Foreigners back despite protests

Kenyan Oscar Ouma in action (m) for Kandy during the 2015/16 season

Following the promise made by its newly appointed president Lasitha Gunaratne to make the domestic structure more competitive, Sri Lanka Rugby has decided that foreign players will be allowed to play for the bottom tier teams in the Dialog Rugby League.

Read More: Foreigners set to play in Sri Lanka?

That means that the bottom four finishers of the League from last year, CR & FC, Air Force, Army and Police have the opportunity of recruiting overseas players to represent their respective club teams for the upcoming Dialog Rugby League 2018/19.

Gunaratne is confident that this will bring in change to the redundant rugby league

“We made a policy decision yesterday(29th) at the council meeting of Sri Lanka Rugby to have foreign players in the bottom four teams” added the Sri Lanka Rugby president Lasitha Gunaratne.

“They have the opportunity now to decide if they want to have players or not. The clubs have the decision on to take or not” he further added.

Furthermore, the decision as to how many players are allowed per team and how many players can play in the starting XV are yet to be decided.

Kenyan Oscar Ouma in action (m) for Kandy during the 2015/16 season

“We have made the decision only. The call as to how many players can play in the starting fifteen and how many players can play in the team sheet is up to the tournament committee to decide. The clubs can discuss with the committee and decide what to do.”

Meanwhile, CH & FC who finished 4th in the tournament last year has communicated their displeasure in the decision to only have overseas representation for the bottom tier.

“At the end of the day all of the teams want to win the cup. But when you have 4 teams having overseas players it is unfair” added a top source from the club’s representation.

“This will make the league unstable and take the competitiveness of the structure away” he further added.

When ThePapare inquired about the claim from the CH & FC management, SLR president Gunaratne responded that it is a decision taken by the council for the betterment of the sport.

“Not only CH & FC but there have been other concerns raised by the other three clubs as well. But we as Sri Lanka Rugby have to do what is right to develop rugby”

Foreign players returned to the local rugby arena in 2012/13 and continued for three seasons until 2014/15 as players such as Chirstopher Cleote, Setafanou Cakcau and David Halifonua featured in the local club competition.

Despite continuous efforts by many to re-instate the rule to allow foreign representation, the move was halted due to various restrictions until now.