Review of Trinity-Royal 70th Bradby Shield Rugby Encounter
With splendid weather last Saturday 10th May, the 1st Leg of the 70th “Bradby Shield” rugby game ‘kicked off’ impressively at 4.30 p.m. – on the beautifully spruced-up Royal Sports Complex Rugby grounds. It was an electrifying atmosphere which had an estimated 20,000 Rugby fans going crazy, beating drums, blowing ‘wuwuzela’ horns, backed by the Sri Lankan Papare bands belting out some pulsating ‘beaty’ music! In addition, the smartly dressed juniors and seniors of the Royal College Music Bands were on hand at the start of the game, to play the School Songs of both schools – and then come on again at halftime, to produce a scintillating synchronization of ‘formation’ marching to sprightly music.
This popular fixture between Trinity College Kandy and Royal College Colombo, is a long-awaited annual Rugby ‘battle’, which features one match in Kandy and one in Colombo, with the winners declared on the aggregate scores in both matches for the award of the “Bradby Shield”. Every Trinity and Royal rugby fan most surely enter these dates in their personal diaries each year, to be sure of getting their invaluable ‘match-tickets’ to witness these two inspiring games! Considering the fact that this is the longest standing rugby schools encounter in the world – thousands of Sri Lankan rugby fans watch these games on Television both locally and abroad, while many others in Australia, U.K., UAE, USA, etc; come flying over to Sri Lanka on ‘Charter Flights’!
Many dinners and functions to felicitate and appreciate them, are organized by the Old Boys Associations of both schools to meet, greet and renew past fellowships in a grand way!
Royal went to the extent of a well planned full day celebration in Colombo, in ‘carnival-style’ on Saturday, on the grounds adjacent to the Royal rugby sports complex – which carried a large banner saying “Welcome to our Trinity Brothers”. It really touched my heart and the hearts of many Trinitians – who saw it as a true, cordial step to building greater friendship ties!
This year, the love and passion of both schools and the sportsmanship seen in the game of Rugby, were good, disciplined, orderly, with a fine display of a super sporty ‘spirit, which was a joy to witness! Here is a true example to all rugby players – where no major offences were seen and did not warrant a “yellow or red warning card” on the field – nor any crowd invasions or ugly jeering off the field. It deserves “Three Cheers!” to both Trinity and Royal rugby teams and their good supporters! After all it is a sport which helps to build character and assess your ability to move into the arena of serious life!!
Earlier in the afternoon, the ‘Under 18’ players took the field at about 3.00 p.m. and dished out some reasonably good and exciting rugby. Trinity won this match – by 34 points to 7pts. – and are top favourites to clinch the “C.E. Simithriarchchi Trophy”(Named after former Trinity Principal –1945 to 1955), after the return game in Kandy on 24th May, at Pallekelle Rugby Stadium.
At 4.15 p.m., the Stadium was filled to capacity and to the huge ‘roar’ of the crowd, the ‘Trinity Lions’ led by Skipper Tharinda Ratwatte and the Royal Captain Nimshan Jayawardene, entered the Rugby stadium. Then the Royal Music Bands struck up the School Anthems of Trinity and Royal and the entire crowd in the stadium stood up to honour them. Soon after this, the Chief Guest – Manik Weerakumar, Captain of Royal Team 1976, along with the Principal of Trinity Brig. W.G.K. Aryaratne and Principal of Royal Mr. Upali Gunasekara, were introduced to the two teams, Coaches and the match officials.
So it was another memorable Royal – Trinity “Bradby” match – which provided the spills and thrills of exciting rugby and explicit entertainment. Of course, considering the number of dropped passes, improper positional play and the lack of thrust in ‘picking the gaps’ – and not executing ‘game-plan’ manoeuvres from some of the ‘turn-overs’ in the scrums and rucks, made a substantial difference in the scoring, of both Royal and Trinity.
As it happened, an interception of a careless Royalist pass in their 22 metre area, was snatched by Trinity’s wing three-quarter Lochana Girahagama, barely five minutes after the start of the game, to streak down 75 metres and set the stadium alight with a sparkling try! That was Royal’s ‘hospitable’ gift to Trinity!! Skipper Tharinda Ratwatte made no mistake with an easy conversion in front of the posts, to give seven valuable points to Trinity. In my opinion, this ‘opportunist try’ – made a huge difference to the final outcome of the game.
Significant roles were played by both Captains in swelling the scores through tries and putting over penalties. For Royal it was Nimshan Jayawardene who scored a fine try and goaled it himself while also putting over three penalties. However, it was theTrinity Captain, Tharinda Ratwatte who not only goaled two tries and converted two penalties – but stole the limelight with a well-timed drop-goal, which shocked the Royal defenders! This was the highlight and ‘turning point’ of the game, when the superb ‘class’ of a tactical ‘playmaker’ used his fine rugby sense and skill, cleverly positioned himself and scored a neat drop-goal through a wall of bewildered Royal defenders.
Meanwhile, observing a meaningful and expressive slogan on a Royal tee shirt at the match, confirmed to me that the Royalists who are proud of their College motto “Learn or Depart” also believe in the meaning of the English phrase “The Greatest Test of Courage is to Bear Defeat – Without Losing Heart.” In the moments of anguish that followed, when Trinity were leading on points, the rest of the Royal team did not lose heart but came back into the fight with real zeal – that was courage – to take on the Trinity “Lions”!!
In a matter of minutes, Royal were back in the game, when a Trinity player was penalised for entering the ruck off his feet, which resulted in a penalty that superbly put over by Nimshan Jayawardena. Trinity were quick to come back with a good try through Sanchana Shiek who accepted a pass from skipper Tharinda Ratwatte and sped to score mid-left. Ratwatte made sure of the conversion to make it- Trinity 14 Royal 03. However, a sudden breakthrough by fleet-footed Gayal Jayasinghe and a sensible release of the ball to the captain Nimshan Jayawardene enabled Royal to close the gap in points as he scored a try and converted it himself. More points came Royal’s way, just before half time through a penalty by Nimshan, to make it – – Trinity 17 Royal 13pts!
Beginning the second half, gave Trinity ‘butterflies in the stomach’ when Nimshan put over another penalty to make the score 16 points to Trinity’s 17. Shortly after came the ‘masterpiece’ of a drop-goal by Tharinda followed by another penalty to show 23 points on the board. While Royal showed their supremacy in the line-outs and forwards play, Trinity proved their power in a three quarter line that could penetrate the defence…and should have opened up play more often, to get the increase in points. Trinity’s last effort resulted in a try by Sachintha Dissanayake from a pass by Sheik which had the score board showing Trinity 28 points – Royal 16 pts, with about five minutes play left.
At this point of the game the Referee Dimithri Gunesekera was a victim of muscle cramps in his leg, after such a strenuous fast moving game, which saw him helplessly collapse on the field. It may have looked funny at that time but as a player who has suffered with similar cramps, I can say it is awfully painful! Play did not go on – Yet the ‘Spirit of Rugby’ must live on!”
Article Written by: Ken de Joodt (1957 & ’58 Rugby Captain, “Lion”- Sri Lanka & Combined Schools Capt.)
Photographs by: Amila Alahakoon & Ashwin Jayalath
Published 4 years ago by Ken de Joodt