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Trinity Rugby 1st XV 1984: The Guts and the Glory.



by Z. Kamil Mohamed

A global cricketing icon once said “At Trinity; Rugby players are special, and I… was only a cricketer”. Such is the pedestal upon which Rugby stands at Trinity that playing Rugby for the 1st XV becomes the ultimate dream for most young Trinitians. And this is the story of that dream shared by a group of young Trinitians, culminating in the Bradby Shield encounter against Royal College in 1984.

Early in 1974, C. Y Ching Snr’s Trinity were playing St Anthony’s. “Accompanied by two older brothers, a few Trinitians and Anthonians , I witnessed my first Rugby match at Nittawela” recalls 1984 Lock Kamil Mohamed. Trinity destroyed the Anthonians 64-3 in a scintillating display of open running Rugby. “I was enthralled and walked on air all the way home, hooked on Rugby for life” says Mohamed.

Playing fast open Rugby the sublime unbeaten Trinity team next destroyed St Thomas’ 70-8 and defeated all teams winning the Bradby. Trinity teams of 1975 and 1976 under Rohan Sourjah and S.V Ranasinghe respectively produced excellent seasons winning most of the games by record margins. Then Ravi Balasuriya’s exceptional Team of 1977 won all their games and undertook the first ever overseas schools Rugby trip to Thailand.

In this backdrop, in 1978, a few 12-year-olds namely Dilakshan Ratwatte, Senaka Alawattegama, SG Ekanayake, Dushyantha Wijesinghe, Ravi Pillai, Arjuna De Silva, Roger Halangoda, Asela Pilapitiya and Kamil Mohamed turned up at training with fervent Rugby dreams at the Trinity junior school grounds at the foot of the Udawattekale Rainforest. This core group were still together at the end of season 1984.

The season began with an intense training camp in Colombo. Dushyantha Wijesinghe, Ashan Ratwatte’s 1st XV understudy as the senior-most player was appointed Captain and Dilakshan Ratwatte Vice-Captain. Supported by Coloursmen Duraisamy Sivasubramaniam, Ravi Pillai, Arjuna De Silva, Jayanthasiri Perera and Manoj Jayatissa.

First up, Trinity faced Thurstan. Ravi Pillai relates how the game unfolded: ‘Arjuna De Silva and I had been a centres combination since junior days, so had a good understanding, however it was early in the season and were rusty yet managed to overcome Thurstan running in seven tries’. Score 38-7.

Back in Colombo to face St Joseph’s College, Sivasubramaniam remembers, ‘they held us to 3-4 in the first half, we were losing the ball in the scrums, hooker Jayatissa complained that Josephian prop Frank Bopearachchi was trying to gouge out his eyes. So, I took matters into my own hands or should I say teeth! Bopearachchi retaliated, only to be ordered off by referee Jagath Fernando. That opened the floodgates, we ran in several tries, defeating the Josephians 32-04. We lost centre Arjuna De Silva to injury in this game’.

Regrouping in Kandy, legendary Coach Colonel Bertie Dias unable to replace De Silva, decided, in consultation with Under 17 coach Alex Lazarus, to promote Senani Gunaratne from the Under 17 team, partly because the coaches felt he was better future captaincy material than the other option, the playful legend Shah Doole.

Next Trinity faced the formidable Isipatana led by Shabeen Sideek comprising several future national players. Dilakshan Ratwatte the scion of a Trinity Rugby dynasty recounts: ‘Trinity’s combinations were working, and the season was looking promising. Home advantage saw Isipatana race to an 8-0 lead. We fought back and scored and with two minutes to go were down 6-8. Ensconced deep in Isipatana territory we won the ball outnumbering them with the line staring at us, but over eagerness got the better of us and we dropped the ball. Our first loss 6-8. This game also exacerbated our injury woes losing Captain Wijesinghe’.

