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.