Defending champs Royal out to make it four-in-a-row | Daily News

Defending champs Royal out to make it four-in-a-row

Royal won the league title in 2019 for the third successive year   (Pic courtesy
Royal won the league title in 2019 for the third successive year (Pic courtesy

The reigning champions Royal College will look to retain the ‘A’ Division League title for a record fourth successive year when the 2022 Inter-Schools Under-20 League Tournament gets underway in Colombo on Thursday. Royal, who are hoping to become the first school to retain the ‘A’ Division league title for the fourth successive year, will confront St. Anthony’s College in their opening fixture on Friday at the Royal Sports Complex in Reid Avenue.

When the tournament was last held in 2019, Royal successfully equalled Isipathana’s record of having won the ‘A’ Division League title for three successive years following their triumphs in 2017 and 2018 season respectively.

Isipathana of course, were the first school to win the ‘A’ Division league title for three successive years following their heroics in 1992, 1993 and 1994 respectively. After nearly three decades, Royal are now on the threshold of creating a piece of unique record in Sri Lankan schools’ rugby as they begin their campaign in search of more glory.

Royal are drawn in probably the toughest group where they are set to face some of the heavyweights in schools’ rugby including their traditional rivals Trinity College and S. Thomas’ College. In fact, during the third week of the current season Royal will host Trinity for the Bradby Shield first-leg after having played against Kingswood College on July 1 once again on their home grounds.

Royal’s penultimate match of the first round will be against S. Thomas’ for the Michael Gunaratne Trophy on July 16 followed by the clash against St. Joseph’s College on July 22 at Havelock Park.

Even then, the pressure no doubt will be really on the Royal outfit as they look to produce a repeat performance after having displayed some breath-taking rugby during the 2019 season.

In fact, Royal’s success was in the balance until the final game that season as they were faced with a must-win situation against St. Joseph’s in addition to having the tough task of scoring a bonus point to seal the title in their favour.

That they rose to the big occasion and completed that task was quite admirable as they went on to beat the Joes 24-17 in a tense encounter on their home grounds and scored the four tries for the much-needed bonus point as well.

Even then, Royal’s only disappointment was that they could not remain unbeaten throughout the season as they faced an 8-12 defeat at the hands of St. Peter’s in their last match of the first round.

But they stuck to their task during the more important Cup Championship segment and went on to beat Trinity (34-17), Science College (41-20), Isipathana (19-6) and eventually St. Joseph’s (24-17).

This year the Royal First XV Team will be Captained by the experienced Harshith Peiris and Kaveen Saranga will be the Vice-Captain. Meanwhile, Dushanth Lewke has been appointed as the Head Coach of Royal after a successful stint as the Under-18 Head Coach.

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