Rugby Features – ThePapare.com http://www.thepapare.com Sri Lanka's No.1 Sports HUB Mon, 09 Oct 2017 19:02:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.thepapare.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/cropped-favTP-50x50.jpg Rugby Features – ThePapare.com http://www.thepapare.com 32 32 Lasintha De Costa, Tuskers’ Coach in the making? http://www.thepapare.com/lasintha-de-costa-tuskers-coach-in-the-making/ http://www.thepapare.com/lasintha-de-costa-tuskers-coach-in-the-making/#respond Sun, 10 Sep 2017 04:57:47 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2198989 Isipathana College has been in the forefront in the Sri Lanka schools’ rugby arena producing many champion teams throughout their rugby history. The school is also a feeder system to the national grid, producing many national players, coaches, referees and administrators in the sport. ThePapare.com had the privilege of speaking to yet another product of […]]]>

Isipathana College has been in the forefront in the Sri Lanka schools’ rugby arena producing many champion teams throughout their rugby history. The school is also a feeder system to the national grid, producing many national players, coaches, referees and administrators in the sport.

ThePapare.com had the privilege of speaking to yet another product of Isipathana, Lasintha De Costa who, after enjoying a splendid playing career, has set his goals to be a reputed coach and someday take over reigns as the man in charge of the Tuskers.

Also read: League winning captain back to Isipathana

What made you take up the sport?

I remember when I was around 10 years old I asked my father for a bat and ball to play cricket. Instead, he got me a rugby ball, which I would say was the very first exposure I had to the sport. That moment triggered some excitement in me as a kid to attend my first rugby practices in school and I soon realized that I am pretty good at running with the ball. From then onwards it was love at first practice I would say.

You come from a sporting family with both your brothers Ashan and Kavindu playing rugby at the highest level. What was it like growing up with them and even playing alongside them?

The Costa family; rugby runs in their blood. Lasintha (left), Ashan (right), Kavindu (second from right) with their parents
The Costa family; rugby runs in their blood. Lasintha (left), Ashan (right), Kavindu (second from right) with their parents

I am the oldest amongst the three of us, so growing up mostly meant taking care of them. We had an amazing childhood together and I am very fond of those memories. I am very proud to have played alongside my brothers. We created history at CR & FC in 2012 for being the first trio of brothers to take the field together.

What is the most memorable moment for you when it comes to Rugby?

A young Lasintha de Costa represented Sri Lanka in the sevens format and seen here is young Lasintha in action against Fiji
A young Lasintha de Costa represented Sri Lanka in the sevens format and seen here is young Lasintha in action against Fiji

The very first time I represented Sri Lanka – at the Hong Kong 7’s in 2007.

Exhilarating finish to eleven-weeks of Schools Rugby action

There couldn’t have been a better finish for the eleven week School Rugby League..

You took up coaching quite early on, any particular reason?

After representing Sri Lanka rugby and having captained CR & FC, I knew I had to evolve in my sport if I was to keep at it as playing competitive rugby becomes quite demanding with age. And with 17 years of pure rugby in and outside school, I wanted to give something back to the sport in general as a referee or as a coach. Instinctively I picked up coaching. Isipathana is where my rugby career started and I am grateful for being able to start my coaching career at the same grounds.

Starting early in coaching with the smallest age groups meant that I would gain more experience to one day perform as a respectable coach. I personally believe that you need to start at the bottom to learn and profess the basics.

Describe the feeling of taking up the role as head coach at Isipathana, where the pressure and expectations are high.

First taste of success. Isipathana College won the Major Milroy Fernando trophy under Lasintha's helm
First taste of success. Isipathana College won the Major Milroy Fernando trophy under Lasintha’s helm

The last year has been a huge learning experience for me. It was my first time as head coach. Isipathana believed in me to lead the boys and I had to push myself every day to meet that mark. Isipathana is a school used to winning and that made the pressure escalate even more. At the end of the season, even though there is huge room for improvement I am quite at peace with the team’s performance. 

What do you think is required to be a successful rugby coach in modern day Rugby?

 Rugby is a fast-evolving sport. You need to be able to constantly educate yourself and update your knowledge in order to keep up with the demands of the sport. It is also very important to be able to transfer the skill and knowledge into practicality. You can’t be successful just by knowing the sport. You have to be able to communicate it to the players in a way they will absorb it and make practical use of it.

 What are your future plans?

I am still studying coaching. I would like to gain more knowledge and experience and hopefully one day coach the National Rugby team.

 Since you mentioned the national rugby team, what do you think about the current standard of the game in the country at the national level and school level?

From the yesteryear. Sri Lanka flyhalf Lasintha de Costa in action for the Tuskers at the Asia Five Nations Division one Rugby game in Dubai
From the yesteryear. Sri Lanka flyhalf Lasintha de Costa in action for the Tuskers at the Asia Five Nations Division one Rugby game in Dubai

Looking back from the time I was involved in school and national rugby, there is a visible and considerable improvement. The competitiveness of schools’ rugby has demanded skill developments and high standards. I would say schools’ rugby, currently is at its best. 

Although the standards are in place at the national level, I personally feel that we need to play more matches and tournaments to get more exposure and experience. The more you play the better you get.

ThePapare wishes Lasintha the very best in his future endeavors.

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“Operation success, but the patient died” http://www.thepapare.com/operation-success-but-the-patient-died/ http://www.thepapare.com/operation-success-but-the-patient-died/#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 11:03:40 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2195572 ]]>

The Asia Rugby U20 sevens series concluded in Hong Kong on the 5th of August 2017, as the home team comprehensively beat last year’s champions Sri Lanka by 36 – 00 in the Cup final. 

Unbeaten Tuskers make it to finals

All round Sri Lanka made it to yet another Asia Under 20 Sevens final showing no mercy onto…

Hong Kong has long been considered Sri Lanka’s Achilles Heel in the Asian circuit, an affliction suffered from the senior to the junior levels. Even Kevin Dixon and his team, who were crowned Champions last year, could not go that extra mile in the second leg final where they lost 36 – 10 to Hong Kong. They were crowned overall champions based on the points they had accumulated by winning the first leg in Johor Bahru-Malaysia.

