After two and a half months of thrills, spills and spine-tingling action, the Dialog School’s Rugby League and the Dialog School’s Rugby Knockouts for the year 2023 concluded by crowning St. Peter’s College Colombo as the unbeaten double champions as they secured both titles dominantly.
As the official broadcaster of the Dialog Schools Rugby League and the Knockouts, ThePapare.com assembled a dream team with players who excelled in their positions.
Loose Head – Saduka Athukorala – St. Anthony’s College
Deputy skipper of the Antonian outfit, Athukorala, is a big but very mobile front-row-forward and a strong influence in the scrummage. As the pack leader of the outfit, he led his forwards from the front and was also a strong ball carrier for the Antonians, crossing the try line twice this season. While being a hard-hitting ball carrier, Athukorala’s most impressive trait was his defense, where he was exceptional with his defensive line speed and tackle completion.
Hooker – Afeef Akram – Royal College
Royalist hooker was rare sight this season where a player wearing the #2 jersey fulfilled all the duties that are traditionally assigned to hookers in the team. Akram was one of the main components of Royal’s go-to weapon, the driving maul and delivered the line out throws that he was entrusted with masterfully and crossed the line thrice this season.
Royal’s go-to weapon, the driving maul and delivered the line out throws that he was entrusted with masterfully and crossed the line thrice this season.
Tight Head – Ranidu Ridmal – St. Peter’s College
Peterite front row forward was a force to be reckoned with this season as he continually managed to penetrate the opposition defences with his marauding r runs and showcased surprising bursts of speed for a big unit. Ridmal also caught the eye for his wonderful work around the fringes and earned a few crucial turnovers for the Champion Peterite outfit.
Lock – Rakesh Pillai – St. Anthony’s College
Big Lanky Antonian lock showcased an exceptional work rate in open play and is a safe option in the line out as well. Pillai also does his part in carrying the ball forward but impressed most with his work ethic, where he was not shy to get down dirty doing the hard work in securing possession and ensuring the Antonian backline had the quick ball.
Lock – Yehan Weerasuriya – Royal College
Another vital cog in the wheel of the unstoppable Royal juggernaut, the towering figure of Yehan Weerasooriya, was a standout lock-in amongst the rest, both literally and figuratively. Yehan was impressive in the lineouts both in attack and defence, making sure Royal were primed to use their most potent weapon, the rolling maul. He also showcased great game awareness in open play.
Flanker – Thisanga Dissanayake – Trinity College
The most impressive third-row forward from the Trinity outfit, Thisanga Dissanayake, showcased that he was a versatile player in the third row, shifting to the Number 8 spot in the latter part of the season. Thisanga is a great ball carrier and solid in defence.
Flanker – Sachinthana Waidyanatha – St. Joseph’s College
A returnee from last year’s team of the season, Waidyanatha was a standout performer and a leader in the Saints outfit. An exceptional open-side flanker, Waidyanatha is also a line-out jumper that makes the life of the opposition jumpers difficult. An impressive jackal of the ball, Waidyanataha can also function as a Number 8 when required.
Number 8 – Naveen Marasinghe – St. Joseph’s College
Josephian skipper, one of the most significant Number 8s featured in the school’s segment, Naveen Marasinghe, had a sedated start to the season where he could not make the impact he was known for. However, as the season progressed, Marasinghe produced the marauding runs that he is well known for and managed to reestablish himself as the leading contender for the Number 8 position in the team of the season.
Half Back – Manura Peiris – D.S Senanayake College
Halfback of the newly promoted Donz side, Manura Peiries, was the most impressive halfback of the league who made sure his team had quick front-football throughout the season. The skipper of the Donz first XI cricket team, Peiris has a good head on his shoulders and was also an accurate kicker from the base and was a crucial part in D.S Senanayake College, ending the league as the 5th seeded team of the league.
Fly Half – Windhya De Mel – St. Peter’s College
First Five Eighth of the champion Peterite side, Windhya De Mel, was the standout performer in the #10 jersey during the season, De Mel showcased impressive control throughout the season and was also a reliable clearance kicker that got the Peterites out of trouble when they were couped up in their red zone. Like all good Fly Halves, De Mel knew how to get the best out of his backline and managed the half-back brilliantly.
Wing – Dineth Ranasinghe – St. Peter’s College
Co-Deputy skipper of the Peterite outfit, Dineth Ranasinghe, suffered a crucial knee injury prior to the season and had to undergo surgery and embark on a journey of rehabilitation where he had to experience moments of uncertainty about whether he would be able to continue playing the game he loves. The determined winger, however, put all doubters to shame as he made himself an integral part of the Champion Peterite outfit. He was in sync with his center partners and had an eye out for the try line while showcasing great awareness of space. Ranasinghe also managed to score tries at very crucial junctres of games when Peterites was under pressure and was a pivotal part in their journey of becoming unbeaten double champions.
Center – Sudesh Jayawickrama – St. Peter’s College (C)
Peterite Center, Sudesh Jayawickrama was one of the standout performers of the season and a talisman in the unbeaten success of St. Peter’s College. An impressive reader of the game, Silva showcased his all-round ability in the #12 jersey with marauding runs through the opposition defence lines, excellent ball handling skills, identifying and attacking open spaces and solid defence in the midfield. His most impressive show, however, came through the remarkable work he put into exploiting the 50-22 rule. This was the best exploitation of the said rule by a Sri Lankan rugby player, be it school, club or national and was a treat to watch. For the maturity and the control he showcased throughout the season, he will also be the captain of the outfit.
Center – Shaheed Zumri – Isipathana College
Isipathana Center had the rugby fraternity of the country buzzing with his atrocious ball handling and offloading skills. The young centre is a great reader of the game and is able to quickly identify the opposition loopholes to attack. A dangerous runner with the ball in hand, Zumri is also a reliable kicker, making him an ideal contender for the first five-eighth position.
Wing – Rinesh Silva – Isipathana College
The highest point and try scorer of the Dialog School’s Rugby league, Rinesh Silva, was mercurial during the season for the Green Machine. He amazed a total of 6 tries and was responsible for 13 conversions and 7 penalties to amass 77 points during the league, proving he is a more capable placekicker. Silva scored a few impressive tries running beautiful attacking lines and mesmerised the opposition and the spectators alike with his impressive right-footed sidestep and was one of the most elusive players during the season.
Full Back – Yehan Bulathsinhalage – S. Thomas’ College
The lanky fullback turned flyhalf, Yehan Bulathsinhalage, was a defiant last line of defence for the Thomians. He showcased his kicking powers from the back impressively, which provided St. Thomas’ territorial advantage that they made good use of. With a good build and sound defensive awareness, Bulathsinghalage was solid at the back and showcased good speed and awareness when joining the line in attack.
Head Coach – Sanath Martis – St. Peter’s College
This one is a no-brainer: the veteran head coach of St. Peter’s College, Coach Sanath Martis, is the preferred head coach of the Dialog Schools Rugby team of the season. Coach Martis showcased his brilliant tactics and crude analytical skills of the opposition and used his wealth of experience to outsmart the opposition teams, ensuring the Bamaba Brigade remained unbeaten throughout the season. In a few of the encounters, the effects of the input coach Martis provides during the half time was evident where St. Peter’s College looked to have drastically changed their patterns and approach to suit the challenge at hand.