ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 22

Getting ready for that big bash

By Vimal Perera

Sri Lanka wins the Plate. This will be what rugby fans would like to hear and read after the final day of the Asiad . Are we are ready, after having overcome the problem of the National Coach? The practice sessions are in progress and the boys are at work. In between we hear of the CH and FC team taking wing to Thailand for another tournament. With them will be some national pool players who will therefore not be available for practice. If others could have left taking with them a number of national pool players what is wrong with CH taking few. The number is very small compared to the numbers that were involved with the Central Province team that went for the Rugby 80s earlier. It will take more time and effort to have the correct mind set to be champions in Asia. The people in the know have set 2015 as the year to achieve this target.

As we prepare for the Asiad as a playing team other teams are in place to make this Asiad a success. The question that floats around is whether the Rugby World Cup Qualifying Matches and the Asiad 2006 will take place. There has been much discussion and the International Rugby Board is on the verge of deciding that the proposed tournament cannot take place as the situation in Sri Lanka does not provide comfort for safety and security.

Earlier it was Japan who was reluctant to come to Sri Lanka. Now it is the turn of Hong Kong. The current situation is being reviewed by the governing body who are guided by reports of their consultants. It seems that these people are of the opinion that the situation in Sri Lanka is not conducive at this time. While the IRB acknowledges that the security measures proposed are in order they have suggested improvements too. With all being done it appears that the security consultants are wondering whether the involvement of security establishment in itself will attract an attack. They on the one hand suggest that there should be in place a system with the involvement of the forces for a security cordon and once agreed question whether the presence of the security will attract attention. This is virtually a no win situation.

They also wonder whether all that is promised will be available. This is probably based on an actual experience of Rushmans the security consultants to the IRB. This has more effect than the conclusions arrived through deductive reasoning.

Hong Kong was a reluctant participant at the last Singer Sri Lankan Sevens. Many assurances were given and they travelled to Kandy . Travelling with them were their own security team which I understand was from ‘ Rushmans’ . Rushmans is a major event consultancy and are involved in major event security. They boast of many well known clients and have handled or are handling a lot of international sporting events. These include the Cricket World Cup 2007. Their first experience in arriving at Katunayake was that the proposed escort from the AirPort to Kandy was not in place. They did voice their concern fearing that the rest of the proposed security will not be in place. The response of the local coordinators for security was that the escort was there, but was not seen as they were in civil. These types of puerile answers when given to professionals with international expertise have other repercussion which can be more disastrous. This plus other comments on ground security have cast impressions that are now bouncing back. It is this essence of professionalism that seems to lack as we progress in our efforts to get international status. We got to learn as we advance. Not easy I would say. As a nation it does not seem we belong to the learning types as suggested by management theorist.

With the stress of the tournament, facing cancellation high on the list, one might expect the hierarchy that is the council members to be busy as bees. Putting there heads together in a bid to salvage what is left. I suppose they are running to the government ministries such as sports, defence and foreign affairs to correct the situation. They would be huddled in conversation brainstorming and offering their advice to the President and the CEO and getting advice from its life members. Whether the gravity of the situation has been understood is yet to be seen. We have to get the act tighter as we are dealing with the IRB advised by arguably, the best team in this field ‘ Rushmans” . Maybe we may need to have the services of them if we are to salvage what is left.

What if the tournament is called off? What of the financial commitments already made and the possibility and difficulty the Union will face with over Rs 30 million already paid to various providers of services. What of the Rs 30 million invested by CR and FC to have their grounds and facilities improved. No tournament no revenue, then rugby is in dire straits.

Have we realized the magnitude of the issue. The council was to meet on the 28th.

News is of a possibility of the ARFU tournament being postponed while the RWC qualifying matches are to be played elsewhere as these have to be completed in November. This also may mean that the present ARFU committee willcontinue till the next meeting.


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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.