What is so exciting about rugby is that it has never been out of the minds of the people who want to know “what’s happening”? The news is that the Referees and the Union has initiated a dialog and the issues that were bothering are being sorted out. That’s good and here we go again with for the good for the game and nothing is above the game. Cheers all around.
As the “Caltex” league gets off the blocks the tongues have begun to wag again. Why is Navy not playing is the topic of the day. A little of the expected excitement has got away from the game as the dark horse keeps away. That happened even before the knock could begin. We also heard of a disturbance at the Maitland Place club as the rumour was that the CH may not play. The story was one player wanted the pennies given to them. It seems the issue has been put behind at least for the moment. Overall it has not been a rosy road for most of the clubs as sponsors seem to have dried in what one calls the turbulent times of business.
The story of funds, players and clubs is a sort of chicken and egg situation. It is a merry-go-round if you like to call it that. The players need to be paid. To pay the clubs need sponsors. If players keep off and the clubs lose there won’t be sponsors. No sponsor means that there will be no money. When there is no money there will not be any payment. Thus the ball keeps rolling on with no solution unless and otherwise the reality is understood. This requires playing today and hoping for a better tomorrow. This looks simple though it is not. Already the last two years has seen Petersons, Old Zahirians and Jawatte Lions virtually relegated to history. It started with little funding and inability to retain players. The cricket scores against these clubs made it more difficult for them to find backers and continue.
The question is whether the same fate waits ahead for Havelocks Sports Club. This may not stop at this point and could possibly effect at least two other clubs in the game.
The effect this may have at National Level can be damaging. What is required now is to look at the buzz words in today’s corporate world: continuity planning. This may have to look at fresh approaches till the grass gets greener. Possibly the SLRFU will have to step in and help the needy while cutting down on spreading the game wide. But the Union too has a problem with the big boys who sit over world rugby not releasing funds. May be you will have a smaller competition thus maximizing the little while keeping the game more competitive.
Then again the new constitution as I understand has recognized the need for the registration of player contracts and possibly having in place a transfer fee system. Thus the nurseries can expect some relief when the player for whom they spend leaves. This may not be today or tomorrow but sooner than later. Yet till then these clubs need to survive or else there might not be any nurseries.
Again one might be hopeful as Doc Maiya Gunasekera says that the new constitution will be in place and the AGM held soon. The new constitution has been passed at a Special General Meeting and awaits clearance from the Attorney General as announced.
This means even if the AGM is not held there will be a new constitution. A move that would not have been possible if there was no interim body as Doctor Gunasekera says. Meanwhile we hear of two additions to the Interim Body -- the man who was in waiting for the Presidency Asanga Seneviratne and the genial DIG Upali Hewage.
The problem that keeps on adding like the daily episodes of a never ending tele-drama will at some time or the other have to see an end. Meanwhile the news from the hills was on the Royal under sixteen team winning the all Island Trophy.
The Schools under- twenty champions, Royal it seems has a line following which would give them hope for the next few years. As the old school keeps strengthening at the top: CWW Kannangara proves to be a proud product of development while Prince of Wales has produced a number eight for the National under- twenty side. Yet if the top rungs of clubs keep collapsing what hope can these proud products have to continue the game? Here we go round and round the mulberry bush. Back to school and to start all over again singing nursery rhymes wondering what way the oval ball will bounce.
Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB