It is with a great degree of sadness Rugby Talk notes the passing away of Daya Jayasundera who adorned the fields of Sri Lanka. He was gentleman that ran the rugby fields of Sri Lanka. He left his mark and a footprint to remember. He contributed as a player, coach, referee, administrator, team manger and selector. He was loved and respected by many. The many achievements that can be written support this gentleman who contributed to the game. At a time when petty issues take precedence Daya is a giant in comparison. A strict disciplinarian on and off the field he was a good team player.
Anton Benedict Captained the police team that won the Clifford cup in 1973: Daya was a player. Anton described Daya as a man with a great endurance and his never say die attitude was a motivator to the others. He hardly missed practice and never missed a match. A gentleman on the field he defended the team and himself when the need arose. These were that element that personified his character that made him the gentleman of the game rugby.
Daya donned the Police jersey for ten years from 1968 to 1978. He played for Sri Lanka from 1970 to 1977. Having joined the police in 1968 Daya played under Sivendran in the team that saw Police being promoted to “A” division rugby. He was in the Police team that shared the Clifford Cup in 1970 and 1973 and was a member of the team led By Anton Benedict that won the Clifford Cup in 1972. Prior to joining the Police Daya played for Kandy Sports Club and played alongside YC Chang. He also played in the 1972 Asiad under the leadership of Chang.
He was also an “A” Division referee who had the opportunity to control the game in the international Arena. As a coach for seven years he guided the Police team to be champions for four years in a row. During this time Police also won the league, presidents’ trophy as well.
Daya also contributed as the Secretary of the SLRFU, Secretary of the referees Society, Council Member, Manager of the National Team and a National Selector. One may have expected him to have taken office as President of the SLRFU following his stint as the secretary. This is not what he pursued actively as the demands of office in the Police took a greater part of his time. Being unable to work in two fronts and not being able to give 100 percent was not in his character and therefore preferred that others should take the place.
Daya by nature has soft spoken though he was a strong willed on the field and was a source of strength to all those who were associated with him. As a spectator he enjoyed the game and it was a pleasure to be seated next to him. Despite the vast knowledge and experience it was not in him to shout and display behavior that was not what is expected from a sportsman.
Being second in a family of 7 sportsman brothers he was a boxer, cricketer, hockey player as well as a footballer. Continuing he played cricket for the Police in addition to being a standout in rugby. His character and commitment was an asset to the Police where he was awarded several decorations.Following the father his sons played for Royal and Rajitha went on to play for Sri Lanka as a school boy. As we stand to pay tribute to a great contributor to the game of rugby I would like to think that there is rugby up there and it is the call to be in the team.
At this time we can remember him and looking back, to the moments of his life. And to think of all the great things he did on the field .A time to reflect upon the proud moment’s accomplishments and achievements.
It is also a time to learn from what he did and to look forward and ask what have we learnt form a giant of the rugby past.
Death is not the end of it all but that you have simply passed to the next room. To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die. There will be many who will remember you and what you did. May a host of angels sing you to your sleep.
Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees EvaluatorIRB