If only they
had something to lean on
By Ravi Nagahawatte
Sri Lanka’s rugby traditions have taken such a severe beating
during the past few years that the wounds which occurred as a
result are still festering. SLRFU officials have forgotten that
rugby or for that matter anything on earth, with a significant
history, will benefit when tradition is safeguarded. How?
Because tradition is possibly the only thing that offers you
something to lean on, during turbulent times.
This topic about rugby traditions being brushed aside came up
for discussion just after the 2006 Annual General Meeting of the
Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU). The next rugby union AGM
will be held in February this year and it’s time to ponder why a
rugby tradition that stood over 100 years just folded like nine
pins in 2006.
One of Sri Lanka’s best products in sevens and 15-a-side rugby
Michael Jayasekara was denied the opportunity of chairing the
SLRFU executive committee because there were enough people who
thought it was ok to promote someone more ‘suitable’. Without
debating on whether or not this decision was ethical, we’ll
focus on the consequences of such actions.
That method of joining the SLRFU as a committee member and
working oneself up the rungs of the ladder of hierarchy is old
stuff. It only needs a few bold people who’ll promote this new
thinking and you’ll soon see this way of parachuting to the top
rungs of rugby’s administrative ladder, being established pretty
Jayasekara wasn’t given a chance to prove his administrative
capabilities. Rugby teaches us to support our skipper whatever
the differences are, irrespective of whether he is a fine
captain or not. History has proved on numerous occasions how
mediocre captains have ended up as better captains. It’s
important to stress here that the majority of clubs believed
they couldn’t work with Jayasekara and hence backed a person of
their liking all the way to the rugby union. Rugby teaches us
how to work around problems and not look at them as obstacles.
But sadly the people who brought the outgoing SLRFU president to
power didn’t see a way of working around problems if Jayasekara
had been elected SLRFU President.
We have seen enough mediocre captains being given the reigns of
the team because rugby tradition insists that the most senior
player in line for the captaincy gets the nod. And as if to say
‘what goes around comes around’ we saw rugby’s traditions
getting its second hammering when two captains were appointed
for the Asian Five Nations tournament which Sri Lanka took part
Players were seen disregarding rugby tradition. They openly
voiced their disapproval over the appointed captain of the
national rugby team. As a result, two captains were appointed to
the dismay of the Sri Lankan rugby fraternity and the existing
captain. This move by the selectors to have two captains during
one tour makes people mock at the depths to which a vital sports
body like the national selection committee has sunk.
This could be a sure sign of worse things to come. Rugby is now
moving away from Colombo and establishing bigger roots in the
suburbs and far away provinces. Very soon we might see rugby
administration being handled by individuals who reside in
villages. We must be happy for the less affluent making it big
in rugby. But their progress must happen in a manner which
others who play rugby elsewhere, including Colombo, are given
the assurance that they are not left out of the rugby equation.
Rugby is a beautiful sport where we see players of one team,
regardless of race and attitude problems they have, share a
common goal, when on the field. Since of late this unity amongst
players has been threatened too.
In this multi-ethnic society of ours we have begun to see
players getting involved in sports politics. Players must be
reminded that sports politics, though it exists, must be
something that they should refrain from indulging in till they
finish their playing careers. This was the thinking that was
promoted amongst the players of the bygone era and should remain
This breakdown in discipline, and tradition, in rugby, could be
the link to players not giving a damn about ethics. Rugby
players must take a cue from the national cricketers sticking
together as one family at a time when the sport’s administration
is in a mess. It’s essential that players play their roles to
help preserve tradition in the sport of rugby union.
Each rugby club has its respective culture and traditions which
differ from other clubs. History provides us with enough
examples of how players have found solace in other clubs when
the culture in one club doesn’t suit them. If all club officials
think the same and promote one culture, players encountering
problems wouldn’t have a way out. A rainbow wouldn’t be a
breathtaking sight if even one colour is taken out. Like wise,
it’s these differences in people which make a society all the
Embrace change by all means if that guarantees success. But it
shouldn’t be done at the expense of the sport’s development. We
don’t want to see a rugby club with a 100-year-old history being
bought over by a ‘mudalali’ who’ll make it defunct when he can’t
be bothered running the place anymore. Take a moment and ponder
whether we have unknowingly made our contributions towards
ushering in such an era?
Look at the present state in which rugby is in with the
appointing of an interim committee. The manner in which room was
left for the sports minister to appoint an interim committee
must be frowned upon. Those who backed the last executive
committee of the SLRFU probably didn’t know that elected council
members were duty bound to administer rugby till their terms
ended, however big the problems they (officials) encountered
Practicing old rugby traditions certainly don’t make sports
administration a hassle-free job. If elected in keeping with
traditions of the SLRFU, the problems faced by its president
would be little ones because it’s the system which brings him to
power and not individuals. The old system allowed some rugby
union presidents to hang in there during a time of crisis,
however useless or controversial figures they may have been.
