Kandy’s rugby stalwart Denzil Kobbekaduwa | Daily News


Kandy’s rugby stalwart Denzil Kobbekaduwa

Denzil Kobbekaduwa
Denzil Kobbekaduwa

Late Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa, born in Kandy on July 27, 1940 was one of the finest rugby players to come out of Kandy. During his school days at Trinity College which was known as the cradle of rugby, Denzil was a top class scrum-half. He first played for Trinity in 1957 under the leadership of Ken de Joodt. He also played cricket, basketball and performed well in athletics. He led the rugby side in 1959 and won colours and was also a Lion winner. He was also the vice-captain of the hockey team in 1959 and won colours in that sport as well. He also played cricket, basketball and did athletics. Denzil was also a school prefect, and later became the senior prefect. This appointment was only for a week, since he opted to pursue a career with the Ceylon Army and was enlisted as an Officer Cadet. He was posted to Diyatalawa for training, before leaving for a two year officer training program at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. These circumstances prevented him from qualifying for the coveted Ryde Gold Medal for the best all-round student of Trinity College. He started his schooling first at Hillwood Girls College, Kandy which is the sister School of Trinity College. In 1948 he joined Trinity College, where he excelled in education and sports.

In 1960 he began his illustrious career in the Sri Lanka Army. Having successfully completed his training in the UK he became a regular member of the Sri Lanka Army rugby team from 1963 which he went on to lead later. He was unfortunately sent on compulsory leave in 1966, in which year he turned out for Havelock SC before returning to his home town in 1967. He donned the Kandy SC white jersey for the first time in 1967 under Y.C.Chang and in 1970 after three games he went back to the Army. Denzil’s greatest moment was in 1969 when he led Kandy SC in the Clifford Cup. Under his leadership Kandy SC rose to great heights and beat league champions Havelock SC by 11-8 in the Clifford Cup quarter finals, and in the semi-finals beat CH & FC 3-0 but lost 6-12 to CR&FC in the final. From 1966 to 1969 he coached his alma mater Trinity College and produced two champion teams with the help of another colourful sports personality Percy Madugalle.

From 1970 to 1972 Denzil played for the Army. In 1972 he played for the Army while serving as the Secretary of the SLRFU then known as CRFU – a unique achievement indeed. Then in the early 1970s when the Army pulled out of rugby due to the insurgency, Denzil turned out for CR & FC ‘Bees’.

He rendered invaluable service to rugby as secretary of the controlling body from 1972 to 1974. He was also one of the country’s leading referees and officiated from 1974 to 1985, and was also one-time manager of the Sri Lanka team at the ASIAD in 1978.

In memory of him the Kandy Club house was named as Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa and a Memorial Trophy too was donated to be presented to the winner of the match between Central Province RFU and Western Province RFU. Later this Trophy was used for the inter-club Rugby Sevens. Today the trophy has gone missing. Denzil is no more, but his memory will remain forever in the hearts of all those who knew him.

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