Nalandian Anuja played for Sri Lanka with distinction | Daily News

Nalandian Anuja played for Sri Lanka with distinction

Anuja Perera
Anuja Perera

Nalanda College, Colombo is one of the leading Buddhist schools in the country which has rendered yeoman service in the field of Education and Sports. Even though cricket has taken the top spot in their sporting calendar, the game of rugby has been played for over four decades. They have produced two top Sri Lanka ruggerites namely Manjula Damith and Milinda Jayasinghe who donned the National jersey in the recent past and are now domiciled in New Zealand. Anuja Perera was another to join the elite panel of rugby players who wore the Sri Lankan jersey bringing honour and fame. to Nalanda.

Anuja was born in 1985 in Colombo and his father is Nimal Perera a businessman while Seetha Pinto is his mother a housewife. He has a brother Kasun and a sister Sulochani. He completed his academic career with Nalanda College, Colombo. With his stocky build, he opted to engage in multiple sports at school. He started playing rugby with the under-15 age group team while being involved in Athletics (Shot Putt and Javelin throw) and Wrestling representing college at Colombo District meet on several occasions. While he was participating in the inter-house rugby tournament, his father encouraged him to handle the rugby ball. He then participated in rugby and his initial junior coach was Gorgerly Abeyratne from whom he learnt the basics of the game while senior coaches were late Sam Samarasekara and Shamrath Fernando respectively.

With his body build he decided to bind in the front row as the hooker. He made his presence with the college first XV team while being an under-15 player. He vice-captained the under-17 team in 2001 and went on to lead the first XV team in 2004. He was awarded the college colours in 2002,2003 and 2004 for his unstinted performance in

rugby. He represented college at the 10 a side at (Friends Cup) tournament held in Thailand in 2002.

He was honoured as most outstanding sportsman of the year in 2003 after representing the Junior National (Under19) team that toured Malaysia in 2003.

The turning point of his rugby and personal career was when he toured with the Junior National team in 2003. He met late George Simpkin who was instrumental in transforming him to a profound player with his advice and finer tips of the game. C.P. Abeygunawardena and Sanath Martis were the other coaches under whom he played with. As a school they were competing in the ‘B’ division and it was really difficult to get into the Junior National squad which he eventually managed to sneak in based on his personal performance and dedication, after Gerorge Simpkin picked him as a Hooker in the starting line all throughout that tour. He was able to gain the exposure by competing against the top countries like Japan, Korea, Hong Kong subsequently went on to beat Malaysia and won the ‘Bowl Championship under Rajith Jayasundara’s captaincy in 2003.

After his illustrious school career, he was invited by CR and FC in 2003 while he was competing in the under-19 Junior National practices. He obliged and played his first match against CH and FC in the under-21 team as a hooker in 2003. He represented their senior rugby team as substitute hooker for veteran Viraj Prasantha and his first club coach was Grant Dwyer the Australian in 2004.

They remained the first unbeaten team in the Caltex ‘A’ division league tournament in history but lost to Kandy in the final game ending up runner up under Pavithra Frenando’s captaincy in 2004 and 2005. It is noteworthy that they won the Clifford Cup after 17 years beating Havelocks by 37-5 in 2006 captained by Pavithra Fernando. They surged ahead to annex the Inter-club Sevens Cup Championship in 2005, the inter-club 10 a side Cup championship in 2004 and 2005 under Danushka Boteju’s captaincy.

From 2004 to 2009 they were runners up against Kandy. At CR his coaches were Grant Dwyer, Thavita Tulagese (Laga) and John Carrington from 2004 to 2006. Played under various captains Pavithra Fernado, Shamil Mohammed, Anuradha Darmathilake, Ashen Karthelis and Dushan Lewke respectively. In the 2013/14 season as an unofficial captain he led the CR team in a few matches as official captain Ishan Noors was sidelined due to injury.

After he represented the under-19 Junior National in 2003 was called to represent the country in 2006 against China followed by the Rugby World Cup qualifier tournament in 2007 where they won the match 30-0 under Sajith Mallikarachchi’s captaincy coached by George Simpkin, which was a magical moment in his life, which he dedicated to parents for their hard work in witnessing him wearing the national jersey. Since then he continuously represented the country for four years from 2006 to 2009 during which time toured Hong Kong in 2006, the Rugby World Cup qualifiers in 2007.

He also toured U.A.E in 2007 and 2009 toured Kazakhstan in 2008, and the Asian Five Nations Tournament which they won against Thailand where he scored his first international try which remained as one of the best memories. His rugby career spanned 11 years and ended in 2014.

He holds a Master of Business Administration from Anglia Ruskin University –UK in 2018 and joined Ceylinco Development Bank in 2004. He captained the Ceylinco Development Bank and the Sports Club team in 2008, representing Ceylinco emerging the Cup runner-up at the Mercantile Tournament. At present is working for Pigott Chapman and Company (Pvt) Ltd, a leading money brokering company as a Senior Dealer. He is thankful to all his coaches, School, Club and colleagues at work for their support and encouragement in his rugby career.

His wife is Anuradha Fonseka who stood as a pillar of strength in his life with daughter Shioli (seven and son Sheveen (six Years).