Photo 2In the scintillating spirit of Sri Lanka’s exciting ‘glamour game’ Rugby, this particular encounter of Trinity and Royal, will as always, see Rugby reach it’s peak, this time up in the hills of Pallekelle! The splendid scenic Trinity College Rugby Stadium grounds will be flagged and beautifully decorated, to also provide a ‘carnival’ atmosphere on this occasion, on Saturday, 1st June 2013 at 4.30 p.m. Keeping to the Trinity Tradition, it is to welcome  all, very specially the Chief Guest, former Trinity Captain Rohan Sourjah, now domiciled in Sydney, Australia.

Apart from all this fanfare and ‘papare’ bands to beat up some jolly songs, Kandy will take pride in hosting the highly respected Royalists, to enjoy a ‘feast’ of superb, exciting rugby with the Trinity “Lions” in the first ‘leg’ of the 69th year – and also the much awaited roar and cheers of the 20-25,000 spectators! More nostalgic ‘get-togethers’, dances and dinners keep up the passion and interest in this ‘unmatchable’ game and that which follows!

Since 1945, when the first match was played in Colombo, good, classy rugby was the forte of both schools, battling it out in the highest form of superlative sportsmanship, which continues to this day. Trinity and Royal Rugby enthusiasts, fanatics and numerous fans, band together from far and near, having blocked out this day, as the ‘big rugby day’ of the year, to joyfully join in the fray and ‘scrum down’ in a sporty spirit, to inspire and support their respective teams.


It is to be believed that an air-conditioned train from Fort to Kandy, appropriately named “The Bradby Express”- has been chartered by an efficient, well-organized team of Old Royalists, headed by Ayesh Rajapakse, to ‘push and shove’ 900 ‘rugby crazy’ fans, to get past the famous Balana Pass and enable them to reach the Pallekelle grounds on time, by special buses from the Kandy Station. This is a huge commitment to be appreciated and deserves the first round of applause!! What immense value is attached to these encounters, with the first leg this year in Kandy and the second leg in Colombo, on Saturday 15th June 2013, at the Royal College Rugby Stadium.

In a desperate bid to get some ‘older folks’ comments on the bygone eras, I contacted an eminent, outstanding Obstetrician and former President of the Old Trinitians(OBA) in Kandy,

Dr. Neil Halpe. His Claim to Rugby, he said “is  40 minutes   of  glory when he represented East  Glamorgan  General  Hospital in  an Inter- Hospital Rugby  Match  against  Bridgend  Hospital  in  whose  ranks  was  the  legendary  JPR  Williams  of  Wales and  British Lions fame”. Having  spent  the  best  part  of  his childhood  and  youth  at  the “Cradle  of  School’s  Rugby”(Trinity), he  said “From  the  time  that  I  first  handled  the  Oval Ball  to  present  times, the  game has  changed to an unrecognisable extent, both in the laws of the game and the spirit in which it  was  played. At that time it was  more the team spirit and camaraderie that gave us joy”.                                   As it was noted, many ‘Veterans’  of  the  past  would  swear  that  some  of  their  closest  friendships  were  planted  on  the  Rugby  field, whether it be Inter School or Club, which still endures – and so it is with the “Bradbys” from personal experience!

Dr. Neil Halpe went on to say “It  is  sad,  but  perhaps  inevitable  that “Professionalism”  should  take  over  at  some  stage. Though  claims  are  made,  that  this  has  led  to  an  improvement  in  the  quality  of  Rugby , this  is  a  debatable  point! We  could  all  recall  the  fleeting  moves  and  clever  ploys  of  the three-quarters  and  the  combined  “rucks  and  mauls” of the burly eight up-front. Somehow, we do not see this often in the modern  game!”

Two other valuable comments Dr. Neil made, was about the dwindling crowds at Club matches, which is a sure sign that the spectators do not get the treat and quality of Rugby they expect.

Though  there  are  no  financial rewards  in  Schools  Rugby but ‘Professionalism’  in  other  forms  seem to have crept in to the School’s  game, destroying  the ‘sporty spirit’  in  which  it  was  played  in  the  past!

Thank God, Winning at all costs is not the main goal for the “Bradby Shield”. It is not a SLRFU Schools League game, so the greater traditional value of ‘quality’ rugby and high levels of sportsmanship are yet maintained and wins the admiration of the Old Boys of both Schools.

Upali Ratnayake

My next endeavour for comments came from former Director CIMA, Upali Ratnayake, the Vice-Patron of the Trinity OBA(Col) and present President of the “Trinity Over Sixties Club” – “At Trinity, not all boys played in Rugby teams and not all boys who played in teams were equally skilled – but all boys had to go for practice! At practice, all boys had to learn to play to the whistle or to the raised finger. While we learnt our Maths and Chemistry, we also learnt not to be afraid of formidable opponents and stop play when rules were broken. So even though some of us were behind the touch line, we learnt to deplore foul play and applaud those who excelled , no matter on which side they were – be it a Royalist or a Trinitian…and those who performed great feats, were not  given anything to embellish them”.

In reality it is an absolute fact that both Trinity and Royal have very high standards to maintain in their performance on the rugby field – but will they both be able to stand up to each other and the strains of the Royalist’s prestige as against the ‘pride’ of the Trinity Lions! The real value of a “Bradby” will be seen when they handle these two great aspects of the game well!

As some good soul said “Yet there is no other Rugby match to ‘match’ the Royal-Trinity Bradby!”

Article Written by : Ken de Joodt

Photos of the 1st Leg of the Bradby Shield by : Amila Alahakoon

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Published 10 years ago by Ken de Joodt

Posted in Alumni, Bradby, News, Rugby, Sports

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