Kandy to wear the crown again!
Kandy will win the “Caltex” league title. This is the talk not only among their supporters but also among other rugby followers. Those who are not impressed with Kandy annexing the title hope against hope. Their calculation is for CH to beat Kandy Sports Club and CR to beat them in Nittawela. The cup will then come to Colombo. The outcome will not require any mathematical calculations as the result of the CH and Kandy game will be known by the time this article is in print.
Last week Kandy Sports Club virtually sealed the league title with their victory over Army Sports Club while CR drew their match against the CH and FC. Kandy came home easy winners while CR managed to draw a game they were leading by twenty points to three up to twenty minutes of the second half. CR and FC who were the closest contenders with one game down have now got behind. They will have an outside chance only if Kandy were to be beaten by CH. The Longdon Place club has a young team and can bounce back at the knock out as well as next year. During the last few years it has been so close and yet so far for the CR.
CH who was behind in the first half saw the lead being further stretched after two of their players got yellow cards. This was followed by a red card to another player. During this time CH seemed got their act together. They showed they had guts, determination and the ability to stay alive during the last stages. They also had the mental strength to come back in a game which was virtually lost. The performance will be remembered by many of the spectators who were present. With patience, control of emotion and direction focused on achievement CH will be a side to watch during the Clifford Cup knock out tournament. The possibility of three teams battling out in front during the knock out stage is a reality. There is a strong chance that Kandy may not have its own way as they have had so far. Hopefully they will be able to match each other and there will be something for the spectator to remember. If I were to place a bet against Kandy it may be for CH and FC provided they stay focused.
Asanga Rodrigo who would have preferred to be in the middle in the thick of things was seen with his leg in plaster following an operation to his Achilles tendon. The possibility is that he will not be seen as a player again. The operation will virtually rule him out of the game. No sawn song or farewell, but a sad exit for a man who has contributed very much to his school, club and the country. It would have been difficult to sit and watch as CR was battling CH and FC. Asanga having had his baptism in rugby at Royal College captained the school team. He continued his playing at the CR to whom he provided valuable input. For a period of around ten years he provided his services to the same club. Something only a handful of players could boast of these days. To stick to one club is a show of loyalty. He captained the side while playing with distinction and represented the country. He donned the national Jersey with pride and was rewarded with the captaincy. A versatile player in the back division Asanga played in different positions for his club as well as for the country.
While playing he also was involved in coaching at Thurstan College and I believe is now helping the juniors at Royal College. Though he is out of the game as a player he will still be seen on the grounds imparting his knowledge.
As a player he used his verbal assault to psychologically demoralize the opponents. Mentally he was tough. His bark may have been a nuisance not only to the opposition but to the referee as well. He was always verbally aggressive. His aim always to taunt the opposition with his comments. Given the possibility of a physical challenge he would avoid and leave the scene. Rathgama circuit sevens will be an event to remember. This was an occasion when his bark was challenged by spectators and he retreated to fight another day.
One day I asked him, “Why have you not thought of taking to refereeing”. He asked; “Why me Sir?’ I said to him “you are always referring while playing and taking to the whistle will not be a new experience”. He was known to at most times to call the referee to draw his attention to what he thought was an infringement. He did laugh it off. His aggressive nature was always on the field.