In Sri Lanka we see Kandy do it year in year out. Is that part of culture or as some say is it because Kandy gets into their fold most of the best and they are able to sign some of the nest to sit on the bench. They have numbers and they buy them [...]


Kandy dominated club rugby once again


In Sri Lanka we see Kandy do it year in year out. Is that part of culture or as some say is it because Kandy gets into their fold most of the best and they are able to sign some of the nest to sit on the bench.

They have numbers and they buy them as some say. This is what the mouse; the little one that by mistake got into in a bus from Kandy making a trip to a rugby club in Colombo had to say. He hid behind the bar and grew up in an environment of rugby. The mouse who should have been eating roots and salad being from the hills looked for the bacon, cheese and peanuts etc that was food in the club. He tells you of the many versions of reason why Kandy stays on top as narrated by the supporters as they imbibe in their personal choice of food and drink. Those reasons are good for drunken banter but do little to help rugby in the Island. They then forget that to succeed having the best is not enough. You need to have players who have the attitude. That probably is one of the key points of success for Kandy.

What has rugby offered in 2017? A lot as postulated by those who hear no evil speak no evil and say no evil. We too boast of a history of over 100 years of rugby but still have only eight clubs in the top league as had been during the past 25 years. Does it have hope for 2018 is the question as there is lethargy among supporters?

The year started with the second leg of the Dialog League which was won by Kandy with Havelocks second and Navy third. Kandy completed a double beating Havelocks in the knockout. At the end of the first round of the 2017 -18 season the prospects for league winners look virtually the same. Kandy is leading with 7 wins from seven and are a clear 11 points ahead of Havelocks. Kandy continues to dominate while Havelocks run a close second. Navy have fallen due to the tendency of falling asleep in the second half.

The arena should be happy that CH is doing better in 2017. The cause for concern is CR who might have to face the same situation that CH faced in the last two years. That is bad news for the future.

The issue however is what nurturing will these competitions provide to uplift rugby in the Island and face the Asian teams at least in Division I. In the Asian Series in 2017 Sri Lanka went down to Malaysia and was placed second. In the Sevens it was placed overall fourth behind Japan, Hong Kong and Korea. In the women’s Sri Lanka is yet another starter.

Schools Rugby in Sri Lanka draws much interest and is peddled as having a better structure than in most other Asian Nations. The results of 2017 in the Junior Divisions have little to boast of.  The only moment of worth of the knockout was that St. Joseph’s who were placed fifth in the League won the Knockout beating Pathana.

During the latter part of 2017 the rugby scene recorded that a 18-year-old schoolboy died during practice. Practicing was in the run up for the 2018 season. Is it the demand on players too high is what has to looked at when the 2018 season gets underway.

For 2018 it requires the eyes and ears to be in the playing enclosure and be able to write off the rest. People may shout about a missed forward pass or a crooked throw but the important thing are the expectation for quick and good ball from the break down as well as player safety. The thinking ‘this is not netball’ is no longer valid. One sees that citing has had an effect and players are aware but the incidents of yellow and red cards are high.

What is needed in 2018 is for the Union to work on having a grip of the game at all levels which will help prioritise the success at national level. All Blacks success starts at school where respect, toughness and winning attitude are nurtured. There is a good school structure that needs strengthening. The success is a result of good coaches. There is some work on a coaching certification bit that needs to be strengthened by a structure and continued guidance. All Blacks have had good coaches testified by the fact that 20 teams playing the 2015 World Cup employed Kiwi coaches.

What does rugby hold for Sri Lanka as summed up by those involved in the game is a simple ‘very little’. The passion for Rugby in New Zealand trickles down from the game being a national sport and a part of their identity and the success of the All Blacks. The crowds were not encouraging when the local team or the Junior Tuskers played on home soil. The dripping of belonging from the success of the National Sport does not arise. But the involvement and following of school rugby is high and yet at club level it is low. If the game is to be kept alive for 2018 and onwards the commitment of the supporter has to be looked at or we will remain talking of a history of over 100 years.

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


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