In 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.
“BRADBY EXPRESS” TRAIN ~
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.
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
Published 4 years ago by Ken de Joodt