A round school life, there was always an array of food sold by the gates and most enjoyed, with ‘ahcharu’ always on the menu. The spiced and mouthwatering assortment of fruit made us madder at wanting to eat some. Then, there was the ‘achharu’ grandma made for the New Year, that went with our food. [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Stakeholders stir in their own ingredients into the Rugby pot


With the ongoing trend, where will Rugby end? - Pic by Amila Gamage

A round school life, there was always an array of food sold by the gates and most enjoyed, with ‘ahcharu’ always on the menu. The spiced and mouthwatering assortment of fruit made us madder at wanting to eat some. Then, there was the ‘achharu’ grandma made for the New Year, that went with our food. Laced with spice she mixed while dropping some sweat from her brow, as the kitchen was hot around the fireside.

Reading the papers last week, I wondered, what if grandma was alive. Could she have told me the ingredients that went into the pickle? Occasionally, laced with gecko dropping to the sometimes-left-open pot.

Rugby, it appears, is drawing the interest of many ministers, whereas in the past, sighted were the siblings of the once powerful politician. There is the less-heard big one who played for club and country, and managed the affairs of Rugby years ago, while the agenda was to make the hill-country club the king of Rugby. There is also talk- bringing trainers to make players better coaches, so that, Rugby can move forward. Is there any truth in the statement that is going viral? That is, of the two who were sent for strength training to the mecca of Rugby administration, one is claiming he cannot do a presentation, as he cannot address in English.

Then, there is talk of another statement attributed to a Ministering Angel who also played Rugby that, two Kiwi coaches will be in Sri Lanka. The problem, however, is that language will be the obstacle, with a host of practices put in place without understanding the principle. The practice of foreign coaches is a good idea but, the need for a structure so that, there will be people who understand the language and follow up with the coaches.

The third ingredient in the pickle is what everybody talks of. The statement the Minister of Sports made, that the governing body will manage School Rugby. Not a bad idea, as Rugby has to move forward, and there has to be a nexus between schools- the cradle- and the governing body. Yet, can a third party get to the schools and conduct events as things stand now, with the various guidelines issued by the Education Ministry. Speaking to sources in the Education Ministry, it was mentioned that schools are a subject under the Ministry and hence, a third party can neither get involved nor can they send circulars or, even summon Principals of Schools. The source, however, acknowledged that, schools Rugby has become a headache. There is a weak administration, infighting and old boys bent on winning at all cost, even if it means hooliganism.

This is where I think the pickle does not seem palatable, as there is more gecko drops than in grandpa Webb Ellis’ recipe.

Parents lament the U-18 League, U-16, U-14 and the carnival that was in the calendar, is in abeyance. Their concern most is the U-18, as students have to prepare for their O/L exam.

It looks as though the gravy is thickening but, the ingredients are not what makes the best achcharu. Did it matter when you were in school eating the rot, despite the dirt it gathered, wasn’t the taste still good?

That is more in line with the thinking of the current Rugby scene. Look at the people who call themselves passionate and act with vulgar vigor at school matches. All in the name of thinking they are helping the school.

In a society where moral decadence is at a peak, will it matter as to who runs the game? There are much more ingredients that need to be considered, if this pickle is to be palatable and draw crowds as well as schoolboy interest.

Watching some of the clips posted on social media, on coaching junior players, I noticed most times, the tackler is lying on the tackled player. If not corrected, at this point, the tree grows wild and you will see more and more penalties. Look at the number of injuries sustained in schools Rugby. This is when there are a number of men at practices, having different designations, one of which is ‘Fitness Trainer’. These are simple issues that need answers, and not who runs Rugby?

In Sport training, there is “Periodisation.” It is the systematic planning of athletic or physical training. The aim is to reach the best possible performance in the most important competition of the year. It involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training programme during a specific period. Is this happening? When a traditional school match is important, the players should be ready for it. Take the case of the Bradby, which is what they seem to aim at, as the level of best possible performance.

Where will Rugby end, when you compare the asking prices of coaches? Has it climbed to a soaring Rs. 800,000 a month? What would it be at the junior level? With amounts as high as they say is paid, will you forget skills and talk of winning using maximum aggression bordering on brutality. Brutality has been outside the player’s area but, when coaches start pushing to meet their ends, a hidden disaster is lurking.

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

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