Rugby: Kingswood’s love and pride

By M Naushad Amit
Kingswood College, Kandy has a proud record in rugby football in Sri Lanka with the unique honour of being the first-ever educational institute to embrace the sport way back in 1891. The school at Randles Hill has produced top class rugby players and coaches to the country while winning the prestigious schools league championship many a time. Though they last won the coveted trophy two seasons ago Kingswood has always managed to make their presence felt at all the main competitions. According to the rugby coach of Kingswood, Nilufer Ibrahim, this year their initial expectation has been totally different from other seasons.
“Many had different ideas as to how we would perform before the start of the league but seven weeks later the boys have managed to prove their critics wrong,” Ibrahim who is on his third year as Kingswood’s coach told The Nation.

With the departure of eight key players from last year’s team many predicted Kingswood would have to fight really hard to maintain their position in the President’s Trophy Singer Schools Division I ‘A’ segment. But the coach who knew the ins and outs of his team and their strategies had other thoughts.
“Before the matches began many came forward to encourage me. Their call was to save Kingswood from being relegated to the lower segment. But there is something else only a few knew. It was the commitment and spirit of our players which was wrongly assessed. I knew Kingswood could be among the top 4 in the league and today we have done better than that,” he added with delight.
Kingswood enjoyed a much better start in the league this year by recording two straight wins against St. Anthony’s by 23-10 and Isipathana by 22-15. But they narrowly lost the third outing against hometown rivals Trinity, 20-21.

“Though I personally felt we could achieve a place among the top 4 in the group, the players were highly motivated after the first two wins. In particular after the win against Isipathana they were on the move aiming for the league title. Even the ardent supporters of Kingswood rugby had that intention but losing to Trinity was a major drawback. That slashed our hopes,” Ibrahim went on to say.
Apart from winning or losing, Kingswood faced an additional worry to their good run in the league with the number of injuries their players had to face. According to the coach the recovery process had been speedy compared to the previous years.

“The school recruited Anoja Mallawarachchi as the trainer for rugby and he has done a great job. Compared to the previous two seasons we have had fewer injuries this year and recovery has been really commendable. The fitness level of players is very good they are in good shape and things have been working well for us.”
Kingwood went on to win their third game in the league by defeating minnows Prince of Wales’ by a massive 99-11 and followed it up with a 43-20 win against Dharmaraja. But they succumbed against St. Peter’s by 29-45 though having a slight chance of turning the game in their favour. Last week they defeated Royal by 15-10 in a rain marred match.
“The match against Prince of Wales’ was a very good opportunity to rest some of the key players and try out new faces. This actually helped us to strengthen our bench for the remaining games. But I was disappointed the way we approached the game against St. Peter’s. It could have been a close call. We had chances but end of the day someone has to lose and luck was not on our side,” Ibrahim further added.
Though things have been working out better than expected, Kingswood faces many obstacles in maintaining their senior pool. Despite having the full backing from the Kingswood Union OBA branch based in Colombo they lack in a few areas which needs to be addressed very fast.

“One of the key issues we face at the moment is the lack of a proper ground to practise. We have a ground at school but the surface is too hard to practise rugby on. The next key issue is the unavailability of an under-18 rugby pool which hinders the grooming of future players,” the former Kingswood three-quarter said.
With a fair number of their players coming from poor and middle class families, Ibrahim was very confident and convinced that the boys would be physically and mentally tough, fully committed and he would get the maximum output from the players. Majority of the parents of the players have a basic knowledge of the sport and this has helped Kingswood in drawing their support. In addition Kingswood has maintained their rich rugby culture at a high level and their players are adored and treated as heroes and stars by fellow students.

“Parents having knowledge of the basics and rules of rugby was also very good from the players’ point of view. It helps the nourishment part as parents have an idea of what food their kids should take during the season. And the players, they are committed too. The principal’s support and his close coordination with the parents, old boys and well-wishers to promote the sport proved really helpful to us,” added Ibrahim who also praised his ardent set of boys.

