Royal sing in the rain!

by Ravi Nagahawatte

The Bradby spirit was showcased in no uncertain terms at the First Leg of the annual rugby match between Royal and Trinity in Colombo when both teams produced rib-bruising rugby before the former prevailed by a solitary point. A Sunday newspaper reported that the aggregate score of both teams-75 points- was the highest from the perspective of the first leg of the Bradby Shield.

The game was close and went to the wire as expected with Royal collecting their 38 points through four tries, three conversions, three penalties and a drop goal. Trinity too had their moments and responded scoring 37 points which came off five tries, three conversions and two penalties. While both schools look forward to the second leg of the Bradby, happening two weeks from now in Kandy, the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association has got going with the updating of the points table and has informed the media that it would take into account only the result of the first leg of the Bradby Shield, for this purpose. Hence Royal move one place up, from being placed fifth, last week, in this exciting schools league tournament where St. Peter’s, Kingswood and S.Thomas’ are rated as the top three teams in numerical order after the eighth week of the tournament.

Both Royal and Trinity showed the will to run the ball despite slippery ground conditions slowing down everybody. Trinity rattled Royal with the kick-off with a try coming from winger Akila Dissanayake who many felt had mixed fortunes in this game. The lad slipped many times and even made a knock-on, but always showed potential to cut lose. Royal’s response came late as in the 18th minute of play in the form of a try by centre Taraka Wijesuriya. Arshad Jamaldeen made a brilliant conversion to put his team on par with the opponents.

Fortunes in this game switched, from side to side, there onwards. Trinity had one more try in the first half which came through the efforts of centre and place kicker Kanchana Ramanayake whose contribution in the first session of play also included two penalties.

Royal’s young fly half Jamaldeen, the son of ASP Nizam Jamaldeen, who shone for Police and Sri Lanka, knew his role as fly half, and came under the spotlight when he dropped a peach of goal in the first half to put Royal ahead by three points. This was after the scores were deadlocked at 13 all, at one time. Royal snapped back the lead to the cheers of their home crowd when winger Dilshan Palliahakkara ran through to score, minutes before half time. Royal led 23-10 at the ‘breather’.

The Bradby produces not only quality rugby, but an atmosphere for old boys and well-wishers of the two schools to mingle when the teams cross over at half time. The organizing at the Colombo leg of the Bradby looked meticulously planned with seating arrangements done to perfection. There was a souvenir published by Royal which gave the literary minded something to take home. And the distribution of wristbands and some face-towels, at half time, was thoughtful from the perspective of the Colombo leg organizers. Why? Because this is a time when the interest for rugby outside the school’s tournament is on the decline and any step taken to promote the game of rugby union here in Sri Lanka must be acknowledged. It’s a good reminder to all of us that if you stop promoting a game, soon there will be no spectators! The spirit of a cricket big match prevailed throughout the game and the duration of school matches being lengthened by five minutes each way certainly gave more ‘Bradby time’ for spectators.

The skies opening up in the second half did not go well with the already slippery conditions on the field. It was questionable why certain sections of the field in this famous venue for school matches must take the shape of a paddy field when it rains? Is the expertise used to maintain this ground not the latest that’s used elsewhere? We are now seeing rugby matches in the world being played at stadiums where there is a shield or a roof on top to prevent rain from hampering play. The rain was a spoiler and if not for the intermittent showers, the game definitely would have been played at a faster pace and thus would have produced more tries.

Royal’s number eight Shehan Palliahakkara was outstanding, but reliable full back Chamara Dabare was off-colour. Jamaldeen continued the good work, done in the first half, after the turn around. A penalty by Jamaldeen and a try by flanker Tilanka Samraweera gave Royal a healthy 11 point lead (31-20) by the 9th minute of play.

Trinity came back screaming with a try by winger Mohammed Seshan which Ramanayake converted. The lads from Kandy punched another hole in the Royal defence, this time the try coming from centre Nimesh Yatwara. Ramanayake missed converting the latter, but Trinity did what was most vital; grabbing the lead!

The defences of both teams creaked all along and Royal shot into the lead again when hooker Adil Jabbar barged through to score and take the team’s points to 39 against 32 by Trinity.

The visiting team crossed the Royal line once more when winger Dissanayake scored by the corner flag, doing well to score before the defender could bundle him out of touch. The kick was awry and the final whistle went a few seconds later. Royal know that they have wounded the pride of the ‘lions’ and this is going to be tough for them because a wounded ‘lion’ will always wants its revenge. The second leg of the Bradby Shield promises to be a thriller!

In some of the other matches of the league tournament played over the weekend, Kingswood surprised S.Thomas’ at Mount Lavinia by winning 22-17.

St. Peter’s came another inch close to the tile with a win against Wesley, whom they beat 58-13 at Bambalapitiya. The Petes now play St. Anthony’s this Saturday in Kandy.

The ever improving St. Anthony’s College Katugastota, last week beat Dharmaraja 39 to 13 at Nittawela.


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