By A Special Sports Correspondent
The fast-running Sri Lankans and their frolics in the abbreviated form of rugby union will be missed at the opener of the Asian Sevens Rugby Series which is scheduled to commence in Thailand on October 22 (Saturday). This is on account of there being a tug-of-war between Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) and Asian Rugby (AR).
SLR’s position in the sport as of now stands in jeopardy because of its membership with the Asian rugby controlling body being suspended. The result of that move is Sri Lanka now being unable to contest international tournaments under its national flag. Arrangements however have been made for Sri Lanka’s rugby teams (men’s and women’s) to feature in the tournament’s second leg onwards under the flag of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s chances of contesting the tournament at least from the second leg scheduled in South Korea- onwards became a reality after Sri Lanka’s sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe intervened in the matter and initiated a discussion with AR President Qais Al-Dhalai. Ranasinghe had requested AR’s president to lift the ban on Sri Lanka Rugby and allow the participation of the island’s rugby teams in future Asian Sevens Tournaments.
Unlike in the 15-a-side version of the game the seven-a-side version of the sport is a discipline at the Olympic Games. Hence there are reports that Al-Dhalai was requested by the NOCSL not to prevent Sri Lanka from contesting the Asian Rugby Sevens because rugby sevens comes under the Olympic Charter. Preventing the participation of any country at sport goes against the spirit of the Olympic Games.
The SLR and AR started being at loggerheads since April this year. This was after the then sports minister Namal Rajapaksa suspended the registration of SLR with the Ministry of Sports. The AR subsequently suspended the SLR citing political interference. Then there was some good news for SLR when the court of appeal issued an enjoining order on May 13 preventing the suspension of SLR’s membership with the Ministry of Sports.
Despite the sanctions imposed on SLR its elected officials have done well in promoting the game and conducting tournaments and rugby events. The SLR has also signed MOUs with other rugby unions, signed sponsorships deals and appointed new members to serve in the governing body for rugby in Sri Lanka.
Some weeks back it organised its awards night for the winners and top players who featured in the last league rugby tournament and also conducted many rugby-related workshops and programmes. It also conducted the much-awaited inter-club rugby sevens tournament at which Sri Lanka Air Force Sports Club emerged victorious.
It’s known to the rugby fraternity here that SLR President Rizly Illyas and former sports minister Namal Rajapaksa didn’t see eye to eye in rugby-related matters. Rugby sources revealed that Rajapaksa wanted to bulldoze over the SLR with his agenda; a move which Illyas and his executive committee fought fiercely with the aim of safeguarding the independence of the local rugby controlling body. Rajapaksa suspended the registration of the SLR with the Ministry of Sports through a gazette notification.
However after the regime change in the country the newly appointed sports minister Ranasinghe has been quite supportive of SLR. SLR has also received the backing of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka. NOC SL President Suresh Subramanium has, according to newspaper reports, affirmed that people and individuals entrusted with power may come and go, but sports and laws governed by the NOC must be respected. He had also added that no official nor politician is bigger than the game.
Sri Lanka’s rugby rift with Asian Rugby was even brought to light at the recently concluded Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly held in Cambodia. Also, the SLR has received the backing of the rugby fraternity at home; largely because the local rugby controlling body was victimized firstly politically and secondly by the acts of Asian Rugby. Asian Rugby has meanwhile maintained, according to media reports, that the SLR was suspended regarding matters associated with the leadership of the rugby union among other allegations.
Sanctions imposed against SLR have still not been lifted. AR in a communique, that was run on digital media, has said that ‘for the suspension on SLR to be lifted we require SLR to provide substantive and conclusive evidence that SLR is now fully responsible for the organization of rugby related matters under its jurisdiction and that it is in a position to perform its constitutional and regulatory duties in an appropriate manner’.
SLR has stood its ground and taken the fight up to the AR. Rugby sources have hinted that there could be a hidden Sri Lanka hand in this matter where the AR is tuned into working against the interests of SLR.
Despite all these issues Sri Lanka’s rugby players are set to make their appearance at the second edition of the Asian Rugby Sevens series, scheduled to take place on November 12 and 13 in South Korea. The third and final leg of the Asian Rugby Sevens will be held on November 26 and 27 in Dubai.
Selection impasse continues
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka Cricket and Ministry of Sports are at daggers drawn and virtually naming of new selectors has become impossible after SLC submitted the same set of names to be reappointed. SLC wants a fresh term for Pramodaya Wickramasinghe under whose tenure the team won the Asia Cup. The Sports Ministry meanwhile wants Wicky gone. Among other things, they aren’t happy that he retained Danushka Gunatilleke on tour after he was injured during the World Cup. The top order batsman brought international shame to the country after his arrest in Sydney. He was charged with sexual assault. In order to break the deadlock, the Sports Ministry now wants to issue a gazette and call for interested former players to apply. The age old practice has been for SLC to advertise for the post and among the applicants, ten names are handpicked and sent to the Sports Ministry, which then chooses five out of those ten names and appoint them as selectors. But it’s all going to change now. The board will no longer have a say on selections. The selectors are answerable to the Ministry of Sports. But the board will pay their salaries. This is not an ideal situation and let’s hope it’s just a one off. SLC should have known better and instead of going on a collision course should have negotiated for a better deal.
Getting selectors to apply is never the ideal thing. Greg Chappell was a selector of Australia for a long period of time and if someone had asked him to apply he would have given that person a piece of his mind. Chappell’s role was a unique one from rest of the panel. He was responsible to alert the selectors on the next biggest talent in the country having scrutinized a player.
Similarly a Sidath Wettimuny, an Aravinda de Silva or a Marvan Atapattu aren’t going to apply for the post of selector. They’ll come and serve if protocols are followed and obviously they would want a free hand. That’s the best way forward too. Surely you don’t want your best brains left behind simply because they didn’t apply for a post. What’s it with Wicky that he wants to hold onto this post so much. He needs to learn to let go. He’s anyway known as someone who’ll not take a backward step but what about little Kalu? Now that’s a man who is very conscious about his reputation. If the system doesn’t want you, then there’s no point in hanging around. Take a break and make a comeback when there’s an opportunity. The present selectors maybe feeling that they have done a good job and need a fresh term. Well it doesn’t always happen that way.
Duleep Mendis is a case in point. Through meticulous planning, he had helped the national team for a maiden Test win in South Africa in 2011. The whole county was excited at what the team had achieved. Yet, two weeks later he was sacked along with captain T.M. Dilshsn and Head Coach Geoff Marsh.
Bangladesh selectors okay if Hathurusingha is included in selection panel
There’s been a buzz after BCB president Nazmul Hasan announced that newly-appointed coach Hathurusingha will have a say in selection, although a decision on whether he will be officially included in the selection panel like in the past is yet to be made.
“Whether Hathurusingha will be included in the selection panel will be decided by the board. There are two selections: preliminary (squad) and final selection (playing XI),” said Nazmul Hasan, BCB President. “The final selection is always made by the captain and coach, and the captain decides whereas the coach gives suggestions but basically it is the captain.”
Many feel that if Hathurusingha is included in the selection panel, that will take away power from the selectors. However, BCB’s chief selector Minhajul Abedin and his long time associate in the selection panel Habibul Bashar disagree with it.
“I am not sure whether he will be included in the selection panel or not but I don’t think it will be a problem and we didn’t have any problems last time too,” Minhajul told Cricbuzz on Thursday, adding that he is in regular touch with the Sri Lankan to keep him updated.
Habibul told Cricbuzz that he has seen Hathurusingha working from close quarters and feels that there are lots of misconceptions floating in the air about him.
“It is not true that he had given us a paper” said Habibul. “We always discussed about our team with the head coach and always take his suggestion whether he is a part of selection panel or not. And it was the same with him as well.
“I don’t think he is any kind of strict headmaster. Instead what I feel is that he always looked at the cricketers equally.”
Khaled Mahmud, current team director and a close ally of Hathurusingha, feels that Hathurusingha is now much more matured than before.
“He has worked in Bangladesh before. There were a lot of good performances during his time. He is more mature now, which is good for the team. I think it is a positive thing that he is coming for a second time. He understands us well, as he is also from the subcontinent.” said Mahmud, who had worked as team manager during Hathurusingha’s first stint
Hathurusingha spent three years from 2014 to 2017 before leaving abruptly for the Sri Lanka role. He is expected to arrive by January 20 and his first assignment will be against England at home.
SportUnleash Schools Sports Awards 2022
Fifteen outstanding school sports persons were felicitated at the inaugural SportUnleash School Sports Awards 2022 held at the BMICH recently.Minister of Education Susil Premajayanth was the chief guest at the awards ceremony while MP Eran Wickramaratne was the guest of honor.
The award winners for 2022
Track events-Nadun Kaveesha Bandara of Royal College, Colombo,
Field events –
Ashmika Keshan Korala of Yoshida International School, Sapugaskanda,
BADMINTON: Viren Nettasinghe of St Peter’s College,
BASKETBALL:GG Minoli Mariya Direkze of HFC Bambalapitiya,
BOXING: Pasindu Umayanga Mihiran, Nalanda College,
CHESS: LM Susal T de Silva, Nalanda College,
CRICKET: Dunith Wellalage, St Joseph’s College,
KARATE: CA Tharuki Sashindi, Sapugaskanda Visaka Vidyalaya,
Hiruni Heshani, HFC Kurunegala,
ROWING: Shaylon Shayan Gunaratna, Asian International School,
RUGBY: Dinupa Seneviratna, DS Senanayake College,
SWIMMING:Ganga Seneviratne, Visaka Vidyalaya,
TENNIS:Dinara de Silva, St Bridget’s Convent,
VOLLEYBALL:Kavishka Madushanka, Rajasinghe Central College, Ruwanwella,
WRESTLING: Nethmi Ahinsa Fernando, Welpalla Sangharathana Maha Vidyalaya, Giriulla,
COACH OF THE YEAR: TS Suranga Kumara,
SPORTING SCHOOL –Nalanda College.
The Jury Medals for Sports Excellence, were awarded to Danindu Chirath Sellepperuma of Ananda College and Vishmi Gunaratne of Rathnawali Balika Vidyalaya, Gampaha for their noteworthy performance in cricket and to Tharushi Karunarathne of A. Ratnayake MMV, Walala in Athletics.
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