Ajith Abeyarthne

Good news for the 1967 Trinity College ruggerites who were  in that years Bradby team,  is that the captain of that year Ajith Abeyarthne is making  arrangements  to celebrate its 50 years,  on June 2, at the  at  CR & FC, that will be  the day before the 2nd leg of the Bradby. In 1967, both legs were won by Trinity in the first leg Royal were led by DJ Perera and the 2nd leg by NBL Liversz.

The Bradby Shield Encounter – commonly known as ‘The Bradby’ – is the blue ribbon of school rugby season. It is played annually between two schools in the country, traditional rivals – Trinity  and Royal. The encounter consists of two legs, one being played in Kandy, and the other in Colombo. The winner is decided on the aggregate of the scores from these two matches, usually played a few weeks apart. The Bradby is generally played in late May or early June and is the most watched rugby match in the country, drawing more spectators than either inter-club or international fixtures. It is also an important social event of the two schools,    drawing over 20,000 spectators and watched live on television by thousands.

These two first played on July31, 1920. This was made a yearly encounter, with Trinity winning for the first 21 years, until the Royalists recorded their first victory in 1941. In 1945, the principal of Royal College, EL Bradby put forward the idea of playing an annual two-match series, to which the principal of Trinity CE Simithraaratchy readily agreed.  The Shield was designed and made by Kandyan silversmiths, it is a wooden disk decorated with intricate traditional Kandyan silver works. On winning the series, the Shield is presented to the winning team’s captain son after the final whislte of the second leg. The winning team is then privileged to hand the shield over to their school, where it is kept on display until next year.  One leg of the encounter is played in Kandy and the other in Colombo.

Ajith was a top sportsman  his  outstanding features  at school , apart from his excellence in rugby, was winning the highest awards Trinity has on offer – the “Ryde Gold Medal for the Best All-round Student in 1968” – and the “Trophy for the Best All-round Sportsman in 1967”. His Cricket too, shows a Record for the “Fastest Century between Royal and Trinity” in 1968 – 62 balls in 69 minutes for a 100 runs at Asgiriya. I was there for this match as a spectator the privilege of playing for the   Central Province Cricket XI in the zonal  tournament.   After leaving school, he played for CCC. At school he was in the   Athletics, Basketball and Tennis teams and was a Prefect.

He played for   CR & FC (1968-1974) and  for  Sri Lanka (1968-1971).   He coached   CR & FC (1977-1978), under his coaching, CR&FR were the  Clifford Cup Finalists and also was the national coach   (1985-1987). Ajith toured Wales, Australia, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. He also coached St. Peters’ College in 1995. Then he was the Associate National Coach between 1996-2000 and for CR & FC  in 2001 and 2006. He was  a  National Selector and Director Coaching, for many years .  His 1967 team at Trintiy was coached by the  late Maj. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa This team produced top players like   Gamini Udugama, Mohan Balasooriya, Gogi Tillekeratne, Iswan Omar and Ajith Abeyratne