Twenty seven member national pool for Asia Rugby Women’s Sevens Series | Daily News

Twenty seven member national pool for Asia Rugby Women’s Sevens Series

Col (retd) Dhammika Gunasekera presenting a trophy during the Inter-Club Women’s Rugby Sevens tournament. (Picture by Wasitha Patabendige)
Col (retd) Dhammika Gunasekera presenting a trophy during the Inter-Club Women’s Rugby Sevens tournament. (Picture by Wasitha Patabendige)

A 27-member national women’s rugby pool has been picked in preparation for the Asia Rugby Women’s Sevens Series to be held in August and September this year.

The players were chosen at the conclusion of the Inter-Club Women’s Rugby Segment I Sevens tournament held a week ago in which Army emerged champions defeating Navy.

There are seven new faces in the pool. They are Madushani Araliya, Chamodya Madumali from Southern Province, Kumari Hekashini of Navy ‘Development’ team, Kaveesha Perera and Umayangana Thatsarani of CR and FC, Nipuni Warusavitharana (Navy) and Sanjeewani Perera (Air Force).

The women’s national pool coached by former Sri Lanka star Sudath Sampath began training from Monday at the Sports Ministry ground in Racecoure, Reid Avenue.

Sri Lanka made tremendous improvement since he took charge in 2017 emerging Borneo Sevens champions and more significantly rising to fifth position in the rankings last season.

“When I took over they were ninth. We beat Thailand in the Asian Series last year to become Plate champions on three occasions. Only Japan, China, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong are ahead of us,” said Sampath who has plenty of experience as a Sevens coach at school, club and national level.

“We have identified some new young talent who need to be given exposure. We have to blend them with experienced players so they could blossom,” said the former Isipathana, CH and FC, Kandy SC and Police scrum half.

“Last year we had about five months to prepare. This year the time is limited since we have only about 12 week to train. We are trying to go to Malaysia for a competition in mid-July,” said Sampath, an Inspector of Police who thanked the IGP and Police Director of Sport ASP Kamal Pushpakumara for their support.

The three-leg Asia Rugby Women’s Seven Series which will be held alongside the men’s competition is scheduled to be held in Incheon, South Korea on August 31-September 1, Huizhou, China on September 14-15 and Colombo on September 28-29.

“Women’s rugby has improved a lot. Those days there were very few clubs involved in women’s rugby. Now inter-club women’s rugby tournament is conducted in two segments. Last month 12 teams played in Segment II and eight teams in Segment I last week,” said Col (retd) Dhammika Gunasekera, who has been part of Sri Lanka Rugby’s (SLR) women’s rugby development committee for the past 15 years, the last eight as chairman.

“We have earmarked one women’s rugby coach for each province and we hope to have a minimum of 40 schools playing rugby around the island. That’s how we can improve. We have provincial tournaments taking place at school level in under 14, 16 and 18 age groups,” said Col. Gunasekera, thanking sponsors SAGT for empowering women’s rugby in recent years.

“Earlier have to get sponsors from various sources. SLRFU was giving only kits those days. Now everything provided by the Union (SLR) and the Sports Ministry is also helping us. Now they (players) have only to play the rugby. We have beaten sides like Thailand and Singapore and are now ranked fifth from 16 countries in women’s rugby,” he said though acknowledging that their small physical structure was a handicap against the top nations like Japan and Kazakhstan.

Following is the 27-member Sri Lanka women’s rugby pool:

Nimeshi Wijewardhana, Nadeeka Munasingha, Dilini Kanchana, Shanika Dilani, Ayesha Perera, Charani Theekshana, Dulani Pallikkondage (all from Army), Dilrukshi Nahelmahage, Sanjeewani Wijethilake, Randika Kumudumali, Shanika Madumali, Thanuja Weerakkody, Sandika Hemakumari, Anusha Attanayake, Dasuni de Silva, Wasana Weerakkody, Nipuni Warusavitharana (Navy), Ayesha Kaluarachchi, Sanjeewani Perera, Jeewanthi Gunawardana, Kalpana Herath (Air Force), Kaveesha Perera, Kanchana Mahendran, Umayangana Thatsarani (CR and FC), Madushani Araliya, Chamodya Madumali (Southern Province), Kumari Hekashini (Navy ‘Development’) 


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