Rugby’s Bradby looking for kick-off | Sunday Observer

Rugby’s Bradby looking for kick-off

Royal College centre Lehan Gunaratne goes over the line for a try at last year’s Bradby match in this file photo captured by Sulochana Gamage
Royal College centre Lehan Gunaratne goes over the line for a try at last year’s Bradby match in this file photo captured by Sulochana Gamage

The Bradby Shield rugby match between Royal College and Trinity College is showing some promise to get off the ground despite uncertainties over several sporting events in the country which have been put on hold due to the coronavirus.

The news going around in Kandy is that not only the Bradby match but also the suspended inter-school rugby season could also come alive but later in the year after the Advanced Level examination which is in August.

Four schools from Kandy, Trinity, St. Anthony’s, Dharmaraja and Vidyartha are in the fray contesting the major League matches.

Undoubtedly it is the Trinity-Royal match for the Bradby Shield that arguably draws the highest number of spectators during the season and usually takes place in June. But the dates could change if the match is to kick-off which everyone who has been following the contest is keen will happen.

These two schools first played a match in 1920 and in the years 1925 to 1927 and 1929 there were no fixtures.

In 1945 the Bradby Shield was presented for this first time and has since played an important role in the lives of Trinitians and Royalists, young and old. The first Bradby game was played at the Race Course ground where Trinity in the first leg were led by Robert Sourjah and Royal by CDL Fernando. Every year it had been a two-game affair apart from the 1971 encounter due to the JVP insurrection in the country. The match is also touted as the oldest and most glamorous domestic rugby event in the island. Last year marked the 75th Bradby game where Royal College took home the Shield despite the astounding victory secured by Trinity in the second leg held at the Royal College ground, after losing the first leg played in Pallekele.

Royal College scored a victory 34-17 and in the second leg in Colombo Trintiy College won 24-13. While the Royalists had scored 47 points in both games, the Trinitians scored 41 points at the end of both legs and Royal kept the Shield for another year by virtue of a superior aggregate. There have been eleven occasions where the first leg winners had lost the second.

The Bradby series began historically in 1945 when the Royal side led by CDL Fernando beat Trinity led by Robert Sourjah 3-0 in the first leg and in the second leg Trinity won 6-0. In the following year the same process was repeated when Trinity lost the first leg in Kandy 0-3 and won the return match in Colombo 8-0.

In that year, the Trinitians were led by SB Pilapitiya and Royal by Mahesh Rodrigo. Then in 1962, Royal under UL Kaluarachchi won the first game 5-0 and lost the return game to the Trinitians led by NTE Brohier 9-0.

In 1972, Athula Unantenne led the Trinitians who were celebrating their centenary. Royal won the first leg in Colombo by 9 points to 8 and in the return in Kandy, Trinity won by 10 points to 3. That year Royal were led by GDS Gunasekara. In 1973 Royal led by MG Muller won the first leg easily by 18 points to 4 at Nittawela and in the return in Colombo, the Trinitians led by Jeffrey Yu pulled off a 12 points to 4 win. In 1979 Royal under the leadership of RB Gunasekara went down to the Trinitians led by JV Tissera 4-3 in Kandy and in the Colombo game Royal outplayed the Trinitians by 18 points to nil. In 1981, the Trinitians led by Ravi Bandaranayake beat Royal led by Sujeewa Cooray 16-3, and in the return clash Royal won by 10 points to 3.

In 1983 Trinity led by Ashan Ratwatte beat Royal led by Sriyan Cooray 14-6 in Kandy but in the return match in Colombo Royal triumphed by 10 points to 6. Once again in 1985, the Trinitians under the captaincy of Manoj Jayatissa won the first leg in Kandy by 18 points to 9 and lost the return 4-3 in Colombo. That year Royal were led by Chiro Nanayakara.

Then in 1990, Trinity lost the first leg in Colombo 23-8 and won the second leg 6-0 in Kandy.

The writer wishes to go back to the 1958 game, where Royal won after seven years. This game was played at the Nittawela ground and was one of the best school games seen in that year. From the word go the boys went at it like men possessed. It was indeed a rousing game of rugby. The large crowd present was satisfied, though neither Trinity nor Royal won a point. In this game Royal had the edge over Trinity. They had a heavier pack and their back line went in for short, crisp, passes. Their forwards also joined in which made Trinity’s job tougher.

In the first half Royal had more of the game territory-wise and in the second half nearly two thirds of it. But during the last ten minutes Trinity attacked vigorously and all but failed to score twice. This made the game an exciting one – for the Trinity supporters at any rate and an anxious one for those who backed Royal.

G. Vangeyzel and M. Anghie the Royal fly half and fullback- relieved pressure by fine kicks to touch and helped to push back the Trinitians by this method. Skipper Ken de Joodt and N. Maralande of Trinity gained welcome breathing spaces for their team by finding touch.

Trinity did well to win a number of scrums against a heavier pack. In the line-outs Trinity did better with Eric Roles always prominent and R. Hermon tireless at all times. In the second half Royal laid siege on the Trinity goal and were it not for some ferocious tackling by the Trinitians, they should have scored at least three or four tries.

It was only in the 45th minute that Ken de Joodt with a terrific 40 yard punt brought play into the Royal half. From then Royal had their hands full preventing the Trinitians from going through. The pace was furious.

John Penny refereed and Trinity principal CJ Oorloff presented the Bradby Shield to the Royal skipper Dudley Fernando to be taken to Colombo after seven years. And so their first leg score of 6-0 was enough to help them win the Shield.

The teams:

Royal College: G. Vangeyzel, EL (Lorensz) Pereira, GG Samararatne, Tony Rankine, Lal Senaratne, Maurice Anghie, R. Pothuhera, Soysa, Ken Balendra, Lalith de Silva, R. Samarasekara, HS de Silva, Ratna Sivaratnam, Dudley Fernando, R. Fernando

Trinity College: M. Talwatte, Sena de Silva, P. Buultejns. Ken de Joodt, ARM Azain, Nimal Maralande, Denzil Kobbekaduwa, J. Dias de Singhe, Mike de Alwis, RH Wijenayake, R. Abeyakoon, Eric Roles, R. Hermon, Ken Murray, D. Janaram

History aside, the two schools and their supporters can only hope there will not be another break in this colourful contest this year.