Sizzling! This Lions’ brand of rugby

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Jun - 18 - 2011
Ravi Ladduwahetty

Royalty loses both crown and jewels!

To merely report that fifteen gallant and resurgent Trinitians led by that power house Prop Forward Murad Ramzeen knocked hitherto unconquered  No 8 Forward Shehan Pathirana’s  Royalists  off their feet last Saturday,  would tantamount to an epitome of the Latin cliché- Suppresso Veri, the truth but not the whole truth.

In doing so, fifteen spirited Trinitians with youthful  exuberance,  albeit an eight point  deficit from a fortnight  previously, flamboyantly  transformed the Reid Avenue Stadium into a fairyland of rugby, with  and  some of the fineries of  the oval ball game, oft so eloquently spoken of,  but seldom seen.

[singlepic id=118 w=320 h=300 float=right]To begin with, Trinity’s score of 40/5 was the highest score against Royal in the series, surpassing the previous best of 36/6 by centre three quarter BNR (Nishantha) Fernando’s Trinitians versus Fly Half Varun Wijewardene’s Royalists at Bogambara, where an avalanche of six tries were scored and three goaled, in the Trinity Rugby centenary year in 2006 and 33/7 at Reid Avenue in the same year. However, Wijewardene was the also the toast of both Trinity and Royal rugby historians when he emerged as the only player of either school in the history of the 67- year old  Bradby Shield series to score two drop goals from the run of play.

However, a salient feature  in the Royal- Trinity  series that only a few were aware of was that Trinity’s highest score versus Royal was  53-3 in 1925 when Royal was led by a man  named Junius Richard  Jayewardene,  who later went  on to become Sri Lanka’s first Executive President! The three  points for Royal, in that game came from the solitary unconverted try from Jayewardene himself! The first Royalist to do so!  This became the opening remarks of his  political speeches at Bogambara  in which he said : “ After all, this was the  place I scored the first try  against Trinity and being the first Royalist to do so!!!

For Chief Guest Jagath Fernando, legendary Royal College Double Captain  at Rugby ( 1970)  and Cricket (1971), it would  have been bitter gall to swallow.  He would  have looked forward  to seeing Royal not only  remaining unbeaten  but also  to award  the coveted Shield to Pathirana, a feat  that he  might have narrowly missed himself  41 years ago, when Royal,  were hot on the heels of an epoch making victory at Nittawela in the second leg.

Royal under his leadership, narrowly missed the Shield after leading 12- 0 with 45 minutes of the game over but lost 12-16  in the last 15 minutes. Some might have thought that he team might have erased the deficit of the first leg of 18-3 victory to the credit of Seevali (SP) Samarasekera’s Trinitians at Longden Place a fortnight previously where the Trinity skipper played dual roles, swapping positions between fly half and centre three quarter in the same match!

[singlepic id=122 w=340 h=300 float=left]The Trinity Lion roared and roar it did, with a vengeance  last Saturday, with  fifteen players  united with both finesse and with such meticulous precision, living up to their school motto- Respice Finem, which means look to the end.

The only change to the original team for the second leg was replacing fullback Santhana Shiek, with Tarinda Ratwatte.

Santhana is  the son of S.C. Shiek  who  was  not only the Fullback, of Centre and Lion Chan Ye Ching’s  unbeaten Trinity XV of  1974 which had five Lions and three series records yet unbroken  but was also  the fullback  of Hooker Manik Weerakumar’s  all conquering Royal team of 1976 which not only had the  then series record versus  Fly Half  Sudharman Vijendra  Ranasinghe’s Trinitians  of 61/6 but also the  yet unbroken series record versus Isipathana of 40-3.

Tarinda  is the son of legendary Trinity scrum half, skipper and Lion of 1983 Ashan Ratwatte, who had the rare distinction of being awarded  Bradby Shield  by no less than the donor of the Shield- Edward Lawrence Bradby himself after the 100th match at Longden Place that year against Srian Cooray’s Royalists.

For the Trinitians, it was sizzling fast open rugby where they outplayed the Royalists, with the forwards being outstanding in the loose play and more mobile than the Royalists and with the Trinity threes, yards faster than their Royal counterparts, both in speed and in art.   They offloaded passes at the right times. Each time, they had possession of the ball, they looked dangerous.  Fly Half and play maker Rehan Weerakoon got his kicks spot on, making the confidence and stature of the entire team grow.
They played true to a game plan and attacked from the word go and looked together a champion outfit. They played to their true potential and in the traditional run and pass game and applied the pressure on the Royal forwards at every given opportunity.

It was a totally resurgent Trinity, in sharp contrast to the first leg where they panicked and played dismally, playing into the hands of Royal by not collecting the up- and under balls and making mistakes in the cross kicks. They were looking at the opponents and not at the ball, which gave Royal   the vital breaks through.
While all these events were happening with Trinity scoring an avalanche of tries, there was the Trinity Centenary Group of 1972, which met at the Eight Club over lunch and stayed over to see the match over a giant screen. Also  in that group were some of the members of the Trinity team which came back in the best Bradby return of 1973-  the replacement Hooker Gamini Balasuriya ( 1974 Rugby Lion and Senior Prefect and  later  Colonel and Commander of the Armoured Brigade  in the Battle for  Jaffna). There were also members of that team of fly half Jayantha Ratwatte, Winger Ananda Pathiratne  and  Prop Mohamed Didi.  Among the others present were:  Advertising icon Lalith Blok of JWT fame, tea industry wallah and  Kegalle   and Namunukula Plantations CEO Sunil Poholiyadde, top architect SLC Wijeratne  and a host of others as well.

Also, leading the cheering squad was the former MTV Sports Anchor  turned Manager of  Sri Lanka Cricket- Brian Dharmaraja Thomas, fondly dubbed “Beedi” by virtue of his initials!!

With skipper Murad Ramzeen’s Trinitians piling up the points,  saw the Old Trinitians, on  the other side of the road, adjacently  at the Eight Club, while toning their livers, hugged each other and ranted  in pithy Sinhala, akin to a well rehearsed banter: Ada Seeai, Ada Seeyai, Ada Seeyai, Ada Seeyai
(Hundred today, Hundred today, hundred today!!!!!!!!!!!)

Brian Thomas, who had earlier met Royal Coach CPP Abeygunawardena, an outstanding  Royal scrum half  in the early and mid 1970s, had told him that had Royal taken Trinity for granted, then Trinity would be hammering Royal 40 points!!! How apt !!

Royalists do not need to despair, for this is only a game. For those who believe that they missed the bus, need to be patient. For the air-conditioned motor coaches will be on the way for you in 2012!
Bravo, Lions!!

DISCE AUT DISCEDE
RESPICE  FINEM

Written by Ravi Ladduwahetty


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