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Kingswood has produced outstanding cricketers and rugby players

RUGBY: Kingswood College, Kandy is a school which offers primary and secondary education. It was started on Pavilion Street in Kandy, with 11 students. Later the school was moved to "Randles Hills" on the Peradeniya Road. Since then, the school has grown up to 3,500 students with 200 teachers.

The school was founded by an old Trinitian L.E. Blaze on May 4, 1891. It is one of the oldest schools in Kandy which started as "The Boys High School " later became Kingswood College, well-known for both academic and athletic achievements.

At this time, almost all of the schools in the island had been categorized as state aided government schools, and missionary schools. In the beginning, grants from the government were available until the school showed signs of having established itself with a solid core of good teachers and a good and expanding complement of students.

The first few years of the school's existence was a real struggle for Blaze. The income from the fees barely sufficed to cover the cost of running the school. As institutions run by individuals did not qualify for government assistance, Blaze had no option but hand over the struggling institution and in 1894 the management of the school was handed over to the Methodist Mission to continue till 1961, the year during which the school was taken over by the State under the aegis of the mission.

Blaze left an indelible stamp over the school. From the outset, he modelled the school on the English Public School. It is not without significance that a house system was introduced to the school in 1922 and the names selected were those of some of the main public schools in England -Eton, Harrow, Winchester and Rugby.

He built up a cadre on the strength of his reputation as an educationist. He coined the term "Gentlemen of Kingswood" to describe the body of students of his school and in all his years as principal of the school (from 1891 until 1923) he endeavored to give meaning and substance to that often repeated phrase "Gentlemen of Kingswood". He chose a motto for the school in Latin 'Fide et Virtue' as was customary at the time. He then chose the distinctive school colors, maroon and dark blue, and he wrote the words of the school song.

School shifted

The shift to the new site and the new buildings that came up were made possible by a generous gift of money from a British industrialist _ Sir John Scurrah Randles. The complex of buildings that came up consisted of class rooms, an administrative building, a large hostel and some staff quarters.

The school's new location and railway halt just opposite it were named Randles Hill to honour Kingswood's main benefactor of modern times. The new buildings were opened in 1925 under Blaze's successor Rev. E. Pearson who ran the school for 4 years. He was succeeded by Messrs O. L. Gibbon (1929 to 1937) and F. A. J. Utting (1937-1942). They consolidated the work that Blaze had begun, and during their administration, the school developed into one of the leading Methodist schools in the country. Although Kingswood was a Methodist missionary school, the student body contained Buddhist, Christians, Hindu, Malays and Muslims. There grounds at their school premises is known as Randle Hills.

The 1940s was a crucial period in the development of the school. Wartime conditions put an end to the practice of sending Englishmen as principals of the school and in 1942 P.H. Nonis became the first Sri Lankan to head the school. He held the post for 15 years. The school had to share its premises with S.Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia during war, when the latter had to vacate its ample premises, and had to relocate in Kandy. P.N. Nonis presided the transition from an independent school to a school in the national school system, although not yet a state school.

The autonomy of the school was not disturbed, and the control of the education department bureaucracy were neither very vigorous nor rigid. Thus the change in status was a very subtle one and the school was able to maintain both its independence and its traditions almost undisturbed.

After the retirement of Nonis, B. A. Thambipillai took over as principal and he was succeeded by Kenneth M. de Lanerolle (1958 - 1967). His was a much more difficult task than that of his predecessors, for in 1960 - 1961 the school became a state school. The link with the Methodist Mission which had lasted for seven decades was broken at last. During this period, the school built up a high reputation in various sports.

Kingswood always held a reputation for hockey and during P.H. Nonis' period that reputation was enhanced. He himself was a well-known school cricketer in his day.

Frederick White_ top goalie

He built up a good cricket team. If one single individual personified the schools' achievements in sports during this era, it would undoubtedly be Frederick A. White _ a top hockey goal keeper and was rated as the best in Asia, younger brother of the famous Trinitian Duncan White.

