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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 bounce.

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.


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