Josephian rugby star may face life ban for allegedly assaulting referee | Daily News

Josephian rugby star may face life ban for allegedly assaulting referee

Priyantha Gunaratne watches the action closely during the Royal vs  St. Joseph’s inter-school rugby match at Royal Sports Complex on Saturday.  (Picture by Saman Mendis)
Priyantha Gunaratne watches the action closely during the Royal vs St. Joseph’s inter-school rugby match at Royal Sports Complex on Saturday. (Picture by Saman Mendis)

St. Joseph’s centre three quarter Tharindu Maduranga may face a lifetime ban from rugby after allegedly assaulting referee Priyantha Gunaratne at the conclusion of their inter-school league match against Royal on Saturday..

Maduranga wearing jersey No. 13 and Santhush Algama wearing jersey No. 10 have been cited by the match official in his report which was to be submitted to the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) yesterday.

“Anil Jayasinghe, Referees’ Manager of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Referees Society (SLRFRS) submitted a report to the schools association yesterday (Monday). They are expected to meet today (Tuesday) and discuss it. Basing on their decision we will decide on the next course of action,” said SLRFRS secretary Dinka Peiris.

The report calls for the strictest possible action against the errant players concerned because indiscipline or violence directed at officials at any level of the sport should not be condoned.

“It has been reported that player No.10 held the referee by the collar and player No.13 punched the referee,” said Peiris confirming the incident of assault after the Royal vs St. Joseph’s match at Royal Sports Complex.

“According to my knowledge, World Rugby regulations related to code of conduct on misconduct by players could lead to a life ban from the sport. A Fijian player was banned for life for assaulting referee Aruna Jayasekera by the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union,” he said.

That incident occurred in 2004 when CR and FC number 8 Joshua Kala assaulted Jayasekera during during a game against arch rivals Havelocks SC at Havelock Park. The attack resulted in Jayasekera losing part of his front tooth while the Fijian forward disappeared when police moved to arrest him.

A former referee speaking to Daily News said punishment for players assaulting a referee ranges from five-year suspension to life bans.

“Last year when a player assaulted an official at the Mercantile Sevens, he was banned for only three months by Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR). This is a joke.

Everybody is laughing at Sri Lanka. This nonsense has to stop immediately. Other countries know about it. World Rugby and Asia Rugby is watching us,” he said.

Former Air Force ruggerite Gunaratne, one of the leading referees in Sri Lanka, said this was the first time in his 25 years as an official he had come across this unpleasant situation.

“After the match two players came running behind me even as the security flanked me as I headed to the dressing room. They asked me something but I did not answer because I am not obliged to speak to anyone after the game. One held me by the collar and the other player hit me and I fell to the ground,” said Gunaratne, 46, relating the incident to Daily News.

Gunaratne’s report is based on photographic evidence and the quick thinking of his assistant referee.

“I did not see who punched me but I fell to the ground. According to the photos, an assistant referee had caught the player who punched me,” said Gunaratne confirming he did not suffer any serious injuries.

It is speculated that Maduranga may have had a grievance against referee Gunaratne who penalised the player for holding on in the dying stages of St. Joseph’s match against St. Peter’s on June 22. The Peterites snatched victory 23-21 from the jaws of defeat following the penalty conversion which also cost the Josephians a chance to win the title.

“There were no issues regarding my refereeing in the Royal vs Joseph’smatch. I think he (Maduranga) may be angry over that since he did not start the game and came off the bench in the second half or he may have been instigated by someone to confront me in a fit of rage,” added Gunaratne. 


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