Published: Monday, 16 December 2013 13:54
The most significant individual of any side is the coach. The Dialog rugby league has ten A division sides which posses top level coaches and illustrated here is a two part articulation of their credentials.
Leonard de Zilwa - Navy SC
Hailing from St. Peters' College, Leonard went on to captain his school in 1993. He continued to play rugby, donning the Havelocks SC jersey, and later went on to represent Sri Lanka from 1998 -2001, while also captaining the National 7's team. Leonard, who was part of the Havelocks coaching staff last year as well, where he focused mostly on the back line has tasted league victory, after the successful season the Havelock Park boys had last year.
After last years successes, Leonard was called to take over the reigns of being the Head Coach of Navy SC who are definitely in the running this year for the title. It will be a great challenge for Leonard, who will be aiming to stamp his authority as a top level coach in the Lankan domestic rugby arena.
Neil Foote - Kandy SC
Another well known name in the local rugby scene, New Zealander Neil Foote has made his mark as a top coach in this island. Having been extremely successful with Trinity College Kandy, Foote revolutionized the schools rugby system, by incooperating a more professional outlook that has undoubtedly been extremely successful.
Kandy SC have been at the helm of rugby in Sri Lanka for over decade, before Havelocks SC dethroned the boys from Nittawala last year. Neil Foote will have a stiff task to make amends in bringing back the title to Nittawala, as the competition in the domestic league has risen drastically, Foote will have to impart his experiences in the schools league to the more professional club rugby system.
Neile Foote has also gone on to represent many teams at the top level including the London Harlequins, Twickenham Rugby Club and many more.
Sanath Martis – CH & FC
One of the most experienced coaches in the Sri Lanka, Martis took over the responsibility to make his mark in the club stage this year with his appointment as the head coach of the Ceylonese Hockey and Football Club.
Martis, who is no stranger to winning title, having nurtured St. Peters College to victory in 2006,2007 and 2010 will be a crucial element to the CH&FC set up. Currently, the club from Maitland Crescent are going through a rough patch in their illustrious history, and it is very possible that Martis, given the right resources could change the atmosphere within the club.
Having played for Isipathana College, and also represented Sri Lanka U19, Martis is known to be a strict disciplinarian. It will be interesting to see his input in the club rugby arema after shifting to schools in 2001 where he coached his former club CR&FC before for a short while.
Imthi Marikar – Upcountry Lions
Imthi Marikar made his mark in the local rugby arena first as a Trinitian ruggerite, and as a product of Kandy went on to represent CR&FC and Kandy SC. He eventually lead Kandy SC to Clifford Cup glory.
Coaching a new team is not the easiest, and Marikar did a commendable job last year with the Upcountry Lions who propelled themselves to fourth place, also winning the 7’s title. The Lions in itself are a very young side and so far Marikar has made the best use of his players, also going on to attract a few young upcoming starts to his side.
Imthi has been groomed by brilliant rugby coaches such as George Simpkin and Nimal Lewke, and is definitely on course towards reaching Sri Lanka’s elite coaches club.
Tavita Tulagaese ‘Laga’ – CR & FC
‘Laga’ is no stranger to Sri Lanka Rugby. The New Zealander has a knack for producing champion teams, and has been involved in both the Club and School level rugby in Sri Lanka for over a decade.
Having coached Royal to unbeatable heights in the early 2000’s, and also played for CR&FC in his days, ‘Laga’ guided Havelocks last year towards league glory. Following his successes, he was brought back to coach his former club this year, in a bid to revitalize the former rugby powerhouse CR&FC .
His capabilities are undoubtedly unquestionable, and will be a strong factor to take into consideration as the league progresses. CR a side in transition, will look to keep his expertise for a few years in a bid towards shifting back to the glory days.