ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 02, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40

Getting down to business

The road is clear the people are in place to be in charge in the year 2008. What has to be done is to drive the game of rugby in Sri Lanka to the next level. The Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football union took place last week. Nimal Lewke and Asanga Seneviratne retained their posts as President and Vice President, uncontested, to hold office for the second successive year. The secretary Fazal Mohamed stepped down after he served a two year period along with the Treasurer, Sunil Karunayake, as required by the constitution. . The new secretary is T. Duke Hamid of Police fame. Nandi Anthony another new comer takes over as Treasurer. The vacancies for the council too were elected without a vote. The new council members include Sunil Ranasinghe, Fazal Mohammed, Harris Omar, Rizvi Iliyas, Sanjay Fernando, Roshan Deen and Arjun Dharmadasa. With the exception of Harris Omar the others have served the past council; Harris Omar the former Trinity and Kandy Sports Club rugby player who played and captained the National side takes his place in the council as a fresh broom. Harris who excelled in Rugby and also in his academic and professional pursuit will be able to give valuable input and be ready to take the game forward. The entry of Harris Omar also signal the way in for people of a new generation of rugby players. Though a couple of others come to my mind I do not wish to name them. Yet I hope some of them will take the cue from Harris and get involved. It is very much encouraging that younger persons and personalities are taking office in the administration of the game. Another notable feature this year was that there was no voting to office.

Nimal Lewke

Shamrath Fernando and Wimal Senanayke who were nominated by the Western Province Rugby Football Union withdrew paving the way for appointment without an election. Hopefully this consensus that was reached will continue during the season. If that is achieved the hierarchical managers of the game will not be distracted with irritants that at most times take more time than taking the game to a new level. It is also rumored that the Ministry of sport is contemplating on a new voting criteria. This is not for rugby football only. It is to be a method that will be enforced for all sports in Sri Lanka. It is expected that the proposed system will work upwards from the district to the province and to the national body. The voting system has been an issue for almost all sports. Thought is given to having a weight system that will give more votes to clubs in the district that participate in the premier division tournaments of the sport. Apply this to Rugby Football and it will mean more say for the districts / provinces that will have clubs playing in the A division. If we look at the sports governing bodies in the world such as the IRB, ICC functions in a manner that gives more weight and presentation to the major players. The Executive Council of the IRB consists of eight Unions with two seats each for Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France. Four unions have one seat each namely Argentina, Canada, Italy and Japan. Six regional associations representing Europe, North America and the West Indies, South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania also have one seat each. It is the big boys who have bigger say.

The voting system for rugby in Sri Lanka has come up for discussion many a time. Yet nothing concrete has happened so far. A change is not easy as an amendment will require consensus among its present members. With the thought taking root at the level higher of sports administration it is possible this will be done within the sports law or through amendments to the law. Then there will be compulsion to fall in line with. Yet nothing can be certain till you see the final print. There can always be a slip between the cup and the lip.

If the AGM set a new trend it is hoped that petty squabbles will not be in the way as we get ready for Sri Lanka to participate in the Hong Kong Sevens. This will be followed by the Asian Nations Division I Fifteen a side matches. These are two important events for Sri Lanka as it charters its way forward in Asia.

* Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB

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