Currently Kingswood has nothing to lose as they have achieved more than what they expected or could have asked for. But Ibrahim also pointed out some aspects arising from losing some of the matches which cost them the league title.

“It’s a good eye-opener for the future of Kingswood rugby. We all know that the school has many commitments and they can’t afford to spend endlessly on rugby. The Colombo Union branch helps us in a massive way. But there are some issues that should be sorted out soon. When we keep on winning those issues will not surface. Now that we are facing some of the ups and downs, it will make us all concentrate on some of the problems that need to be solved. This in a way will be good for the future of Kingswood rugby,” Ibrahim said.
The Kingswood rugby squad: Chamila Abeygunawardana, CS Piyasena, Heshan Silva, Gajanath Perera, Buddhika Jayasinghe, Isuru Jayaratne, Chethiya Wadugodapitiya, Jananath Dharmawardene, Mohamed Afzal, Lavanga Perera, Danushka Wijesinghe, Mohamed Fazli, Oshan Perera, Prabath Jayalath, Rajitha Sansoni (Captain), I Chandrasekara, Kasun Herath, Udara Kasthuriarachchi, Uvin Ariyaratne, Neville Jayasinghe, Thilina Weerasinghe, Mohamed Nazry, Kasun Malwattage, Adil Bohoran, Kasun Tennakoon, Saminda Karunaratne, Thilina Denawaka


Sri Lanka Schools Milo Colours Awards

All arrangements have been made to hold the 17th Sri Lanka Schools Milo Colours Awards Ceremony for the year 2009 on June 16 at the BMICH in Colombo where 532 school sportspersons will be in line to win honours.
Among the winners in different sports, athletics has topped by bagging 80 awards followed by hockey who have been nominated for 45 awards. Western Province has the majority of achievers with a massive count of 234 out of the total award winners while 127 sportspersons from Central Province will stand a chance to win colours. The total number of awards is divided among 250 schools, 6 international schools and 13 private schools.

The sponsors of the Colours Awards Ceremony, Milo which comes under Nestle Lanka PLC, expressed their pleasure in supporting this event in the national interest. “When we initiated the programme of awarding colours for achievers in sports at school level, way back in 1994, it was just a humble idea to recognise hard work of the less privileged. But today it has grown to be one of the major events and numbers have increased gradually indicating the rapid development of schools sports in the country. We are much encouraged by this and our commitment for this cause will never change,” said Mohamed Hamza, the Senior Vice President of Nestle Lanka at a media conference.

The Minister of Education, Bandula Gunawardena, will grace the occasion as the chief guest while Minister of Sports, CB Ratnayake, Managing Director of Nestle Lanka, David Soudan and Senior Vice President Nestle Lanka, Mohamed Hamza are among the distinguished guests.

Famous sports personalities who represented Sri Lanka in different sports will join the occasion in distributing the awards. The winners of Milo Colours have been selected according to nominations of the respective sports governing bodies after considering their achievements at major local and international sports events. The awarding of colours for achievers of the country’s schools sports is one of the most important events for the young sportspersons in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Schools Sports Council (SLSSC) has been conducting this event for the past 16 consecutive years. [MNA]


2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi

Lanka lap of Queen’s Baton Relay from June 17 - 19

Sri Lanka will be the 68th destination for the Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 which is on its way to New Delhi where the 2010 Commonwealth Games is scheduled to take place in October this year. A special welcome ceremony has been planned at the Bandaranaike International Airport on June 17 to officially mark the arrival of the baton in Sri Lanka. This was revealed at a press briefing held at the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka last Wednesday (June 9).

“Planning is already well under way to celebrate the arrival of the Queen’s Baton 2010 in Sri Lanka. We look forward to see many locals join in the festivities and turn out to cheer on the relay’s baton bearers. Past and present sportsmen and schoolchildren will join in to carry the baton when it is being taken around Sri Lanka on June 18 and 19,” Hemasiri Fernando, the President of NOC said.
The Queen’s Baton will travel through Colombo, Negombo, Wennappuwa, Kurunegala to Kandy on June 18 with a grand ceremony opposite the Temple of the Tooth. On June 19 the baton will travel through Kegalle to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage before being carried back to Colombo by a special train. A grand closing ceremony will follow on the day at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium where the Queen’s Baton will be officially handed over to the officials of the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010.