One of veteran coach Sanath Martis’ favourite lines “Operation success, but the patient died” refers to the fact that Sri Lanka get all their bases covered, give good opposition to all teams but always ends up losing to Hong Kong. This time around Sri Lanka went through with the clear aim to go to the finals and they won five games in a row but when they met Hong Kong, once again they faltered.

The junior Tuskers were up to the task physically against South Korea in the semifinals, who were much bigger than the men from Hong Kong. There seems to be a mental block among the players when it comes to Hong Kong and yet again Sri Lanka squandered the opportunity.

Photo Courtesy - Hong Kong Rugby Union
Photo Courtesy – Hong Kong Rugby Union

Mentality

Hong Kong played the tournament without some of their star players as one of them is in the senior trials with the French club Racing 92 where the legendary Dan Carter is playing. Another is in the English Premiership club trials whilst two others are in the senior XV’s and 7s team. The Sri Lankan rugby fraternity see Hong Kong as a team made up of imports, however 90% of these players are born in Hong Kong and the remainder are from the expatriate community who migrated from other countries a very long time ago.

For the development of national rugby, age group international competitions certainly plays a vital part. The Sri Lanka U18’s challenged Fiji at the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in Bahamas few weeks ago. We all know the culture of sevens rugby in Fiji.  They do not have any expats in their teams and they are bigger and stronger than England, Canada etc… Sri Lanka lost to Fiji 14 – 07 in Bahamas, just one try away from making history.

In the U20’s in Hong Kong, Sri Lanka gave themselves too much work by conceding too many tries to the lesser teams. Hong Kong on the other hand conceded just one try in 6 games; they simply always stick to their game plan when it comes to defense. Sri Lanka giving away six tries prior to the final game, is something the coaches have to sort out in the future.

Another learning point of the tour is how well the Indian women’s U20 performed in that competition. The smallest team in size and the least experienced,  they managed to finish the tournament with wins over Malaysia, Singapore and Uzbekistan. It was a phenomenal display, winning the hearts of many present and sending out the message that their preparations are well on the way for the Olympics in 8 years’ time.

Photo Courtesy - Hong Kong Rugby Union
Photo Courtesy – Hong Kong Rugby Union

Maturity

Kevin Dixon’s team had a bit more game experience coming into the tournament last year while Naveen Henakankanamage’s team did lack that experience despite making in to the finals. This team did not seem to have a plan B in place versus Hong Kong and they did not know how to react when they trailed by 2-3 tries. At the contest in the kick-off, we saw both Adeesha Weerathunga and Wajid Fawmy in two minds. They did win one or two but did not manage enough turnovers. The kick –off contest was very poor in the finals. Hong Kong saw that there was only one man charging so they changed their plans and targeted the shortest man on the park, Lahiru Herath, and that worked out well for them at the restarts. They also switched directions in taking the kicks, and that had Sri Lanka  nonplussed in the face of their moving defense.

Photo Courtesy - Hong Kong Rugby Union
Photo Courtesy – Hong Kong Rugby Union

Once Hong Kong scored the first try, the body language of the Sri Lanka players just slumped with hands on hips as if they had already lost the game. They lost focus instantly and forgot it’s a 14 minute game and that there was indeed more time to make a comeback. Sri Lanka showed great discipline in not conceding a single yellow card until the finals, but against their most challenging adversary they conceded a yellow, which immediately put them on the back-foot.

It is apparent that you do need to micromanage these players, teaching them game management and game sense. Sri Lanka handed out too many penalties at the breakdowns and had two sloppy games against the Philippines and Malaysia where they should have won with big margins. Also you should not consider Hong Kong as just another team, you need to the team well to find their weaknesses and identify our strengths.

Future

It is the responsibility of the senior national men to do well in the Asia sevens series first leg which will be held on 1st & 2nd September at Kings Park, Hong Kong. The Tuskers are yet to beat Hong Kong and this time too they will probably meet in one of the knockout clashes. The current squad has the skills, experience and some good match practice gained in the concluded Super 7s to aid them in the quest of taking on their old foe. However, Japan’s inclusion back in to the Asia sevens series will make it an even more rigid competition. Japan, who was in the World Sevens Series couldn’t impress and as a result they only managed the wooden-spoon. They must win the Asia series in order to get the license to go back for the next World Series.

Most of Hong Kong’s senior players have departed from the squad, will that give some hope to the Tuskers? The veteran McQueen brothers retired and are off to start careers as pilots in Australia. Former captain Max Woodward and the scrum half Cado Lee joined  Japan’s top league club. They have brought a few young players into the senior system while Sri Lanka too have included four players from the concluded under 20s and a few players from last year’s U20 squad in the 25 man senior national pool. However, only 12 players will fly out and it is time for the youth and seniors mix to do something different this time around which will certainly go on to drive the generation to come.



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Lahiru Herath; The first Kannangara to represent Sri Lanka  http://www.thepapare.com/lahiru-herath-first-kannangara-represent-sri-lanka/ http://www.thepapare.com/lahiru-herath-first-kannangara-represent-sri-lanka/#respond Tue, 01 Aug 2017 10:41:15 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2192856 Every year the schools’ rugby league becomes the battle grounds for up and coming talent. Players create a name for themselves, become heroes but soon become unknown to the world with only a handful of them making it to the professional level. The story of 20-year-old Lahiru Herath is a complete twist to the normal […]]]>

Every year the schools’ rugby league becomes the battle grounds for up and coming talent. Players create a name for themselves, become heroes but soon become unknown to the world with only a handful of them making it to the professional level. The story of 20-year-old Lahiru Herath is a complete twist to the normal plot going from unknown to hero.

As he becomes the first individual hailing from C. W. W. Kannagara to make it to a Sri Lanka Rugby national outfit, it is a great opportunity for a young man to prove himself at the biggest stage.

A young Lahiru Herath (R) in action for CWW Kannangara in the Carlton Super Sevens
A young Lahiru Herath (R) in action for CWW Kannangara in the Carlton Super Sevens

Playing in the 2016 season for C. W. W. Kannangara, a young Lahiru Herath wouldn’t have imagined that he would be representing the national side within a year.

