Kishin Butani - rugby promoter par excellence | Daily News


Kishin Butani - rugby promoter par excellence

The president  of Sri Lanka Rugby Rizly Illyas (on left) presenting a mememto to Kishin Butani in appreciation of his services in promoting rugby.
The president of Sri Lanka Rugby Rizly Illyas (on left) presenting a mememto to Kishin Butani in appreciation of his services in promoting rugby.

In any success story irrespective of any field there has to be a person behind it. In Rugby during the 1980’s and 1990s which can be called the “Golden Era of Rugby” there was one person who became the cynosure of all eyes He was none other than Kishin Ramchand Butani well known as “Kishin” who played a pivotal role in developing the game, spending his time and wealth to make it one of the best sports in the country, which earned him a honorary life membership at the recently concluded Sri Lanka Rugby(SLR) AGM

Kishin a proud product of St.Thomas College, Gurutalawa embarked on his rugby career way back in 1965 . He was the head prefect of College in 1966 and Captained the College Rugby team along with his team mates Prithiviraj De Silva , Sohan Weerasinghe. Kishin who was enthusiastic had a love for this game and after leaving school. he started to promote rugby in the Nuwara Eliya district from 1968 to 1970. In 1971 due to the insurgency all this came to an end and Kishin came to Colombo in 1972 and joined CH and FC. In the year 1978/1979 he was chosen to serve on the sports committee. He was appointed as the Rugby Secretary of CH and FC in 1982 when CH won the ‘A’ Division League Rugby Title under N.H. Karunasena as Captain and Y.C.Chang as the coach. Two years later he opted to finance the game, and was the first to sponsor the Clifford Cup Knockout Tournament held in Kandy. He was also the Patron of Mercantile Rugby Football Association and was a pillar of strength co-sponsoring the event for many years. His company Butani Marketing won the Mercantile Rugby Sevens three times under his leadership.

It was Elmo Rajasooriya and Y.C. Chang who introduced Kishin to CH rugby in 1982 and he continued as rugby secretary until 1986. After a one year break, he came back in 1988 to revive CH Rugby by recruiting School boys from Isipathana, Ananda, Zahira, St.Joseph’s, St. Anthony’s, Katugastota and Thurstan. He was also instrumental in becoming the first school rugby sponsor in history by sponsoring Isipathana College in 1989 and continued until 1992, which paved the way for a majoriry of Isipathana Rugby players of 1989 and 1990 joining CH like Bimal Perera, Chanka Jayaweera, Ruwan Dananjaya, Parakrama Ratnayake, Frank Abeysinghe, Miyuru Yuganthaa, Kimal Mustapha, Sudesh Abeysinghe, Champika Nishantha to name a few.

He then played a key role in organizing the inaugural under 20 tournament among all school leavers in 1989 /1990 season for the Ziyan Saheed Trophy. In 1985 Kishin was involved in bringing Chandrashan Perera and Simon Hunter to represent CH in Rugby.

In 1991 SLR constitution was changed to the Provincial model proposed by Jeff Matheson a former New Zealander. This led to the formation of Western Province, Southern Province, North Western Province, Uva Province, Sabaragamuwa Province, North Central Province except for the Eastern Province and the Northern Province. With this formation Rugby in the country was spread to these seven Provinces where Kishin Butani promoted rugby coaching clinics there.

Soon after the New Sports Minister, S.B Dissanayake took office in 1994 he, appointed Kishin to the Sri Lanka Sports Council to serve as its member until 1998. During this period, he organized a Junior Schools Rugby Tournament with present Highways Minister Johnston Fernando involving more than 2500 schoolboys from North Western Province at the Maliyadeva Grounds, Kurunegala. He supported St. Annes, Kurunegala to revive rugby. In 1995 Kurunegala Rugby was sponsored by Kishin along with Hassan Sinhawansa and Johnston Fernando who was the KRFC President. KRFC team emerged ‘B’ Division Club Champions in 1995. In 1996 KRFC was Promoted to the ‘A’ division for the first time in their rugby history, Kishin got Apisai Nagata, Hisham Abdeen and most of his CH players to represent KRFC including former Fiji Vice Captain Savanacia Aria the Centre three Quarter. Rugby was played in Kurunegala at the Welagedara Stadium where all the ‘A’ division club matches were conducted at the home ground of KRFC.

In 1996 Kishin along with Hassan joined Kandy Sports club with Nimal Lewke as the Head Coach. Kandy tasted their first triple crown win in 1997 under Lasantha Wijesooriya as Captain with Siva Subaramanium as Rugby Chairman of Kandy. With inclusion of two Fijians by Kishin in 1996, Etonia Qoro and Meli Nakuta the two exciting world class centres and continued with more Fijian flavour in 1997 with Opethi Turuwa, Manasa Qoro, Ameniyasi Kurinova and Apisai Nagata too playing for Kandy which won the Triple Crown.

Kishin was also CH Representative at the SLR during the period 1982 to 1986 and was included in the Organizing committee of the R. Premadasa Trophy Knockout Tournament In 1984/85/86 along with Y.C.Chang. Kishin Butani was the Chairman Joint Sports of Gymkhana Club in 1988 and 1989 and became Chairman Gymkhana Club from 1990 to 1993 ushering in the golden era of CH and FC rugby.

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