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2nd August 1998

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Top English ref. tells when to blow the whistle

By S. Sivendran

If you want to know why the whistle went at a rugby match, then you must go to see Steve Savage refereeing. Steve, who is an "A" Grade Referee of the English Rugby Football Referees Society is currently in Sri Lanka on the invitation of the Sri Lanka Society of Rugby Football Referees.

This 41-year-old school teacher from Coventy on Physical Education who was seen refereeing the return clash between CH&FC and Kandy last Saturday at Maitland Crescent impressed everyone with the way he blew his whistle. He allowed the free flow of game at the same time tidying up the game for some superb open rugby. He was also strict and produced a "yellow Card", against a CH&FC player who was sent to the "Sin Bin". He should be an abject lesson to our local referees who should learn a lot about refereeing from him.

Steve began playing rugby at the age of 11 years and has played for his school and at club levels for Noneaton Club and for the Warwickshire County. He also plays cricket and golf.

He took upto refereeing 15 years back and has been in the English national panel for the last eight years and is placed 15 in the national rankings. The top 20 in the ranking is called the Premier Squad. E.D. Morrison heads this squad and is the leading referee in england who refereed the new zealand-South Africa match last week in the Tri-Nation tournament which South Africa won. He also refereed the last World Cup final between the same two teams which was also won by South Africa.

Last year Steve was in South Africa for three weeks in June refereeing. This year he visited France, Wales and Ireland on refereeing assignments. The biggest game Steve refereed was Tonga vs Oxford University at Twickenham, the temple of Rugby, which Tonga won. He also refereed the Junior Cup finals at Twickenham this year.

I met Steve Savage at his hotel and interviewed him on rugby in general and refereeing in particular.

Q. What are your impressions on Sri Lankan rugby?

A. I am very impressed by the natural ability of the Sri Lankan players. They seem to have good ball sense. They tackle hard and play some good open rugby. This is a good base to build up for the future. With foreign players playing alongside them they could get better ideas and good coaching skills. I like that only two foreign players are permitted to play for a club which will help the Sri Lankan players to develop their skills.

Q. How is our school's rugby standard?

A. I have still not seen any school games. But I have been told by other English referees, Andy Melrose and John Bernard who were here in May that the schools here play extremely good rugby which is good for the future of the game here. They said that the Sri Lankan schools rugby is as good as English schools rugby, if not better.

Q. What do you recommend to improve Sri Lankan rugby?

A. To improve Sri Lankan rugby, the schools, the clubs and the national teams should go abroad and play against good teams in different conditions. The Sri Lankan players are muscular and strong but not tall enough and it will be good to get a couple of tall players and also improve the stamina and the staying power of the players for 80 minutes.

Q. How do you assess our referees?

A. I am impressed by the keenness and commitment of the Sri Lankan referees. They are extremely keen to learn and improve the standard of their performance and fitness. They too should undertake overseas assignments to gain valuable experience.

Q. What makes a good referee?

A. In the modern game you got to be extremely fit in both sprinting and stamina. This can be tested by using the "bleep" test which the Sri Lanka Referees Society has just introduced, and the required standard is 10.4 and in England the standard has been increased to 11.5 and an equivalent test is to run 3000 metres in 12 minutes.

The skill in being a good referee is to manage the game and apply the laws fairly and consistently. You need to recognise when the player is positive and when the players are being negative. You need to get continuity, but allow a fair contest for possession. A good referee must understand the game and what the players are trying to achieve. He must be of strong character and have a good sense of humour and be calm with authority.

It is important a referee is honest and is able to admit his mistakes after the game, if he is to improve. In every game a referee referees, he is always going to make mistakes which sometimes will benefit a team and sometimes disadvantage a team - these are all honest mistakes.

In order for the game to improve, referees, captains and coaches must talk together about how they want the game refereed and played. The laws are written but it is how you interpret them. This is very important. If a referee blew his whistle every time he saw an offence, you will never have a game. This is where the advantage law is so important. A good referee uses it fully.

The main problem in the game at the moment is the so called "professional foul" where a team deliberately gives away penalties (3 points) instead of giving away a try (7 points). Examples of this are being off side, holding the ball on the ground, not being 10 metres away at free kicks and penalties. If the teams cannot stop this, penalty tries can be given and players sent to the "Sin Bin". This is what happened in the CH&FC-Kandy match when I sent off a CH player to the 'Sin Bin' for making no attempt to retire 10 metres.

