St. John’s Nugegoda and the harmful impact of poaching | Daily News

St. John’s Nugegoda and the harmful impact of poaching

The subject of this article is rather controversial. It is centered on the recent media exposure besides what some of us knew for a time, the relatively new phenomenon called poaching in schools rugby.

Rugby is a highly interesting and popular sport and if one may say a glamorous sport in Schools.

As a consequence more and more schools take to the game,whereas earlier it was confined to a relatively few prestigious institutions. This is where the trouble begins.More of this later.

The writer has been akeen follower of rugby especially of the schools scene and could state that the progress of the game augurs well for its future, since schools are natural nurseries of rugger.

It is particularly in this context that I wish to refer to the unfortunate, publicly unseen development in school rugger.

The most publicised victim of this insidious practice called poaching is St. Johns Nugegoda, founded in 1915, and one of my old schools. During my time,if I may state over half a century ago, it was a different institution run by the Christian church ,private and fee levying. The entire education except for two Sinhalese classes was in English.It remains the leading boys school within the vast confines of historicKotte.

For a long time St.Johnswas the first and preferred institution of the English educated middle class of Nugegoda and its environs which was a highly cosmopolitan society, structurally different to todays. My I also state that St. John’s and its prolific output of competent old boys in diverse spheres has impacted favourably on the post 1977 liberal era which made Kotte a leading economic hub of thecountry. This is why the old boys of the school are particularly hurt by the situation prevailing in rugger.

The school began rugby in 1989,later than most other schools in the game.The lack of a suitable ground for a hardy game like rugger was a major constraint.

However, eversince it began rugby, its young ruggerites have shown a flair for the game.

More recently,its progress in the schools tournament enabled St. John’s to project its increasing ability.

St.John’s reached Division 2 of the ’C” tier in2011 with some good wins over bigger schools.. In 2013,it was promoted to Division 1 of Segment 2. Also in the under 14 ten a side tournament in 2014

St.John’s became runner-up to Trinity College. On its way it beat two other Kandy schools ,Dharmaraja and Vidyartha Colleges.

It was around this time that the school first began to feel the creeping impact of poaching, creating an ill wind across St.John’s in rugger that eventually turned into a tornado, wiping off the potential the school had in the game.

In 2017 as a consequence of these unfortunate developments the school could not field a side for the under 20 games in the tournaments. Shockingly, 14 of its players had been poached or headhunted successfully by some of the bigger schools.

Some of the old boys learnt with dismay is that the transfer of these boys was conspiratorial and allegedly three dimensional.

It is important for the Education Department to launch an investigation into this matter and identify the culprits.But whether this would be done remains doubtful. 

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