Rugby is still the No.1 sport in the Army

If the fans want to enjoy a hard-fought game the Sri Lanka Army has been a platform, in the past. The fans have enjoyed whenever they scrum down be it at home or away.

Army skipper
Nishantha Jayasuriya
Pic by Berty Mendis

Despite exigencies of duty and the dearth of quality players coming from the schools, the soldiers have still kept the game alive. The talent is from rural districts, who have learnt the skills after joining the Service. Among the other Services the Army takes top billing at present times.

At present in spite of stress and setbacks the Army is developing rugby to reach national levels. The raw material has the strength, stamina, and the fire-power to out-run their elite club opponents.

The Sunday Times met brig. J.P.A. Jayawardena Brig. J.P.A. said, the Army rugby is still alive despite the limited resources.

Q: In what way are you harnessing talent?
There is a 15-a-side and a 7s tournaments. Inter-regiment. 14 units are taking part. Over 300 participants. Apparently unlike the less active clubs from the Provinces. They have secured voting rights to gain nominations to the SLRFU. My personal opinion that the Services (besides the Army) deserve recognition and more voting rights.

The Services are developing the game at grassroots level. The IRB grant is afforded for development. Put aside financial assistance. Not even a rugby ball given to them said Jayawardena.

Q: Who is your assistant?
Former Sri Lanka dual purpose player Lt. Col. Sunil Ranasinghe. He came up the hard way after joining the Army. A Level III Scotland qualified coach. The other being S. Shanthi Kumar. They are totally committed. All have to work and play.

This year’s team will be led by Sri Lanka ‘Lock’ Jayasuriya, other national players – No. 8 Mathangaweera, fullback T.A. Silva, flanker – dusky H. Karunaratne and Kumara and Kapila Knowlton.

Q: Who are the newcomers?
Saliya Ganegama, Anura Gunasekera. Nimal Silva, Upali Wickremasinghe, Gayan Rupasinghe, Sampath Wijesuriya, Jagath Perera and Jayalal (Anuradhapura), P. Ranasinghe (Seethawaka MV). Most of them emerging schools. Probably may have played tap rugby, they are prepared to listen and learn. A squad of about 30. Props: Meepage, Jayasinghe (hooker) Kotalawela, 2nd row – Nishantha Jayasuriya, Ratnayake, Flankers – Manjula Ratnayake, H. Karunaratne, No. 8 Madurasinghe – S. Halves – S. Ganegama, Wijesinghe, Fly half – Kapila Knowlton, Centers Asanka Perera (Sri Lanka player), Wickremasinghe. Wingers Sampath Wijesuriya, Lankatilleke, Full backs T.A. Silva, Kumara.

It’s a long drought for the Army since 1982. Won the Clifford Cup K.O. defeated CH and FC. In 83 lost the Clifford Cup final to CR and FC 9-6.
Year 1999-2000 losing finalists to Kandy SC. During this period the soldiers were coached by Asanga Seneviratne the former Sri Lanka player.

Back To Top Back to Top    

Copyright © 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.