Monumental Madugalle | Sunday Observer

Monumental Madugalle

Dharmasiri Madugalle
Dharmasiri Madugalle

One of Trinity College’s great sportsmen Dharmasiri Madugalle was a rugby legend who learnt his rugby under top coaches and had intelligent players as team mates during his playing days. He is the oldest living Kandy Sports Club player and captain.

It is an undeniable fact that Kandy has produced a number of sportsmen who represented the country and Madugalle has been one of the most enduring from the time he showed his class in the field of rugby.

His brother Percy and him were both Trinitians who were destined for sporting fame and greatness after their father SB Madugalle captained Trinity in 1912. According to records the senior Madugalle was the first rugby Lion winner. Madugalle won his rugby colours in 1951 and was deprived of the rugby Lion as he stood up to the authorities on a matter of principle. He led the Trinity athletics team in 1951 and 1952, and in 1952 was placed second in the Public Schools 120 yards hurdles and long jump. In the same year he won the De Soysa Challenge Cup as the best senior athlete. Some of the top athletes during his time were S. Wickremasooriya, L. Kadirgamar, TP de Silva, UT Mollogoda, ASB Ettipola and V. Boteju.

Madugalle was an outstanding wing three-quarter during his days and under his leadership Trinity won the Bradby Shield against Royal College 13-0 and 3-0 in both legs. His 1953 squad had players of the caliber of RH Ratwatte, K. Boteju, R. Adhihetty, L. Vitharana, A. Bandaranayake, C. Unamboowe, P. Weerasiri, C. Nikatenne, A. Nonis, L. Stewart, Maurice Perera, P. Ramanathan, R. Aluwihare, B. Jacob, G. Schokman, R. Aluwihare, G.Schokman, R. Geddes, F. Omar, Quintin Israel and Mahinda Ratwatte. Madugalle was invited by Kandy Sports Club and the then principal of Trinity, NS Walter, released him to play as a schoolboy in 1953 and he went on till 1961. He was in the Kandy Sports Club’s first Clifford Cup final team in 1954 and also in the following year 1955. In both years they lost to CR & FC and Madugalle was a member of the Sri Lanka team from 1955 to 1965. In 1964 at the age of 24, he led Kandy Sports Club.

During the 1960s there was a great rugby promoter known as Noel Gratien, who wanted the authorities who were running the game to come forward to organize a Ceylonese team to play in the All India tournament. At that time CH & FC were playing in the All-India Tournament and there was a European team also contesting.

The first Ceylonese team which took part in the All Indian Tournament had players like Dharmasiri Madugalle, Percy Madugalle, Willie Ratnavale, Fred Kellar, Percy Perera, Clair Roeloff, Archibald Pereira, Ray de Zilva and Percy de Zilva. Madugalle had a long innings with Kandy Sports Club and was the first captain to hold the President and Patron posts at the same time. Affectionately known as Madu he was described as a great-value player who represented Dimbulla Athletic and Cricket Club, Dickoya-Maskeliya Cricket Club, Uva Gymkhana Club, Up-Country and All Ceylon.

By profession Madugalle was a reputed planter and served in many estates and finally as the Manager of the Tea Museum at Hantana.

The Tea Museum at Hantane was a monumental tribute to the pioneers who forged ahead through trials and tribulations to make the tea industry the colossal enterprise it is today. It was the brain-child of Clifford Ratwatte who wanted to leave something tangible for posterity before he retired after serving the Industry for a lengthy period.

The Museum was born on November 29, 2001 after a gestation period of three years in which the refurbishment took place.