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