Royal's unsung rugby heroes of 1961
Many articles have been written about the Royal rugby teams of past
year. However very little has appeared on the performance of the team of
1961 that won the Bradby that year, winning both matches in Kandy and in
This team coached by the veteran Mahes Rodrigo was a closely knit,
well linked and very inter-dependent side, so much so that when one
member was absent, the absence was severely felt.
Every member was a brilliant player in his own way and was needed by
the team to achieve good results. The team was captained by Jayantha
Samrasekera, a 4th year coloursman, with Lal Senaratne also a 4th year
coloursman as his deputy.
The team had H.A. Karunasekera as full-back. Karu as he was known was
famous for his drop-kicks which were extremely useful when points were
required in hurry. Further Karu was superb tackler and got his man
however big he was.
The Wing-threequarters were deputy skipper Lal Senaratne and S.K.
Sabaratnam. Both were extremely fast and well built. Lal in additional
had a high knee run and developed a very effective Hand-off. There was
no stopping them when they got going. Brian Pereira and S.P. Rajendra
were the inside-threequartes. Both were very penetrative and made good
openings for the wingers.
Sidat Jayanetti and U.L. Kaluaratchi were the halves combination.
Kalu at the base of the scrum was very intelligent Sidat was sidelined
due to injury towards the end of the season and his place was taken by
Mahe Weerasinghe or Angus Croning. The absence of Sidat was badly felt.
The forwards led by skipper Jayantha Sammarasekera were heavy but
mobile and got the better of most school sides. The Third-row consisted
of Kieth Paul (flanker), O.K. Rahim (No. 8), and Tissa Jayasekera
(flanker). All three of them were very effective in their roles.
Rex Perera and S.T. Arulpragasam were the second-row forwards. Rex
was a six footer and heavily built and together with Arul were the
line-out jumpers. When Rex had the ball near the 5 metre are it was a
sure try. Actually this was the case with all the forwards with their
The front-row consisted of Ravi Wickremasinghe (prop), M. Jayakumar
(hooker) and Skipper Jayantha Samarasekera (prop). Ravi was a perfect
Prop-forward and had the build to go with the position. Hooker Jayakumar
was possibly the best in the schools at that time. The other prop
Skipper Jayantha Samarasekera was very mobile and was in the thick of
things wherever the ball was.
This Royal team of 1961 won both matches against Trinity that year.
The Kandy match was won by 6-3 and the Colombo match 8-0. The Bradby
Shield returned to Royal after one year at Trinity.
Most members of this team possibly twelve are abroad and that could
be the reason as to why these heroes are unsung.