ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 32

Discipline in schools rugby a must

By Vimal Perera

By the time this column is in print the Annual General Meeting of The Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union will be over and elsewhere in the paper the news of who will lead the Union in the year 2007 will be published. The suspense and the anxiety being over it will now be the time to get rugby moving on the field. First to the field will be the Mercantile Sevens that will be played on the 20th and 21st of January.

Inter-schools rugby can do without scenes of this nature.

On the field during last year there have been occasions to consider the means used to achieve victory by some of those participating in the schools tournament. What happened was not in the spirit in which the game of rugby is played. It is therefore well worth revisiting and discussing with the authorities on the need to understand the cornerstone on which the game of rugby is developed. Those who have been involved are not today's new comers but who have been on the field for many years. When the game is being spread to most corners of Sri Lanka there is a need to recognize the bad influence that may arise if these unsporting acts are continued.

It may be simple but what seem to have not been realized is the implication the actions have on the game and its young followers. The expectations in the objectives of the game rugby is not for it to be just another game. It is a life style. Its essence is not drawn simply from the physical competition on the pitch, but also from camaraderie that develops from sharing such an uncommon-bond. It starts on the field but is reinforced long after the game is over. “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing,” is not the end means of the game of rugby if one stops and starts to reflect on the games expectations. In this game though too the wish is to win is present as in any other competition. Yet the rugby player, who still wishes to win, has to value the test of competition and the spirit of the game even more. This is something that needs to be reflected upon and stressed at the schoolboy level. The promoters of the game at this level as well as the administrators must understand the expectation. Theirs should not be the objective to win by any means.

It therefore follows that we should have our antennas focused on some unfinished business that is lying around. An area that seems yet not resolved and is due to be finished soon is the action on issues that have surfaced in the past rugby season in relation to the schools. The issues at hand that has surfaced during the final days of the last season was about schools fielding players who are not eligible to stay in school in terms of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of education. Another issue that is not yet concluded is the action taken on those responsible for assault on visiting team players. Early in the season we also had an issue of assault on a referee by the home team supporters. On this issue disciplinary action has been taken.

I am certain that the complications of action, which include players resorting to seek redress in courts, have made the school authorities to be careful in the procedures they follow. This is acceptable. However acts that lead to breakdown in discipline as well as those that affect the game need to be tackled and disposed of before the next season begins. It is no secret that the court has already ruled in one issue that the student cannot continue to stay in school. There are still other issues that are pending.

It is important to recognize that what is happening is at the schoolboy level. It is here that one expects greater care and diligence as it is to morrow's citizens that one is dealing with. These have to be discussed and addressed to both at the schoolboy level as well as the controlling body for rugby in Sri Lanka as we proceed on a journey to spread the gospel of rugby in this country.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.