rekindles old art of winning
By Bernie Wijesekera
Havelocks SC one of the oldest rugby playing clubs in the local
scene had produced some outstanding players at the national level
for the country. Despite their tradition for the oval ball sport,
the game failed to make much headway for reason best known to them.
The Park Club has not won a major trophy since 1984 when they bagged
the Clifford Cup under Sallay. In 1992 they lost to CH & FC
the Premadasa trophy final 31-17. They have made vast strides with
their re-development projects - with better facilities - including
a covered stand for the fans and the membership to watch in comfort.
players and even expatriates taking the scrum, still failed to make
the desired effect. But the game took a turn last season in the
tournaments organised by the Rugby Union. The Rugby committee was
headed by President (former Sri Lanka star) Michael Jayasekera.
There was a complete overhaul in the system, with a vision for the
Ana Saranapala was entrusted with the coaching for the year 2003.
He meant business, with the other members of the rugby committee
- Peter Jayawardena - a man for all seasons and burly Chaminda Rupasinghe
the trio mapped out a plan and worked in unison for Havies to climb
the slippery rugby ladder. After their cliff-hanger win over CR
& FC 23-21 in the Premier Trophy final which turned out to be
a bone jarring contest. The Havies were leading 23-6. But when the
going gets tough even the tough run away. But CR came back to make
it 23-21 with three fantastic tries in eight minutes to make it
a heart-throbbing contest.
'Ana' was interviewed
by The Sunday Times. As a player, he captained Isipatana at fly-half
and later the Havies. He was also a first class referee and a former
national coach as well. He was hauled in when the chips were down.
Did you coach them earlier? Yes. In 1992- '94. Rugby is my first
love. Havies is my club where I have learnt much on and off the
field. The general committee gave me all support. Then nothing is
What was your
formula? The players had to adhere to a code of ethics.
There were no seniors and juniors. All have to abide by it. Discipline,
devotion, dedication and self-belief in themselves. No excuses.
In the end the Park Club showed consistency. The team under S. Hassan
proved their mettle even to silence arm-chair critics.
What have you
got to say about the two foreign players (Tongans) - Waka and Taka?
The duo were part and parcel of the team. They had the flair to
run, but the entire team kept the ball in motion. No selfish play
or individual brilliance. The success of the team is what matters
in the end. In life every man has twin obligations to his family,
to his parents, to his wife and children. They have left them behind.
These Tongans have come here to enjoy a better tomorrow, whilst
playing for the Park Club. They displayed their skills by example.
Its good for Sri Lanka and club rugby, he said, if more teams play
competitive rugby for all to enjoy, more crowds will be there to
support the sport.
(Oct. 7) both were felicitated and left for their homes in Tonga.
They have promised to come back again. Are there young future prospects?
Yes. They are prepared to learn. The club has nursed and nurtured
them at grassroots level. But some of them have deserted the club.
But still the club has survived . Among the wave of talented players
Trinity's Saliya Kumara, the fullback, a fine place-kicker too.
Thomian fly-half Wasim Thajudeen, Sadith Alwis and Hettiarachi.
Imagine in the Premier trophy, sponsored by the Ministry of Sports
- Havelock Town made a clean sweep. Besides Havies winning the 'plum'
-Isipatana won the under -13, 15 and 19 finals.
about other schools? Wesley college have made a tremendous impact
during the last schools season. They beat Royal for the first time.
Its good for the future development of rugby. Wesley may have not
won trophies but they have won the hearts of rugby fans, Ana said.
Are you going to coach the team next season too? No, due to personal
reasons. Let others continue the good work.