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Carlton Super Sevens kicks off on October 29

It is going to be top class local rugby spiced with foreign flavour when the Carlton Super Sevens Rugby organized by Carlton Sports Club with the blessings and support of the Sri Lanka Rugby Union gets underway at the Bogambara Stadium, Kandy on October 29 and 30.

This is the first time Carlton Rugby Super Sevens will be played in the hill capital which has a large following of rugby in the country and will see not only the top rugby players from the local clubs in action but also some top class players from a few foreign countries are expected to scrum down.

It was last year that this Super Rugby Sevens kicked off in Colombo for the first time with a large number of sponsors lending support and this year it had been organized with the championship matches being played in Colombo and Kandy thus taking rugby inland and providing an opportunity for the rugby fans in watching top class ruggerites in action. Kandy being the nucleus of the hill country and it is an excellent choice as the venue.

Speaking of Carlton Rugby the rugby fans in the country owe a lot to President Mahinda Rajapakse and his sons Namal, Yoshitha and Rohitha for taking rugby to this height at a time when foreign flavour was seen very little in the local rugby scene.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's interest in rugby and its development has been there for a long time.

This writer could remember when he was a Minister of State he made it a point to come to the venues in the hill capital to watch his sons playing from the very junior level. He was there as early as 3.30 p.m.

All three sons played for their school St. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia from the junior level to the first XV with Namal who later became a Parliamentarian and Yoshitha Rajapakse winning national honours.

Once speaking at a colours award ceremony in Kandy Namal Rajapakse stressed the importance of time management and said despite his busy schedule in heading the Tharunyata Hetak Organization, playing rugby and also involved in politics and social work still found time to academical work where he succeeded in getting a degree and was studying law and at the same time puring higher studies.

Back to rugby ten teams in the lines of India Premier League will be seen in action and perhaps on a rare occasion club ruggerites will find themselves playing for teams against their own team mates. The teams are:

Group A

Western Warriers captained by Dushanth Lewke who will play as No. 8 represented CH & FC, CR & FC and Kandy Sc and also donned the national jersey.

Central Kings: Captained by former Kingswood College and Kandy Sports Club fly half Fasil Marija, one of the best rugby players to strode the rugby known for his ability to change the complexion of the game with his searing runs spotting gaps and ending up under the posts with the ball.

He is one player to watch. He has also donned the national jersey with distinction and has playing experience abroad.

Eastern Eagles will be skippered by centre Lasintha de Costa who played with distinction for Isipathana College and later for CR & FC and also for the country. Lions will be skippered by winger Saliya Handapangoda from the Air Force.

Sri Lanka - a tireless player in the loose. Uva Vipers will be led by back division player Kosala Tissera of Sri Lanka Navy, another knowledgeable player.

Group B

North Central Typhoons will be led by Thanuja Seneviratne.

North Western Blacks will be led by Chanaka Chandimal from the Sri Lanka Air Force.

Chanaka Chandimal learnt his rugby at Vidyartha College and blossomed out playing for Sri Lanka Air Force and has been playing for the country regularly despite the stiff competition for the fly half's berth in the national team.

Jaffna Challengers: This team will be led by Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Sevens skipper Yoshitha Rajapakse.

He played for St. Thomas College with distinction as a hard working forward and his forte is his excellent play in the loose, known for his bruising tackles.

Northern Gladiators: This side will have the leadership of former Science College, Havelocks SC and Kandy Sports Club and Sri Lanka winger Sanjeewa Jayasinghe.

He has captained all the teams he has played in this form of rugby. Perhaps this may the last time that the rugby fans in Kandy will see him in action in the rugby field as he has announced his retirement from the game this season.

Southern Sharks will be skippered by former Kingswood College, Kandy SC, CR & FC, Havelocks SC scrum half Amjad Buksh who has made a welcome return to the game this year after a two year lay off due to an injury.

A point of interest is that while the ruggerites will be pitted against their own team mates playing for the teams for which they have been selected, is two cousins will be captaining two sides - That is Fazil Marija who will be leading Central Kings while his cousin Amjad Buksh will be leading the Southern Sharks.

Both played for Kingswood College and Kandy Sports Club together at one time of their career and formed the deadly halves combination.

It is also nice to see that the names of Jaffna and Eastern Province has been introduced to this championship, an indication that there is no rugby played there at this moment but they have been not left out, of the dray.

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