Illyas hopes to make rugby the best sport in the country | Daily News


Illyas hopes to make rugby the best sport in the country

Rizly Illyas the incumbent Sri Lanka Rugby President with his new committee and the honorary life members
Rizly Illyas the incumbent Sri Lanka Rugby President with his new committee and the honorary life members

A visionary leader, Rizly Illyas became the 67th President of Sri Lanka Rugby(SLR) uncontested at their Annual General Meeting held at the Ramada Hotel in Colombo last Saturday with the highest number of participation of the members from the union.

Rizly took over the presidency from his outgoing colleague Lasitha Guneratne amidst well-wishes from the stakeholders like rugby coaches, rugby players, national players, old boy’s unions, schools association, provincial unions and friends Rizly with an experience over three decades in the game as a player, club administrator while serving in several responsible posts in the Unions, started proceedings by honouring eleven former legends and administrators by granting them life membership for their services rendered for the betterment of the game, before he embarked on a vision of making the game the best sport in the country while reaching great heights.

One of the key priorities of Rizly is to find a way and means of resuming the tournaments on par with the health related guidelines which he called as “getting back to rugby”.

He is scheduled to meet the concerned authorities this week to discuss the possibilities to resume the game both at schools and club levels. He has drafted a proposal with health related matters after discussion with Dr.Namith Sankalpana who is a World Rugby accredited doctor in the country. He hopes to conduct two workshops in Colombo and Kandy to educate all stakeholders in the game from the schools and the clubs arena.

However, it is of the view that the present tournament structure is too long which spans about 18weeks and followed by the knock out tournament. He intends to curtail it to nine weeks followed by the knockout tournament. The main idea behind this is to get the players to play competitive rugby while maintaining their physique and remain injury free.

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 most clubs are struggling with their respective sponsors, who are reluctant to release funds as per the agreement, after the effects on their businesses due to the outcome of the pandemic.

While making efforts to resume the game, the most important other aspect in his agenda is finding sponsors. The debt ridden SLR which runs up to several million rupees, has to be rescued with an execution of a proper plan, for which Rizly is very optimistic of clearing the hurdles, which is listed and prioritized to be addressed in his plan.

With a young energetic rugby loving minister Namal Rajapaksa who himself is a former player along with his brothers, also playing the game will no doubt give their unstinted support for the growth of the game. Rizly with a heap of agendas in his fold expects the stakeholders and media to support him in his endeavours to achieve the stipulated results in the game with his energetic young set of officials.

“I am delighted to have such a big gathering for this event with over 110 members from the rugby fraternity being present. I have been entrusted to rejuvenate the game in the country and Internationally. My immediate priority is to look at the possibilities of resuming the game at schools and club rugby for which we have to have a proper plan. We are scheduled to meet the concerned authorities in the upcoming weeks with a health related plan drafted by Dr.Sankalpana. We are very confident that we could start playing rugby in the country as soon as possible.” said Rizly.

“Getting finances is another herculean task in any sport. We can see the IT sector and some other sectors are ready to support sports. But they look at a well executed plan. We have drawn a lot of plans and proposals, which we will offer them for accruing sponsorship. We will make amendments to the tournament structure which is too long. We look at productive schedules which will benefit all parties. By and large I hope to do my best with my team to revamp all formats of the games in my two year tenure in office.” he concluded.

Rugby in Sri Lanka was inaugurated way back in 1879 when the game was played under the name of “Ceylon Rugby Football Union” in 1908.

The SLR Committee

President- Rizly Illiyas,

Deputy President- Nazeem Mohamed, Vice President- Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiarachchi, Secretary- Dimithri Jude,

Treasurer- Dinesh Perera.

The honorary life members are DIG (retired) Hafees Marso, Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Goonathilake, DIG (retired) Nimal Lewke Arjun Dharmadasa, Rear Admiral (retired) Harsha Mayadunne, Asanga Seneviratne, Priyantha Ekanayake, Kishin Butani, C.P.P. Abeygunawardena, Mohan Samarakoon, Cicero de Fonseka.

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