Stunning, excellent entertainment and action-packed suspense, down to the last minute – is the description that could be given to the 162nd match and 70th year of the world famous “Bradby Shield” Rugby encounter, between Trinity College Kandy and Royal College Colombo. Royal and Trinity fans were ‘over the hills’ with delight, to be treated to exciting ‘power rugby’ and a super day of grand entertainment – although some may have obviously been disappointed with the results, which were not in their favour!
This year’s win improves the records of Trinity’s number of victories overall, by securing the Bradby for the 39th year, while Royal give chase and are close on their heels with 30. Just for the right record, in 1992 this battle ended in a “Tie” (3 points each in the first leg and no score in the second game) – which then makes up the 70 years tally! In the “Under 18” game, Trinity won the 1st Leg by 34points to 7pts. in Colombo and the 2nd leg in Kandy, by a record score of 46 points to Royal 3pts. Trinity’s aggregate score of 80 points to take the “C.E. Simithriarchchi Trophy” is the biggest margin in the long history of these encounters, coached by Pradeep Basnayake, 1995 “Lion” and former Sri Lanka player. The under 18 Trophy and the Bradby Shield were both presented to the two Trinity captains S.K.Sangasinghe (U 18) and Tarinda Ratwatte (1st. XV), by the Chief Guest S.V. Ranasinghe, after the main “Bradby” game.
As expected a huge crowd of over 20,000 rugby fans packed the picturesque Trinity College Pallekelle Rugby Stadium, many of them arriving as early 1.30 p.m. to watch the junior rugby games, which preceded the main highlight of the day – the 1st XV battle at 4.30 p.m. While thousands of Sri Lankan rugby fans locally and those living in foreign countries, watch this much look forward to fixture on T.V. – some ‘fly-over’ to join in the great fun. Loads of Rugby fans entered the grounds, along with over 3000 “Trinity Red Army” supporters, 2000 “Royal Tuskers” and the busloads of schoolboys of both schools – plus a long train load of Royalists who came up on the special “Bradby Express Train” – went sweetly wild in the ‘jungle’ atmosphere of Pallekelle! They were joyfully beating drums, singing and dancing to the super sounds of the Papare bands – from the commencement of the matches – which did not stop for over an hour after the final match ended!!
Meeting up with my wife Pastor Ester and I, at the “Bradby” this year, were three keen rugby Britons –namely David English, a Welshman who has played rugby for his school and club in Wales, his wife Tina and her friend Janet Small, who had all prayed for Trinity to win! They considered it an incredible event and a marvelous spectacle of good, sporty, well-disciplined rugby between Royal and Trinity. They were fascinated at the enthusiasm stirred up in the crowds, which proved that this is the most popular fixture between any two schools in rugby, perhaps in the world !!
After the Trinity School bands played the Royal and Trinity College Anthems, the Chief Guest S.V.Ranasinghe, former Trinity Captain of 1976 (who is domiciled in Brisbane Australia and came over with his wife for this memorable occasion), was ceremoniously introduced to the two teams, the College and Sri Lanka Rugby Officials – together with the two College Principals, Mr. Upali Gunasekara (Royal) and Brig.Udaya Aryaratne (Trinity). Then came the much awaited moment when the Match Referee Irshad Cader, would blow his whistle to start off the game.
As the Trinity team smartly kitted up in their ‘Red, Gold and Blue’ rugby jerseys led by Skipper Tarinda Ratwatte and the Royal Team equally smart in ‘Blue and Gold’ led by Captain Nimshan Jayawardene, entered the beautiful, scenic Pallekelle Trinity Rugby stadium – the thunderous roar of the crowds, the lighting of loud fire-crackers, beating of drums and blowing of ‘wuwuzela’ horns, were absolutely deafening but stirring to the soul!
Before the commencement of the match itself, the crowds were entertained to the friendly, impressive performance of the Trinity team’s version of the “haka” – written by Trinity’s New Zealand Coach Niel Foote and Junior Coach Nathan Riwai-Couch. The words of this version were composed by them and had the approval of the Rangitane Tribe in New Zealand. The “Trinity Haka” relates to paying homage to past generations of Trinitians, to speak of the pride of representing the school and identifying themselves with it in the world. As it was stated, this will be performed as a mark of respect at the BRADBY fixtures only. This year it was well accepted by the Royalists, with no ugly repercussions – as it happened last year, at the Royal grounds!
Trinity came into the 2nd Leg with a handicap of 12 points, which they gained in their 1st Leg victory in Colombo on the 10th of May – scoring 28 points to Royal’s 16 pts. With the 2nd Leg win in Kandy of 19 points (1 Goal, 4 Penalties) to 18 points ( 1 Goal, 1 Try, 2 Penalties), Trinity’s total score in both games was 47 pts. as against Royal’s 34 pts. (For those on internet, etc; who may not know, this duel finally ends with the “Bradby Shield” been awarded to the school with the higher aggregate score of both matches). Trinity not only won both games this year but also ran out victoriously with the higher aggregate score!
Tarinda Ratwatte, the outstanding fly-half of Trinity and ‘playmaker’ of the side is my “Man of the Match”! Tarinda is a third generation Trinity rugby player, being the son of the famous 1983 Captain and “Lion” Scrum-half who led Trinity to win the “Bradby” and now has imitated what the father did just over thirty years ago! Ashan’s father Dennis also played for Trinity and later as a great Tea Planter, he turned out for Rugby Planting Clubs. In short, Dennis was the inspiration to his son Ashan and grandson Tarinda on the rugby prowess – while in the progress of life it was his loving, caring mother and grandmother who showed them the right paths.
Tarinda Ratwatte has carried most of the weight and burdens of point scoring on his shoulders, not only in this match but also in all the previous games. In this game alone, Tarinda put over a penalty in the sixth minute, the thirty-second minute, eighth minute of the second half, a conversion from a difficult angle in the twenty-sixth minute and then in the final minutes of the game Tarinda put over the crucial penalty to give Trinity the victory! Even the try was initiated by Tarinda, with a splendid low trajectory kick to the Royal corner flag, which No.8 Isuru Ranwala skillfully picked up to score a brilliant try.
In the same light the Royal captain Nimshan Jayawardena (an old Trinitian, in the Junior School for many years),scored off a penalty in the fifth minute, again early in the second half, followed by a fine conversion of a try scored for Royal by Nikil Gunadheera – and another penalty in the twenty eighth minute, to collect the points for Royal. As seen in the first game, Nimshan gallantly led his team, with the Royal forwards excelling and gaining plenty of ball possession from the line-outs. Their threes were less effective as the Trinitians stoutly defended their goal-line area. So often, they had their chances of scoring but fluffed it, by dropping passes and watching the opposing player face rather than keeping their eyes on the ball! Both team’s three quarters were equally guilty of this basic blunder!
Principal of Trinity Brig.Udaya Aryaratne expressed hopeful optimism by saying “Trinity will win for the next four years!” In the 1950’s, Trinity has won the “Bradby” six times in a row from 1952 to 1957, under the captaincy of ’52 Mervyn Pandithasekera, ’53 Dharmasiri Madugalle, ’54 L.L.Vitharana, ’55 Mahinda Ratwatte, ’56 David Frank and in 1957 with Ken de Joodt as Captain. … I believe, God willing, Trinity can achieve it – with eight wins in a row!!
Photographs by – Amila Alahakoon, Ashwin Jayalath & Hashan Gunasekara.
Article Written by:
Ken de Joodt,Captain and “Lion”1957 & 58
Published 3 years ago by Ken de Joodt