It is that time when the Sugathadasa Swimming Pool complex gets swamped in blue as Sri Lanka’s most anticipated Water polo encounter comes alive for the 26th successive occasion on the 30th of September 2017.
The Royal-Thomian Water polo encounter is a major event that takes a pride of place in the schools sporting calendar and more so in the corridors of these two institutions. The phenomenal two-legged championship that is played a week apart has always been able to bring out a most heightened competition. Played in memory of Dr William Rollo Lenden Hayman, a one-time sub-warden at S. Thomas’ College who spearheaded the initiation of the sport in the school way back in the 1950’s, the Hayman has gone from strength to strength over the years.
The annual two-legged Water Polo encounter between Royal College and S. Thomas’ College, contested…
S Thomas College took home the first-ever Hayman trophy when it was inaugurated in 1992. The side led by Jeewaka Perera won the two legs 6-1 & 6-2 respectively.
It took Royal College 13 years to see success against the Mt Lavinia lads winning it for the first time in 2005. Last year marked the 25th encounter between the two sides and currently S. Thomas’ lead the tally with 16 wins to Royal’s 7. Two encounters have concluded in draws.
The school by the sea has stamped its dominance in this decade, holding onto the coveted silverware for the past four years. The last time the Royalists saw the likes of the Hayman in their premises was way back in 2012.
Last year Ashane Francis’s dominant Thomian outfit joined an elite club when his team won the trophy 18-13 on aggregate to complete the four win-streak.
However, it is envisaged that the newly crowned national Water polo champions, Royal College will take to the waters of Sugathadasa this weekend with renewed confidence to break the four-year hoodoo.
Skipper Basith Yakoob is upbeat about his team making it through this time around having tasted success twice this season.
Earlier this year, Royal College triumphed at the Ellawala Water polo league to win the title after a long wait of eight long years.
Taking the success story of Ellawala as inspiration, the Royalist were once again triumphant at the Water polo Nationals winning the title defeating Army SC in the final.
Having a representation of nine senior campaigners in the Royal outfit, they will undoubtedly have the best formula for success with Isiwaruna De Silva, Dilisha De Fonseka and Sawinda Dissanayake expected to lend force.
“We have lost the for four years and coming back is not an easy job”
added skipper Yakoob whose team is still to lose a water polo match this year.
“We are working towards winning, we had many different game plans that worked for us in the league and hopefully it works for us in the coming games”
Going in to the 26th Hayman trophy with hopes of retaining it for the fifth consecutive year, the Thomian skipper Shakya Gunathilake may not spend too many sleepless nights on what’s at stake as the legacy of strong and composed past Thomian Water polo teams precedes him. Despite this, having to protect the heritage and win a 5th time may weight on the skipper’s mind a tad.
The bigger worry though for the lads from the school by the sea is probably the lack of game time as they did not play both the Ellawala and the National championship but Gunathilake who has been a part of previous Hayman winning sides believes that his team will mark a new high this year.
“Training has been tough so we’ve tried to perfect our basics to retain the trophy for the fifth consecutive year”
stated a assured Thomian captain to ThePapare.com.
The defending champions will have the services of the ever-reliable Dilith Kumarasinghe whose goalkeeping aided the victory in last year, senior man Sanaka Molligoda along with deputy skipper Isura Kahandawela strengthen the line-up for the Thomians.
Swimming has been Royal’s forte when it comes to the 32 minutes of play and coach Bilal Hassen will look to utilize the experienced players to formulate his strategies to counter the Thomians.
Having won four back to back titles, the Thomians have always favoured surprises in the game. Known to be a master tactician, coach Zafar Zainudeen is an individual who keeps no room for error and will definitely have a trick or two up his sleep to keep the trophy at Mount Lavinia for the 5th successive year.
Catch the action live on ThePapare.com, Dialog TV Channel 1 or MyTv to find out who will win the 26th Dr. R. L. Hayman trophy 1st leg on the 30th of September 2017.