Sri Lanka Rugby can take a cue from Kandy SC’s professionalism | Daily News

Review of Dialog Rugby Club 7’s:

Sri Lanka Rugby can take a cue from Kandy SC’s professionalism

Kandy SC savouring another triumph in domestic rugby. (Picture by Sudam Gunasinghe)
Kandy SC savouring another triumph in domestic rugby. (Picture by Sudam Gunasinghe)

The professionalism displayed by Kandy SC rugby management and players should be lauded for switching their focus to the Sevens format seamlessly after a successful league season. They were a notch above all opposition at the Dialog Rugby Club 7’s and emerged champions with a clinical performance.

There is a certain aura about them that has to be admired as they wear the crown of being the undisputed Kings of local rugby without any qualms. Whereas others would wilt under the pressure of maintaining their reputation and consistency every season, challenges only seem to spur Kandy SC to greater heights although they may go to any lengths to get the best on their side.

It is also not a surprise that the best players are drawn to the hill capital club like a magnet because they are a champion club who treat the players like royalty accorded only to cricket stars. For instance, when Kandy SC travelled to Colombo for last week’s tournament, the players were accommodated in a five-star hotel. They are professionals to their finger tips and raise the bar to a level where lesser teams could only strive to play catch up.

Even Sri Lanka Rugby could take a cue from the professional outlook of Kandy SC whose players fortunately form the bulk of national teams. Whether this is a healthy sign for the future of the game only time will but with plans to have a dedicated Sevens national squad leading upto the 2020 Asian Games in the pipeline, Kandy SC have shown what professionalism really means both on and off the field.

It is a matter of instilling pride whether you play for club or country and treating players with the respect they deserve and not like objects to be discarded when they are a spent force. Because ultimately in a contact sport like rugby, it is the individual who puts his body on line and players look for security if they are to give their 100 per cent. It is only when you give them the best that you can demand loyalty and output in any sphere of life.

The rugby dished out overall during the Club 7’s was pleasing to the eye and bodes well for the future of the sport in the country. It was not as if Kandy SC steam rolled past teams without a whimper of protest but they were just too good at times.

The manner in which they dismantled a tough side like Havelocks in the Cup semi-finals was too good to be believed. It was one-way traffic until Havelocks skipper Mithun Hapugoda scored a consolation try in a 29-5 defeat.

Hat-trick of tries

Srinath Sooriyabandara announced his return after a lay-off from injury suffered during the Asian Sevens Series last year, with a sublime hat-trick of tries in the Cup quarter-final against Air Force A. He bemused the defenders by stepping to the left and right before crossing the line from close range for two of his tries. He also orchestrated many a move from the base to show he is truly back in business.

Team effort

But rugby is not all about individual brilliance, says Sri Lanka rugby legend Fazil Marija who started his first season as head coach of Kandy SC on a winning note.

“It’s a team effort. We can have a lot of brilliant players but we have to play as a team,” emphasized Marija who has scored over 200 tries for both club and country in both formats of the game.

“I was coach when we won the first leg of Club 7’s last year but this is my first time as head coach. We had good players. We worked hard for this tournament. Everybody played their part. For me, it is the best tournament Kandy ever played in,” said Marija speaking to the Daily News after their triumph.

It was a memorable start to the season for new skipper Nigel Ratwatte who attributed their dominance in the tournament to their training.

“The tournament was quite easy because we had a really good training squad. We trained really hard. That paid off at the end of the tournament. Training hard was the key factor for winning this year’s tournament,” said young Ratwatte.

“Getting prepared for this big tournament was not easy because other teams were also quite good. Comparing with other teams, we were good on our fitness and skills due to our training,” said Ratwatte paying a glowing tribute to their new recruit and player of the tournament Kavindu Perera.

“He had a good tournament. It is not easy because Kandy is a tough team to get into. He made his mark,” he said of the former CR and FC captain.

Honour to captain

On a personal note, Ratwate said: “It’s an honour and humble moment to become champions. It is quite an honour to captain Kandy SC because it is one of the most recognized clubs in Sri Lanka.”

Ironically Kavindu Perera was a thorn in the flesh for his former club scoring two tries in Kandy SC’s 24-14 triumph in the Cup final.

“We lost four players from last season. Tharinda Ratwatte, Kavindu Perera, Rehaan Silva (who had gone abroad) and Omalka Gunaratne (who opted out of playing Sevens),” said CR skipper Reeza Raffaideen, a former Kingswoodian.

“We have a very good young side and took it match by match. We played to a game plan. I am pleased by our performance,” said Raffaideen, a Sri Lanka player in both formats, who showed his class with his searing pace on the flanks.

The young Police side were a revelation demolishing CH and FC 28-12 in the Cup quarter-finals with Sachith Silva being outstanding while debutants Malay CC also put their hand up by storming into the Shield final with a 33-5 romp over provincial club Galle RFC with pencil-thin Ishan Jurangpathy making merry but ran out of steam in the final.

Army referees pull out

Army may have deprived their top referee Pradeep Weranga of blowing in the final after five of their referees withdrew from officiating on the second day of the tournament. An Asian panel referee, Weranga was slated to officiate the CR-Kandy final which was handed to Aaqil Jamaldeen ahead of foreign referee James Fairbourne. Army officials were not available for comment.


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