Havelock Sports Club hooker Prasath Madusanka made try scoring look easy as plucking mangoes from a tree during the 2015-‘16 rugby season. He was recognized as the highest try scorer in the SLRFU conducted Division 1 league rugby tournament. Rugby analysts might take time to absorb a lion-hearted display like this by a hooker given that there are more flamboyant positions in a rugby team.
Madusanka made 12 touchdowns and was easily the team’s hero this season where Havelocks finished runners-up to Kandy SC in the tournament. But this unassuming rugby player links his achievement to a team effort.
He had a memorable academic career at Isipathana College where he managed his studies and rugby without letting down anybody. He made it to the First XV team in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 and even became a prefect at school. The reason for his success? “I think I managed all this because my parents gave me the freedom to do what I like,” said the 23-year-old who now works for Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation.
Madusanka commenced his club rugby career at CR&FC and played two seasons. Finding employment and the subsequent demands at work made him experience a mental block where rugby was concerned. There was a time he didn’t want to continue playing. But all that changed when he joined Havelock SC. “I began to realize that I could do something with these players. Most of them are young and of my age. Everybody knows each other,” is how Madusanka explained how he found his interest in rugby surface again after a period of gloom. He said his decision to join the park club to restart his rugby career has been justified after winning the award for the highest try scorer.
He thanked his coach Tulagaese Tavita, assistant coach Rajiv Perera and trainer Ransilu Jayatilake for the inputs made to his career. “When switching from school to club rugby I saw that the levels were much higher in club rugby. Club rugby demands more commitment from players,” he reflected.
Madusanka was a keen rugby follower when he was a schoolboy rugby player and watched a lot of club rugby matches. Now in the thick of it as a club player he said, “The game has moved on and is played at a much faster pace. New rules are often introduced to make the game faster,” observed Madusanka who added that he trains twice a day to meet the demands of club rugby.
He said he wishes to wear the Sri Lanka jersey one day, but was quick to point out that he shares his club’s immediate future goal which is to win the Clifford Cup knock-out tournament.
During the interview with Nation he spoke fondly of two Isipathana College old boys who are also past rugby players. “I must thank Viraj Prashantha for coaching me at school and then taking me to CR&FC and helping me commence my club rugby career,” he said. The other player whom he adores is former Sri Lanka player Anuranga Walpola who he said gave him inspiration to play in the vital position of hooker.
Madusanka knows he has made his mark at rugby union. “If I didn’t play rugby no one would have known me. The sport has given me an identity,” he said.
Rugby has molded his character and made him what he is today. “The best lesson rugby has taught me is not to crumble under pressure. Now I am able to face any problem in life on my own,” he said with a smile.