CH rise from the ashes | Sunday Observer

CH rise from the ashes

Back row from left: Anuradha Herath, Rohitha Rajapaksa (captain), Mohamed Rizwan, Naveen Hemakankanamge, Ruwan Kumara and Hirantha Perera. Front row from left: Ashan Maduranga, Sasanka Ariyaratne, Lahiru Chinthaka, Sudham Suriyarachchie, Sudharshana Muthuthantri and Nishon Perera after pocketing the inter club rugby Sevens trophy
Back row from left: Anuradha Herath, Rohitha Rajapaksa (captain), Mohamed Rizwan, Naveen Hemakankanamge, Ruwan Kumara and Hirantha Perera. Front row from left: Ashan Maduranga, Sasanka Ariyaratne, Lahiru Chinthaka, Sudham Suriyarachchie, Sudharshana Muthuthantri and Nishon Perera after pocketing the inter club rugby Sevens trophy

They were at one time an exclusive club for the elite and in later years produced some champion rugby teams especially in the 1980s and early 1990s only to end up as an ordinary club just making the numbers and going through a lean season after season.

But now thanks to the entry of some live-wires and famous names, CH and FC looks set to rise from the dumps and reignite interest among their followers at the forthcoming 2018-19 season.

Some of the main architects behind the resurrection of CH and FC are the Rajapaksa brothers of Yoshitha and Rohitha who have decided to throw their weight behind the old English club at Colombo 7 which marked their turning point by winning last month’s inter club Sevens.

“Our success at the inter club Sevens was down to just one goal of the players and that was player unity. I actually never thought this was possible as at one time I was firmly rooted playing for the Navy team”, said Yoshitha Rajapaksa, a Sri Lanka third row player.

Some of the big names to enroll at CH were Henry Terrence, Sudam Suriyarachchi, Sudharshana Muthuthanthri, Sathya Ranatunge and Nishon Perera.

Rajapaksa said the main reason why he wanted to move to a club like CH was because he felt it was worthwhile lending his support to a club that was in the dumps and many people despised.

“Initially we had a tough time trying to induce sponsors, but after a few matches JAT Holdings came forward as our main sponsor. I am very happy to say that during this period we as players all rallied together and did not think about payments. We had strong bonds of friendship”, said Rajapaksa. He said the entry of JAT was like God-sent to lend a hand to a club with a rich rugby tradition.

“We played with a lot of purpose at the Sevens tournament and there was no interference or dictatorship from anyone in the club. And the title we won brought us a lot of honour to move forward”, Rajapaksa revealed.

Rajapaksa said his wish was to play for CH until he calls it quits and then move on to play a backstage role at the club. To the surprise of many Rajapaksa who captained Sri Lanka two years ago is not even in the list of the first 50 national players. “I just don’t know why I have not being called up for national training”, said Rajapaksa.

In or out of the Sri Lanka team, Rajapaksa will continue to be in the eyes of rugby followers as he comes from a famous family of three brothers with the youngest Rohitha very much part of the Sri Lanka team and elder brother Namal now retired from the sport.

Another player who will turn out for CH in the forthcoming season is pack player Nivanka Prasad who has also played for Sri Lanka only after first handling a rugby ball after joining the navy as a cook.

He hails from a little known school in Gampaha called Rajamaha MV where he did the 200 100 metres and was discovered by Navy rugby trainer and coach Mohotilal Jayatilleke during an inter-regiment match.

CH, according to its manager Dhammika Medagedera, is likely to enlist a foreign coach, probably an Englishman, which the club contends is less expensive that recruiting a local coach.

Samoan Tavita Tulagaese coached CH without payment last season. For the forthcoming season CH have also recruited some talented school leavers. They last won the League title in 2000 under winger Ajith Upawansa.

Rohitha Rajapakse captained CH last year and acknowledges the role played by the club’s administration to pave the way for its revamping.

“If we have good administrators we can achieve what we plan for and CH has the kind of management that does not interfere in coaching and player matters”, he said. “We have identified some good school talent and we are the only club that has opened its doors for so many youngsters”.

The Lee brothers Avantha and Avishka from Wesley College and St. Anthony’s College place-kicking full back Samuel Maduwantha, Trinity College’s centre Ryan Weerakoon and three other players from Sri Sumangala College Kandy are some of them.

Rohitha said that present CH chairman Shammi Silva has been a tower of encouragement in its new turn of events.

“Shammi requested us to do the reform job for the club and his encouragement paid off with the proper administration”, said Rohitha.

“We made a proposal to restructure the club and requested for three years to turn things around. The results began to show last season when we ended in the fourth slot (from eight teams) and lost only to Kandy”.

He too was critical of the way rugby is run at national level where he claimed that players are picked to wear the national jersey on the whims and fancies of the hierarchy of Sri Lanka Rugby.

“Players must be selected on merit not because they play for a certain club”, said Rohitha.

He singled out Kandy player Fazil Marija as an exponent who had good tack-ticks while Havelocks fly-half Dulaj Perera has the same makings to be a top grade Sri Lanka player.

“I think Dulaj is going waste at Havelocks over some contractual issue”, said Rohitha. 


CH and FC fly-half Rohitha Rajapaksa runs with the ball with teammate Anuradha Herath in
support during a practice session    

Comments