The rugby players of Zahira College Maradana walk in to a playing field everyday where the predominant sport is football. This could be one reason why a good number of the soccer players end up playing rugby. These rugby players have the natural instinct to kick the oval shaped ball around a tad too much and this had not served them well where competitive rugby is concerned. The school’s new coach and rugby consultant Shamly Nawaz changed all that when he took over the coaching last season.
“Rugby is about possession and I told the boys never to kick unless it’s to gain territory or the three points (penalty),” is how Nawaz began at interview with Nation as he went on to explain how Zahira worked their way from Division C to Division B within a span of two years.
He is well aware of the capacity of schoolboys and said he made it a point to teach them just one technical skill during each session. The boys are training hard and use the equipment and the gym facilities provided to them with zest. “Today rugby is more about rucks. Size counts more than skills right now,” said Nawaz, a former national player and club rugby coach.
Zahira College has done pretty well this season and remain unbeaten having beaten Panadura Royal (87-3), St. John’s Nugegoda (40-7), Lalith Athulathmudali MV (36-12) and Ananda (50-0). They received a walk-over from CWW Kannangara MV.
The boys have shown tremendous improvement under the new coaching staff which comprises Anil Jayasinghe (assistant coach) and D. Karunaratne (trainer). The master-in-charge is Rohana and the Prefect of Games is Sooriyaarachchi. The players also receive the morale support of Principal Trizwi Marikar and Sports Council Chairman Mazeel.
The lads led by M. Ramzan are playing open rugby and which has made the crowds watching them at matches grow. In the second round of matches this season Zahira are expected to play against St. Joseph’s, D.S. Senanayake, Prince of Wales and Mahanama.
A promotion to Segment I Division A, their target now, would mean exposing the boys to a huge challenge. Nawaz said he feels the boys will be ready to face this challenge when they play against the giants of school rugby next season.