The last year has been phenomenal for the young lad. Soon after representing his alma mater, he was handed a contract by Navy Sports Club to join their extended squad ahead of the 2016/17 Dialog Club Rugby season.

If you had the chance to watch any of the matches that Navy Sports Club played in the last club rugby tournament, you wouldn’t have failed to notice a burly young man playing in the center position running lines, going into contact and posing a huge threat to opposing players.

To perform side by side with experienced campaigners such as Lee Keegal and Chanaka Chandimal and to match their work rates, freshman Herath showcased that he is an individual who can make it big.

His successful stint in the club season saw him later shortlisted for Sri Lanka Super 7’s, where he represented the KBSL Dragons, and later being an obvious choice in the Sri Lanka under 20 selection list.

It is seldom we see schoolboy players blending into the club system with such ease. Players such as Omalka Gunarathne, Kevin Dixon and Supun Dilshan are good examples for ones who succeeded in doing so. Lahiru Herath becomes its newest member following the path laid by his former compatriots.

Lahiru is expected to play a key role in Sri Lanka Under 20's title retention
Lahiru is expected to play a key role in Sri Lanka Under 20’s title retention

“I am honoured to get the national shirt, I always wanted to play for my country that was my dream five-six years ago, today it became a reality.”

“I like to thank everyone who helped me and I hope that my school C. W. W. Kannangara College will produce more national players in the coming years and want to perform well as a team to defend the title”

An ambitious personality, Herath will be on tour in the Naveen Henakankanamage led Sri Lankan Under 20 Sevens side with intentions of retaining the silverware that the country won last year.

It had been the love of the sport that has kept him working and his first coach from the school accredits his success to his dedication.

“(He) Always comes on time and goes last, so much in love with this sport. Indeed, we are proud of him and CWW Kannagara is proud as he is the first player to represent the national team”

The Kannangara boy who dreamed big. Farthest from the left
The Kannangara boy who dreamed big. Farthest from the left

The story of the Kannangara lad who wanted to dream big is an inspiration to every sportsperson to keep working on your dreams regardless of where you come from and what you have. At an age of 15, Herath’s aspired to be in a national rugby jersey and six years later, he is one of most sought after players in the country and is representing the country in an international series.

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Competent Supun Dilshan confident of retaining title http://www.thepapare.com/competent-supun-dilshan-confident-of-retaining-title/ http://www.thepapare.com/competent-supun-dilshan-confident-of-retaining-title/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 12:04:17 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2192764 Heading to Hong Kong for his 4th Sri Lanka tour, experienced and skillful vice-captain Supun Dilshan backs the current lot of under 20 lads to retain the title they won back in 2016. Having toured on four occasion before, Supun Dilshan the vice-captain of the under 20 sevens team believes Naveen and co will repeat […]]]>

Heading to Hong Kong for his 4th Sri Lanka tour, experienced and skillful vice-captain Supun Dilshan backs the current lot of under 20 lads to retain the title they won back in 2016.

Having toured on four occasion before, Supun Dilshan the vice-captain of the under 20 sevens team believes Naveen and co will repeat the 2016 performance “Like last year, we will take it game by game and mount a title challenge. We are going there to win the title and nothing less”

Speaking about his previous tours for Sri Lanka “Yes this is my 4th tour for my country. I went in 2015 to Malaysia for the under 20 sevens and another couple of times, altogether this is my third under 20 tour”

Adding to this he has also made a name for himself in the XV’s game “the 4th tour was the one with the XV-a-side team for the same age group (U20) and I played center on that occasion, same as in the sevens format”

Talking about his exploits from last time around (2016), the center stresses that his experience will come in handy “We did not go to win a cup, we took it game by game, as things came. We played the tour for our mates next to us, We didn’t want to let our mates down and that worked wonders and helped us win. That win was very special as it was the first time ever”

The former Science College lad, currently applying his trade at Navy Sports Club spoke how these tours have helped his development and what he hopes to take from last year into this season’s tour “Last year helped me develop a lot as a player. It was a great strength for me even when I went to Navy SC as a rookie. I will take all the exposure from last year and help the lads repeat last year and even tell these bunch of guys how they played (last year) and how they will play”

Having been appointed as vice-captain, Dilshan speaks about the uncharted waters he is about to dread on “this is my first leadership challenge. I have never been given a leadership role before”

However he hopes to emulate last season’s vice-captain Omalka Gunaratne just the way he assisted captain Kevin Dixon “I had a very close eye on last year’s leaders, so I will follow their footsteps. Give Naveen the best support and take this team forward”

Speaking about this team, how well they have gelled over the few weeks of preparation “Yes the guys have glued well together, we are more-or-less together all the time. After training in the morning we nap together and get back to training in the evening. That has helped immensely”

We did not forget to question the vice-captain on how they hope to stop the big foreign lads “yes they are big made guys but we usually manage to intimidate them. We play with a lot of heart and when we go there with the belief that we can hit and stop them, they do fall”

He finally went on to say both teams have a number of similarities and hopes the odds go in their way as they seek to repeat last year “Just like last year the guys have bonded well together. And similar to what we did in 2016, we will be playing not for ourselves but for our mate next to us and we hope to retain the title”

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Roshan Weeraratne; A Captain’s Legacy http://www.thepapare.com/roshan-weeraratne-a-captains-legacy-feature/ http://www.thepapare.com/roshan-weeraratne-a-captains-legacy-feature/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 10:10:28 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2192079 Winning trophies has been bread and butter for the Weeraratnes and the younger sibling of the two, Roshan Weeraratne has mastered the art of victory. With the curtain coming down on the local rugby season for 2016/2017, Roshan Weeraratne concluded his captaincy run this season in glorious fashion, leading MAS Holdings to the Mercantile Rugby […]]]>

Winning trophies has been bread and butter for the Weeraratnes and the younger sibling of the two, Roshan Weeraratne has mastered the art of victory.

With the curtain coming down on the local rugby season for 2016/2017, Roshan Weeraratne concluded his captaincy run this season in glorious fashion, leading MAS Holdings to the Mercantile Rugby Sevens title at the Colombo Racecourse.