The last thing a referee should be is a good commmunicator, constantly talking to the players to try to get them not to commit offences. Examples of this includes "Move Back", "Roll Away", "Hands Off" etc. Good visual signals are important for the crowd to know why a decision is being given.

A new development in refereeing is the "Team of 3" concept where the touch judges and referees work together for the benefit of the game. Touch judges encourage players not to give away penalties and can communicate to the referees with hand signals. This takes time and practice to get used to. Back home in England we find the Team of 3 works well in the modern day extremely fast game, where it is impossible for one man, the referee to control everything.

Communication is via talking flags where a touch judge has a microphone at the end of his flag. And can speak to the referee who carries a receiver round his waist connected to an air piece. The only drawback to this is the set cost 2000 which is Rs. 200,000/= in Sri Lankan currency. Sri Lanka Rugby Union Treasurer, please take note.

Steve Savage will be leaving Sri Lanka next Wednesday to join his wife who too is a teacher.

Royal - Thomian cricket match in Canada too

By Jim Rankin

On a wind-swept, emerald green field of freshly mown grass, the "Old Boys" carry out an annual Sri Lankan tradition nearly as old as the country they now call home.

And to these very grown-up boys, this game of cricket they play at the Eglinton Flats on a sun-drenched Canada Day afternoon is known simply as The Big Match.

It's the continuation of a 128 year-old rivalry between S. Thomas' College and Royal College - two boy's schools in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where these men did their learning.

For the past nine years, the school alumni who have settled in Toronto meet annually to test muscles that, in most cases, get just one workout a year.

They run about like they did as children, sliding and diving, their white clothes, quickly stained with grass and mud.

The old boys look deadly serious, spewing out the occasional harmless trash talk.

"Easy meat!" one player yells at an opponent , which, for the uninitiated, means an easy out. The comment brings smiles to faces, and they share the same laugh they shared when they were young boys.

The Big Match is a piece of their homeland, a chance to socialize, catch up with old friends and celebrate the new country they have all chosen.

"It's an ideal summer game, it's graceful game, it's game for a day like today," says Chandran Mylvaganam an alumnus of S. Thomas' who came to Canada in1973.

And I suppose it's symbolic in some ways, we came to a new country and we brought with us some of our home".

"It gives us a chance to celebrate Canada, for letting us be here," says Rishan Sabaratnam, who arrived here nine years ago.

"It also gives us a chance to keep the rivalry going", says Sabaratnam, also a S. Thomas' alumnus.

And make no mistake, this may be a gentleman's game, but the rivalry is alive and well, Sabaratnam says, a grin growing wide on his face.

"We are friends but the friendship ends when we cross this white line and walk on to the pitch".

As serious as it can get on the pitch, the friendships are strong, Usually the bunch head off to the clubhouse after the big game, where the motto is "Win or lose, we booze."

The big game is also a chance to reminisce about the experience these men shared while going to school.

"I used to scoot off from school and go to the movie in the morning," says Dilkaran Rajendra, a Royal College alumnus.

The S. Thomas' old boys struggle to match Royal College's score, but in the end, they come up four points short. Royal alumni trot toward their families, victorious, carrying their school flag.

And their families laugh and shake their heads. They know they won't hear the end of this for weeks.

23 swimmers, seven divers to represent Lanka in Malaysia

Twenty three swimmers and seven divers will represent Sri Lanka at the 12th Asia Pacific Age Group Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from August 6 to10.

The overall Sri Lanka team will be led by Gheffari Dulapandan. They will leave for Malaysia on August 3 and will return on August 10.

The men's team is captained by Upul Shantha of the Sri Lanka Army while the women's team will be led by Natasha Kodituwakku of St.Bridget's.

E.G.A.Wilson, the former Royal College swimming coach will accompany the Sri Lanka team as the coach with Mohammed Faisz as the diving coach.

Sqn. Leader D.S.B.Senaratne will go as Manager with C.C.Bamunuarachchi as Assistant Manager and Mrs. Chintha Ruwanpathirana as Lady Chaperone.

