The climb begins for Kandy SC
sponsor Caltex wanting a change in the winner throws a humongous
challenge to the champion team to remain the crowd favourite
By Ravi Nagahawatte
The Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) faces an enormous
challenge of turning around a negative environment that has
cropped up due to a drop in spectator interest for domestic
rugby matches. Rugby Union president DIG Nimal Lewke however,
sees this present trend as the ideal platform for the emerging
of a culture where spectators would begin to cheer the underdog
and not the favourite.
Lewke, an ex-national boxer, has seen and experienced how
spectators loyal to a sport can change camp in need of a change.
“I remember how the crowd turned friendly towards me and cheered
me when I took on HK Karunaratne, the favourite, in a boxing
trial to pick Sri Lanka’s representative for the Olympics. I was
nowhere close to the stature of Karunaratne but received the
support of the crowd,” said Lewke hinting that the island’s
boxing fans then had lost a little interest in seeing one man
take the honours for a long period of time, at boxing meets.
Lewke lost this much talked about bout which went to the wire.
The rugby union’s big boss, in an exclusive interview with The
Nation, refused to see the present trend as negative and said he
believed rugby fans would soon find an alternate side to cheer
in the absence of a new champion.
This year’s season kicked off on Friday, two days after the
sponsor of the inter-club league tournament, Caltex Lanka
Lubricants, voiced its concern that the tournament needed a shot
in the arm to boost spectator interest. Managing Director/ CEO
Chevron Lubricants Lanka PLC Kishu Gomes, said at a press
briefing held on Wednesday, to announce the launch of the 2008
League Tournament, that it worried the game’s main sponsor to
see too many one-sided matches and Kandy Sports Club’s (Kandy
SC) dominance going unchecked. Kandy SC has won the league
tournament uninterrupted for seven successive seasons since
beginning a winning streak in 2001.
The launch, held at the SLRFU headquarters, took the form of a
healthy debate with the officials of the sport’s governing body
countering the sponsor’s remarks by saying that all other teams
had improved and this year’s tournament would be well contested.
Kandy SC, when compared to other top teams, might be the least
affected due to this development, when matches are played in
their own den because the interest for rugby in Kandy still
remains very high. However, they might not see spectators come
in their numbers when they travel down to Colombo for matches.
“Other teams need to have a solid programme and come up,” Rugby
Manager Kandy Sports Club Kapila Silva said when asked to
comment on club rugby being affected by a drop in spectator
interest. Silva, however, was quick to complement the
improvements made by a team like Air Force. Rugby union
officials have earmarked teams like Air Force and Police Sports
Club to provide the shocks this season.
Rugby Secretary Air Force Sports Club, Wing Commander Sanjaya
Fernando, attributed the team’s improvements to the
contributions made by coach, Wazeel Hafeel. “Hafeel has shown a
lot of interest to lift the team’s performance, and team members
have responded to the coach’s approach with equal enthusiasm.
The team’s recent performances have helped the authorities
recruit schoolboys from popular rugby playing schools like
Kingswood, St.Joseph’s, St.Peter’s and Vidyartha. “Our players
lacked skill. There were a good number of players who hadn’t
seen a rugby match at the time of joining Air Force. Wazeel’s
commitment towards coaching the team made the difference,” said
Sri Lanka has seen the spectator interest for domestic rugby
fluctuate. Rugby was king of all sports till cricket in the
island became the cynosure of all eyes after the national team
won the Wills World Cup in 1996. Rugby again moved up the
popular ratings when the national team started winning
qualifying matches in the run-up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
But given the facts that the game, at international level, is
governed by traditionalists who resist change and Asian teams
failing to match rugby’s heavy weights, rugby in Asia has
limited options when entertaining fans in the region. Renowned
rugby commentator and former rugby player Chandrishan Perera
said, “The quality of rugby clubs play this season better be
good because rugby fans have so many options as entertainment
during weekends. After all, bringing a family for a rugby match
is so costly at present”.
Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club (CR&FC) manager Rohan Chintaka
blamed lopsided rugby matches for spectators showing a lukewarm
interest for a good number of the matches. “Small clubs need to
look after their players. Clubs can improve and match the more
popular teams if they retain good players. CR&FC is reaping the
benefits of a programme that catered towards promoting club
loyalty. I have been the rugby manager at CR&FC for the past six
years during which the club has lost just two players,” said
Chintaka. Talking about the strength of the team this season he
revealed that the club had benefited tremendously due to players
like Dushanth Lewke, Dhanushka Perera, Mohammed Jabbar, Lasantha
Mallikarachchi (All Kandy SC), Dev Anand, Tilina Manoj and (Both
Kingswood), Niroshan Karunaratne (Havelocks SC) and former
Isipathana schoolboy Mubarak joining CR&FC. He also lauded the
return of Pavithra Fernando to the side.
Teams like CR&FC, CH&FC, Air Force and Police SC will leave no
stone unturned in their quest to topple a champion team like
Kandy SC. The team from the hill country is probably fully aware
that apart from CR&FC and CH&FC there are others too who are
following every move Kandy SC makes in their quest to be number
one. Kandy SC is aware that the hardest thing to do is stay on
top. Seven long years in doing so would have possibly drained
the club’s energies. 2008 throws a humongous challenge to Kandy
SC, to remain on top.
MCA ‘F ‘Division
Double trouble for Loadstar
Debutants, Loadstar ‘A’ facing a double-header
got off to a losing start when they were thrashed by Smart
Shirts and Singer Sri Lanka ‘B’ in the ongoing Trendex Lanka (Pvt)
Limited sponsored, MCA Division ‘F’ 30-overs League tournament,
continued last week-end.
Loadstar managed only 39 runs in 17.4 overs against Smart Shirts
and did slightly better against Singer, scoring 54-runs in 10.4
Textured Jersey registered their second win when they scored a
heart-stopping one run win over Pan Asia Bank. Ceylon Tobacco
recorded their first win, beating Browns Group by 2 wickets.
At MCA: Smart Shirts beat Loadstar by 8
Loadstar 39 (17.4) (SL Gunagama 15, Dinesh Dilhan 3/6, SA
Smart Shirts 42-2 (15.1) (D. Horanapathirana 25 n.o., J.
At MCA: Union Assurance beat Kelani Cables
UAL 137-7 (30) (T. Tissera 45 n.o., JC Pushpakumara 2/25, PS
Kelani Cables 106 (24.3) (MP Sanjeewa 42, N Wijesinghe 4/25,
J Madushanka 2/20)
At MCA: Textured Jersey beat Pan Asia Bank
by one run.
Textured Jersey 134 (29.1) (K Jayasekera 21, K Weeraratne
45, D. Shirmal 3/14, K Gayath 2/19, A. Fernando 2/15)
PABC Bank 133 (29.5) (A Fernando 40, K Gayath 26, K
Jayasekera 2/30, DK Nirosh 2/9)
At MCA: Singer Sri Lanka ‘B’ beat Loadstar
by 10 wickets.
Loadstar 54 (10.4) (DS Pushpakumara 20, C Rathnasiri 4/10, U
Singer ‘B’ 55-0 (6.2) (M Vethanayagam 32 no)
At Thurstan: Ceylon Tobacco beat Browns
Group by 2 wickets
Browns Group 126-9 (25) overs (H Mallawathanthri 45, Chanaka
Silva 25, Sujith Hettiarachchi 2/14, A Pathirana 2/25, N
CTC 127-8 (23.5) (A Rajawasam 38, S Wickramanayake 21,
Sujith Hettiarachchi 40, I de Silva 2/20, H Mallawathanthri
At Thurstan: The match between Data Entry
International vs. Galadari Hotel was abandoned without a
ball being bowled due to rain. – [LW]
MCA Snooker Champ
S.P.Dinesh Devendra of the Lubricant Oil Section
of the Associated Motorways General Company won the championship
at the inter-company snooker tournament held at the Sri Lanka
Mercantile Cricket Association, beating Tilak Champika of Seylan
He beat Sharmal Ambawatta,of the Mackwoods, Roshan Iddamalgoda
of Mabrock Teas and Tilak Champika of Seylan Bank in the final
Educated at Anuruddha Kumara National School, Nawalapitiya,
Disnesh Devendra who joined Nawalapitiya Railway Sports Club as
a Snooker player in 1993, played for the Colombo Young Men’s
Christian Sports Club in 1998, Colombo Youth Services Council in
2004, and the Sri Lanka Mercantile Snooker Club in 2006.
CR plans to end Kandy’s rugby
By M. Naushad Amit
With six players crossing over from Kandy SC and Havelocks SC to
CR & FC, the Longden Place Club has a whole new strategy for
this season. CR, with a mixture of youth and experience, is
hoping to end the continuous winning streak of the mighty hill
capital club. This was revealed at a press conference held at
the club premises to announce the partnership with Softlogic as
their main sponsor for this season on Friday.
“It is high time we (CR) do something to end the one-horse race
which had been maintained by Kandy SC for the past seven years.
We have with us the former Kandy SC player and coach Laga as our
head coach and Rohan Chinthaka will play a major role as his
assistant. We have learnt our drawbacks by following and
comparing with Kandy SC and basically we will use some of their
tactics to overcome them” said Jehan Canegaratne, Deputy
President of CR & FC.
Rugby is the professional sport next to cricket in Sri Lanka.
Colombo clubs are not enjoying professional rugby as Kandy SC
who is the top runner for any local tournament. According to
Canegaratne CR players are semi-professionals. “We have 34
players who are on a contract basis. But at the same time these
players are working elsewhere. The club has an expenditure of Rs.
13.5 million budgeted for a single season. And it is a tough
task to produce and maintain professionals in the game with a
lot of spending. Thanks to Softlogic who took out 50% of our
burden we are in a good shape for this season” he further added.
Softlogic has sponsored CR & FC in the past two years as main
sponsors. But this year both the sponsors and the club has come
to an agreement to field the team as ‘CR Softlogic’ for the
entire season. “This is a totally new concept. We as sponsors
will enjoy the company of CR whom we have recognised as one of
the best rugby clubs in Sri Lanka. With the talent that CR has
got this year, all can expect a big change in the tournament
this season” said Ranjan Perera, Director of Softlogic.
