Brilliance of the ’74 Rugby Team

Jun - 22 - 2012
S. Tennekoon

Standing from L to R: M Naufer, B A Jenkins, M I Rahiman, S P B Dissanayake, G T A Samaranayake, N V Chandrasekaran, A Abeygoonesekera, A R Perera, C W Arumugam, A R Dissanayake, S C Shiek, C Y Ching(jnr).
Seated L to R: E L Fernando (Principal), S V Ranasinghe, S U Suan, G Balasuriya, C Y Ching(snr.) (Captain), N A Ranasinghe, M R Sourjah, K Maheswaran, Major Bertie Dias (Coach)

Everyone talks about the ’56 side under David Frank or Tyrrell Rajapakse’s side of ’87 being teams of fantastic rugby players with the unbeaten tag.

Due recognition must be given to the consistently brilliant side of 1974 which also remained unbeaten and played some superlative rugby under the tutelage of the late Major Bertie Dias. Side stepping , dummies, excellent ball handling and sudden changes of direction gave them an invincible aura that no rival team could match – moves hardly seen in the schools arena now. The basics were inculcated in every one of those players, tactics was the name of the game – and how well they performed their roles.

The ball ran down the three quarter line from left to right or vice versa and when space was a constraint, there was always the forwards or line overlap and back up to swing the ball the other way, thus working the ball again down the three quarters and forwards with very few breakdowns or phases.

It was scintillating rugby and a treat to watch.

Bertie Dias in his young days.

The ‘magic’ was taught by Coach Bertie Dias in ’73 when a Ministry O-level ruling with “royal” backing before the Bradby games, lost us 5 senior players. The Trinity side was captained by Jeffrey Yu.  But what a turnaround in the second leg of the Bradby at CH grounds in Colombo ( first leg lost to Royal by 18 points to 4 ) by the under 17’ers who filled the positions. The long throw at the line outs and change of direction bamboozled Royal and we went on to win the 2nd leg by 12 points to 4, though not enough to regain the shield, we gave Royal a good run for their money. Michael Muller’s Royal side took the shield with unhappy faces. They may as well have presented the shield to Trinity for some great tactical rugby. But that’s another story !

This then was the start of such brilliant rugby that made the ’74 side invincible.

The game against St Thomas’ produced the best from our players. St Thomas had some gifted players such as Stefan De Zilwa , P L Munasinghe but they never knew what hit them – theirs was until then, an unbeaten Thomian side. The final tally was 70 – 8, probably the highest score against St Thomas’. Very few Thomians ever tackled a Trinity player – we were just too quick. It is said that all except one player scored for Trinity in this match.

The team comprised of skipper C Y Ching ( snr.) (the chief guest for the 2012 Kandy Bradby game.), playing centre with Rohan Sourjah, C Y Ching ( jnr) scrum half, pairing with S V Ranasinghe and the wings manned by G T A Samaranayake and Ajith‘ Lisa’ Dissanayake making up the three quarters. The forwards were Sen Yu Suan ( No.8 ) who later played for Sri lanka, Niranjan Ranasinghe, K Maheswaran ( now deceased ) M I Rahiman, Rohan ‘Rotti’ Perera, A R Abeygoonesekera, B A Jenkins and Gamini Balasuriya, our versatile hooker.

The last line manned by S C Shiek (after Surath Dissanayake was injured) was as safe as the Bank of England, and in attack created the all important overlap and pivot for change of direction. N V ‘Charky’ Chandrasekeran also played as a lock but was injured in a match before the Bradby. Charky and Rotti took the kicks at goal and were spot on quite often.

The season commenced with the Wesley game which we won 54-3. We had no difficulty in overcoming them with our fast paced game.

Travelling down to Colombo we met the Josephians. Sudden changes in direction and excellent handling proved to be too hot for the Joes and we rattled up 53 points to 3. GTA Sam, our speedy winger scored 4 tries in this game.

We drubbed St Anthony’s by 64-3 in a fast open game – again foxing their defences time and again with smooth ball flow and changes in direction.

The Thomians came next .

The first leg of the Bradby was in Colombo: Led by Bramoon Akbar, Royal put up a spirited performance and did well to hold us to a 18-3 scoreline.

A power packed Peterite team traveled to Kandy, but our tactical play proved too much and they succumbed to lose by 18 points to nil.

The second leg in Kandy: Royal once again put up a dogged performance and led us 9-0 in the first fifteen minutes. The harmony of our team work was unbroken however, and proved that we were always the better team. Bradby retained with a 12-9 win at the final whistle.

Thus the season was concluded with 289 points in 7 matches averaging 41 points per game.

As many as 9 Trinitians represented the Outstation schools side – C Y Ching ( Snr), C Y Ching( Jnr.) , Gamini Balasuriya, Rohan Sourjah, SenYu Suan, Rohan Perera, S V Ranasinghe, Niranjan Ranasinghe,and G T A Samaranayake.

Seven of these players represented the Sri lanka schools XV while C Y Ching ( Snr.) had the rare distinction of captaining both the Outstation and Sri Lanka schools sides that year.

The coveted “Lion” was awarded to the CY Ching( snr.), Sen Yu Suan, Rohan Sourjah, Gamini Balasuriya, and Rohan Perera.

The ’74 team could not have achieved all this if it had not been for the inspired coaching, strategies and tactics of Major Bertie Dias who in every sense was the architect of our triumphs.

The College magazine of 1974 sums up the season, thus :

1974 was a glorious chapter in the history of rugby at Trinity. Not perhaps since 1956 have we produced such a scintillating brand of rugby and no better proof of this can we offer than the fact that we triumphed against all our opponents convincingly

This article is a tribute by the batch mates to this all conquering, largely unsung rugby team of 1974.

They were our Heroes.

– Trinity College, Kandy Centenary Group.


P.S. A goal was 6 points then ( 4 try + 2 conversion) and penalty/drop goal 3.


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Published 12 years ago by Sanjiva Tennekoon

Posted in Alumni, Bradby, Events, History, Letters, News, Principals, Rugby, Sports

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