A Challenge for Rizly Illyas | Daily News


A Challenge for Rizly Illyas

Rugby in Sri Lanka needs a hard tackle----bone crunch perhaps--so that more sense is knocked into the administration of a popular sport that was losing it’s zip. Thanks to school rugby, the game has retained traction. But club rugby is another matter. The welcome extended to the new Pesident of Sri Lanka Rugby RIZLY ILLYAS is as warm as its a challenge to him to deliver the game back to some of it’s lost standing.

It was encouraging to see numbers of distinguished personalities welcoming ILLYAS. This bodes well for a good and a successful run and try scoring for the game. ILLYAS wears the mantle of the second most respected sport in the country and during his tenure he will have to run and maintain its highest traditions and not leave any queries to be asked especially concerning its finances.

As was his supporters there will also be his critics and the green eyed who will sharpen their teeth and wait to pounce on any shortcoming in Sri Lanka Rugby. He must remain alive to the critics and keep a hawk eye.

Also in addition respected personalities graced the occasion to welcome him and see him receive the highest honour in the administration. It was also great to see him receive good media support which is so very important in his tenure and keeping the game and the administration clean.

The good media support he received was because from the day he took to rugby at Petersons he cultivated and maintained a good rapport with all mediamen.. Of course this may be short lived if goods are not delivered.

ILLYAS in the two years he served as Deputy President to the famous Lasitha Guneratne gave him all the support although at times they may have not seen eye to eye disagreed on some moves or matters. But that was good for the game and showed the democracy that exists in the Sri Lanka Rugby administration.

Anyway now that ILLYAS will sit on the rugby seat proudly and sport the rugby crown, a lot will be expected from him and his efficient committee who will have to join in the scrum, the lineout, the wings and score for the game with him making the moves from the most important position of stand off.

Life members

Scanning through the list of the new Life Members of Sri Lanka Rugby appointed who are illustrious and respected gentlemen who excelled in the sport and some in the promotion of the game, it was a bit unsettling to see the names of Mike de Alwis, Tuan Nizam Hajireen missing from the list. Hajireen it must be recalled won two trophies for the police believe it or not on the same day.

After winning the Clifford Cup for the Police team for the first time beating Havelocks with a penalty when both team supporters were shouting themselves hoarse, he immediately rode his iron horse to the Sugathadas Stadium to help Police win the Football Federation Cup. It was enthusiasm and energy unlimited.

It is also a pity to note that that hooker par excellence for Dimbula and the country Mike de Alwis is missing from the Life Membership.

While Haji Omar a former national team captain and Daya Jayasundera a former Police ruggerite were posthumously promoted as Life Members, it was also unfortunate that that centre who ran with ball in his hand like a cheetah to score plenty of tries for club and country Didacus de Almeida has yet not been posthumously promoted a Life Member.

Policeman Nizam Hajireen is a sportsman par excellence. He played rugger and soccer which made him a rare double international, cricket, hockey and athletics and later Sepaktakraw. Marso a policeman who was inducted was also a double international in rugby and basketball.

Here are the lists of the SLR committee – President Rizly Illyas, Deputy President, Nazeem Mohamed, Vice Presidents, Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiaratchchi, Secretary Dimithri Jude, Treasurer Dinesh Perera.

Honorary Life members – DIG – Retired – Hafeez Marso, Marshal of the Air Force – Roshan Goonatillke – DIG Retired Nimal Lewke, Arjua Dharmadasa, Real Admiral -Retired- Harsha Mayadunne, Asanga Seneviratne, Priyantha Ekanayale, Kishin Butani,C.P.P. Abeygunewardena, Mohan Samarakoon and Cicero de Fonseka..

Of the List of Life Membership there are four outstanding men who did wonders for the game, its development and progress. They are Asanga Seneviratne, Kishin Butani, Nimal Lewke and Hafees Marso.

Lewke in addition to his magnificent play where he was a member of the Police Clifford Cup rugby winning team, also coached many schools and produced many outstanding ruggerites who went on to sport the national jersey. Last year he was the proud recipient of an award from President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Sports Awards Ceremony organized by the famous Saman Amarasinghe Director of Sport.

It must also be recorded that when champions Kandy Sports Club was slipping in form, Malik Samarawickrema requested Lewke to go and put their rugby right. He worked hard with the team and the end result triple champions.

On Kishin Butani after playing Up Country rugby he came down to Colombo to concentrate on his business Butani Exports and immediately took to rugby and its administration like a duck taking to water and after throwing in his lot with the CH and FC paved the way for the club not only to raise its standards, but also win the triple trophy.

Butani gave employment to several ruggerites, at times even spending his own money to help the players and the players delivered by winning trophies and being the glamour club. In his endeavor he had an excellent secretary in ‘King’ Hassen Sinhawansa who was a great asset to Butani and the club.

Like Lewke when Kandy Sports Club was on the skids Samarawickrema wanted Butani to put the club’s rugby right and overnight there was change in the club’s fortunes which led to the club again winning the triple. it was just one of those things that he was deprived of being President of Sri Lanka Rugby.

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