The season that started off with the Dialog Club Rugby League in mid-November progressed towards the Dialog Clifford Cup and later saw the transition to the shorter format of the game; the sevens series. The Dialog Club Sevens was followed up by the two-legged Sri Lanka Super 7’s and the 47th Mercantile Sevens was the final lap of a long season.

If there was an award for the player of the season, there would probably be only one man in contention; Roshan Weeraratne. The former Kingswood College captain had one of the best seasons as a player and a successful captain in the local circuit taking all the teams he captained to glory.

Captaining the Kandy Sports Club side, who were looking to retain the Dialog Club Rugby League for the third time, the dynamic scrum-half Roshan Weeraratne & his team were put on a pressure test after losing two games in the 1st round.

The unexpected twist of events saw Kandy suffering a loss to Air Force SC and later Navy SC, making the league title contention a tougher contest between Navy SC, Havelock SC and Kandy SC.

Having lost two games, it was the fighting spirit of the Kandy team that saw the team winning all of the matches in the second round and retaining the title for the third consecutive year.

Roshan Weeraratne lifting the Dialog Rugby League silverware for 2016/17
Roshan Weeraratne lifting the Dialog Rugby League silverware for 2016/17

Not giving up from there, Kandy went on to take the double crown winning the Dialog Clifford Cup defeating a spirited Havelock SC outfit 32-20 in the final at Nittawela.

This was Kandy's 21st Clifford cup win
This was Kandy’s 21st Clifford cup win

Read More: 20th Clifford Cup; Star-studded Kandy complete double

Three months from the Clifford cup, Roshan Weeraratne led a team to the playing fields of Nittawela; this time with the Mobitel Eagles as the Sri Lanka Super 7’s made its way to the hills.

Lady luck was with the 28-year-old at his home ground as the Weeraratne led Mobitel Eagles went on to win the 1st leg of the 2017 edition in Kandy. Mobitel Eagles; the defending champions of the Sri Lanka Super 7’s series made a wise decision to bid for Weeraratne and having handed over the captaincy duties, it was the Eagles who took the 2017 series despite losing the final in the second leg.

Read More: Eagles claim Super 7’s despite loss in Final

The Super 7’s saw the stalwart combining with a unique set of players, players who were from different backgrounds coming together to compile a team along with overseas players. The Mobitel Eagles had the likes of Lee Keegal, Thilina Wijesinghe and young talent such as Chatura Seneviratne & Chamod Fernando.

The Eagles had a stunning run in the Super 7’s losing only one match in the entire series. They were runners up in the Colombo leg but walked away with the title for the second successive year.

Thanks to Roshan's captaincy, the Eagles won back to back Super 7’s titles
Thanks to Roshan’s captaincy, the Eagles won back to back Super 7’s titles

The 47th Mercantile Sevens was the icing on the cake for the stalwart as MAS Holdings went on to win back the title after a lapse of one year defeating Access Group in a crunch final. The final that extended to the second extra time play saw the experienced MAS side winning it after 2015.

“Winning has been an everyday thing”

Weeraratne was running in tries in for Kingswood College way before he headlined the news as a Kandy Sports Club player.

Making his 1st XV debut at an age of 16, Roshan Weeraratne played scrum-half in Eranda Weerakkody’s league winning side in 2005. Playing four years for his alma-mater, Roshan was a part of two league winning teams before turning out for the hometown club.

Read More: The Weerarathne Legacy

To play the sport and excel at it is, of course, an achievement. But to lead a team to victory while excelling at the sport you play is a rare feat. We seldom see great sportsmen achieving great personal success while leading a team. This is where Roshan Weeraratne stands out as a skipper.

Roshan Weeraratne will continue to be a consistent performer both internationally and in the local circuit as a player
Roshan Weeraratne will continue to be a consistent performer both internationally and in the local circuit as a player

Running strong at 26-years of age, if there is one regret he’d have this season is not making the Sri Lanka national team which he has led Asia Division I Championship glory in the past.

With Weeraratne finishing off his captaincy run, his services will continue to be vested in Sri Lanka Rugby as he has created a legacy in the chronicles of the sport as one of the greatest to have donned the #9 jersey for Sri Lanka.

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If you believe in yourself, sky is the limit – Priyantha Ekanayake http://www.thepapare.com/if-you-believe-in-yourself-sky-is-the-limit-priyantha-ekanayake/ http://www.thepapare.com/if-you-believe-in-yourself-sky-is-the-limit-priyantha-ekanayake/#respond Thu, 01 Jun 2017 05:39:41 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2180816 Priyantha Ekanayake, Chief Executive Officer of Sri Lanka Rugby shared his views on how things began and what he plans to achieve throughout his tenure as CEO. Having played rugby at the highest level in the country and even went on to play in the provincial tournament for Otago in New Zealand, alongside All-Blacks at […]]]>

Priyantha Ekanayake, Chief Executive Officer of Sri Lanka Rugby shared his views on how things began and what he plans to achieve throughout his tenure as CEO.

Having played rugby at the highest level in the country and even went on to play in the provincial tournament for Otago in New Zealand, alongside All-Blacks at that time “I went there as a player, didn’t have much of a clue about how things go, and i didn’t realise how tough the season was”

The coaching staff provided vital support helping me settle in and taking me through “right after landing. Next day we went to watch a match, and the two front rows went at each other after a collapsed scrum. The first thing I told my coach was, I doubt I’ll survive A division rugby, can I play in the B division? The coach didn’t take it well but he introduced me to the guys, mentioning the fact that we have got Asia’s best lineout jumper”

“Things were not easy, at my first training, after just 5 scrums I started vomiting. It made me think what was going on, it was -3. Once they contract players, they are given a chance. So I realized I have to do a lot more, so I trained double hard, putting in many hours, it helped me settle down to things”

Ekanayake mentions the main thing he learned about in New Zealand was self belief “It’s mainly a psychological factor than anything else. For me what I leant was self belief, if you believe in yourself, sky is the limit”

As he succeeds many others at the job, Priyatha has set his sights on getting three things in place before he leaves his office. Speaking to ThePapare.com,  “Yeah my predecessors have done their bit but I have set my sights on getting three things, A ground, office space and an academy. If we manage to get these three things, I’ll be a happy man when I leave”

His calling at schools sports began thanks to his brother’s sporting obsession, Priyantha states how his brothers obsession rubbed on him “My brother started sports before me, He played Cricket, Basketball, Athletics and Rugby. I also started playing all four sport, and I even went on to captain in all four”

“My ambition was to play for Kandy, even though they were losing quite bad, I knew this was a good move. That’s how it all began”

With rugby constantly changing and becoming ever so competitive, the CEO gave an insight on his vision on capturing talent from a young age, nurturing them to be great players “We have very limited resources at the national level, and in XV’s i’m not too sure how far we could go, But at 7’s the sky’s the limit, I believe we can win a medal at the Olympics or Asian Games or Commonwealth Games”

“The schools rugby is played on quite a big scale, but it’s been run by amateurish people. If you don’t develop the talent at that level, they aren’t going to be developed at the top level. So we certainly have the talent at the junior level”

“Sri Lanka Rugby Union and Schools will have to work together between the Sports Ministry and Education Ministry, to work together and develop the sport. So we are finding a mechanism to work hand in hand to develop the sport together”

Sri Lanka Rugby always wanted to work alongside Schools Rugby but due to various reasons negotiations crashed on countless occasions “Yeah there was a sponsorship negotiation going on but it fell apart. There is lack of professionalism, however the secretary of the Education Ministry and the Sports Ministry gets involved and there are lots of good things. So if we work together, the sky’s the limit. Then we can have few more clubs. Sri Lanka Rugby will have to step in and develop the talent from grassroots, contract them and start tours”

“Then create an Academy. We are working with the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Sports Ministry to get a place. If that works then the New Zealand people are willing to give us the expertise. So what we need is to set things up and continue with things. That’s what we are working on right now”

“We are having quite an aggressive plan and hope to produce 30,000 rugby players in the next three years”

Finally when questioned about exchange programs for our promising youngsters “We can, there are a lot of things to look at, we brought in a high performance coach, now our focus is on how we can elevate players from club level to international level. We lack a provincial tournament, we also have the same issue at schools and club levels. So we will first fix these few and then think about the future”

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Inconsistency and bad luck cost Sri Lanka top tier qualification http://www.thepapare.com/inconsistency-and-bad-luck-cost-sri-lanka-top-tier-qualification/ http://www.thepapare.com/inconsistency-and-bad-luck-cost-sri-lanka-top-tier-qualification/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 12:56:47 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2180690 The Sri Lanka Rugby team on the back of some bad luck and inconsistent rugby, finished runners up in the Asia Rugby Division 1 Championship behind hosts Malaysia for the second consecutive year. The Tuskers started off the tournament well with a controlled 24-13 win over the Philippines Volcanos, before putting in an exceptional second […]]]>

The Sri Lanka Rugby team on the back of some bad luck and inconsistent rugby, finished runners up in the Asia Rugby Division 1 Championship behind hosts Malaysia for the second consecutive year.

Asia Rugby
Asia Rugby

The Tuskers started off the tournament well with a controlled 24-13 win over the Philippines Volcanos, before putting in an exceptional second half performance in their second game to thrash the UAE 33-17. Unfortunately, the Fijian-riddled Malaysia was simply too strong and took down the Tuskers 22-09 in the final game in Ipoh last Sunday.

As with any test, Sri Lanka Rugby will have a lot of positives as well as negatives to take away from the tournament. The only way to move forward for Sri Lanka is to analyse the performances at a microbial level and pick on every positive and look for ways to improve them. Following which the administration needs to go through the negatives of the tour and find a means to fix those issues both on and off the field.

Positives

The biggest positive for the Tuskers is their vast improvement in and around the contact area. Although not perfect the Tuskers were rarely over-powered around the breakdown, and were able to hold their own when competing for possession. The technique as well as attitude in contact was always positive and the hesitancy to compete physically, that has been synonymous with Sri Lanka rugby was not evident anymore.

Sri Lanka can also take heart that several young players stepped up and showed their metal in the face of adversity. The likes of Nishon Perera, Taariq Salih, Richard Dharmapala and Thilina Wijesinghe all made their debuts for the Tuskers XV’s side gaining some much-needed exposure to test rugby. All the debutants showed a lot of heart and pride in the jersey which means the Tuskers have a bright future. A lot of the other young players in the side were also spectacular with Omalka Gunaratne and Jason Dissanayake perhaps being the top performers of the tournament. Sri Lanka’s high performance director will certainly look to develop the third-row combination of Dissanayake, Salih and Gunaratne for the future while adding the expertise of Sudarshana Muthuthanthri into the mix. Thilina Wijesinghe was also a revelation for the Tuskers, having knocked over penalties from anywhere within 50m. He displayed nerves of steel collecting a whopping 36 points in three games becoming the highest scorer of the tournament. Wijesinghe was also spectacular under the high ball and showed ability to counter attack from anywhere.

The decision making and leadership on the field is most certainly a positive for the Tuskers with skipper Roshan Weeraratne leading the way. The coordination between him and Marija was spot on, as was the communication between Weeraratne and goal kicker Thilina Wijesinghe.

Negatives

There was a consistent, inconsistency throughout the tour for Sri Lanka. The Tuskers played some spectacular rugby at times and then fell back into a lackadaisical stride and this was ubiquitous in every aspect of the game, especially the set pieces. Sri Lanka would front up for a scrum brilliant holding off the opposition and retaining possession, only to be marauded over in the very next scrum. The Lineouts were similar with the combinations working perfectly in one lineout and then we would see downright confusion in the next.

Dhanushka Ranjan’s injury was also another major negative for the Tuskers which was a result of a superfluous, flamboyant dive over the goal line in the second game of the tour. His injury cost Sri Lanka their most threatening attacker and perhaps the title. In addition to the Ranjan injury, the Tuskers also lost Richard Dharmapala to a suspension. Dharmapala was cited following the second game for a tip tackle, and was handed a 6 week ban which meant the Tuskers were minus another attacking back.