The next three games were scrappy affairs. We beat St Anthony’s 4-0. Their captain, Priyantha Ekanayake, in hospital with a bout of meningitis at the beginning of the week, fronted up and played the unaccustomed position of full back effectively, holding us to one try. Vice-captain Ratwatte also succumbed to injury with Sivasubramaniam now being handed over captaincy duties, which he carried out admirably for much of the season. Trinity then beat Anil Jayasinghe’s Vidyartha 28-0 and Nirmal Dharmaratne’s Dharmaraja 6-0.

Next up was Asanga Seneviratne’s St Thomas’s in Kandy. Ikram Odayar, a third generation Trinity Ruggerite recollects ‘unending rain in Kandy made conditions underfoot less than ideal and we were struggling with injuries. We scored quickly in the first half and led 6-0. After a dour forwards battle in the mud, we defended resolutely to win the Canon R. S De Saram Trophy at 6-4.’

In failing health, the legendary Col. Dias’s storied Trinity Rugby career was coming to an end. With three Bradby victories in previous years, he wanted to retire with another Bradby. Coach Dias, a student of the game preferred to focus on strategy and did not pay much attention to method or structure. Knowing this, he brought in former Trinity and Sri Lanka players Chandra Seneviratne, to work with the forwards and Irwin Howie, to train the backs.

Sampath Agalawatte’s Royalists were unbeaten and favourites to win the Bradby. Full back Jayanthasiri Perera recounts ‘it was a hot and humid day in Colombo, after weeks of playing in cool conditions up in Kandy, we were surprised by how quickly the heat sapped our energy. Both teams probed and prodded but could not breach the other’s line. In the end, all that separated the teams was Royal’s Two penalties against Trinity’s One penalty. 6-3’

Prop Senaka Alawattegama reminisces ‘we were smarting from the narrow loss to Royal, but with the Bradby within reach, training intensity went up another notch. At one stage the Coaches had the forward Eight playing against a full Under 17 team. I remember running endlessly and keeping them at bay for a full 30 minutes. We had practiced a forwards ploy over several weeks, with me swivel passing to Ratwatte, then Dissanayake, then Ranasinghe, then at the end Sivasubramaniam and Mohamed all in close quarters out of opponents view and we did attempt it at the first Bradby without success.

The excellent St Peters coached by Frank Hubert had lost to Trinity for 42 years running. They shocked us with an early try and kept attacking. Midway through the second half the team realised losing was not an option. The tide turned with a penalty but were still down 3-4. We set up camp in Peterite territory but couldn’t quite break through. Late in the game, Referee Tony Amith was glancing at his watch with his refereeing rival Hubert reportedly lying spreadeagled in ecstasy anticipating victory. Winning a free kick, we set in motion our practised ploy and it worked exactly as planned finally breaking through for a try on the stroke of full time. Peterite hearts were broken 9-4.

“Back at training, Col. Dias said in admiration ‘the way you played in the last twenty minutes, why can’t you play like that for the length of the game?’. Anticipating slippery conditions, his strategic Bradby plan was to let Royal win the ball in the set pieces, then attack at the breakdown before the gain line thus advancing field position. Winger S.G Ekanayake narrates ‘our plan worked wonders, Royal were winning the ball but struggled to gain traction with our players all over them in a flash. The score remained 0-0 at half time. After the turnaround, we were winning the ball back and ran our line. As one commentator articulated, – Trinity completely dominated the second half with wave after wave of attacks deep into Royal territory, the forwards winning the ball and working the ball right down the line. But the Royal dam was unbreachable, led by the crack Royal third row of Weeratunga, Lenaduwa and Ex Trinitian Navaratnam they held on for dear life to protect their unbeaten season for a Nil all draw. Thus, Royal won the Bradby on aggregate.”

At the end of the week Trinity comprising Duraisamy Sivasubramaniam, Manoj Jayatissa, Kamil Mohamed, Tony Wimaladasa, Jayanthasiri Perera, Ravi Pillai, Arjuna De Silva, S.G Ekanayake and Upul Herath played in rugby sevens tournament reaching the semi-finals.

