Pannipitiya Dharmapala (Div I C)
They are in their eighth year in schools rugby arena but Dharmapala College Pannipitiya is surely making headway in the competition. Dharmapala was for a long period slotted in the development segment of schools rugby and made their debut in the Division III tournament. Their progress under the guidance of veteran coach Kamal Jayawardene has been overwhelming ever since.
This season Dharmapala for the first time in history will appear in the Division I Group C segment along with top teams in the likes of Ananda, Prince of Wales’, Zahira, Royal Panadura, St. John’s Nugegoda, St. Anne’s Kurunegala, Maliyadeva Kurunegala, St. Benedict’s Kotahena and St. Thomas’ Matale. Their impressive season run in last year’s tournament has given Dharmapala the much deserving promotion to the top. Last year they remained unbeaten in Division II Group A segment and completed the season on top of the group. They beat group rivals St. Thomas’ Matale, St. Aloysius Galle, Bandaranayake Gampaha, Talduwa Buddhist School, S. de S. Jayasinghe, Asoka Vidyalaya and Rahula Matara to amass over 290 points and emerge champions of the segment.
The rugby players’ efforts in scaling themselves to the top of the schools rugby ladder is somewhat hindered due to the fact of minimal facilities. Dharmapala, naturally well known for its dominance in cricket among schools has already started to impress many in the rugby fraternity by the skill level of their players.
“Our team is very young. There are about 30 players in the squad at present, much of them from the Under-17 squad. We have got eight players remaining from last year’s squad but our focus in the Division I Group C will be to preserve the standards. We cannot afford to lose matches though we are considered the small fish in the pond,” Jayawardene explained.
Rugby at Dharmapala is still at a developing stage. The coaching staff headed by Jayawardene has done a tremendous task in brushing up the rugby talents of the players but he insists that it all depends on how the youngsters execute their skills on the field.
“We know that times are tough ahead. But as I said earlier our players are very young and many of them can play for two or three more years. There are well wishers who come forward to help the team while we still go through obstacles. Our aim is to reach the Division I Group B in 2014,” Jayawardene added.
Props: H.T. Iranga, T.S. Hettiarachchi, T.C.L. Gunawardane, H.E. Gunawardene, I. Madushanka.
Hooker: H.G.P. Chathuranga (Captain)
Locks: H.A. Hettiarachchi, K.G.D. Udara, D.C. Jayasekara, N.S. Samadhi, N.S.R. Ranasinghe, Nishila Udara.
Flankers: D.M. Liyanage, E.D.C. Diluka, E.D.D. Tharanga.
Scrum halves: R.A.M.M. Chamupathi, R.A.A. Madushan, P. Yohesh.
Fly half: D.L. Thanaweerarachchi, M. Pushpakumara.
Centres: W.A.P. Dhanushka, N.A.K. Pramodh, G.T.Y. Janaka.
Wingers: L.S. Nissanka, A.P.L. Perera, W.A.P. Perera.
Full backs: R.A.P. Madushan, P.D. Ponnamperuma.
Officials: Kamal Jayawardena (Coach), M-I-Cs: Nalaka Widyaratna, Shamal Wanniarachchi.