Play rugby; but be wise to its rules too

The Zahira Rugby Sevens 2012 was played at the Maradana Grounds on Sunday March 18. This was the 5th year of this tournament organized by the Group of ‘Sixties’. There were fourteen teams taking part and two teams were form Malaysia. Science College Mount was the proud winners for the second year running.

The giant killers of All Island Schools Sevens Dharmaraja were beaten in the pool stages by hosts Zahira College. Prince of Wales virtual strangers to rugby also impressed though losing to Peters. They had all chances to win and were leading until they threw away possession by kicking with seconds that were left ticking. Zahira more known for soccer did well in rugby in the sixties.

It is encouraging to note that the sixties group is the force behind the tournament. The ground was colourful with tents which housed the teams and was around the perimeter of the ground. The tournament being worked at Zahira grounds was evidence to destroy the myth that rugby damages the cricket turf. At a time when the schools rugby season start dates are uncertain due to lack of grounds those who have grounds must start using them as there is virtually little harm done by running over a turf wicket. Science College met Vidyartha another babe in the top league in the final. The participation of two schoolboy teams from Malaysia takes the invitation tournament to another level and it is hoped that there will be others that will attend in the future.

Action at Zahira Rugby 7s.

We also saw the revival of Women’s rugby with a sevens tournament played during the week end. The teams from Army, Navy and Air Force were the pick of the weekend. Army using all the experience they possessed beat Air Force in the final to take the champions trophy. Army had a women’s team in the past and were probably rusty as they had not played for a few years. It was good to see the girls from Army and Navy battling out at the top in another attempt at reviving women’s rugby. Sabaragamuwa who were a dominant force in the past were a shadow of them. Slim Line who was among the best in women’s rugby was absent this time around.

There being no organized events in the recent past some of the teams would have probably given up the game. The drop in standards was apparent as there were teams that seemed be at sea though they were on firm ground. While the participation of girls from the outstation was encouraging it must be noted that there should be more vigilance in the inclusion of playing babes who are under age. The enthusiasm would take a severe beating if injuries are sustained by the very young who were a physical mismatch. However the game among women has revived and has to be taken forward. In the Asian championship of last year the teams from India and Iran did very well.

Sri Lanka which participated in the past should look forward to sending a team this year. This would require the continuance of the game among women. As the top teams were from the forces they should consider playing a game before the main club match. Others are likely to follow if there are games.
The tip tackle considered as dangerous has to be curbed and coaches should be aware about the IRB directives where there is potential for the use of a red or yellow Law 10.4 (j) reads: Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play. A directive was issued to all Unions and Match Officials in 2009 emphasizing the IRB’s zero-tolerance stance towards dangerous tackles and reiterating the following instructions for referees:

  • The player is lifted and then forced or ‘speared’ into the ground (red card offence)
  • The lifted player is dropped to the ground from a height with no regard to the player’s safety (red card offence)
  • For all other types of dangerous lifting tackles a yellow card or penalty may be considered sufficient.

This directives has been brought to the notice of all unions again and be understood. I am saying this because during the schools all island sevens a coach was seen demonstrating to the referee who had given a yellow card for a dangerous lift tackle. He was apparently saying that you can take a player off the ground and bring him down. The player was subsequently given a yellow for a high tackle leading to a red. The Schools disciplinary committee banned the player for two matches and the end result was that the team ‘St. Sylvester’s College’ pulled out of the tournament. This is something the schools and education should review as action of this nature can lead to more serious issues.

Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB

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