28th May 2000
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Face-lift for Ruhuna rugby - Rami 

By Bernie Wijesekera 
Sri Lanka being my second home I am determined to give something back via sports especially in Ruhuna said Rami Wiersch Executive Director, Hoodvian Group, in an interview with The Sunday Times. 

Rami stated that he loves sports and has played football which has a tremendous following worldwide, along with rugby football. In Sri Lanka both sports has a following. 

What made you go to Ruhuna to promote rugby? Well, in Ruhuna I've noticed there is much enthusiasm for rugby and my firm has decided to sponsor Ruhuna Rugby Club with men and material. 

It's not going to stop there but do community service among the less affluent via sports. Also giving job opportunities to the lads in the South where there is much unemployment. There are two factories - the Continental Apparel (Pvt.) Ltd. and Koggala Garments Pvt.) Ltd. Currently 2,100 are given gainful employment. 

Its not just promoting sports, but the youngsters must be afforded a better future, Rami added. If there is mental satisfaction, this will keep them out of unwarranted problems like crime, drugs etc. This is the main cause for most of the prevailing problems, due to unemployment. We must always strive to spread the gospel of loving kindness and compassion. Money is not everything in life, nor money could give happiness. It's all short-lived and temporary. Being an expatriate domiciled here, my vision is to help via sports and fellowship for the youth to enjoy a better future. 

Q- Who inspired you to help Ruhunu Rugby Club? 

It was my partner and good friend Malik Samarawikrema. Whatever said and done he is contributing immensely for the development and promotion of this beautiful sport among the less privileged, that too without much fanfare. 

Q. - What is your initial step? 

Firstly, a coach. Leory fonseka, the former Sri Lanka CR & FC and Kandy S.C. scrumhalf. 

He will be permanently attached to Koggala. A keen student of the game and has abundant skills. Bedsides, the Club will be afforded with financial assistance - including gear, Rami added. Forget about petty issues all must rally around for one nation one destiny is the saying made by Nelson Mandela? You are absolutely right. Being a foreigner even during my short stay here, I will strive to give back something to my foster country, he added. 

Kumar Abeywardena, the president of the Ruhunu Rugby Union, commended the move made by Malik Samarawickrema, who was the architect for making Hoodvian Group to join the scrum for the development of rugby. Abeywardena, the live-wire of Ruhunu Rugby said at present there is a base for over 40 players. But this will be further increased by 25 school leavers this year. 

Presently, Ruhunu RC is playing in the 'B' Div., but with this support we will in all probability play in the top division next season. 

Abeywardena said that Singer (Sri Lanka) Chairman , Hemaka Amerasuriya has been a source of inspiration to the Ruhunu Rugby RFU at the start of their promotion and development programme. Besides Singer FEDEX through Udeka Tennakoon made a tremendous impact at grassroots level. A big thank you to them. He was confident of their continuous support to harness talent which will help the national cause. 

Already a couple of schoolboys made the grade to the under-19 squad from gale. 

Sports has no barriers sans caste, colour or race. He was confident that Ruhunu RFU will be able to draw some strong and big built youngsters even from the fishing community. If they have the strength to pull a net then they have the strength and stamina to ruck and maul, Kumar smiled.

Easy for Royal 

Royal College earned a comfortable 67-run first innings win over Moratu MV in a Div. I under-17 school cricket match played at Reid Avenue. 

Royal batting first was helped by two attractive knocks coming from H. Hettiarachchi 63 and A.V.Arumprakash 71 totalled 212. 

Royal: (H.Hettiarachchi 63 , A.V. Arumprakash 71, S.Jayantha 3 for 37; N .Chintaka 2 for 23. Moratu M.V.: 145 ( V .Mendis 46, R.Chanaka 32, B. Nirmalan 5 for 28, C.Pathirana 2 for 10 (B.W) 

Rare feat by Arun Karunaratne

17 year old Arun Karunaratne of Elizabeth Moir School won all the events. He competed at the National Short Course Swimming Championships and won the men's team championship award for his school. This is the first time in the history of Sri Lanka swimming, a single swimmer won the team championship award for the school. He over-powered St. Thomas', Royal, St. Joseph, St. Peters, SSC., Otters, Rainbow AC, SL Army, PAC, CIS, WIS, BS and AIS teams. 

Within a few days he made another remarkable performance when he broke the 5 year old 200m back stroke national record swimming all alone at the Olympic trials conducted at the Sugathadasa Stadium swimming pool. 

Arun also won the Pentathlon championship award in March this year and was on top at the Inter-International Schools' swimming meet. 

