A year of growing status
The year 2007 has come to its end not only as a calendar year but also as a year for rugby. When we look back to the beginning of the year can we be happy that we have seen progress of the game as at December. That the game is better off than it was in January 2007. To look at the progress one may look at some milestones and achievements to gauge for ourselves whether there has been success.
An event that was outstanding from 2006 was the holding of the Rugby ASIAD, postponed due to concerns of security in the country. With the proposed changes to the rugby tournament format in Asia this was to be the last ASIAD. As hosts the holding of the tournament was important and the performance of the players was also important. The rugby ASIAD which was a non starter finally came to be held in November 2007. Having staged the event despite the concerns of security and going through with it has given Sri Lankan rugby another opportunity to seek hosting the Asian series matches to be held in April 2008 .
|Sri Lankan juniors though failing to win the trophy never let any of their opponents cross their line
Sri Lankan rugby players proved their capabilities despite losing the final to Kazakhstan who were rated number four in ASIA in 2007. This was a performance that did help to push the morale of the Lankan players who lost to the same team by a huge margin the previous year. Though beaten Sri Lanka had a game that they would be proud to remember. The boys now know that they can take the bigger sides and the big players with confidence.
Sri Lanka also had the satisfaction of beating USA in the bowl quarter final of the Hong Kong sevens. USA is a team that has been playing sevens as well as fifteen a side rugby among the better teams in the world. Sri Lanka did also perform well in the Singer Sri Lanka Rugby Sevens losing to Hong Kong 21 to 14 in the semi-final. The Hong Kong Sevens team was subsequently crowned Cup champions of the 2007 Singer Sri Lankan Airlines Sevens Sri Lankan also did well in the Asian Junior rugby cup competition by being placed third having beaten Malaysia convincingly. This was a very good upward movement compared to the previous participation of the same tournament.
When we look back you could be happy with what has happened. Yet can you be satisfied and look back with a broad smile that we have achieved the best. What is important is that we look at what we have done and determine what our strengths are and plan to attain better status. Do we pride ourselves as a fifteen a side team when it comes to international competition. Or are to make our mark as a champion sevens team of Asia. In this sense the clubs need to be part and parcel of the bigger plan.
Year 2007 did not see many issues of confrontation that can make the union and its stakeholders drift away from each other. There was the odd skirmish but yet not huge to make it a battle. That being a plus point it may be easier to plan ahead for 2008. Sevens which possibly is our closest goal to further glory there is a need to develop the player base for tournaments to come. To be a champion side the player's need to develop sustaining power, both physically and mentally, to last two days of intense competition. This will only come by playing more sevens tournaments. To have more competition the clubs must agree to play in such events. If they don't it is because they think it will be a problem with their fifteen a side training schedule.
Since there has been more understanding in the last year and less confrontation this can be sorted and worked to improve the game. To start with there would be three sevens tournaments in February which will possibly give a team to represent Sri Lanka at the Hong Kong Sevens to be held in March.
On the bad side was an assault of a referee after a school match by a spectator who happened to be representing a club and the country. The union was fast to act and take disciplinary action which served as a reminder to others who would have thought of taking the law unto their hands.
Somewhat of a concern has been the disorganized existence of the schools rugby administration the feeder and the lifeblood of rugby. They have been limping along in a year that was chaotic. The expectation of hope was the advent into the scene of an acting president who has been seen putting his shoulders to get the wheel moving.
Wishing you all the best for 2008 I leave with you the following attributed to Michael Lynagh: “Rugby for me is the most wonderful team sport. It brings together a group of people from different backgrounds, possessing different personalities all with different ideas, varying degrees of skills and capabilities trying to achieve a common goal. To have actually done this at the highest level, with friends, in wonderful countries, playing against the best is something that will never leave me.