The lads from Campbell Park are taught that working hard and taking responsibility are vital ingredients in the formula for success
The rugby team of Wesley College Colombo has given all signs of creating a few upsets this season in the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association conducted league rugby tournament.
They dealt the first blow last week when they edged out S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia (23-19) in a thriller at Longden Place. Wesley had a change of coach a few days ago. The new man in charge of the boys as rugby consultant Paul Toia (A New Zealander) believes the intensity his chargers build up during the week is showing results in the games they play during the weekends. Toia is elated with the team’s recent victory against S. Thomas’, but he warned, “The league is open now and all teams have great players”.
Toia wants the players to work around a basic plan and work at developing essential skills like tackling, defence, the set pieces and kick-offs. The team has come a long way after the telling defeat they suffered at the hands of Trinity where the opponents scored as many as 10 tries.
The coach expects the players to take responsibility and channel their mental and emotional energies into the game. Asked whether all the high-scoring games highlighted lapses in their defence, Toia had this to say, “We need to work hard at improving our defense every week, but the games so far also show that we have a great attack as well”.
Wesley this season are led by Centre Denister Goonatilake. Lee brothers Avishka and Avantha are key members of the present side which is laden with 13 experienced players who did duty for them in 2016. Last season they finished 8th in the league and had to be contended winning the Blaze Shield beating Kingswood.
School rugby at present is a demanding discipline and calls for extra effort, nutrition and specialized training in the gymnasium. Coach Toia has identified the challenge, but affirms that schoolboy rugby players must balance sport with education. “School input is very valuable, so everyone must study. But there are things which rugby teaches which classroom education doesn’t provide. One big lesson rugby teaches is how to overcome adversity. Corporates are looking for team players and rugby produces plenty of them,” said Toia who is assisted in coaching this season by Mohammed Sheriff and Dulanjana Wijesinghe.
Rugby is a strenuous sport. Most teams have a mere month’s long off-after a season and the boys are back in the gym preparing for the next season. Do schoolboys enjoy the workload that’s thrust upon them? Toia said that the smiles on the boys’ faces during match day confirm everyone is enjoying the time they spend on playing rugby.
“I ask the boys why they play rugby? Some say they play because their dads played rugby for Wesley. Some say that they play rugby to bring glory to their school. Some say they play rugby because they are motivated by other senior players. I think rugby is about earning recognition. One should play rugby to get recognized by your peers,” explained Toia.
All eyes are on Wesley rugby after the victory against the Thomians. They’ll be watched more closely during matches and their games on tape will watched and studied. Toia made it easy for all Wesley’s adversaries who want to know their secret to success by spelling it out, “Everyone in the team gives 100%”.
The squad- Denister Goonatilake (Captain), Avishka Lee, Avantha Lee, Vimu Gamage, Imesh Aponsu, Shamil Amit, Shashika Ashan, Avishka Jayaweera, Oshan Devinda, Ahamed Zaki, Tharindu Hasith, Mohandas Paranitharan, Daiyan Sabar, Seshan Jayawardene, Shenol Fernando, Zain Dole, Vishwa Weththasinghe, Shevon Fernando, Sahan Hansaja, Ashan Bandara, Tariq Jurangpathy, Dineru Ranaweera, Dineth Dinuja, Mathew Abenezer, Thavaraja Sritheysh, Dexter Goonatilake, Janosh Mendis, Sheshan Udayakumar, Thaindu Hemal, Mursheed Zubair, Ryan Samuel, Yohan Philip, Avantha Hashan, Asanka Hashan, Sanjula Devinda, Asantha Hashan.