Will history repeat itself with grisly accuracy when prop forward Murad Ramzeen’s Trinitians lock horns with No 8 Shehan Pathirana’s yet unconquered Royalists at the Royal Sports complex tomorrow will be the question on the lips of many a rugby connoisseur and historian albeit Royal being favourites to win the game and the Shield with an already eight point lead in the bag a fortnight ago at Bogambara.
This writer’s retentive memory dates back 38 years ago to the evening of July 21, 1973. The venue was the CH and FC grounds at Maitland Place.
Seated (from left to right): E.L. Fernando (Principal), W.L.A. Bandaranayake, S.B. Herat, JK Yu (Captain and Rugby Lionsman), M.H. Samad, A. Pathiratne, J. Ratwatte, Major S.A.B. Dias (Coach) Standing – Front Row: C.Y. Ching (Snr), (1974 Captain and Rugby Lionsman), K. Maheswaran, R. Munaweera, S.V. Ranasinghe (1976 Captain), C.R. Jenkins, A.R. Perera (1974 Rugby Lion and 1975 Cricket Captain and Lion) , M. Schoorman, G. Balasuriya (1974 Rugby Lion and Senior Prefect) A.M.F. Samarasinghe, S.Y. Suan (1974 Rugby Lion and 1975 Vice Captain) R. Alawattegama, Standing back row-M.R. Sourjah (1974 Rugby Lion and 1975 Captain), N. Ruwanpathirana, N.A. Ranasinghe (1975 Rugby Lion) and C.Y. Ching
(Jnr – 1975 Lion and Ryde Gold Medalist).
The encounter was shifted there as the day also coincided with the Army-Police Clifford Cup final which was played at the regular Bradby Shield venue at Longden Place, which ended in a 19- all draw. The writer remembers with nostalgia how the Army and Police trucks laden with their charges travelled for that match, passing Maitland Place.
Trinity led by that dashing No. 8 forward and Rugby Lion Jeffrey (JK) Yu (who was billed to be the Kandy Bradby chief guest this year) who went down 4/18 in the first leg vs centre Michael (MG) Muller’s Royalists at Nittawela, had a record eleven freshers and seven replacements for that game, but won the game 12/4 where in the last twenty minutes, Trinity unleashed wave after wave of relentless attacks on a hapless Royal defence , which somehow prevented Trinity from scoring.
By that time, the crows had settled down on Trinity’s defence half in that last twenty minutes as the ball never crossed the halfway mark during this period!
The reason for the replacements was due to Examinations Department ruling and disciplinary reasons.
The seven replacements were prop forward K. Maheswaran, lock forward Shanthi Kumar Bahar (who paid the supreme sacrifice in the Navy), Flanker Rohan Alawattegama, the halves combination of scrum half Chan Yu Ching (1975 Lion) and fly half S.V. Ranasinghe (1976 Captain) centre three quarter Chris Jenkins and regular No. 8 fullback N.V. Chandrasekeran who played fullback for the first and only time of his life. The freshers were: Prop Forwards Ashantha Samarasinghe, Sen Yu Suan (1974 Lion and 1975 Vice Captain) and centre three quarter Rohan Sourjah (1974 Lion and 1975 Captain).
The only four players who had played the previous year and left in the 1973 team were Skipper Jeffery Yu, Hooker Gamini Balasuriya (1974 Lion) Centre and Coloursman Asoka Balasuriya and Chan Ye Ching (1974 Captain and Lion)
That game saw fifteen gallant Trinitians with youthful exuberance threw away all odds and what odds they were – and threw caution to the winds and played their hearts out in deference of the school motto – Respice Finem which means Look to the end.
With the lines out despite Royal’s six foot lock forward and line out jumper Lucky Chickera, were won by Trinity with the long overhead passes where Trinity threw in and with the fine rucking when Royal threw in. The scrums went Trinity’s way due to the slick hooking of hooker Gamini Balasuriya.
Midway into the first half in the 20th minute, Trinity was attacking the Independence Avenue end of Maitland Crescent in the Royal 20 yard line and off a penalty off a long throw by Skipper Jeffrey Yu towards the club house, dramatically changed the complexion of the game and in the direction of flanker Niranjan Ranasinghe, who moved right, drew the defence and suddenly within a flash, turned and reverse-passed the ball to centre Asoka Balasuriya who sprinted 30 metres to score. Trinity 4. Royal 0.
With Trinity pressing, the score remained at 4-0 at lemons. In the 37th minute after lemons, off a forwards on rush, when Royal made one of their rare raids deep into the Trinity territory, Royal Fly Half Ray De Silva (also Royal and Ceylon Schools opening batsman and stumper) collected the ball and sent it to down the line to for winger to score and equal. Trinity 4. Royal 4.
Spurred by this try by Royal as it were, Trinity struck back ferociously. A move originated 30 yards out in the Royal territory and the ball went down to the Trinity three quarter line swung back into play into the other flank and Trinity was through in a flash to score another unconverted try. Trinity 8. Royal 4.
Trinity was now down with the ball- forwards three quarters and all. In the 47th minute of the game, Trinity centre three quarter Rohan Sourjah took off as it seemed from the time that he scored Trinity’s solitary try in the first leg at Nittawela to intercept a ball from Royal mid field and with a terrific burst of speed scorched down 50 yards to score far left of the post. Skipper Yu was unsuccessful with the conversion again. Trinity 12. Royal 4.
A fortnight previously, a hurricane Royal hit Nittawela as the Reid Avenue boys spun out some crazy rugby fit for Royalty and emerging convincing winners by 18 points to 4. For Royal, centre three quarters Rohana Ilangaratne, Selvarajah and skipper Michael Muller scored. Fullback Fazal Sourjah converted all.
Thousands of fans, many even perched on tree tops, witnessed a fine and spirited exhibition of fast and open sizzling rugby where the Royal forwards out played the Trinitians in both speed and art.
However, a fortnight later, it was a different story. Royal skipper Michael Muller accepted the blue riband of schools rugby – the much coveted Bradby shield with the greatest reluctance, totally demoralized after this defeat where the Trinitians slashed a fourteen point deficit to eight, but gallantly conceded the Shield, six points short of the target.
Disce aut discede respice finem
Written by Ravi Ladduwahetty
Published 6 years ago