Royal Kill: Two birds with one stone | Sunday Observer

Royal Kill: Two birds with one stone

The 2019, Schools Rugby league tournament conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) first round matches ended prior to the Sinhala New year. On conclusion of the first round the two group standings for the second round matches were as follows.

Group A: St. Peter’s College (SPC), Royal College (RC), S. Thomas’ College (STC), Wesley College (WC)

Group B: St. Joseph’s College (SJC), Isipathana College (IC), Trinity College (TC), Science College (SC)

For second round matches, when scheduling was done at the initial stage, SPC requested for their first match against fourth placed SC in group B to be played last due to lack of practices owing to the Easter Holy Week from April 15 to 21. At this point another Christian College objected to it, stating that SPC could have a major advantage by scoring the necessary tries to be the League champions. This objecting College went to the extent of claiming that SPC may “buy” SC to become League champions. At this stage it was clearly to be seen that there were three contenders eyeing for the League championship, SJC, SPC and RC. Their second round match schedules done by the SLSRFA Tournament Secretary were as follows.

June 1: RC vs TCK (1st leg and tournament match), SPC vs SC

June 8: SPC vs TCK, SJC vs STC, RC Vs. SC

June 14: SJC vs WC

June 15: RC vs TCK (2nd leg - non tournament match), SPC vs IC

June 22: RC vs IC, SPC vs SJC

June 29: RC vs SJC

Due to lack of a ground Wesley wanted their first match against SJC to be played on June 14 which was agreed by the tournament Authority.

Under Tournament Rules (as per the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association – 2019 Hand Book in Section 21 under Para “2nd Round Format”, Sub-Section 21.1 and 21.2 in pages 51 and 52) the above schedule is completely contradicting.

According to the Tournament Rules, the last match in the second round should have been SPC vs SJC the two teams heading the respective groups at the end of the first round. Instead SPC completed their second round matches on June 22 playing against SJC and RC had the luxury of playing their last match in the second round against SJC knowing what to do to become League champions. At this stage (by June 29) SJC knew after losing to WC and SPC that they were out of the race. It created the talk among fans that SJC may have “offered victory” to RC by allowing RC to score four tries to claim the much needed bonus point and become League champions.

RC knew from the word go that they had to win the final game against SJC with four tries to become League champions. Just a win with only three tries was in no going to help RC to be League champions. On the other hand the SJC thinking would have been like “we missed the bus so why allow arch rivals (SPC) to become champions” which was also doing the rounds.

Further analyzing the two defeats that SJC underwent (against WC and SPC), they (SJC) never allowed more than three tries two be scored against them. With RC they gave away exactly four tries that also led many to speculate. One could say that this was a coincidence. But end of the day it left a bad taste.

Why? If RC wanted to play their traditional second leg match with TCK, (within two weeks) the Tournament Authority should have allowed the June 15 weekend as a break for SPC. Instead on that day SPC played with IC.

On June 22, RC should have played with SJC and SPC should have played with IC.

On June 29, the Grand Finale, the two number one teams after the first round SPC and SJ should have taken centre stage with RC taking on IC on the same day. Here is the Million Dollar Question.Who was the Tournament Authority or Tournament Secretary?

It was none other than the Rugby MIC of Royal College. That is why I claim that RC had killed two birds with one stone by playing the Bradby Shield second leg as played in the past (with one weekend gap) and also allowing RC to play the last match in violation of the Rules of the tournament. According to the tournament Rules, the leaders of both groups at the start of the second round (SPC and SJ) should have featured in the last weekend of matches.

Lessons to Learn:

1) Tournament Secretary of the SLSRFA should be an independent person. He or she cannot be holding a post in a school where there are high stakes for the championship.

2) Authorities should know, “not to mix up” tournament formats along with other traditional matches.

3) Other traditional matches should have lesser priority, giving the top priority for the tournament matches.

4) Going forward, all stake holders (SLSRFA, school authorities etc) should schedule these tournament matches carefully without rushing, otherwise it will have major misunderstandings among the general sports loving public.