At Season’s end Sivasubramanian was awarded the coveted Lion for his dominance while Alawattegama, Tyrone David, Manik Weerasinghe, Kamil Mohamed, Ikram Odayar, Anjana Dissanayake, Tony Wimaladasa, Senani Gunaratna, SG Ekanayake, Upul Herath and Roger Halangoda were awarded Colours.

Tragically Trinitians Arjuna De Silva, Anjana Dissanayake and Royalist Sanjaya Sigera passed away. More recently both captains Wijesinghe and Agalwatte passed on after protracted illnesses.

Over the next two weeks both teams of 1984 will meet again after four decades at the Bradby 2023 and will be felicitated. In the absence of the two captains, 1983 Trinity Captain Ashan Ratwatte, who missed his own opportunity due to the pandemic, has been invited to be the chief Guest at Kandy, and Royalist Feroze Suhayb will stand in for his Late Captain at the 2nd leg in Colombo. Long may this tradition of Bradby fellowship and camaraderie between the two teams continue!

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Lingering world disorder and the UN’s role



The 9/11 Twin Tower horror in New York.

Russia could very well be questioning the legitimacy of the UN system by currently challenging the right of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to arbitrate in the conflicting accusations of genocide brought against each other by it and Ukraine. Russia has countered Ukraine’s charge of genocide, occasioned by its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, by accusing the latter of perpetrating the same crime in the rebel region of Eastern Ukraine, which is seen as being within the Russian sphere of influence.

As is known, when Russia did not participate in a hearing sanctioned by the ICJ on the charge of genocide brought against it in March 2022, the ICJ called on Russia to halt the invasion forthwith. Russia, however, as reported in some sections of the international media, reacted by claiming that the ICJ has ‘no jurisdiction over the case since Ukraine’s request does not come within the scope of the Genocide Convention.’ The main sides to the Ukraine conflict are at present reportedly stating their positions in the ICJ with regard to the correctness of this claim.

Whereas, the law-abiding the world over would have expected the ICJ’s word to prevail in the Ukraine conflict, this does not seem to be the case. More precisely, it is the moral authority of the UN that is being questioned by Russia. Given this situation, the observer cannot be faulted for believing that Russia is ‘sticking to its guns’ of favouring a military solution in the Ukraine.

Considering the foregoing and the continuing lawlessness in other geographical regions, such as South-West Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa, the commentator is justified in taking the position that little or nothing has been gained by the world community by way of fostering international peace over the decades.

Most distressing is the UN’s seeming helplessness in the face of international disorder, bloodshed and war. The thorny questions from the 9/11 New York twin-tower terror attacks, for instance, are remaining with humanity.

One of the most dreaded questions is whether the UN Charter has been rendered a dead letter by the forces of lawlessness and those wielders of overwhelming military might who couldn’t care less for moral scruples. Those state actors who display these traits risk being seen as destruction-oriented subversives or terrorists who are impervious to civilizational values.

Commentators are right when they point to the need for UN reform. This is, in fact, long overdue. Of the original ‘Big Five’ who went on to constitute the permanent membership of the UN Security Council (UNSC) at the end of World War 11 and who oversaw the establishment of the UN, only the US and China retain major power status in the true sense of the phrase today.

The rest of the original heavyweights cannot be considered ‘spent forces’, but there are other powers of more recent origin who could easily vie for their positions. Some of these are India, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and Indonesia. Inducting some of the latter into the UNSC could help constitute a more globally representative UNSC. That is, they will help put together an UNSC which is more faithfully reflective of the current global power distribution.

Theoretically, a more widely representative and inclusive UNSC could be a check against the arbitrary exercise of power by the more ambitious, expansionary and authoritarian members of the UNSC but a foremost challenge facing the UN is to induce such new members of the UNSC into representing the vital and legitimate interests of the ordinary publics within these states and internationally. Minus such representation of the world’s powerless UN reform could come to nought. In fact, this could be described as a prime challenge before the UN which could decide its enduring relevance.

