The fracas that took place after the awards presentation at the 72nd edition of the Bradby Shield makes the average rugby fan ponder whether those who exhibited their aggression forgot for a moment that sport is a great leveller.

The Bradby Shield encounter is the blue-ribbon rugby match of the season and only a privileged section of the rugby fraternity get to witness it. In this context those who played in the match and the ones who were fortunate enough to get a seat at the Pallakelle Stadium can consider themselves to be kind of special. This little feeling of being special should begin from where the action takes place and continue till the final whistle is blown and the shield is given away.

There have been occasions in the past when the two sets of players have even exchanged jerseys after the final leg of the Bradby. This is where the spirit of the Bradby or sportsmanship in rugby bursts at its seam. When the two sets of players exchange jerseys, which are soaked in sweat, they come to a point where they think that they are part of one big rugby family. They believe that they are all actors in one big show where everybody has to stand together or else fall apart.

Given that the past 71 encounters of this epic rugby event did give an opportunity to these two schools to share and bask in its glory, the way they grappled for the shield at Pallekelle puts some people to shame. To begin with, there was confusion before the commencement of the awards ceremony because it was unclear who would take the shield at the podium. The organizers of the Kandy leg of the match should take the entire blame for this.

At the awards presentation, Royal took the lead to receive the shield, but the Trinity captain and his players were not far behind. Rightfully the Trinitians too had a right to place their hands on the shield. But going by television visuals and videos uploaded on social media it was clear that the Royal captain wanted to bask in the glory of retaining the trophy only with his team. The Royal captain for a moment forgot that Trinity too were part of this celebrated rugby fixture. It escaped the mind of the Royal captain that it’s beautiful when your opponent too shares the same glory as you. Even though victory and defeat bring lessons to those who played in the game, sometimes a draw masks such lessons. Sometimes a draw makes you forget to applaud the efforts of your opponent. This time the draw made the Royalists forget that an opposing team existed.

We teach students to be proactive, not reactive. If the organizers of the second leg thought far, they should have made a provision in the case there was a draw. These organizers might say that arrangements were made if this series ended in a tie. But then, if so, why was there confusion at the awards distribution?

Royal retained the Bradby Shield going by the fact that they were the custodians of the shield last year. It would have been lovely if Trinity got to keep the trophy for the first six months after the Bradby and then gave it to Royal to display it in their shield cabinet at school till it is time to bring it back for the next Bradby. The team which retains the Bradby Shield should be afforded the opportunity to return it to the officials manning the podium at the Bradby, come the next edition of the series. No one would grudge the fact that Royal must get the opportunity to bring the shield back next year. There is something special when your team arrives at the venue as the last custodians of the shield. Let this writer remind these two popular schools an old saying, “You don’t really own anything until you can give it away”. This is applicable to the Bradby Shield as well.