Schools rugby tries anti-violence formula | Sunday Observer

Schools rugby tries anti-violence formula

The eight school rugby captains: From left- Javad Zarook (St. Peter’s College), Avishka Shiek (Trinity College), Shameesha Vihiranga (St. Joseph’s College), Kavinda Amarakoon (St. Anthony’s College), Dinesh Dawlagoda (Maliyadeva College), Tharindu Walgampola (Kingswood College), Manelka Ruberu (Isipathana College) and Dayan Sabar (Wesley College) plead for sanity under a persuasive banner (Picture by Samantha Weerasiri)
The eight school rugby captains: From left- Javad Zarook (St. Peter’s College), Avishka Shiek (Trinity College), Shameesha Vihiranga (St. Joseph’s College), Kavinda Amarakoon (St. Anthony’s College), Dinesh Dawlagoda (Maliyadeva College), Tharindu Walgampola (Kingswood College), Manelka Ruberu (Isipathana College) and Dayan Sabar (Wesley College) plead for sanity under a persuasive banner (Picture by Samantha Weerasiri)

Organisers of the 27-year old Milo inter-school knock-out rugby tournament launched a new initiative which they hope will create a conducive climate for the smooth conducting of games at a time when even police security had failed to deter after-match violence.

While the players will face it off on the field, spectators will be given banners and placards that will plead for discipline and non-violence in a bid to stamp out some of the most alarming breaches of security lapses during the concluded League championship which culminated in an attack on St. Peter’s College coach Sanath Martis last week.

The new formula was kicked off two days before the tournament got underway on Saturday as the captains of the eight schools in the fray hoisted slogans that called on their followers to respect the game and accept the outcome of matches.

“You (players) promote the spirit of the game”, said Bandula Egodage a sports promoting fanatic who functions as the assistant vice president of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Milo who have been sponsoring an almost trouble-free tournament for the past 26 years.

Standing behind a banner that read ‘Respect the Game We Love’, the eight captains expressed a desire to play it hard and fair.

Among them was Manelka Ruberu, the captain of Isipathana College who have won the title on ten occasions but whose players are going through a lean period this year.

St. Joseph’s College are the defending champions and are viewed as potential favourites to retain the trophy after ending runners up in the concluded League.

Officials of the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association listened attentively as the eight captains declared their team’s intentions while its under-siege president Ranjith Chandrasekera poured his heart out demanding that parents and old boys shed their violent ways and put up with the outcome of the match.

“We can all hope to bring about a better climate and if no one respects the game it will never move forward”, said Chandrasekera a former Principal of Kingswood College who are also in the running for the title.

He praised the eight teams that also included St. Peter’s College, St. Anthony’s College, Trinity College, Wesley College and Maliyadeva College, for what he said was their ‘courage and intelligence’ while also noting that some schools treat their players like club professionals by demanding more than they can deliver. 

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