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.
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
The Sunday Times met brig. J.P.A. Jayawardena
Brig. J.P.A. said, the Army rugby is still alive despite the limited
Q: In what way are you harnessing talent?
A: 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
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?
A: 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?
A: 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