The good, the bad and the ugly of rugbyView(s):
‘On the right hand of God the Father’ by Tomás Carrasquilla Naranjo, a 19th-century Colombian author, is about a humble and saintly man whose generosity to Jesus and St. Peter earns him five wishes. His first wish was to win at gambling; a man of upright character who wants to win at gambling. He became avaricious in no time. He then wanted to be able to inflict pain on others. His other wish was to meet death face to face and then have the power to stop it at his will, conquering man’s fear of death by restricting God’s capacity to take life whenever He wants. His last wish was to be an ant, a speck of a being, symbolizing the reality of life.
However big or powerful one is, he is just a drop in the ocean of existence; a mere speck. Once his wishes were granted he became a changed man and a prisoner of his own greed and wishes, causing mayhem and an imbalance in society. It unsettled the balance of social norms and forces.The story brings out the conflict between man’s eternal desire to embrace goodness and the influence of social evils upon him. In other words, social and personal interests are in an eternal clash. Beliefs or traditions offer no solution to this problem. It is a challenge for man today, who resolves to be merciful within an environment of prevailing greed and evil. The reason for my bringing this story into focus is the parallel I see happening in the rugby environment of Sri Lanka. One is the admission of foreign referees to officiate in the country and the other is the management of the fallout of the Vidyartha saga.
We bring officials from abroad after an incident in a match justified possibly by the biased numbers that prevail in the council where the personal interest of club loyalty takes precedence. What is the strategic direction or expectation from this action with over 600 matches played in a year? The action stalled death while trapping the incumbent President as personal interest outweighed rational thinking. The offspring of a constitution change that took away representation aimed at looking from a perspective of a national governing body.
While a key game was refereed by a local last week, and one more yesterday with one to come, the foreign referees will take the field for matches played by the Upcountry Lions, CR and F C, Army and Police who are fighting for fourth place. Army possibly has a grouse over a decision that went against them while Police look very comfortable in securing fourth place with three wins. The reasoning is a little hazy; possibly the personal interest is a win while in the long run it will unsettle the balance. If you play well through a match the referee will never be in the equation and will be a non-entity. The recent matches between crusaders saw the third match official giving a wrong call after using available technology.
The second is more puzzling and leads to misuse of the generosity bestowed by the office one holds. Vidyartha in recent times vehemently denied any wrongdoing, sarcastically commenting that out of a dozen allegations there is only one remaining. They have all of a sudden decided to be merciful and accepted the inclusion of one Bandara in place of another Bandara. This is not a result of desire or aim but of greed to win, resulting from how much is spent, and glory at any cost. These sort of clowning acts are happening recurrently in school rugby. Are the systems so weak that a player from last year can be substituted? As in the case of another issue how come the registration process did not detect a player who submitted two different birth dates in two years?
It is difficult to understand how a Master in Charge or a Prefect of Games or the Principal himself did not realize the man on the field was not from school. The mistake was made but like in the quoted story one decided to gamble with Satan. How did the inquiry committee miss the difference of the two photographs? Today every child gets his National Identity Card for his O-levels and when there was an allegation why did they not ask for the NIC? Power corrupts and sane men go mad especially when acolytes answer Heil Hitler!
Otherwise how do you explain the Executive Committee, with the exception of Isipathana, accepting a report submitted by the President without a word? The disciplinary committee of the SLSRFA consists of the President and Seven Vice Presidents, with the Secretary being the convener. Sources say that there were only two involved and the Secretary, as per his letter dated 11 July 2012, conveyed, “The President has instructed me to inform there is no issue with the identity of the players and he will submit a report to the Executive Committee.” The report was presented to the Executive Committee and accepted while Isipathana objected. If the report was not procedurally right why did anybody not object? At least those representing the seven Vice Presidents who should have been in the committee should have disassociated themselves rather than bringing the issue to this stage where the committee appointed by the authorities has a vicarious responsibility to report impersonation or be accused of complicity. Just as much as the school is responsible, the head of schools rugby should also take responsibility for the unsatisfactory manner in which an inquiry was conducted and has now led to the excreta hitting the fan. Puppets and Muppets should answer to their school heads.
In the past it was a change to a certificate, this time it is manufacture and impersonation: which is serious business. The price to pay should be a deterrent to others as this is not a speck in the sea but a much larger pollutant in the ocean.
Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB