Thrilled fans with his deeds on the field:
Almeida was a ruggerite par excellence
Lionel Almeida who died on Monday was a ruggerite par excellence who
thrilled fans with his deeds on the rugby field during his illustrious
career which spanned 17 years.
Having begun his rugby career as a scrum half at Royal he turned out
for his school for three years playing in the pivotal fly half position
in his final year in which he captained his school.
Joining CR and FC in 1957 he blossomed out as an excellent fly half
and went onto don the Sri Lanka Jersey in 1959 and played for the
country with distinction till 1967. Joining the Dickoya Maskeliya
Cricket Club in the early '60s he played a major role as full back in
taking Dickoya to the forefront of 'A' Division rugby during which
period the club went onto beat reputed teams such as CR and FC,
Havelocks, CH and FC and Army. Among his teammates at Dickoya were Raji
de Sylva, Manik Jayakumar, Manik Pereira, Tony Johnson, Rohan
Abeysundera, Mohan Samarasinghe and the dreaded third row of Chris Bean,
John Bousfield and David Bretherton.
Having hung up his boots in 1971 he took upto refereeing and emerged
as one of Sri Lanka's leading referees having the honour of officiating
in the 1985 Clifford Cup final between Police and Havelocks.
He coached his former club CR and FC in 1984 and moulded them into a
champion outfit with the club clinching the Premadasa Trophy in the
inaugural year. He also coached the Peterites in the mid 1980s before
serving as Technical Advisor to Isipatana in 1997 and 1998.
Almeida was elected President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union
in 1989 and 1990.
His greatest achievement as an administrator was when he along with
his predecessor Yu Cey Chang was able to convince the hierarchy of the
Asian Rugby Football Union to hold the 1990 Rugby Asiad in Sri Lanka
when they were considering shifting the venue to Malaysia due to the
unstable situation in the country due to the JVP insurrection.