The team:

H.Upul Shantha, Gheffari Dulapandan (Overall Capt), H.E.Nishantha, Madhawa Wickremaratne, Shevantha de Silva, Anuradha Perera, Ajith Weerakkody, Eranga Fernando, Duleeka Nanayakkara, Sean Lee, Gihan Ranatunga, Chaturanga Perera,Erantha Perera, Aravinda Ranatunga, Steffan Perera, Jayamal Wijeratne, Pasan Muthumala, Rukshantha Fernando, R.T.Perera, Natasha Kodituwakku, Theekshana Ratnasekera, Radeesha Daluwatte, Rasansi Lankage, Chanaka Wickremasinghe, Esiri Kankanige, Juhani de Mel, Gayan Ranatunga, Romesh Paktsun, Eranya Silva, Harini Jayasekera, Menaka de Silva. (AF)

Boost outstation rugby at grassroots level

By Bernie Wijesekera

Constructive criticism is always welcome for the greater good of the game of rugby and its promotion, said Dr.Maiya Gunasekara, the President of the Rugby Union, at a press briefing held to mark the distribution of motor cycles to the technical officers, with a view to promoting and developing rugby among lesser known schools in the outstations.

The presentation was held at Longden Place.

Dr.Gunasekera said that in some quarters, arm-chair critics had the habit of criticising the SLRFU, with no knowledge of the game, or hardly watching a rugby match.

My ex-co consists of officials, who have played the game at the highest level and have abundant experience to discharge their duties without fear or favour. No one is above the law. Be it player or official. They have to adhere to a code of ethics, he added.

In some quarters of the media they had the habit of indulging in personal vendetta, but not helping to promote the game. I am happy to state that it was put to a stop, when my committee went in a delegation and met the authorities concerned, who took action.

The committee is committed to promote the sport. The performances of our national team in the Asian region is ample testimony to this effect. There are quite a number of die-hard rugby supporters, who are giving us all the assistance and support, with men and material putting the game and the country before self, Dr.Gunasekera added.

Money is important, but the game is not for sale. But if sport is to develop, then sponsorship is a key factor he added. Sri Lanka rugby is thankful to Carlsberg (Ceylon Breweries) for helping us in a big way in the running of the tournaments and further development of the game, especially in the outstations sans strings. The SLRFU owe them a debt of gratitude for their continuous package for the game to reach greater horizons, Dr.Gunasekera added.

The rugby development committee chaired by Y.C.Chang leading the pack from the front-row, supported by Kumar Abeywardena, Arjun Dharmadasa, Leslie de Zoysa and others have planned a long-term project, that, too at the grassroots level.

According to Chang, the provincial bodies will be given all the help and support to run its affairs, be it administrative or otherwise. The appointment of technical officers is just the start

The committee will explore avenues to help them with funds to run its affairs. For a start there will be under 13, 15 and 17 tournaments among the schools in the respective provinces. This will be followed by inter-provincial contests.

The others, who attended the confab were: Anton Benedict, Lal Silva and Lionel Almeida (Chairman of the Selection Committee).

Following are the recipients of the motor cycles:- Ananda Kasturiarachchi (Central Province), Saman Edema (Wayamba), Capt. .D.Mendis (Southern) and B.K.Ramachandran (Sabaragamuwa) Basil Rodrigo (Western Province).

Ganegama, Ramzi rescue Ananda

By Saif Izzadeen

Two belligerent knocks by Akalanka Ganegama (56 n.o) and Mohammed Ramzi (52) helped Ananda to recover from a disastrous 88 for 6 to 208 for 7, at the end of the rain curtailed first day of their Under 17 Singer Trophy Inter School cricket semi final against St. Joseph's at Ananda Mawatha yesterday.

This tournament is sponsored by Singer (Sri Lanka) Ltd. and is conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA).

The match got off to a late start due to rain with Josephian skipper Ian Daniel winning the toss and inviting Ananda to take first lease of the wicket.

Ananda opened the innings with Gayan Samaraweera and Lakshan Fernando but the pair couldn't last long as they lost their first wicket at six. With this dismissal Ananda began to lose wickets at regular intervals and were 88 for 6 at one stage.

However, two face saving partnerships helped Ananda to reach 208. The first was a 54 run stand for the seventh wicket between Mohammed Ramzi (52) and Akalanka Ganegama (56n. o), which brought the scoretr 142 before Ananda lost Mohammed Ramzi, who was caught at mid off to the bowling off Sherver Gunawardena for 52. Ramzi had eight sweetly timed boundaries in his knock.

Then an unbroken 66 run stand for the eighth wicket between Akalanka Ganegana (56 n.o) and Rukshan Fernando (20 n.o) brought the score to 208 at which stage play was called off due to bad light with another 4.5 overs still remaining to be bowled. Ganegama had five well timed boundaries in his fine innings

For St. Joseph's skipper Ian Daniel (2 for 56) and Anup Wijeratne (2 for 27) bowled well.

