this the way to develop rugby?
By Bernie Wijesekera
Currently ten teams are taking part in the Premier Trophy 'A' div.
rugby league tournament. Imagine there are minnows in the scrum-teams
like the Old Zahirians and Kandy Youth. Will they ever make an impact
in the league? If one went by their performances in the ongoing
matches all three teams suffered heavy defeats.
Worst was Kurunegala
who were thrashed by Kandy S.C (the reigning league champions) by
a record margin of 172-nil. Kurunegala is finding it difficult even
to get a 25-member squad to train, according to one of their officials
- a former Sri Lanka player now stationed in the district. It should
have been better if they played in the 'B' Division in the district
tournament than being accommodated in the top league.
sources a leading club is trying to help them with two foreigners.
It's not going to serve the cause. What about the other members
of the squad, who do not have the skills, stamina, and strength
to match their opponents? Apparently even with the services of the
two foreigners they are bound to be outplayed and outclassed by
They should have got the exposure on their own strength than made
to run for shelter. The Rugby Union should have focused attention
on development rather than aimlessly increasing the number of clubs
in the top division. This is not development. A country like Australia
today is dominating two sports - cricket and rugby, in the world
to proper organisation by the controlling bodies. At competitive
level their standard is pretty high. Their cricket 'A' team could
match any cricketing nation. They are not bothered about players
getting burnt out. The cupboards are full with young talent to take-over
at short notice.
great, Imran Khan, testified to this effect. The Sheffield Shield
Championship is the best in the world. Well organised and very competitive
no quarter given none asked for. Currently ten teams are playing
in the 'A' league. Six top teams will be confronted in the "super"
for the 'Super Six' will go hell-bent to massacre the minnows to
get that much-needed bonus points to enter the last six. This is
not going to help the game or develop it to reach higher levels.
Bonus points should not decide the ultimate winners with so many
minnows in the scrum.
The Rugby Union
may be kind hearted, with their words by allowing the minnows to
play in the top league. Their words must be translated into deeds.
They should be afforded with men and material. The rural youth need
encouragement with proper coaching and motivation. They should be
afforded with job opportunities to play for their district teams
than migrating to affluent clubs. This is a crying need.
an emerging club in Ruhuna, made a sensible decision to opt out
of the Premier 'A' league. Thanks to the brainwave of Kumar Abeywardena,
who is the mainspring, behind Ruhunu rugby development. Kumar doesn't
believe on expatriates to promote the game on short-term plans.
He believes in wholesome acts with an eye for the future of the
game at national level. In all probability he will get the support
of former Sri Lanka and Kandy SC player, Ickram Odayar, who is now
stationed in Galle to help the rural youth with his know-how.
It should be a better suggestion for SLRFU to carry the bonus for
the "Super Six" only that qualify for the second round.
They could also field their expatriates only for those six teams
that qualify for the second round and in its wake make it more competitive.
The Army suggested that no team should field expatriates against
their opponents who are not blessed with foreigners.
made before the season failed to get the nod. CH and FC in their
last outing left their foreign players out in their confrontation
against Navy. The matches that were played in the last three weeks,
were televised at much expense, but failed to have its desired effect.
It was pale ale rugby. No fans to watch. Had schools like Royal,
Isipatana or St. Peter's played, they could have provided much fire
and sparks and put some pressure on their opponents than the minnows,
said one ardent fan of yester-year who has played at the highest
level. This is not development he said.
teams scrum down for Sabaragamuwa Rugby sevens
Rugby football has a cherished history in Kelani Valley in the past
where the planting fraternity dominated the sport. Foreign and local
planters formed the nucleus.
The sport was
on the wane. But during the last few years it has been revived thanks
to the efforts of the Sabaragamuwa RFU, who has spread the gospel
among the rural boys and girls with a development programme organised
by Arjun Dharmadasa, the present chairman of the SLRFU Rugby Development
Committee. Arjun has been the cog-in-the-wheel with a coaching programme
giving them encouragement with men and material.
