CR&FC rugby stalwart Dushyantha ‘Sam’ fights against failing eye sight | Daily News


 

Rare feat of captaining club to ‘A’ and ‘B’ division championships

CR&FC rugby stalwart Dushyantha ‘Sam’ fights against failing eye sight

CR&FC CLIFFORD CUP CHAMPIONS 1971 : Seated (from left): CH Seneviratne (general secretary), K Ratnapala, NH Omar, R Rajasingham (president), Dushyantha Samarasekera (captain), S Navaratnam (coach), SC de Sylva, D de Almeida, TH Jaldin (rugger secretary). Middle Row (from left): BCW Jayasekera, VDC Wijewardene, DR Weerasinghe, Dr ID de Sylva, P Perera, S Fernando, R Bartholomeusz, E Gunaratne, TB Marambe. Back Row (from left): M Samarawickrema, H Abdeen, M Balasuriya, A Abeyratne, H Hameed, RW Schokman, F Ismail, P Talwatte, R Rajkumar. Absent: J Fernando, S Samarasekera. 

Dushyantha Samarasekera is a name synonymous with CR&FC rugby than with Sri Lanka rugby although he has represented both his club and country equally with zest and even served them in the capacity of an official on several occasions.

A product of Thurstan College for whom he played rugby for three years from 1962, Samarasekera fondly known as ‘Sam’ was a diehard prop forward who represented CR&FC for over 15 years from 1965-1980 and during that period won many laurels for himself as well as the club.

“I played in four Clifford Cup finals and we won all four including the one I captained in 1971,” Samarasekera told the ‘Daily News’ in an interview. “Except for my first year when I got into the side as a second row forward from 1966 I played as prop most of the time.”

“I played right along from 1965 till 1976 in the first division and I never got dropped from the side. I took a break in 1977 and returned to the first division in 1978. In 1979 and 1980 I played in the B division for CR Bees and both years we won the CRFU President’s trophy championship. I captained the team that won in 1980 and have the unique record of having captained two winning teams the A division Clifford Cup and the B division CRFU President’s trophy. Nobody in the history of CR&FC has done that,” Samarasekera said proudly.


Dushyantha Samarasekera

An honorary Life Member of CR&FC Samarasekera played in the exalted company of such outstanding players as Hadji Omar, Bambi Jayasekera, Niranjan Perera, Cecil Perera, Eric Roles, Sari de Sylva, Deepal Soysa, Tony de Silva and K Ratnapala some of the names that came to his mind.

He was a member of the CR&FC sides that won the All-India rugby tournament when it was held in Sri Lanka in 1968 and in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1973 and toured Mumbai twice as an official of the club in 1977 and 1983.

After hanging up his boots Samarasekera became the club’s secretary for three years from 1977, deputy president in 1980 and 1981 and president in 1982. He returned as deputy president in 1986 and continued for a further four years under the presidency of UN Gunasekara. Since 1971 he served in the CR&FC rugby selection committee for many years and held several other offices. It was at his initiation in 1987 that floodlighting was installed at the club.

Samarasekera donned the Sri Lanka jersey playing against foreign sides as the Bosuns, Blackheaths, London Wales, Paris University, Australian Emus, Hastings and Bexhills and also against a Japanese side that came to Sri Lanka before the 1974 Asiad.

In 1985 he toured the Far East as assistant manager, 1986 for the Asiad in Bangkok, 1987 to Wales and 1988 to Hong Kong.

Samarasekera served as secretary of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) for four years from 1985-88 with YC Chang as president and was one of the first members to be in the R Premadasa trophy organising committee.

In 1986 Samarasekera represented Sri Lanka at the IRB Centenary Congress and it was here according to him that Sri Lanka broke new ground and was able to make international contacts with other teams and players.

“We made a lot of contacts with the foreign sides and just after we returned from the Congress we got an invitation from the Australian rugby union to take part in the Sydney Sevens. It was the first and only time we took part. We also got an invitation to go to Wales and toured there in 1987,” said Samarasekera.

“I also made contact with the Fijian rugby union whose representative was Arthur Jennings. He is the one who sent Apsi Nagata and Manasa Koro to Sri Lanka. They were the first two foreign players to represent local clubs,” he said.

DON’T APE OTHER NATIONS

Rolling back the years of his distinguished rugby career Samarasekera said, “My best years were 1969-71. In 1970 we had two semi-final matches against the Havelocks. In 1970 against Army we were 18 points down in the first half and we ended up winning the match by 24-18. That was one of the great games that I played in and also the two 1970 semi-finals against Havelocks. In 1971 we beat Police to win the Clifford Cup under my captaincy. We played great rugby.”

Samarasekera was of the view that Sri Lanka should play rugby in the style that is best suited to them instead of trying to ape other nations.

“We are trying to play the same type of game the foreign teams do. You don’t see the same type of run and pass game anymore. Even the power play is not there so much. That is the only thing that is missing,” said Samarasekera.

“It has become a very contact game now and our guys I don’t think they are strong enough to handle that, so it is better for them to play that old style of run and pass game because our guys are a little faster. That’s why we do well in our Sevens. It is better for them to concentrate on playing that kind of rugby rather than trying to match other sides. In international games they go into about 20-30 phases sometimes. We cannot do that because we are not strongly built. It’s useless trying to copy their style of play when we can’t afford to maintain the fitness,” he said.

An engineer by profession Samarasekera received his initial training at Walkers before moving into several other Mercantile establishments. He migrated to Vancouver, Canada in 1989 where he has been living with his family for the past 30 years.

“I migrated mainly for the sake of my two sons,” said Samarasekera. “Both were into rugby my eldest played for Royal College upto about under 17 and then we migrated. My second boy played mini rugby and captained the 1989 side and in Canada he represented Maggie senior schools and captained in all his grades until he graduated. He also went on rugby tours with the school.”

Hailing from a rugby family Samarasekera is the fourth in a family of seven. He has three brothers and three sisters.

For the past eight years or so Samarasekera, 73 has been fighting against failing eye sight despite undergoing several operations for glaucoma and has to be helped along in his daily travels.

“I visit Sri Lanka quite often I used to come alone sometimes or with my wife but now I can’t travel alone. It has been frustrating because I cannot see very much. It is very gloomy at times. I watch international rugby games on television although at times it is slightly disturbing. But in the open field it is difficult to recognize people.

“I am retired now and I cannot work anymore. I play a little a bridge with some seniors and go to the gym and keep exercising to while away my time,” was how Samarasekera described his daily routine as darkness threatens to engulf his vision and shut him out from the world completely. 


CR&FC ‘BEES’ CRFU PRESIDENT’S TROPHY CHAMPIONS 1980 : Seated (from left): V Dharmadasa, VLA Ratnayaka, SAP Samarasekera, D de Almeida, Dushyantha Samarasekera (captain), TA Omerdeen, AR Halangoda, L Waniganayaka, C Dharmadasa.   Standing (from left): N Fernando, KMJ Lappen, W Herath, SD Peiris, MA Uvais, S Liyanage, DR Oumar, NB Ravindra. Seated on ground: Room boy Parusaraman Absent: H Goonathileka, J Fernando, Y Raju, MB Jayaweera.


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