Royal’s Bradby legend Fred Schoorman’s try started it all | Daily News

Royal’s Bradby legend Fred Schoorman’s try started it all

Fred Schoorman scored the first try of the Bradby in 1945.
Fred Schoorman scored the first try of the Bradby in 1945.

This year as the Royal and Trinity College teams run out to compete once again in the Bradby Shield they will be part of a historic occasion as they mark the 75th year of this internationally acclaimed inter-school rugby match.

In 1945, when Royal’s principal E.L. Bradby decided to donate a Shield to the side that had the highest aggregate of points in the two games – in Colombo and Kandy – he planted the first seeds of what was to become the biggest inter-school rugby encounter and the blue riband of schools rugby in Sri Lanka.

The singular honour of scoring the first try and also the first points in this great encounter went to Fred Schoorman of Royal. Schoorman represented the Royal College rugby team in 1944 and 1945 and was the vice-captain to the late C.D.L. Fernando in the inaugural Bradby Shield encounter in 1945.

The inaugural match in Colombo in 1945 was a closely contested game with both sides involved in a battle of attrition. The game itself turned out to be a battle of the forwards as both sides used their forwards to gain the territorial advantage before bringing their three quarters into play. However, both teams exhibited some solid defense and were able to thwart all attacks on their goal line with the teams going into half time without scoring.

The pattern continued deep in the second half until with about 12 minutes to go for full time, the deadlock was broken by front row forward Schoorman who broke loose from a maul deep inside Trinity’s territory and crashed through Trinity’s defence to plant a historic try – the first ever points in the game and the series. The conversion was missed by Royal but they had a crucial 3-0 lead.

Trinity launched some fierce attacks in the last ten minutes of the game but the Royal defence held strong and they ran out worthy winners by the solitary try and Schoorman was the toast of the College.

Unfortunately for Royal, Schoorman was injured in the last few minutes of the game and forced to miss the return leg in Kandy. Trinity won the return leg 6-0 scoring a try and a penalty and thus were awarded the coveted Bradby Shield in the inaugural year with an overall aggregate of 6-3.

In an interview with a leading newspaper some years ago, Schoorman recalled that first game and also spoke of the many changes that the sport has seen.

"Memories have faded now but I recall we had one of the best sides those days with players of the calibre of Mahes Rodrigo - one of our finest scrum-halves," says Schoorman whose greatest regret was that he missed the return leg of that year when Trinity beat Royal 6-0 to take first possession of the Bradby Shield.

"I was badly concussed in the first game and had to miss the return", said Schoorman.

"We were also fortunate to have the legendary B.C. Anghie as our Master in Charge of Rugger, Anghie would walk up and down the touchline shouting encouragement and he probably covered as much ground as any of our forwards,'' said Schoorman, a former front row forward.

The game has seen many changes since that first match but it still retains that special magic about it that only a Bradby Shield can produce.

"We could barely afford rugby kits those days and had to manage with just two jerseys for the entire season. Most of them had to be patched up after every game”.

“In those days, injuries could not be attended to during the game and so we had to put up with our injuries and play through the pain till the end of the game. There were no luxuries like Salon Pas sprays for us or even the ever popular ice that is readily available in today’s games”.

“Juggling the ball in your hands was considered a ‘knock-on’ and line out jumpers had to jump on their own and were penalized if they got any assistance from teammates,” recalled Schoorman.

Schoorman was a keen follower of all Bradby Shield games and was an enthusiastic participant at the annual Old Royalists Rugby Dinner where he was always accorded a special place at the head table.

Schoorman passed away in 2015 at the age of 88.

Ever since that historic first game over the last 75 years, both sides have accumulated 2,987 points with Royal (1,539pts) holding a slight edge over Trinity (1,438) and are set to pass 3,000 total points this year.

Over the years, there have been many heroes and scorers of tries but the name that will stay in everyone’s memory will no doubt be the name of Fred Schoorman who scored that historic first try.

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