Maurice Perera: The ‘undying legend’ | Sunday Observer

Maurice Perera: The ‘undying legend’

Maurice Perera was a rugby legend in Kandy and played only for one club, Kandy SC, in his life. He was a great player, coach, referee and administrator born on January 1, 1934 and passed away in February 2013.

Maurice played for Kandy SC for well over 15 years after schooling at Poramadulla Central and later at Kingswood and Vidyartha. In the latter part of his school career he joined Trinity College, where he excelled as a prop forward having first played in the 1953 team captained by Dharmasiri Madugalle, and was awarded rugby colours.

While playing for Trinity, Barrie Cameron invited Maurice to join Kandy Sports Club in 1954 and he was a member of the first Clifford Cup final team. Maurice in his very first year of club rugby in 1954 played for the All Ceylon team when there was no Asiad, Hong Kong Sevens or Tri Nations tournaments except the All-India tournaments of 1954 to ‘56 that he played in.

In 1968 Maurice took up coaching when Fred Murray stepped down as coach and in that year Kandy SC was led by Y.C Chang.

The next Cup final for Kandy SC was in 1969 after 24 years and that too against CR and FC which was the most thrilling moment for Maurice as he was the coach of the side and the team was led by the late Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa.

Maurice also served Kandy SC as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and as a Senior Vice President and for the services he rendered to Kandy SC he was awarded Honorary Life Membership.

It was Maurice Perera who went on to coach St. Anthony’s College when they first played inter school matches. The first to coach the Antonians was Bobby Jayaweera. Maurice took up coaching at this school at the request of the then principal Rev. Fr. Rosati.

Bruce Winter was the first rugby captain and Rev. Bro. Macky was the Prefect of Games who played a major role to popularize the game in the school. In the School Magazine of 1955 Rev. Fr. Rosati paid a glowing tribute to Maurice Perera.

Maurice was also involved in Vidyartha College when they started rugby and gave a helping hand to Sydney Ratwatte to start rugby at EW Balasurya’s Kandy Lake Club in the 1960s.

Maurice also coached Trinity College at a difficult time after they lost to Royal College 0-62 in the Bradby match and his association with rugby ran well over 60 years. He was a strict disciplinarian who did not hesitate to punish any player who failed to adhere to instructions or misbehaved. On one occasion he dropped several key players on charges of indiscipline a decision that he was compelled to make. Maurice also served in the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union as a Council Member and was at one time the National coach and Selector. In 1970, he had the pleasure of learning advanced methods of coaching and development of the game of rugby from the Technical Advisor of the Rugby Football Union in Twickenhem that came under former British Rugby Lion Don Rutherford.

Don had heard from Bosuns Rugby team on tour to Sri Lanka in 1969 about the deteriorating standard of rugby in the island and his best advice to Maurice was to go out into grass root levels in distant places in search of talent and promote the game in the villages.

This concept worked for only a few years under the SLRFU chairmanship of YC Chang and later declined.

Maurice also developed rugby in the North Central Province and Central Province Rugby Football Union. Under his presidency he organized several tournaments and spotted talented youth as the CPRFU was most active with an efficient secretary at that time in Iswan Omar.

Maurice scored an impressive First by sending the first ever women’s rugby team to participate in a tournament in Thailand.

He was also an enthusiastic motor racer and raced on many tracks in his Mini Minor and was also a champion who served as the president of the Up-Country Motor Sports Club.

In the field of football, he was introduced to the Kandy Association Football League by this writer and vice president and later served in the finance committee of the Sri Lanka Football Federation.

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