An inexperienced yet confident Kingswood Rugby XV looking to regain lost glory in 2022
By Kevin Dhananjan
Once the powerhouse of schools rugby Kingswood has had its fair share of up and downs in the recent past, as well as in its long history.
Kingswood College Kandy has the honour of introducing Schools Rugby, as their founding Principal and Educationist Louis Edmund Blaze when the school was established as Boy’s High School Kandy located at Pavilion Street, kicked started the very first rugger match at a school on 27th November 1891 between the students and staff with Blaze as the referee. Blaze, a student of the first official batch of Trinity College Kandy (1872), further excelled in his career in education as a student and later as a teacher in India (between 1880-1890) and was inspired by the work of Dr. Thomas Arnold (1795-18420 former Headmaster Rugby School of England (a Public school in Rugby, Warwickshire). He modelled Kingswood College in English Public School System when opening it and introduced the game of Rugger which he learnt in a great deal whilst in India. He got the boys to play against staff, and then later against Technical and Agriculture School in Kandy, and the Military teams stationed at Kandy Barracks. In 1906, he arranged a match against his former school, Trinity College at the Bogambara Grounds, played on 11th August which ended in a six-all draw. The series continued for several years, but Kingswood College was forced to give up the game owing to the tragic death of a student whilst playing. Rugby was revived after a five decade of hiatus, during the mid-1960’s at Kingswood by then school was relocated to Randle Hills. Kingswood took a while to re-strengthen its Rugby roots and by 1980’s the Red jerseys got their due recognition with regular fixtures against schools and commencement of Blaze trophy (1986) against Wesley College. They won the Tyrell Muttiah Memorial Trophy in 1981 after emerging as “B division champions and were promoted to play in “A” division from 1982 onwards. Kingswoodians went on to do better by winning the Schools Rugby 07’s championship, Philip Bueltjens Trophy in 1982. The 1990’s saw a turnaround in their fortunes with formidable sides coming out, and many of those players going on to represent Sri Lanka.
Kingswood started to dominate Schools Rugby with the dawn of the millennium, in 2000 they produced their first Champion side winning the Schools Rugby Knockout Tournament, repeating the same being unbeaten Champions (in B Division) and winning the President’s Trophy in 2003. The purple patch continued for 03 years until 2006, winning A-Division League and Knockouts (2004, 2005), winning the 07’s championships and producing a gamut of stars for Sri Lanka Rugby and laid their hands for the title of ‘Kings of Rugby’.
The turn of 2010 decade did not bring much success to the Boys from Randle Hills. The glitter and dominance started the wane, 2009 remaining as their last major trophy-winning season. Their run during the past decade was filled with some ordinary seasons, especially during the 2015-2017 period when they struggled to stay in the A Division. However, with the Old Kingswoodians and Kingswood Rugby fraternity rallying around to revive the Rugby at the Old Rugby College, they had some good seasons since then.
After winning the Plate Championship in June 2019, the last proper 1st XV Rugger match for Kingswood was played in 2020, on 05th March when Kingswoodians were the visitors at Havelock S.C, Colombo as St.Joseph’s College hosted their opening week’s encounter of the 2020 Schools Rugby League. Kingswood College under Asiri Seneviratne notched up a 24-17 win with a flurry of fast and open Rugby giving many encouragements to their fans and hope for a chance of winning the League that year. However, all their dreams and the dreams of a Nation for a bountiful 2020 was dashed when the country went into a lock down a week later owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Kingswood College was to meet Royal College, a mouth-watering clash was predicted on that fateful weekend but it was not to be as all outdoor and sports activities were barred from that weekend onwards which lasted until early 2021. In spite of many attempts to commence Schools Rugby activities once again in 2021 and host a 15 a side tournament for Under 19 teams did not materialize. However, Schools Rugby Association managed to hosts a Provincial 07’s tournament towards the latter part of 2021, where Kingswood College featured under K.D.S. Ekanayake in the Central Province 07’s tournament and reached finals.
Previous season results:
2019 – Won the Plate Championship. Knock out Tournament (Quarter Finalist lost to St.Peter’s College). Ranked 08th in the Division A Tournament (after 1st round, out of 12 teams)
Played 11. Won 07. Lost 04
Beat Wesley College at Nittawela to retain the Blaze trophy 17-12
2018 – Ranked 05th in the Cup Championship. Semi Finalist in the Knock out Tournament (lost to St. Joseph’s College).
Played 11. Won 06. Lost 05
Beat Wesley College at Racecourse, Colombo to win the Blaze Trophy 31-13
Hence, with a lot to prove the boys from Randle hills will step into the upcoming season under the leadership of Gihan Randila Ranaweera a reliable Centre three quarter and under the guidance of head coach Budhdhika Thalagampola.
Speaking to Quadrangle the newly appointed captain of Kingswood Gihan mentioned, “We have an inexperienced team this year. But we are confident about the upcoming season as we have prepared well. Our primary goal is to win the league and end the season as the number one team.” And when asked about his personal goals with regards to the season he stated, “I have only played one season prior to this. I know a lot relies on me, and I’m motivated. I’m sure that I will be able to lead my team well while giving my best as a player.”
Regardless of this being the first season of Mr. Budhdhika Thalagampola at Kingswood he believes that he has managed to get to know a lot about the boys within a short span of time. Also, he is confident that the team is well prepared and the results of their preparation will show up once the season starts. Speaking to us Principal Mr. Upali Chandrakumara said “a lot of work has gone in training these boys, especially since they are coming after two years without Rugby. We are confident boys will do well to win their matches. Also, I take this opportunity to thank all those who supported and wish the Captain and his team all the best” he wanted the Kingswood fraternity to support them this year and bring glory to College.
Kingswood Will be specifically counting on their five experienced senior players this season. Namely, their fullback Imanka Ishara, number eight Inoon Ishan, fly-half Afthab Asmi, prop Eshara Bandara and finally their captain Gihan Randila Ranaweera at centre. If these players could bring out their best on a regular basis along with the rest of the youngsters they could certainly create trouble for any team, they could even go on to win the league.
This season will be a very important one for the founder school of rugby in Sri Lanka. Their future is mostly dependent on it as most of the players in the squad will go onto to play at least for a couple more seasons. And if they can end this season on a positive note the lost glory of Kingswood could be achieved again.
They do not need to look far, look to Blaze for inspiration!
Kingswood College Squad for the year 2022 is as below,
Eshara Dissanayake- Vice Captain (Prop), Devin Dissanayake (Prop), Tharindu Ishara (Prop), Zain Ibrahim (Prop), Manodya Bandara (Hooker), Mohamed Naveed (Hooker), Damindu Nadeeja (2nd Row), Ashen Chirantha (2nd Row), Dulaj Herath (2nd Row), Anudha Upek (2nd Row), Thisum Abeysooriya (2nd Row), Ishara Madubashana (2nd Row),Pramoth Fernando (Flanker), Sashith Amukotuwa (Flanker), Leshan Hettiarachchi (Flanker), Yeshan Perera (Flanker), Inon Ishan (No 08),
Deneth Dissanayake- (Scrum Half), Thaveesha Ekanayake (Scrum Half), Afthab Asmi (Fly half), Gihan Randula Ranaweera-Captain (Centre), Dineth Bandara (CentreMohamed Nifraz (Fly half), Ashen Rajika (Wing three), Chalana Lakshan (Wing three), Emil Thashen (Wing three), Rehan Silva (Wing three), Suneth Sithumina (Wing three), Imanka Ishara (Full back/Scrum Half), Kaushan Mohotti (Full Back)
Reserves (Back up players): Ashen Induwara, Avishka Hansaka, Osula Gunawardena, Surou Salim, Upek Thambowita
Mr. Buddika Thalagampola – Head Coach
Mr. Nadun Abeysooriya – Trainer
Mr. Roshan Weeraratne – Backs Coach
Mr. Kosala Devage – Master in Charge of Rugger
Watch the video: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBKqA4yoDi4[/embedyt]
Stay at Quadrangle as we will share all stories, trivia, previews and updates during this year’s Schools Rugby season. Coverage Sponsored by Eduko Pathways the Official Overseas Education Partner and NDB Bank.
#schoolsrugby #rugbyhistory #quadrangle #quadtrivia #NDB #Edukopathways