The oldest rugby tournament, Clifford Cup Tournament; the cup was first presented in 1911by Lady Elizabeth Clifford, wife of the then British Governor of Ceylon Sir Hugh Clifford, for a match on her birthday on August 26, to be awarded to the winners of the game between the Kandy United Services and All Ceylon. The match was to be played on 26, but was not played on the said date due to non availability of grounds and on September 2 the match was played. Due to the outbreak of World War I, the competition was suspended until 1926. Then the tournament was converted into a quadrangular with four teams, Low Country, Up Country, the Ceylonese and United Services, fighting for supremacy. In the first outing, Kandy United Services beat All Ceylon. Then once again was disturbed in 1938 due to the Second World War.
In 1950, a new system was planned and the cup was introduced to club tournament, where clubs like Kandy Sports Club, Dimbulla A & CC , Dickoya MCC, Uva Gymkhana Club, Kelani Valley Club, Havelock Sports Club, CR & FC, and CH & FC took part, and Havelock SC became the first champions. In 1961, five ‘affiliated’ rugby clubs, Police, Army, University, Air Force and Navy from Division ‘B’ were invited to join the tournament and play against the ‘constituent clubs’, forming a thirteen team competition. The format of the competition was also changed, whereby all 13 clubs had to play each other one on a home and away basis in alternate years and at the end of the league season the best eight teams competed in a knock-out tournament for the Clifford Cup. In 1985, the rugby league competition was renamed the John Player “Gold Leaf” Rugby Championships and the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union decided to award the Clifford Cup to the winners of a separate knock-out tournament, conducted among the ‘A’ Division Clubs, held at the end of the regular season.
Kandy Sports Club has won the Clifford Cup a record 19 times, CR & FC 14 times, including a tie with Dimbulla ACC, Havelock SC have won 13 times, including a tie with Police SC, Police SC 8 times with ties against Havelock SC and Army SC, CH & FC 7 times, Dimbulla A & CC twice including a tie with CR & FC, Army SC twice with one tie with Police SC, whilst Air Force SC and Navy SC have only won the cup once. This time the tournament is expected to he kicked off on 17, 18 and 19 of February; quarterfinals and semifinals on 22, 23 and the final on 26- all in the month of February.