The Isipathana College rugby team has been in the limelight for a very long time and is considered one of the most feared teams in schools rugby. However, they have had their ups and downs in the history of the most favourite game played by their students.
The main reason for their success is due to having a rugby academy for the boys who wish to pursue the game. The academy caters to junior rugby players and some of them make it to the First XV. Some of the reputed players who came through this system were Omalka Gunaratne and Shenal Deelaka who have led the side in recent years.
The school’s history shows that Isipathana was suspended from participation in 1991 due to violation of laws in fielding some players. But they returned in 1992 and had produced very good results thereafter.
Their worst year was in 2004 when they lost as many as eight games and were demoted to B division. Their coach that year was Sanath Martis, who apparently coached Royal this season. Royal were thrashed by Isipathana in the knock-out final.
Former Isipathana star player Hisham Abdeen took over the coaching in 2004 and 2005, the year they ended up as runners-up in the league tournament. However, Royal, having lost to Isipathana, had protested about Isipathana fielding a player who had failed exams and they were demoted to C division. But the case was later won by Isipathana and the team was back the following year.
Isipathana were back in full steam in 2007 due to the grooming of junior players through the academy. Ten of them were in the First XV team. Then came the best year of all. In 2011 the team won all the tournaments conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA). Since then they have not looked back and are hungry to keep their spirits high and enjoy the game they love most.
These facts were revealed to Nation by Hassen Singhawansa who has been with the Isipathana rugby committee for a very long time and is well versed in the history of the school’s rugby.