The St. Joseph’s rugby team who are back in the top group of the Under-20 schools league rugby tournament for the year 2011 has shown great promise for the future. The recent results of the three matches they played indicate their goals towards a prospectively successful rugby journey.
They lost to Royal 38-31 in their opening encounter of the season but gave their opponents an unforgettable challenge even without five of their regular players. They followed the great show with a stiff 28-24 win against Science and bounced back to draw 13-all against Wesley, a team that has been in the top group for two consecutive seasons.
The Josephians have shown the world that they are great fighters but according to the coaching duo Bilal Yusuf and Sunanda Fernando the energetic team needs make winning a habit if they are to prosper further.
“When compared to other top-notched school rugby teams, St. Joseph’s has talented players who could play well above expectations. There is no doubt about the aspects of talent and potential but the attitudes of the players needs to be adjusted.
The players think that they are not forming a strong outfit but indeed they do. At the moment we are working seriously on this issue and once they start winning games and make it a routine, there is potential that St. Joseph’s could become one of the most dangerous sides to play against,” Yusuf said.
Grit has been one of the greatest assets of St. Joseph’s rugby during the recent years. They proved it by beating the mighty Trinity team in a close 27-24 two seasons back to record a famous win in their 60-year-old history of rugby. In the same year they grounded the Eagles, St. Anthony’s Katugastota, by 27-15 which confirmed the fact that St. Joseph’s is a side to be reckoned with. Even after their relegation to the Group ‘B’ in 2009, the Josephians regrouped with great determination to earn a promotion to the top group this year. Fernando who has been instrumental in brushing up the talents of the Josephians said the whole team is well committed.
“Individual performances are galore in the side. So it would not justify if we state names, instead the whole team perform with high spirit at any given situation. The skipper, Malintha Zoysa, is a talented player with good skills and any team would love to have a player like him. But all the players are good decision makers. Most of the time they don’t have to be guided. They know how to execute the game plans we provide and what exactly to do on the field. It’s a great boon for us coaches to have gutsy players who contribute immensely for the side,” Fernando said.
St. Joseph’s has ten strong seniors with ample talent to lead from the front. According to the coaches St. Joseph’s have adopted the style of playing more towards their strengths rather than focusing pointlessly on the opponents.
“We do have game plans but we will keep on playing with the fullest potential and exploit on the opponents’ weaknesses. The boys displayed that ability in the games against Royal and Wesley,” Yusuf added.
In addition having two young ‘think tanks’ as coaches who work with good coordination also helps the team achieve greater heights. The joint head coaches Yusuf and Fernando explained their goals for the rest of the season.
“Sunanda (Fernando) and I think similarly even at practices or planning a game. It’s a comfort to have another good brain alongside you and it also helps the team’s future goals. At present we have been given a goal by the school authorities, which is to safeguard our existence in the top group. The aim should be to come among the top six teams of the group. The players have set a goal for themselves which is a step higher. After three games the boys are getting better and better and as we go on playing we could really learn more with the exposure. Though our target seems to be simple we would be disappointed to see St. Joseph’s among the top six as we think the team can do and deserve better than that,” the coaches stated.
St. Joseph's squad:
Props: Yohan Keyser, Dushan Dep, Nuwan Wanniarachchi; Hooker: Darren Hakel; Locks: Praveen Nivantha, Malshan Salgado, Sachinthra Udumalagala; Flankers: Chirath Peiris, Darren Dharmadasa, Sashin Sudaraka; No.8: Malintha Zoysa (Captain); Scrumhalf: Piyum Jayasinghe, Kasun Sameera; Flyhalf: Godfrey White; Centres: Chamod Umeshanka, Kaveesha Mihiranga, Shehan Bopearachchi; Wingers: Dhanushka Jayasekera, Vishmithra Peiris, Steve Joseph; Full back: Dilip Rehan. - NA