The Rugby Caravan moves on

The news that Sri Lanka has been reduced in status by the Governing body for rugby popped up and virtually fizzled out as time and space is for the world event of cricket. There is news of off field activity that one would have not expected to be heard in the portals of rugby in Sri Lanka.

An inquiry has been initiated by the Criminal Investigation Department on alleged malpractice in the nominations that were handed over at the recently held Annual General Meeting. Subsequently there has been a no confidence motion submitted against the President and Vice President.

On Thursday the Secretary of the SLRFU, Shane Dullewa lodged a complaint at the Cinnamon Gardens Police Station about a threat made by the Vice President of the SLRFU Lasitha Gunratne. The Secretary confirmed that he accepted the nominations at the police station as he feared to continue to do his duties at the Unions premises. Gunaratne denies that there was any threats but said that there is no validly in calling for fresh nominations and also that nominations if any need to be called and accepted by the CEO according to the constitution . This however is challenged citing the sport law which identifies the secretary.

Despite the preoccupation with cricket people take the time to ask what is happening to rugby? I am inclined to say nothing as the warring parties continue to pursue the agenda they perceive is best. Best for who is the million dollar question? The game or the individuals involved? I have been told that the AGM that was adjourned and will be reconvened on March 31. The secretary has reconvened the meeting and called for fresh nominations.

The right to do this is debated on the basis that it is a continuation of the original meeting. Therefore it follows that it has power to only to conclude the unfinished business of the original meeting. The Secretary falls back that the meeting was adjourned by the pro tem chair to call for fresh nominations as there was confusion. The other side believes that a Chairman cannot adjourn a meeting and it has to put and decided by the house. These arguments swing each way as there is news that preparations are made to seek legal redress against the decisions taken by the incumbent council who are the successors to the much criticized interim committee. Similarly the incumbent members too think they have a right to seek legal redress as the norms of holding the meeting have been violated.

What is important is the need to convince the IRB that all is well with the continuation of the AGM on March 31. That is the most needed action that we have on hand as we are threatened with being considered outcasts; being declared a “pariah.” If not will we remain in the status of an Associate Member. Possibly there will be legal battles that will do little to help solve the immediate need. The remedy sought after the fiasco of voting at the AGM last year is continuing to be heard while there is no final determination. The caravan goes on despite the bark of dogs along the road.

Sri Lanka is one of the oldest rugby playing nations within the IRB. That is among the 118 members that consist of 97 full members. It has been relegated to Associate Member status. They can participate in IRB funded tournaments but not in the World Cup. The closest we can get is when and if the junior team does well in the Asian tournament and were to qualify for the junior rugby world cup. Given the implications will anybody worry! Meanwhile there will be a lot of noise and garbage that will pollute the rugby nation.It was not long ago that rugby was looked up to by the sporting fraternity as a model. Today it is being fought “Ugly” with the police called in. Why is that issues are not discussed debated and solved like in the past. Possibly because of the foot in the mouth attitude; what you call garbage becomes useful fertilizer.

We are leading to a situation where the Minister of Sports will have to decide whether or not to recognize if the meeting of the 31st elects a set of office bearers based on fresh nominations. The sports law of the country gives that power to the minister.

It also baffles me as to why there was no hurry or intention of the bodies that constitute the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union to enforce the provision of the constitution to have trustees appointed. This provision would have helped in the continuation of the affairs of the council in the event there was an impasse.

At the end of the day if we find ourselves sleeping in the wrong bed with the wrong people who is to be blamed? To some any bed and anybody is good if it helps to stay on top. Flattered and buoyed by the ego and their desires.

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

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