Abdeen- one of Sri Lanka's greatest ruggerites | Daily News


Abdeen- one of Sri Lanka's greatest ruggerites

Rugby Legend Hisham Abdeen receives a memento from Rizly Illyas, President, Sri Lanka Rugby, after being honoured as a life Member at a ceremony held recently.
Rugby Legend Hisham Abdeen receives a memento from Rizly Illyas, President, Sri Lanka Rugby, after being honoured as a life Member at a ceremony held recently.

Rugby in Sri Lanka reached great heights especially in 1980’s by producing some highly talented players, who raised the standard of the sport to next level both locally and Internationally. One of the prolific players in this era was Hisham Abdeen, who is a triple international representing the country in Rugby, Football and Sepak Takraw, which earned him an honorary life member status at Sri Lanka Rugby recently..

Hisham who is in his late-50’s, started his school career at Zahira College, Colombo. When he was a young schoolboy, one of his uncles, T.R. Samath, who was a Policeman, played rugby for them which influenced and motivated him to take up Rugby. He then represented the college in Rugby, Athletics, Soccer and Cricket and excelled in all these sports. Even though he is renowned for his skills in rugby he also was the captain of the college athletic team in 1977. At the age of 14 years, he was chosen to play in the first fifteen rugby sides at college and went on to lead them in 1978. along with rugby he was involved in playing cricket until 1979. He still holds an unblemished record of scoring 25 tries in a season, which is a unique achievement at the school’s rugby arena. He then crossed over to Isipathana College to represent them in all those sports, in which he became a top performer. He continued his good form from Zahira and went on to establish several records in all sports at Isipathana. His five-year school’ rugby career from 1976 to 1980 in both schools has some unforgettable memories, which he is still proud of. He has played with top class yesteryear players at Isipathana such as M.P.F. Sallay, K.D. Nanayakkara, Anuruddha Bowala, M.D.Ifthikar Isipathana had the best third row in school rugby in 1979 which involved Sallay, Hisham and Ifthikar who were fearless in tackling the opponents. He would like to mention that he was moulded as a great player by O.W.R.Perera, his coach at Isipathana. Due to this he was called “Bionic Abdeen.” In 1979/80 he played in the Asian Schools Rugby Tournament where he was adjudged best player.

When he was a schoolboy he opted to play club rugby in 1979 for Havelock Sports Club. He played as a third row player along with Angelo Wickremaratne, Jeffrey De Jong, Michael Jayasekera some of the greats in the game until 1988. He was called for national duty as a school boy in 1980 to play in the Hong Kong sevens side led by Lanil Tennakoon. He then continued to represent the country frequently in both forms of the game, the sevens and the fifteen a-side. He led the Park Club side in 1983 where the tournament was interrupted due to communal riotsHe scored eight tries in a match against Army Sports Club in 1981 at Longden place which the park club won 50-0 and went on to score 18 tries in a season, which was a tough task at that period, where most of the players were top performers.

After a one year break in 1989, Kishin Butani invited him to play for CH and FC in 1990 and he played for five years for them. He played with some rugby greats like Chandrishan Perera, Simon Hunter, Apsi Nagata, Rohan Abeykoon, Sudesh Abysinghe, Manasa Qoro, Illatia Ravaovu. Then in 1993 under his captaincy they won their third triple crown for the Gymkhana club by winning the A Division League Premadasa Trophy by beating Kandy SC 16-0 in the final and Rugby Sevens by edging out Havelocks 24 -22. In 1995/6 season he joined Kishin to develop rugby in the outstations and to play in the ‘B’ division with Kurunegala RFC, which got promoted to ‘A’ division in 1996. In 1997 he

played for Peterson Rugby Football Club. According to him the unforgettable moment in life was in 1984 winning the bowl championship at the Hong Kong sevens as captain, involving the top nations like Japan, Fiji and Australia.

He has a whole list of achievements where he was a member in all those teams played overseas.

He after representing schools in soccer dribbled the ball for Java Lane Sports Club. He was a member of the National team which toured Korea in 1986. After he retired from all forms of the game, he started coaching St.Peter’s College, Colombo, Isipathana, and Ananda Colleges. He was later invited to the hill capital by Dharmaraja College, Kandy in 2011.He coached the under-18 to become champions and continued with the same team to win the under-20 championships in 2013. Isipathana who were relegated to ‘B’ division 2005/6, extended an invitation to take over coaching . He was instrumental in guiding them to be promoted to ‘A’ division in 2007,. He was called to take over the mens and women's sevens national teams during this period along with Chandrishan Perera, where they produced some champions sides, He also served as a National selector on many occasions.

He then formed his rugby academy in 2010 by the name HARFA represented by players from the age of 8 years.

There are about 80 players from different schools from Colombo. The founder patron was Jan C.Vlas Kamp, a Frenchman who inaugurated this academy.

Booso’s Dental Chamber, established in 1957 has been giving a helping hand from the inception to continue the good work while producing many talented players.

Hisham is a role model for Rugby as a player and was an indefatigable person on the field.

Until the recent past the rugby fraternity failed to utilize his services for the betterment of the game in the country.

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