Champs and other points to ponder

St Peter’s remained unbeaten and are clear winners of the schools League tournament. The schools league rugby season has come to an end. More action looms large as the schools knock out will commence at the end of the first week of July.

Kingwood is placed second with seven wins while Royal is placed third with six wins. Isipathana after a shaky start take fourth place separated with six wins and less bonus points. Royal with a young team have done well for themselves while the more experienced S Thomas’ was a disappointment being placed fifth. Trinity College too fell below expectation to be placed sixth in the table. The last two teams Dharmaraja and rookies Prince of Wales will be relegated next year.

St. Joseph’s College kept a clean slate and has won the Division 1B title. Science College has been placed second edging out Thurstan College. Questions are however being asked on the award of bonus points for a try scored for Science in their abandoned match against Thurstan. St Josephs like St. Peters have a clear lead having won all their matches. Science who won six matches edged Thurstan to second place on bonus points.

Royal Panadura have taken the Divsion1 C league by virtue of Bonus points that they earned from a drawn game against DS Senanayake College What is interesting is that DSS have score seventy five tries as against the fifty six scored by Panadura Royal. In terms of the tournament rules a team will be awarded 0.5 points for scoring four or more tries. Therefore despite the number of tries scored DSS fall down as in the last match, which was a draw, they scored less tries thus giving away Bonus points.

Action at the Mahanama Vs St. Josephs match; A point to ponder

I see a huge challenge for the teams that get promoted to Division 1A. There is a huge gap in the performance of these teams as against the top eight in Division 1A. Prince of Wales who were promoted last year became fodder in the hands of the better teams as they conceded huge margins against most schools . They scored only two tries and had a total of 696 points scored against them. Is there a need to rethink on the present system of promotion and or to limit the number of teams to eight? A ‘crack,’ in the system when asked; commented that the better teams wished to have not so good teams in the top division. So that they could score heavily and it was good for them. What is important is to understand that emerging teams will easily be demoralized.

Despite the fact that there has been disciplinary action taken against St Sylvester’s another issue surfaced when the players winning team St Joseph’s were assaulted after their match against Mahanama. It seems the punishment meted out in the case of the Sylvester’s vs. Panadura Royal match has not got people into thinking more cautiously before they get on the field to assault players. Probably the publicity given was inadequate. In the case of the match tow Mahanama players that were given red cards have been banned for a period of six months.

It was more appalling when the red carded players got onto the ground and were involved in the assault. The worst is that one of the players is the captain of the side. A captain getting a red card is bad and it is worse when he gets involved a second time.

The onus of responsibility when spectators invade the field hangs on the school that hosts the game. The host team is responsible for making adequate ground arrangements to ensure the safety of referees and players during matches. This is stated in the guide lines of the tournament hand book 2010 issued by the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football association. Don’t blink; stay awake or else your players may be at the receiving end.

The schools section has been strong on field disciplinary matters so far. Yet it does not seem to deter some and especially those that wish to invade the field of play. Much more harsh measures may have to be taken as competitions become challenging. These may include the reduction of points as included in the handbook. It may be necessary to take even more stringent measures which may include the reduction of points from both sides where spectators invade the field. And even followed by issuing a match or two ban where such action is seen.

Immediately the argument will be as to why children should suffer for the sins of adults. This cannot be helped if the game is to be cleaned from the mess it has fallen to. At present the onus of responsibility is with the host team and any action taken by the visiting team goes unnoticed. What is necessary is to deter those that enter the field of play to offend or to defend. These incidents are not unrelated and may be linked to player transfers. Whatever the reason let the schools and the governing body handle issues without boys taking the law into their hands.

An incident that bordered on being hilarious was at the Royal S Thomas’ Match where the security stepped in when the players got involved. Only to be told by veteran S.W Chang that they have no business in the playing area. The security at the match was very tight and well controlled to prevent spectators running onto the field after the match. This was a good thing and need to be recognized even though the anxious security did not understand their boundary. A learning organization learns from such incidents and will do even better next time.

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

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