The match will be continued at 9.45 today.

Ananda - 208 for 7 in 80.1 overs (Gayan Samaraweera 12, Thilina Kandhambi 13, Yohan Wickremage 17, Mohammed Ramzi 52, Akalanka Ganegama 56n.o, Rukshan Fernando 20n.o; Ian Daniel 2 for 56, Anu Wijeratne 2 for 27)

Rover points out


Four Ex-co meetings have been held by the Cricket Board so far, but the minutes of two meetings only have been posted. Members protested about this lapse.

Rover learns that it was suggested that an outsider be employed for the job which drew loads of protests and the matter dropped. It had never happened before.

Under the carpet

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) offered a scholarship to the National Amateur Aquatic Sports Union ( NAASU).

A very senior official of the NAASU tried to slip in an application for a swimmer from his old school.

After protests, the schol for one was increased to three, and so 'the swimmer' favoured by this senior official got the third slot, otherwise he should have been dropped on the wayside.

Officials' demand

A senior Cricket Board Official is demanding that he be paid Rs. 1 lakh per month for the work he does. Rover also learns that two new posts are also to be filled at a tidy pay.

19th or 14th?

Rover learns that a selector from the Cricket Board had ranked Roshan Mahanama, 19th while the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports proved them wrong by showing that Mahanama was ranked 14th.

Pushpadana triumphant

By S.M.D.Sirisena

Last year's champions St. Paul's Milagiriya failed to enter the semi-finals, being beaten by Pushpadana BMV Kandy 2-0 in the All Island Inter-School Girls Under 15 hockey championships at the Astro Turf at Reid Avenue yesterday.

The semi-final line-up is: Yasodhara BMV vs St. Anthony's Katugastota; Seethadevi BMV vs Pushpadana BMV.

In the Boys Under 15 hockey championships, President's College Rajagiriya, Joseph Vaz, St. Peter's, Nalanda and S.Thomas' Mt. Lavinia, St. Thomas' Matale, Christ Church College Matale andVidyartha qualified for the quarter-finals.

Following are theresults ofthe matches played yesterday:

Girls: Group A champions - St. Anthony's BMV; runners-up: Vijaya MV Matale; St. Anthony's beat Ladies 4-0; St. Anthony's drew with Vijaya 6-0; Vijaya drew with Ladies 0-0. Group B champions - Yasodara; runners-up: Seethadevi MV Kandy. Yasodara beat Vihara Maha Devi BMV 6-0; Yasodara drew with Seethadevi 0-0; Seethadevi beat ViharaMaha Devi 6-0. Group C champions: Pushpadana BMV; runners-up: St. Paul's; Group D champions: Visakha; runner-up: Sawrnamali 2-0.

Saunders in A div. final

Saunders Football club booked their birth in the Bristol league A division final with a hard fought 2 goals to 1 win over Air Force at the Sugathadasa Stadium underlights yesterday.

The score read nil all at half time.

M Rafeek and GPC Karunarathne scored a goal each for the Price Park team while Chaminda Stanwall scored the Airman's solitary goal.

The second semi final was in progress at the time of going to press between Renown and Ratnams.

The final between Saunders and the winners of the Ratnams/ Renown game will be played on Saturday, August 8, at the Sugathadasa Stadium at 6 pm.

The chief executive officer of Ceylon Tobacco company, Gottfried Thoma will be the chief guest and will give away the awards after the match.

Sports Festival

The annual three-day sports festival between the Colombo Tea Traders Association (CTTA) and Up-Country Planters will be held in Agrapatna and in Radella from August 7 to 9.

This much looked forward to sports-cum-get-together has a different flavour this year with more participants with 80 members of the CTTA taking part in the event.

Seven disciplines are down for decision. They are: cricket, rugby, tennis, golf, badminton, billiards and snooker. Last year CTTA won four disciplines to three to retain the Tea Board Challenge Trophy and will go flat out to defend the trophy. (BW)

Lanka 'A' struggle

Sri Lanka A were in a bad position on the first day of their second unofficial cricket Test against South Africa A at the Welagedera Stadium yesterday.

When bad light stopped play at 5.20 PM, Sri Lanka were 181 for 8.

South Africa will be looking to gobble the last two wickets as early possible to get their turn to bat.

The chief scorers for Sri Lanka A were: Manoj Mendis 46, Malintha Warnapura 46, Tilan Samaraweera 21 n.o.

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