It’s hard to believe that someone who was so vibrant, loving and big hearted could be silenced.
Yet I watched Thajone Savanghan, the former Isipathana, Havelocks and Colombo Clubs XV skipper against the Bosuns of UK lying still at his home in Templers Mawatha, off Templers Road Mt. Lavinia on Friday.
He succumbed to a brief illness on Thursday afternoon and was laid to rest at the Jawatte Muslim Burial Grounds on Friday (11-09-2009).
Thajone burst on to the rugby field as Isipathana skipper of the 70s and Havelocks who were quick to spot his talents took him under their wing. His brother Juragen too captained Isipathana and later led the Police rugby team. Thajone’s first major assignment was to stop Mohan Sahayam, the CR skipper in the big game against the Havelocks. He rose to be a household name.
TMK Samat, writing in the Evening Observer gave banner headlines to the event calling him,” The boy with the ten ton tackle”.
Then came Thajone’s international career when he was selected to lead the Colombo Clubs XV against the visiting Bosuns of UK. The Bosuns were huge in stature and Sri Lanka had never encountered rugby of such power and grace. Thajone led the Colombo Clubs with great distinction in this game even though the local team was at the receiving end of it.
Whilst in Dubai he was a member of the Dubai Exiles Rugby Club which was managed by M. Maheswaran, the former Sri Lanka Air Force rugby fly-half.
In 1988 the Sri Lanka Sevens rugby side led by Chandrishan Perera lost in the semi-finals at the Dubai Exiles International Sevens contest and the Sri Lanka team was hosted to dinner by Thajone. Chandrishan Perera was adjudged the best player at the contest. Since then Sri Lanka have been regular participants at the Dubai International Sevens.
Thajone’s sons Dilshan and Romesh turned out for the Dubai Exiles Juniors until Thajone relinquished his post in Dubai.Thajone received his early education at Trinity College Kandy and then moved on to Isipathana. As he always used to say: “I learnt my rugby at Trinity and polished it at Isipathana.”
He had a stint in Dubai at Modern Freight and later shifted camp to Bahrain. On his return to Sri Lanka he managed his own freight forwarding business. Havelocks made him a life-member and at the time of his death he was a vice president of the club as well with loads of ideas of lifting the once famous club out of its rugby doldrums.
He is survived by his beloved wife Noorani, sons Dilshan and Romesh, daughter-in-law Nishreen and grand daughter Sanya.
May the turf lie lightly over him!