ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 40

A salute to a stalwart

By Vimal Perera

During the week end Rugby in Sri Lanka shifted to Radella. It is the first leg of the Singer Professional Sevens. The tournament which started yesterday will finish this evening. This competition started on the 3rd to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the Dimbulla club. Ten of the top rugby teams in the country will take part in this tournament. They are Kandy SC, CH and FC, CR and FC, Havelock’s SC, Army Sports Club, Galle RFC, Air Force SC Police SC, Old Zahirains SC and the host club Dimbulla.

Club rugby - Back on the road again

The recognition of a club that has been in the game for 150 years and taking the occasion to mark the revival of the game is good. It is not that the game is new to these areas but that is in the revival mode. They are expected to take part in the segment 2 of the Division A of the league tournament. Dimbulla Athletic and Cricket Club had outstanding success in rugby in the past.

DACC is a team that has gone through the life cycle. Having developed and reached maturity they have been on the decline in the recent past. Efforts are under way to reinvent the wheel and give the game a new life in the hills. Having been among the best clubs in the Up Country they participated in most sports. However it was rugby that the club was better known for. They hold the distinction of being the only upcountry club that has won the Clifford Trophy on two occasions.

The club which was founded by planters in 1856 produced a number of well known rugby personalities form then to now, one of them being Ken Murray who led them to win the league title in 1970. That was the last and most recent success. Other greats included Mike De Alwis, Roger d’ Silva, Tommy Kelaart, Mike Warring, Keith Paul Owen Mottau, Mohan Samarasinghe, Wilhelm Koch , Sunil Jayakody and Larry Schockman. The club continued to play the game and other well known persons that continued were Jayantha Jayawradena, Peter and Ralph Amerasinghe, Tuan Dole, Mohan Samarakoon. Clifford Elhart, Rohan Boudwyn and Sunil Herath. With the Nationalization of estates the club ceased to play rugby in the A division.

In 2006 the committee of the club started a determined effort to revive rugby. The decision to once again enter the A division arena was a bold one. Winning the bowl championship of the Caltex A division segment 2 was their reward. This as an achievement thirty six years after Ken Murray’s team of 1970. Under The Presidency of Harin De Costa the club hopes to polish and reestablish it self as another of the prestigious clubs in rugby. With Harin charting the journey of success will be Senaka Alawattegeama and Devaka Wickramasuriya who also happens to be the Rugby Chairman. We wish them the best and hope to hear more about them in the future.

Another event that was significant to be mentioned was the touch judge training program organized by the Sri Lanka Society of Rugby Football Referees,. This was conducted on the lines of the IRB approved touch judge course. The level 1, 2 and 3, workshop was conducted by Dilroy Fernando the IRB accredited trainer. What was most important was the enthusiasm shown by sixty two persons who participated. This is good news. These participants included referees who were repeating the course as well as referees who have attended training programs but has not had occasion to follow an accreditation process. The most striking was that there were many new faces to refereeing,. The Army Air Force and the Police were keen in sending some of the ex players. There were also participants from far away places such as Badulla and Anuradhapura.

The presence of a keen rugby spectator, Rishvin, from Mawanella shows the interest some have. A new trend in the learning cycle was set by St Peter’s College. Some of the senior players and those involved in the management of the game were participants. These school boys can officiate in games at the junior and mini rugby for inter-house and or inter-class tournaments. Hopefully the interest will continue and there will be more knowledge spread around. May be a junior referee squad can be set up in the future. Refereeing is also a path as it is for players. This does happen in other countries.

It is hoped that with the new trend more and more players from the clubs and other schools too will join. It is better to be an informed and to take the challenge. Even if you may not referee the knowledge w ill help to understand the game. As the game develops and spread to the outstations it is necessary that there has to be more to officiate. After all who ever it might be who controls the whistle is a referee and the game cannot go on without him.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.