Opportunities good; opportunities lost and rugby in Sri Lanka

The Asian Dragons played in Sri Lanka and were beaten 32 to 5 and we have various interpretations of the result as well as the matches. While I will talk more about it later I would just mention that the game was played while the confusion of players not attending pool practices continued.

The present situation is that the selectors have been removed. A look has been given to a rotten cake that is being covered with a new layer of icing. Once again a new standard is being set to be followed where player discipline is concerned.
This brings to my mind the fate that befell the last bunch of selectors who resigned. They were faced with a fiasco of some players not attending practice last year prior to the Asiad. The players opted to proceed to Paris to watch the Rugby World Cup. When the selectors stood their ground the decision was to protect the players.

Today we have come back to the point where we started then. Honesty, integrity, dedication, ethics etc are lost words. You give up because you stand by your convictions: there will be others to take your place. It happened the last time and will happen again and again. The moral is not to rock the boat but to join the bandwagon and dance to the tune that is being played. If you cannot there are others who could and would. After all what’s in it as we always dance to some tune. One thing that puzzled my mind was a player who made himself not available for Sri Lanka practices playing for the Dragons against the Sri Lankan side. I hope somebody has made a note of that; however good he may be this to be an absurdity.

In this scenario there is one common string that binds all players who did not attend practice. They all belong to one club and the question of loyalty surfaces: Club or country? We are gullible and love to believe that country comes first. What matters is who brings the bread. If we believe we are alone then there is no solution to this. There was an issue regards the Scotland team which I spoke a few weeks back. The latest being Six Nations Grand Slam winners Wales who see their build-up to the November Tests against world champions South Africa, New Zealand and Australia rocked on club versus country row. (Rugby Heaven) The country's four regional sides are at loggerheads with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) over player releases.

We have an important tournament to be played in Chinese Taipei in November with the Asian Five Nations being played from the 12th of November. As it is, will it as a joy ride while we may face the possibility of being relegated unless we perform. Hopefully the problems at the top will not trickle down to the players. It is indeed hope as we may have another lot who have attended practice who will now feel they have been left out. On the other hand the under twenty team is to leave on the 2nd and the selectors have a handful as they take to their job.

The Asian Dragons who played against the local side composed of players from a level below us other than for one from Hong Kong. This is something that is being talked of. I do not see an issue as that is where we are trying to get with al the bickering. The dragons coming here gave the local team a chance to play together against opposition as against playing among the pool players. Was this not a good reason to play the Dragons? It is how you look at it.

From an Asian rugby perspective this was also an opportunity for players of the lower league to get together and play against others. Thus it becomes Sri Lanka contribution for the development of the game in Asia. We also have to realize that bringing a team to Sri Lanka is not easy .Most counties will not encourage their players to visit, as travel adversaries hang over their head.

This was also an opportunity for Yuichi Ueno the Japanese High Performance Manager to see for him what it is like to be Sri Lanka. He was here as the coach of the dragons and took time off to train our coaches too. Yu as I know him was of the view that he will make representations to JRFU about playing in Sri Lanka. YU who is the high performance manager for Japanese rugby is also a Professor in Sport Science and is very keen on helping rugby in Asia. Being involved with Yu and others in looking at referring in Asia with the changing scenario of the new tournament format I know Yu has his heart in Asia. This opportunity was good for Sri Lanka.

PS: The issues of selections and preparation took a new turn with 38 players from the Colombo Clubs keeping away from pool practice. They were seen watching from the sidelines as the 12 from Kandy were at work. We are now seeing another episode of a comedy that does not tell a good story for rugby.
Where will all this take Sri Lanka Rugby to?

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

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