Colombo is getting ready for the First Leg of the Bradby Shield and host Royal College is feeling the heat with huge demand for tickets. Most of the tickets are already sold out, but getting there to the stadium (Royal Sports Complex) and buying a ticket to catch the action is fully worth given that this is the blue ribbon rugby match of the season.
Rugby Matches Organizing Committee Chairman Mahima Wijesinghe views this annual rugby match as a social event where all stakeholders should get an opportunity to be part of. “Talking about tickets is a sensitive issue, but the Rugby Matches Organizing Committee (RMOC) has made the best arrangements to house around 10-12,000 spectators at the Royal Sports Complex,” Wijesinghe told Nation.
Wijesinghe, who was a member of the Royal College First XV rugby team in 1988-89, said that arrangements have been made to promote camaraderie among the teams and spectators at the Bradby Shield which is on to its 72nd year. According to him, the traditional dinner for the Colombo leg will be held in grand scale for which former Royal skipper Rohantha Peiris has been invited as Chief Guest.
He opined that some parents still believe that rugby is a dangerous sport and distance their offspring from this discipline. “But an event like the Bradby Shield can change minds of cautious parents,” he said hinting that the overwhelming presence of this traditional encounter can make parents want their children to be part of this encounter.
His parents too didn’t allow him to play rugby initially which made him attend practices in the guise of going for athletics practices. However, when picked to represent Royal, he gathered courage and took a newspaper that had published his name in a team list, and showed it to his father. That’s how he got the blessings of his parents to play the game and also a pair of boots.
Wijesinghe went on to represent the Sri Lanka Under 20 Team later on even though his rugby career after leaving school was brief. Looking back, he believes that rugby has helped him be a team man and work towards a common goal in life’s endeavours. He also said that the contacts he had made through rugby had helped him immensely in life.
After leaving school, he found the time to serve the RMOC which was founded by DIG Sydney de Zoysa in the early 1980s. The committee takes great pains in planning the seating arrangements with the aim of accommodating all stakeholders of the game ranging from members of the Royal College Union, parents of the players, teachers and sponsors.
Talking about sponsors, he took this opportunity to thank Singer Sri Lanka PLC and KIA Motors for being associated with the Bradby Shield. “The income from the Bradby Shield will be handed over to the Royal College Union Trust. Rugby at Royal College needs the money because the rugby budget each year increases tremendously,” said Wijesinghe.
Royal College Sports Complex has grown with the demands of the Bradby Shield. At present the grandstand can accommodate nearly 2,100 spectators. The newly build Royal Brandix Sky Pavilion can house another 1,900 ticket holders. Another 6-8 thousand spectators can watch the match standing. “We are very strict about keeping a check on the number of spectators entering the stadium because there can be a stampede. Come early to the venue and avoid disappointment,” Wijesinghe suggested.
He took this opportunity to thank the members serving the RMOC committee for their hard work and dedication. Wijesinghe said these members are blessed to have wives who don’t mind their spouses being married to the Bradby Shield for a few weeks.
Wijesinghe said the RMOC is taking all efforts to welcome all spectators and will do its best to ensure that ticket holders get the maximum satisfaction from the limited facilities that are available at the sports complex.