Presidents Trophy back for rugby knockouts

By Chathura Pinnawala

After a lapse of two years, Presidents Trophy name recognition is set to make a return for the schools Under-20 knockout tournament as it will be called the Presidents’ Trophy Milo Knockout tournament, this year.

The schools knockout which had used to be the summit of schools rugby has suffered some setbacks in the past few years and as the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) secretary Susantha Mendis states they are doing their utmost to relive those former glory days.

"There was a problem with bringing back the Presidents Trophy as the 2009 league was conducted by the union and they named it the Presidents league. But we talked with MP Namal Rajapaksa who will also be the chief guest of the awarding ceremony on September 30. And he gave us the OK to bring back the coveted name. We’ll also provide a written document to the SLRFU as well regarding the matter," he said.

The quarter-finals of the tournament are scheduled to be played on September 16 and 18 while the semis will be on 23 and 24.

"Currently, the league champions Royal is the only school who have pulled out citing player non-availability and St. Peter’s is also a doubt but others have already assured us that they will compete. Those include Trinity, Kingswood, St. Anthony’s and Isipathana," he further added.

There’s a perception - a highly reasonable one at that too- among the public that the usual snubbing of the knockouts by the league winners of that particular year is due to the fact that they don’t want to take away the shine of the four-month long campaign. Being the custodian this year, Royal coach Asanga Rodrigo is the best man to respond to that. Is there any truth in that?

"Not at all. I can’t speak about the past champions but certainly our resolution was not based on being the league winners. Far from it, there’s no such thing that we won the league that we are not playing in our camp. It was exclusively a case of exams tumbling at the wrong time," he said when contacted by ‘The Sunday Island.’

The main beneficiary of the league champions’ no-show is Science College, who finished 8th in the league, as they will find their way into the draw. There will be a meeting on August 26 at Kandy and there the eight participants will be revealed.

"We are hoping to have a great tournament this year. So that it’ll continue smoothly for years to come. As another positive step, we plan to telecast the semi-finals and finals live too," further added Mendis.

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