ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

Points to ponder in domestic rugby

By Vimal Perera

Do you know what is happening to the schools rugby season? This is a constant question that is being asked by many who like to see “our boys” on the field. The school supporters who include parents and old boys are keen to see their favorite boys in action. Don’t get me in the wrong sense “it is the rugby that they are interested in.”

It now looks like that the matches will get underway in the last week of April. Yet no schedule is finalized. The league will be played in three groups of ten .This is to be a very demanding and taxing rugby season for the schools. Ten teams in a group means forty five games in each group. Correct me if my arithmetic is wrong. With each school having to play nine games it requires a minimum of nine weeks. Add to this the friendly or what is known as the traditional matches and you may have another one or two. This means the league spills on to July unless a bright idea I have heard of is put in place. That is to play every five days. Does any body have an idea of the strain that will be on the young athlete who is under 20 years of age? What about the culture, where students need more time for their tuition classes. Three groups of forty five matches in each group work out to one hundred and thirty five. Whatever schedule they make at this time will run into problems as the club season begins in May. The issue will be one of ground availability. If not it may be changes of venue in desperation. The increased strain and the stress will lead to frayed tempers. We however should hope for the best.

A person who will have to take a beating with the building of the strain will be the referee. Pray for him, for his parents will often be remembered by sections of the spectators who will never realize the burden that is on his shoulders with so many matches to officiate.

Age group rugby for the under 24 will get underway next week with a number of teams participating. The Tournament is organized by the Western Province Rugby Football Association. Good rugby can be expected especially when the game gets into the quarterfinal stage. The matches will be played at Maitland Crescent and Havelock Park with twelve teams participating. This will give a great opportunity for the youngsters to show what they are capable of.

The Sri Lankan girl’s team will take wing to Doha to play in the Asian Women’s Rugby Tournament that will start on the 28th of April. The team has been under training for the last few weeks are expected to improve on their performance of the past. So to Doha in search of glory they proceed while the men’s team is practicing to take on Arabian Gulf in the Asian Nations Series to be played on the 27th of April. This would be what is ahead in the Asian Region s and would probably replace the Asiad in future
News from the world’s sevens circuit is about the last played in Adelaide in the city’s famous cricket oval on the 8th of April. Fiji who lost to Samoa in Hong Kong beat Samoa this time around. Earlier in the Cup, Kenya scored a shock victory over England to win through to their first ever IRB Sevens World Series semi.

News is also that the great try scorer for Fiji in sevens in recent times William Ryder might play in Japan with Toyota Club during the coming domestic season. This would mean that Ryder will join other countrymen as well as some of the New Zealanders who play in Japan.

Two things that strike out from the above paragraph are; that rugby is played on grounds that are more popular for cricket. In Sri Lanka the thinking of playing over the cricket turf is bad business. Two, that Japan the best in Asia considers and allows foreigners to take part in the domestic tournament. Japan which has its eyes set to bid to stage the world cup in 2015 does realize the need to open its doors for foreigners to play. The introduction of foreigners to the game began with the impact being on the league teams and has spread to national representation. In 2003 Japan had four of them playing in the rugby world cup. The impact of non nationals on the game in Japan has received the attention of scholar’s and has been the subject of research. An interesting study on this is the thesis of Hiroshi Sakata;” The influence of foreign players on the transformation of Japanese rugby over the last three decades.”

Sri Lanka too needs to look ahead if the game is to stay popular as well as progress. Got to be alive to what is happening around us and move with the times.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.