Sri Lanka also need to develop their game control, the lack of patience in attack was certainly an issue. On numerous occasions when the Tuskers had the numerical advantage against all three opponents, they failed to score significant points. In the games against the UAE and Malaysia the Lankan’s had a 2-man advantage with the opposition having 2 players in the sin-bin, however they failed to capitalize on both occasions.

Sri Lanka vs Philippines

Tiger Super Sports
Tiger Super Sports

Although the Tuskers did come away with a 24-13 win over the Volcanoes, it was nowhere near a perfect performance. Having got off to a dream start with Wijesinghe getting into the game early on with a penalty, the Tuskers were on their way after Dhanushka Ranjan scored a brilliant individual try. Sri Lanka put on an excellent defensive effort in the first half of the game throwing themselves into tackles and winning possession around the contact area. They stuck to a set pattern in defense and held on to possession well in attack. The Tuskers also did well in managing a tough situation for the last 10 minutes of the half when they were playing with 14 men.

However, Sri Lanka did have a few concerns in the second half. A slew of penalties and some sloppy defense saw the Philippines fight their way back into the game. Fortunately for the Tuskers the Volcanoes were not organized enough to capitalize on the lapses in concentration.

Sri Lanka vs UAE

Sri Lanka vs UAEOnce again, the Tuskers got off to a decent start, Marija’s try in the first half was a result of Thilina Wijesinghe’s injection of pace into the line and his excellent running angles, followed up by some great support from the rest of the back line. Unfortunately, the defensive effort minutes later was not as impressive. Whilst defending a 5m scrum the Tuskers were shoved on to the back foot by the UAE whose number 8, Glen Moore strutted over with ease. Whilst the scrum was on the back foot, Lee Keegal who was defending at first receiver on the blind side drifted up leaving the space for Moore while half back Weeraratne was defending the open side.

Unlike in the first game however, the Tuskers failed to control the second match when they were down to 14 men with Prasad Madushanka in the bin, UAE capitalized and go in for another try. Sri Lanka however, did rack up 8 points towards the end of the game when Josh Ives was sent off with a second yellow card.

Sri Lanka vs Malaysia

Tiger Super Sports
Tiger Super Sports

Sri Lanka were unlucky in the opening 20 minutes of the game when winger Asyraf Norudin offloaded with a foot in touch to center Mawara Nasalo to canter in under the posts. The Tuskers were also extremely uncertain in attack with both Ranjan and Dharmapala out of the line-up. Sri Lanka butchered their opportunity to strike back minutes later failing to score any points when they found themselves deep in the Malaysian half with a 2-man advantage on the paddock. The Tuskers also had a try disallowed after the referee called play back for a penalty instead of playing advantage.

The Tuskers did very well defensively in through the first 60 minutes of the game and were easily holding off a very disjointed and one dimensional Malaysian attack. The last 20 however saw everything fall apart for the Tuskers, the communication in defense was nowhere to be found. Malaysia ran in 2 soft tries to take the game and the tournament capitalizing on the Tuskers lapses in concentration.

Tiger Super Sports
Tiger Super Sports

Sri Lanka failed to score any tries against Malaysia who played some big players but really didn’t do anything too spectacular. Their attack was one dimensional, set pieces were average and defense was mediocre. Sri Lanka simply lacked the attacking prowess with Ranjan and Dharmapala off the field.

Overall the Tuskers had a decent tour, but were not a finished product, which is simply a result of a lack of match practice and time together. Had they trained together on a regular basis over the course of the season and had a few games to get in to a rhythm before going on tour, Sri Lanka would be playing top tier Asian rugby next year.

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Can Lote Raikabula lead Trinity to its elusive title? http://www.thepapare.com/trinity-college-rugby-team-coach-lote-raikabula-feature/ http://www.thepapare.com/trinity-college-rugby-team-coach-lote-raikabula-feature/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 05:20:08 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2178833 Trinity College Kandy is just one win away from a Schools league title that has eluded them for 30 long years on the back of some brilliant rugby dished out this season. Lions from the hill capital are the longest uninterrupted rugby playing school in the country having taken up the sport in 1906 and […]]]>

Trinity College Kandy is just one win away from a Schools league title that has eluded them for 30 long years on the back of some brilliant rugby dished out this season.

Lions from the hill capital are the longest uninterrupted rugby playing school in the country having taken up the sport in 1906 and boast of a history of over a century playing the oval shaped ball game.   Although they have produced plenty of strong vibrant teams that have impressed, the schools’ rugby league title has been a thorn in their sides having only managed to secure the championship last in 1987.

After two disappointing seasons in the past two years where in the first they surrendered the coveted Brady shield and last year sharing the shield and finishing the league in the 6thplace, Rugby brains at Trinity decided to resolve back to the southern hemisphere for a coach who would be able to mold a championship outfit at Trinity. Lote Raikabula is the name.

Pic 01Raikabula 6’4 feet Fijian born All Black came to the fore at the 2006 New Zealand International Sevens tournament where he made his debut for New Zealand on his home ground.  A creative playmaker became a key clog in the All Blacks 7s outfit representing 60 tournaments and ending up in 20 tournament wining outfits. During his illustrious career Raikabula was part of two Commonwealth Gold winning teams and Four 7’s World series winning outfits. A classy finisher, he added his 100th try in 2013. While much has been documented about Lote’s heroics in the 7’s aspect, he is no stranger to the longer format of the game having represented Hawkes Bay and Manawatu in the Air New Zealand cup.

A personal trainer before taking the realm at Trinity, Raikabula is a strong believer of fitness being a major aspect in the style that he requires his team to execute. The work he has put in to Trinity’s 1st XV is quite evident at the way the team has been preforming this season. Despite playing only two games at home and having travel down to Colombo 6 times, the Trinitians have been able to showcase some fast open rugby minus the solitary loss to St.Peter’s when they had a bad day. Prior to the commencement of the season, Lote was happy about the hard work that the team had put in during the off season and claimed that “most of our games are down in Colombo. It will be hotter but the boys have worked really hard preseason and we got a good base going into the season ”   This philosophy came good for the All Black as despite a few of the crucial players suffering injuries during the initial round he had the depth to call upon in order to maintain the high paced  style of play Trinity has produced this season.

