Philippines rugby team known as the Volcanoes took the top spot in the Asian 5 Nations Division 1. They beat Sri Lanka and are set to be the 5th team in the top 5 of Asia in 2013. To most rugby fans in Sri Lanka it seems they have been surprised by what they perceive to be the unexpected: that is whether the Filipinos were capable of beating Sri Lanka.
To the point of the last match Sri Lanka played well considering the means they possessed. They did trail against Philippines but fought back though they went down. Some among us comment that the “Volcanoes” had foreigners. On a closer analysis you would find that they have one parent who is a Filipino. They are possibly settled in America, Europe or Australia and playing rugby in those parts and the Fil-foreigners. They are the success story of Asian Rugby despite more efforts taken to promote the game in India and China. Having played their first International in 2006 after having formed the governing body in 1998, it is a climb to the top in a short time. In 2008 they won the Asian 5 Nations Division 4. In 2009 Division 3 and the Division 2 in 2010 -- a consistent trail leading to the win of the Division 1 in 2012 shows that they have not looked back.
They have been looking forward to take them ahead in rugby in Asia. With a coach who has roots in the Philippines and exposure in Australia New Zealand, Japan. Sri Lanka with a history of over 125 years of rugby has something to boast of but not be proud. It seems they are doing well in the national pastime of infighting that you see in all parts of the societal fabric .Conflict that has taken us nowhere except down has been the bane of our performance. It still does not seem to end as we see more and more seeds of frustration being sown.
|Action at the Sri Lanka Vs Philippines Asian 5 Nations Division I match.
The local rugby scene kicked off the season with an inauspicious abandoning of the first Division 1 A match between St. Josephs and St. Peters due to bad weather. In another match of the Division 1 B the game was called off after half time.
The schools games saw the top teams pulling ahead with two games fought to the end. Science who has made their presence felt since coming to the top league last year held on Trinity to the last. With a strong performance they made the Trinity team work hard for their win. The Trinity team playing with cohesion stood out but has to look at the penalty count that would have cost them the match and were lucky that the Science place kicker had an off day. Royal had an easy victory over new comers DSS who are still to find a firm footing in the top league. Kingswood got the better of St. Anthony’s with both teams not living up to their past prestige. They will have to oil the parts and tune engines if they are to make an impact during the season.
New comers to the top tier Vidyartha on the other hand showed that they have the will and character to take on the top sides. Isipathana had a hard time against the Vidyartha boys and managed to force a 19-all draw. Though the score lines were exciting and kept moving keeping the spectators on the edge and rugby wise had its moments of being less than the best. Vidyartha started off well but seemed to be more intent on defending than taking the game to the Pathana boys.
Pathana on the other hand tried to be exciting as they were keen to attack. It however appeared that when in possession and in a position of advantage they lacked the finish and seemed a little confused. A point of note was that both teams were disciplined and were focusing on attack and defense within the laws than going for the man.
The games after this week will get more interested as teams that win will want to stay on top and the weather will probably improve and make the grounds more suitable for running rugby.
Having watched a few games of both A as well as B division, I think that there is confusion among spectators as well as coaches on the application of the laws. The emphasis and the first thing in the laws of tackle are for the tackler to release the tackled player, make the ball available for play. It was about two years ago that one spoke of the tackled player making the ball available for play and being penalized first. If the players are taught to manufacture penalties while holding to prevent the ball available for play then you are on the wrong track. Remember the first thing at the tackle is for the tackler to release, roll away and be on the feet to play the ball. On the broader effect the mistakes are taken to the national side you are penalized.
Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB