Rugby stakeholder wants domestic game restarted not pompous Internationals | Sunday Observer

Rugby stakeholder wants domestic game restarted not pompous Internationals

20 June, 2021
Hiran Muttiah
Hiran Muttiah

One of the major stakeholders of Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) CR & FC says the onus is on the governing body to come up with a strong and healthy domestic programme to restart rugby in the country before thinking of hosting international competitions.

“Fundamentally players need to be vaccinated. Most players are under 30 years old which means we can’t go into the normal process to get vaccinated.

“It has to be coordinated by the SLR for example. Yes, we want to get back to rugby because of the fact that for players it is their livelihood. We need to restart sport but it has to be in a new normal,” said CR & FC president Hiran Muttiah.

SLR are engrossed in stitching together a High Performance programme for their Sevens squad leading up to the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year. They are also slated to host the Asian Sevens Series and some age group tournaments after efforts to stage the Commander’s Cup inter-club Sevens tournament in March in collaboration with Air Force was also scuttled.

“We are fully supportive of getting back to it but we have to do it responsibly. We have to learn from other sporting associations who have successfully got back with the endorsement of the ministry of health, PHIs and ministry of sports. They are not doing it without that endorsement. They are doing something perhaps we are not at the moment,” he said.

CR who will be celebrating their centenary next year has a squad training following current health protocols and waiting for domestic competitions to commence.

“We have got a young squad of 40 players who want to play with us. We are taking good care of our players. We are paying them salaries even now. They are currently doing self-training supervised by the coaching staff. But there is no contact or group training. When the SLR announces any tournament, then we will ramp up according to what the tournament is going to be,” he said.

“Looking further afield we are hopeful a tournament would be started in October or November this year. We would like to hear about those things now, so that we also can make appropriate preparations,” said Muttiah who in his second term as CR president.

He urged SLR to come up with a plan to fast track players to get the jab.

“As a rugby playing club we want to develop and promote the sport but we can’t do it irresponsibly. What we would require is that SLR as the governing body facilitates the vaccination for all of the playing teams. I would expect a plan to fast track players to get the vaccination,” he said.

“I am fully for returning to rugby but it has to be done in a responsible way. If you are going into a bubble for 28 days, no company today is going to give paid or unpaid leave. This is the challenge,” said Muttiah, CCO (Chief Commerical Officer) of SAGT (South Asia Gateway Terminals).

He acknowledged that players are eager to get back on the field of play but argued that the focus should not be on just Sevens rugby.

“We want to get back to rugby in Sri Lanka but there has to be a purpose. Sevens requires a different training methodology to get fit. How many Sevens are we going to play? What is going to be the benefit of that? You can’t just play rugby for the sake of it,” said the former Sri Lanka three-quarter.

“We are there to be in collaboration with the common goal of everybody to promote rugby. We are all enthusiastic to have a return to rugby as soon as possible. But CR’s view is that we can’t just do that blindly. We are all for returning to rugby but do it in a responsible and a sustainable way,” he summed up.