People keep talking or reading about rugby these days. Sometimes it is for good reasons and at times not for what the founders of the game would have expected. If rugby is known for displaying a great spirit of sportsmanship some of its followers are spoil sports. The good news is that the interim committee despite losing track at times on what it is expected to do, gets about their job at other. This is a real Jekyll and Hyde personality syndrome among the personnel who constitute the rugby Interim Committee.
The Kandy versus Navy match turned out to be a bruising affair for Kandy Sports Club. The black eyes and red patches the players sported was not a result of a rousing game of rugby.
It was because some of the spectators invaded the field and used the players for punching bags. The time is for the controlling authorities to get into gear and take corrective action. The easy way out will be to hide under the clause of home team is responsible for security. It is true that the home team is responsible but if the outside force is more powerful the game will get disrupted. The power is in the hands of the SLRFU to take action to see that the game is not disrupted by hooligans. It is sad that the rest of the clubs are virtually silent as probably it does not affect them. After all it is Kandy. Please don’t wait and see. When hooliganism enters your home you too will be powerless. Today it is a punch and a bruise tomorrow it will be a more damaging that is what has to be controlled.
The player who got a red card has been given a suspension of two weeks and I hope note is taken that he was the leader on the field at that time. In the game as it is today much is expected from the leader on the field. This trust has been breached and that should be taken notice of. Prior to this there were yellow cards issued and three were issued on one occasion. This time around too Weerakkody of Navy was shown a yellow card. The issue needs going back into history as the player it seems need guidance to control himself before he does more permanent harm to somebody. This player was shown the yellow card twice in the last sevens played in Colombo. He should have been suspended for the rest of the tournament. But he was warned and discharged only to receive a yellow in the very next match.
Following the incidents of Sunday was the manhandling of a referee on Tuesday in a school match played between Ananda and Thurstan. The home team is responsible for providing adequate security will be the issue number one that will surface. When hooligans disrupt games and then the home team has to answer the remedy might be to say admission for members and by invitation only. On the other hand are the authorities responsible waiting till something worse happens before they open their eyes, perhaps a murder in the hands of a hooligan?
The thugs in the guise of passionate supporters will live to do the same thing another day. We hear of responsible individuals commenting on the referee than looking at the problem. We also heard of an assault on players by unidentified persons on Royal players after the match against St Peters.
The number of incidents requires early and strong action. What is required from persons in charge of schools as well is clubs is to avoid condoning violent behavior.
I feel the result of the anger of the crowd was fueled in the school match by those on the bench and others who demonstrate when referee gives decisions against them.
The crowd believes that the coach knows and follows with violence. Classic example is that the referee gave a red card without warning? This was said by the coach and people believe it. “A player who infringes any part of the law might be must be admonished, cautioned and temporarily suspended or sent off”. The action depends on the severity of the offence and need not follow in sequence.
To the credit of the big burly CEO; the Schools rugby which looked to be a non starter got off the blocks. Rugby lovers are seen at grounds feel that rugby is played better at school level. The lovers get to taste the thrill of a rugby game even if the body is not a perfect thirty six twenty four thirty six. To a critical analyst the games may have not provided flowing rugby that would have kept the spectators on the edge of their seats or on their toes as one may say.
With three wins from three Kingswood and Royal are leading at the moment. S Thomas’ Isipathana and St Joseph’s follow with two wins from three games. With more exciting games on the cards the spectator is expecting some thrilling moments of schools rugby.
It was in this background that club games too got under way last week. CH got the better of the Police side and won the game by 39 points to 15. The game though not reaching commanding heights had specifics of interest. There were only 27 scrums and speaks for itself in not making unforced errors of knock on and forward passes . The penalty count was also a low of 16 and 11 of them being at the tackle ruck and maul. CR played against Air force where the game was very physical. CR who went scoreless for a longtime in the first half rallied to beat Air Force. The once Grand Old Club Havelock’s were convincingly beaten by a fresh look Army side.
Our coaches who love to sit on a bench and shout at players as well as officials must learn from two club coaches watching their teams play from outside the playing enclosure. They are the coaches of Army and of CH. A good indication when we have so much being said and done from the bench that not only affects the players but also the officials. We got to learn from others when they can offer you something good to follow.
= Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB