“Firms don’t fall because of what the world does to them but because of what they do to themselves” said ‘Fortune’ May 2008. This quote propped to the front my thought process as I was repeatedly asked the question what is happening to rugby in Sri Lanka. Not wanting to give any opinion on an issue that has a petty foundation I used the least number of words possible to give an answer. The issue is now being blown up and there is no time to put the question out of your mind. Almost on a daily basis there is something about rugby taking space of writers in the sports pages. Nothing good but sort of accusations and counter allegations that will not take us far. It is sad that taking centre stage in issuing statements is a player who was also an ex captain.
Thus the stage was set and new actors have joined including the appointed captain and the vice captain.
Thus the quote of Jim Collins keeps getting into my mind and gets modified to read as “Rugby (in Sri Lanka) wont fall because of what the world does to it but because of what they do to themselves.”
Sri Lanka has lost its place and foothold in the region despite the proud history it enjoys. A glimpse of hope rose during the Kandy sevens as the boys did well to win all the pool matches displaying skills that can be explored. Despite faltering at the semi final stage still there was hope. The shortcoming if any could have been corrected over time. It was thought that with practice we may show what we are capable of in Hong Kong. It is not about beating the giants but about showing ourselves as capable.
There was opportunity to redeem ourselves in Chinese Taipei as we play in the Asian five nations division along with China, Chinese Taipei and Singapore. This is not wishful thinking but a milestone marked in our hope to climb with the best in Asia. Do we think we can get there and battle to win the division one and join the five nations? The possibility was there even it be remote. Whether it exists any longer is anybody’s guess. Can we do it next time around? Possibility is there provided we see the larger picture.
What we hear today is the pull out of some players selected to the National Team and .all for personal reasons. A letter typed neatly in the same font same words same presentation except for a different name. Group action by players who believe they do not agree with the decision on the appointment of the captain. This is confirmed by the statement issued and published under the name of Jayasinghe a player and ex captain. What does this hold for the long term? We are seriously jeopardizing our chances of showing to be a better side both in the Sevens and in the Five Nations Division 1.
What we have opened up is another area of indiscipline. Have we opened a fresh can of worms? Wherein players can and will issue statements which may be detrimental to the future of the game in Sri Lanka. Another is that loyalty to and pride of representing the country takes back stage. If this happened in the game of cricket where players are contracted it would have landed them in heaps of trouble. Knowing this it leads to non contracted players too being careful. What about rugby in Sri Lanka. They could be in trouble if they are under a contract. If they are not under contract then yet they are careful knowing there is a strict code elsewhere. The IRB regulations and the code of conduct do cover areas such as reputation of the game and action that adversely affect the game.
If there is no action the player becomes bigger than the game and that is something that should not be compromised. What is more important is the game and not trying to retain a handful of big-name stars. Players are the most valuable assets and the talent that keeps the game alive. Administration and the politics of the game should be left to those who are in positions meant for that.
As comments and action is now bordering on being vituperative it needs to be addressed and players cautioned by senior mature and sane individuals if there are any left. Why I say this is because those that ask what is happening to rugby also comment and ask whether there are any more to “fly over the cuckoos nest “.
The selectors who I believe are eminent personalities have done their job. Right or wrong as it may be what’s left is to get on with the playing. If you are not satisfied follow a channel of communication that is to voice the protest. Running fast and issuing statements will not help the game. It only helps to widen the crack built animosity and ruin a game that is valued as a sport.
- Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB