The team from the hill capital, which has the richest rugby heritage in the Island in terms of class, performance and the contribution made to the nation over a century stepped out this year, like in every year since 1906 in defence of their “Honour& Glory”.
Trinity have been one of the consistent schools rugby sides during the past five
years. Though they failed to secure the League Championship which has eluded them since 1987 when Tyrrel Rajapakse led the Trinitians to an unbeaten season, the Trinitians managed to end the League Championship season as runners-up during the past three years, apart from the fact they retained the coveted
Bradby Shield for four years in a row since 2011.
In 2011, Murad Ramzeen and his team brought more silverware to gthe Lions’ den when they ended a long drought and won the Milo President’s Trophy (schools knockout tournament) by beating Isipathana MV in the finals. Much of the credit for their recent success should be given to New Zealander Neil Foote who was instrumental in turning these Trinitians into champion material as the head coach of Trinity College rugby during his tenure (2011-2014). He left a legacy behind and the baton has passed on to Irishman Eric Miller, a former Irish International who took over the duties as head coach this year.
Miller’s up-front challenge is to retain the Bradby and to steer a fresh side to become a champion side. For that he has a fifth year coloursman Isuru Rangala to lead the side from the front. Isuru is a strong, versatile player, agile and has speed and plays as lock forward. He also has plenty of experience behind him, whilst playing under Bradby winning captains, groomed by Neil Foote and most importantly as a member of the Sri Lankan Under 20 side last year.
This year, Trinity’s strength is with their three quarters, the No. 12 and 13 combination of Sachintha Dissanayaka and Ryan Weerakoon will be their key to success. Some of the players to watch from this side will be the full back and fourth year player and speedster Saranga Gunathilake, 16-year-old scrum-half Anuka Boyagoda, second rower Rahul Karunathileka and back rower Rajith Samarasekara. All were in the thick of things during the first leg of the Bradby which they lost 22-23 at Pallekelle which was the maiden win for the Royalists at this venue. Up until the first leg of the Bradby, Trinity had a perfect first round of the league by winning all their games with convincing margins.
Trinity Rugby 1st XV Squad
Props : Dhirendra Ratwatte, Ghazali Ismail, Shaveen Ekanayaka, Pubudu Amunuthuduwa, Melan Maleesh, Shalendra Alahakoon
Hookers : Nethmal Sakalasooriya, Nathan Lee Wei
Second Rows : Isuru Rangala, Anjana Bandara, Pasan Samarawickrema, Rishane Madena, Shadi Deane, Rahul Karunathilake
Third Row : Anjana Bandara, Rajith Samarasekara, Aveesha Priyankara, Rukshan Dhammapala
Scrum half : Anuka Boyagoda, James Peiris, Rashen Bandaranayaka, Dave Dias
Stand Off : Thushila Perera, Ayesha Edirisinghe
Centers : Sajana Sangasinghe, Ryan Weerakoon, Sachintha Dissanayaka, Lashen Wijesuriya
Wings : Shermal Wijewardena, Diluksha Dange, Geshan Pethiyagoda, Manushka Wijethilake, Isuru Rathnayake / Naveen Dewdasan
Full Back : Saranga Gunathilake
Eric Miller, who is experienced in playing European rugby apart from international rugby for Ireland is making his debut in coaching outside Europe. Here are his thoughts: “Compared to Europe there is a long pre-season. Also we have 13 freshers in this squad. I looked at the training template and introduced new tools as I felt there’s room to improve. I want to implement a
long term plan, a system and a training module with the junior structure in mind. I’m working on this with rest of the coaching staff and the Trinity Rugby Scrummage.
“I want the boys to develop their thinking and ability to analyse and act during pressure situations during matches. A good thing about this team is that they are young, talented, willing to learn and have good team values too. We’ve been training since last year and so far things have turned up positive with all adapting to the situation. I’m also impressed with the rugby culture at Trinity and in Sri Lanka. Schools rugby is highly competitive and there’s a good following. I’m confident, that this team, though they are young, can stand up to the challenge”.
Thushitha De Silva, Trinitian and former junior rugby coach is assisting Miller along with another Old Trinitian Pradeep Basnayake, a former Sri Lanka rugby captain and double International. According to Thusitha: “Our goal is to continue and build on the good work done leading up to this season. At the same time this is a transitional period and we are also on a development stage. Our side is a young side but they have done really well so far. We have improved with each game. “Our strength lies with our three quarters this year. We want to ensure that we (and the boys) get the best out of Eric Miller and also develop their mental and physical skills. We have introduced some technical programmes and training drills for the seniors and now we are looking at extending this to strengthen our junior rugby. As far as we are concerned, Trinity Rugby is on the right track and results will be seen soon.”
Talking about his side and the goals for this year, the Isuru shared these views: “We have a young side, with many freshers but we are bonding well. We started early and prepared ourselves with some professional trainers who
joined our coaching staff last year. With Eric Miller coming in as our senior coach we had to adjust and adopt to certain things in our training programmes. We were used to a different type of training and playing style under Neil Foote. However, it was easy and we managed to adjust ourselves. We focused on set pieces and also learnt new tactics and strategies.
“Our goals are to retain the Bradby and to win the League Championship which we missed out on last three years. We had a slow start and feel like we underestimated our opponent Dharmaraja College in our first game. As we progressed, we matured and improved. I’m confident about the team and our chances this year to achieve our goals.”
Royal College has one of the swankiest rugby cultures in the country since they kicked off their glamourous Royal Rugby at Reid Avenue. This was 10 years after Trinity picked it up in the Hill Capital and would be celebrating their centenary of the Royal Romance with the Oval Ball in 2016.
Contrary to Trinity, in the recent past Royal College has a better conversion rate when it came to turning their good seasons into producing champion sides. They’ve had bountiful harvests with silverware; in 2011 under Shehan “Lema” Pathirana they won the Schools Rugby League and before that in 2009 under Naren Dason they became unbeaten League Champions. However they have failed to bring the Bradby to Reid Avenue since 2010 and this year, it tops the shopping list of Royal senior coach Sanath Martis.
Martis is a master tactician and could be termed as one of the best schools rugby coaches in the present context. Who can argue that when looking at how he turned around a mediocre Royal 1st XV side last year which entered the President’s Trophy finals and lost to ultimate champions Isipathana after a close game. This was his first term as coach at Reid Avenue and before that his influence at St Peter’s College left an undeniable legacy during his stay of six years with the Bamba Boys.
This year the Royal intentions are clear, bring the Bradby home and go for the league title and if hungry for more then go for the President’s Trophy too.
Under Banuka Gamage’s leadership, Royal came out with all guns blazing this season from their very first game against the Antonian Eagles. They sent a talented Thomian XV packing and set a new record in the Michael Gunaratne Trophy games. They broke the Pallekelle hoodoo and secured a thrilling win in the first leg of the Bradby. Royal College remained unbeaten in the first round and now they will progress to the next round of Cup Championship brimming with confidence.
The players to watch start with skipper Banuka Gamage who is well experienced and a smart leader manning the line and controlling the game from the No.13 position along with the third row combination of Keshan Peiris, Shawket Lahir and No.8 Supun Warnakulasuriya. Royal also can boast of having a heavier set of forwards who are also strong and devastating when carrying the ball, especially with their trademark “Royal Maul”. When the Royal engine is in full steam, the Royal Maul will be at its best and simply unstoppable.
Royal College 1st XV Rugby Squad
Banuka Gamage (Capt), Keshan Peiris, Akasha Iddewela, Chandula Jayasundera,
Supun Warnakulasuriya, Gayal Jayasinghe, Shawket Lahir, Ashok Vijayakumar,
Umesha Madushan, Nikila Gunadheera, Gavesha Yapa, Harith Lokugamage, Ayesha Maduranga, Oven Askey, Shabith Feroze, Andrew de Silva, Sachin Gamage, Vinith Gunawardena, Ayendra Subasinghe, Aerosha Elikewela, Ishfaaq Nazeer, Pasindu Amarasinghe, Tahiru Gunasekera, Mohamed Nabeel, Sasitha Siyath, Bhanuka Ratnayake.
Sanath Martis: “A the beginning of the training we focused on physical fitness, skills development and then moved to developing our game plans. We also identified players and their talents, including players for the future. Our aim is winning the Bradby, the trophy games and then winning the league this year. “I believe in fast and open rugby and want every member of the team to play a role and contribute to the team. Of course this entertains the crowd too. You can notice a change in our style of play, rather than playing only with the forwards and going for hits we will use both forwards and backs together. Open and running rugby. We will not be concerned much about our opponents. However we will take one game at a time and plan accordingly. “We don’t have stars nor do we bank on a few players to deliver on the field. The boys have been training to play according to a pattern, they will have several game patterns to deploy and they will use these tactics depending on the match situation and depending on what works for them. I have given them the freedom to decide on field. “We worked closely with the captain Banuka from the beginning of our training as we wanted him to build his confidence and also develop his leadership skills. This has worked and now he is taking charge of things in the middle. At the same time players also work closely with him. I’m confident about our chances at the Bradby and for the League Championship this year.”
Banuka Gamage “I’m happy to lead the side this year, it is a challenge for me and I got the full support from our Coaching staff. We have a young side mixed with few senior players. We are working as team and all are contributing their fullest on the field. We take match by match but our 1st Goal is to bring back the Bradby to College. Then we want to win rest of the matches, especially the trophy games and end as League Champions. So far we played well, we expected our Group games to be tough but we managed to win the matches. Now our focus is on 2nd Round and we are confident of our chances”
St’ Peter’s College
The Bamba Boys have written many glorious pages in the rugby annals of Sri Lanka since they took to the game back in 1932. They entered the scene and commenced writing their own chapters when Trinity, Royal and Zahira College were holding sway in local rugby arena. They got blessings from both Trinity and
Royal, metaphorically and literally on the fields and off it. Royal welcomed the Peterites in 1932 with a 38-0 drubbing at Bambalapitiya and, incidentally, first Peterite captain Lim Billimoria had his preliminary education at Royal. Trinity followed suit with a 58-0 thumping at Bogambara in their first encounter in 1933 which stands as a record to date. Peterite rugby legend Archibald Perera, who was part of this losing team, learnt his ABCs of rugby at Trinity College, Kandy, where he studied earlier and then went on to lead the first invincible rugby side at St Peter’s in 1936. St. Peter’s soon exacted revenge just after
two years by beating Royal 5-0 in 1934, and then in their third year they beat Trinity 6-0 at home. The lads from Bambalapitiya had their purple patch between 1934- 1941 where they were crowned as unofficial schools rugby champions for five consecutive years. The Peterites, however, could not stamp their authority once they returned post-WW II but did manage to shine in patches since then. The best periods were between 1965 an ‘75 where they produced three champion sides, and although they couldn’t produce any champion sides the period from 1984-’87 saw some outstanding teams coming out from Bambalapitiya. It is worth mentioning that in 1985 the side, led by Rajith Abeygoonewardena, broke the hoodoo by beating Trinity after 44 years, Royal after 13 years and St Thomas’ after six years. This was followed by another purple patch from 1994 to ‘96 of which Sanjeewa Abeygoonewardena’s side of ‘95 was best remembered The Peterites are on another purple patch – an extended one since 2006. During this decade, they won three league titles, four President’s Trophies, including being joint champions in 2010 with Royal College, and four Cup Championships in the All Island Schools 7s including the current season. To put the icing on the cake, the Peterites enjoyed two unbeaten seasons (2007 and 2010) during this period.
The Peterites were placed fourth at the conclusion of the 2014 Singer Schools Rugby League and in 2013 they were ranked third. Since 2006, they have remained within the top four teams in the Singer Schools Rugby League barring 2009 where they finished sixth. Two other teams in the top four are Trinity College and Royal College. During this period Sanath Martis (six years) and Collin
Denish (three years) were in charge of the boys, and the influence of Sanath Martis had a greater impact where St Peter’s achieved most of this glory. It is quite evident the Peterites are consistent and have a sound feeder system in place to churn out good teams and players through their junior rugby.
The Singer League 2015 brought about many challenges for the Peterites. Australian Ben MacDougall, who has played both rugby league and Union in Australia, and also represented Scotland in international rugby, took over the reins from Collin Denish, and has been appointed Rugby Director – a clear sign St Peter’s has bigger plans with the foreign coach. In addition, former Peterite captain (1977), Sri Lanka and Havelocks player Angelo Wickremaratne steps back into the schools rugby circuit as assistant coach to MacDougall. They are also minus a couple of prominent senior players, due to injuries.
St. Peter’s College 1st XV Rugby Squad
Props : Udara Anjana, Reshan Rajapakse, Danilka Dissanayake
Hooker : Andrew Ravin Yapa, Kusal Ravintha
Second row : Maleesha Rajapaskse, Rahal Delpachithra, Ranith Silva, Narendra Perera
Flankers : Shane Gurusinghe, Sajith Seram, Ranith Silva, Marc de Silva
No.8 : Harin Biyanwila, Senura Premawardhene, Angelo Menids
Scrum-half : Avishka Heenpalla, Ramal Fernando, Stephen Karunaratne, Steffan Sivaraj
Fly-half : Sandesh Jayawickrama
Centres : Nishon Perera, Avishka Ranasinghe, Luke Lakshan
Wingers : Kamesh Fernando, Diyath Fernando, Harshana Peiris, Nimesh Fonseka, Shehan Madhawa, Malith Jayasinghe, Thakshina Nonis
Full back : Kevin Dixon, Promodha Kannangara, Ramesh Fernando
Manager : Mahesh De Silva
Sports Secretary : Mr. Troy Bartlet
Priest in charge of Sports : Rev.Fr. Sharm Dassanayake
Nevertheless, the Peterites have a balanced side and a smart captain in Kevin Dixon, playing his fifth year at senior level. Kevin has a wealth of experience behind him, including representing Sri Lanka junior sides. He is by far the most talented player in the current league; his nimble-footed runs, agility, speed and power to accelerate even through the needle-eye gaps make him a difficult customer to deal with on the field. He virtually creates his own opportunities to score and is a reliable place kicker too.
The Peterites got off to a flying start by winning the Under 20 Schools 7s Cup Championship by beating defending champions Isipathana College in a thriller, and they gave a warning to all teams they will be the side to watch. The Peterites kicked off the league campaign against St Joseph’s College in the Battle of Saints. Though they had the game in control during the first half with a 10-0 lead with all scoring done by Dixon, in the second half they lost Dixon to injury and then lost control of their game by conceding too many penalties. The Peterites couldn’t stand the onslaught by the Josephians who sensed the opportunity to grab the initiative. The Josephians also capitalised on every opportunity that came their way and converted this into vital points, whereas the Peterites failed to convert their chances.
The Peterites then bounced back minus their captain and key player Kevin Dixon to beat Kingswood at Bogambara with a last-minute penalty. They then faced their acid test against the rampaging Omalka Gunaratne and the Green Shirts as St Peter’s College hosted their first game on their home ground in two years. It was a blockbuster and the Peterites had their chances but missed opportunities and poor decisions during the crucial period of the game cost them the match as Isipathana won it by slender two-point margin. St Peter’s ended third in their group and now face a stiff challenge in the second round in their quest for the League Championship.
Players to watch out for: skillful full back Dixon heads the hit list and then third- ear coloursman and centre Nishon Perera who has power and speed; the big-made Udara Anjana in the front row along with Rahal Delpachithra, both expected to carry the ball a lot; the combination of scrum-half Avishka Heenpalla and fly-half Sandesh Jayawickrama; and Diyath Fernando the little dynamo on the wing.
“When I started, I looked at building the fundamentals and focused on the forwards, the set pieces, scrums, line outs as Peterites traditionally tend to rely more on the three-quarters. I felt we needed to work more on our forwards and happy to say, they have taken it up well and started to deliver. The set pieces and the scrums are really good, the best I have seen among school teams. “Match by match we improved, in our last game the boys scored 17 tries. Against St Joseph’s it was bit unfortunate that Kevin had to leave the field early and then there were back to back yellow cards against us. The boys committed some mistakes under pressure. Against Isipathana, the forwards played extremely well and did their duty. Unfortunately our backs didn’t do well and we failed to capitalise on the opportunities. “I’m confident with few more big matches coming up, the boys will combine well. Looking at the squad we have, I think we stack up really well with some good experienced players and a strong set of threes. We have some talented boys. Lot goes into our preparations, physically and psychologically. Boys need to be strong enough to play 80 minutes under tough conditions and make less mistakes, cut down on errors. “Rugby at schools level in Sri Lanka is extremely competitive and St Peter’s have done well so far. I’m confident about the team, they will do well during the upcoming big matches”.
“We started practices last year, worked on our fitness and our aim is to win the League. Ben is working closely with the team as our Head Coach and Angelo also assisting us. I have got a good squad, both seniors and the freshers are playing well and contributing. Though we lost our first game, I think we played well as a team. It was unfortunate that I had to leave the field with an injury and maybe that would have affected our rhythm and style of play. Then we did really well against Isipathana. “I must say our forwards were outstanding and they did lot to win the ball both in sets and at breakdowns. But sadly, three quarters couldn’t make use of the opportunities as we committed too many mistakes. We learnt our lessons and now looking forward to the 2nd Round. I’m confident about the team and we want to finish well.’
St’ Joseph’s College
The most improved side in the current Schools Rugby League, St. Joseph’s College has proven this year that they are a side to be reckoned with. They in fact are among the top contenders for the title which they firmly believe they can earn provided the boys from Darley Road continue their good work in the second round.
They have been consistent this year, barring the close loss to Isipathana which is their only loss so far. Their crowning moment came in at their very first game when they broke the 15-year hoodoo to secure a win against the Peterites and take home the Rev. Fr. Basil Weeratunge Shield. After being down 0-10 at half time, the Josephians bounced back with a strong second-half rally to outclass the
Peterites in front of a packed house. The last win had come before the dawn of the millennium, in 1999 when the Joes did it under Lakshitha Gunaratne. This provided the impetus for rugby at college and created a buzz in the Hornets’ nest, the Josephian rugby supporters group, to support their team to achieve more glory. They nearly came close to achieving that when they gave a mighty scare to the Green Shirts at CR & FC whom they have not beaten for more than two decades, but due to some crucial errors on their part, the Josephians couldn’t cross the winning line.
Josephian rugby since the inception in 1955, in fact they started a few years earlier and played under the guise of Hornets, has been a case of missed opportunities and inconsistency. However, after the college revamped rugby and brought in much-needed support through the Hornets back in 2010, they have managed to bring some stability and consistency to the game at Darley Road. During the last four years they have managed to survive in the Top Division (Division 1/Group A) whereas in the past they would have been migrating between the top tier and the bottom once every two or three years.
This year, under the captaincy of Tariq Salih they managed to climb up the ladder and ended as the second best side in their Group when the Round 1 matches came to an end. The coaching staff was strengthened this year with the inclusion of Bilal Yousouf as head coach and with assistance coming in from of another Royalist and former Sri Lanka and CR &FC player, Asanga Rodrigo, as assistant coach and former Sri Lanka & Kandy SC ace kicker Nalaka Weerakkody being the kicking coach.
This has paid dividends though there are a few areas they need to polish and brush up such as their defence and ball handling including the high ball and minimising the errors at crucial stages both in defence and attack. This is where they lost the game to Isipathana as the defending champions made them pay dearly for a few costly mistakes. The game is such that it is unforgiving. The
side which commits minimum errors can take any opponent down. If they can do this in the coming weeks, the Joes will be the side to watch, no longer as underdogs or wildcards but as clear favourites.
The two vice-captains, Shamilka Kurumbalapitiya and Shehan Bopearachchi, both hailing from rugby families, are assets to Tariq along with Stephan Gregory who is the main ball carrier. Tariq playing as No. 8 is a fierce competitor and will be leading the Josephians from the front. The big-made Gregory can be devastating in loose play. Shehan a third row player and a strong lad known for his hard tackles and his speed and agility gives him the advantage at breakdowns to sneak through defence. Shamilka is the full back and his experience, kicking prowess and his nimble-footed runs makes him a reliable
player capable of launching a counter attack. Shamilka is also the place kicker of the side and a bit more discipline and focus would definitely help him and his side to go the distance in the league.
St. Joseph’s College 1st XV Rugby Squad
Props : Stephan Gregory, Charana Sendanayake, Kevin Silva, Sven Muller.
Hookers : Devon Fernando, Senel Fernando, Praveen Thangiah.
Second Row : Ishane Pietersz, Ravien De Silva, Tishan Jayasinghe.
Flankers : Viraj Perera, Shehan Bopearachi, Sonel Silva.
Number 8 : Taariq Salih
Scrum Half : Suneth Chathuranga
Fly Half : Dulith Fernando, Raveen Antonio
Centers : Vimukthi Rahula, Sameesha Viranga, Gemunu Chethiya.
Wingers : Romesh Priyankara, Vinul Fernando, Ayomal Perera, Lakitha Fernando, Naveen Muthuarachchi, Kevin De Silva.
Full Back : Shamilka Kurumabalapitiya.
“We noticed the Josephians during the past three to five years have lost most of their games during the second half of the games and that too during the final quarter. So we focused on two key areas in our preparations with strength and conditioning being the first. Then came mental preparations. We worked on improving self-belief of the boys and their mental fitness. We introduced guidelines for players to get them to commit to the training module.
“There’s no shortage in talent and interest among the boys for rugger at St Joseph’s. What they lack is fitness and right preparations for the games. I’m
happy to say the boys have done well so far, in their training and preparations. This helped in our first game where we managed to beat St Peter’s. If we minimised some of the errors we committed against Isipathana, the final result would have been different. “Having said that, Isipathana played their best game and to their fullest potential. At the same time our boys didn’t play to their fullest potential. I feel they still have about another 20 per cent left within themselves and we are now working on getting them to play to their full potential in our second round games.
We don’t bank on individual players instead we want 15 boys on the field to perform their roles and contribute their 100 per cent. “We play to our strengths and focus will be on minimising our mistakes. Also I would like to mention the contribution made by Rugby Advisory and Hornets towards the college in getting the infrastructure right for us to perform our duties and boys to concentrate on their training. All this time we didn’t have proper grounds to practise and a gym to train. They’ve attended to this and boys now practise regularly at CR & FC and this helped us. All in all I’m happy about the progress we made this year and we are looking forward to the second round as I’m confident boys can go for the League Championship.
“We were preparing for this season well in advance. We worked hard, especially on our fitness. Coaching staff helped all of us. Our first target was to win the St Peter’s game and then go for the League Championship. We planned for this and boys played their hearts out during the St Peter’s game. We are happy we achieved the first goal. We could have beaten Isipathana if not for the unforced errors on our part. Now we are looking ahead to the second round. There are a lot of tough games ahead but we are ready and want to end at the top of the league.”
St’ Thomas’ College
The school by the sea, St Thomas’ College, started playing rugby in 1955, exactly after 104 years since they started playing cricket. At that time, St Thomas’ was known as the College of St Thomas the Apostle and it was located in Mutwal (Colombo 15). Having enjoyed the lush green pastures of the cricket field at Mt Lavinia, the Thomians took to the game of rugby like a duck to water.
St Thomas’, coached by an old Royalist, the legendary Mahesh Rodrigo and captained by K.S. Anandan immediately got on with the big boys of rugby. Mahinda Ratwatte’s Trinitians baptised them with a 13-0 score line and
C.V.Gooneratne’s Royalists followed it with an 18-0 beating. The Thomians fared better against Desmond Ephraims Peterites by losing 0-6 but managed to record their maiden win by beating another debutant, the Josephians led by
Mahendra Dias, 8-6.
In 1956, the Thomians under the captaincy of Brad Perera managed to beat the Peterites led by Lakshman Serasingha 9-3 and drew 0-0 with Royal led by Lionel Almeida. It was a matter of time for St Thomas’ to beat Trinity which every team dreamt off since Trinity was regarded as the “Cradle of Rugby”. This they achieved in 1960, led by Nihal Samarasinghe. St Thomas’ managed to beat a star-studded Trinity team led by Eric Roles 5-0 and in 1961 Tony Sirimanne’s outfit beat Jayantha Samarasekera’s Royalists 8-0. St Thomas’ produced their first champion side in 1963 and the captain was Mohan Samarasinghe. The finest season was in 1970 when St Thomas’ under D. R. Weerasinghe and coached by Quentin Israel remained unbeaten by winning all matches thus becoming unofficial Schools Rugby Champions. However the golden era of Thomian rugby came in much later and it was spread over three years from 1989 to 1991 where they won 41 matches in a row under the guidance of Quentin Israel who returned for another stint as coach of St Thomas’. The respective captains
were Rizvi Zuhaib (1989), Naren Perera (1990) and Savantha de Saram (1991).
The lads from Mt. Lavinia apart from winning the league tournament and Premadasa Trophy won the Canon R.S. de Saram Shield by beating Trinity 16 -3, 18-6 and 13-3, bagged the Michael Gunaratne trophy by beating Royal 3-0, 13-0 and 22-4. They won the Archibald Perera Trophy by beating St Peter’s 13-4, 15-0 and 19-6 during these three years whilst doing so also beat St Joseph’s to win the Lady Jayatilleke Shield in all three years. The Thomians had their last champion side in A Division under Gavin Jayasekera in 2000, and in 2009, under Shavin Kapuwatte, the Thomians ended runners-up in the league behind Naren Dhason’s Royalists. In 2011, St Thomas’ had a disastrous season and lost all their games. They had to face the ignominy of being relegated for the first time to B Division where they spent their next two years. During this period college and old boys took steps to revive Thomian rugby. Australian Grant Dwyer was brought in as head coach along with former Thomian rugby captain Jeevan Goonethileka and former Sri Lanka prop Danushka Boteju.
St. Thomas’ College 1st XV Rugby Squad
Props : Malindra Deshapriya, Tehan Perera, Thulith Bandara, Dave Rathnayake, Chirantha Abeywickrama
Hooker : Pandula De Silva, Aabed Carder, Paratheepan Thanush
Second row : Hashith Senanayake, Kathesh Handy, Wayne Mack, Atheeq Kalim
Flanker : Kevin De Silva Salman Jhan, Dhanuja Wijeratene, Shaniv Ahangama, Vishaka Rathnayake, Navin Eriyagama.
NO.O8 : Sachitra Jayatileke
Scrum Half : Senal De Silva, Aron Ferdinando, Dion Dias
Fly Half : Praveen Ferdinando, Hans Walpola
Center : Kasun Jayasuriya, Ashwantha Herath, Sharith Nanayakkara, Ishaaq Jurangapthy
Wing : Richard Samuel, Shakila De Silva, Navin Henakankanange
Full Back : Lushantha Dabare, Bhumidndra Dissanayake
Rugby Coordinator : Mr. Lakmal De Zoysa
Teacher in Charge : Miss. Niroshala Manuel
Results came their way, and in 2013 under Devin Jayasinghe the Thomians, competing in B Division, managed to gain a promotion while winning their traditional encounters against Trinity, Royal and St Joseph’s. However, last year their re-entry into A Division did not go well as team was placed eighth and the Thomians managed to avoid the battle of wooden spooners and survived to fight another day. The Thomians find themselves in a similar situation this year too.
Under Hashith Senanayake’s captaincy St Thomas’ entered the 2015 Singer League and they were placed in Group B, a tough group. Jeevan Goonetilleke who has had a long association with Thomian rugby took over the helm as head coach and his task was to bring some stability and a change of fortunes. They also got the services of two former Sri Lankan players Peterite Mohamed Sheriff and Pathanian Dinesh Kumara as part of their coaching staff. Emphasis was placed on fitness, conditioning and
improving skills. A relatively young squad but they are equipped with a heavier set of forwards. However, the Thomians failed the Science test in the season opener whereas if they had a better place kicker the outcome would have gone in their favour. Then they managed to regroup and record a win against Dharmaraja in a hotly contested affair, a battle of penalties red cards and yellow cards. Games against Trinity and Royal are better forgotten. Lessons learnt and the Thomians managed to bounce back when they won against St Anthony’s at
Nittawela in a do or die encounter for both teams. Now they move on to the
second round of the Cup championship with some confidence and hope for better results.
Players to watch: Captain Hashith Senanayake, a lanky second row forward, playing in his fifth year at this level; well-experienced campaigner, the big-made Pandula De Silva another senior playing in his fourth year as the hooker and he is the main ball carrier.
“We had a good preparation leading up to this year’s season with Boteju handling the forwards, and we got Sheriff to handle the backs and Dinesh Kumara was in charge of the fitness. We don’t have a big resource pool in terms of boys. It’s limited unlike other schools. We got water polo players, cricketers, swimmers in the squad. So we need to manage the workload, it’s a challenge and it has always been the case with St Thomas’. “I’m happy to say the boys lived up to this challenge. This is a young side and I’m proud of the way we played. We could have won against Science if not for the crucial mistakes. Trinity was a tough opposition and a talented side but boys played really well. Royal another good side and we just had a bad day against a really good side. I think we are better than what the score line suggest. Our key to success was playing to our strengths and cutting down on mistakes. Our fundamentals are lot better. “After the Royal game we focused on our basics, cut down the mistakes and played to our strengths. This helped us in our games against Dharmaraja and St Anthony’s. Our strengths are our forwards and they are good as any other side or even better. If they focus and do their basics right then we can be a force to be reckoned with. Going forward, I would say boys are now fully geared for the second round and they will come good.”
“We trained hard for this year’s season and we have a good squad. I’m happy with the way we played so far and more than anything else the boys enjoy playing too. If we can minimise the errors we can do lot better. So we are now
focusing on the second round games and we want to finish the league matches on a high.”
St’ Anthony’s College
The Antonians took to the sport in 1956 and this was the period most of the schools entered the schools rugby arena. It took a while for the Antonian Eagles to gain recognition and play competitive rugby. Until 1960 they did not have regular 1st XV fixtures. However once they started playing regularly against teams such as Trinity, S. Peter’s, Royal, St Thomas’ and St Joseph’s they started improving their standards and soon they were a force to be reckoned with in local rugby. The 1968 team under H.M. Kuthdoos and 1972 team under Tuan Dole were two of the outstanding teams from early days. During the ’80s the Eagles managed to have a strong footing and the story continued in the ’90s with some outstanding teams coming out from Katugastota during those two
decades and 1988 Leroy Fonseka’s side could be termed as the best. Not to forget many outstanding ruggerites who went onto represent Sri Lanka from Katugastota where Priyantha Ekanayake stands tall among the rest. However, contrary to their past success, it has been a struggle for Antonian ruggerites in the present day. Since their re-entry to A Division in 2005 they have failed to enter the top six but the silver lining has been that the Antonians are managing to stay alive in the A Division (Division 1) without being relegated. Last year, they managed to avoid a relegation when they won the Plate
Championship. This year, led by No. 8 forward Neuman Dilan, coached by former Antonian ruggerite Priyantha Gunaratne and backed by the Antonian Rugby Trust Fund and Old Antonian Rugby Club, the lads from St Anthony’s College,
Katugastota, came out during the Singer Rugby League with the hope of gaining lost glory. Alas, after the first round of matches they are now been forced to play for their survival along with Wesley College, Dharmaraja College and C.W.W Kannangara MV from the Segment 1 (Division 1). “This year too, the Antonians will play for the Plate after they secured only a solitary win against Dharmaraja in their group. Dilan and his team can draw inspiration from their past and even
from the present context of rugby where teams with lesser-known history are
making great strides largely with their determination and self-belief, and with
St. Anthony’s College 1st XV Rugby Squad
Props : Anjana Ariyawansa, Shenal Dias, Kavinda Amarakoon
Hooker : Pulathsi Dissanayaka, Dines Rodrigo, Second row : Pasindu Dulshan, Shemal Weerasekera, San Roinston, Mohamed Shabeer, S. Monishan
Flanker : Navishka Weerasekera, Daham Fernando, Savesh Weerakoon, Fazly Fazeer, C. yuwadarshan
No8 : Neuman Dilan ( C )
Scrum Half : Duminda Hettiarachchi, Pavithra De Silva
Fly Half : Gerald Naveen, Asanka Maduwantha
Center : Dinuk Amarasinghe, Hashan Dilshan, Thilan Jagoda
Wing : Tiron Jeraj, Naveem Gnanesekar, Jehan Seelagama, Sameera Kanchana, Janith Weerasekera, Terrance Rajaratnam
Full Back : Dulaj Jayathissa, Praboda Bandara, Head Coach : Priyantha Gunarathna
Asst Coach : Rohitha Mendis
Trainer : Vijitha Bandara
“This year’s 1st XV squad is a young squad with only five senior coloursmen and the rest are freshers. So we had to work hard with the boys to get them ready. On top of it, a couple of the boys were injured at the beginning of the season and that too hampered our preparations.
