It is the traditional Bradby dinner at the school main hall. The clock stares 8.30pm.The Royal 1st XV captain Shehan Pathirana is delivering his address. Trinity has lost the 1st leg 25 to 33 few hours earlier at Bogambara. The chaps from Colombo are on cloud nine. They’ve beaten Trinity yet again for the sixth time in a row. Nothing can shake their confidence that they would retain the Bradby Shield for the 3rd consecutive year.
Time ticks. Shehan Pathirana concludes his gallant victory speech to a mighty applause.
It is time for the Trinity skipper Murad Ramzeen to address the gathering.
With a composure that surpasses everyone’s expectations, he calmly stands up and buttons up his blazer. He politely acknowledges the presence of the officials and the respective school’s administrators. He pauses and takes a deep breath. All the eyes are fixed on him.
“I haven’t got much to say before you today…… But I will surely deliver my speech….. no, not now……..but after the final whistle blow at the Royal Complex in two weeks.
All jaws drop. Time seems to stand still for a moment. Everyone is struck breathless. Murad sits down with the selfsame composure. The electrified Trinitians break into a thunderous applause.
Three hours pass. The Trinity 1st XV is now at the school’s basketball court [in front of Napier]–lit up in white by the May moon’s consoling light. The clock strikes twelve midnight. The team begins to jog slowly together around the court. They conclude one, two, and three laps. They come back to the court’s center and form a huddle. Everyone looks each other in the eye. They know how far they’ve come. They remember the dream that has brought them here. They realize they cannot look back now. The lads put their hands together –and solemnly swear to win the game in Colombo and bring the Shield back home.
Two weeks have gone. It’s 4.15pm on Saturday, the 11th of June, 2011, at the Royal Complex. Trinity’s brutal assault begins under an impolitely scorching Colombo sun. Vice captain and no. 10, Rehaan Weerakoon scores with a penalty just 9 minutes into the game. Soon, Royal’s No. 10 Arshad Jamaldeen falls like a lifeless corpse following deadly yet legitimate tackles by Savinda Unamboowa and Priyan X Fernando. Trinity continues its ruthlessly relentless attack right unto “the final whistle blow”. The lions win the game 40-5 and regain the Shield by a 28 point lead in an unprecedented, record comeback after a two year hiatus. In stunning class and sensational style, the lads from Kandy unfold a new chapter in the Trinitian saga and etch their mark in the Sri Lankan Rugby story.
Following the encounter, Mr.Chandrashan Perera [the renowned commentator] approaches the Trinity skipper, Murad Ramzeen for an interview.
“Congratulations! You sure look happy…But, let me ask you something… What did you feel after you lost the first leg in Kandy?”
Murad responds with a question, “Sir, may I ask you something? Did you ever see us crying after losing to Royal in Kandy?”
“No, not a tear”, answers Mr.Chandrashan.
Murad gets to make his point –well, not only to make his point, but also to sum up in a few simple words the Trinitian spirit that scatters defeat to the winds, that has made the Kandyan School rule in Sri Lanka’s annals of rugby, and that has made Trinity the envy of the nation.
Murad says, “You see sir…this is why you couldn’t see a tear in our eyes. We were so confident, and we knew we WILL win it all in Colombo, and take the lost pride and glory back to Kandy. Today we’ve done it before your eyes.”
If there be anything that accounts for Trinity’s constant reign in rugby, that ought to be this invincible spirit. Certainly, it is not a blind optimism nor a willful ignorance which hopes obstacles would vanish if we pay them no mind or a better day would dawn even if we do not work for it. Rather, Trinitians’ is an audacious faith that defies all odds, a faith that every Trinitian generation has been imbued with, a faith that has prevailed time and again in Trinity’s long rugby story.
Let us see how that faith has risen up repeatedly to accomplish unlikely feats.
Let’s walk back to 1970…….
It’s the 2nd leg of the Bradby Shield Encounter. Trinity has won the 1st leg a week earlier 19 to 3. The second leg begins. Royal is at its best. Trinity’s hopes seem to fade away gradually as the score board scowls 12 – 0 in favor of Royal College.
Time flies by.
Trinity skipper and wing-three quarter Seevali Samarasekara looks at his disheartened boys. He remembers the long hours of practice. He recalls the sacrifices his team has made to come thus far. And, he realizes he cannot shatter the hopes of those back at school. Nay, he cannot afford to lose the game.
‘Sam’ abandons his position in the three quarter line to be with his forwards. Both the coaches as well as the spectators are surprised beyond measure.
Royal kicks the ball. Sam sprints and in seconds is on the spot. He picks the ball up, zigzags, passes it to his winger who finishes off with a try. Again, Sam charges ahead, takes hits- but keeps going and helps his team score. The whistle blows – and Trinitywins 16- 12.
Three years go by.
On this occasion Trinity has lost the first leg 4-18. The evening of the 21st of July beholds the Trinity 1st XV upon the grass of the CH and FC grounds at Maitland Place. Unfortunately, disciplinary reasons have replaced three seniors with freshers from the U-17 team.
However, the battle for Shield kicks off. Minutes into the game, Trinity skipper Yu slings a long pass to Chin [Snr] off a short tap ten yards off the Royal goal line. Ching passes it to hooker Balasuriya who falls mid left. Trinity wins a five yard scrum, and later, prop Ashantha Samarasinghe falls on the loose ball. Forwards join the three quarter move and skipper Yu scores by the left corner flag.
The match turns out the complete reverse of the first leg as Trinity eventually smashes a 12 – 4 win.[Legend has it that even the equaling try was scored, but Referee Bentley Barsenbach did not allow it, claiming he did not see it!]
Those were the seventies – you might argue…
So let’s take a flight forward …
In the days of yore, when the rugby playing schools were few, and consequently, the privileged institutions enjoyed predominance in the sport, Trinity led the way constantly, establishing records and mesmerizing the crowds. However, as the 90’s dawned, school rugby had taken an unanticipated turn. As a result, Trinity was fighting for the very honor that it once had and had probably oft even taken for granted.
Such was the back drop for the 1st leg of the Bradby Shield in 1998.
The Trinity 1st XV led by Prassanna Jayawardena and coached by the legendary Mr.Quintin Israel has just arrived at the Sugathada stadium. Mr. Sampath Perera’s unbeaten Royal side seems indomitable. On the other hand, Trinity’s run up to the Bradby has been far from stellar. They’ve lost to Isipathana, S.Thomas’ and even St.Sylvester’s Kandy for the first time ever. Further adding to every Trinity supporter’s anxiety, the famous Royal skipper C.V. Goonaratne has days before stated publicly that Royal would win with “60 points in Colombo and 40 in Kandy.”
Soon, both the college songs are sung. The game’s about to start. But, calmly on bench is seated Mr.Quintin Israel. He has identified two weak links in the Royal defense, and now seems to be counting on his boys to exploit them.
However, as soon as the contest begins, the Royal forwards break off the maul from the blind side and plant a try. Nonetheless, instantly, a provoked Prassanna Jayawardena launches his offensive, thoroughly capitalizing on the Royal star winger Viraj De Silva’s struggling with the high ball and fly- half Rajeev Fernando’s less-than clever tackling. Also, the Trinity forwards –spearheaded by Surein Hulangamuwa and strengthened by Rajiv Mendis, who’s playing with a serious knee injury, execute all the plays sensationally. Trinity passes the Royal line twice. And, both the tries are converted by Prassanna Jayawardena, who also successfully kicks two penalties. Royal pursues Trinity neck to neck. But Trinity fights back each time and wins the 1st leg 20-18.
I can proceed to write –endlessly, for exceedingly numerous have been and strikingly often have occurred those moments when the Lions’ rebound power has asserted itself before the world’s eyes. Yet, I shall halt. Though it lost to Isipathana following a close game, Tarinda Ratwatte’s team has no doubt proven what it’s made of and what it means to don the three colored jersey. May he lead his team- carried thus far on the experienced and veteran shoulders of Anuradha Karunathilake and Sanjana Shiek, to repeat his father’s victory in 1983 more glamorously. May the unconquerable Trinitian Spirit prevail again –and may the lads of ’14 retain the Shield –in the Kandyan hills where it belongs. For then shall be their victory, yea even their faith.
Article Written by Ayesh Perera(Class of 2011)
Published 3 years ago by Ayesh Perera