Admittedly, the challenge is complex and defies easy resolution. Not all the countries that are seen as prospective UNSC members are democratic in orientation. That is, they would not be people-friendly or egalitarian. Most of them are governed by power elites that are part of what has been described as the ‘Transnational Capitalist Class’ and could be expected to be repressive and parasitic rather than caring or egalitarian. How then could they be expected to be committed to re-distributive justice within their countries, for example?

In the short and medium terms, the UN system could bring into being systems and institutions that could make it comparatively difficult for the power elites of the world to be parasitic, exploitive, self-serving and unconscionable. Strengthening and giving added teeth to systems that could prove effective against money-laundering and allied practices of self-aggrandizement is one way out.

Ironically, it is perhaps the UN that could lay the basis for and provide these mechanisms most effectively and non-obtrusively. It would need to work more with governments and publics on these fronts and lay the foundation for the necessary accountability procedures within states. It should prepare for the long haul.

In the longer term, it’s the coming into existence of democracy-conscious governments and ruling strata that must be sought. Here too the UN could play a significant role. Its numerous agencies could prove more proactive and dynamic in inculcating and teaching the core values of democracy to particularly poor and vulnerable populations that could fall prey to anti-democratic, parochial political forces that thrive on division and discord.

UN aid could be even directly tied to the establishment and strengthening of democratic institutions in particularly impoverished countries and regions. Thus will the basis be laid for younger leaders with a strong democratic vision and programmatic alternative for their countries. Hopefully, such issues would get some airing in the current UN General Assembly sessions.

Accordingly, the broad-basing of the UNSC is integral to UN reform but the progressive world cannot stop there. It would need to ensure the perpetuation of the UN system by helping to bring into being polities that would respect this cardinal international organization which has as its prime aim the fostering of world peace. Democracy-conscious populations are an urgent need and systems of education that advocate the core values of democracy need to be established and strengthened worldwide.

The coming into being of rivals to the current Western-dominated world order, such as the BRICS bloc, needs to be welcomed but unless they are people-friendly and egalitarian little good will be achieved. Besides, undermining the UN and its central institutions would prove utterly counter-productive.

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Country Roads …concert for children



Sponsors and Country Music Foundation officials - from left: Dmitri Cooray (Jetwing), Maljini Jayasekera (Cargills), Feizal Samath (President CMF), Susaan Bandara (LOLC), Deepal Perera (SriLankan Airlines) and Spencer Manualpillai (Dilmah)

I’ve always wondered why those who have hit the big time in their profession, as singers, have not cared to reach out to the needy.

They generally glorify themselves, especially on social media, not only with their achievements, but also with their outfits, etc. – all status symbols.

I’m still to see some of the big names grouping together to help the thousands who are suffering, at this point in time – children, especially.

However, I need to commend the Country Music Foundation of Sri Lanka for tirelessly working to bring some relief, and happiness, to children, in this part of the world.

Country Roads is said to be Sri Lanka’s and South Asia’s longest running charity concert for children, and this year, they say, the show will be even better.

This concert has consistently donated 100% of its proceeds to children’s charities in Sri Lanka. Over the past 35 years, this has resulted in several million rupees worth of aid, all of which has contributed directly to addressing the most pressing issues faced by children in Sri Lanka, a common practice since the concert’s first edition was held in 1988.

In 2014, the concert contributed Rs. 500,000 to Save the Children Sri Lanka, to support its mother-and-child programme for local plantations. During the same year, another Rs. 100,000 was given to the Oxonian Heart Foundation, to help treat impoverished and destitute children suffering from heart disease, while a further Rs. 100,000 was donated to a poor family caring for a special needs child. In commemoration of its landmark 25th anniversary concert in 2013, CMF donated a million rupees to aid in a special UNICEF project.

