By M. Naushad Amit
It is the time of the year when the traditional rugby encounter between two leading schools steals the limelight in the rugby scene. The first leg of the prestigious ‘Bradby Shield’ encounter between Royal College, Colombo and Trinity College, Kandy will be played on June 14 at the Royal College Sports Complex. ‘The Bradby Shield’ was presented in 1945 by Edward Lawrence Bradby, the outgoing principal of Royal College, as he wanted to revive interest in the annual rugby encounter which had been held between the two schools since 1920. Bradby would never have imagined that his name would become a household word among rugby fans and the encounter, played with a handful of spectators in 1945, would become the most looked forward to event in schools rugby.

In the first match that dates back to July 31, 1920 Royal met Trinity at Serpentine Road, presently known as Reid Avenue, in Colombo 7. Eventually Trinity recorded a stunning 26-nil victory in the first-ever match. This encounter went on until 1926 when Royal, for some reason or the other, gave up rugby. They resumed playing in 1928 and, to their credit, continued the series with Trinity though losing continuously until 1940. On July 12, 1941 Royal ended Trinity’s two decade dominance in the series by recording their first win. In 1944, at the end of the 2nd World War, the principal of Royal College, Bradby, who was due to return to England, made arrangements to donate a shield for the annual Royal-Trinity rugby match. The encounter was to be played for ‘The Bradby Shield’ in 1945.

Until 1945 only one match was played each year. Since the inauguration of the ‘Bradby’ two matches are played annually, one in Kandy and the other in Colombo. At the end of the series the Shield is awarded to the school that gets the highest aggregate of points in the two matches. In the past 63 years Trinity has won 34 times and Royal 28 with a tie in 1992 when the first leg in Colombo was drawn 3-all followed by a nil-all draw in Kandy.

In 1971 Royal won the first leg 22-03 which was the first occasion in the ‘Bradby’ that either team won a match by over 20 points. The second leg of the ‘Bradby’ was not played in 1971 owing to the JVP insurrection. The 1971 ‘Bradby’ still stands as the only encounter that ended in a single leg. In this year Trinity could have insisted on retaining the Bradby trophy as the 2nd leg was not played and they were the winners in the previous year. However, the true spirit of sportsmanship, the hallmark of the Bradby series, was aptly demonstrated when the Trinity authorities led by their principal E. L. Fernando decided to award the trophy to royal on their decisive win in the first leg.

In 1976 Royal won both legs of the encounter with an overall aggregate of 61-06 (36-nil and 25-06) which stood as a record till 2002. Again in 1998, Royal won with a good aggregate of 60-31 (18-20 and 42-11) after bouncing back from a first leg defeat. The highest scores were in the 2002 Bradby when Royal, led by Zulki Hamid, won the first leg 39-nil in Colombo and the second leg by a record 44-nil in Kandy, to take the Bradby Shield with an aggregate of 83-nil.

The highest sequence of wins in the series is 6, by Trinity, between 1952 and 1957. After the millennium Royal won the shield 4 times from 2001 to 2004. In 2005 and 2006 Trinity won repeatedly while last year (2007) Royal bounced back to recapture the ‘Bradby’ after two years. Royal won the first leg by 20-12 in Kandy followed with a close 15-11 win in Colombo.

This year too Royal will be hoping to repeat their winning streak in the ‘Bradby’. But this season they had a shaky start in the inter-school rugby season with a 13-07 loss against Kingswood in Kandy. Their heartaches followed when Isipathana beat them in the ‘Major Milroy Fernando Trophy’ encounter at Longdon Place. However Royal picked up their lost momentum against a weaker Vidayartha side by recording a 29-nil win in Kandy. Royal then beat the improved Dharmaraja side by 39-22 at Royal Sports Complex and outplayed St. Anthony’s 25-12 at their home ground. Their three-out-of-five wins in the season has earned Royal the fourth place in the inter-school division 1A points table at present. Royal still have three matches ahead to finish the season. But they are yet to face the toughest sides in the weeks to come - St. Peter’s, Trinity (first leg of Bradby) and S. Thomas’. The Royal side is led by Suvinda Lenaduwa this year. Among the top players who have performed well in the ongoing season are No.8 Bilal Hassen, flanker Hasthika Bandaranayake, centre Shamil Ahamed and full back Mushin Faleel. As a unit Royal has learnt more and more as the season progressed. Their teamwork on the field, one of the essential aspects, is in good order at present. The side is coached by CPP Abeygoonawardena with Nizam Jamaldeen as his deputy.

Trinity has played excellently to reach the top spot in the current inter-school points table after five matches. With Trinity performing at their peak their supporters would have high hopes to reclaim the ‘Bradby’ after the lapse last year. Trinity kicked off the season in grand style beating live-wires Isipathana by 29-10 at Longdon Place. It was followed by a massive 60-09 win over Vidyartha at Nittawela. Then a last minute try secured their third consecutive win by 15-10 against S. Thomas’ at Bogambara.

It was followed by a thrilling match a week later against St. Anthony’s at Nittawela. Trinity had a narrow shave against the Anthonians winning (25-24) by a penalty in the dying stages of the match. But Trinity’s string of wins came to an end last week when St. Peter’s inflicted a 15-10 defeat on them at Pallekele. With three matches to go in the league against Dharmaraja, Royal (first leg of Bradby) and Kingswood, Trinity can be expected to give their best efforts to remain supreme.

Trinity is led by their senior coloursman Malinda Gunawardena. The skipper is backed by nine versatile seniors who have played rugby together for a couple of years.

Among the top playmakers are centre Vishwajith Wijesinghe, full back Kenon Armstrong, No.8 Ruzni Razeen, centre Shamrine Sameen, fly-half Abdul Fahd and hooker Rushdi Ramzeen. Trinitians have dished out superb performances so far to be among the top runners to become league champions this year. The side is coached by Anil Jayasinghe with Pradeep Basnayaka as his assistant.

Unlike the inter-school rugby league, ‘The Bradby Shield’ is a prestige battle and will be a different ball game altogether for both schools when they confront each other for the 64th time on June 14 at Royal College Sports Complex. Both sides are coached by old boys adding to the enthusiasm.

Royal will be hoping to capitalise on the home advantage in the first leg in their quest to be victorious for the second year. Trinity is riding high this year and will bust a gut to take the ‘Bradby’ back. For the old boys of both schools it will be their annual pilgrimage to keep the faith and maintain the hallowed tradition – winning the shield being an added bonus.

Technically Trinity holds the upper hand the way they have been performing so far. However, despite their poor start in the season, a Royal win cannot be ruled out. But at the end of the day the true spirit of sportsmanship and the rich tradition which the two schools have preserved for 63 long years will prevail regardless of the result of the matches.


History of ‘The Bradby Shield’

‘The Bradby Shield’ Encounter’ - popularly known as ‘The Bradby’ - is the highlight of Sri Lanka’s school rugby season. It is played annually between traditional rivals Royal College, Colombo, and Trinity College, Kandy. The encounter consists of two legs, one in Colombo, and the other in Kandy. The winner is decided on the aggregate scores in both matches, usually played a few weeks apart. ‘The Bradby’ is generally played in late August or early September and is the most popular rugby match in the country, drawing more spectators than inter-club or international fixtures.


Royal College and Trinity College were among the first schools in Sri Lanka to take up the sport of rugby football, and the first historic match between these schools was played on the July 31, 1920. This was made an annual encounter with Trinity College winning for the first 21 years, until the Royalists recorded their first victory in 1941. In 1945, the principal of Royal College, E.L. Bradby, put forward the idea of playing an annual two-match series, to which the principal of Trinity College C.E. Simithraaratchy, readily agreed. To ensure the success of the series, principal Bradby offered a shield which was to be held for a period of one year by the winner of the series. The series has been played annually and uninterrupted ever since.

The Schools

Trinity College, Kandy founded in 1872, has a long history as a premier educational institution in Sri Lanka with a distinctive tradition as an independent private school.

Royal College, Colombo was founded in January 1835. It is considered to be the leading public school in Sri Lanka. It is a national school controlled by the Sri Lanka Government.

The Shield

The Shield, donated by E.L.Bradby, is a wooden disk decorated with intricate traditional Kandyan metal work. On winning the series, the Shield is presented to the winning team’s captain at an award ceremony held on the playing field immediately following the end of the second leg. The winning team is then privileged to keep the shield in their school until the next year.


• Old Boys of both schools use the Bradby as a convenient time to organize get-togethers and engage in much revelry.

• The record for the largest margin of victory was set in 2002 by Royal College, winning on an aggregate of 83-0.

• In 1983 Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Bradby visited Sri Lanka as the guests of The Royal College Union for the centenary rugby match between Royal and Trinity.

• In 63 contests so far, Trinity leads the series having won the shield on no less than 34 occasions. Royal have won the Shield on 28 occasions. Both Bradby encounters in 1992 ended in draws, nil-all in Kandy and 3-3 in Colombo, thus creating history as the first and so far the only tied Bradby.

• The highest sequences of wins in the series is 6 by Trinity, between 1952-1957. Royal won the Shield 4 years running from 2001-2004.

• The 2002 Bradby encounter was the highest scoring encounter for Royal. Led by Zulki Hamid they won by 39-0, in the first leg held in Colombo and 44-0, in the second leg in Kandy, thus winning ‘The Bradby Shield’ with a record aggregate of 83-0.

• Trinity’s highest scoring win came under B.N.R. Fernando in 2005 when they beat Royal 36-6 in the first leg and 33-7 in the second to record a 69-13 aggregate win.

• The narrowest margin of victory was one point when Trinity edged out Royal to win the Shield 25-24 in 1997. Trinity won the first leg played at Palakelle 14-6 and Royal won the second leg played in Colombo by 18-11. Trinity was led by Nuwan Fernando and Royal by Abdullah Yusuf.

• Trinity won the encounters in 2005 and 2006 with huge margins scoring an aggregate of 69-13 in 2005 and 47-15 in 2006.

• Only one encounter was played between the schools in 1971 due to security reasons. The shield was presented to Royal, on the result of the 1st leg, at an assembly at Royal College, Colombo by the then principal of Trinity College E.L.Fernando.