He is being coached by Mr. Mahesh Karunaratne.

Rover Pinpoints

Change of heart?

Rover learns that the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, has had a change of heart in allowing a treasurer of a leading sport to continue in this position after his election to same.

Earlier however, he was thrown out.

Rover scores again?

Rover a few weeks ago stated that Damayanthi Darsha will be picked to lead Sri Lanka at the Sydney Olympics ahead of many seniors. How true it was! More of his predictions are to follow with the husband going as Chef-de-Mission his wife as Lady Chaperon and a former NOC and present AAA senior official going as Athletic Manager to the said Games. Only time will prove him correct.

Common tale

A leading rugby player from the hills who was an automatic choice for the Sri Lankan teams is left on the side lines, Rover learns, because it seems that his boss is in the selection committee.

Then, how come one who has not played a single match this season is in the pool, training for Asiad in Japan.

Rover wishes to know how many of these selectors go to witness matches, since it a common tale but true that every try scorers names which appears in the newspapers is in the pool.

Frying pan to fire?

Last year the Cricket Board AGM was held at its Headquarters, a case in this regard is pending. Now come the news that this year's AGM is to be held at the Sports Ministry Auditorium across the road, something like from the frying pan to the fire.

It is noteworthy to know that two Sports Ministry officials were present at the troubled AGM last year. What came off it?

Pathetic state?

Sri Lanka had the distinction of hosting the Asia Pacific swimming championship at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium pool which saw participants from 19 countries splash it out. The electronic system was functioning well at that time at this biggest ever sporting event took place in Sri Lanka. Can you believe the state of this stadium now with the electronic system not functioning. Who is to blame for this. Your guess is good as mine.

Wrong attitude?

The NOC is of the view that anybody not facing a trial in Sri Lanka doesn't warrant selection to represent the country. Then how come in 1958 a Sri Lanka in the States did represent Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Games in Wales and Asian Games in Tokyo.

Rover also learns that a shooter was picked to represent Sri Lanka at the Asian Games from the States. Please refresh your memories Sirs!

Is Susanthika finished?

Rover learns that Susanthika is made to cry by S. O. B. for the ill treatment meted out to her by stopping her being sponsored where she finds it hard to earn a living now. Infact Rover also learns that her phones have been cut off by influential persons, though support is being given by some kind hearted persons for her to make a come back from the wilderness.

Fingers crossed?

Cricket fans are awaiting confirmation whether or not the Asia Cup would be shown live on Rupavahini, since it was in the air that this will be stopped, due to the ongoing situation in the country.

Surath heads RCGC

The 121st Annual General Meeting of the Royal Colombo Golf Club threw light on the excellent prospects of a better year with an outstanding sports personality taking over the lead position. 

Surath Wickramasinghe was invited to be President and there is every promise that when he combines with Haris Serasinghe the newly elected popular choice of Captain they will use their new brooms to clean up identified messy areas that have been neglected. 

A few of the old brigade remain to strengthen the administration with Kumar Borelessa the turf specialist supervising the grass, shaping the contours and supporting Donald Steele the imported course architect. Another outstanding personality brought in to the fold recently as Secretary of the Club is Lionel Almeida. A sportsman with distinctive qualities and wide experience he controls the administration with skill. 

The club is now on the threshold of a massive development plan. Reliable reports tell us that the course development will cost Rs. 25 Million and a further massive amount will be thrown in to the Club House development to 5 star standard. 

All this augurs well for social golf, up market entertainment and socializing in posh surroundings. But what about the pristine glory of the Pin Fernando and Nandasena Perera periods of outstanding golf and tremendous achievements? When will you ever see sense? And when will you agree to give the development of the game the priority it deserves? There has been much water poured over this duck's back but I still have complete faith in the new brooms carried by the reliable trio Lalith Ramanayake, Rohan Withanarachchi and Upali Wickremaratne and feel assured that the sweeping will be meticulous. 

Rain could delay start of Asia Cup 

DHAKA, May 27 (Reuters) - After days of incessant rain, the weather could upset the start of the eagerly-awaited four-nation Asia Cup cricket tournament beginning here on Sunday.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed. We will try to have the first match on Sunday but we are at the mercy of the weather," Saber Hussain Chaudhury, president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board told reporters on Saturday.

Defending champions Sri Lanka take on hosts Bangladesh in the opening match on Sunday. India and Pakistan are also taking part.

Chaudhury said the umpires would inspect the pitch at 2:15 p.m. (0815 GMT) on Sunday. "There could be a delayed start and in that case the match would be reduced to 25 overs," he said.

