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
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
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
Bradby Shield matches have a refreshing unpredictability that
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.