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CH and FC - an abundance of talent

The Colombo Hockey and Football Club has always been in the forefront of 'A' Division Rugby and this year too will be a strong contender for the Caltex 'A' Division League and Clifford Cup. In the year 2000 they enjoyed their finest moment in recent years by clinching the 'A' Division League Title after seven years by winning 12 matches out of 14 losing one game and drawing one. They scored a stunning 33-11 win over the mighty Kandy SC at Maitland Crescent and in the return match held them to a 3-all draw at Nittawela. They also beat the formidable Army SC by 18-11 and 15-5 in both games and also overcame Havelocks by 24-18 and 25-12 and the strong CR and FC 27-22 in the League Title decider. But their hopes of clinching the double was dashed by a gallant Army team who edged them out by 25-24 in the Clifford Cup semi-finals.

In the year 2001 they failed to live up to expectations and finished third in the Caltex 'A' Division League by winning nine matches out of 14 and were also knocked out by the Havelocks in the quarter-finals of the Clifford Cup by 22-15. Last year the lads from Maitland crescent finished fifth in the 'A' Division League by winning 10 matches out of 15. They were also knocked out by Kandy SC (35-22) in the Clifford Cup semi-finals while CR and FC edged them out (18-16) in the Premier Champions Trophy semi-finals.

This year the Maitland crescent club has obtained the services of two players from Kandy SC prop forwards Malith Hettiarachchi and Salman Kuthdoos in addition to several outstanding schoolboy ruggerites of last year Dilanka Wijesekera (St. Peters), Royalists Dushan Lewke, Mafaz Ismail, Ishan Perera and Isipathana's Dinesh Kumara and Sandun Dharmasiri. Two top Fijian players Jim Bolokoro and Kinijoli Rakata too are turning out for CH and FC this season. With an abundance of talent they should be a strong contender for the 'A' Division League Title having already beaten Air Force (38-3), Navy (38-15), Kurunegala (93-3) and Kandy Youths (89-6).

The period 1990 to 1994 can be considered as the golden era of CH and FC rugby. In 1990 led by Imran Salley they clinched the Rugby Triple by winning the John Player League, Clifford Cup (by beating Havelocks 4-0 in the final) and Premadasa Trophy (by beating CR 12-3) in the final. In 1991 CH bagged the Rugby Double by winning the Rugby sevens and Premadasa Trophy under the leadership of Apisi Nagata.

In 1992 CH and FC led by Asitha Boteju won the Rugby Triple by winning the 'A' Division League, Rugby Sevens Title and Premadasa Trophy with a 19-9 win over Police. In 1993 CH and FC captained by Hisham Abdeen had a marvellous season. They bagged the Rugby Triple by clinching the 'A' Division League, Premadasa Trophy (by beating Kandy SC 16-0 in the final) and Rugby Sevens Title by beating Havelocks 24-19 in the final. In 1994 the lads from Maitland crescent led by Nishantha Dias had another superb season by bagging the Rugby Sevens Title, Clifford Cup (by beating CR 15-11 in the final) and the Premadasa Trophy with a smashing 31-16 win over Havelocks in the final.

This year CH and FC will be led by Sri Lanka scrum half Milinda Jayasinghe. He is a fine player who has foxed the opponents defence with his sudden breaks from the base of the scrum and he has hit it off smoothly with fly half Nalin Dissanayake which is easily the beat halves combination in the clubs today.

The experienced Sashika Coorey will occupy one prop forward's berth while the trio battling for the other berth are Jayantha Ranaweera, Malith Hettiarachchi and Salman Kuthdoos. The hooker's berth will be filled by Sri Lanka ruggerite Sameera Wijeyesinghe with Royalist Mafaz Ismail as stand bye.

Burly Bertie Jayasekara is assured of one lock forward's berth while the trio fighting it out for the other berth are Sanjaya Bandara, Sanjaya Muthukumarana and Kokum Seneviratne. Peterite Dilanka Wijesekera who is a fierce rackler and a fine attacking player will play as a flanker with Kushan Athukorala, Rijian Kinjoji Rakata and Asanka Thalagalarachchi staking claims for the other berth. Royalist Dushan Lewke who played for Sri Lanka in the Asian Quadrangular will be the number eight. Skipper Milinda Jayasinghe will operate from the base of the scrum and will pair off with Nalin Dissanayake. Isipatanian Sandun Dharmasiri and Roy Nishantha are the reserve scrum halves while the other player who could fit in to the fly half berth is Royalist Ishan Perera.

Strongly built Fijian Jim Bolokoro who is a powerful runner is assured of one centre berth while Sri Lanka players Saranga Jayakody, Rizan Saldin and Yuganthara Karunaratne will battle it out for the other position. Sri Lanka sevens player Dinesh Kumara will occupy one wing with either Infan Raiz or Pradeep Sivakantha manning the other wing.

Josephian Dinuk de S. Wijeyeratne who has been donning the Red and White Jersey for the last three years will once again occupy the last line of defence. He has excelled with his safe collections and booming kicks to touch. He also joins the line to form the overlap in attack.

Former Havelocks, CH and FC and Sri Lanka centre Graham Raux has taken over the coaching and is determined to mould them into a champion outfit. (R.S.)

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