ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 38

Rugby pow wow --- good for the game

Vimal Perera

As England struck a winning note once again one could not fail to notice that it was the boot of Wilkinson that proved to be the trump for England. Would you say it was the boot or was it the magic that made him contribute with 15 points as England beat Italy 20 points to 7. Until Jason Robinson's try just before half-time, all England had to show for their early pressure was three Johnny Wilkinson penalties. The win though taking them back to the path of victory is considered to be unconvincing. England’s Coach Ashton believes that they had the balance of the game wrong from the start and takes the blame for it. He blames himself and not anybody else.

While the six nations take a break and the matches are due to re-start on Saturday the 24th. These will go on till Saturday the 17th of March. The debate that has recommenced in the meantime is club vs. country as England gets ready to meet Ireland. With players having to be released for premiership games on Sunday 18th there will be hardly any time for them to be available to get ready for national duty. This will also follow as the country needs players to be released for training for the World Cup

This is not a strange debate and one can see parallels in our country too. If rugby wishes to keep growing its overall market, in the context of an ever increasing choice of sports and leisure activities to watch and play, a successful national team must be the first priority. This is a valid argument that is brought forward to support the country first principle.

Everyone is happy when the national team is winning, and the clubs feel the knock-on benefits through bigger gates. Yet it has to be understood that the game cannot stand in isolation. The argument must take into consideration that top players do not exist in a vacuum, suddenly sprouting fully formed to play in the national side. Clubs are vitally important to rugby as a sport to provide the input for the national team. Remembering that the fans that turn out to support their clubs provide the bedrock of support for the national team is also important. Just as much as providing national players are essential, there has to be a great degree of mutual understanding on many matters between the governing body and the constituent clubs.

When one considers that difference of opinion exists in the bigger rugby playing countries what is needed is to learn from their experience. The channels of communication and the understanding of one another will always help to solve issues. The meeting that was held on Thursday the 15th between the SLRFU hierarchy and the top management of the clubs is a step in the right direction. The opportunity gave the club administrator’s time to discuss with the governing body the issues that concern them in running this year’s rugby calendar. This gave a chance for an exchange of ideas for the mutual benefit of the both parties. That is the governing body and the clubs. What has been discussed among the representatives of the clubs with the tournament committee was the subject of discussion. This time it was between the big men of both parties. The discussion led by the President of the SLRFU Nimal Lewke paved the way to what appears to be a win-win situation.

Issued being discussed and settled and or identified for negotiated settlement the way ahead is for the 2007 Rugby season due to commence with the “Radella Sevens” to be played on the 3rd and 4th of March. Last year the “Sevens” was played in Nuwara Eliya while this year it will be in Radella. That too in the year they celebrate 150 years of the club’s existence. This is followed by the league 1st round which will be from 18th May to 1st July. It is expected that the President’s Trophy will be played once again in addition to the Caltex knockout tournament.

There is also news that the Rugby ASIAD which was postponed will now be held in November 2007. Sri Lanka is also to take part in other International events. These include the Hong Kong Sevens which is to begin on the 30th of March the IRB qualifiers and the Singer Sri Lanka Sevens to be played on 7th 8th and 9th of September. The IRB qualifiers with Arabian Gulf will be in April or May and will be in Colombo. They will also have to play Kazakhstan on 26th May in Kazakhstan. There is a full calendar of rugby for 2007 and yours will be the choice to b e their support and enjoy the game you love.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.