Several eyebrows have been raised after St. Peter’s College hired an fired a foreign rugby coach for the first time in its treasured rugby history of 90 years following a below par performance by the players at the concluded inter-school League rugby championship
The coach, former Australian and Scottish international Ben McDougall, had his services terminated in what some analysts say amounted to him becoming the fall-guy after the school placed high hopes in a major overhaul last year.
McDougall was a hero when the Peterites beat Trinity College and almost turned tables on the eventual champs Royal College with five tries but a week later was the target of the common blame game.
Many analysts contend it was the presence of too many self-appointed upstarts in the Peterite camp along with underperforming players that led to the debacle.
McDougall’s eviction from his post has only reinforced the syndrome where sporting institutions in Sri Lanka often make a desperate bid to turn its fortunes and then in a further distressed situation sack the very man they looked up to as their saviour.
In another development St. Joseph’s College which held so much promise during the League decided not to contest the Knock-Out tournament for reasons best known to its senior players and coach causing confusion among their supporters.
Two other schools which qualified for the Knock-Outs Wesley College and St. Anthony’s College also withdrew.
All three schools have yet to issue an official statement clarifying why they pulled out.
In the recent past the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) threatened schools with suspension over any suggestion of a withdrawal from the Knock-Outs supported by its financial stakeholder Milo.
Secretary of the SLSRFA Susantha Mendis claimed at the tournament’s launch that injuries to players had compelled the three schools to withdraw from contesting which many doubted was the reality.
It had been observed during the League that many bench players were raring to take the field and are now being deprived of an opportunity to showcase their talents while replacing the so-called injured.
In their defence Mendis said they will have to issue licenses to coaches from next season to ensure they are competent on player welfare matters.
On Sunday the Peterites will meet Science College in their Knock-Out quarter final at the Royal Complex ground.