The man who led Sri Lanka to its rugby glory
Indrajith still a humble soul
Bernie Wijesekera who was in London with the Sri Lanka Under-19 team had the time to meet former Sri Lanka rugby captain and Harrow skipper versatile sportsman Indrajit Coomaraswamy.
Q: Who are your cricketing idols in Sri Lanka and away?
Michael Tissera, a gentleman and a cricketer to emulate. Internationally Gary Sobers ‘three in one’ allrounder. My rugby idol was Sari de Sylva one of the best the country produced.

Q: You have proved your mettle in both disciplines.
Playing for Harrow and leading with much success. Later for Cambridge in a team which included Pakistan’s batting maestro Majid Khan.

Q: You have learnt your books and learnt to play the game. What’s your most unforgettable moment in your sporting career?
Leading my country to emerge runners in Japan in the 1974 Rugby Asiad, helping Sri Lanka. Besides the classroom, sport has helped me to go places and build friendship. Though domiciled in UK, I am still a Sri Lankan and always prepared to help my motherland.

Q: What about your family life?
Married at the age of 23 to Tara. She gave me all encouragement to indulge in sports. Imagine playing round the year (cricket and rugby). She looked after a growing family with two children, while I spend much of my time on and off the field.

Q: What have got to say about rugby at present times in Sri Lanka – Any comments?
I am happy that the present day players are afforded with fringe benefits and regular international exposure. We had to fight for our places and the players had to work hard, even with their limited resources.
However, it’s sad despite all the benefits and sponsorship packages the standards have dropped. Apparently the players are not fully committed. Next year the Asiad will be held in Sri Lanka.

They must work hard to impress and strive to make an effort to repeat the 1974 effort. The clubs, the Rugby Union and the players must dedicate themselves to achieve its objectives to do proud for Sri Lanka rugby.

Q: What have you got to say about Kandy Sports Club dominating the sports at present after being in the doldrums?
I am pleased with Kandy is doing well. It’s good for the game during the past decade thanks to Malik Samarawickrama who has been a good friend and a teammate of mine since my rugby days.

He has made a major contribution for the Hill Capital Club’s success.
Besides has been a cornerstone for Sri Lanka rugby. Has been of great assistance to rugby in many ways. Indrajit, an orthodox left-arm spinner was seen bowling in a line for Lankan CC against Nelson CC at West Harrow last weekend. Like his father ‘Roving Raju’ he is spinning around as Commonwealth Director Economic Affairs. He left for India on Aug. 23.

Q: Your father was better known as ‘Roving Raju’ in his professional career. Uncle Sathi and cousin Gajan Pathmanathan were outstanding products of Royal. Later played for the Tamil Union.
You are right. Sathi, went on to captain the Sri Lanka team which team included the likes of Mahes Rodrigo, Gamini Gionesena, Stanley Jayasinghe, Bertie Wijesinghe, Lucien de Zoysa etc.

Q: Who coached you in cricket?
Old Josephian late Mr. Johnpillai. He was a competent coach and nursed many a talented players at grassroots level. Later it was uncle Sathi, at the Tamil Union, who put me to on course.

Q: Why didn’t you play for Royal?
Well, my father admitted me to Harrow for Higher Studies. But my career on and off the field, was cemented at Royal. At the age of 14 played for Harrow First XI. Played in the Mecca of cricket at Lord’s against Eton. Captained the team in 1967. But in 1968, led them, beat Eton. Had a match bag of 12 for 107. The team had Phil Edmonds the former England teat player. Back in Sri Lanka played for the Tamil Union, with S. Skandakumar, Sugi Rajaratnam, Sridaran Jeganathan etc.

Q: Though you have performed well at cricket and rugby, what was your first love?
Ofcourse Rugby.

Q: Did you play for Harrow?
Yes, for three years.

Q: Who coached you?
Mahes Rodrigo, Summa Navaratnam and late Kavan Rambukwella. Mahes was a pillar of Royal, CR and FC and Sri Lanka Rugby .


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