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Yoshitha Good choice as captain

Rugby star of the Navy Sports club Yoshitha Rajapaksa has been appointed skipper of the Sri Lanka squad for the "Five Nations Asian Rugby" competition in Philippine this April. A fast breaking flanker Yoshitha learnt his rudiments of rugby at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia under coaches like Gamini Weerasinghe, M.


Sri Lanka rugby
skipper Yoshitha Rajapaksa.
Picture by Kavindra Perera

Iftikar, Lernode de Silva, Yowsan Yu, Nimal Lewke, Mahinda Jayawardene, Sanjeewa Sarnapala at junior level and Quinten Israel and Asanga Seneviratne at senior level, latter is the current President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union.

After joining the Navy Sports club ranks as a teenager in 2009, the debut season for the Forces, Yositha's rapid rise has continued unabated and he has stamped himself as a game-changing player of utmost integrity both on and off the field. At Navy he is coached by Ronnie Ibrahim a coach with a vision.

According to Ronnie he is a good player and a team man, should give of his best as captain to the national team.

The talented flanker was stand-in captain for the national team in 2010 and led the team against Internationals in the Tournament in 2011. He also showed his leadership credentials when he skippered the Navy Sports Club in 2010 /2011 to a convincing win and helped the side to enter the Clifford Cup finals for the fourth time in the history of Navy Rugby.

This is the second time that Yoshitha will be leading the Sri Lanka Rugby team, since making his debut for the Country in the Asian Division I Rugby tournament in 2010 at Singapore. He first led his school team S. Thomas' College, then the Sri Lanka Youth side and then led the Sri Lanka Rugby Sevens team that won the Bowl segment at the Borneo Sevens.

"I think it's a huge honour to captain a national side, particularly one that I've been involved with for quite a while now. It's a big challenge but exciting at the same time and I'm looking forward to be given the opportunity to further contribute to the team," Yositha said.

"I see being a leader first and foremost as leading by your actions, however I know that there is a lot more to it and that's all part of the learning experience. I feel very fortunate to have been able to watch and learn from someone like my brother Namal. He has had a huge influence on me.

"One of the really exciting things about taking on the role now is that Namal is still involved and I can continue to look to him for advice. Having his experience around will be invaluable.

In a team environment it's not just one person that shoulders all the load, we've got quite a few guys that lead by their actions, I think the more people we can get like that in the team the better we'll be going forward." Namal said Yoshita was the ideal candidate to take the flankers position forward and was certain the back rower would embrace the added leadership responsibilities and provide inspiration to players both young and old.

The intensity was something to behold, and while there were a few versatile senior players in the squad with the assignment of a new National Coach Phil Greening former coach English Premier League team Bath and also the Assistant Coach of the English National Sevens team contracted by the Sri Lanka Rugby Union for 2012, rugby and travel are our passion and we learn nothing to chance with all. Year after year we put our heart and soul into providing great rugby options domestically and around Sri Lanka.

Yoshitha is the second son of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, an ardent sports lover and promoter who was educated at Richmond College, Galle before moving to Nalanda College, Colombo and later Thurstan College, Colombo. Yoshitha's elder brother Namal is also a top class forward playee and led the Thomians and the Sri Lanka Youth team and now plays for the Navy XV. His second brother Rohitha also led the Thomians and was also a member of the Navy team.

In the coming season he is tipped to play for Havelock Sports Club. The most exciting and memorable event was at the 2011 Clifford Cup finals all three brothers played for the Navy SC, but lost to the star studded Kandy Sports Club at Royal College Grounds. The game is cherished as a sport for people of all ages, gender, race and creed and develops team values, understanding, co-operation and respect for fellow rugby players.

It has great educational values and is part of the schools curriculum in the provinces, being played by boys and girls in keeping with its traditions and ethos rugby is largely determined by the parent body is determined that it should remain so.

Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has approved the appointment of Navy's last years skipper Yoshiita Rajapakse as the Captain of the Sri Lanka team.

This may be the first time a Sailor is leading the country at Rugby and Yoshitha becomes the first to represent the country at sports from Rajapaksa family.

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