Airmen out to fly high this year
A team which should reach great heights in the field of rugby this
year is the Sri Lanka Air Force.
Air Force’s rugby resurgence began last year when they finished in
fourth position in the Caltex ‘A’ Division league and went down fighting
to mighty Kandy SC by 23-27 in the Clifford Cup semi-final at Bogambara.
They scored three smashing wins over CH and FC (10-3), Havelocks
(20-3) and Army (22-14) before going down fighting to star studded Kandy
SC (6-14), Police (27-32) and formidable CR and FC (13-18) having lost
to the strong Navy (5-6) in the curtain-raiser of the tournament at
The Air Force has obtained the services of seven Sri Lanka Youth
Players – skipper Shenal Dias and Asitha Ratnayake (both from St.
Peter’s) Kingswoodians Rajitha Sansoni, Prabath Jayalath, Chethiya
Wadugodapitiya, Uchitha Jayasuriya and Royalist Mushin Faleel.
It was their coach former Sri Lanka winger. Imthishan Marikar who
brought about this remarkable change in their fortunes last year and is
determined to mould them into a champion outfit this year.
They have an abundance of talent. The pack will consist of seasoned
campaigners of the calibre of Saumya Silva, Pradeep Kurukulasuriya,
Prasanna Soysa, Sajith Adhikari, Navinda Pullikuttiarachchi, ex-Sri
Lanka prop forward Jayantha Ranaweera and talented youngsters Uchitha
Jayasuriya, Chethiya Wadugodapitiya, Shenal Dias and former Thurstan
Skipper Sasanka Ariyaratne.
The back division will be a formidable one. The experienced Milinda
Jayasinghe and Sri Lanka fly half Chanaka Chandimal will form a superb
The star studded three quarter line will also comprise Sri Lanka
centre Charith Seneviratne, Migara Wijaratne, Mohomed Fazly, ex-Antonian
Skipper Chanaka Gunaratne, ex-Sri Lanka. Sevens player Suranga
Arunashantha, Kingswood skipper Rajitha Sansoni and Malin Hapugoda.
The last line of defence will be once again manned by Sri Lanka
ruggerite Radhika Hettiarachchi – Strongly built Radhika has been a
tower of strength with his safe collections, booming kicks to touch and
his ability to join the line to form the overlap.
Air Force savoured its finest moment in club rugby in 1986 when under
the leadership of Lakshman Caldera they clinched the richest prize in
club rugby – the Clifford cup with a stunning 10-8 win over the mighly
Lanky lock forward Lofty Perera (jnr) scored the solitary try for the
Airmen while fly half Tony Wimalasuriya fired across a penalty and
dropped a goal to give Air Force a historic win.
They stormed into the final by overcoming the formidable CH and FC by
8-4 in extra time in the semi-final with flanker Harsha Fernando picking
up a loose ball and dashing through 20 metres brushing aside several
defenders to fall over for a glorious try.