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Saturday, 26 June 2010






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Bradby’s Mathematical virtues

The beauty of rugby is that it is founded on the bedrock of team play. While the first leg of the Bradby in Colombo brought out this ethos in a thrilling fashion, with no quarter given and none taken, it also demonstrated the opportunity for individual brilliance that can fashion the outcome of a game.

And so it was when Royal’s Fly Half Arshad Jamaldeen and Trinity’s Kanchana Ramanayake added those vital points through their kicks at goal; and indeed the one that brought a lumps in one’s throat as Jamaldeen dropped goal from 45 meters out in the run of play that was fit for Royalty.

It also brought back memories of half a century ago, betraying the age of this columnist, when Trinity’s mathematician Vice Principal, the late G.Y. Sahayam, had the ability to transform the uninitiated place kicker with no aptitude for the intricacies of calculus or conic sections into the most inspired of calculating ruggerites. Once recalls how he devoted a whole pre-bradby school assembly talk to explain the relationship between goal kicking and Pythogoras’ square on the hypotenuse.

He related the factors of gravity, velocity, distance and time to the art of kicks at goal. When Kanchana Ramanayake took that kick at goal - one of many that he was successful with - a fan next to me broke through the pin drop sound barrier to shout ‘take it easy Kanchana!’ Given the dimensions of calculus involved this was surely not a matter one could dispose of by ‘taking it easy’! And it was that sense of calculus and instinctive opportunism that perhaps prompted what till today remains as the most phenomenal feat of drop goal kicking in the annals of Bradby history.

It was when Royal down 0/3 in the first leg in 1964 turned the tables on the more fancied Trinity in the return in Kandy. The more fancied Trinity swept the crowd off their feet as Mohan Sahayam (the son of the Vice Principal), within minutes of the game starting, delivered one of his ‘specials’ and scored.

This seemed an ominous start for Royal, until (the late) Lakdasa Dissanayake, rubbed his boots in the tradition of Aladdin as it were and unleashed a magic with an unprecedented bout of drop goal kicking that defied apt description.

His three kicks from forty yards out (it was not metric then) and his conversion from the touch line gave him a personal tally of 11 points in the upset that was a 14/6 victory for Royal. Yet, his best kick was the only one he missed, from forty yards out, middle right, and only just a wee bit short.

So stunning was this feat and victory that it was the Trinity team that was first to rush to the Pavilion to provide a guard of honour to Lucky and Keith Paul’s Royal side when the match ended.

And what of the Sahayam Special that I have referred to that was so distinctive of the son of the mathematical genius that the father was. Here is a special that comes with all the virtues of mathematical precision: dateline July 1963, Bogambara.

Off a line out, Trinity’s scrum half, M.T.M. Zaruk slings out, at a 45 degree angle, a long pass to Sahayam who collects the ball, pretends to toss it in the air, then fakes a pass, appears to recapture it.

Time’s winged chariot seems to be at his back as he changes direction, a degree here, at a tangent there, and now at an angle here that reverses and confuses the compass needle. And in a compelling move he darts 35 yards out. The players seem frozen.

It is so slick, so fast and elegant that the sound of marvel, for a moment, dies in the throats of the crowd. And then the reality of a ‘Sahayam Special’ dawns.

And so in the style of the fly half, the center the forward or the kicker at goal in most Bradby encounters—one can with mathematical license conclude: QED: quod erat demonstrandum (that which was to be demonstrated).

Bradby Shield matches have a refreshing unpredictability that confounds soothsayers.

This is a match where the jersey that is worn, the emotion of the moment, the spirit of the game and inheritance that hallowed tradition bestows, brings out a special meaning to a very special and joyous occasion that rugby fans savour.



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