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Vinol Fernando (Captain) | Raveen Antonio (Vice captain)

St. Joseph’s College Maradana are looking to instill a winning culture at rugby, but being pooled in the A Division segment has made their task a herculean one.

According to coach Nilfer Ibrahim, the team began the season with the aim of bagging the league championship. But they encountered stiff opposition as the tournament draw forced them to play against the top two finishers from last season. They went down fighting against Royal (28-22) and Isipathana (39-32) in the first two fixtures this season. Coach Ibrahim in an interview with Nation said that the tough draw left them with no option, but to look at the challenge in an optimistic manner.  “If we won these two games we would have got the bonus point. If we lost, then we had look at how to improve and move forward from there,” said Ibrahim. He however added that the team hasn’t moved away from their goal of coming right on top this season.

The Joes rugby coach is mapping out a plan to make the team experience some victories in the rugby scene this season. “St. Joseph’s badly needs to experience the winning feeling at rugby. They know the feeling winning can give through their exploits in sports like cricket, basketball and swimming. If we can experience this in rugby, then that would amount to achieving one of my goals” said Ibrahim who took over coaching St. Joseph’s this year after a successful stint with Isipathana College last season.

The boys are more bent towards education at this institute. Vice captain Raveen Antonio is the head prefect of the school and obtained four As at the Advanced Level Examination. “We have scheduled our training so that it doesn’t disturb the education of the boys,” said Ibrahim.

Last season Joes finished 9th in the league, but managed to win the Plate Championship Trophy.

This year’s team comprises very young players out of whom a good number is eligible to represent the school at rugby next season. Last season the side produced two under 18 national players in Chathura Senewiratne and skipper Fernando. The school has also taken great pains lately to develop their junior rugby squads to supplement the First XV side. As many as 30 hopefuls are attending practices with the aim of wearing the blue and white jersey.

The boys receive all the encouragement from the school’s Rector Fr. Travis Gabriel and the Prefect of Games Fr. Milon.

Over the years the performances of Joes has seen a concept build against them which is that they lose a game in the last 10 minutes. “We were able to break that concept this season,” Ibrahim said.

The fitness trainer of the side is Dinesh Kumara.

Squad- Vinul Fernando (Captain), Raveen Antonio, Praveen Thangiah, Gemunu Chetiya, Hashane Dananjaya, Triston Perera, Chathura Senewiratne, Channa Asoka, Madusanka Perera, Sameesha Virangana, Sachin Silva, Santhush Algama, Nimesh Ranasinghe, Tharindu de Alwis, Kavindu Keshan, Udeesha Perera, Tehan Senewiratne, John Ganegoda, Shehan Kalaniyagoda, Naveen de Silva, Rashen Gunawardene, Sven Muller, Vimukti Kalubowila, Shavon Gregory, Gershom Thangiah, Shan Akila.

St. Joseph’s College rugby squad for 2017| (Pix by Sassanda Liyanarachchi)
St. Joseph’s College rugby squad for 2017 | (Pix by Sassanda Liyanarachchi)