Fly half Sudesh brought honour and fame to Sri Lanka | Daily News

Fly half Sudesh brought honour and fame to Sri Lanka

Sudesh  Abeysinghe
Sudesh Abeysinghe

In the game of Rugby Football, the Fly Half position should be occupied by a highly skilled player. Sudesh Abeysinghe was one of the best players who occupied this position for his school club and Sri Lanka

Sudesh attended Isipathana College and went on to complete his educational career there. From his teenage days he was very keen in handling the oval shaped ball as he hailed from a rugby playing family which produced several players who excelled in the sport at school, club and at International level.

He started playing rugby at the age of eleven as a hooker in the pack as his two uncles also played in the same position. One of them was Dudley De Silva who played during 1973-1974 season for Isipathana and later scrummed down for CH and FC. The other one was Leslie De Silva who locked horns from 1978 to 1981 for Isipathana College and Police Sports Club from 1982 to1991.

He captained Isipathana College rugby in 1981. Sudesh, competed in the under-13 in 1981-1982 then in the under-15 in 1983-1984 finally leading the side in 1984 season.

After 1984 his rugby career changed gears as he switched position to full back because of his brother Mahesh Abeysinghe, who played for Isipathana College in 1986-1987 and later for the Sri-Lanka Army. Sudesh wanted to extend his sincere gratitude to two of his coaches who were the livewire of his illustrious rugby career namely OWR Perera and Maxi Dias.

In 1985, OWR Perera requested him to swap position from full back to Fly-half due to his unstinted skills, and he continued to mature as a Fly-Half. From 1985 to 1988, he established a regular position in the Isipathana College Rugby team which enabled him to obtain the captaincy in 1988 while the worst day in his school career was when they lost to D.S. Senanayake College. by 0-4

In 1988, he was selected to represent Sri Lanka under-19 for the tour of UK under his captaincy before losing to Royal and D.S. Senanayake in the School league rugby season and emerged unofficial runner up. Same year they reached the R. Premadasa Knockout final for the fourth year in a row and lost to Royal in the final 0-13

His first XV career started in 1985 where he played alongside his brother Mahesh Abeysinghe as Scrum Half and occupying Fly Half, position under Selvin Sallay’s captaincy, where Isipathana became ‘Triple Champions’ for the Second time in the school’s rugby history, after achieving the same feat in 1985. They also won the Schools League Knockout and Sevens in 1986 and surged ahead in 1987 to Play as Fly Half under Nilantha Lakshmiweva and where they became runners-up at the League and at the R. Premadasa knockout tournament losing to Trinity College 3-11 Then in 1988, he was entrusted with the task of leading Isipathana Rugby.

Under his captaincy the team consisted of Shantha Rohana, Mohamed Nawaz, Ruwan Kalutara, Chaminda Chandrasena, , Sujeewa Pieris, , Ruwan Dananjaya, , Bimal Perera, Sujeewa Panapitiya, A.G. Anura, Janaka Perera, Kelum Gunaratne, , , Sudath Sampath, Champika Nishantha Miyuru Yuganthara,, , Chanka Jayaweera, Rohan Chintaka,, Hyacinth Kumara, Chamila Samantha, In that season in the league matches they lost to Royal 9-24 and St. Peters and won against Trinity, Nalanda, Wesley Ananda Vidyartha, St. Josephs and Thurstan and in the R. Premadasa knockout beat Lumbini in the Quarter Final while defeating St. Anthonys College, Kandy in the Semi Final and losing to Royal in the final by 13-0.

They also participated in the Philip Buultjens school’s sevens beating St. Peters, Wesley and Zahira in the group stage matches while in the Quarter Final beat Ananda but lost to Kingswood in the Final.

He then stepped in to his Club career donning the CH and FC jersey and played alongside top Fijian Rugby Players and Harlequins Player Simon Hunter and Sri Lanka s Bionic Flanker Hisham Abdeen. He played alongside Nagata as Scrum Half from 1990 to 1994 and the Fijian ‘Man Mountain’ Manasa Qoro as number 8, Illatia Ravouvou in the Wing, Laisaneia Katonawale in the Second Row and Timoci Sali as Prop Forward.

His team mates at CH during the1990 to 1994 seasons were Chandrashan Perera, Hisham Abdeen, Azad Junkeer, Nishantha Dias, Ali Sabry, Asitha Boteju, Ananda Fernando, Kenneth De Zilwa, Narein Perera, Bimal Perera, Rohan Abeykoon, Rex Anthony, Bhartha Hegoda, Anil Dassanayake, Saman Jayasinghe, Chanka Jayaweera, Jude Dimithri, Nazeem Mohamed, Sanjaya Amunugama, Senaka Balasuriya, Janaka De Silva, Harshadeva Karunaratne, Frank Abeysinghe, Parakrama Ratnayake, Pradeep De Alwis, Tissa Jayaweera, Nalin Dissanayake Ruwan Dananjaya, Chandana and Ruwan Mallawarchchi, late Fazal Burah, Shantha Rohana, Palitha Wijesuriya and Lasantha Wijesuriya.

His Club Rugby career spanned from1990 to 1995 with CH and FC and he rates that era as the ‘Golden Era of Club’ rugby when they won a double and three Triple Crowns for CH. In 1990, Triple Crown in 1991 Double and from 1992 to 1994 the ‘Triple Crowns’ three in a row under the captaincy of Imran Sallay, Apisai Nagata and Asitha Boteju. Hisham Abdeen and Nishantha Dias from 1990 to 1994 and in 1995 he was given the task of captaining the CH which were the best years for CH rugby. They won the Clifford Cup, John Player League, the Sevens, and R. Premadasa Tournament.

Sudesh was a member of the Sri Lanka National Team from 1990 captained by Hisham Abdeen and Priyantha Ekanayake. He was first called for National duty with the Sri Lanka Under-19 team to tour the UK followed by the Rosslyn Park sevens in 1988.

In 1989, represented Sri Lanka under-24 and in the same year he represented the Sri Lanka team at Rugby Asiad in Colombo, In 1992, represented Sri Lanka team at the Rugby Asiad in South Korea. and represented Sri Lanka at the Rugby Asiad in 1994, . He also was a key player for Sri Lanka in the 7’s Rugby accompanying the National Sevens Team captained by Hisham Abdeen. They toured Italy in 1991, Dubai 7’s in 1990 to1993. He played for Washington rugby football club in 1995-1996 while playing sevens for River Rugby football club from 1997 to 2000. He holds a Level 1 and 2 Coaching Certificate in Rugby.

During his school career, his senior coaches were Maxi Dias, OWR Perera and when OWR migrated to Australia after a decade of coaching, he groomed Sanath Martis as his assistant His club coaches were Michael Jayasekara and Tony Amith while National team coaches were Anton Benedict, Tony Amith, Ajith Abeyratne and Jeff Matheson.

After captaining CH and FC in 1995, he and his wife Varuni Vithanage migrated to Maryland in the United States of America. They have two children son Ryan is 20 and daughter Stephenie is 19 years old. His son Ryan is studying computer science at the University of Maryland, and daughter Stephenie is studying Biology at the University of Maryland. He currently is self-employed running his own construction business.