A sporty meat seller sells his stuff only on Sundays in a hut by the beach in Wattala. This Sunday he stopped me and talked and said “third umpire has come to rugby”. He went on to say “what is all this for; if school boys play a match and the spectators start a fight [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Sons who don’t sin, bin and learn


A sporty meat seller sells his stuff only on Sundays in a hut by the beach in Wattala. This Sunday he stopped me and talked and said “third umpire has come to rugby”. He went on to say “what is all this for; if school boys play a match and the spectators start a fight and want to assault a referee”. Pressed on what he talked about the Black Friday (his words) invasion of the field and the attempt to assault the referee after the Isipathana vs Science match. He said that his wife asked him not to watch any rugby in the presence of children after seeing the broadcast. She asked me to watch cricket with the children but I managed to convince and watched the Bradby on Saturday while she retorted “no children around.”

This man an ardent follower of rugby and cricket continued and said it is better to watch cricket as umpires don’t get assaulted. Simple thinking of a simple mind. Compare this to the comments on a social media by a man who call himself to be from Pathana and also a student in the Management and Finance Faculty of the Jayawardenapura University. This PhD (or in other word Partially Head Damaged) pastes a note to say I did my contribution by giving the referee an umbrella shot. Go on the Facebook and you can easily get all the information on who he is and where he is from.

Another employee of a blue chip firm advertising himself as from the surgical promotion officer condones violence on referees with his post. A point is that he has no connection to the schools who played. This company which specializes in pesticide and a very socially responsible company has to be aware of people who use the name of the company as it can give an indirect message that it comes from a company that you listen to. These are just two examples among many quips by the so called educated.

Hooliganism in school rugby was far from my thoughts as we approached the last week of the first round of the League Tournament. There was much to talk about the five weeks of rugby but space was taken by issues related but not detrimental to the game. The happening of last week forces us to re-look at the detrimental aspects of adult behaviour that mars the friendship and fun that has to be tasted by young rugby players.


What's he got to do with it, other than following the ball and the game's flow rather than letting his ear take in words unfitting - File

The fact that S. Thomas’s and Isipathana lead the two segments in Division One or that Royal won the first leg of the Bradby and that St. Joseph’s suddenly has woken up and Royal were given a torrid time in the fourth week or that St. Anthony’s managed to remain among the first eight or that the Sri Lankan team has left to play in Malaysia, paled into insignificance.

The talking point is the storming into the field and the physical and verbal abuse of the referee after the match between Isipathana and Science. When we should be talking of the game; we are faced with a threat that raises huge sociological issues. The schools boys have not been the centre of the problem in almost all issues but it has been the Old Boys and sometimes parents. The sad part is that cowards forgot that this is a game between two schoolboy teams.

It is a futile exercise to cast aspersions that the attackers came from the Mount School when a Park School oaf claims on the social media that he contributed by giving the referee an umbrella shot. The absence of a fence at Havelock Park gives free access to the ground and the referee becomes easy prey. When designing the ground environment the management of Havelock’s probably thought of the game in its sense that is in the rugby charter. A game for all and ……… Thus there is no need to cage the spectators to keep them behind the lines. To those who chant ‘gahapan’ ‘marapan’ (hit, kill), the respect of the human self in the open ground is much alien and thus an invitation to invade.

It was last week that I wrote in this column about the great past pupil of Isipathana, the late Sajth Mallikarachchi. Unfortunately before the ink could dry I have to write about some who are a disgrace to a school that has provided so much for rugby.
Some moons ago when you spoke of a referee they used a term “inconsistent” today the buzz word is “management”. Areas for better management for the game to flow during the Investec Super Rugby Season targeted the tackle ball area, scrum engagements and line-out mauls and creating space (offside) as a priority. Going by the concern and the key areas World Rugby has in a previous guide included foul play.

If you want to look at Rohan Fernando, the referee ask a question whether the referee had a problem with his management of the scrums and the tackle, maul, offside or foul play. He was first at the tackle and saw the first offense. His scrums were steady and there was less collapses and safety of players was ensured. A good feel of the scrum and tackle was the base for quick ball and good rugby and the continuity of the game. There was almost no dangerous play while advantage was played without bringing back many times slowing and or stopping. Was space created at break down did he manage the offside line. Now tell me what was lacking and why you say it was bad management. On the other hand fringing could have been there but again how many things can a referee see if there is less discipline at the break down such as hands, going over and other offenses.

If you are talking of a crooked throw, remember, this has less significance because pre grip and lifting gives little chance for the non-throwing side to win the ball. At times the same lousy makers of noise say the referees have not played rugby and therefore they are not good. Rohan has played Division ‘A’ Rugby for many years and played for Sri Lanka.

If you drive them out of the game who will be there in the next few years. When you drive them you also drive away others who see the potential referees who are fast tracked being given the third degree. Definitely not the cowards who take to the field; because they are valiant in mobs but can never take the whistle and die once. Incidentally Rohan has refereed in the last club season and also the schools rugby and just a month ago blew the final in the Borneo Sevens played in Sadakan Sabah in Malysia where some top current international Sevens players competed.

The issue at hand is not exchanging nuances on social media but addressing a greater sociological problem that will drive the insane to chase away the referees and to plod those outside to say rugby is dangerous and harmful to society and schools should not be encouraged to play.

The meat seller is simple and sells his ware near the beach where people come to fish with their rods. Around the game are some who like to fish in trouble waters for reasons best known to themselves? Others are parlor referees who are also are a nuisance and add to the greater societal problem.

* Vimal Perera is a former player, coach, referee and an IRB Accredited Referees’ Educator

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