Bertie Dias was the best | Sunday Observer

Bertie Dias was the best

Bertie Dias
Bertie Dias

Colonel Bertie Dias is best remembered for his strength in rugby who had a powerful standing leap and was one of the finest players, coaches and referees.

Bertie was born in Kandy and educated at Trinity College with natural talents represented his school, Kandy SC, Army, Up-Country, Defence Services and Sri Lanka and gained a reputation as a top class scrum half.

He was one of the finest sportsmen to come out of Trinity in the 1950s and left an indelible mark in the history of Sri Lanka rugby. He was also a fine hockey player, boxer and a top athlete. He won rugby Colours in 1949 and the coveted Lion in 1950.

He played along with AIJ Madugalle, D. Ratwatte, RW Tucker, HL Fernando, V. Wijeratne, Kavan Rambukwella, L. Pilimatalawa, Lakshman Jayakody, MS Paditharanthne J. Shanmuganathan, B. Speldewinde, G.Tennakoon, J. Weerasekara and SS Bamabardeniya.

Today there is a trophy presented in memory of him for the Trinity-Royal Old Boys hockey match. Bertie Dias and SS Bambaradeniya were the first hockey Lions and Berty also won athletics Colours in 1949 with Lakshman Kadirgamar.

While at the University of Ceylon, Bertie was a tower of sporting strength in all the undergraduate teams. Having graduated, he taught at Trinity for a short period before joining the army as an officer and excelled at rugby and hockey and was instrumental in the promotion of sport in the army.

He was the coach of the best ever Trinity rugby team of 1956 that produced nine All Ceylon ‘caps’ and two captains.

In that year, they beat Royal in both legs of the Bradby, S. Thomas’, St. Joseph’s and St. Peter’s, the only schools who were playing the game at that time. The side was led by DN Frank and the team was made up of players like Ken de Joodt, MV Boteju, Franklyn Jacob, RJ de Silva, G. Weerasinghe, U. Ratnayake, Nimal Maralande, J. Dias de Singhe, M. Uvais Odayar, RN de Alwis, SP de Silva, ASB Ellepola and Mike de Alwis.

Bertie also coached the Sri Lanka team, Havelocks, Kandy SC and CR and FC.

There had been occasions when Bertie had folded his slacks and refereed barefooted at matches when the appointed referee failed to turn up.

The year that Bertie passed away, Kandy SC under the presidency of Dr. Sarath Kapuwatte organized a Sevens tournament and Bertie will never be forgotten by the rugby loving public of Sri Lanka.