Schools rugby keepers warned over criminal violence | Sunday Observer

Schools rugby keepers warned over criminal violence

Stand-off between amateurs and pros results in Sri Lanka’s eviction from Junior Asian Sevens:

Sri Lanka Rugby, the parent body of the sport in the country affiliated to World Rugby, has issued an ultimatum to the keepers of schools rugby that no more violence will be tolerated that could bring forth criminal proceedings against them or anyone guilty of what it called “thuggery”.

Presently both parties are locked in a stand-off stalemate over financial matters and the progress of national youth rugby that has resulted in two Sri Lanka junior teams (Under-18 and 20) deprived of contesting this month’s Asian Sevens.

“We have addressed this issue (of violence) and told them (school officials) to follow World Rugby regulations concerning thuggery and disturbances where the offenders can be identified and criminal charges brought against them.

“There is so much of animosity before a (school) game and we don’t want this to continue” said Rizly Illyas the deputy president of Sri Lanka Rugby after he was re-elected uncontested for another year yesterday.

School rugby is presently in the hands of an organization called the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) whose office bearers are either school teachers or principals who have merely gone through the motions season after season with very little or nothing done to eradicate violence that reached alarming levels over the past five years.

School rugby is played in two tournaments lavishly backed by multi-national corporate companies that pump in millions making use of the heavy crowd patronage with very little or no emphasis on sporting values and decency.

But the rift between the two protagonists has snowballed to such an extent that Sri Lanka could not field its two junior teams at the Asian Sevens after the SLSRFA and Sri Lanka Rugby slammed the door on each other while trading charges of financial irresponsibility.

Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) has stuck to its guns and wants the schools body to dole out its funds to field the team while in turn the SLSRFA has hit back saying that junior youth teams cannot be classed as school entities and it was up to SLR to provide the expenses.

According to Sri Lanka Rugby, it would cost around Rs.7.5 million to prepare, dispatch and field a junior team at the Asian Sevens.

The SLSRFA has a commercial partner in home appliances giant Singer and Sri Lanka Rugby has no desire to provide funds as long as schools rugby has its own godfather and financial benefactor.

Sri Lanka Rugby also has its own sponsor in mobile phone service provider Dialog and claim they could procure more than double the funding for schools rugby provided they have a direct say in the running of the sport’s administrative affairs at junior level while keeping a check on financial accountability.

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