Please can someone tell us who is responsible?

The rugby season 2011 kicked off last week at the Royal College Complex amidst a sizable crowd. I thought we will be able to talk about rugby on the field; the exciting moments that were seen from the league game to the knock out stages leading to the final between St. Peters College and Kingswood College.

Next morning there was an SMS alert. The news release posted on the IRB website read: “The decision, taken by the IRB Council after a comprehensive review of the membership status of the SLRFU, follows ongoing concerns regarding the governance and management of the Union and its ability to meet IRB requirements to hold an Annual General Meeting and elections in accordance with its constitution by January 31, 2011.”

According to the constitution of the SLRFU the AGM has to be held by the last date of February. The Sports Law requires all sports bodies to have the AGM by the 31st of March. It is somewhat a mystery of how those who were responsible for the SLRFU constitution did not see the need to fall in line with the governing body. Probably they were guided or blinded by the Sports Law.

As the IRB moves out one of its oldest members to affiliate status we keep firing missiles among those who aspire to guide the destiny of rugby. A further review by the IRB is due on the 1st of April and Sri Lanka remains entitled to participate in the ARFU 5 Nations Rugby.

Rudyard Kipling in the laws of the Jungle says. “Now this is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back. “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack”.

IRB consists of the member countries and the countries are the strength of the IRB. It is not easy for the Governing Body to let loose its members and similarly the member can do little alone. What we can do if we are not in the pack: play among ourselves?

Similarly the SLRFU consists of its members while the members are the strength of the SLRFU. The strength of the members of the SLRFU is the club that forms the province. Each and every participant of the game needs to work together for the benefit of the game. Will it be possible if we face more and more of the wrath of the IRB on issues on governance?

2011 Schools’ rugby season kicked off last week

Recently the IRB involved itself in Fiji Rugby after the entire board stepped down following the government ultimatum “leave or we will not fund the World Cup Campaign”. The International Rugby Board brokered an agreement between the Fiji's Rugby Union and government which will keep the Pacific island nation in this year's World Cup. Issuing a statement in February IRB Chief Executive said, “I am delighted that an agreement has been reached ensuring that the focus of the national team remains firmly on preparing for Rugby World Cup 2011," Miller said in the statement. "All three parties want to ensure a framework for the Fiji national team to perform to the best of its abilities in New Zealand”.

That was because it was Fiji and the impact of Fiji participation in the World cup. Sri Lanka does not have that edge except that we are probably the oldest rugby playing country in Asia and one of the oldest members of the IRB.

Lasitha Gunratne the present Vice President of the SLRFU confirmed that adjourned AGM will be held before the 31st of March. He added that it is the responsibility of the Secretary to call for a meeting to continue the Adjourned AGM. He emphasized that the AGM was adjourned and all that was valid at that time stands. He said that there is no contest as the nominations have not been seconded. Asked about the claim that the papers seconding the nominations were handed over to the secretary and he produced same at the AGM: Gunaratne said that they too are not in order and are not papers that propose or second the nominations.

Asanga Seneviratne was of the view that the process has been followed and what is happening is detrimental to the game and the future of rugby. If the nominations were not valid why it was not conveyed before when the list was circulated. Seneviratne says that there is confusion and there is little communication between the Secretary and the CEO.

Claims counter claims and partial accusations fly around as the future seems fun to those in and or clamouring to be in the “cuckoo’s nest”. For those who want rugby as a sport hopefully a deal can be cut and the game will go on. The question that is asked by those who are parties is why we need a deal. One side is willing to blink in the interest of rugby. The question is will the other?

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

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