Talking of rugby legends: Abdeen is one of the best

By Maxie Kariyawasam

Even as a schoolboy Hisham showed immense promise in not one but four sports, Rugby, Soccer, Athletics and Cricket. He first went on to captain the Zahira College Soccer team in 1979 and followed it up by Captaining Zahira’s athletic team and was a member of the same School’s Cricket XI from 1977 to 1979. Switching over to Isipathana College in 1979 he made rare waves in the sport of Rugby by Scoring 25 tries during the School’s rugby season which saw him being chosen as the first schoolboy to represent Sri Lanka in the Sevens tournament in 1980. He also represented Isipathana in Soccer and Cricket.
He became a household name in rugby ever since he donned the Sri Lanka Jersey in 1980 and went on to represent the Country in 1980, 1982, 1986, 1987 and 1988 in the Asian Rugby tournaments held in Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong and also toured Wales in 1987. However his leadership qualities came to the fore as he went on to captain the President’s XV against Paris University at Westminster England and on the tour of Wales in 1997.

Hisham Abdeen

Prior to this in 1984 he captained Sri Lanka who emerged as winners of the Inaugural Bowls Trophy in the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens and also led Sri Lanka in 1986 and 1987 where the teams led by him were runners-up in the Bowl in the Hong Kong Sevens. He followed this up by skippering the Sri Lanka side at Asiad in 1988 and also the Dubai Sevens in the same year, followed by the Singapore Sevens side and the Hong Kong Sevens side both in 1993.

He represented Havelocks Sports Club from 1979 to 1988, captaining them in 1983. In 1990 he switched over to CH & FC till 1994 captaining them in 1993 where CH & FC emerged triple Champions. After an illustrious career on the Rugby field he turned to take up Coaching first at Ananda who won the all-Island U-17 rugby tournament in 2002 and were promoted to play in the A Division Segment of the Schools Rugby tournament in 2003 and beat S. Thomas’ College the same year after a span of 15 years.

He then guided the fortunes of St. Peter’s College who went on to win the Sevens title in 2004. He also coached Isipathana who were the winners of the Premier trophy in 2005 and the U-18 Cup Winners in 2005 and the All Island 10’s in 2006. He also went on to Coach Havelocks SC in 2001 where they emerged winners in the A Division Sevens tournament, the U-24 XV’s tournament and the U-24 Sevens Tournament He also coached Old Zahirians S.C. Who emerged Bowl winners of the Sevens in 2004, Cup winners in the Western Province Tournament in 2005. Prior to this they were also U-21 Plate winners in the Western Province tournament. He also coached the Army General Service Corps who went on to claim the inter unit title for the first time in 2004.

Hisham also coached CR & FC who were runners-up in the A Division tournament and the Sevens in 2007.

His crowning moment came in 2000 when he was appointed as a National Selector. He was also appointed the National Coach for the Sevens team in 2004 and the icing on the cake was when the Sri Lanka team were Plate champions in the I.R.B. International Sevens tournament in 2004. He handled the Women’s Rugby team from 2003 to 2008 and this team too responded magnificently when they went on to become Bowls Champions in the Singapore International Rugby Sevens in 2004.

Hisham Abdeen is a quality player. His name will surely be written in gold whenever the history of Sri Lanka rugby is written.

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