That Trinity-Peterite game in 1973

May - 31 - 2011
R. Ladduwahetty

With the  much awaited Trinity- St. Peters rugby encounter that took place on Friday(21st of May 2011), connoisseurs of inter schools  rugby football will undoubtedly reminisce the Trinity-Peterite  encounter  in 1973 and legendary Peterite, Havies and Sri Lanka fly half  Frank Hubert.

St. Peters, with their last victory over Trinity in 1941 under Chandrasena was yet to beat Trinity in the post World War II era.

The date was Saturday, July 15, 1973. The venue was the St. Peter’s College grounds, Bambalapitiya. With two minutes to go for Referee Bentley Barsenbach’s  long whistle, Trinity was ahead by a wafer- thin lead of 10 points (a goal and a try with a try at four points then) to  9 ( a goal and a penalty). The Peterites get a penalty conversion was on the twenty five yard line.  Frank Hubert kicks in the right direction but, lacked the required height.   Lo and behold! The oval ball hits the cross bar and turns to the playing area.

The penalty kick,  which would have brought ecstasy, produced agony for St. Peters,  as the soaring ball dipped  and hit the cross bar to rob them of a epoch making victory  over Trinity in the post war era.

The rider  to this game was that Trinity was without eight of their star regulars  in the vital pivotal halves combination of scrum half Hanzil Samad ( later Havies and Sri Lanka and widely acknowledged as the best scrum half at the 1974 Colombo Rugby Asiad in which Sri Lanka became finalists with winners Japan) ),  and fly half Jayantha Ratwatte,  1972 Combined Schools Prop Forward  and 1973 Vice Captain S.B. Herath  along with  Centre Three quarter Ananda Pathiratne, Lock Forward Michael Schoorman, Prop Devaka Wickremasuriya,  Centre Three quarter Wimal Bandaranayake ( one of the most outstanding  schoolboy  back division rugby players of all time  and who  sidestepped and wind sprinted like a panther)  and Fullback  Rohan Munaweera.

Earlier, the Peterite tackling had been below standards and they let the Trinitians slip through on a number of occasions.  The Peterites tacked too high and though the Trinitians held for the moment, managed to push their way through.

They game, though not of a high standard, whipped as interest, especially in the second half, with the Trinitians applying high pressure.  The Peterites took a 9-0 lead at half time.  Frank Hubert, put over a penalty in the 25th minute from thirty yards out and Noel Vanlangenberg dived over off a  three quarter move to score and Hubert converted  again. Trinity with plenty of luck and without three more of their regular players, was inadequate in its attack in the first half when the Peterites gained possession.
The Peterites were riding high but it was the careless tackling that cost them the match.   Probably lulled into complacency and a false sense of security, with their halftime lead, their approach became shoddy

Early in the second half, the Trinity three quarters slipped into action and winger Chris Jenkins, the replacement for regular winger WLA  (Wimal) Bandaranayake, got past Peterite winger Ralston  Jayasekera, whose tackle around Jenkins’s collar could not stop the try.

This was not the tonic for the Trinitians, who kept up the pressure and off another good move, Jenkins scored again and  Trinity  skipper, No. 8 forward  and the only Rugby Lion of that year- Jeffery Yu  made a fine conversion. After the Peterites failed to score  off a five yard scrum far left,  they missed their elusive target – victory against Trinity with Hubert fluffing off the all important penalty  two minutes from time, which ensured that the 32- year old jinx remained.

In 1974, Trinity took on the Peterites at Nittawela on July 12, 1974. Trinity won the game 18-0 which was up to then, the best game of the season.

