There was much hope that the Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union will be held on the 30th of March. This was expected to pave the way for an elected body to be in office. The IRB then will continue to accept Sri Lanka’s position. There was speculation of three members of the interim committee and the CEO sending in their nomination. One was the President in waiting who was a late appointment to the Interim Committee.
The Western Province held their meeting to decide on their recommendations for the Council. With a probable 30 votes being in the bag it was a foregone conclusion that those nominated by the province will sail through. Eyebrows were raised and questions asked as CR and FC sent a letter requesting that the meeting be declared null and void. They said that the vote should have been by a show of hands and not by secret ballot. The President of the Western Province Rugby Football Union was on record that such show of hands is mentioned for an AGM or SGM and not for a committee meeting. He also fell back on what was previous practice at such committee meetings meant to decide on nominations.
Battle lines were being drawn as drama was about to unfold. It was speculated that the Central province will nominate a candidate who did not get the nod from WP for the post of Vice President. It was also said that they will nominate the incumbent Secretary /Treasurer of the Interim for the post of SLRFU Treasurer. Then the unexpected happened that now requires another story to be written.
The Western Province Rugby Football Union turned up 15 minutes after the closing time which was set at 12.00 hours and the competent authority rejected their nominations. Traveling together with the WP was Sabaragamuwa and Ruhunu whose proposals too went into the bin. These three provinces have also not submitted the required affidavit to determine the number of votes and will not have a vote at the AGM.
The only list that possibly stands will be the ones nominated by the Central and North Central Province. They came on time despite the travel distance.
According to information received from reliable sources from the Ministry of Sports, they may not find a President or a Secretary in the acceptable list. It seems the documents are incomplete. However there is an acceptable nomination for the post of Vice President and Treasurer. It is also understood that the nomination for council members too are incomplete and the numbers may not be the same as the vacancies. In the past we have been quick to talk about the chaos that the Interim has been fostering on the game of rugby in Sri Lanka. Yet one sees that the Present Treasurer of the Interim and its CEO who have submitted nominations have done it right and in a manner acceptable to the person conducting the election. At least they have got it right where others who were expected to guide the game for the future has got it wrong.
Thus it seems that there is scope for more chaos and then the question is who is to be blamed. The blame lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Western Province council as they who have the majority of the votes should have acted more diligently. The delay was apparently in the time taken to pick up a certificate to confirm playing experience.
If the letter was for a particular individual then what should have happened is to have handed over nominations without that letter without jeopardizing all. If somebody was to contest it was his responsibility to see that such letters were given on time. It was not the best thing to ask officials to collect same from a club or other issuing authority. What do you call it: It is not a lack of commitment - or taking it easy? Thinking, possibly that you have 30 votes behind you. Never underestimate the bureaucracy for whom a time is a time.
Now we have another possible chaotic situation. I spoke to the President of the Interim Dr Gunasekera who laughed it off saying he has another experience to add to being President of the First Rugby Interim Committee Chairman, Constitution reformer and now witnessing a situation on nominations being rejected.
He sees the possibility of those whose nominations are acceptable being elected to office. They will be joined by others in the council and will include “A” division Club representatives etc. They then can appoint an acting President and An acting Secretary and within a month call for an SGM to appoint a President and a Secretary.
The other council vacancies can be filled by the Council. There is also provision in the constitution for trustees to be appointed from the life members to carry on the affairs of the council in the event the council is prevented legally from carrying ion its business.
However the trustees have to be appointed at the AGM. This being the first AGM after the constitution there is a vacuum in this area. However as the life members are known it is easy to pick people from among them if there is an issue that may arise.
Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB