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Clifford Cup rugby tourney kicks off today

RUGBY-The Clifford Cup which is the Blue Riband of Sri Lanka Rugby and the Oldest on offer was introduced in 1926 and will be up for grabs this year when the Clifford Cup knock-out competition gets underway on July 29 at Longden Place between CR and FC, the pin up boys of Sri Lankan Rugby and Galle RFC. The Babes of the tournament.

The history of Clifford Cup rugby dates back to 1926 when the Britishers in Ceylon who were mercantile executives and planters in the hill Country tea estates introduced rugby and vied for this trophy.

According to recorded history the results of the Clifford Cup from 1926 to 1938, when the 2nd world war disrupted, was as follows:

1926 Law Country Beat United Services 14-3, 1927 Up Country Beat Ceylonese 11-8, 1928 Low country beat Ceylonese 15-11, 1929 Low Country beat United Services 23-3, 1930 Low Country beat Ceylonese 14-3, 1931 Low Country beat Ceylonese 27-6, 1932 Up Country beat United Services 14-10 1933 Up Country Beat United Services at. Radella 11-Nil, 1934 Low Country beat Ceylonese (in Replay) 17-Nil, 1935 Up Country beat United Services at Radella 11-Nil, 1936 Low Country beat United Services (in Replay) 9-3, 1937 Up Country beat United Services 25-Nil, 1938 Up Country beat Ceylonese (in Replay) at Darrawela 10-Nil, 1939 Match cancelled due to the outbreak of world war II.

The Year 1950 saw the revival of the Clifford Cup tournament which was amongst the Leading Rugby playing clubs in the country. These were known as the constituent clubs who were eight in number. They were CR and FC, CH and FC, Havelocks, Kandy SC, Kelani Valley, Dimbulla, Dickoya and the Merrie Men of Uva.

Later in 1961 the Police, Army, Varsity, Air Force and Navy joined in the fray.

Past Winners

1950 - Havelocks

1951 Havelocks

1952, CR and FC

1953 - Dimbulla

1954 - CR and FC

1955 - CR and FC

1956 CR and FC

1957-CH and FC

1958-CR and FC

1959-CR and FC and Dimbulla (Tie)

1960-CH and FC

1961 Havelocks

1962 - CH and FC

1963 - Havelocks

1964 - Havelocks

1965 - CR and FC

1966 - CR and FC

1967 - Havelocks

1968 - Havelocks

1969 - CR and FC

1970 - Havelocks and Police

1971-CR and FC

1972 - Police

1973 - Army and Police

1974 - Havelocks

1975 - Army

1976 - Havelocks

1977 - Havelocks

1978 - Havelocks

1979 - Police

1980 - Police

1981-Havelocks

1982-CH and FC

1983 - CH and FC

1984 - Police

1985 - Police

1986 - Air Froce

1987 - CR and FC

1988 - CR and FC

1989 - CR and FC

1990 - CH and FC

1991 - Police

1992 - Kandy SC

1993 - Kandy SC

1994 - CH and FC

1995 - Kandy SC

1996 - Kandy SC

1997 - Kandy SC

1998 - No Tournament

1999 - Kandy SC

2000 - Kandy SC

2001 - Kandy SC

2002 - Kandy SC

2003 - Kandy SC

2004 - Kandy SC

2005 - Kandy SC

The Clifford Cup has originally awarded to the League Champions and thereafter it was played on a knock-out basis between the first eight teams in the League Tournament.

During the eighties the Clifford Cup was followed by the President's Trophy knock-out Tournament. The John Player Trophy Singer and several other trophies due to sponsors coming into encourage rugby in this country. Now we have the Caltex Trophy for the League Tournament and Clifford Cup for the Knock-out champions.

This year's Clifford Cup Knock-out tourney will be minus the League Champions Kandy SC, who have decided to keep away due to dispute over the ground allocation for this tournament.

Navy SC who pulled out of the Caltex League Tournament due to the call of duty will also not take part in the Clifford Cup Knock-out Tournament this year.

The format of this years Clifford Cup tournament will be as follows:

Quarter-Finals;

28th July - CR and FC Vs Galle RFC at Longden Place.

29th July - Police Vs Air Force at Police Park.

30th July - CH and FC Vs Old Zahirians Longden Place.

30th July - Havelocks Vs Army Havelock park.

Semi-Finals: 5th and 6th August - Longden Place.

Final - 12th August at Longden Place.

This Knock-out Tournament unlike the League Tournament should be keenly contested as even the worst team could beat the best team in the instant death game. Therefore the league form will have no bearing on this tournament.

Going by the League tournament CR and FC should be easy winners of the Clifford Cup. But the fast improving CH and FC should pose a threat to CR's supremacy. Havelock which is a young side with a lot of promise can create an upset in this tournament if the youngsters play 'a heady' game.

Army, Police and Air Force are famous for their hard brand of rugby and if they can blend it with some rugby skills they could get the better off the more fancied CR and FC, CH and FC and Havelocks.

But newcomers Old Zahirians and Galle RFC will have to do more homework if they are to make an impact in this tournament. Hope the coaches Hishan Abdeen and Tony Amith with their wealth of experience mould them into an accomplished outfit.

In the two quarter-finals on Saturday, CR and FC should have no difficulty in getting the better of Galle RFC. But the other between police and Air Force should turn out to be a close affair. As they play the same brand of Rugby.

On Sunday, the quarter-finals between CH and FC and Old Zahirians should be a one-sided affair and CH and FC should emerge victors.

But other one between Havelocks and Army should be a thriller and Army could create an upset even though Havelocks have been improving with every game this season except for their last game against CH and FC which ended in disaster.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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