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Sports Minister dissolves Rugby Selection Committee

In a new turn of twists on the domestic rugby circuit, the five-member selection committee headed by retired Brigadier, Jupana Jayawardene, was dissolved yesterday by Minister of Sports and Public Recreation Gamini Lokuge, thus ending a running dispute over the appointment of fifteen-a-side captain CR and FC number eight Dushanth Lewke ahead of the inaugural Asian Five-Nations Division One tournament in Chinese Taipei next month.

“I decided to dissolve the rugby selection committee with immediate effect,” Lokuge said. “I took this decision upon recommendations submitted to me by the National Sports Council and advisors.”

According to Sports Ministry sources Minister Gamini Lokuge has appointed a fresh five-member selection committee headed by former Sri Lanka, CH and FC and Trinity centre Rohan Abeykoon.

Apart from Abeykoon the others in the committee comprises former CH and FC skipper Nazeem Mohammed, ex Sri Lanka, CR and FC and Royal centre Rohantha Peiris, former Sri Lanka and Police SC star Hafeel Marso and former Sri Lanka, Havelocks SC and S. Thomas’ star Chaminda Rupasinghe.

Minister Lokuge added that the previous selection committee threatened to resign from their posts if the current captain of the Sri Lanka national rugby XV was changed, and emphasised that he cannot allow a set of officials appointed by him to dictate terms to him hence the decision to form another new selection panel.

The Minister noted that the new five-member panel of selectors have been advised to appoint a new skipper and forward that players name to him as soon as possible with the national team due to take wing to Chinese Taipei by the first week of November.

The raging controversy over the appointment of Dushanth Lewke was sparked by former Sri Lanka rugby captain and dynamic winger Sanjeewa Jayasinghe who reportedly quit national pool practices initially saying the choice of the former Royal number eight was unfair and unjust when there were more deserving players for the coveted post.

Subsequently 12 other Kandy SC players too withdrew from national pool training citing personal reasons showing solidarity with Jayasinghe.

The appointment of Dushanth Lewke thus reached a boiling point which necessitated the Minister’s intervention with the skipping of national pool practices by the concerned Kandy SC players.

When contacted Chairman of the new selection committee Rohan Abeykoon noted that he had only been sounded out to head the new panel by the Sports Ministry and that he was due to meet the Minister shortly to ratify his appointment.

Of the new selection committee only former Sri Lanka number eight Nazeem Mohammed and ex Sri Lanka lock Chaminda Rupasinghe have had previous stints as selectors.

Sri Lanka is due to contest the maiden Asian Five Nations Division One tournament along with host nation Chinese Taipei, China and Singapore from November 12-15.



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