Shamil Mohamed will lead the Longden Place club this year. New
faces that will help the club to be branded as a tough bunch are
Dushantha Lewke, Dhanushka Perera, Abdul Jabbar, Dev Anand,
Viraj Prasantha, Shantha de Seram, Bandula Mallikarachchi,
Niroshan Wijekoon, Thilina Manoj and Riza Mubarak. CR & FC
emerged as runners-up in the President’s Trophy last year and
has won the knockout tournament for two consecutive years
including last year.
School of Cricket far superior to Malaysians
CCC School of Cricket under 16 Cricketers
returned to the Island winning all seven matches after their 10
day tour of Malaysia. CCC “Colts” played five 40-over matches
and two Twenty20 games during the tour and did well to remain
unbeaten. All matches were played on turf at Royal Selangor Club
and Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur.
Among the players who excelled were Supun Navaratne, Thanusha
Jayawardena, Shehan Fernando and Harith Dias in batting, while
Ramidu Lakshan, Madhuka Liyanapathirana, Sachith Dias, Hashan
Sirisena and Imal Liayanage did well in bowling. Madhuka
Liyanapathirana, the skipper, led the side admirably leading
from the front excelling in fielding supported by the whole
team, in general, and Sachith Dias, Harith Dias, Supun Navaratne,
and Hemal Seneviratne who fielded brilliantly to account for 16
run outs of the 67 wickets to fall.
In the final match, CCC juniors were pitted against the
Malaysian U-17 National Team, and the Sri Lankans did extremely
well to beat the Malaysian National Team in a low scoring
closely contested game.
CCC won all seven matches as follows:
(1) Vs. Victoria Institute K.L.
CCC 147 (40) (Harith Dias 42, Thamusha Jayawardena 20, Sachith
Dias 18, Ramidu Lakshan 14 not out)
Victoria K.L. - 83 (25) (Watieq Ahmed 24, Noharif Ahmed 10 not
out, Isuru Jayatilleke 2 for 16, Ramidu Lakshan 2 for 9)
(2) Vs. Federal Territory, Selangor
Fed Ter - 40 (23.4) (Madhuka Liyanapathirana 6 for 7, Hermal
Seneviratne 2 for 7)
CCC – 43/1 (lsuru Jayathilleke 15 not out)
(3) Twenty20 Vs. Federal Territory, Selangor
Fed Ter - 75/8 (20) (Madhuka Liyanapathirana 2 for 9, Imal
Liyanage 3 for 7)
CCC – 76/8 (17.5) (Shehan Fernando 35)
(4) Vs Bukit Jalill Sports College, Kuala Lumpur
Bukit JSC- 75 (26) (Indran Brarosoruan 21, Mohamed Azuad 20,
Ramidu Lakshan 4 for 4, Harith Dias 2 for 8)
CCC – 70/3 (17.2) (Madhuka Liyanapathirana 25, Shehan Fernando
20, Indran 2 for 12)
(5) Twenty20 Vs. Bukit Jalill Sports College
CCC 111/1 (20) (Shehan Fernando 55 not out, Supun Navaratne 40
Bukit Jalill SC – 66/8 (20) (Husni Ahmed 16, Hashan Sirisena 2
for 10, Imal Liyanage 2 for 12, Naditha Tissera 2 for 12)
(6) Vs. Royal Selangor Cricket Club
CCC – 257/6 (40) (Thanusha Jayawardena 70, Harith Dias 47, Supun
Navaratne 30, Sachith Dias 26, Ramidu Lakshan 18)
Royal Selangor - 42 (27) (Sachith Dias 3 for 3, Hashan Sirisena
2 for 2)
(7) Vs. Malaysia U-17 National Team
CCC - 132 (38.3) (Thanusha Jayawardena 46, Ramidu Lakshan 20
Thinakaran Maraiah 4 for 1)
Malaysia - 76 (31.1) (Muh Adib Abid 25, Ramidu Lakshan 4 for 13,
Madhuka Liyanapathirana 4 for 13).
retains winning streak
Zahira College, Colombo, who became undisputed
champions in schools’ football last year, continued its winning
streak this year as well by overcoming all opposition and
annexing the Colombo Zonal Championship conducted by the Dept.
Last year’s all conquering football team won a record number of
six coveted trophies on their way to stamping their class as the
undisputed champs. Their proud acquisitions were:-
1. The 5-a-side Futsal Challenge Trophy.
2. 7-a-side Super 16 Trophy organised by the Past Prefects’
Association [PPA] of Zahira College. Colombo
3. Hinduite Challenge Cup awarded to the Champions of the All
Island Inter School Tournament organised by The Old Boys’
Association of Hindu College, Colombo 4.
4. Champions’ Trophy of the All Island Inter School Tournament
organized by the Old Boys’ Association of Hameed Al Husseinie
College, Colombo 12.
5. Champions’ Trophy of the All Island Inter School Football
Tournament organized by the Education Dept.
6. Milo Trophy awarded to the Champions of the All Island Inter
School Tournament organized by the Sri Lanka Schools’ Football