Sports fans do not usually associate Ruhuna with rugby, but that perception has been changing over the past decade.
As sports in rural schools continue to benefit from both state and private sponsorship, Ruhuna’s rugby potential is being highlighted and tapped by enthusiasts and sponsors.
One person who is especially keen to dispel the notion that rugby is a game for the elite, one that is played only by Colombo and Kandy-based schools and clubs, is Hemaka Amerasuriya, chairman of Singer Sri Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. An ardent promoter of sports in the rural areas, he is confident that Ruhuna has what it takes to turn out capable rugby players.
Speaking from Nittawela, on the final day of the Singer-SriLankan Airlines International Rugby Board (Asian region) International Sevens, Mr. Amerasuriya said Singer was interested in promoting rugby in Ruhuna,
As sponsor of the Kandy Sports Club, the country’s top rugby club and winner of the IRB Sevens for the eighth consecutive year, Singer is well positioned to give Ruhuna everything it requires to become a rugby force to be reckoned with. Since Singer took over the sponsorship of the Kandy Sports Club in 2000, the club has been winning the Caltex Premier league (A division) every year.
Mr. Amerasuriya said the Sri Lanka Rugby Union has a tradition that goes back more than 100 years, but the country still had a long way to go to rank among the best among Asia’s rugby-playing nations. He said Singer envisioned the Sri Lankan team becoming one of Asia’s best. He said other clubs should take a cue from the Kandy Sports Club and make the game more competitive, so that rugby is not confined to two or three clubs.
He said it was encouraging to see the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union making an effort to encourage the less affluent clubs.