Match Focus Review on 2007 by Ken de Joodt
Who is responsible for the standards of Sri Lanka rugby?
“What have you to say about the rugby standards in Sri Lanka, has it
improved this year .. or what does it lack?” When this pertinent
question was posed to some rugby fans, schoolboys and ladies, in a
casual manner, their answers were equally ‘casual’! They were concerned
but seemed baffled to respond with clarity.
Who is really responsible for the lowly standards in Sri Lanka - is
it the players themselves, the coaches, the schools or the clubs or
finally the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU)?
This question was ‘fired’ at random to ‘open-up’ the field, to get
over the ‘advantage line’ and have a ‘feed-back’ to improve the good
progress made by the main sponsors, like Caltex and Singer - who have
supported the SLRFU with the required finances, etc. throughout the past
Some interesting, candid quotes and answers came forth but it was
conditional - no names to be ‘tagged on’! Others took the right
‘options’ of ‘playing safe’ and protecting their ‘own territorial
ground’ - (perhaps for personal reasons!), though it was solely based on
their simple opinions and assumptions !
Right now, around the rugby throng, most of their assumptions could
be influenced by the delightful rugby they currently witnesses on local
TV channels. With fine-tuned transmissions of ‘top-class’ World Cup
Rugby, from France, this has undoubtedly been a ‘special treat’ of
rugby, the best that can be seen every four (4) years, whenever and
wherever the “World Cup” is staged !!
Views and ‘spews’ were plentiful on the present scope of Sri Lanka
rugby, reiterating that through a ‘critical path of analysis’, remedial
action can be taken without further delays in implementing what is best
for the game and the players.
Is the rugby season too far ‘drawn out’? Can it be better planned,
appropriately ‘cut-down’ and concluded in a few months ? Constructing a
viable plan with room for amendments, (like a ‘game-plan’ on the rugby
field!), could perhaps eliminate or accommodate the unexpected demands
made by different quarters of society or governmental orders. To suit
the ‘whims and fancies’ of all and sundry should not be the aim!
It is a far greater objective, to help players to ‘get
fully-prepared’ - re-building their fitness before the start of the
season and concentrating on their ‘basic intensive training’ - which is
of paramount importance - to the player and the game. There are no
‘short-cuts’ or ‘rushing through’ the basic essentials in training, to
be ready to cope with the ‘physical and mental’ strains of a ‘lengthy’
One senior coach said that it also has to be taken into account the
time and the strain to prepare for International tournaments and foreign
fixtures. Selections for such high events have to be meticulously drawn
from the best players in the country, from the clubs and schools. Then
‘slotting’ them into the right positions to make up a ‘probable’ Sri
Lanka team, does take time and reviewing, in the course of the season.
Another matter of serious concern of the game, that was highlighted
by many fans, was the grave need for more well-trained ‘quality’
referees. This should surely help the SLRFU administration in their
‘awesome’ task and ease the ‘pressure’ by having suitable referees to
conduct more matches within a shorter time frame.
Of course, it is imperative that the training and selection of
referees must be a ‘clean take’ - with the fundamental emphasis of every
referee being chosen for their honesty, accountability and honourable
attitude, at all times.
They carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders, (which some do
not have, unfortunately!). To use good judgements, to communicate well
with the players, giving clear direction and more importantly, to
control them with a ‘fair and just’ whistle.
With the costs of entrance tickets being increased to all matches -
(whether it be good or lacking in quality rugger) - a father of three
school going children, unravelled his burden.
He said, with the ‘cost of living’ going higher than the goal-posts
(!) he felt the strain on his purse to purchase four tickets to every
match, he took them to! His children were ardent rugby followers - so
more matches meant more money.
To ease the burdens of other examples like him, he wished the SLRFU
and the sponsors would consider a “Family Season Ticket” or a concession
for two persons and above. It would be an encouragement to let
spectators know of such an offer, if ever considered !
“Let them in free” is another’s plea - for the ‘round matches’ in the
league and knockouts plus the Seven-a-Side Tournaments. Those who have
special enclosures for their members and guests could charge the
ticket-rate, according to their demands.
Some others feel that the sponsors should introduce competitions at
every match, enticing the public to come to the grounds, make their
entries and win little prizes. It could be in the form of a memento or
souvenir of the host club team or relating to some significance of the
This idea sounds reasonable, as one of many improvisations that can
be created to arouse the ‘sleeping giant’ of the rugby followers and
bring the spectators to the grounds.
A young lady rugby fan with a ‘big heart’ observed that some players
were ‘half-hearted’ in their approach to the game. She said some of the
experienced, older players were not sufficiently dedicated and
consistent in everything they do - up to the last blow of the whistle!
She felt some ‘individuals’ were either ‘unfit, self-centred or a mere
‘show-off’ (with a false sense of pride!).
They were not competent and totally committed to ‘team-work’, which
subsequently shows off in their performances on the field.
Why can’t the respective club coach or manager groom them correctly
and help them to be self-disciplined, to blend with the team and carry
out the vital instructions given by the captain or leader? This should
be important criteria, for country representation and must be made known
to those players who are in contention for selection.
From an elderly ruggerite came this comment, that club selectors and
national rugby committees, should neither be restricted by any external
or internal pressures nor ‘bow down’ to ‘power politics’!
They should not be ‘copy cats’ who indulge in acts of corruption or
‘mud-slinging’ or be misled by some dubious character, whose sole
intention is to win glory and honour to himself! Instead, let it be with
the right attitude to ‘lift up’ the standards of the game to higher
levels - and give the victory to the wonderful name of ‘rugby’.
So the ‘end is near’ to another year of Sri Lankan rugby - with the
ASIAD to be held from November 3, in Sri Lanka. It has been talked of by
some, in the higher echelons of the rugby society, that a national pool
of 37 players has been selected to represent the country.
Practice sessions for the Pool players commenced on September 27,
giving them just over a month to practise together as a team. For some
‘good’ reason (05) five key players, selected to turn out for Sri Lanka,
have taken off to France to attend the ‘Finals’ of the World Cup rugby,
scheduled for Saturday, October 20.
Is this fair by the rest of the team, when time is so vital to bring
the team together and get their ‘acts together’? Whoever permitted this
should have considered the feelings and ‘longings’ of the other ‘Pool’
players to have equal opportunities.
It can be considered a ‘selfish’ act to give a few ‘favoured’ the
‘break in rule’ and enforce upon those who are left behind, to build up
team work, motivation and a spirit of comradeship. Where are our
priorities? One asked - “Is the end near?”.