This is because the people who worked under the SLRFU President,
then, valued tradition and exercised patience till his term
ended. Even thinking of an interim committee was taboo.
The rugby fraternity sees the sport nearing breakdown point with
the advent of an interim committee. These interim committees
should never be encouraged and the reigns of rugby should
quickly go back to the hands of an individual who’s elected
President at an AGM in keeping with the SLRFU constitution. When
encountering trouble, sports in general tend to lean on the
Sports Minister for survival. Rugby doesn’t have to do that. The
traditions of rugby, when practised, have provided those who
govern it something to lean on when everything else around them
seems to collapse.
Top schoolboy rugby stars to play
for Air Force
By M Naushad Amit
Air Force Sports Club has recruited eight school players to
represent the club in the 2009 rugby season. Among them are
Thushara Ratnayake, Mohamed Riyazi, Migara Madugalla, Gayan
Kumara, Harsha Ranaweera, Nuwan Darshana, Dimitri Wijetunga and
Chanaka Gunaratne. Ratnayake, the 2005 rugby captain of
Vidyartha, Kandy will play in the No.8 position while Riyazi,
who played as a prop forward for Trinity last year, will make
his club debut with the Airmen. Three Isipathanians, Madugalla,
the former Isipathana and Sri Lanka Youth flanker, former scrum
half Gayan Kumara and prop forward Wijetunga are set to make a
big impact in the front division for Air Force.
Two Kingswood players, Ranaweera and Nuwan will also make their
club rugby debut with the Air Force rugby team. One of the
greatest additions Air Force has made this year will be the
inclusion of centre Chanaka Gunaratne. Gunaratne who lead St.
Anthony’s, Kandy last year also represented the national youth
side in the Youth Asiad held in South Korea. According to Air
Force team manager Dhammika Maddegedara the squad has already
started their practice sessions at their Ratmalana Airbase.
“We have recruited some of the finest players who represented
their schools last year. Most of these players we recruited are
the ones who are talented and yet found it hard to continue
their rugby at a leading club. Air Force SC will look after them
very well and our aim from this season is to produce national
players,” Maddegedara stated.
He also spoke of the cooperation and interest of the officials
to uplift the game of rugby at Air Force. “At a time when the
Air Force is directly engaged in the decisive war, it’s
encouraging to see our top officials rendering their fullest
support to sports. Rugby is a keenly followed sport in the Air
Force and we must thank our commander for his encouragement. Our
rugby secretary, wing commander Sanjaya Fernando, who is a
former Isipathana and Air Force rugby captain is a great
strength to our team,” Maddegedara added.
Further, according to the team manager, Kosala Ranasinghe will
captain the Airmen this season. Ranasinghe was a former Royal
rugby captain, CH & FC and Sri Lanka Sevens player. Bimal Perera
will coach Air Force this year while Mohotilal Jayathilake has
been recruited as the physical instructor. Maddegedara added
that few key players from leading clubs in the country have
shown their interest in crossing over to Air Force. “We have
spoken to a few key players and they are keen to play for Air
Force this year,” he said. With the new set of players, Air
Force will be a formidable side unlike in the past years.
A fillip to 80th Battle of the
Two leading Buddhist schools
in the country Ananda and Nalanda, will join hands together for
the first time to organise their annual cricket encounter which
is famous as ‘The Battle of the Maroons’. The annual ‘big match’
will be celebrated in a big way as it’s the 80th anniversary
this year and will be given a facelift with the fresh
arrangements that the new joint organising committee hopes to
add to the match from this year.
“This will be the first instance in the 79-year-old history of
this annual encounter that both schools are getting together in
organising the event. This year will be another milestone of
‘The Battle of the Maroons’ as the encounter will reach its 80th
year. So far both schools have maintained a healthy relationship
of brotherhood and unity. We hope to be an example to other
institutes that are holding annual ‘big matches’ as ours,” said
Hemantha Premathillake, the Principal of Nalanda College at a
press briefing held last Wednesday at the Bloomfield C & AC in
In the past Ananda and Nalanda have played a key role in taking
cricket to the rural areas particularly at a time when cricket
was limited to schools in the main cities of the island
according to Lal Dissanayake, the Principal of Ananda College.