Astrid Brook from the UK

The 2023 musical extravaganza will feature the bright lights and panoramic cityscape of Colombo, as its backdrop, as it will be held at the picturesque Virticle by Jetwing, which is situated high above the city, on the 30th floor of the Access Towers building, in Union Place, Colombo 2.

The 35th anniversary Country Roads concert for children will take place on Saturday, 7th October, 2023.

Feizal Samath, President of the Country Music Foundation (CMF), the concert organisers, commented: “We are very much looking forward to this event as it’s being held after a lapse of five years, due to unavoidable circumstances.”

Fan favourites the Mavericks from Germany and Astrid Brook from the UK will once again return to headline the 2023 concert, and joining them on stage will be local outfit Cosmic Rays, as well as the Country Revival Band, with Feizal and Jury.

Dirk (from the Mavericks) has this to say to his Sri Lankan fans: “2018 was the last time we were in your beautiful country with the Mavericks band. Then Corona came and with it a long break. I missed you very much during this time.

“It has now been five years since my last visit to Sri Lanka. A lot has changed. The sponsorship that has always made this trip possible for us is gone. But we didn’t just want to end this tradition, which we have learned to love so much since 1992. That’s why we’re travelling to Sri Lanka this year entirely at our own expense, because it’s an affair of the heart for us.

Mavericks from Germany

“We very much hope that it won’t be the last Maverick performance in Sri Lanka. We hope that this unique journey will continue, that there will also be a Country Roads concert in the years to come.”

The 35th anniversary edition of the Country Roads concert for children will be supported by Official Venue Virticle by Jetwing, and Official Airline SriLankan Airlines, as well as its other partners, Jetwing Colombo Seven, Cargills, LOLC, and Firefly.

Tickets are currently available, for a charitable donation of Rs 2,000 each, at Cargills Food City outlets at Kirulapone, Kohuwela (Bernards), Majestic City, Mount Lavinia (junction) and Staples Street.

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Healthy, Glowing Skin



Give your skin a boost by including the following into your diet:

* Avocados:

Avocados contain healthy fats which can help your skin stay moisturised and firm.

They also contain vitamin C and E – two important nutrients that your body need to support healthy skin and fight free radical formation.

Avocados are also rich in biotin, a B vitamin that some nutritionists believe can help promote healthy skin and hair. A deficiency of biotin can lead to skin problems, such as rashes, ache, psoriasis, dermatitis and overall itchiness.

* Carrots:

Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which fights against sunburns, cell death, and wrinkles. Vitamin A also adds a healthy, warm glow to your skin.

You can get vitamin A by consuming provitamin A through fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products. Your body then converts beta-carotene into vitamin A to protect your skin from the sun.

Provitamin A can also be found in oranges, spinach, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, bell peppers, broccoli and more.

* Dark Chocolate:

Dark chocolate is beneficial for your skin because cocoa powder boasts a bunch of antioxidants. These antioxidants hydrate and smoothen your skin, making your skin less sensitive to sunburn and improves the blood flow of your skin. Make a healthy choice by opting for a bar of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa for more antioxidants and lesser added sugar.

* Green Tea:

Green tea has been said to protect the skin against external stressors and ageing. This is because it is antioxidant-rich and contains catechins that protect your skin, reduce redness, increase hydration, and improve elasticity.

A diet rich in antioxidants along with adequate hydration may even out your skin texture, strengthen your skin barrier and improve your overall skin health.

Avoid adding milk to green tea as the combination can reduce the effects of the antioxidants present in green tea.

Additional tips for healthy skin…

Don’t forget to stay hydrated because water plays a big part in the appearance of your skin. Water ensures your skin has enough moisture, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps with nutrient absorption, removal of toxins and blood circulation.

Besides food and water, it is important to observe proper hygiene. This means no touching your face until you’ve washed your hands. Your hands carry more bacteria than you think and the occasional touch here and there can add up. After a long day out, cleanse your face thoroughly.

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