Singer Sri Lanka 7s is one of the best in Asia - Leslie
By Bernie Wijesekera
It was three days of fascinating rugby. One of the best I've seen in my career said, former All Blacks rugby captain Andy Leslie, who led the Black Caps from 1974 to '76.

Andy was interviewed by The Sunday Times after the great happening. I have played and seen lot of rugby worldwide, but this little one staged in the historic Hill Capital of Sri Lanka, is one of the best I've seen in Asia, amid pomp and pageantry. It was a rare sight - the march past with elephants on parade. The organisers have done a tremendous job and left no stone unturned (all facilities for the participating nations and the fans).

It was good 7s rugby dished out for all to enjoy. This tournament has come to stay and should gain IRB recognition before long Andy said. Even the Lankan team played well though beaten by the sleek running Kenyans in the semi-finals. Jamie Scott ARFUS Secretary General, IRB Council Rep. - Asia who was here to make his observations opined the same views.

The Singer-Sri Lankan Airlines 7s deserves recognition. Imagine a club like Kandy SC organising a 7s tournament of this magnitude. It's good for the progress of the game. It's progressing fast in Asia. A country like Khazagazthan - a part of the Russian Republic is developing fast. All had the development gave an opportunity of staging a qualifying match to 92 nations in 2002 - including Sri Lanka. In 1987 only 16 countries participated.

This is part of the IRB regional programme, Scott said. Rugby has a great following here. The big crowd proved this. The fans need good, fast and open rugby to watch. This 7s tournament dished out to the fullest. The hotels here were packed to capacity for this 4th annual contest. With harmony prevailing at present, there should be more nations taking part. All the nations when contacted were too keen to come here regularly. Of course the sponsors Singer-Sri Lankan Airlines and Connaissance Group (Le Kandyan) and other sponsors back to the hilt.

The Lankan 7s team despite limited exposure did reasonably well to enter the semi-finals for the second successive year. The Lankans don't enjoy much facilities unlike some of the affluent nations. Regular nutrition to them give that much needed vim and vigour. Lankans have the skills and the grit. But lacked the mental toughness and the lasting power to counter their opponents.

This need proper planning and continuity for the players to indulge with confidence. Despite all this the 'the little Lankans' did well to win against Belgium and the youth team South Korea, S.K. sans some of their seniors, but they were physically strong and played professional rugby. Sri Lanka lost the services of hard-running Sanjeewa Jayasinghe, who is being sidelined due to a serious ankle injury. Had Jayasinghe played he could have matched the fast running Kenyans. Some of the Kenyans could be compared to the running ability of Olympic champion, Maurice Greene.

It was their sheer speed that bemused the Lankans in the semis. Imagine Sri Lanka beat Kenya in the Dubai 7s. Since then they have improved leaps and bounds. The local controlling body should take note of that "One Swallow does not make a Summer".

Nalaka Weerakkody played pretty well and was most outstanding. Coming in as a substitute in place of Puspakumara scored the winning try at the nick of time to beat S. Korea 17-14 to enter the semis. Diminutive Lakala Perera, impressed with his sleek running, while dusky Radhika Hettiarachchi and everygreen Indrajith Bandaranayake (despite nursing an injury) played his heart out. It was a good team effort all round.

Coach Asanga Seneviratne, Manager Chaminda Rupasinghe and trainer P.G. Gunawardena should be commended for a dedicated job. The Lankans were in no way disgraced in the end.

No doubt the sponsors will assist if there is total commitment, but not for social rugby. The media will give its fullest support to achieve its objective. In this three-day fiesta the organisers did well for the media facilities, with Hafiz Marikar (a sports Cor). in attendance.

Kapila Jayamaha top muscleman
Kapila Jayamaha, a soft spoken, powerfully-built 19-year-old student from Batuwatte MV, Batuwatte carried away the Mr. YMCA Body Building title. Prasad Buddhika built like a young Tarzan and an old boy of President's College, Maharagama was adjudged the Best Poser. They were the top two at YMCA Protinex Body Building Championships. The event was organised by the Central YMCA Colombo.

The event brought together a host of past and present body builders Amongst them was former Mr. Sri Lanka, Pathmasiri Perera who represented Sri Lanka and the Mr. Asia and Mr. Universe contests and P.A.Karunaratne who is the consultant and chief instructor of the YMCA Physical Culture Section. Mr. Maurice Heyzer, a former Chairman of the YMCA and now a key figure in the Nugegoda YMCA was another prominent figure.

The contest produced high calibre fare interlaced with music and gymnastics displayed by YMCA students trained by Thushara Indika. More than the muscle show itself the courtesy extended by the Central YMCA was heart warming.

