Kandy’s Mr. Rugby - the man behind its success | Sunday Observer

Kandy’s Mr. Rugby - the man behind its success

Sans Malik Kandy rugby will be like a carnival without lights Kandy Sports Club will take a gigantic step forward when they seal a 19th win in the league Championship, by doing well in the second round. They are the defending champions and defeated all the teams in the first round. So, they are expected to continue to dominate Rugby, thanks to the efforts of former Royalist ‘Mr. Rugby’ Malik Samarawickrema.

Malik’s name is a house hold name in the game of rugby. He played for Royal College as a scrum half from 1966 to 1968. After leaving school he joined the CR & FC and played for them as a scrum half and was in a class of his own. He also played for the Low Country in the Caper Cup game against Up-Country and also was a member of the Sri Lanka President’s XV. He hung up his boots in 1977 and became a great promoter of the sport, and today in the field of rugby he is the undisputed king.

It was Samarawickrema who brought Kandy Sports Club to its present standard through his knowledge and experience. Kandy SC would not have reached its present position in the field of rugby, if he had not helped from the side lines to win the league 20 times since 1994 and the Clifford Cup 15 times in16 attempts since 1992 and also the sevens from the year 1999 to date.

All the good work by Kandy SC has been due to Malik’s solid backing. As a good disciplinarian and a man who knows the game well having given his best for rugby at school, club, province and national levels. As in the past, he will be standing by his favorite Kandy SC team in ensuring another wonderful season. He joined the Nittawela Club in the early 1990s, and from the day he joined the scrum of Kandy SC has gone from strength to strength both in rugby field and administration.

It was he who advised and helped the officials to maintain the grounds, and today it is probably the best rugby ground in the country. He was instrumental in adding the tiers right round the grounds, and the modern pavilion was built by Malik and he named it after his good friend, the late Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa. When he joined Kandy Sports Club, the club with a long history of the game, had not won a single championship, though they entered the cup finals consecutively for two years in 1954, 1955 and later in 1969 when the tournament was only five years old. Kandy SC lost to CR & FC twice and year, in 1955 to CR & FC. In 1978 in lost to CR & FC and in the Cup final lost to Havelock SC.

Malik was the founder of the Singer/SriLankan Airlines International Sevens. He helped the organizers to conduct the tournament for 10 long years, His contribution to sevens rugby is invaluable.

This great rugby promoter can be called as the ‘God father’ of Kandy SC. This international sevens tournament, which was brought into celebrate 125 years of Kandy Sports Club in 1999, was one of the most successful international tournaments to be organized in Sri Lanka. The tournament was recognized, because it is essential if rugby is to develop and expand, and also it introduced new teams and players which is vital to maintain high standards of play.

With these twin objectives in mind, the founder of the tournament Malik and the Kandy Sports Club committee set up all possible means to develop this competition. His sevens went from strength to strength and as a promoter he has helped many players to hit the top in the sport. Due to his great contribution, the Nittawela Club has maintained very high standards since 1992.

Malik says “it is difficult to reach the top, also it is more difficult to stay on top but Kandy SC is the only club out of Colombo, that has stayed at the top for a decade”.

Malik was one time the SLRFU as Treasurer, Vice President, President and also one time Sri Lanka team manager. When the history of rugby is recorded at Nittawela the controlling body, the name of Malik Samarawickrema will stand out as a shining example and as one of the greatest administrators of this sport. He now becomes the first trustee of a club which has won the League, Clifford Cup and the Sevens more than any other club.