Rugby star Bowala played for six ‘A’ Division clubs | Daily News

Rugby star Bowala played for six ‘A’ Division clubs

It is quite phenomenal to see a sportsman excel at School, Club and International level. Anuradha Bowala was one of them who had the rare distinction of playing for six ‘A’ division clubs in his rugby career, which is a record in Sri Lankan Rugby history.

Anuradha Bowala well known as ‘Bo’ in the rugby fraternity is the son of Punchi Bandara Bowala a retired ASP of Sri Lanka Police. He has one brother late Senaka Bowala and two sisters Kumari Dharmapala and Subadra Perera.

He started his education at Isipathana College, Colombo and carried on until high school. His elder brother Senaka was also a prominent figure in rugby at college in the 1969/1970 season before he went on to play for CH and FC and Air Force as a prop forward, was instrumental in influencing his brother Anuradha to take up rugby. Late Senaka Bowala played for Presidents XV and Defence Service team. Anuradha began his rugby career at college in 1975 playing for the college under-15 team. In 1976, he captained the college under-17 rugby team at inter school matches. In 1977/1978 season he was selected to play in the first XV team of the college under H.K.Sisira and M.P.F. Sallay. Two years later the college was placed third in the Asian Schools tournament in Bangkok under his leadership and he was adjudged the most outstanding player While playing as a winger in 1978 under the captaincy of late M.P.F Sallay, he scored 23 tries in a single schools rugby season which was achieved by his school mates H.K.Sisira and Hisham Abdeen. Isipathana became the runners up to S Thomas’ who won 13-6 in the centenary year knockout tournament conducted by SLRFU where they beat Dharmaraja in the quarter final and went on to trounce Trinity in the semi-final by 21 points to 6 , played after a lapse of 12 years. The last encounter against them was in 1966 where Isipathana lost 33-3 at Bogambara Stadium under the captaincy of Sunil Wickramasinghe. He also represented Sri Lanka Schools team against the visiting Loughborough College from London where the local squad consisted of six Isipathanians, six Thomians and six Royalists, which was led by Rohantha Peiris of Royal College.

Bowala also represented Isipathana at the fourth Asian Schools rugby football tournament in Bangkok in 1979 under K.D. Nanayakkara’s captaincy. While being a schoolboy he represented Havelocks at the inter club sevens in 1979 along with Angelo Wickramaratne, Michael Jayasekara. Bowala led Isipathana in 1980 which won the ‘Philip Buultjens Cup’ for the first time beating Trinity 22-0 in the final.

This popular school’s sevens was started in 1975 where Trinity won it in 1975, 1976, 1977 followed by Royal in 1978 and 1979. Thereafter it was Isipathana which dominated maintaining the winning streak until 1987. They beat Royal 14-7 after a lapse of nine years in 1980

The 1980, the Champion Isipathana sevens team was coached by legendary O.W.R. Perera ably assisted by Maxwell Dias. Bowala led the side which consisted of his former skipper M.P.F.Sallay, Anura de Silva, Hisham Abdeen, Hector Gunathilake, Dilroy Fernando, M.D. Ifthikar, V.P.Sepala , Kamal Mahendra few to be named. Same year they became runner up team of the Noel Gratiaen Cup under his leadership in the fifteen a side tournament which also included M.P.F.Sallay, Anura de Silva, Neomal de Silva, K.D.Nanayakkara, M.R.T Bunty Noordeen, D.P.Udayasiri, Udaya Rajam, M.D. Ifthikar, Hisham Abdeen, Leslie de Silva, V.P.Sepala, H.A Sarathchandra, Sheham Siddik, Dilroy Fernando, Lal Perera, Saliya Gunasekara, Harsha Gunaratne, Thisantha de Silva, Upul Weerasinghe and Kamal Mahendra.

Besides playing rugby Bowala also took part in Athletics in the under-15 age category where he went to establish a public school Javelin throw record. He also won the under-16 4 x100, 100 and 200 metres events in 1977. In 1980 he represented the under-19 100/200 metres events while being a member of the 4x100 relay team at the ‘Tarbat Cup’.

Apart from the other sporting disciplines he played Cricket in the under 14, 16 and the first XI team from 1978 to 1980, where he opened bowling with former test player Ashantha de Mel. His club rugby career started in 1978 as a schools boy at the age of 17 years donning CH and FC jersey. After two years he represented Havelock’s in 1980 to be in the sevens champion team. In 1981 he swapped clubs and joined the Sri Lanka Air Force along with his brother Senaka Bowala. In 1982 he once again crossed over to represent CR and FC sevens champions team. He was picked as the best player at the inter-club sevens in 1982

He toured with CR and FC for the ‘Milk Cup’ at the Singapore sevens in 1982. He then was called for the National team to represent Sri Lanka team at the Rugby Asiad in Japan in 1984. When he was in his peak he kept on shuffling clubs and played for Dimbula in 1984/1985 season before he joined Kandy Sports Club in the ‘A’ division rugby in 1984. In 1983 he sustained a serious leg injury and was out for one year. In 1986/1987 season he represented the national sevens team at the Hong Kong sevens followed by the Sydney World Cup sevens in 1987. He also represented Sri Lanka in the under-25 tour to Taiwan in 1986. In 1987 played once again for Havelocks Sevens team which became champions.

He says that he owes his success to two great college coaches Kamal Jayawardena and O.W.R. Perera who played a key role in him becoming a top rugby player.

He is the only Sri Lankan to represent six ‘A’ division rugby clubs in his career from 1978 to 1987, which was a very rare achievement. Bowala is domiciled in Melbourne, Australia with his family and his wife is Nilimini a house wife and has two sons Suren and Gihan who play American Football in Australia.