Trinity rugby now on right track- Lord Byron
Trinity College Rugby is now on the right track says the new Chairman of the Old Trintians Rugby Scrummage Byron Fernando.
Byron Fernando, himself the No.8 Forward and one of the six Trinity College Rugby Lionsmen under Centre Ravi Bandaranayake in 1981 whose team regained the Bradby Shield after four years, had a dream finish in 1982, the year he led the Trinitians. He had a sensational Bradby Series, becoming a household name, being the only Trinity player/captain to single handedly score all the points for Trinity in both legs and retain the Bradby Shield
That year, Trinity under Byron, beat centre three quarter Hiran Muttiah’s Royalists 9-6 at Longden Place where Byron scored all the points comprising two penalties and a drop goal while at the second leg at Nittawela, Trinity won 6-4 with Byron scoring two penalties. He was such a sensation as a schoolboy Rugby player that newspapers of the day published screaming banner headlines which read: Lord Byron
keeps scoring all Trinity’s points while another banner headline said: “ Byron’s Bradby.
The third newspaper said : “ Bionic Byron. Another moot point was that Byron’s personal contribution was a staggering 106 points of the total of 156 points that Trinity scored that season. A further little known aspect of this legendary sportsman is that he was also the Basketball skipper in 1981 when Trinity emerged as Central Province Schools Basketball Champions. Had basketball been a recognised colours and Lion awarding sport at Trinity, he may have been a Double Lionsman as well
He also may have had created another rare benchmark in that he may have been the only instance where the much coveted Trinity College Rugby Football Lion would have been re-awarded to the same player following college authorities mulling the re-award after such a sensational performance. This is also the first instance that the Old Trinitians Rugby Scrummage elected a Chairman who was living overseas. “This 2011 rugby XV led by Murad Ramzeen has been one of the greatest Trinity rugby teams of all time comparable with 1956, 1974 and 1977 and it was a great pity that the team did not go the full distance to remain unbeaten, Byron told the Daily News, hours prior to emplaning for Sydney where he lives and runs his own businesses. He was in Sri Lanka for a month’s leave to see the team perform well and also regarding other issues relating to Trinity rugby.
This Trinity side had all the hallmarks of an unbeaten side notching up high scores against the Thomians- 75-6, Kingswood- 41-0, defending champions St. Peters- 34-10 who were unbeaten till then and also Royal 40-5 who were also unbeaten till then. It was also fulfilling to see Murad Ramzeen’s team beating Royal by the highest score in the series, he said.
However, what Byron along with most Royal and Trinity rugby historians did not know was that Trinity’s highest score statistically against Royal until the second leg at Reid Avenue last Saturday since the
series began in 1920,was in 1924 when Trinity, under iconic Philip Buultjens, routed Royal 37-3 at Bogambara and that too at a time when a try was a mere three points.
However, the moot point was that the Royal Captain in that losing team in 1924 was an outstanding schoolboy sportsman who had colours for a record eleven sports who also played in the Royal Thomian cricket encounter that year as well- and named Junius Richard Jayewardene! The three points that came Royal’s way was from the solitary try scored by Jayewardene himself! The first Royalist to do so! However, he also used the solitary and maiden try that he scored against Trinity as the subject matter for his political speeches at Bogambara and elsewhere as Sri Lanka’s first Executive President of Sri Lanka.
While all the drama of the second leg at Reid Avenue, with Trinity scoring an avalanche of tries, there was the Trinity Centenary Group of 1972, which met adjacent to the Royal Sports complex- 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 then 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 who hails from the Maldives along with 1974 winger Ajit Dissanayake. 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.
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 Centenary Group, in a state of ecstasy and euphoria, hugging each other while ranting 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 routing Royal 40 points.
Byron also said that credit had to go to all the coaches and especially Consultant New Zealander Neil Foote who made the team fare exceptionally well mentally conditioning them with self belief. However, he conceded to the fact that the lost games were the result of the non- adherence to the game plans, poor kicking and ball handling.
Trinity lost three matches this season. The match against Science College was most unfortunate with too many new players being tried out, with some of the key players on the bench and also the Isipathana game and the first leg of the Bradby at Bogambara.
He also remarked that had the team adhered to the game plans, it would have remained unbeaten.
He also defended the decision of the Scrummage to recruit an expatriate as the Consultant and to guide the affairs of rugby at Trinity. We decided to get the best coach for Trinity from New Zealand as the Kiwis are the number one rugby playing country in the world and Sri Lanka is ranked as No.64! So, how can we have a Sri Lankan advising a New Zealander on rugby affairs?!!, he quipped.
He also stressed that the aim of the Scrummage was to build a proper three to five year strategy where the teams in the ensuing years would be playing some sizzling rugby to remain unbeaten and not to have boom and bust years, bringing it back to pristine glory. One of the priorities of the Scrummage was also to enhance the skill levels of the junior teams.
We have the right team for this but what we need right now is the enhancement of our corporate sponsorships. He also called upon the global networks of Old Boys to rally round to make the funding efforts a success.
He was in Sri Lanka for a month to develop the structures and implored all Old Boys and well wishers to believe in his efforts now that the results of the initial efforts have borne fruition. He also thanked all the Scrummage members for their contributions in terms of both finances and time and also for some of the plans which were worked out now in addition to the new ones.
Written by Ravi Ladduwahetty
The above post is the complete unedited version of the article that will be published on the Daily News newspaper on 21st June 2011.
Published 6 years ago