SCHOOL RUGBY SEASON WAS VERY COMPETITIVE THIS YEAR | Sunday Observer

SCHOOL RUGBY SEASON WAS VERY COMPETITIVE THIS YEAR

This year’s school rugby season was closely followed by many rugby fans due to the fact that the competition was very close and very competitive. Some of the teams although they could not reach the top they were good as the ultimate winners.

For example, Dharmaraja and St. Anthony’s Kandy had very balance teams. But, it is rather unfortunate that they could not reach the top due to the competition was so intensive and there were no chance for any team to miss out on basics and to achieve positive results.

Better team work with proper guidance, some of the schools would have done better. Even Wesley College fared well, but when you are competing in a tournament you have to keep winning, “winning is not everything, but winning is the only thing”.

It was very interesting to see different teams winning the three major competitions, unlike in the past where Isipathana College used to dominate most tournaments.

Isipathana had a balance side but, at crucial times their defence was exposed and during the season they were unable to rectify these shortcomings, as a result of this they were eliminated.

It is really interesting to see St Joseph’s, St. Thomas’s and Royal winning the three major tournaments.

It is a good sign for the future of school rugby and if proper structural changes and plan is implemented they are not too far from becoming the Asia’s Junior Champions.

Some of the coaches have done extremely well to produce results with the available material without getting any imports.

Royal College started the season with a mediocre team. They had even to bring some of the three quarters to the pack, as they did not have the required material as forwards and they were extremely fit and committed team that really did well during the last quarter of most of games.

Credit should go to the coaches Martis and Dushanth Lewke as their basics and the fitness levels gave them the advantage over the other teams at crucial times. Experience Coach Laga, he is an expert on developing basic skills of the players as it was proved in the 7th tournament where they displayed the excellent ability of ball handling, ball retention, recycling and winning at the restart.

That was a clear advantage they had over Isipathana in the finals, although they were handicapped with playing one less in the last few minutes.

St Joseph’s have come a long way and Coach Nilufa Ebrahim should be commended for guiding the team to enter the history books of school rugby and Josephian rugby history. They definitely had some really outstanding individuals which contributed to the success story of this champion Josephian team.

Today club rugby is not that popular unlike in the 70s. but, due to the close competition school tournaments have become very popular. But I would like to give an advice to the school’s Association not to take these games away from the public, as today we live in a very competitive world where time is very precious. I totally disagree for taking the school matches to Sugathadasa Stadium, as all of us are aware it is away from the rugby loving public. School’s Association should make sure that they give teams and spectators the opportunity to get the maximum out of these games and no point of playing any game without spectators.

All in all it was a good school season, and this year Bradby Shield encounter became more important, as it was the league decider where Royal was the deserving champions.

I would like to comment on the referees. There should be uniformity as far as the law implementations are concerned especially school games, basic finer points, high tackles and playing from off side position will have to be closely monitored and laws have to be implemented without any reservation and referees should earn the respect of players and spectators. Because they have a huge role to play as far as the development of rugby is concerned.

Finally, I congratulate Royal College, St. Joseph’s, S. Thomas’s and all the other teams who made this school season very interesting year and hope Isipathana will bounce back and teams like St. Peter’s, Wesley, Dharmaraja and St. Anthony’s were not too far behind but with little bit of planning, determination and will to win, will take them to the winning post.

The writer is Formerly – President Asian Rugby Football Union, Sri Lanka National Rugby Coach 

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