Great leap forward in Lankan rugby - Greening
The National Rugby coach, Phil Greening said that Sri Lanka has taken
a gigantic step forward in rugby with their stupendous performance at
the recently concluded Asian Five Nations Division one tournament in
Manila, Philippines. He said it was a remarkable performance by the
young Sri Lankan outfit ably led by Yoshitha Rajapaksa, who scored two
smashing wins over Chinese Taipei (36/8) and Singapore (35/10) before
going down fighting to Philippines (18-28). He said so at a press
briefing at the CH pavilion yesterday evening.
He said that due to a few mistakes, by the Lankan three-quarters
which were capitalized by the Philippines in the first half, we lost the
decider. As Philippines were a virtual Australian outfit and some
blunders by the referee, the Lankans could not conclude the tournament
on a winning note. Phil said the young Sri Lankans gave of their best,
especially last year’s schoolboys, winger Sandun Herath and fly half
Rehan Weerakoon, who showed immense promise which is a testimony of the
talents of the Lankans.
He also appreciated the astute leadership of Yoshitha Rajapaksa who
was able to get the best out of his team-mates and the encouragement
given by SLRFU President Asanga Seneviratne.
“Dedication, commitment and planning will be the key for the
country’s success in the future and will commence training the national
team again in August for the Borneo and Shanghai Sevens after four
months break,” said the highly satisfied coach.
Speaking about the player analysis system and nutrition planning,
coach Phil said that it will play a vital role in making strong players
and will also make it easy for the selectors to pick players.
Skipper Yoshitha Rajapaksa said that they entered the tournament,
hoping to win it but a few mistakes during the first half of the last
game dashed their hopes. Though we recovered in the second half, it was
not enough for us to win the game. Our boys played superbly in the first
two games and as a team we are highly satisfied with our performances.
He also said that grooming young boys to the National level is very
important and young blood in the team is a very good thing for the
country’s rugby future. The captain emphasized the importance of team
spirit and said that no player is bigger than the game.
Rajapaksa also pointed out that eventhough we had a strong team last
year, we did not live up to expectations and this years performance has
been a great step forward with a young side.
Answering a question on players who boycotted the tournament at the
last moment, the SLRFU President Asanga Seneviratne said that the
General Committee of the SLRFU has referred the matter to the
Disciplinary Committee comprising Maj. Gen. (Ret.) H. M. N. Krishnaratne,
Senior DIG Asoka Wijethileke and SSP (Ret.) Ibrahim Hamid and they will
be dealing with them.
He further said that the SLRFU is on the view that action must be
taken against those players who did not give priority to the National
duty but if the players did not have valid reasons for pulling out from
the squad, then they should be banned from playing any level of rugby in
Senevirathne further explained that SLRFU and IRB rules clearly
stated that a player must give preference for national duty.
He also revealed that the sponsorship contract for domestic rugby
with Chevron Lubricants will be terminated on a decision taken by the
general Committee of the SLRFU. Already two firms have expressed their
willingness to come forward as sponsors of domestic rugby. He also said
that the entire New Zealand first IV squad have signed a contract for
bidding for this year’s Carlton Rugby Sevens.