There is already so much talk about the absence of foreigners at this year’s Dialog Inter-club league rugby tournament which kicks-off on November 20 (Friday)

Tournament Committee Chairman S.W Chang wants trouble-free tournament

By Ravi Nagahawatte

The caliber of players at any rugby tournament will decide the collection from the gate. There is already so much talk about the absence of foreigners at this year’s Dialog Inter-club league rugby tournament which kicks-off on November 20 (Friday). The most positive factor in the decision not to field expatriates is that the finances set aside by clubs for rugby will go entirely into the hands of the local players.

So then, what will they give spectators in return? True enough, these players are professionals and have the potential to entertain crowds. But unlike in the last season, those who played behind the shadows of expatriates can be exposed.

The time has come for experienced players like Fazil Marija (Kandy SC), Chanaka Chandimal (Navy SC), Anuranga Walpola (Havelocks SC) and Ishan Noor (CR&FC) to groom the next generation of club rugby players, who have just bid adieu to their schools. Schoolboy rugby players have their heroes in this island itself and need not look elsewhere. But what needs to be underscored is that these experienced players need to show the way and for this they need to have the lasting power during rugby matches, where the workload on players keeps increasing.

This season the tournament committee headed by S.W Chang can do the game a big favor if it conducts matches without running into a snag. When contacted, Chang said that he wants a trouble free tournament. This is an SLRFU conducted tournament and this is why it’s all the more important that the best referees are picked to officiate matches.

Clubs invest so much on players and poor refereeing can be detrimental to all stake holders of the game. The SLRFU keeps bringing expats to referee key matches. But this only highlights the fact that referees in Sri Lanka are making very little progress in their careers as those who officiate at matches.

The expatriate factor has the power to attract crowds and keep the game’s sponsors happy. But another fact that keeps sponsors happy is when matches become unpredictable and the league is thrown open. But this word unpredictable is like a coin with predictable etched on the other side. New teams like Jawatte Lions, Upcountry Lions, Old Trinitians SC and Hambantota Sharks had the word unpredictable associated with them when they grabbed players from other clubs and made their debuts in the tournament. But if one analyses the strong roots that clubs like CR&FC and Kandy SC have, it won’t take long to fathom that these old institutes can’t be shaken however badly player-crossovers affect them.

Rugby union is a beautiful sport which displays strength through its rich traditions. Sri Lanka might not be giants in this sport, but even the oval world is amazed that this little island boosts of having been involved with this sport for over 130 years. The rugby clubs are what make up the pillars on which stands this phenomenon called Sri Lanka rugby. The time has come this year too witness Sri Lanka’s rugby show which will unfold another chapter this Friday. So, let the games then begin!