When Trinity and St. Peter's revelled in death or glory bid
Rugger has its own heroes no less than War. Those who were privileged
to have watched the TCK-SPC encounter in 1965 witnessed rugby of a rare
and exacting excellence where, young as they were, the protagonists
showed the promise that they were to keep in adulthood.
Captain and Vic-captain, M.T.M. Zaruk and Selva Canagasabai with
freshers Ajith Abeyaratne and Glen Van Langenberg matched their
counterparts Darrel Wimalaratne, Rodney Patternott and Ronnie Gunaratne
who in my opinion has been the finest all-round Peterite sportsman, a
shade after Didacus de Almeida. Both captains led their respective
schools in cricket as well.
Under clear blue skies on the Peterite grounds at Bambalapitiya,
Trinity faced a Peterite team that was to win the League Championship
and which had been described by SSP Sivendran as the most formidable of
the Peterite teams up to that period.
Miles Christofelsz, the Trinity coach, had just returned from England
with a stack of books and a wealth of knowledge to revolutionise the
game which had begun to show signs of dormancy. He scripted a different
type of rugger which took a decade to take root and was simply a method
in which the ball was kept in play, energy was saved and the boys knew
where to go at the moment of call. They were pack-drilled to go the
distance and the warm-up session before play was a brief affair to work
out a slight sweat and fine-tune the human engine.
The two sides were unevenly matched on paper with TCK possessing only
two coloursmen in the captain and his deputy but as they had the bigger
half of the share of the ball, MTM would run across with Ian Geddes in
his shadow and he would time and time again dummy to create openings
before giving the ball.
Exceptional positional play and cover defence by both sides was the
treat on offer and this, coupled with Trinity's fine strategems of
scissors, double-scissors, dummies and grubbers and the Peterite
stand-off reluctant to open out the game despite having in his ranks
skilled and speedy Rodney Paternott, Ronnie Gunaratne, Hamzie Hamid and
Beckmeyer, the lack of yards in speed was readily overcome. The Trinity
captain/scrum-half it was who had, as Russel Tennekoon has aptly
described, wings on his boots.
The only try of the match was when MTM initiated a move on his own
goal line, dummied and sped past, kicked ahead of defenders for a lucky
The referee was Zahira's coach, A.H.A. Samad who had played for The
Ceylonese at a time that only Europeans represented All-Ceylon. He said
he had never refereed as fast a game with both teams at their merciless
best. The two teams comprised:-
TRINITY: Russel Tennekoon, David Ondatje, Leslie Jayasekera; Gavid
Rodie, Ajith Abeyaratne; Dhatu Senanayake, Selva Canagasabai, Iftikar
Hamid; M.T.M. Zaruk and Glen Van Langenberg; Ian Geddes, Russel Geddes,
E.K. Jirasinghe, Henry Dullewa; A.B. Wadugodapitiya.
ST PETER'S: Michael de Niese, C. Nirmalendran, Chris Razel; Aubrey
Patternott, Royden de Silva; James Alagaratnam, Rajan Rajendran,
Paramasothy; M. Jainudeen and Darrel Wimalaratna; Rodney Patternott,
Ronnie Gunaratne, Hamzie Hamid, Beckmeyer; Everard Hoffman.