new season, brand new format
At the time of my writing this article the Sri Lanka rugby players
were in preparation for the RWC Asian region qualifying match against
China. There was optimism and hope in the minds of all. The hierarchy
was of the view that all issues being settled the players have no
complaint and will perform well. By the time you read this the result
will be known. Irrespective of the result what lies ahead is more
and more hard work will be required if Sri Lanka is to maintain
its current status in the Asian Region.
the last week of May the Caltex League Tournament will begin in
a new format. There will be six teams battling out at the top with
six other teams in the next tier in Division 1. The new format is
the result of the deliberations at the last rugby congress. The
line of reasoning being that the previous tournament structure did
not see balanced teams competing with each other. This resulted
in some games being one sided. The expectation is that the present
format will have games that will be contested more closely.
may not be to the satisfaction of all concerned as some of the clubs
who have been playing at the top level are now vying for the top
slot in the second tier joined by three newcomers. They are Dimbulla/Dickoya
from the Central Province, Jawatte Lions from the Western Province
and the Galle RFC from the Southern Province. Three more teams than
last year. Dimbulla which celebrates 150 years of involvement in
rugby in Sri Lanka are competing at the higher level after a lapse
of many years. Hopefully the three new clubs will find enough support
and a player base to justify its inclusion and continuance.
there will be some sort of an emotional impact for the three teams,
Old Zahirians, Police and Air Force who have been previously among
the clubs playing in tier one. This however might be a respite for
the players who have battled only to be beaten by huge margins in
the recent past. They who have been physically battered by better
teams will find the going more to their standard. If they do well
then they could be in the higher league next year. The incentive
is therefore to perform. Similarly those at the top league will
have to be conscious that they have to achieve to continue to be
up there. Emotional attachment and or the pedigree will not be the
reason for a team to be at the higher level. It will be performance.
spectator will get an opportunity to see interesting rugby as closely
contested events are expected. They will not have to suffer the
boredom of a one sided match. The schools season is one example.
The matches in Division one A and B saw close contests. We will
also see in 2006 well known teams fight out in the B segment. I
do not know whether anybody grumbles at the way the school season
is worked out. Many did as the system was introduced. It would be
a mental state of comfort to see the team of your old school being
in the top tier because they are traditional rugby playing schools.
The reality is different.
only available comparison in the Sri Lankan Rugby scene is the schools
format worked out at present. Last year it was a success and this
year it is promising to better. The probability is that the proposed
system of the clubs tournament may see better rugby games. Whether
it will be better rugby is another issue. At the moment the interest
is for the betterment of the spectator who wishes to have more excitement
and enjoyment. Through that there will be more sponsor interest.
men who will be taxed most I presume will be the referees. The demand
from them will be much greater as teams will fight it out all the
way. The clubs, as well as schools, in order to stay at the top
will go all-out for victory. The fans will accept their team to
win. The job of the referee will not be an easy one. He will be
under stress from all, the players, coaches, fans and officials.
Good luck mates!
the skeptic anything new will not be acceptable without criticism.
To the hopeful it will be something different to expect. Time will
tell whether the decision is correct. The process of consultation
and deliberation at the congress is the result of the new born.
This in itself gives an opportunity for renewed discussion in the
future if improvement is required. Let us wait and see.