Monday, 2 June 2003  
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Kandy SC on course to defend league title

by S. M. Jiffrey Abdeen, Kandy Sports Corr

Fielding the largest complement of national players coupled with non-national players, the reigning Caltex League and Clifford Cup Champions Kandy Sports Club should without much difficulty defend the titles which they won last year. Kandy SC will be virtually fielding a national side with some of the Sri Lanka players often seen seated in the bench or sent as replacements during the course of the match. Such is the wealth of talent available with the club from the hill capital who have come a long way since 1992.

Leading the Kandy SC is former Isipathana Maha Vidyalaya stand Sajith Mallikarachchi who played for the school in 1996 and 1997. In his first year in school rugby he was selected for the Sri Lanka Youth team for the Junior ASIAD played in Hongkong. His debut in club rugby was for Petersons Sports Club in 1997 when he played for them in the knockout tournament. The same he was selected to play for Sri Lanka in the World Cup qualifying round played in Thailand.

In 1998 he played a major role in CR & FC winning both the League Championship and the Clifford Cup knockout tournament. That was one year Kandy SC ended the season without any major trophies.

The following year he joined Kandy SC and from stand off berth he dropped back to play as centre as Kandy SC's Consultant Coach, George Simpkin found him that since he had the speed run through gaps and was better suited to be a centre. He has been playing as centre for Kandy SC and the national team since.

At present Kandy SC is having two foreigners playing for them. West Samoan and former CR & FC player and Royal College coach Tavita Tulagese, a gentle giant who is affectionately known as 'Laga' will play as No. 8 and also will be coach of the side. Laga's presence in the side will be a big inspiration as his experience could provide the team with the leadership it requires in the pack. He is a good motivator and could get the best out of the players. The other foreign player is Ifeta Tema, a New Zealander by residence who has played for lot of clubs in the land of the Kiwis. He is a hard running centre and hard tackler quite capable of bringing down any player when in full flight. He is also one of the best try scorers for Kandy this season.

Kandy SC started off the current season with a bang when they won the inter-club 'sevens' without much difficulty. In the league matches which followed they have run up cricket scores in three matches. Beating Kurunegala RFC 172-0, beat Kandy Youths SC 100-5, beat Old Zahirians SC 141-0. It was in the match against Sri Lanka Air Force that they were restricted to 58 but they went into that match without five of their key players who were in the injured list.

Winning trophies has become a habit for the Kandy SC team. Their maiden trophy was in 1992 when they won the Dimbula Celltel Sevens and follow it up with the Clifford Cup. The other trophies won by them are:

In 1993 - Clifford Cup

In 1994 - John Player League Trophy

In 1995 - John Player Gold Leaf Trophy, Clifford Cup and President's Trophy

In 1996 - Clifford Cup and President's Trophy

In 1997 - Carlsberg League Trophy, Clifford Cup and President's Trophy

In 1998 - Under-24 League Title

In 1999 - Inter-Club Rugby Sevens, Carlsberg League Trophy, Clifford Cup

In 2000 - Caltex Inter-club League Title and the Clifford Cup

In 2002 - Inter Club League Title and Clifford Cup both sponsored by Caltex.

In 2002 - Inter Club 'Sevens', Caltex League Title and the Clifford Cup.

This record by the ruggerites from the hill capital is excellent as they have been the lone bearer of the Outstation Club flag in the Premier Division for nearly 25 years now. If not for the presence of Kandy SC with their record breaking performances, rugby in the outstations may not have reached the stage it is there at present. In fact it was the winning ways of Kandy SC which to a large extent promoted and developed rugby in the Central Province.

Old Rajan Indrajith Bandranayake who started playing for Kandy SC in 1990 having captained the club in 1994 is one of the longest serving players whose devotion and loyalty to the club knows no bounds. Though in his 13th year of top level rugby he has still the fitness and speed to be one of the best centres produced by this country. He has been an automatic choice for Sri Lanka since 1992 and has captained the country on many occasions especially in the shorter version of rugby.

The Kingswoodian and prop forward Dunstan de Silva who is a double international having represented the country at boxing and rugby too count over ten years with the club.

Players who have represented the country in the side are Saranath Hettiarachchi, Jeewa Galgamuwa, Pradeep Basnayake, Asoka Jayasena, Sean Wijesinghe, Amjad Buksh, Nilufer Ibrahim, Radhika Hettiarachchi, Sajith Mallikarachchi, Pradeep Liyanage, Dhanushka Pushpakumara, Mohamee Buksh, Neranjan Ranasinghe, Kavinda Jayasena, Chamara Withanage, Sameera Silva, Dunstan de Silva, Indrajith Bandaranayake, Nalaka Weerakoddy and Sanjeewa Jayasinghe - A dizzy 20 in all which makes the side a star studded one.

Propping up for Kandy will be Jeewa Galgamuwa, Dunstan de Silva, Saranath Hettiarachchi and Duminda Pullikuttiarachchi with Mohammed Buksh too could fit if the necessity arises. There should be a tussle for the two berths here depending on form and fitness. The fight for the hookers berth will be between regular hooker Mohammed Buksh and Malith Silva.

The two 'locks' berths should be contested between former captains Pradeep Basnayake and Asoka Jayasena with Old Trinitian Neranjan Ranasinghe too showing good form during practices.

Fast breaking Dilip Selvam, Sean Wijesinghe, Kavinda Jayasena and Kapila Silva - all national players will vie for the two berths as flankers along with Chaminda Yapa. Tulaga 'Laga' Tavita should be the regular No. 8 with Kavinda Jayasena too could fit into this position. National player and place kicker Amjad Buksh should be the regular choice to operate from the base of the scrums with Nilufer Ibrahim too in a position to occupy this berth if the necessity arises.

Nilufer Ibrahim should be the regular fly and has acquitted himself well in this position. Skipper Sajith Mallikarachchi too could fill the breach of it is required along with Udaya Hettiarachchi.

The tussle for the two centres berths should be between skipper Sajith Mallikarachchi, New Zealander Ifeta Tema, Indrajith Bandaranayake and Chamara Withanage. Here again three national players and a foreigner will fight for the two berths.

Radhika Hettiarachchi should be one of the regular wingers and the other should be contested between Sameera Silva, Pradeep Liyanage and Sanjeewa Jayasinghe who is on the injured list since the first game last year.

According to reports he has once again injured himself this year playing for his place of employment. Dhanushka Pushpakumara and Indrajith Bandaranayake too could play on the wing.

Manning the last line of defence is play maker Nalaka Weerakkody and his place kicking is a bonus to any side. Also looking for place here is Dhanushka Pushpakumara. Team is managed by Saman Kotalawala with Priyantha Ekanayake as Rugby Chairman. Trinity Lion, D. Sivasubramaniam too helps and encourages the ruggerites.

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