They have been
given the exposure to indulge in competitive rugby among the schools
and the clubs in the district. Some of the schoolboys, who have
excelled at the junior level - especially from Embilipitiya M.V.
have been afforded with scholarships. Today they are turning out
for some of the leading schools in Colombo.
been formed. The 7s tournament to be staged at the Ratnapura Stadium
on May 17 has drawn 14 teams, according to the tournament secretary,
K.S.P. Karunaratne. It will be played for the Cup, Plate and Bowl.
K.V. will field
two teams, followed by S'gamuwa RFU (1), Balangoda (2), Eheliyagoda
(2), K'galle (2) and Embilipitiya (2) The 7s will be followed by
the league tournament, which will commence on May 25 and the finals
on July 4. The league tournament will be finalised with a discussion
on May 17 at 2 p.m. After the second round matches the league championship
will be held. A representative from each participating team should
attend this confab which will coincide with the 7s tournament to
be held at the R'pura Stadium (B.W.)
Trophy Country Finals
The popular Mercedes-Benz Trophy Sri Lanka Country Golf Finals started
in 1990 has come to stay. Its a much looked forward to event in
the local golf calendar.
Dimo took up
the challenge to sponsor this event, thanks to its former president
Alexander Pandithege. This will be staged at the RCGC greens for
the 12th successive year - year 2003 Country Golf Classic on May
24 (Saturday) said, Ranjith Pandithege in a media briefing held
at the RCGC on May 8.
It has injected
tremendous enthusiasm among the local golfers to prove their mettle
and get an opportunity of taking part in the Asian Finals to be
held at Gold Coast (Australia). The World finals will be at Stuttgart,
Germany the home of Mercedes-Benz.
the Club Captain, RCGC, who chaired the meeting along with Kumar
Boralessa (vice-capt), outlined this 'Classic' which has gained
Last year, Capt.
Navin de Silva, of the SriLankan Airlines, created history, when
he qualified for the Stuttgart World finals with a stupendous effort
at the Asian Golf finals at the Gold Coast Holiday Resort greens.
thanked Dimo for sponsoring the event and for its continuity. Over
200 local golfers will tee off in three groups - 'A', 'B' and 'C'
on a handicap. The winner and first runner-up in the respective
groups will qualify for the Asian finals at Gold Coast later this
year. Golfers from other continents, too will tee off, said Piyaratne.
At the inception
only about 100 golfers participated, but today over 4000 golfers
from 36 countries will be taking part. Sri Lanka was represented
by Alain Gyi, F.J. de Saram, (Group 'A'), Jo. II Ko, and Capt. Navin
de Silva (Group 'B') and Group 'C' by two juniors - Sanjaya Gunawardena
and Shivantha de Soysa.
Trophy golf finals - is the only tournament that provides international
exposure. Dimo hierarchy, headed by Ranjith Pandithege, is an ardent
promoter of sports. Ranjith focuses much attention in encouraging
the poorman's sport - football with men and material to uplift their
at grassroots level
The Yachting Association of Sri Lanka, the national body for yachting
has established an Optomist Sailing Academy for the promotion and
development of the sport among juniors (ages 10 to 16).
and the development of this sport depends on the younger generation.
Several schools have been roped in for this popular sport. They
are undergoing training. Incidentally there is an annual Royal-Thomian
regatta in the calendar.
The YASL at its last AGM has decided to rope in more schools than
confining it to a selected lot. If Sri Lanka is to make an impact
at international level, then the future lies among the youth.
will be handled by competent coaches at the Bolgoda Lake, Moratuwa.
A fee will be charged for using Optomist Boats and Life Saving equipment.
It's an eight-day weekend course. Girls and boys within the ages
of 10 and 15 who could swim are eligible to join the coaching programme.
English will be an added qualification for communication when the
services of foreign coaches will be obtained.
Further details could be had from The Yachting Association of Sri
Lanka, P.O. Box 256, Colombo or (Tel. 0717-38184). -BW