Rugby in full bloom
Kandy SC Int. 7s has propped Lankan rugby
By Bernie Wijesekera
With the throbbing of the magul bera, the popular Singer-SriLankan Airlines Int. Rugby 'Sevens' will kick-off for the fourth successive year from September 13 to 15, at the Bogambara Stadium, Kandy.

Title sponsors of this prestigious tournament since its inception (1999) has assured of its continuity. This was revealed at a media briefing held at Hotel Lanka Oberoi. Singer and SriLankan Airlines could be tagged as inseparable twins when it comes to promoting sports and for its upliftment in this little Isle of Paradise.

Initially two old Royalists scrummed down to make it a reality, namely rugby promoter Malik Smarawickrema and Hemaka Amerasuriya, the sports promoting Chairman of Singer (Sri Lanka) Pvt. Ltd.

Amerasuriya who addressed the gathering said, the organisers and the originators of this great happening (tournament) Kandy SC with a stupendous team effort has not only done proud for Sri Lanka rugby but uplifted its image to reach greater heights in the years ahead. With several hands joining the scrum nothing is impossible in any walk of life. Today rugby in the Hill Capital is in full bloom, thanks to its unstinted team effort.

Peter Hill (the Chief Executive Officer, SriLankan Airlines), one of the title sponsors along with Singer has helped to keep this tournament alive since 1999 under trying conditions. The national airline has been committed to promoting sports in the country. This year should be better with the prospect of peace in the offing for everyone to enjoy a better future.

Peter Hill assured that the national carrier will be in the forefront in its continuity. George Simpkin, the rugby consultant in Kandy SC said, this year's tournament will be more competitive than in previous years. There are 16 teams with two newcomers - Portugal and Kenya. In the past, rugby was confined to a few selected nations, unlike today. But today its rugby wings have spread far and wide with affiliate members enrolled (like the ICC cricket) to develop the game among minnows.

It was in 1986 that the IRB opened its gates to smaller nations. Imagine smaller nations with smaller populations. Tonga and Fiji are keeping the game alive. They are a force to be reckoned with in the 7s circuit.

It took them 100 years to make this breakthrough. Today, over 100 nations have taken to the sport. The H.K. 'sevens' was started in 1976. At present it's a much looked forward to event in the calendar.
Iswan Omar, secretary, organising committee of the 7s tournament said that this prestigious tournament with the blessings of the SLRFU could be tagged as one of the greatest events in the local rugby scene. Modelled in the lines of the H.K. 'sevens' it has taken a firm grip here since 1999.
Sri LankanAirlines today are playing a dynamic role as title sponsors. Le Kandyan Resort with their rugby loving director, Arjun Dharmadasa will be accommodating the teams and officials. It's a fine gesture by Connaissance for giving this support.
There are many more who have joined the scrum, John Keells Ltd., Elephant House Beverages, Carlsberg and Lion Brewery.
The schools section which will run concurrently with the Int. tournament teams who have confirmed: Ananda, Combined Ruhuna, Dharmaraja, Isipatana, Kingswood, Kurunegala Prov. Union, Matale Prov. Union, Royal, St. Peter's, St. Sylvester's, S. Thomas', St. Anthony's Katugastota, Sabaragamuwa Prov. Union, Trinity, Vidyartha, Wesley.
The draw - Pool 'A': Chinese Taipei, Denmark, S'pore, Czech Republic, 'B': Portugal, Arabian Gulf, Hong Kong, Malaysia, 'C': Germany, Netherlands, Kenya, China. 'D': S. Korea, Sri Lanka, Belgium, India.
Besides the school matches, a women's exhibition match will add colour to the three-day rugby fiesta.Two foreign Int. referees too will officiate. Johnatha Chaplan (S. Africa) and Bret Faxon (New Zealand).

Right royal combination
Chandana P. Abeygun-awardena, the former Royal, CR and FC and Sri Lanka scrumhalf, who also led the country has been appointed national coach in preparation for the forthcoming 14th Asian Rugby Asiad to be staged in S. Korea.

Mild-mannered C.P. has a storehouse of knowledge and experience, be it as a player, coach or administrator. He has coached Royal, CR and the Lankan team in the past with much success. At present he is handling the high-riding Kandy SC with George Simpkin (as Consultant). His appointment by the Rugby Union should be lauded. A firm disciplinarian 'with a no-nonsense' from whatever quarter he commands respect.

According to Group Capt. Nalin de Silva, Secretary SLRFU, C.P. will be meeting the National players on Aug. 5, at the CR and FC at 5.30 p.m. with their respective senior club, and school coaches and the national selectors to discuss the format in preparation for the forthcoming Asiad.

It will be on matters pertaining to training and other requirements of the players. Another old Royalist, Bryan Baptist has been apponinted as Manager for the Asian Games in Busan, Korea, 2002.

Bryan at present is a national selector. A keen student of the game, he played for Royal as a hardy forward, captained CH and FC and represented Sri Lanka. He has contributed much for the game in many ways. He was the technical advisor to the Royal College rugby team in year 2000.

Coached the Navy team from 1987-89, when they emerged Clifford Cup finalists. Earlier served in the National Selection Committee with Jayantissa Ratwatte as Chairman. Bryan has served in the SLRFU Disciplinary Committee for many years. -BW

Police out to stop Kandy's winning spree?
By Aubrey Kuruppu

A sense of deja vu has overtaken the Caltex A Division League tournament, of late. This strange feeling has been occasioned by Kandy Sports Club's continued, quenchable desire for invincibility and also by the inexplicable malaise that has stricken their toughest rivals the CR & FC.

At the moment, Kandy SC are out on a limb untouchable, unstoppable and unreachable. The CR having dropped their last two games, the gap between the leading teams is a yawning one. The winners of the league are good as decided. The only interest left is in seeing how much and to what extent teams like the Police, the Army and, yes, the CR can trouble and torment, harry and hustle the champions in their return fixtures.

The first of these games - the one against the Police - takes place today at Nittawela. The Police team had been threatening stirring deeds in the first round but possibly under achieved a little bit. The second round sees them primed for battle and todate their results have been impressive. One hopes that they will rise to the occasion and give as good as they get. Another resounding win for Kandy will only add to the monotony.

That said, the task before the Police is a gigantic one. Kandy SC the champions because they have few clinks in their armour. Well served by a superfluity of Sri Lanka players, Kandy's reserve strength is probably the envy of most clubs. Almost all of Kandy's games this season have not been close encounters. In such an eventuality the kicking talents of Weerakkody should fill the scales their way.

In passing, it should be noted that Weerakkody's counterpart Police full back Harshana Wijeweera, has also been kicking accurately. The hard work put in by coach Masso has begun to pay dividends. The forwards are a set of bustling, hard-working players. With an improved back division, Police now appear a more complete side.

The Police may find Kandy SC a tough nut to crack, especially at Nittawela. Thus victory may seem out of the question. But if the law-enforces can take the fight to Omar, Basnayake, Bandaranaike, Jayasinghe and company. Spectators will be assured of red-hot sizzling rugby.

The transfer to Kandy seems to have heightened Jayasinghes try -scoring powers. Police would do well to manackle him (Locking him up could be in their minds, too!) But there are plenty of lesser with evils who could, if given their head, cause consternation.

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