When will Up Country rugby regain its lost prestige? | Daily News


When will Up Country rugby regain its lost prestige?

Will the new Sri Lanka Rugby president Rizlly Illiyas and his committee, bring back Up Country rugby to his former position. Today there is only one Kandy team Kandy SC and Colombo has teams like HavelockSC, CR FC, CH & FC, and the services teams Police, Army, Navy and Air Force. In the early days Kandy had Kandy Lake Club, Kandy RFC, Old Trinitian SC, Kandy Youth Sc playing the game

In those good old days the Clifford Cup finalS swere played in Radella (Dimbula A & CC), Darawella (Dickoya MCC) and Uva Gymkhana Club (Badulla).

The three planters clubs,Dickoya MCC, Dimbulla A & CC and Uva Gymkhana Club, at one time were the top three rugby playing clubs in the country.

Dimbula A & CC was formed in 1856, and their sports were rugger, cricket, squash,tennis, and badminton and cue sport. They were a major force in rugby and it was their main sport. They gave their best from the day they started playing rugby in 1880s to 1970s. Sports declined after the the estates were taken over in 1973

They won the Clifford Cup in 1953 and the first from the Up-country - In 1956 a combined Dim/Dicks team was second to CR & FC in the Clifford Cup. Then in 1959 Dimbula A & CC shared the cup with CR & FC.

Another fine moment came in 1970 when under the leadership of ever-green Ken Murray, Dimbula A & CC emerged as the ‘A’ Division Clifford Cup League Champions and they were deprived of the double by Abdul Majeed’s Policemen, where they lost the Clifford Cup semifinals 0-8.

- Dimbula were not only a major force in rugby, but also produced some of the finest ruggerites in the country, like D.R. Macare, , H, Warning, Miles Chritoffelsz, Larry Schokman, Selva Canagasabai, Mike.Parry, I. CoDonald, Mike de Alwis, Stanley. Unamboowe, Dharmasiri Madugalle, Owen Mottau, Jayantha Jayawardene, Rohan Wijenayake, Clifford Elhart, Roger da Silva, Tommy Kelaart, Wilhelm Koch, Peter. Amarasinghe, R,. Kulatunga, Tuan Dole, Iswan Omar,Lanil Tennakoon, Brian Lieversz, Brian and Cedric Munweera, Trevor Nugawela,Mohan Samarakoon to name a few.

Dickoya MCC was formed in 1874, and their sporting activities were rugger, cricket,tennis, squash, and badminton and cue sports. They too were once a major force in rugby. They were one of the top ‘A’ division rugby clubs. In 1972 their standard declined and they were relegated to ‘B’ division, due to the take over of the estates.

Dickoya too like Dimbula, have produced great teams and players. Thrice they entered the Clifford Cup finals and went down fighting to CR & FC and Havelocks SC respectively in 1958 and 1961. In 1961 they lost to Dr. Hubert Aloysius’Havelocks, in the dying moments of the game, due to an off side. Havies got a penalty and goaled it to take the cup back to Havelock Park..

The1961 Dickoya Cup final team was packed with whites and the four Sri Lankan who played in the cup final were T.B. Pilapitiya, Rohan Wijenayake, B.I.Gunawardene and Uvais Odayar. Some of their past players were Barry Cameron,Tony Johnson, Lionel Almeida Manik Jayakumar Chris Bean, Uvais Odayar, John Bousfield David Bretherton, Mohan ‘Baila’Samarasinghe, , Dharmasiri Madugalle, Rohan Abeysundara, C.Hanies, J.M.E. Warning, C.D. Gibson. Most of the planters played for all three clubs, Dimbula, Dickoya and Uva, due to transfers from estate to estate.

Uva Gymkhana Club was founded in 1980 and played rugger, cricket, tennis, hockey and badminton and also they conducted horse racing.

In 1952 Uva Gymkhana Club entered the Clifford Cup final, and became the first club from Up country to enter the semis of the Clifford Cup. In that final they lost to CR & FC by 19 points to nil. Some of their top players were A.C.B.Horfall, C.D. Hearth, M.M. Clarke, J.T. Pettigrew, Fred. Aldons, K. Ariarajah, D.Parkar, J. Howe, R.G. Bowie, J. Boyd Moss, J. Garner, R.Gauder, S.B.Pilapitiya, A. Hamer, Ryan Howie, Ronnie Gunaratne, Lanil Tennakoon, Sarath Zoysa, Uvais Odayar, Nipa Pilimatalawa, .

Kandy Lake Club and Kandy RFC gave a big hand for rugby, where unknown players, who never played school rugby,earned a name and made them proud by becoming top players. Rugby was introduced to Kandy Lake club owned by E..W. Balasuriya,in 1963 and they started playing in the “B” division.. Some who backed him to start the game were Col.Stanley Ratwatte, Noel Paranagama, Dr. C.D.L.Fernando, Sidney Ratwatte; all are not among the living. It was Sydney Ratwatte and Maurice Perera who started coaching first, and Niyas Majeed was the first Captain. This club turned the team to a champion outfit in 1966, They became the ‘B” division champions under Farook Dole, the original captain of the year was T.B. Wijesinghe, half way through he crossed over to CR & FC.

That year, they beat all the teams in the “B:” division, but failed to beat NCC it was a draw. In the following year, Kandy Lake Club entered the”A” Division and played along with clubs like Kandy SC, CR & FC,CH & FC, Havelock SC, Uva Gymkhana Club, Dimbulla A & AC, Dickoya MCC and Sri Lanka Army.

In the very first year in the “A” division in 1967, they opened the season with the game against defending champions Havelock SC, this match was played at Havelock Park and the game ended in a 3-all draw, next was against the star studded CH &FC, the side was packed with Englishmen. This game, too, ended in a 3-all draw at Maitland Crescent.

Then in the third game, beat Sri Lanka Army at Galle Face. Then in the return clash against Champion Havelock SC played at Nittawela, Kandy Lake Club was able to beat them. Some of the players who were in the first “A” division team of ‘EW’s club were Farook Dole, Gavin Stevens, Maurice Silva, Mahesh Sabaratnam, Hector Galuge, Carl Fernando,George Jayasena, Maurice Windus, George Thambiraja, A. Etipola, Didacus de Almeida

This club, after entering the “A” division, went places Sad to say however, they got the knockout blow from the authorities of that era,for playing professional players. With that blow from the controlling body. the owner of the club E.W. Balasuriya formed the Kandy RFC (KRFC), and played up to 1973. In 1973, on a suggestion made by one time Ceylon Rugby Football Union president, Dr. K.B.Sangakkara. E.W. Balasuriya honoured the request and amalgamated with Kandy Sports Club (KSC) in 1974 That year Royalist Jeremy Pereira led the side. In the following year 1975,Iswan Omar became the first from ‘EW’s club to lead Kandy Sports Club and that is the year ‘EW’ became the President for the first time of the Nittawela Club and took the club up to the Clifford Cup Semi-finals, but had no luck and lost to Sri Lanka Air Force during extra - time.

Then again in 1986, ‘E.W’ became the President of Kandy Sports Club and Ashan Ratwatte was the Captain and this writer was the team Manager cum rugby convener. The club-came to the R. Premadasa Trophy semi-finals.


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