The Bradby Fervour is on again. Come next Saturday 16th June 2012, two gallant teams of warriors from Royal and Trinity will battle it out on the field to capture the honours in the First of the two Legs. The two match series really began in 1943 when Royal was captained by Larry Foenander in the first game in Colombo and by the indefatigable Summa Navaratnam standing in as captain for the injured Larry in the return game, where Royal beat Trinity(05-03) for the first time in Kandy. Trinity was captained by W. Jenkins.
This year it will be the 68th year of the Bradby Shield, which was first awarded in 1945 by the departing Royal Principal Mr. E. L. Bradby, not only to keep the interest in the game between these two great Institutions alive but also “to show the future generations the rich heritage of Sri Lankan culture through the magnificent craftsmanship of the Kandyan silversmiths. “Whilst assisting in this worthy endeavour of preserving for posterity the deftness of the Kandyan craftsmen, the Bradby Shield has certainly generated an enthusiasm and a fervour amongst the votaries of either school that is hard to beat. Indeed, the Bon Homie amongst past players is enthralling. It is no secret that the Bradby has made us forge great and lasting friendships.
If the donor of the Shield was amongst us today he will be simply amazed at the type of activities that take place during Bradby time. Rendezvous` ”of past players as well as the various class groups. And Bradby this and Bradby that! There is even a Bradby Night in Brisbane scheduled for 30th June coinciding with the Bradby Return , jointly organised by the Royalists and Trinitians, with 1972 Trinity skipper Athula Unantenne playing one of the lead roles. Interestingly the notice reads that proceedings will begin from 6 P.M. till late! The very word Bradby comes easy on the tongues of everyone, interested in the Bradby (that word again!) There is also the annual Old Royalists’ Rugby Dinner (ORRD) which brings together past Royal rugby players from all over the world in one ‘Jolly Come-Together.’ This year the ORRD will be launching its own website: RoyalRugby Dinner Website designed, owned and administered by the ORRD Committee.
In keeping with yet another hallowed Bradby tradition the Chief Guest next Saturday will be Dr. Fred Perera, who proudly captained the Royal team in 1971. Fred P also coached Royal later and more recently was the Chairman of the Rugby Advisory and Management Committee at Royal. Fred comes from a rugby playing family. Two of his elder brothers, Rex and Lloyd, played for Royal with distinction in the second row. Rex was the vice captain to Maniks Jayakumar in 1963,whilst Lloyd played in the mid-sixties. Fred started as a second row forward in 1968 under Bulla de Silva and continued to play in the same position under Harin Malwatte (1969).He then shifted to Number 08 under Jagath Fernando(1970). He led the side in 1971 also playing at Number 08.
The 1971 Bradby was a game to remember. For one thing there were serious doubts as to whether the encounters will ever played at all. The country was recovering from the first JVP insurrection and there was, as expected, much disruption and uncertainty in the lives of the people. Yet, much to the relief of all enthusiasts it was agreed between the two schools that at least one match should be played. So it was that the only single-encounter Bradby since its inception was played in late July 1971. As it turned out Royal rampaged all over and became victorious by a massive score of 22 pts.(two goals, one try and three penalties) to 03 pts.(one try), under the old scoring system of 05 pts. per goal and 03 pts. per try. This was the highest score under this system as at that date. The previous best being a win by Royal 19-03 (1st Leg 1951), a win by Royal 19-00 (1st Leg 1968) and a win by Trinity 19-00 (1st Leg in 1970).Coincidentally all the games mentioned above including the 1971 game were played at Longden Place.
Having watched the 1971 Bradby virtually from the ring-side, one would recall how the Royal pack, ably led by their mobile number 08 and skipper, foraged all over to provide much-needed good ball for the three quarters to score. Indeed, Royal had a well-honed back division, too. There was a special ploy tried out for the first time where the centres were made to create ‘crash’ ball in the middle. For that purpose the two centres were played more for their strength and ability (than for their speed) to go crashing into their opposite numbers and create the opportunities in the centre for the pack to take over. The ploy worked as two of the three tries that were scored were as a result of this ploy. In that game a try was scored by that elusive Fly-Half, with a safe pair of hands, Ray de Silva, who ran through his opposite number from ten to fifteen metres away from the Trinity goal line to score and two tries were scored by the speedy flier E.L.C. Fernando. Full-back Sourjah converted two of the three tries and put over three penalties as well. Trinity’s 03 pts. came through a try scored by their skipper Y.S. Ping.
Although he was played as a winger, Wedanda was versatile enough to function as a standby scrum-half as well, if needed. Substitution was not permitted then.
Originally the Shield was not going to be awarded that year. However, one recalls with great respect, the fine gesture of the Trinity Principal, Mr. E.L. Fernando, in presenting the Shield, in true Bradby spirit, to the worthy winners at a General Assembly at Royal. The Shield was received amidst thunderous applause, not only in acknowledgement of the win but also for the wonderful gesture. Thus, history was made in the Bradby of 1971: the highest score under the old system of scoring; the only single-encounter in the Bradby series; and the only time the Shield was presented at an Assembly and not immediately after the game.
Five players from both teams who played in the Bradby of 1971 are sadly no more, viz:- G. Gunasekera, E.L.C. Fernando; B. Akbar and F. Sourjah of Royal and the Trinity skipper Y. Ping.
When Dr. Fred Perera walks out onto the field to do the honours next Saturday, his former team-mates all over the world will surely be watching the proceedings with a sense of pride that they were, indeed, an integral part of his team. There is one person who would have been equally proud, had he been there: their coach extraordinaire , Mahesa Rodrigo.
So see you on Saturday 16th June 2012 for yet another rousing game of Rugby Football played in the best Bradby Tradition! - ULK
Front-Row : Gamini Gunasekera, R. ‘Cargo’ Siriwardena, Ko Sin Chiang
Second-Row: Brumoon Akbar and Maiya Gunasekera
Third-Row : Janek Ratnatunga, Fred Perera and Jiffry Mackie
Scrum-half : Chulanie Weerasinghe
Fly-Half : Ray de Silva
Centres : Ajitha Pasqual and Thanula Wijewardena
Wingers : Dhammike Wedanda and E.L.C. Fernando
Full Back : F. Sourjah
Others in the Royal squad were:
Sinha Ratnatunga, V.M. Perera; Michael Muller, Gihan Sugathapala and Senaka Abeyratne