Lest we forget Havies …………………1981
By Indika Amarasinghe
Havelocks Sports Club’s memories would race back to 1981 if they ever wish to recall their memorable moments in rugby union during the past 100 years. Very recently Havies had reason to reflect on the club’s rich rugby history because this institute celebrated a century in existence. From a sport’s perspective, 1981 is etched deeply in their rugby record books. That year Heavies swept the boards. They emerged as triple champs having won the Clifford Cup in the league tournament, the President’s Trophy at the knockouts and the two rugby sevens championships. The club was also voted as the most Popular Rugby Playing Club.
In the year 1978 too, Havies won a triple championship under the captaincy of Anton Benedict. What is most significant about the year 1981 was Havies ‘A’ and ‘B’ battling out for supremacy in the inter-club rugby sevens final. Here Heavies ‘A’ prevailed in a grueling battle and Havies ‘B’ finished as worthy runners-up. Furthermore, Havies’ second string, better known as ‘Bambaras’, became league champs that year in the ‘B’ Division. Bambaras however missed the knockout plum by a whisker to CR ‘Bees’, paying the penalty for missing a sitter of a conversion. It was the overall performance of Havies ‘A’ and ‘B’ that makes 1981 the most memorable Year of rugby thus far at the Park Club.
In the year 1981, Havies ‘A’ was captained by Angelo Wickremaratne the dynamic third row forward and a past captain of St. Peter’s College Bambalapitiya in 1977. He represented the national side from 1978 -1981, and captained the Sri Lankan side in 1981. The side he led toured Hong Kong to participate in the ‘Rothmans Chathy Pacafic International Seven a side Tournament. The proud Havies ‘A’ side comprised Orville Fernando, Sandy Keller, Kolitha Goonetillake, Royce Samaratunga, Norman Kulasiri, Andrew Van Hoff, Neomal Surasena, M.F Sallay, Hisham Abdeen, Kenneth Kelly, Sandy Hamid, Michael Jayasekera, Frank Hubert, Baratha Mendis, Len Silva, Rienzie de silva, Ajith Silva C. Shiek, Marco de Silva. P. Selvarajah, Ravi Ponnambalam, Everad Serpanchy, Yohan Thurainayagam, and Nihal Botejue, who also played a few games that season. Michael Jayasekera, a former national player and center three quarter, missed the entire league tournament that year, being tied down with official duties as a Marine Engineer on board a ship. He however turned up for the knockout tournament and the second ‘Rugby Sevens’ Tournament which Havies won. The dynamic Havies ‘B’ side, at the ‘Inter-club Sevens’, finished as runners up to their own ‘A’ side and was captained by Marco de Silva, and included the likes of M.F Sallay, Hubert Rayan, Nihal Boteju, Peter Seneviratne, Baratha Mendis and Rienzie de Silva. The Havies players entering the final of a ‘clubs sevens’ after having beaten four tough sides, will no doubt go down in the history of club rugby as an unprecedented feat.
Havies ‘A’ in their run up to winning a triple crown ran amok against Army SC scoring over fifty points in the league Tournament. Havies ‘A’ had a powerful pack with Neomal Surasena, Angelo Wickremaratne, Hisham Abdeen, and Andrew Van Hoff excelling in their play. They also possessed one of the best three quarters in club rugby that year. Their back division comprised Sandy Hamid, Baratha Mendis, Rienzie de Silva and Len Silva who excelled in their respective positions. For Havies Hisham Abdeen was the most prolific try-scorer that season. After their convincing win against Army Sports Club, Havies performed extremely well until they won the league title and finished this wave of success by defeating a strong well-knit Police SC XV in the knockout final that year. This was more or less a ding dong battle for both sides. It was Charles Wijewardena who initially got Police ahead, firing two penalties. However, Havies bounced back with two unconverted tries, the first coming when Neomal Surasena intercepted a kick by an opponent to score. The winning try was initiated by Baratha Mendis when he made a judicious punt ahead into the Police in goal area for Angelo Wickremaratne to advance like a flash of lightening and beat Wijewardene to the try line. Heavies won by 8 points to 6. Jagath Fernando refereed
(The writer wishes to thank Srian De silva, Angelo Wickramarathna and Bharatha Mendis for sitting down with him and going down memory lane to Havelocks Sports Club’s most notable year in rugby)