Ground staff were working round the clock to keep the field fit for play.

The matchfixing scandal which has rocked the cricket world has had little impact on the enthusiasm of cricket fans in the country and nearly all tickets have been sold.

This is the first big cricket tournment in south Asia since South African captain Hansie Cronje was disgraced after admitting to taking money from an Asian bookmaker.

And it follows hard in the heels of the Pakistan Cricket Board's banning of former captain Salim Malik after allegations of corruption.

"There is a crisis of confidence in cricket after the matchfixing allegations and we do hope that this tournament will help restore confidence in the game. We hope to have a sporting and spotless tournament," Chaudhury said.

Chaudhury said the tournament would also give a big boost to Bangladesh's bid to become a Test playing nation.

"We hope that the International Cricket Council which meets next month in London will seriously consider Bangladesh's claim to get Test status," Chaudhury said.

First leg for Kingswood over Wesley

By Marlon Fernandopulle
Two fine tries by skipper J. C.Withanage helped Kingswood score a hard fought 22 points (2 tries & 4 penalties) to 12 (4 penalties) victory over Wesley and take the first leg of the L. E. Blaze Trophy at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday. The winners led 8-6 at half time.

Burly Withanage proved to be the difference between the two sides. The tough center used his weight to good use to score two tries, one in each half and helped Kingswood take the first leg by a comfortable margin.

The Wesleyites had fair chances in the game but failed to make full use of them. They led 6-3 midway in the second half and threatened to increase that lead but were stalled by a well organised Kingswood defence.

Kingswood opened scoring in the 10 th minute through a penalty converted by Mohamed Shiraz but the Wesleyites came back when fly half Prasad Perera equalised with a 25 meter penalty. Wesley went ahead with another penalty from Perera but the lead was short lived as Kingswood scored a try at the stroke of half time. After winning a scrum in the Wesley 25, the ball changed hands before burly Kingswood skipper Withanage powered his way through a host of defenders to score. The conversion was missed and Kingswood went into lemons leading 8-6.

After the turn-around the visitors strengthened their dominance with their forwards attacking relentlessly. They added to their points tally with three more penalties put over by Harshana Samarajeewa and another try by Withanage during injury time. For the losers Prasad Perera was on target with a couple of penalties, which saw the Wesleyites go down fighting 22-12 with the long whistle.

Referee: Orville Fernando.

Kingswood won the 2nd XV game by 15 points (3 tries) to nil.

Peterites make merry

By Jatila Karawita 
St.Peter's led by No. 8 Gladwyn Georgesz made merry against a hapless Science College XV to nail them by a whopping 72 points to nil in a lop-sided Inter School rugby fixture at Bambalapitiya last evening.

The Peterites scored their points through six goals and six tries. The Petes who were fancied to go on a try harvest even before the kick off ran down as many as 12 tries to nothing by their rivals,to underline their dominance over the Mount Lavinia School.

At the breather the winners led by 29-0.

For the home side scrum half Tarindu Fernando ran circles around the Science XV with four tries followed closely by winger Dilan Abeygunawardene who had three touchdowns. Winger Philip Esinghaarachchi,two tries, fly half Lakala Perera, full back Reshan Cooke and prop Ruwan Dias, who each scored a try, also joined in the try scoring bandwagon.

* During last Sunday's Royal-Thomian rugby picture caption it was stated that Royal winger Asela Wickramasooriya was put down but it should be read as Thabith Hassan. S.Thomas' won the game 14-11.

CH beat Army to head table

By Bernie Wijesekera
In a game marred by frayed tempers CH&FC earned a hard fought 18 points (a goal, 1 try and 2 penalties) to beat Army 11 (a try and 2 penalties) in a A League match at Maitland Crescent last evening.

At the break it was deadlocked at 8 all.

Rugby wise it turned out to be a scrap heap where both sides failed to impress. CH despite winning much of the good ball through Thushara Jayalath and Duminda de Silva failed to capitalise and move the ball with their backs which cost them dearly. The only time they decided to run the ball earned them two dandy tries.

The first try came in the 35th minute in the first half when they got their act together. The ball changed several hands for winger Ajith Upawansa to bemuse the Army defence to fall over for an unconverted try. That was the only showpiece of the CH back division.

