Connect with us


Schoolboy players must come out of their shackles



Western Province Rugby Sevens

by A Special Sports Correspondent

The much looked forward to schools rugby sevens is expected to kick off this weekend in Colombo as scheduled unless the restrictions imposed by the Covid pandemic upsets the applecart.

According to school rugby authorities and news published in newspaper, the inter-school rugby sevens tournament will be commenced with a ‘leg’ for Western Province schools at the Royal College Sports Complex in Colombo on December 18 and 19.

It’s good that the schools’ rugby authorities are having the sevens tournament for schools spread out in the provinces and with no involvement of spectators largely to protect the spectators. Just for the record sevens tournaments for schools have been lined up in Central Province (December 27), North Western Province (December 28), Sabaragamuwa Province (December 30) and Southern Province (December 31). We still don’t know whether the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) would get the winners of each category in these respective provincial tournaments to perform in a final showdown. Even if they don’t this is a good enough start for school rugby because we haven’t seen any rugby with schoolboys in action after March 14, 2020.

Schools produce much talent each year and this helps clubs absorb these products. But over the last two years clubs were severely handicapped because there was no school rugby; hence the feeder system for the clubs was derailed for some time. These sevens events are just what the doctor ordered for domestic rugby. Some schoolboy rugby players, who are hell bent on propping their profiles with sports achievements, had to bid adieu to their schools prematurely and migrate to better their prospects because of the absence of competitive rugby. It’s a small percentage of rugby players who manage both their studies and sports and excel as allround students.

It’s at a time like this that we must mention-despite this achievement being recorded at the Medical College and not in school rugby- how former Royalist Dr Maiya Gunasekera represented Sri Lanka while still being an undergraduate at Medical College. That record still stands; just showing what effort it takes for a player to balance reading for a degree in medical science and balancing sport at the national level.

Coming back to the schools rugby sevens it has been a much looked forward to event. Unlike in club rugby, schools rugby players have often made amends for their disappointments in the 15-a-side version of the game by coming on top when playing this abbreviated form of rugby. One good example came during the 1988 season where the all-conquering Royal College team- led by Lasitha Gunaratne- had to bow out of the semi-finals when they were shown the door by S. Thomas’ in a closely contested semi-final. There have been many memorable moments like that in schools rugby. Once Dharmaraja College, relegated to the B Division, produced thunder at the Royal College Sports Complex in 2012 when they beat Kingswood in the final. Then in 2019 Trinity, under the leadership of Reshan Bandaranayake, played cohesive rugby to down St. Peter’s College in the finals. Trinity hadn’t won this event till 2019 having last won the sevens plum under Ravi Balasuriya in 1977. Two schools which have enjoyed great success in the sevens version of rugby are Isipathana College and St. Peter’s College and both these academic institutes are expected to field teams for the Western Province schools rugby sevens coming up this weekend.

Sevens rugby is dazzling and eye-catching and players who are extremely fit and agile will have a field day. This form of rugby also serves in player identification and finding members for the 15-a-side version of the game.

Rugby Sevens has its own place in rugby union after the expansion of seven-a-side rugby in the world and its inclusion as a discipline at the Olympic Games. Hence schoolboys have everything to play for in the seven-a-side version of rugby union. Let the games begin!

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Sri Lanka level series with big win in second ODI 



Dushmantha Chameera wheels away in celebration

Rex Clementine
at Suriyawewa  

Sri Lanka bounced back to beat Afghanistan by 132 runs on Sunday to square the three-match one-day series in Suriyawewa yesterday. It was Sri Lanka’s biggest win over Afghanistan in ODIs and makes amends for its disappointing performance in the first ODI on Friday, which they lost by six wickets,

Having set Afghanistan a stiff 324-run target, fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera dismissed the dangerous Rahmanulah Gurbaz cheaply for two runs to give his side an early advantage. Although Afghanistan put together two strong partnerships after that, the required run rate kept climbing and the Afghans lost their way trying to keep pace.

 Opening batsman Ibrahim Zardan continued his good form, posting 54 runs while captain Hashmatullah Shahidi top scored with 57 runs, but once Sri Lanka dismissed the top order there was not much resistance from the rest of the batters.From 146 for two, Afghanistan collapsed to be bowled out for 191 runs in 42.1 overs, losing their last eight wickets for just 45 runs.

Spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Dhananjaya de Silva shared six wickets between them to seal a comprehensive win for the home side.   Sri Lanka’s batting put on a show giving the team confidence ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe this month.

Afghanistan have already qualified for the World Cup and despite the heavy defeat on Sunday, will feel positive with star Rashid Khan expected to feature in the final game on Wednesday. The leg-spinner was ruled out of the first two games with a back injury.

Half-centuries by Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne helped Sri Lanka post their commanding total. While Mendis top scored with 78 runs off 75 balls with seven fours and one six, Karunaratne, who was recalled for this series to stabilize the batting, made 52 off 62 balls with seven fours. Opener Pathum Nissanka contributed 43 runs while Sadeera Samarawickrama, featuring in an ODI for the first time since 2019, made 44 off 46 balls.

There was some big hitting by the lower middle order with captain Dasun Shanaka chipping in with 23 runs while Wanindu Hasaranga finished things off in style with an unbeaten 29 off 12 balls with four fours and a six. Dhananjaya de Silva was named Man of the Match for his unbeaten 29 and three wickets.

Continue Reading


Tharushi wins silver, Uththara clinches bronze at Asian Junior Athletics Championships  



By Reemus Fernando  

Ratnayake Central, Walala runner Tharushi Karunaratne and Holy Cross College, Gampaha sprinter Jayeshi Uththara shared the silver and bronze medals respectively of the women’s 400 metres to give a winning start to Sri Lanka’s Asian Junior Athletics Championship campaign on day one of the event in South Korea on Sunday.

Karunaratne and Uththara reached the final as the second and third fastest from the heats held in the morning and those positions remained unchanged as they finished second and third respectively in the final.

Karunaratne clocked 53.70 seconds to finish second behind India’s Rezoana Mallick Heena who returned a time of 53.31 seconds for the gold. Uththara clocked 55.51 seconds for her bronze.

Commenting on their achievements Sri Lanka Athletics in a statement said that it was the first time in almost three decades that two Sri Lankan female athletes had won medals in a single event at the Asian Junior Championships.

The track and field governing body was referring to the gold and silver doubles of legendary Susanthika Jayasinghe and Damayanthi Dharsha who shared the gold and silver medals in the 100 metres and 200 metres with championship records at the 1994 edition held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

At the last edition held in Gifu, Japan Sri Lanka’s men’s pair of Aruna Dharshana and Pasindu Kodikara won the gold and silver medals in the men’s 400 metres.  Karunaratne who is trained by veteran coach Susantha Fernando is set to compete in the women’s 800 metres final today where she will be the favourite for gold.

She returned an Asian leading time of 2:01.39 seconds at the selection trail held in March though her preparation for the event was plagued by a sickness forcing her to skip the recently held Junior National Championships. Tharushi will enter today’s race as the third fastest 800 metres runner in the world this year.

Continue Reading

Latest News

Dominant Sri Lanka claw back to level series




Sri Lanka came up with a dominant show with both bat and ball to stage a strong comeback and level the three-match series against Afghanistan on Sunday (June 4). Having lost the first ODI, the hosts staged a commendable comeback with their top four laying the platform for a 300-plus total which was then defended with ease as Afghanistan fell short by 132 runs.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 323/6 in 50 overs (Kusal Mendis 78, Dimuth Karunaratne 52; Mohammad Nabi 2/52) beat Afghanistan 191 in 42.1 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 57, Ibrahim Zadran 54; Dhananjaya de Silva 3/39) by 132 runs

Continue Reading