As a part of its epic journey, the Queen’s Baton passes through the length and breadth of all 71 nations of the Commonwealth covering 190,000 kilometres in 340 days. While spreading the message of goodwill on its way to Delhi, the baton will spend 240 days travelling throughout the globe before reaching its destination to spend 100 days on a national tour of India. The Queen’s Baton relay will conclude at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Games in Delhi on October 3.

During the ceremony the final bearers will hand over the baton back to Her Majesty or Her Representative and the message contained in it will be removed and read to officially open the Commonwealth Games. The Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 commenced from Buckingham Palace on October 29, 2009 with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II entrusting the baton to the first few of the many baton bearers. The inaugural Queen’s Baton was created for a relay to commemorate the Cardiff 1958 Commonwealth Games in Wales. Since then the Queen’s Baton Relay has become an entrenched Games tradition. [MNA]


New Cricket Selection Committee

Aravinda de Silva (44), who is the best cricketer so far produced by Sri Lanka, has been appointed as the Chairman Cricket Selection Committee. He is a master tactician and fine reader of the game. He excelled in all three departments of the game - batting, bowling and fielding.
He is an astute thinker because in a Test match which India played here in 1997, when Aravinda was batting the Indian captain Sachin Tendulkar, in somewhat cloudy conditions, correctly used his spinners to bowl. When Aravinda was 98 the Indian captain brought on Jagath Srinath, the fast bowler, thinking that de Silva will bat on as he had only 2 runs to complete his ton. The master brain Aravinda accepted the bad light offered.
When play was resumed Aravinda comfortably knocked off the 2 runs and went on to score 110 not out. Ultimately it was his knock that paved the way for the victory and he won the man of the match award and Sri Lanka won the series 3-2.

He trained and directed the U-19 team that beat Australia, in Australia, 3-2 in an ODI series – the only team from the sub-continent that beat Australia in Australia.
He has so many good series abroad 167 at Brisbane 1989-90 and in New Zealand.
I have full confidence that Aravinda de Silva, along with Amal Silva, Ranjith Fernando and Shabir Asgerally, all experienced and level-headed persons, will improve the deplorable standards at present and prepare all available youngsters for the most important job of winning the World Cup in 2011, which will be played in the sub-continent.
Politics and other considerations like the school tie should not come in. Let him and the other selectors do their job without interference and they will bring victory in the next World Cup and other encounters.

V. K. B. Ramanayake


Peterite Mercenaries!

At a time when rugby enthusiasts are skeptical about the composition of the Isipathana rugby team, we are now urged to look at St. Peter’s too with the same skepticism.
It is very easy for the rugby authorities at St Peter’s to clear the air. Can the authorities tell us how successfully the Peterites have fared at U/13, U/15 and U/17 level over the last 7 or 8 years? If they have won or, at least, been the runners-up in at least half of these tournaments (including the W.P. organised one), then we can safely surmise that St Peter’s is truly a school with an excellent rugby record.

Or, have the saintly Petes used mercenaries to massacre the innocents, as the game against the Cambrians was truly a massacre of the innocents. If so, it is a crying shame!
Does this kind of encounter (SPC v POW) augur well for the development of the game in the less affluent schools? It is time for the controlling body to look at this aspect seriously and make a decision and pit equals against each other. If schools with means are going to flaunt their money by playing mercenaries, then woe to the less affluent!

I sincerely hope the St Peter’s rugby authorities will clarify the position. Let them not ignore that the newly appointed President of the S.L.R.F.U. himself is a rugby player who played with distinction with fourteen other Peterites. There were no mercenaries then and the game was played in good spirit and with honour. Victory at any cost is a very recent phenomenon!

Shafie Z