“Our aim was to finish among the top half of the group but now we need to fight at the bottom half and avoid relegation. With the games, though we lost, the boys learned and gained valuable experience. This will help them to win their matches in the second round.
“Our team is a fresh side with only five senior players. A lot would depend on them and so far we as a team did not play well. We lost some key games due to our own mistakes. We played really well against Dharmaraja but unfortunately we lost the St Thomas’ and Science games after a good fight. Now we need to regroup and bounce back. I’m confident that team can do this and we will stay within Group A.
St’ Benedict’s College
The very first rugby team from St Benedict’s College came out wearing green and white under the leadership of former Sri Lanka cricketer and now an international cricket commentator Ranjit Fernando back in 1963 carving a name for Bens’ rugby in local annals.
In the same year Isipathana College stepped out, wearing green shirts. The Bens notched up two wins in their maiden season which were against debutant Isipathana College by 6-0 at St Peter’s grounds in Bambalapitiya and against Wesley College 5-3 at Campbell Park. They featured in a 3-all draw against St
Joseph’s at Darley Road. St Benedict’s played their first ever schools rugby game against St Anthony’s College, Katugastota, at Bogambara and lost 12-3. The Benedictines then lost to St Peter’s 9-3, Trinity 11-0, Royal 9-0 and against the
unofficial Schools Rugby Champions St. Thomas’ 18-0. In that season, the Benedictines played eight games, won two, drew one and lost five and ended in seventh position among 11 school teams. The Benedictines received plenty of praise and recognition for the heartwarming and determined effort in their very first outing. Bens rugby continued its journey into ‘60s and ‘70s with some outstanding Benedictines and teams coming out and occasionally beating a much-fancied team. However, there was a long break in between the ‘70s and
‘80s until it was revived in 1988. Under the captaincy of Angustus Gordon their 1st XV stepped out and was drafted into B Division. The Benedictines weathered the storm and by 1990 under Ashok Anton’s captaincy St Benedict’s produced their first unbeaten champion side in B Division. They also recorded a win against St Joseph’s and was held to a draw by St Peter’s in their traditional encounters. Both teams were playing in A Division. St Benedict’s were promoted to A Division in 1991 but soon found their way back into B Division as they couldn’t weather the storm in A Division. St Benedict’s produced a few champion sides in B Division during mid-‘90s and early 2000s but they couldn’t sustain that for a long period in A Division. Rugby at St Benedict’s College is currently undergoing a rebuilding process and they are determined
to arrest the situation and bring forth some stability to the game at Kotahena. This year, the Bens came out under the captaincy of Mishmal Perera and coached by former Isipathana and Sri Lanka player Baratha Hegoda assisted by former Josephian and Sri Lanka player Nishantha Bopearachchi with the aim of advancing in B Division (segment 2). A well-balanced side, it is packed with couple of seniors and equipped with a good set of forwards. Captain Mishmal Perera is a strong player and displays power in the No. 12 jersey. Their lethal weapon is No.8 Dilan Pushpakumara who is a powerfully built lad with good sense of the game along with props Brendon Perera, Aravinda Silva and Darren Warne – a devastating set of players carrying the ball to good effect. However, they found the going tough as team and could register only a solitary win against St Sylvester’s (32-21) in Kandy and lost two games against Ananda College (15-10) and Lalith Athulathmudali MV (10-5) by close margins and got thumped by Prince of Wales (34-14) and Thurstan (41-19). They could have won the game against Ananda if not for the crucial mistakes during the last stage of
the game and the Lalith Athulathmudali game was a rain curtailed encounter. Now they will be battling out in the Bowl Championship in the second round and they will need to show some improved performances if they are to survive in Segment 2.
St. Benedict’s College 1st XV Rugby Squad
Props : Brendon Perera, Darren Warne, Aravinda Silva
Hooker : Isuru Fernando, Vihanga Seneviratne
2nd Row : Bishmala De Mel, Andrew Perera, Prashantha Kaushalya
3rd Row (Flankers) : Wishane Fernando, Sonal Ganegoda, Larry Gomez, Shalin Casichetty, Rashitha Visanga, Nimesh Goonewardena
No. 08 : Dilan Pushpakumara
Scrum Half : Keith Speering, Roshan Lalantha
Stand off : Kasun Weerasinghe
Centers : Mishmal Perera (Captain), Viranga Kavind
Wings : Russel Merines, Saranath Himawantha, Andrew Sylvester, Dinith Dananjaya
Full Back : Hashan Sooriyarachchi, Minol Priyalakshana, Janith Seneviratne, Yasas Martinez
Master in Charge : Mr. N.L. Wettewa
Sports Co-ordinator : Rev. Bro. Praveen Vaz