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Kandy SC worthy Clifford Cup winners

Kandy Sports Club worthy Clifford Cup winners for the 18th time, was in a jubilant mood after the victory last Sunday together with the officials, rugby fans with everyone celebrating the win in grand style.

Captain of the team Saliya Kumara and his team did make Kandy proud when they, for the 18th year and sixth time in a row won the oldest trophy in rugby by beating the strong Havelock Sports Club the current Rugby League Champions 2012.

Victorious Kandy SC players. Picture by Sulochana GamageHosted

They crowned themselves as Kings of knockout rugby, when they won the most prestigious rugby trophy on offer for the clubs the “Clifford Cup:” First won in 1992, followed up in 1993, then again in 1995, 1996, 1997. (1998 no tournament), 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 (2006 did not take part), 2007, 2008, 2009 2010, 2011, 2012.

Even those who swiftly began to recognize the quiet but firm style of leadership of Saliya Kumara brought to a young team were unconvinced about whether his unheralded skill-set merited an automated place in the team.

The glamour boys of Sri Lanka club rugby, Kandy Sports Club ruggerites with their “Never say die” attitude together with their traditional match winning trend did it in style.

They beat the League champions in the mud, last Sunday at the Bogambara Stadium, and carried away the Clifford Cup to the Nittawela grounds.

Both teams started very cautiously, but looked to be settled in both attack and defence, with much at stake. Unnecessary risks were not by of either of the teams as they had to prove a point considering the circumstances.

Defending Champions Kandy Sports Club who came second in the league had to keep face, and show resilience to signal that this was not the end of Kandy dominance in the local rugby sphere, while crowned league champions Havelock’s SC had to put up a performance to stamp authority as the new champions in club rugby.

It was Kandy who broke the shackles early on after applying consistent pressure on the Havies. The line especially looked really good when in full flow, with star players Fazil Marija and Roshan Weeraratne dominating.

After a beautiful bit of passing Kandy Sports Club scored their first try of the game, through Tharindu Shanaka. The try was converted from the corner flag by the veteran Roshan Weeraratne, who is currently in immaculate form with the boot.

It only takes moments of brilliance to change the match around, and Mithun Hapugoda provided that stroke of magic with a brilliant run right through the Kandy defence, However, a tough conversion attempt by William Hakalo was unsuccessful, as the match went to half time with Kandy leading by two points.

Again, the second half started very slow, with both teams taking it easy.

Roshan Weeraratne continued his great kicking with three more points for Kandy as they stretched their lead to five points. Both teams had opportunities to score more penalties, but Hakalo and Roshan missed their respective attempts.

Both teams looked good in offense, but failed to complete the move in the second half. Towards the last twenty minutes Kandy stretched the Havelock’s attack as their defence held strong, disabling any form of attack by Havies.

Thereby, Kandy went on to retain the Clifford Cup by beating Havelock’s 10-05.

The final moments of the game was going into darkness, even at the semi- finals played at the same venue a few days ago. The organizers SLRFU failed to rectify this and the Awards Ceremony was held in the darkness depicting a carnival without lights.

The Central Province Rugby Football Union the governing body in the province should ask the question why The CPRFU officials were not even seen at the game or at the awards ceremony?. The presentation, the Clifford Cup, the Dialog special trophy and the medals were presented by Amila Nanyakara, Rohitha Manokantha, Rizvi Farook all from Dialog.

In the knockouts, Saliya Kumara displaced a fine leadership quality leading a popular club was one of the toughest assignment on the rugby field today to maintain the clubs trend.

Saliya Kumara in the captaincy shoes was great and challenging in his favorite sport since the schooldays.

He is an accomplished utility player and has brought fame to the Club and the National team over the years. In the Clifford cup his leadership was extra extraordinary. He displayed the qualities of a good reader of the game spurring his players on with encouragement.

His team mates responded well to his call. His main ambition was to put the club right on top. He is an old boy of Vidyartha College and Trinity College, where he excelled as a scrum half. His duties were first with the Havelock Sports Club, before coming to his home town. Saliya and his team this season certainly helped the Kandy Sports Club to play as one united team like in the past, thanked all team mates, Committee Members, Supporters and all who helped the club.

The Kandy Sports Club, under the Presidency of the ever green Dr. Sarath Kapuwatha, together with rugby promoter and philanthropist Malik Samarawickrema as their main advisor, has made Kandy Sports Club the most disciplined, dedicated, committed – power block team.

Men behind the Kandy Sports Club success, of course are their players who have sacrificed a lot with their best.

The excellent team effort of administrators led by Dr. Sarath Kapuwatta and his able committee members, and the dynamic rugby promoter Malik Samarawickrema, Coach Johan Taylor, Rugby Chairman Lasantha Wijesuirya. Team Manager Kapila Silva is also a huge force to reckon with and to be remembered always.Singer Sri Lanka also contributed through Hemaka Amarasuriya who has been with the club for many yeas and has given the best of support, Etisalt – have been with the club in the last couple of years and their backing has helped in a big way.

Special thanks should go to Gamika Silva the former Royal College cricketer, who was there at every game, and also not forgetting Sanjeewa Samarasinghe and Etisalt man in Kandy Nimal Peries. Then the new sponsors Food City, Anton Nanayakara the man in Kandy was there when ever he was needed, and also a big hand should go to their Deputy CEO and Managing Director Imtiyaz Whaid.


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