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Avantha, Asantha and Asanka Samarawickreme pose for a picture after taking a break from training (Pic by Kasun Fernando)

Rugby at Wesley College Colombo has come under the spotlight for many reasons this season. One of the most talked about topics this season is their smashing win against S. Thomas’ College in the Singer Schools League Rugby Tournament. There is one significant factor in this present team and that is that the lads from Campbell Park are represented by triplets! Avantha Hashan, Asantha Hashan and Asanka Hashan are three brothers wearing the double blue jersey in the First XV team. Another interesting feature in their names is that they share the common name Hashan. Their family name is Samarawickreme and they are from Narahenpita.

This year marks the fourth and final year they are representing their alma mater in rugby. Asantha and Avantha address Asanka as the elder brother, naturally because the latter saw the world first after their mother went into labour.  Being triplets would give the team you are representing some advantage because there is this element of surprise that’s created with opponents likely to struggle in identifying who is who.

Asanka plays flanker, Asantha centre and Avantha in the wing, in a game where opponents work hard at defence and mark the play-makers they need to keep a check on. But mark who? Where? These three can give Wesley an advantage even before a game starts because they look identical.

They say they consider themselves lucky to play school rugby, a discipline that enjoys so much fanfare. “It’s an honour to be a schoolboy rugby player. There is a lot of prestige being a schoolboy rugby player. It’s great to see your friends and school supporters back you at matches,” said Asanka.

Their entry to rugby happened quite by accident. According to Avantha, the trio was initially at Lumbini MV and they wanted to try their luck at football. “We went to the grounds, but there was no football practice that day, so we thought we should play some rugby. That’s how we ended up playing rugby,” recalled Avantha.
They switched schools to Wesley in 2012 with the help of their first coach Ranjith Rajasuriya. They had a smooth transition when changing schools, but they are still in touch with friends from their old school. The triplets still make it a point to visit their old school and use occasions such as the sports meet to catch up with old friends.

The triplets are commerce students. According to them, there have been occasions when two have been in the same class, but not all three. “I think the teachers want to keep us separated,” laughed Asantha. They wish to sit for the Advanced Level Exam this year and not skip the exam like most serious rugby players do during the final year at school.

However, they said that their futures are mapped out with sport, more than with studies. Asanka said that there is a lot of prestige associated being a rugby player in Sri Lanka. Asanka said that he and his brothers are fascinated by the crowd support the game in general generates in Sri Lanka.

They were once life guards and swimmers too. But rugby’s vigorous demands made them bid adieu to their aquatic activities. They said that their mother has her anxious moments when they are involved with the game, but they receive the fullest support from their dad who shows a liking to this robust game.  Rugby teaches us that no one is bigger than the game. But we see individuals  standout when they are playmakers. Asanka, Asantha and Avantha have stood out for a good reason; because they are triplets. Sri Lanka’s rugby fraternity should say cheers to them!