When queried about the difference in the way the supporters and well-wishers engaged with the sport in here and back in New Zealand, he billed that “back at home if you are not happy about the way you are playing specially the parents and the supporters, you keep it to yourself and then you share it around with your friends, but over here it’s quite full on and you get it right in your face. But its good, its part and parcel of the game and the passion here is at a way different level compared to what we get back home, especially for schools’ rugby.”

Pic 02From the onset of taking over the position of head coach at Trinity, Raikabula was focused on the brand of rugby that he expects his team to produce on the field. He didn’t mince his words when he spoke to us at the beginning of the season stating that “I am not too focused on the result I’m more concerned and look forward to the way we do our thing and making sure it’s important that we play well. The results for me and for us is not even in our picture. The most important thing is making sure we play well, if we control that, usually the results take care of itself. My focus is making sure that the boys are doing their job right and playing well and overall enjoying playing footy rather than putting them under pressure that stops them from getting excited to play rugby”

No preparation however can prepare you for the pressure and the excitement that is experienced at the Bradby. Trinity have the services of quite a few senior men who have been in the situation but the stakes of the league title at hand is bound to add some extra pressure to the players. Raikabula who is no stranger to big games having himself been part of plenty of high intensity finals will be well aware of the psychological battle that his charges are to face.

Trinity this season has turned a lot of heads through the style of play that they have brought in to the schools rugby league. There has been a glimpse of the Fijian flair and the offloading antics that makes it difficult for the oppositions to contain the running outfit. Trinity forwards have been impressive getting themselves around the park with great improvement witnessed in their skill set as well. Trinity will be hoping for an extended performance from their forwards that would underline the marauding set of forwards that Royal poses.

Lote Raikabula in his maiden stint as a coach has managed to bring the southern hemisphere flavor to his protégés despite being on foreign soil. He has already marveled the Kandyan team managing to overcome the Isipathana hoodoo that plagued Trinity for five long years by winning against them and will be hoping to marshal his troops to clinch the Singer Schools league, a triumph that will be sweeter against their arch rivals at the esteemed Bradby shield.

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Sanath Martis eyeing another league title http://www.thepapare.com/royal-rugby-team-coach-sanath-martis-feature/ http://www.thepapare.com/royal-rugby-team-coach-sanath-martis-feature/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 04:10:03 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2178701 Sanath Martis, has been a household name in the school rugby circuit over the past decade and the brains behind many championship winning teams. Taking the reins at Royal in 2014, the champion coach went on to win the coveted Bradby shield the very next year. Having produced outstanding players at St. Peter’s College in […]]]>

Sanath Martis, has been a household name in the school rugby circuit over the past decade and the brains behind many championship winning teams.

Taking the reins at Royal in 2014, the champion coach went on to win the coveted Bradby shield the very next year. Having produced outstanding players at St. Peter’s College in his tenure as coach, Martis succeeded in doing the same with Royal. While all of Royal rugby seems to be blossoming under the tutelage of the veteran coach, players in the likes of Bhanuka Gamage and most recently Janidu Dilshan, have been sensational.

Moving back to this season, Royal College seemed to be down and out following the loss to Isipathana but following the New Year break, Royal have looked and played like a rejuvenated team.

sanath martisThe Royal game plan looked easy, pin your opponent to the corner and maul your way to the try line. Easier said than done. Martis laid the law down so the lads from Reid Avenue made things flow seamlessly. It was their master weapon.

That was not enough for master-tactician, he brought-out the other aspect of the game; the three-quarter line. At the match against S Thomas’ he stunned the opposition when he decided to move the ball wide show casing to the Royal faithful that this team could play any style of rugby.

Talking to ThePapare.com following the win against S. Thomas’ College, coach Martis said “We wanted to play a wide game as we saw that the Thomians were weak in their three quarter defence and that is why we had scoring opportunities. Not forgetting the forwards who played well in their own right”

His grueling work ethic as a coach has been highlighted, not only just at Royal but in the past at Peter’s College and Wesley as well. Known to be a trainer who sticks to his strengths and exploits the opponent’s weakness, Sanath Martis, will undoubtedly look to get his rumbling maul going forward and exploit Trinity’s weak wide runners. With a bit of luck and the bounce of the ball rolling his way, no doubt the coach will be in the thick of things for this all-important encounter.

The match against Wesley College was a tough task in its own right. Having been behind at halftime, Coach Martis, lived up to his standards with an outstanding team talk to get his lads back on track and end the game with a win.

He did not forget to speak with ThePapare.com after the win, mentioning “second half, second quarter, I recognized that their (Wesley College) forwards were not upto scratch. We hit them hard as they let the tempo drop and it paid dividends in the end. Not forgetting our (Royal) backline defence, they held strong to nullify the Wesley attack”

He also spoke about his promising midfield man, Janidu Dilshan who did not have a good first half but blossomed in the second following the coaches talk “Players can have off days, but I know he’s a good player and I spoke to him and he did not let me or the team down”

With this season’s title hanging in the balance as the final game against Trinity decides the league championship as well as the first leg of the Bradby shield, Martiswill surely have something special under his sleeve. The lads from Royal undoubtedly will be going all out to play to their strengths.

“We will be going all out at Pallekale, we are going to give our 100% because it’s the league decider and the Bradby first leg. So we will go all out to win, nothing other than a win will please me”

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The Weerarathne Legacy http://www.thepapare.com/the-weerarathne-legacy-feature/ http://www.thepapare.com/the-weerarathne-legacy-feature/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 12:53:24 +0000 http://www.thepapare.com/?p=2178515 This year at Nittawela when Kandy sports club clinched the coveted Clifford cup knock out trophy having earlier won the League title for the 2017/18 season, Kandy SC skipper Roshan Weerarathne dragged another player to receive the trophy; it was arguably, a player who was instrumental in turning Kandy’s fortunes that year and Roshan’s older […]]]>

This year at Nittawela when Kandy sports club clinched the coveted Clifford cup knock out trophy having earlier won the League title for the 2017/18 season,

PicKandy SC skipper Roshan Weerarathne dragged another player to receive the trophy; it was arguably, a player who was instrumental in turning Kandy’s fortunes that year and Roshan’s older brother, Gayan Weerarathne.  Gayan was brimming with pride as his younger sibling lifted the knock-out trophy marking a successful campaign as the skipper.

