangara (Musaeus) beat GH Shabi (St. Clare’s) 11/5, 11/7,
U-21 (Boys): Samitha Abeyratne (Royal) beat Sajith Kavinda (St.
Benedict’s) 11/7, 10/12, 11/6, 11/9. (Girls): Uthpala
Pushpakumara (Musaeus) beat Aloka Indunily (GHS Mt. Lavinia)
11/2, 7/11, 11/6, 8/11, 13/11.
Open (Men): Samitha Abeyratne (Royal) beat Dushan Ranatunga (Isipathana)
11/6, 11/2, 6/11, 11/6. (Women): A.C.K. Udugama (Old Girl - Devi
Balika Vidyalaya) beat Uthpala Pushpakumara (Musaeus) 11/9,
12/10, 8/11, 14/12.