|Tuesday, 3 June 2003|
Old Zahirians field a young side this year
Old Zahirians Sports Club which is playing in the 'A' Division League Rugby Tournament for the third successive year is fielding a young side this year.
The Old Zahirians who have been playing competitive rugby since 1990 were promoted to the 'A' Division two years ago after finishing third in the 'B' division in the year 2000. In the same year they won the Lahore International Ten-A-side Rugby Tournament.
Old Zahirians Sports Club was formed with the intention of giving old boys of Zahira College a chance to play competitive rugby. Besides Old Zahirians there are three outstanding ruggerities from other schools - Rajeewa Karunaratne (Thursten), Dinesah Sanjeewa (Ananda) and Dileepa Kapurubandara (Isipatana).
Zahira College which started playing rugby in 1920 has produced several ruggerites who have brought honour and fame to the country-one of them Abdul Majeed had the distinction of leading Sri Lanka against All England in 1971. Others who have donned the Sri Lanka Jersey are Omar Sheriff, Naleem Saleem, Judy Preena, Hafeel Marso and in recent years Azad Junkeer, Rizan Saldin and M. J. Mushtaq.
This year the Old Zahirians have played five matches and lost all to CR and FC (8-91), Army (0-145), Kandy SC (0-141), Havelocks (0-102) and CH and FC (25-82). In the last game against CH they showed a marked improvement by scoring 19 points in the second half.
This year the Old Zahirians will be led by fly half Rizwan Mannan. He is not only a fine attacking player but an excellent place kicker. He will pair off with the experienced Rinoz Hanis who will operate from the base of the scrum. Mohamed Saheem is the other player who could fit into the scrum half berth.
The trio battling for the prop forwards' berths are Umesh Iranga, Kishore Jehan and Zilan Barker. Irshard Hameed will be the regular hooker. The lock forwards berths will be filled by Rajeewa Karunaratne and Dinesh Sanjeewa.
Dileepa Kapurubandara who is a fierce tackler will fill one flanker berth while the other position will be fought out between Dhammika Wimalaratne and Hassen. The No. 8 berth will be filled by Lakmal Fernando who faces a strong challenge from Naim Ali and Kamil Hadje.
Two hard runners Riyaz Haniz and Jayanath Suraweera will be the two centres. The trio who are battling for the winger's positions are Upul Ekanayake, Shakir Ali and M. Mohinudeen with Shamir Rawlings manning the last line of defence. The Old Zahirians are being coached by former Sri Lanka Skipper Hisham Abdeen. (R.S.)
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