The Barrets; Bauden and Jordie have taken the rugby world by storm for their showing at the Super Rugby franchise Hurricanes alongside the Savea duo.  The Blues we have Ioane siblings, Akira and Reiko. Brothers’ playing together is always a special treat to watch and we don’t have to look far from our very own shores which boasts of a proud history of over a century of playing the oval shaped ball game. Representing the local club rugby giant Kandy SC, the siblings of our story, hail from the school on Randle’s hill, Kingswood College, Kandy;  the first school to take up Rugby football in the country.

In a day and age where Rugby has become highly professional and demands the athletes to be at the top of their game day in day out in the various competitions though out the season, these two siblings have managed to dominate the local rugby scene for the past half-decade be it club or national colours they have donned.

gayanIt was Gayan who was the first took to rugby at Kingswood College; Roshan two years junior to Gayan was first drawn to cricket but quickly joined rugby practices alongside hisbrother. The siblings turned out for the same team for the first time in the year 2000 representing the Under 13 team at Kingswood.  Gayan actually makes fun of Roshan as a recent article surfaced claiming that Roshan was a cricketer turned rugby player “Apart from the cricket we played on the road, he tried his luck at school practices but I’m sure he was no good” says Gayan teasing his younger brother like all older brothers do.

Gayan a destructive center formed a lethal mid-field partnership with Thilina Manoj and were stand out performers in the league winning 2005 Kingswood 1stXV outfit. They turned a lot of heads and are still considered as one of the best center combinations to take the schools rugby field in the recent years. Both of them represented Sri Lanka Under 19 teams in 2005, 2006 & 2007.

“Thilina and I are best friends to date, he was my captain in 2007 and he is one of the best center partners I have ever had. Having played together with each other from a very young age we built a great understanding ” says Gayan. Roshan is quick to add “For me Thilina was my best captain and he has been my other brother, it’s a shame Thilina didn’t continue rugby due to injury ”

The 16 year old Roshan, a nippy scrumhalf was first picked to the senior team as the replacement #9 in 2005 and claims that the league winning season had telling effect on himroshan as a player “I was just 16 when I got my 1st XV jersey. Coach Ronny Ibrahim is the person who really pushed me. I was just 45kg then and coach asked me to work and become 60kg, I trained with Aiya (Gayan) on our free time and managed to become 60kg, to be able to win the league in my first year alongside my brother was a dream come true. ” Roshan went on to Captain the school on the Randles hill in 2009.

Soon after finishing his school rugby season in 2007 Gayan, turned out for the hometown giants Kandy Sports Club, the team he represents to date. He was soon joined by his younger sibling in 2009 and the duo have made the #9 and #12 jerseys at Kandy SC their own ever since.

gayan sri lanka“I was first selected to represent the country in 2010 in Singapore at the Asian 5 nations division 1 tournament. Gayan was playing for Sri Lanka from 2008 and I always wanted to do what my brother does but only better and that has been my motivation. That year we were champions in the tournament” says Roshan. From then till now the Weerarathne brothers have donned the National colours with pride and distinction.

18342243_1508219292584560_6824388402205915808_nRoshan has just been appointed the National 15-a-side skipper forthe 2017 Asian Rugby Div I championship and claims it to be a childhood dream come true “I am humbled and honored to have been appointed as the national skipper. It’s a big responsibility but it was dream for of mine to lead Sri Lanka XV’s team from my childhood days”

Fazil Marija who is hailed as one of the best Fly-halves to grace the Islands’ rugby field has had the Weeraratne duo on either side of his shoulder for most part of his career at Kandy Sports club. This combination has been the lending its service not only to the champion Kandy SC but also have paired up in the national colours since 2010. The flamboyant Marija will be playing his final international tournament as a National XV a side player was nostalgic and had this to say about the Weerarathne duo.fazil

“Throughout my career I was privileged to have been able to play alongside the two Weeraratne’s, be it at Kandy sports club or in the National jersey, they are brilliant athletes and are have been influential in assisting me to become the payer I am today.  Roshan is one of the best scrum-halves I have played with and he reads the game very well. Gayan is a workhorse and a very strong lad and has so much power. Their excellence on either side of my shoulder has allowed me to exploit the gaps that are created in the opposition defenses”

Having shared the dressing room with the Weerarathne siblings for almost a decade, we queried Marija on how the duo handle the pregame prep. Marija reminisced “Gayan requires quite a bit of strapping before the match and starts getting strapped hours ahead of the game. Roshan on the other hand likes to get dressed in his gear very earlier prior to the games and wait at in the dressing room”

Weerarathne’s responsible for the success

parents

Successful rugby players require a strong support system backing them up, assisting them through the demanding regimes that they put their bodies through. For the Weerarathne’s parents they had to make sure they support not one but two rugby players who have been playing rugby at the highest level in the country.

parents 2If you are to come to a match venue where Kandy Sports club is scheduled to play their game whether it be Kandy or Colombo, two hours prior to kick off, you are sure to notice an elderly couple in Kandy supporter jersey’s without fail. They are Mahinda & Nilimini Weerarathne,  parents of Roshan and Gayan are the courageous couple who have selflessly committed their lives to support these two rugby legends from an early age.

Roshan and Gayan are very grateful to their parents for the care they have lent them throughout the years “Both of them have been extremely supportive of our rugby from the junior age groups.  They have not missed a single game ever since we started playing. No matter what comes up they make it a point to come for the games to back us. We owe who we are today to all the hard work and the sacrifices made by them. They have been the best parents one could ask for”

With an already astute career in their hands, the Weerarathne duo have already carved their names in the chronicle that is Sri Lankan Rugby.

We at ThePapare.com exalt Gayan and Roshan Weerarathne for their successful journey and their service to Sri Lanka Rugby. We wish them many more seasons of record breaking rugby.

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