Confusion reigns in rugby circles

In the absence of Consultation, Consensus and Compromise Chaos follows. The present scenario of rugby is leading to a situation of confusion as lovers of the game think. Not a day without serious doubt placed in the minds of followers. It is election time for constituent bodies as well as the Rugby Union. The Schools Rugby Association which should have held its AGM at least three months ago will have the meeting today.

The SLFRU is in direct confrontation with the Western Province Rugby Football Union which has the largest rugby base in the country. The Vice President Lasitha Gunratne said that the council decided not to recognize the newly elected office bearers of the WPRFU.

Shane Dullewa the Secretary confirmed same and added that recognition is suspended till an inquiry is held. The inquiry is on an allegation that major “A” division rugby clubs in the province was not allowed to vote or nominate persons to office. Rizwy Illyas the WPRFU President said, “These clubs had not participated in tournaments conducted by the province and are ineligible”.

The SLRFU replies: “These clubs have played in tournaments conducted by the main body and therefore are eligible”. Illyas explained that the SLRFU at its last council meeting discussed the issue and he left the meeting to allow free discussion. He contended that up to Thursday he had not been informed about an inquiry or the decision not to recognize the office bearers. They were holding a meeting and will submit their nomination for the council.

They have decided and nominated a team lead by Asanga Senviratne with Nazim Mohamed as Secretary. I understand that all provinces except one are backing the proposal and will nominate the same team. Even if the WPRFU nomination is not accepted then nomination by others should stand. The issue that comes next is how voting will take place at the AGM.

Lasitha Gunratne

Who is right and who is wrong requires the conflict to be referred for inquiry by an independent person such as a retired judge or an arbitrator. The other party to this war will have confidence to accept the interpretation. Otherwise all roads will lead to another interim.

What worries the schools rugby promoters is that nobody knows how many teams are expected to play in Division 1 Group A. will it be ten or twelve? How will they play and when? The season is expected to be concluded by the first week of June as the U20 squad has to be picked. With a number of holidays in April and May and two weekends for the Asian 5 Nations, to complete the league by the deadline is a tough task. Views have been expressed by medical experts on the danger of playing 11 matches without a rest.

Eleven out of the twelve met to discuss and arrive at a consensus to present their view to the Schools Section. Those present represented the cream of rugby playing schools but a minority when it comes to numbers. The view was that they should work as a pressure group and work towards strengthening the system that will not repeat mistakes of the past that forced to increase from eight to ten and now to twelve. If this continues what will prevent for this to be fourteen next year? All agreed that the game is important and to avoid any disruption by threatened court action they should accept 12 teams for this year. An interesting point raised was that there should be a proper system that would eventually bring the numbers to ten next year. The majority decision will affect ten to twelve schools and their players and not those that vote but play in lower divisions.

Most were of the view that it was a great for the schools to meet and initiate discussion. The next is to carry this meeting forward to review and exert influence to get your opinion counted. Most feel that the sheer numbers will have their way and what they say will not be important. Now that the big names have agreed to meet they can be a very helpful to guide the others.

The punch line in the meeting is that is if those who got together decide to play on a system of traditional matches will there be a sponsor for the schools sans the cream? This is not a remote possibility but a real one as most present opined that when matches were played as traditional and friendly there was better sportsmanship and more enjoyment. Here lies the power of this group and that’s what should be used as they meet more often to steer school rugby to the correct path. Some thought that if they opt out of the tournament the boys will not be considered for junior national duty. If all these twelve top teams were to be penalized where will there be a national team? The power is with you use it well in unity for the game.

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

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