of Singapore to ‘blow’ at CR-Kandy clash
Mathew Oakley of Singapore will blow at the crucial Kandy SC vs
CR rugby encounter at Nittawela today. Oakley has officiated in
Sri Lanka before when he refereed the China vs Sri Lanka 2002 World
Cup qualifier at Longden Place which Sri Lanka won 9-7.
Today the destiny of the 2005 Caltex Inter Club League tournament
will be known. In the fray are the champions if the past several
years (Kandy SC) and the solitary Colombo Club that has had the
brazen cheek to challenge and even overcome them (CR and FC).
has a rugby game aroused so much interest. On the streets, clubs
and beer parlours the talk these days have been on the Kandy-CR
encounter. Even the death of Kadirgamar has taken a temporary back
they met at Longden Place, CR forced their Kandyan counterparts
into meek submission and surrender. But that was another day, another
place. The CR was then playing superb, cohesive, dominating rugby.
Not so now.
One man does not make a team. But ever since the departure Down
under of centre Rajith Jayasundera a spanner has been thrown in
fluency, rhythm and smooth functioning of the back division has
been thrown into disarray. His replacement has, quite simply, not
been in the same street and, in consequence, the forwards have had
to work extra hard. The return of Jayasundera will be a source of
comfort and strength and CR supporters.Kandy SC had a similar problem
but has seemingly come out of the mire.
back division, comprising as it does solely of Sri Lankan national
players, is the envy of most clubs. They developed stammers and
stutters among the forwards. Once again, the temporary liberation
of last year’s national team captain, Pradeep Basnayake, gave
rise to confusion and a certain lack of thrust and finesse in the
pack. Matters were compounded by the fact that Asoka Jayasena, too,
had called it a day. Thus, all of a sudden, Kandy SC was deprived
of the services of both lock forwards. Moreover, they were both
players of immense skill and experience.
Basnayake made a come back last weekend and significantly the hill
country club had a big win over the Navy. The almost sane unstuck
against a surprisingly rampart Army side. Had they lost then, they
would certainly have kissed their chances of annexing the league
title goodbye. Kandy SC has to back the CR and also to dump a few
tries (goals preferably) if they are to come into the reckoning.
What ever happens, this is one grudge battle that no rugby fan (whether
based in Kandy or Colombo) would like to miss.
The home team, enjoying the advantage of playing on familiar terrain,
will have the narrowest of advantages.
role of the respective coaches will also be significant. CR is coached
by an Australian and Kandy by a New Zealander. So it becomes a battle
within a battle. (The wallaby won the opening round, will it be
the turn of the All Black next?)
has some exemplary players in skipper Pavithra Fernando, the fast
emerging lineout specialist Ashan Karthelis, Anuranga Walpola, Savantha
de Saram and the ever reliable Dhanushka Pushpakumara. Whatever
the outcome, the game will be worth going a long way to see.