Royal have a fight on their hands | Daily News
Royal-Thomian rugby: Michael Gunaratne Trophy

Royal have a fight on their hands

Thulaib Hassen (Captain - Royal College) and Harith Senanayeke (Captain - S.Thomas)
Thulaib Hassen (Captain - Royal College) and Harith Senanayeke (Captain - S.Thomas)

Royal College will be looking to retain the Michael Gunaratne Trophy when they take on arch rivals S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia in their annual inter- school rugby encounter in the Singer ‘A’ Division league rugby tournament first round game at Mount Lavinia commencing at 4.00pm today.

This traditional encounter was inaugurated in 1962 and the first match ended in a draw. Present tally stands 31 wins to Royal and 19 to S.Thomas’ with 5 draws. In 1979 the match was not played due to a dispute regarding the date for the encounter.

This time Royal College seem to have a great chance of retaining the trophy after having thrashed Maliyadeva College Kurunegala 62 points to 6 in their opening match played at Royal grounds last week.

Royal will be captained this year by their experienced centre Thulaib Hassen while the experienced and one of the best young school coaches ex-Royal College rugby vice captain cum former Sri Lanka national rugby captain Dushanth Lewke will be the head coach. Former Peterite and Sri Lanka player Mohamad Sheriff will be the assistant coach with T.A. Silva, former Army and Sri Lanka national full back is the kicking coach.

The 2018 Royal side under the leadership of winger Shabith Feroz and head coach Dushanth Lewke, re wrote the Royal-Thomian rugby history where they demolished the Thomians 55-0 at Royal grounds, which to-date is the highest score by a team in this traditional encounter.

Incidentally in 2015 Royal’s unsung hero and the highest try scorer in the league tournament, number eight Supun Warnakulasuriya emerged the first and only rugby player from both the schools to score a hat trick of tries when he touched down four times to enable Royal to achieved a remarkable 52-0 victory. He is the present Royal College 1st XV rugby team manager. In the meantime the Thomians will be hoping to produce an improved performance after their first match for the season against St.Peters College they scored a narrow (20-19) win at Thomian grounds in Mount Lavinia last week.

This year the Thomian outfit will be captained by experienced Sri Lanka national under 19 second row forward Harith Senanayake while ex Isipathana captain cum Sri Lanka national player Shamlie Nawaz will be their head coach and former Royal player and Sri Lanka captain Asanga Rodrigo is the three quarter coach.

Thomians’ highest score in the series thus far is 22-0 under the captaincy of second rower Charya de Saram in 1991.

The last time S.Thomas won this trophy was back in 2016 at Royal Sports Complex where they won 21-16 thanks to a spectacular last minute try scored by present CH and FC and Sri Lanka national winger Naveen Henakankanamge under the leadership of hooker Pandula de Silva.


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