Trinity was led  by C.Y. Ching ( Senior)  whose team had five Lions in himself , co centre Rohan Sourjah ( 1975 captain),  Hooker, Rugger Lion and Senior Prefect Gamini Balasuriya ( later Lt. Colonel and Commander of the Armoured Brigade in the battle for Jaffna in 1996)  Lock Forward Rohan Perera (also 1975 Cricket Captain and Lion and later  Aitken Spence Shipping Managing Director) and Prop  Forward Sen Yu Suan. It was that team which had the all time series records against

The Peterites were led by Lock Forward and Double International Nimal Jayasuriya, later Major General .
The Peterites did well to hold the Trinitians to a scoreless first half and kept them at bay till the 53rd minute of the match.  Their forwards and backs tackled like terriers in the loose and the Peterites dominated the lines out with the artistry of skipper Nimal Jayasuriya. Despite dominating play, they split many passes. Resolute tackling from the Peterites especially skipper Jayasuriya, held the ferocious Trinity onslaught for almost three fourths of the game   and they were burnt out. The home team scored scrum half Chan Yu Ching, (Rugger Lion, winner of the  much coveted Ryde Gold Medal for the best allround student  and Central Province first in order of merit to the  Peradeniya  University Engineering Faculty in 1975) Prop Sen Yu Suan, Winger G. T.A. Samaranayake ( also 1973 Athletics Lion after breaking the Public Schools 800 metres record, Hockey Captain, 1974 Senior Prefect and Ryde Gold Medalist) and Rohan Perera, converting  his  own try.

It was back to Bambalapitiya  on July 12, 1975, Trinity took the game  tightly at 8-7 but the hallmark  of that game was that the Trinity players were assaulted by the Peterite supporters while Prop forward Tilak Hapugoda lay concussed and  touch judge Kenneth Congreve ( 1977 Coloursman , Senior Prefect and Ryde Gold Medalist and now  General Manager ( Factories- Lankem Tea and  Rubber Ltd ) was also injured after a spectator unleashed a heavy blow on his jaw. No sooner than Referee Bertie Ekanayake blew the long whistle, spectators at the Bamabapitiya end pounced on the  Trinity players.
Scrum half Chan Yu Ching played a grand game for Trinity.  He was all over the field, initiating moves and tackling his opposite number time and again.  He was blessed with a try with Lock Forward J.A. Victor missed the conversion.
Earlier, Shantilal Perera scored for the Peterites as they went ahead  shortly   before half time  and Frank Hubert put over a penalty to make it 7-4 at lemons.
The Peterites played with real gusto but their power play  seemed to wane in the second half  and they were pinned into their half  for three quarters of the second half. However, the Peterites brought some stunning tackles in the second session to limit the Trinity score line   in the second half to a mere try, which was scored by Flanker Niranjan Asoka (fondly NA) Ranasinghe (1975 Rugger Lion, Basketball Captain and now retired as Major General and as the most senior Commissioned Officer in the three Armed Forces as per Commission Service).

Frank Hubert also missed another sitter under the post penalty conversion from 30 metres out.  Trinity’s ace place kicker Vishvanath Chandrasekeran (now Assistant Research Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering)  did not play that game due to injury and  Trinity was forced to take short tap kicks ten yards from the Peterite line   but they could not gain anything worthwhile from them. 1974 skipper Nimal Jayasuriya was outstanding in the lines out but the scrums were shared.

In 1976, however was the series record for Trinity under fly half S.V. Ranasinghe (Oberoi Hotel School of Management batch top and gold medalist and now Food and Beverage Director of the Conrad Hilton in Brisbane)  whose team had  the series records  against the Peterites – 54-7, Ananda 84-0, Thurstan-58-0, Dharmaraja-70-0 and  Vidyartha -118-0   which was  also the highest score in schools rugby ever after Hooker Manik Weerakumar’s all conquering Royalists beat Vidyartha- 110/6 in Kandy onlya week before. Trinity had a record  329 points from the first four games!!
In 1977, No 8 Ravi Balasuriya’s unbeaten Trinity XV, which regained  the Bradby Shield after three years, the Philip Buultens Trophy for  Sevens for the third year in succession and which was the first  Sri Lankan schoolboy  rugby  team which was invited for the Asian  Schools Rugby Championships in Bangkok, beat Angelo Wickremaratne’s Peterites 9-7 at Bambalapitiya.

Written by Ravi Ladduwahetty

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