It's Bradby time again
Can Royal hold on to the 'plum'?
By Shamseer Jaleel
It's Bradby time again. The talking point is on Trinity and Royal. In the past on so many occasions, the team which was weak has ended on the winning side. The Trinity ruggerites are setting out to accomplish a mission. That is to regain the Bradby Shield from Royal after a three year wait.
Both teams will lock horns in the first leg of the 60th Bradby Shield on 7 August at the Royal Sports Complex Grounds in Colombo.
Under 11 - 2.30 p m
Under 13 - 2.45 p m
Under 15 - 3.15 p m
Under 17 - 3.45 p m
1st XV - 4.45 p m

The under 17 game will be played for the Sumithrarachchi Trophy and the first XV game will be for the Bradby Shield. The Bradby Shield is a much looked forward to event for both Royal and Trinity and it was on offer for the first time when Principal of Royal College (1939-1945) E. L. Bradby offered the trophy. At this time Trinity was administered by C. E. Simithrarachy who offered the under 17 trophy. In the inaugural "Bradby Shield" in 1945, Royal College was led by C. D. L. Fernando and the "Lions" were led by R G Sourjah. Royal won the first leg 3-0 but the Trinitians came back to win the second leg and the Bradby on aggregate when they edged Royal out 6-0.

Trinity College who dominated the series by winning a number of matches from 1950-80 retainined the trophy from 1952-1957 for 6 years in tandem. Royal won the "Bradby" for three consecutive years, twice from 1978-1980 and then from 1988-1990. There were some unique features in this oldest trophy on offer. From 1961-1976 four brothers played for the Reid Avenue school, in the hooker's position. They were M Jeyakumar, M Devakumar, M Punithkumar and M Weerakumar. The 100th match in this series was played in 1983 in which Ashan Ratwatte led Trinity and the Royal side was led by nippy scrum half Sriyan Cooray. Though Royal won the 100th encounter at Longdon Place (10-6) they lost to trinity on aggregate 20-16.

Trinity has produced three generations of players who have done the Red Blue and the Gold jersey proud. They are S A Odayar (1928-30) , S A Odayar (1955-57), Ikram Odayar (1984-85) and his brother Reza Odayar (1988-89).

Only once in the history of "Bradby Shield" it has ended in a tie in both legs and that was in 1992. The initial match ended in a nil all draw and the second one 3-3. Himesh Gunatilake led the Trinitians and Harindu Wijesinghe led the Royal side. Royal's best victory was in 2002 when they outclassed the "Lions 83-0 on aggregate. Trinity's best year was in 1996 when they scored 42 points in both legs.

On the administration part Trinity produced 4 remarkable leaders who have done yeoman service to the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) by holding the top post as the President. Kavan Rambukwella, Nimal Maralande, Berty Dias and Gamini Fernando.

Trinity are leading the tally with 32 wins to Royal's 26 with one ending in a tie. This season Royal had a very difficult hurdle as they had to lock horns with the defending "B" division champions Kingswood in the season's opener, which was played at Bogambara Stadium in Kandy. The lads from Reid Avenue managed to draw the game at 10 points each. Royal had to travel down to Kandy again for the second consecutive weekend when they had to meet the Antonian's. Royal after leading most part of the game at 13-9 went down in a thrilling match when the Katugastota lads scored a try in the dying stages of the game to pull it off 14-13. This was a good learning curve for the boys who played their first match in Colombo when they locked horns with Wesley College and beat them smartly 24-0 in a one sided affair. Royal who increased their confidence thrashed the Ananda outfit 39-5 and they retained the Michael Gunaratne Trophy when they outclassed their traditional rivals St Thomas 18-8. They once again retained Major Milroy Fernando Memorial Trophy when they edged out Isipathana College who gave a superb account of themselves before going down to the defending "A" division champions 8-5. They will play St Peter's on 14 August at the Royal Complex Grounds.

The dashing winger Lakshman Dissanayake who is playing since 2001 for the senior team leads Royal team this year. He won his national jersey when he was selected for the Asian Games in Pusan Korea in 2002 and he was also the vice captain of the youth team at the Junior Asiad in 2002. He will have some top class senior players in the caliber of Rajith Jayasundera, Varun Wijewardena, Avaiz Rasheed and Shahab Bahudeen to give the Trinitians a torrid time. Rajith also counts wealth of experience at national level representing the country at the Asian Games in Korea, IRB-ARFU Quadrangular series matches against Japan, Arabian Gulf and Hong Kong. He also took part in the Asian Qualifyers for the 2007 Rugby World Cup matches against Thailand and India.

Without any doubt the player of the year is their crack full back who is very sound both in defence as well as attack, place kick, touch kicks, up and under pressure kicks you name it he has it . The tall lanky Shahab Bahudeen who won his national jersey at the 2007 Asian Qualifyers for the World Cup played against Thailand and India. He was the main architect behind most of Royal's victories this season.

Once again the side is coached by an old boy of the school C. P. P. Abeygoonawardena who represented the national team when Sri Lanka won the Bowl trophy at the Hong Kong sevens tournament in 1984. He will have Nizam Jamaldeen from the Police as his deputy. He played for Police with much success during 1985-99 and is the one of the most respected IRB rated referees.

Meanwhile Trinity remained unbeaten and won all of their group matches in the league conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Section (SLSRFA) after opting to stay out from 1996-2003. This kept them away from participating in the top division. In their friendly encounters the "Lions" beat the hometown team Vidyartha 20-11, Isipathana 25-7 and regained the Canon De Saram Trophy when they outclassed the Thomains 21-15 and St Peter's went down to the Antonians 24-8.

The "Lions" are led by third year player Ayaz Ainaff who missed the major part of the season due to an injury which he suffered in the game against Vidyartha is likely to miss the first leg but will be fit for the second leg which will take place in Kandy on 21 August. He will have the services of some top players such as Thilinakumara, Lightning pace Dammika Senarath, Isuru Jayasena, Niroshan Sanjeewa and Pushpakumara. The "Lions" who are increasing their confidence game by game are coached by Garland who is an Australian by origin that is in his second year.

The chief guest for the first leg will be the Royal captain of 1962 U L Kaluarachchi. Royal (likely) team- Fayaz Fazal, Azwer Mansoor, Bashna Abeywickrama, Dhanushka Rajapakse, Ruwaiz Jiffry, Prabath Udugampola, Awais Rasheed, Bimal Herath, Chamika Sandaruwan, Varun Wijewardane, Eranga Ramawickrema, Rajith Jayasunera, Kasun Wijesekera, Lakshman Dissnayake (capt) and Shahab Bahudeen

Trinity (likely) team- R Munaweera, N Thilinakumara, M Aluwihare, M Perera, B Jayakody, S Ching, D Senrath (capt), M Manickam, Y Ching, R Ranatunge, H Mendis, B N R Fernando, I Jayasena, N Sanjeewa and P Pushpakumara.

Referee Dilroy Fernando


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