Otherwise it was a luke-warm display by the CH backs, who failed to show the rhythm that was evinced against Kandy. Army despite not winning much of the good ball have only themselves to blame for this defeat. The soldiers who took the lead in the 8th minute of the initial half through a short tap in the CH 22, when they rucked and mauled beautifully for centre Vajira Jayatilleke who breached the CH defence to fall over for an unconverted try. Both place kickers - Nalin Dissanayake and T. A. Silva - lacked direction over the cross bar which cost the respective sides as a result. But Army's T.A. Silva after missing two easy kicks was third time fortunate to make it 8 all. 

After the break CH's No 8 Bimal Perera was sent to the Sin Bin for unwarranted play. Then during the dying stages of the match Perera was ordered off the field by referee Anil Jayasinghe for rough play.

Nalin Dissanayake who played in patches in the last line eventually helped CH take the lead with a penalty kick to make it 11-8. At this stage the players tended to go more for the man than for the ball and was constantly blown for infringements. 

CH back division put the issue beyond doubt. Through a peach of a mid field charge saw substitute winger B.Wekadapola (who came in place of Varuna de Silva) put the icing on the cake. Dissanayake added the extra points to make it 18-11.

The Army had several chances of taking the lead and the match. On two occasions they were five metres away from the line but lacked the finesse. 

After the game a section of the unruly elements tried to man handle the two linesmen which soured this lack-lustre match, was most uncalled for.

According to ref. Jayasinghe nothing untoward happened to him and he was not at the receiving end. Timely intervention nipped it in the bud, but there should have been better security arrangements.

With this victory CH take the lead in the points table at the conclusion of the first round followed closely by CR&FC and Kandy SC, who are placed third after winning against CR&FC in Kandy yesterday. CR dropped one game and drew against the Havies.

Fine second half rally gives Kandy SC win

By Aubrey Kuruppu
Down 9-10 at the break, Kandy SC enjoyed a far better second half to pull off a convincing 22 points (2 tries, 4 penalties) to 10 (2 tries) win over the hitherto unbeaten CR&FC side at Nittawela last evening.

A full but not jam-packed crowd saw Nalaka Weerakkody open Kandy's account with a penalty after CR had infringed in a line out on the line.

CR came back with a vengeance to score twice in the space of seven minutes. 

Full back Zulfikar Halimdeen weaved his way around 50 yards through a blinking Kandy defence and handed over to winger Ekanayake for the finishing touches. Siriwardena then went over off a neatly worked ploy after CR had taken a short tap close to the line.

CR did not quite sustain the pressure a second time around. Kandy indulged in a ceaseless wave of attacks in the second half and then CR did the same but all to no effect. The stalemate was broken when Pushpakumara worked the blind side for centre Indrajith Bandaranayake, who had just switched to the wing, to collect and breeze through untouched.

It was 17-10 to Kandy and that seemed the way it would be till Kandy struck moments before the long blast. A quick passing bout amongs the backs in CR's 25 and Weerakkody came in smartly to waltz through a relaxed CR defence.

It was a tough unyielding battle. Kandy coming into this game after two losses, made sure they wouldn't let their fanatical supporters down a third time. CR fought a good fight and lost. But it could all be so different when they meet at Longden Place in the second round.

Referee Nizam Jamaldeen.

Old Zahirians win

Old Zahirians SC defeated Ruhunu Rugby Club by 25 points (1 goal, three tries and a drop goal) to 12 (a goal and a try) in their B Division match played at St. Aloysius College Grounds yesterday. At the break the visitors led 8-7.

Newcomers to competitive rugby the Ruhunu Club team put up a sterling performance against their experienced opponents. No 8 P. Ekanayake stood out for the losers. (BW)

Maheesha in 3rd round

By Bruce Maurice
Top seed Maheesha Seneviratne entered the third round of the girl's under 16 singles at the Junior Hard court Tennis Championships played at the National Tennis Centre Courts at Greenpath.

Mahesha beat Eranga Dias in two straight sets 6-1, 6-0.

Dinuk Ranaweera, the number 1 seed, beat S. Patrick in the boy's under18 singles without dropping a single point 6-0, 6-0.

Daya, Sisira in 

Sports Minister S B Dissanayake has recalled two former national selectors in DIG Daya Jayasundere and H. K. Sisira of Navy on the recommendation of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union to the existing rugby selection committee enlarging it to a seven member panel. Group Captain and former Air Force rugby stalwart and diminutive half back Tikiri Marambe heads the Rugby Selection Committee with Hisham Abdeen, Rohan Abeykoon, Rohantha Peries, and Ravi Wijenathan serving under him alongside Jayasundere and Sisira.

The Rugby selection committee was approved by Minister Dissanayake for a period of one year on the consent given by Anton Benedict, President of the SLRFU the sport's local governing body.

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