Havelocks Sports Club coach Tulagaese Tawita (Left) and skipper Sandun Herath display the team jersey at a media briefing where Sun FM’s sponsorship of rugby at the club was announced. (Picture by Chandana Wijesinghe)

Coach Laga says some top teams sans expatriates will be exposed

By Ravi Nagahawatte

Havelocks Sports Club believe that the absence of expatriates this season will give them the opportunity to groom youngsters and work towards winning the inter-club rugby league tournament.

Officials of the park club aired these views at a press conference held on November 26 (Thursday) in connection with the announcing of Asia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) as the sponsor for rugby at Havelocks Sports Club.

Havelocks Sports Club is celebrating 100 years of rugby this year and ABC’s sponsorship with rugby at the club will be done under the name Sun FM, which is rated as a popular radio channel in the island.

Havelocks Sports Club coach Talagaese Tawita said that top teams who relied too much on expatriates last year will be exposed this season. “Rugby at present is not only about size. 70% of the game is about the mind,” said Tawita, also known as Laga, who has been contacted by the club as their coach in their centenary year. “Even back at home in Samoa our rugby is only 91 years old. This is a milestone in Havelocks Sports Club rugby and I just didn’t want to miss this opportunity,” he said when asked why he said ‘yes’ to an offer made to him by the club.

Havelocks Sports Club Treasurer Thusitha Peiris welcomed the decision taken by the SLRFU to leave out foreigners this season saying, “Now locals, especially school leavers, can be tried out in the pivotal number eight and first inside positions, which otherwise would have been occupied by expatriate players,” opined Peiris.

He went on to state that the club had hired the services of seven recent school leavers and that these players were already in the Sri Lanka under 20 squad. Havelocks Sports Club officials at the press briefing used this statistic to underscore the fact that the club has served as a breeding ground for national players.

Wimal Senanayake, a Past President of Havelocks Sports Club, said that rugby is an expensive sport and appreciated ABC committing itself as the sponsor of the club’s rugby team.

Havelocks Sports Club rugby captain Sandun Herath said that he was confident the club can win the league tournament given that the team has a blend of young and experienced players.

Havelocks Sports Club last won the Inter-club League Rugby Tournament in 2012 when the team was coached by Laga himself.