Published: Friday, 05 April 2013 15:54
A new chapter will begin in an old sporting rivalry on this Friday 5th April 2013 at St. Peter’s College Grounds at Bambalapitiya.
Recognized as the second longest running schools rugby encounter in Sri Lanka, the Royal-St. Peter’s rivalry started 81 years ago in July 1932 at the very same pitch when the two schools came together to play a friendly game of rugby. This match, won by Royal, was the first ever rugby match the Peterites played.
Celebrating the long standing relationship on the rugby field also the close association between these two leading schools, both on and off the field, a Memorial Cup has been introduced from this year onwards for the Royal Vs. St. Peter’s 1st XV Rugby encounter.
The Cup will be named the ‘B.C. Anghie Cup’ in memory of (late) B.C. Anghie who was a master at both schools, St. Peters from 1929-1936 and at Royal from 1936–1954. This is donated by his sons, spearheaded by Captain Anthony (Tony) Anghie who played for Royal College 1st XV in 1948-49.
The old Rugby ties between these two schools are deeply rooted with Royal who took to the game back in 1916 helped to baptize St. Peter’s in Rugby by playing their very first rugby encounter and ushering Saints into the rugby field.
Thus St. Peter’s College became the fifth school to commence playing rugger and they were among the four schools that were playing competitive rugby prior to the outbreak of World War II. Interestingly, the very first Rugby Captain of St. Peter’s College, Lim Billimoria started his education at Royal College before moving out of Reid Avenue to St. Peter’s College and later on led St. Peter’s in their first Rugby encounter against Royal in 1932. In 2007, St. Peter’s College celebrated their 75th Anniversary of taking to rugby by hosting the encounter against Royal College for the ‘Lim Billimoria Trophy’ which was annexed by the host.
The renowned Anghie family has its ties across both schools. Mr. Bernard C. Anghie, was a pillar of Royal College and while serving as a master at both schools he also served as a Rugby Master during a short time in both schools. He had the luxury of teaching finer things to some of the very best Ruggerites to come out from these two schools during the Harlequin era of Rugby in then Ceylon mostly dominated by Europeans. Some of his famous and legendary pupils at St. Peter’s were Archibald Perera, Percy Perera, George & Fred Keller, Stanley Livera, Shelly Illesinghe, Paul De Niese and Roy Reimers. While at Royal from 1936 – 1954, he taught some of the Royal Rugby legends of yesteryear likes of Mahes Rodrigo, Summa Navaratnam, The Aldons brothers, Gamini Salgado and Larry Foenander. Most of these players, from both schools went on to play together for the respective clubs and also for All Ceylon teams. In 1955 B.C went on to join the University of Ceylon.
The three outstanding sons, The Anghie brothers from Royal dominated sporting headlines in bygone years with elder brother Tony was an elegant sportsman who won Colours in three sports. He captained the boxing team in 1947 at Royal and was a member of Royal 1st XV in 1948-49 and later turned out for Army and Combined Services. The second, dazzling late Trevor, Dr. Trevor Anghie captained Royal in 1950 having played 1st XV since 1948. He was later a regular feature in CR & FC, Havelocks, Uva and All Ceylon teams. Maurice Anghie the youngest played for Royal 1st XV between 1956-59 while captaining in 1959 and later turned out for Havelocks and All Ceylon.
Adiel Anghie, a nephew of B.C represented and had the rare distinction of captaining St. Peter’s College at both Rugby (1959) and cricket (1960). Ironically in 1959, the two cousins, Adiel Anghie captained St. Peter’s College and Maurice Anghie captained Royal College in the Annual Rugby Encounter and the match ended in a thrilling 6 all draw at Bambalapitiya.
The Royal – St. Peter’s Rugby encounter over the years has been one of the much anticipated Schools Rugby matches with ardent followers of both school teams together assured of an exciting affair. One of the high points of the Royal – St. Peter’s rugby ties is the 2010 Schools President’s Trophy finals. The scheduled final match at Royal Sports Complex was suspended at the last minute by the authorities due to a court order. The, two teams, led by their Principals, upholding the spirit of the game plays a friendly encounter with excitement and vigor worthy of a final. After two years, the court case is dismissed and two schools decided to share the Trophy upholding the highest of traditions and sporting values.
Needless to say Royal hold sway over Petes on overall tally with a grand 70% win ratio which can be attributed to the rich Rugby culture prevailed at Royal since 1916 and also was build over three long streaks of unbeaten runs against Petes by Royal sides over the past 68 encounters. For 13 years Royal were unbeaten against Petes from 1948-1964 before late Darrel Wimalaratne’s Champion Pete XV pulled off a nail biting 3-0 win over Royal in 1965. Then Royal had another unbeaten run of 09 years from 1974-1984 which was halted by ‘Hoodoo Breaking’ Rajith Abeygoonewardena’s Pete XV who nailed Royalists by 24-0 in 1985. The last of the long winning streaks, the longest, 14 years run between 1991-2004 was halted by 2005 Pete XV which was led by Sajith Adikari with a close 11-8 win for Bamba boys.
There had been many exciting and heart stopping encounters between these two sides. Some of the memorable encounters of recent past are in 1995 Aslam Assen’s Royal 1st XV pulling off a shocking win against formidable and President’s Trophy Champion 1st XV outfit of SPC led by Sanjeewa Abeygoonewardena at Sugathadasa Stadium by 10-3, followed by 1996 when Rukmal Gunathileka’s Royalists hound Peterites led by Kirk William with a narrow 9-6 win, then in 2000 Peterites under Gladwin Georgesz goes down to Royal led by Suranjana Perera by 3-6, continuing the Royal Hoodoo for 13th year in 2003 when Rumaiz Ishaq lead Peterites fail to conquer Royal bastion with an agonizing 02 points loosing margin (6-8) to Royal under Rajith Jayasundara, Royal led by Lakshman Dissanayake escaping in 2004 with a slender 3-0 win over Peterites led by Mohamed Rinaz on a wet and slippery game at Royal Sports Complex. In 2005 Sajith Adikari breaks the Royal hoodoo after 14 unsuccessful attempts since 1990 to record an impressive close win at Bambalapitiya for Petes over V. Wijewardena’s Royal XV. Formidable Peterite XV led by Poornaka Delpachitra in 2008 looses the grip on the league title after a moral shattering 12-17 loss at Royal Sports Complex to S.P. Lenaduwa’s Royal XV. Keith Gurusinghe’s invincible Peterite XV pulls off a nerve wrecking 22-20 win against Royal led by Duminda Attygala. 2011, Royal under Shehan Pathirana pulls off a high scoring blockbuster, 50-41 win against Peterites led by Bhanuka Nanayakkara at Bambalapitiya and secure the league title. 2012, one of the best rugby encounters of recent past, a battle between Royal forwards and Peterite threes in front of a capacity crowd at Royal Sports Complex. Royal under Arshad Jamaldeen pulls off a thrilling 25-21 win over Peterites led by Dulaj Perera in the absence of Danushka Ranjan.
This year’s encounter will add further excitement with ‘B.C Anghie Cup’ being introduced as both teams will vie for glory coupled with league aspirations.
The hosts St. Peter’s College together with Royal College is making elaborate plans to turn this 69th encounter a grand success and also to pay respect to the yeoman service rendered by (late) B.C Anghie to both schools. The Chief Guest for this encounter will be Old Peterite Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke who is the son of Air Chief Marshal Harry Goonetilleke who is an Old Royalist and a classmate of Tony Anghie.