CR&FC's aim to produce exciting rugby
By Bernie Wijesekera
In the coming season CR and FC will strive to play open rugby said the newly elected captain Asanga Rodrigo, in an interview with The Sunday Times. Rodrigo, a bundle of energy, a former Royalist has been playing for the Red Shirts for seven years as utility forward, and for the country.

You have been playing for the club since you left school. There is no point changing clubs even for material gains when the player is looked after and has established himself. The main thing in life is loyalty and be happy with what you have. Today I am honoured to lead the team. I will justify whilst leading them from the front in its best traditions.

There is a squad of 35 in training with a blend of youth and experience. The training is being handled by Tony Amit. Last year CR was placed fourth in the table. Will strive to improve with a concerted team effort. If we fail them we are not found wanting. If you don't lose them you don't know how to win. Can you elaborate on the composition of the squad. Up front there is Shantha Rohana, the tough prop Viraj Prasanna, the (hooker) Haren Gabriel and Lakmal Abeysuriya.

"Locks" Rohan Perera, Sumedha Jayasinghe and Charya de Saram. The third-row looks solid. Indefatigable Savantha de Saram (No.8), flankers Pavithra Fernando and Chinthaka Abeysuriya, (captained Royal in 1993), staging a comeback. Shamley Nawaz and Rangika Prasad, (Kandy Youth SC player) adding much flavour to the pack. There are many others on the wings.

The half backs will revolve around Champika Nishantha, T. Bohran and last year's Vidyaratha captain, G.Rajapakse. Roshan Peiris, a young prospect, who played last year, will be the stand-off along with Z. Halimdeen. The backline looks good. H. Gunatilleke (former Isipatana Captain - 2000) and last year's Royal Skipper, dazzling centre, Haren Kaluarachchi who should focus much attention.

Others are S.Doray and Wegodapola. In the wings hard-running Kishan Musafer, Nishantha Kumara, N. Ekanayake, Asanga will man the last line, constantly forming the overlap with his zig-zag runs to bemuse the defence. Burly Lasitha Gunaratne is the rugby Chairman. Gunaratne will be on the bench for an emergency call. Club rugby must be very competitive, then in the process it will help the game at national level. CR's aim is towards this end in the coming season.

Hisham wants to coach less affluent players
Hisham Abdeen, the versatile sportsman to hail from Isipathana MV has many firsts in his trail-blazing international rugby career. Without doubt he was a rugby sensation during his schools career. This year Isipatana will be celebrating their golden jubilee. From small beginnings they came of age on and off the field with sheer grit and determination, to match the best in the schools fraternity.

The Havelock Town School in the process made their way to the top. There are many ways to fame, but it came via rugby, when they held their own against the best in the schools circuit. They will be celebrating their 50th anniversary with an Int. schools tournament to be staged here later this year. When rugby history is written, Abdeen will have a special place.

He became the first schoolboy to represent Sri Lanka in the Hong Kong Int. 7s and in 1980. Bristling with talent, in 1980 he was tagged as 'a rugby sensation' with a record haul of 25 tries for the school. He came of age and became the first schoolboy to be picked for the HK 7s, to represent Sri Lanka. In the process did proud for the school.
He was a regular member in the Lankan team. A granite-hard forward, be it for his club, Havelocks S.C.(his first club after his school career) for the country, played his heart out.

Sri Lanka's debut in HK 'sevens' was in 1976, led by Indrajit Coomaraswamy.
In 1984 Abdeen captained the Lankan 7s team and created rugby history, winning the Bowl for the first time on offer defeated Thailand in a thrilling final 16-10 - a Red Letter Day in the annals of Lankan rugby. It was a spirited team effort with Abdeen leading from the front.

Abdeen, at present is coaching the Green Horns in the SLRFU Dev. squad. When asked to comment about his rugby deeds and an unforgettable moment in his rugby career spanning over 25 years, be it as player, coach and administrator. Firstly, enjoyed playing rugby. It's a beautiful sport provided it's played in the correct spirit. Today it's not a sport confined to a privileged lot. Its wings have spread country-wide and have a great following.

The present members of the Dev. Squad has never seen or handled a rugby ball until they were harnessed by the talent scouts. They have the physical strength. What they need is support and encouragement. I have made a name in rugby and want to give something back to the game which helped me to go places, whilst coaching these less affluent players.

Anything special in your career playing for Sri Lanka in HK 7s and leading the country to win the bowl in 1984, in an international contest. You had another first, leading the Lankan team for the first Welsh tour in 1987. Records are secondary - the country matters in the end. Records are forgotten. Besides you, there was another internationally classed player in Priyantha Ekanayake. Without doubt he is one of the best, who could have made the grade in any team.

We had lot of understanding on and of the field. Really enjoyed playing with the likes of Saman Jayasinghe, 'Shan' Perera be it for the coutnry or for the club CH and FC. Later Abdeen crossed over from the Havies to CH and proved a tower of strength. Besides rugby, Hisham excelled in other ball games, too. Cricket, as a gangling fast bowler and played football. But his first love was rugby - the sport that made him a man. A proud product of the Havelock Town School.

Mini-rugby at CH
Rugby is one of the most popular sports not only worldwide, but in Sri Lanka too unlike in the past. Today the game is being played island-wide, said Monty Candappa, the Managing Director of Brown and Co. at a media briefing held at the Gymkhana Club.

The meeting was chaired by the Chairman of the Gymkhana Club, Christopher Dias, in association with Romesh Fernando (Secretary), Ranjan Canagasabey, (Chairman rugby CH & FC, rugby committee), Rohan Goonetilleke (Asst. Gen. Manager), Channa Pathirana (Marketing Manager) and Matt Lee the Kiwi coach.

Candappa said, Sharp decided to scrum down with CH for the first time in the promotion and development of rugby at grassroots level. The junior programme under-11 and 13 is open to all put aside to the members' children alone. CH being one of the oldest rugby playing clubs has maintained a high standard and has a rich heritage behind. It has been in the forefront dominating the local scene. In the past Browns have sponsored cricket, netball at national level. At present helping the poor man's sport football, too.

The CH & FC partinership is bound to inject fresh blood to the sport, Canadappa said.
Chairman Christopher Dias thanked Browns for coming forward with this package. I am confident the team will give their best in the coming season with the assistance of coach Matt Lee. He will help the team with the latest rugby skills for them to reach greater heights in the coming season. Further, Sharp has come forward to sharpen the team with a three-year sponsorship.

CH are planning to play a mini-rugby match which will precede before the 'A' league game at home and away. When the game is played at Nittawala against Kandy SC., the juniors will play against their counterparts. Rohan Abeykoon, Grahame Raux and Imethie Marikar are co-ordinating for this development programme. In the 1990s CH has won many trophies - regularly in the process maintaining the spirit of the game on and off the field. The players have done proud for the club and for the country Dias said.

Back to Top
 Back to Sports  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.