Nippy, vocal, quick-witted – the cog that makes the rugby world go round

1363
Scrum

Forwards make their barging runs count, they make the hard yards up front, then the smart backs get all the credit for all the hard work of the forwards. But both the packs and backs forget their scrum-halves, the player who ties together the forwards and backs into one solitary unit.

Dialog Club Rugby League: Potential breakthrough players

Rugby fever is back in the Island with the return of the Dialog Club Rugby League…

Even though their role may seem simple – remove the ball from the back of the scrum or a ruck/lineout before distributing it to (more often than not) the fly-half, it takes some serious skill and intelligence to be a scrum half.

What makes a scrum-half vital?! Is it his ability to read the game? Is it his instantaneous and accurate passes off the base of a ruck or the back of a scrum? It’s mostly a combination of all those things and much more.

The role of being scrum half is one of the most challenging on a rugby pitch, it is one of the most tiresome. At every scrum, every breakdown, every set piece, the scrum half plays an essential role. The scrum half needs to be everywhere, his concentration can never waver, he has to read the game; when to slow the pace down, when to up the ante.

There have been many great scrum-halves in the Island over the years. Here are a few who are currently topping the rugby charts in the island.

Roshan Weerarathne

Such is Roshan Weerarathne’s importance to the Champions Kandy SC that he has never lost his place while fit. Having represented Sri Lanka for many years, he is now nearing the days to hang up his boots. The speed, range and precision of his passing is such that he has fed recently retired legend Fazil Marija and the Kandy backs with so many tries.

Still seen as one of the best, he is aggressive and fearless, cajoling and directing traffic with his crisp passing. The 29 year old will run out to the DRL second round with the same venom as he always has. Having the long-lasting combo of scrum half – fly half broken up with the retirement of Fazil Marija, he now has the calmness that is Nigel Ratwatte to collect his passes, forming yet another deadly combination.

Srinath Sooriyabandara

Possessing endless energy, and great attacking flair, nippy scrum-halve Srinath Sooriyabandara is and always will be known for his sevens heroics as one of the best Sri Lanka has ever produced. A master tactician, with an acute sense of exploiting space no one else sees, he is the engine of the Sri Lanka Sevens team. Blessed with impressive pace, and surprising strength for a man who is small in stature, Sooriyabandara is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to grace the game in the Island.

The former Isipathana player has emerged as one of the genuine leaders in the Sri Lanka Sevens squads over the last number of seasons, and such is his worth to the sevens circuit that any injury would leave the country’s hopes in uncertainty.

Srinath Sooriyabandara has mastered the box and the chip kicks to such precision that he uses them to great advantage to fox his opponents. Srinath has an eye for the try line when presented with a chance and commands the back line with superiority.

Besides his all-round ability, Srinath Sooriyabandara had a natural feel for the game and emerged as an ultimate athlete at a time when Sri Lankan Rugby wasn’t at a great platform to go further and is the sort of scrum half general who has understandably proven to be almost impossible to replace.

Read: Havies to kick off the Dialog Rugby League in 2019

Sudam Sooriyaarachchi

Sudam Sooriyaarachchi has been a star Scrum-half on the rise in the Rugby arena of the Island. Such is his determination that he found his way into the Sri Lanka seven’s team and has cemented his position at his new club CH & FC.

Even though he has been struggling with injuries, when fully fit Sudam has displayed on-field performances indicative of his evolution as a scrum-half.

Possessing all the needed characteristics for a scrum-half, he has become proficient in leading scrum-halves and is impressive around the breakdown and in capitalizing to run in some crafty tries.  With speed, poise, physicality and an unflinching competitive spirit he has the innate ability to read plays and make the correct decision before arriving at a ruck. Come the second round, the Dialog Rugby League we will see more of his master class performances.

Vimukthi Rahula

Rahula is an integral part of the Havelock SC team this season. His skill and versatility has lined up at scrum half where his talents are best utilized. Rahula is known more for his classy kicking game as a scrum-half. Speed and physicality have never been an issue for the relatively small scrum-half. He has been an important cog in the Havelock wheel, feeding Niroshan Fernando with quick ball for Dinuk Amerasinghe and Iranga Ariyapala to run with. His composure plays to his team’s strengths, using the box kicks and chip kicks to gain good territory while directing his forwards over the line.

Rahula is someone who will turn up each day putting in the expected according to his varying roles of slowing down the ball for his forwards and then following up with crisp passes to his captain. He is considered a scrum-half still making a name for himself, so his best may just be yet to come.

Read More: CR & FC’s Kokila Sammandaperuma passes away in tragic circumstances

Harith Bandara

Harith Bandara was one of the most exciting scrum halves in the Singer Schools Rugby League in 2017 and has done exceptionally well to come up the ranks and force his way into the club rugby arena.

The U20 Sri Lanka national representative took his ‘A’ game to Hong Kong this year, being a star performer at distribution and scoring a few tries himself, showcasing pure class. No sooner had he done that, he found himself recruited by the Longdon place club CR & FC, reuniting with his former Coach Nilfer Ibrahim.

Harith has the ability to push the greats who have represented the country with his creativity and snipping ability. Even though Harith Bandara is young, he has a composed head over his shoulders with a great sense of the game situation, try scoring ability and quick decision-making ranking him among the top scrum halves in the league.

Richie Dharmapala

A big talker on the pitch, but you can be sure he backs it up. He first caught the eye of everyone in the Island with blockbuster performances time and time again for the Sailors back in their glory days.

He’s exceptionally agile and loves to get over the try line. Richie is smart with his runs down the line in support of his forwards.

He has been guiding traffic for the Sailors for so long that everyone is used to him shouting instructions. With his game breaking ability from behind the rucks on close range he can be lethal. Even though he tends to slow things at times for his forwards to work with setting them up for tries, his passing is as accurate as any.

Rahul De Silva

Rahul De Silva’s passing is lightning quick. His composure to control a game is outstanding but the ability this scrum-half brings to the table is his leadership qualities. Having taken the conversions and penalties at school level, he can also kick a shot at goal under serious pressure at any given time.

He can also run the ball from anywhere in the field from broken play. Give him 5m from the line and half a gap and he can finish better than anyone. He might not be the usual sniping scrum-half who takes off through the fringes but he is someone who can carry the ball as good as any. Interestingly Rahul is adept at both drawing defenders with intelligent runs into space before cleverly releasing teammates for tries that’ll look pleasing to the eye, and at the pick and drops from close range. CR will be looking for Rahul to be at his very best come the second round.