Police SC’s contribution to Sri Lankan rugby | Daily News


Police SC’s contribution to Sri Lankan rugby

Sri Lanka Police Rugby has a proud history that goes back to 1881 where a team of Police officers participated in a rugby game at the “Kew Garden” Park in Malay Street, Slave Island. In 1891, a team from the Pettah Police Station played a rugby match. In 1961 Police SC together with Division ‘B’ teams from Air Force, Army, Navy and University were permitted to play alongside the Division ‘A’ clubs, CR & FC, CH & FC, Havelock SC, Kandy SC, Dimbula Athletic & Cricket Club, Dickoya Maskeliya Cricket Club, Uva and Kelani Valley Club in the Clifford Cup competition. The expanded competition, allowed all thirteen clubs to play each other once on a home and away basis in alternate years and at the end of the season the best eight teams went on to play in a knock-out tournament for the Clifford Cup.

The Police Sports Club were promoted to Division ‘A’ in 1967 and the first year they made the Clifford Cup finals, defeating Dickoya MCC in the quarter-final and C R&FC in the semi-final before losing the final to Havelock Sports Club 3–11. They won their first Clifford Cup in 1970, under the captaincy of Abdul Majeed, drawing in the final 6–6 with Havelock SC. The club went on to win its first Clifford Cup outright in 1972, when led by Anton Benedict they defeated Colombo H&FC 12–9. In the following year, Police SC participated in another drawn Cup final, this time with Army SC.

The club won its first Division ‘A’ league title, which was then known as the ‘John Player League’ in 1979, under the captaincy of Charles Wijewardene and retained the title in the following year (1980) led by Nimal Lewke. They were successful again four years later in 1984, under Upali Vithanage, winning the Clifford Cup. Police went on to win six consecutive league titles from 1984-89. During this period the club won numerous Sevens wins and clinched the triple crown twice. In 1985 under the leadership of Sunil Sahabandu, they were unbeaten in the league, won the Clifford Cup, by defeating Havelock SC 22-16 and were also victorious in the Sevens competition. In 1986 under H. Premasiri they retained the league title, and in 1987 under Muruga Jayaratne they won the league title and the sevens. In 1988 Ajantha Samarakoon captained them to win the double again.

In 1989 they enjoyed their most successful season under Hafeel Marso clinching the triple crown (the League title, Sevens and Clifford Cup). In 1990 they were heading the League points table, at the end of the first round but had to withdraw from the competition due to the Second Eelam War. In 1991 under Hemantha Yatawara they won the league and Clifford Cup, their last titles to date.

The present Police rugby chairman S/DIG M.R. Latiff is all out to bring back Police rugby to its former position, and he has urged them to hold their heads high. This time the Cops are led by prop forward Shanaka Harischandra and Asanga Rodrigo is the coach.

Kandy has contributed a lot to Police rugby. Over the years, a large number of Kandy school products have donned the “Blue jersey”. Police came a long way since that match winning kick of Bagoos Sourjah which brought Police into that famous 1970 Cup final, where they beat the star studded CR & FC. That was the turning point of Police rugby.

Police won the coveted Clifford Cup for the first time in 1972 under the leadership of Josephian Anton Benedict. The 1972 Police team was coached by Former Trinity, Kandy SC, CR & FC and Sri Lanka center late Kavan Rambukwella.

In that year Police had a superb rugby chairman - Rudra Rajasingham. He too played for Trinity College and Kandy Sports Club before joining Colombo clubs.

The first Cup winning Police team which was led by Anton Benedict, who later led the Havelock SC and had some of the Kandy players in his Police side, like brilliant wing-three-quarter Bandula Wijesinghe of (Nugawela Central College), Sam Samarasekara (Trinity and Kandy SC), P.S. “Rock: Banda of (Poramadulla Central), P.S. Kularathne (Vidyartha), Juragon Savangam (Trinity), R.M. Lafir (Vidyartha and Kandy SC), Nimal Lewke (St. Sylvester’s and Kandy SC), Daya Jayasundara (Dharmaraja and Kandy SC), Nimal Abeyasinghe (St. Annes) and S. Somachandra (Gampola Central). Some of these players did not play rugby for their schools but learnt the game, after joining the Police.

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