Chang who lifted rugby to greater heights | Sunday Observer

Chang who lifted rugby to greater heights

Y.C. Chang
Y.C. Chang

Y. C. Chang’s contribution to rugby is immense. YC was one of the finest rugby players to emerge from Kandy. He started his education at Carey College and later crossed over to Trinity College, where he excelled in both rugby and studies. His ambition was to take up medicine after his school career, but had to end up only with rugby.

Speaking of the present day rugby Chang said that “the game has improved very much in recent times”.

Chang at Trinity first excelled at junior level rugby, but it was at Havelock SC that he first played premier rugby. YC as he was fondly known later crossed over to the hills to take up planting and joined Kandy Sports Club, in 1964, and got a chance to polish his rugby playing with English planters, and was the first choice to the front row of the national side. He played for the country from 1964 to 1971, while representing Kandy SC, but sad to say he never got the opportunity of leading the country till he went back to Colombo.

Leaving the planting and Kandy SC joined CH & FC in 1972, and the year he got the break to lead the country at the Hong Kong Asiad. He was tipped to lead the country at the first ever Asiad in Sri Lanka in 1974, but was deprived of it because as the captain of CH & FC he led the team out of the field before the final whistle, disobeying the referee. YC was one of the country’s finest ruggerites who later became a coach, referee and an administrator. It was under his presidency that clubs got sponsorships, and also he is the man who took the Clifford Cup knocks to Kandy, and promoted the game in Kandy.

YC perhaps devoted more time to the game of rugby than what he got back. As a player he strived to achieve the highest level through sheer hard work and dedication, before hanging up his boots in 1974. He had all the power to continue the game for another few years, but he was treated badly at that time. He never played senior rugby for his school, but it was due to his dedication that he came up in the sport.

A top class player during his playing days he weighed 165 pounds and was a fearless forward. He was one man who led from the front — rugby lovers flocked to see him when he played for Kandy SC. YC’s biggest rival at that time was CH & FC’s Maurice Marrinon - both rugged players, sometimes they put the rules aside and went man to man.

YC represented the All Ceylon Barbarians at the age of 18, and played for the Park Club from 1961 to 1963. He was a member of the Clifford Cup winning team, which they beat Dickoya MCC in the final, with a penalty coming in the last second of the game, where Kandy’s Ken de Joodt goaled it for Havelock’ SC led by Hubert Aloyisus.

Returning to Kandy, he gave his fullest backing, and started his career at Nittawela form 1964 and went on till 1972. He led the side in 1967 and continued in the following year 1968 too. He was one of the live wires of the 1969 Denzil Kobbekaduwa’s Cup final team. At that time Denzil was a Lieutenant and was on compulsory leave and played for his home town club. In 1970 when Denzil was called back to the Army, YC led the side half way in 1970

He represented the country in all the All Indian tournaments from 1963 to 1969. He was the member of the first ever team which took part in the Rugby Asiad in 1970. That year Sri Lanka (Ceylon), entered the semifinals.

Chan was a member of the Sri Lanka team that played Blachheath from England in 1970, Bosuns 1969, Emus of Australia in 1972 and Paris University 1971. He played for Havelock SC, Kandy SC Up-Country, CH & FC, Low Country and Sri Lanka, and led all the teams except Havelock SC.

As a president of Rugby he gave his best along with top rugby promoters in the committee. Under his leadership the R. Premadasa Trophy club and school knockout tournaments were introduced.

As the President of SLRFU, he implemented a familiarization and training scheme for the national pool, and helped teams to tour more countries. It was under him that the first Sri Lanka under 20 team played in the 5th Pan Pacific Championship in Taiwan and under 15 team took part in the inter Collegiate tournament in the same country. There was another tour to Wales and South East Asia. Coaches and referees got a break in the Cathay Pacific Sevens in Hong Kong. A keen follower of the game, much can be expected from him to boost the game.