Once the State took over the school, the number of students kept increasing as in other State run schools in the country. Although the State financed the salaries and wages of the teachers and the support staff, it became more difficult to maintain sports and other extra curricular activities and to manage facilities to the same old degree. Nor was it easy as in the past, to finance the construction of new buildings. Nevertheless new buildings came up, thanks to the initiative of Kenneth M de Lanerolle and his persistent search for funds from parents, old boys and well-wishers.

Nine principals in 20 years

In the 20 years or more since Lanerolle's retirement in 1967 there had been nine principals. The present one _ N. Ratnayake took over in 1998 after Abeyratne. M.E.S. Liyanage who was principal from 1977 to 1984 was the first old boy to become the principal of the school. Out of these, the period of Nihal Herath and R.B. Rambukwella were of much importance. Nihal Herath brought changes to the college bringing about progress in discipline, standard of education and sports. He also made preparations for the centenary year that was in 1991.

Rugby _ the biggest sporting event

In 1891 L.E. Blaze, the founder of school entered history by introducing rugby to the school.

The first matches were played on 27th November and 8th of December 1891 between the students and the staff.

The first inter-school rugger match was between Kingswood College and Trinity College. This first ever match took place on 11th of August at the Bogambara grounds and it resulted in an exciting 6-6- 'tie'. However, Kingswoodains gave up the game after a few years of the kick-off. The game was introduced once again. In 1965 rugby was re-introduced by one of their greatest teachers_Winston Hoole who was the POG at that time.

In 1985, the famous Kingswoodian Roy de Silva who was better known in the field of hockey and who hit the top of sports arena, becoming the NOC Chairman, Sri Lanka Hockey Federation President, Asian Hockey Federation Vice President, Asian Olympic Council Vice President. He presented a trophy in memory of L.E. Blaze for the match between Kingswood and Wesley, now this match is a regular fixture.

Since 1980, Kingswood has been doing well in rugby and won the Tyrell Muttiah trophy in the same year and emerged the Schools 'B' division champions. That was the start of their uplift and the man who guided them was non other than Z.M. Zarook, the famous schools coach of that era. Then in 1981, Kingswood were promoted to the 'A' division and ended up fourth in the Gratien Cup competition. In 1987, they had an excellent season, winning nine out of ten matches and also entered the R. Premadasa Knock-out tournament by beating Science College in the quarter-finals. In the semis they went down to Trinity College by 11 points to 6 after leading 5-3 at lemons.

In 1986, too they had a successful season winning nine out of 14 matches and drawing one game. That year, they beat S.Thomas' and Thurstan in the qualifying round for the R. Premadasa Trophy tournament and went down to Isipathana in the quarter-finals of the tournament. In 1988, they played eleven matches and won nine of them, losing only to St.Anthony's and Wesley. They amassed 301 points and conceded only 52 points to their opponents.

However, their finest moment on the rugby field at that time was when they clinched the Philip Bultjens Trophy by emerging champion of the schools seven- a-side rugby tournament. In the five games played in that tournament, they amassed 112 points and gave away only 4 points to their opponents. They beat St. Anthony's 22-0, Lumbini 38-0, Maliyadeva 24-0, Isipathana 10-4 on their way to the final.

In the final, they overcame the powerful Thomians by 8 points to nil. Their 'B' side brought more honour to the school by clinching the Bowls Trophy, where they defeated Science College, Zahira, St. Benedict's on their way to the finals and beat Wesley in the final.

Out of all the best years in their rugby for the Randle Hills boys, was the year they remained unbeaten in 1988 in seven matches. In the opening game beat Science College at Bogambara. In the second game, they beat the Kotahena School, St.Benedict's by 14 points (a goal and two tries) to 4 at Kotahena. The third game too as played in Colombo against Thurstan which they won by 13 points to 8. Fourth game again in Colombo that was against the Anandians which they won. Then came the second game in Kandy against D.S. Senananayake College which they won by a comfortable margin of 46 points to 3. Then came the traditional game against Wesley for the L.E. Blaze Trophy that they won.

Kingswood win President's Trophy

In the recent past, Kingswood has been at the top and in the year 2000, won the President's Trophy for the first time under the captaincy of Chamara Vithanage. Then in 2003, 2004 and 2005 won the President's Trophy. That year, seven of their players were picked to play for the Sri Lanka Youth Team that was in 2005.

If I am correct, in 2003 they won the Golden Key Rugby 7s and in 2004 Singer 7s, and were placed second in the sevens for many years. When one talks about Kingswood rugby, they are indebted to many people who helped them to come up to this standard.

To name a few, Nihal Herath, R.B. Rambukwella, the present principal Ranjith Chandrasekara the most inspiring head of the school with great dedication and enthusiasm worked for the team. Apparently he is the President of the Sri Lanka Schools Association in Sri Lanka. Some of the old boys who supported rugby are Rohan de Silva, Gamini Suwaris, Asoka de Alwis, Late K.D.N. Premaratne, S.M.S. Samarakoon, Ranjan Gunawardene, Ajith Gunawardene, Ruparatne Wijetunge, Lalith Gangewatha, Niana Dehigama, Kamal Dole, to name a few.

Few days back I met an old KIngswoodian at the Kandy Club, who has come from England on a holiday here. Senanayake Bandara Galagedera a close friend of Kingswoodian Lesley Dharmaratne who started the Upali News papers along with late Upali Wijewardene.

Top players

There are some ruggerites who have brought honour and fame to the school. They are Owen Mottau who was one of the finest fullbacks Sri Lanka had at that time. He played from Dimbulla ACC for several years and for the country, then Iqbal Jumar played for CR & FC and both of them earned a name in rugby, but never played for the school.

Later players in the calibre of Rohan de Silva, Lalith Wijeratne, Tissa Wijeratne, Jerome Gray, Mahinda Serasinghe, Parakrama Samaraweera, Kenneth de Silva, Dunstan de Silva, Roy Kamil Amith, Palitha Wijasekara, Ananda Kasthuriarchchi, Jeewa Galagamuwa, Senaka Bandara, Amjad Buksh, Chamara Vithanage, it is said he was the best captain.

The Ibrahim family gave big support for Kingswood rugby, the first was Raja_ played for Kandy SC, Roy first played club rugger for Kandy SC and later for Air Force SC now he is in Australia. Ronnie played for Kandy and today he is one of top coaches. He first coached KIngswood and helped them to win many tournaments and later crossed over to S.Thomas' and at present is Navy SC coach. His son Eza plays for S.Thomas under 18 as fly-half.

Ronnie played for Kandy SC and CR & FC and also played in the Junior Asiad, now he is no more, Rizvi played for the school. Nilufer played for Kandy SC, Sri Lanka and now is a good coach. He coached Dhamraraja, Kingswood and now coaches Trinity. All these Ibrahim boys did well.

The present Kingswood coach is Nalaka Weerakkodi one of the best place kickers. He first played for Kandy Youth SC and later for CR & FC, Kandy SC and Sri Lanka.

Kingswood team

This year Kingswood has a well balanced side and in the opening game beat Thurstan College by 69 points to 9, then in the second game beat their cricket rivals Dhamaraja College to take the William Weerasinghe Trophy by 19 points to 5 and in the third game played last Monday against Trinity, lost by 41 points to nil.

This year the 'props' are Chamila Abeygunaratne, Rukshan Fernando and the stand-by is Kasun Herath. Neville Jayasinghe is the 'hooker', and he is a fine loose player too. Udara Kasturiarachchi, Supun Vithanage are the 'lock forwards'. Kingswood's third-row is full of talent_Chanaka Piyasena and Yurin Ariyaratne are two flankers with skipper Janath Dharmawardene as the No. 8 and Heshan Silva is the other third row forward. Adil Borhan is the linkman. He is a clever player in this position.

He will pair off with Duminda Bandara. K. Oshan and Lavanka Perera are the two centers with Chaminda Udayanga and Mohamed Nazir wingers. The last line of defence is manned by Tilina Weerasinghe.

Balance matches are against Royal, Wesley (Blaze Trophy), St. Joseph's, St. Anthony's, Isipathana, Science, St. Peter's-all tournament matches.

 

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