The “Caltex” league tournament 2008 is virtually over. There are a few matches to be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These will be for record with no adjustments to the league standing.. The CR vs. Kandy match too will be of academic interest as Kandy stands in front and cannot lose the championship. Yet it will generate the fury that will always be there when two archrivals meet each other. Kandy Sports Club once again dominated the season while CR did play well despite not being able to win the Title.
As it has been happening in recent years, once again it has been two clubs running ahead of the rest of the pack.
Two clubs that proved they are worthy of being taken notice of are Havelock’s Sport Club who lay in third place and Police Sports Club who are in fifth place ,
The performance of these two sides gives a hope to expect new challenges to the two top teams’ next year around. Havelock being a promising team was expected to take the game to CR as well as Kandy in the second round. The much-expected clash against the CR turned out to be a damper with Havelocks going down tamely. In the match against Kandy they faltered in the first half but came back fighting in the second. It was too late by this time and Kandy came on top. On the other hand, police though losing to Kandy came very much close to toppling the champions. It is somewhat of a mystery as to what happened to the Park Club boys in their last two matches. They did not display the promise they had. Rumours are spread and talk is in whispers of the rope being pulled in opposite directions, Havelocks are a side that has a set of forwards that can match the best if they are not the best. The sudden lack of cohesion in the last two matches needs to be looked at and answers found as they approach the Knock out. They will probably meet the Army in the quarterfinals and if they win, will meet CR who has to play Air Force in the quarters.
Two teams that were disappointing this season were the CH and the Air Force. CH was a side, which had names that can match the best on paper. Yet they never performed to a level of what they are capable of. They are lucky to be in fourth place ahead of the Police who they beat in the second round. Police on the other hand have done well having given a scare to Kandy as well as the CR. Their performance in 2008 must be taken as a foundation for better things to come. Air Force from whom much was expected at the start of the season came down a cropper and forced out of the first six for the second round. It appeared their bite was not strong enough. Army who managed to be among the first six never showed that they had any chance of beating the others and was never in the contention. Theirs is a case of the old brigade moving out giving way for the inexperienced. Old Zahirians who played in the higher division were the punching bag of the others and conceded a huge number of points against their name.
In the second round Air Force and Old Zahirians played in division two, which is now the Plate. They did well supporting the fact that is where they belong. Air Force leads the table for the Plate with Old Zahirians coming second followed by Kurunegala .Galle did well in the first round of games in division two while Kurunegala did well to register wins during the Plate stage . This would have led to Air Force and Old Zahira being in the knock out for the “Clifford Cup”. News is not that neither Old Zahira nor Kurunegala placed third will be in the knockout. They have apparently fielded a player who has been doing duty for each club on different dates.
That is he plays for Old Zahirians and then for Kurunegala. Thus, both teams will be out of the Clifford Cup. Unless of course there can be another ministerial directive. Issues of discipline need to be addressed by the Union and the process followed if not satisfied with the decision. It seems we have brought into rugby something that was missing and was not required. The doors being opened for political interference in operational aspects. By virtue of the present scenario on standing for the Plate it will be Galle who are expected to play Kandy in the quarter final for the Clifford cup . We have been for a long time talking of provincial development and why the knock out is played in Kandy? Why not take this game also to Galle?
- Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB