“Good News” is when you hear news of a pleasant, fortunate or happy event. News is that the Minister of Sports has directed some of the interim councils to be dissolved, before the end of the month, to pave way for elected bodies. This includes having an elected body in place for Rugby Football.
Is this a pleasant fortunate or happy event? It is pleasant to those who have being crying, yet not hoarse, that development is at a standstill. They who are the stakeholders now have the opportunity to select their team and proceed with a game they love and promote. It is fortunate that there will be an elected body which will pave the way for Sri Lanka to continue to be a part of the international body who has given an ultimatum. A happy event for those who feel they have been at the receiving end of ego driven eccentricity that has smeared them.
To others who have seen a not so encouraging start to a rugby season; there is hope. To others it is an end to frivolous, hateful publicity making statements that have never shot the target but has made sound.
The Director of Sports is expected to conduct the elections explained the CEO of the SLRFU. In the case of Rugby Football It is Important the Annual General Meeting be held before the end of March so that it keeps the IRB satisfied. News of the possibility of an elected body being in office is good. Yet even with an elected body there is little hope for the game in the short run. Rugby has been floating aimlessly taking the ship the way the wind blows. The issue is whether we had an objective and what strategy was in place to achieve it.
Take a lesson from India who is getting ready to host the Commonwealth Games. In preparation they have test events. They are virtually doing a quality check in planning, doing, checking and acting. The rugby test event is planned for the first week of April in the form of an Asian Series Sevens. It is expected that eight teams will participate. Sri Lanka as I understand, from speaking to the CEO, is taking part in this event hosted by our nearest and dear neighbour. It was said earlier that the Clubs Sevens will take place after the season as Asian Sevens series will commence from September. We are not taking part in the Hong Kong Sevens and therefore there was no need to have our sevens early. Yet I would say that more sevens are needed as Sri Lanka is more capable of making a mark despite having fallen way behind last year.
That is partly because we did not participate in all seven series games. If you ask why and read some of statements made you will find the answer. They do not have adequate funds. Who is to be blamed for this? Why has Sri Lanka lost its place in the Sevens in Hong Kong? Is this a great achievement? You have stopped the outflow of funds: after all we cannot win in Hong Kong. That is the type of tongue in the cheek answer you may get if you care to ask questions. Asian Counties playing in Hong Kong are: Chinese Taipei, Thailand, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Korea. Sri Lanka has fallen below all these.
We had great plans to start with the fifteens. Here too what are we trying to achieve. Keep playing and confine the game to a domestic tournament. Brilliant planning: if you lose the IRB status that is what you have to do. Another great achievement that will go down in the records: If it happens.
With all this behind I looked at the ARFU calendar for 2010. Planned to be held between the 14th and 17th of April is the Asian 5 Nations division 1 tournament in Singapore. That is where we are playing. What plan do we have and what are we doing to raise our heads from where we have fallen to in Asian rugby? Probably the reason for the club season expected to start in the late part of April would have been to have the players available for the Asian 5 nations. With just another five weeks for the tournament what have we done so far in getting players together? Is there a pool selected and or do we have a coach in mind? Probably they are waiting for the elected body that will take office in the last week of March. They then will have two weeks to take a team would also have participated.
I spoke to the CEO of The SLRFU Lasitha Gunaratne to inquire of what is happening. He said that they were awaiting the return to the Island of Interim committee member Asanga Seneviratne. It is widely accepted that if there is an election Asanga will be elected President. So it should be he who should carry the baggage. With the limited time getting players released from clubs will not be an easy task. Cheers to the new president, yours is not to be an easy task.
Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB