Situated 465 metres above sea level is Kandy, the charming hill capital is also a leading cultural centre of the island and a world heritage city. Nestling amidst the hills, and looped by the Mahaweli river, is still the home of the arts and crafts, music, dance and song.
Kandy has given the world two exciting cricketers in Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakkara. Two other “Kandy Lamissies” also sprouted from the hills in recent times. Miss Sri Lanka, Aruni Rajapakse and badminton queen that will travel to the Beijing Olympics; Thilini Jayasinghe are also from Kandy.
Amidst these achievements what most electrifies the atmosphere and brings thrill to Kandy is rugby. Much evidenced by the fans that throng to a ground whenever rugby is played in these parts. To this Kandy Spots Club has been the main contributor winning the plum of rugby in successive years. This year too they are in front as the first round comes to an end.
Kandy Sports Club kept the momentum of rugby fans excited while the schools have played a vital role in the development and feed of players; to Kandy in particular and the rugby community at large. They have been a source of supply to the clubs as well as the national team.
It is a fitting tribute to their contribution to see the decider for the schools rugby plum “Singer League 2008” being played in Kandy. Among two leading Kandy schools who have a proud history and an association of over a century. Whether it is Trinity or Kingswood that will emerge winners the trophy will be in the hills.
It has not been an easy passage to both schools that have lost a game each. Both lost to St Peter’s the defending Champs. On their way Trinity huffed and puffed against S. Thomas’. Kingswood who lost to St Peter’s in a game that they did not play too well came back strongly and beat S. Thomas convincingly. Trinity began the season by scoring a magnificent win over Isipathana whereas Kingswood did not have it easy against the same opponents. Similarly Kingswood had an easy passage against St Anthony’s while Trinity had to sweat. It has been a swinging pendulum for both sides that have had fortunes and hard times. Who will have the edge today; it will be he spectators who will be griping to their seats till the final whistle is blown.
The talking point from rugby perspective is the defeat S. Thomas’ College suffered at the hands of St Joseph’s table leaders of Segment 2 of Group 1. Thus they handed over the Lady Jayatilleke shield to St Joseph’s. S. Thomas’ was riding high at one time having beaten St Peter’s and losing to Trinity by a close margin. As time progressed they lost to Kingswood and yet were among those at the top of the schools segment 1. St Joseph’s who have not had many a rugby victory marked against their name in the past must be very happy of their performance. This will be a booster to rugby for the school by the Beira as they march forward and hopefully will be another team to be reckoned with next year. Before that this week they meet St Peter’s in their annual encounter for the Rev Fr Basil Weeratunge memorial trophy. It sure will be a good fight on their hands.
Another incident though not good news that is talked about is the “stone throwing “that caused the Bradby to be stopped for a few minutes. This from among leading schools does no good for the sport or the long history the followers of both schools love to boast of.
CR and FC did play a hard game before they went down to Kandy and may be they should have taken that penalty in the dying stages. It is much easy to say in hindsight. To the man in the middle it is a tough call; do go for the three points and make the scores level or score and win with five minutes to go. So CR follows Kandy once again into the second round.
The chances are still open and the cup is yet anybody’s between the two sides. Yet I may not discount Havelock’s to pull off a surprise. Havelock’s Sports Club who has not been tasting victory for some time has shown themselves among the first three. Well done the Park Club boys who have a youthful side with no big names to boast. They have had difficulties in the past of retaining players as the finances they have is not adequate to go around. Despite the difficulties some have stuck with the club and done well for themselves. A young side helped by a young coach will give the park club boys a memory to take with them this year around. Perhaps they have the passion to take them where to most places money cant. Well done keep it up.
- Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB