This year’s Royal rugby team resembled their last year’s successful and powerful team which emerged as unbeaten league champs under centre Bhanuka Nanayakkara.
The win at the Under-20 school league rugby tournament would not have been one of those best scripted stories in school rugby. However, Royal College rugby team of 2015 experienced an epic ride where guts and determination were showcased.
Commencing this season under the leadership of number eight cum Sri Lanka U-19 player Nikila Gunadheera, Royal did well to beat D.S.Senanayaka convincingly. They remain as one of the strong contenders to retain the league championship.
Gunadheera will be leading a side that is short of experience, but packed with newcomers.
However, before the 2015 league season commenced Royal wasn’t considered as one of the favourites. Many rugby analysts predicted the league trophy to end up at academic institutes like St. Peter’s, Isipathana or at S. Thomas’. Royal’s successes at rugby last season highlight the dedication, passion and willpower of their players.
Royal has an inexperienced team this season in comparison with other teams contesting the league tournament which has just begun. The lads brushed aside D.S.Senanayaka 36-10 in their first match.
Speaking to Nation, Royal College Head Coach Sanath Martis said, “This season we have lost 12 seniors from last year’s squad of 25. I know that it is not going to be an easy without big names. As a team, we are going to stick to basics. We are working hard to retain the league title. Also we are hampered because seven seniors have chosen higher studies over rugby,” said Martis.
He said he’d try hard to retain the Bradby Shield. “All other schools also have lifted their standards to meet their targets, so we need to maintain our standards and rise to the occasion,” said Martis.
With just four experienced players, Royal College will probably benefit from an old adage which reminds us that shrewdness, if displayed well, is no match to size and strength. This is a facet most rugby teams ignore.