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Royal College rugby squad | Pics by Mushtaq Thasleem

The boys at Reid Avenue are often reminded about rugby’s core values as much as the challenges ahead this season

Royal College rugby players know that they have to work hard each season because the competition among rugby playing schools is getting tougher each year. One person who knows this truly well is their senior rugby coach Sanath Martis. “There are no extraordinary teams in this lineup. The team that plays best on match day will win,” is how Martis gauge the teams contesting the Division One tournament.

The rugby players wearing the blue and gold jerseys have had an okay season so far, beating DS Senanayake (44-7), Dharmaraja (18-15) and St. Peter’s 17-10 in the three weeks of rugby that’s been witnessed. “My goal is not only to build the senior team, but I have to make sure the junior teams are also geared to meet the challenges in their age groups,” said Martis.

Winning and losing is part of the game and a coach like Martis doesn’t have to worry too much about conditioning the boys’ minds for this because of the rich tradition this academic institute has in the sport of rugby. Martis said that the past players have contributed to bring Royal rugby to where it is and it’s up to the present set to safeguard what they see as rugby heritage.

“Seeing this stadium made especially for rugby is enough. What’s expected of them is to maintain core values of the game and enjoy what they do on the field,” he added.

As a seasoned coach he, however, sees that rugby’s values can be threatened when so much money is pumped into the game by all these school teams. He sees this as a challenge that every coach faces. “World Rugby emphasizes that the players respect their opponents, coaches and referees at all times,” explained Royal’s head coach.

This season, the Royalists are led by Owin Askey and have a balanced side. Their focus naturally is the Bradby Shield where they scrum down with Trinity. Martis said that the Trinity will be their prime target, but affirmed that they will not lose focus of the league. For the record, Royal and Trinity shared the shield at last year’s encounter as a result of the aggregate, after the two legs, failing to produce a winner.

There are a good number of students studying for the Advanced Level Examination, hence whether the players would be available for the knockouts and inter-school sevens is yet to be decided upon.

The boys have to train hard during sessions on the ground and the gymnasium. Martis said that players have to work really hard between February and July. However, the coach at Royal said that boys are not taxed that much during off and pre-season periods. The trainer of the side is Dushanth Lewke.

Last season, Royal finished third in the league and reached the final of the knockout tournament. This season the side is sponsored by Kia Motors.

The Royal College rugby squad

Owin Askey (Captain), Sabith Feroz, Nikil George, Thulaib Hassen, Ashen Fernando, Janidu Dilshan, Lennox Calyaneratrne, Shenuka Perera, Ibrahim Barrie, Sasitha Siyath, Shamal Rajapakshe, Risith Fernando, Maleesha Madumewa, Lehan Guneratne,  Maleesha Perera, Gayan Randika, Mubeen Falil, Hamza Riza, Kashyapa Jayawardene, Induwara Bimsara, Roshan Doole, Fadhil Adhan, Nuwan Jayawardene, Yasis Rashmika, Samadhi Induwara, Asela Rodrigo, Himantha Hirushan, Shakir Nawfer, Migara Mihisanka, Uvindu Wedarachchi, Dulan Gunawardene, Ranjula Amarasinghe, Abishek Jayawardene, Ifham Fareed, Radesh Wijeratne

Royal College rugby squad (2)