“The Battle of the Maroons is the first cricket encounter to
have commentaries relayed in the Sinhala language in 1960. This
was done by an old Nalandian, Karunaratne Abeysekara. Initially
people started to laugh at it. But today cricket has become a
household affair thanks to the efforts taken by Abeysekara. He
was later followed by Palitha Perera, Premasara Epasinghe, Kamal
Deshapriya, Nalin Aponso, Hemajith Fernando, Bandula Saman
Waturegama, Anura Silva and many others. Most of them are old
boys of Ananda or Nalanda. We take pride in that,” Dissanayake
During the recent years, participation at the ‘big match’ of
both present and past students from both schools has rapidly
moved down. The need of a joint organising committee arose in
order to encourage more spectators to attend. The joint
committee expects to embark on a vigorous campaign encouraging
the present students, parents, old boys and their families to be
a part of the annual ‘big match’. The campaign will be mainly
focused on propaganda and entertainment during the match amongst
a number of other aspects.
The joint organising committee co-chaired by Upali Dharmadasa
and Ravi Ahangama desires to lift the game at the 80th annual
encounter to reflect the unmatched talent and potential of
Anandians and Nalandians on and off the field of cricket. The
committee has organised food courts, musical entertainment and
much more in tandem with the ‘big match’ fever. With the new
additions, different tents for designated age groups will be
included to cater to their needs. The 80th ‘Battle of the
Maroons’ cricket encounter will be played on March 7 and 8
followed by the One-day encounter on March 15 at the SSC. – [MNA]
Rugby season begins for SPC juniors
The 2009 rugby season for juniors at St. Peter’s College
commenced last Monday (January 26). The opening training session
was conducted under the guidance of their junior rugby coach
Senaka Balasuriya and over 120 juniors participated in the under
10, 12 and 14 age categories. Last year St. Peter’s excelled in
junior rugby. The U-12 team won the Western Province Tournament
quite convincingly.Sanath Martis the Sri Lanka U-19 and head
coach of St. Peter’s giving a word of encouragement to a group
of young ruggerites (MNA)
Coca Cola official beverage
sponsors for Indian tour
Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka (CCBSL) tied up as the official
beverage sponsor for the on-going Indian tour to Sri Lanka which
commenced on January 28. The brand is geared to provide
refreshment for both teams throughout the series which consists
of five One-day International matches and one T20 match.
Pictured from left: Lakith Peiris, Promotions & PR coordinator
Sri Lanka Cricket, Charith Senanayake, Marketing Manager, Sri
Lanka Cricket, Duleep Mendis, CEO Sri Lanka Cricket, Dusty
Alahakoon, Country Marketing Manager, Coca-Cola Beverages Sri
Lanka Ltd, Ranjith Edirisinghe, Special Events Manager,
Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Ltd
Hilton cricket social
Hilton Colombo held their Sports & Fitness Club Members cricket
social recently. The event was sponsored by Abdeen Group of
Companies. Picture shows the captain of the champion team Nazeem
Ghafoor receiving the challenge trophy from Isadeen Abdeen,
director Abdeen group of companies. General Manager Hilton
Colombo Jerome Auvity is also present
The Inter-club Knockout Carrom Tournament was
held on January 10, 11 and 17 at the Carrom Federation of Sri
Lanka (CFSL) headquarters with over 300 players participating in
three divisions for men and women.
Division ‘A’ Winners: Seylan Bank SC – Team: Chamil Cooray,
Germain Gunawardena, Channa Gunasekara, Susantha Fernando.
Runners-up: Pharmaceuticals SC.
Division ‘B’ Winners: Ceylinco SC – Team: Sunil de Alwis, DMPS
Dissanayake, PDS Lalmal, MK Kumara, DJP Wanigasuriya.
Runners-up: Madapatha SC.
Division ‘C’ Winners: YMCA Kandy – Team: IT Dahanayake, DC
Samarasekara, SA Senadgi, ANM Ameer, KGSJ Prasad.
Runners–up: Mt. Lavinia Hotel SC.
Division ‘A’ Winners: Rangers SC – Team: Yashika Rahudaddha,
Runners-up: Anula Vidyalaya SC.
Division ‘B’ Winners: Anula Vidyalaya SC – Team: Suvini
Jayasinghe, M Kanchanamala. Nadini C Madhubani.
Runners-up: Rangers SC
Division ‘C’: Winners: R & A SC ‘B’ – Team: M Dilshani Ranaweera,
AGSS Bandara, G Rebecca Dalrene.
Runners-up: R & A SC “A”.
The Carrom Federation of Sri Lanka (CFSL) will be conducting the
Junior National Carrom Championships soon after the Senior
Nationals is over and entry forms are available from CFSL, Reid
Avenue, Colombo 7. Entries for the Junior Nationals close on
February 20 and the tournament commences on March 7.