In this context the YMCA Organising Committee consisting of P.A.Karunaratne, Terence Samuel, Samaranayake, Sunil Jayaratne, Chandrasena. Shane Block and Jayasundare deserve a big bouquet.

According to Mr. Pathmasiri Perera, the older a muscleman gets he should train more regularly with light weights. He pointed out that after 50 years of age it is best that those training with weights should eat less. The chief guest was Dharshana Senerath, Consumer Product Manager, Astron Limited.

British win 'The Colombo Ashes'
A friendly cricket encounter between British and Australian High Commission staff teams in Colombo ended with the British team winning the match. The match was recently played at the SSC grounds and was titled "The Colombo Ashes".

The Aussise batted first and were able to manage a respectable score of 130 all out. In reply the British team made 134 for 3 wickets in just 24 overs out of the allocated 35.

The score card for the British highlighted the performance of Mark Mudalige and David Samuel who made 37 and 58 respectively. In the bowling department for the British Mahendra Ratnaweera and Shaun Mudalige made noteworthy contributions.

Match-fixing raises its ugly head again
Money is the cause of all evil. The game of cricket started in the meadows of England has spread its wings worldwide for all to enjoy. It is being played in all its true traditions. But sad to mention at present it has been polluted by few individuals due to lust and greed (material gains) at the expense of the game.

To win at all cost - apparently ball tampering, bowling with a bent-arm action has caused unwarranted problems to the ICC (the governing body) put aside promoting and developing the game, but has to probe into these matters. It has further deteriorated apparently due to match-fixing in some quarters pertaining to 'black money'.

These unwholesome acts has ruined the very spirit of the game. Even in the on-going ICC Championship staged here questions were raised in the opening game between Sri Lanka and Pakistan for alleged incidents (ball tampering and the batting of the Pakistani team).

ICC spokesman Mark Harrison would not comment. There was no untoward incident. The matter is finished in a statement made by the ICC to Pakistan manager Yawar Saeed.

It never happened in the past when the game was played according to its traditions. The players played within the laws and its true traditions. They lived with dignity and honour until the last breath. A good example is the late Sir Don Bradman who led a simple life for others to emulate.

Bradman never went in search of money or cheap publicity. If he made any material gains it was by honest means. In turn ploughed back for the development of the game at grassroots level. Players or otherwise money can't give a peace of mind or everlasting happiness. Everything is temporary. One must try to live with what he has and be happy with it rather than tarnishing the game and his own image.

Professionalism is good for the sportsmen to lead a comfortable life and establish themselves for a better future in later life. They deserve it for their toiling. Then they have something to fall back.

The cricketing world recalls the little 'Bowral Boy' Don Bradman from Australia, who learnt the game from his backyard. Without doubt an All-Time great.

Wake up Call
It's a wake up call for all who are playing cricket to play for the right reasons and look to the future of the game rather than their own needs, which is one of the reasons why there has been a downfall in the game at present times, said Steve Waugh, the Aussie captain, in his new book celebrating Don's 90th birthday.

Bradman passed away on February 25, 2001. The entire cricketing world mourned his passing away. Two of the present greats in the game who are playing in the on-going ICC Trophy Championship - Sachin Tendulkar, the maestro from India and Shane Warne, Australia's spin wizard, were both fortunate to attend his 90th birthday at his residence, in Adelaide.

This is what Tendulkar said, after meeting him on his b'day August 27 in 1998, 'Recalling his meeting with Sir Don. It was a dream come true. Not many had the opportunity to meet him and I was very fortunate to do so. He was a great man and I will never forget that experience for the rest of my life.

Sachin though he climbed the cricketing ladder via an secalator has not lost his head nor where he started his life today he is on a record-breaking run, but no one could touch Sir Don's feats, Tendulkar said, is one of the finest gentlemen on and off the field - a symbol for the youngsters to follow.

Shane Warne now more matured unlike in the past acts with responsibility. He has a young family to look after. Past is forgotten. He, too like Tendulkar must have learnt much what life is all about after meeting Sir Don at his 90th b'day. Shane too knows that records are secondary, but character is what matters in the end.

Being deputy to Steve Waugh he has learnt a lot from him like his teammates. Steve's human qualities very well known away from home - in India to overcome suffering especially the girls leprosy home. Ice-cool Steve, has done much for Australia to reign supreme in both formulas where Ricky Ponting, the present captain playing in his shade in continuing his good work. The Aussies play hard on the field but their hearts melt off the field. The outcome is forgotten. - BW

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