Vidyartha College Kandy (Div I A)
If you hear the roar “Come on Tigers” at any rugger ground in Kandy, be assured it isnot a reference to the striped variety. Nor does it allude to the now-defunctNorthern version. To put it simply, it means that Vidyartha’s rugger playersare on the prowl and advancing in menacing fashion towards the goal-line.
Back division play is, and has been, Vidyartha’s forte. Without goingtoo far back, one can mention players such as Dhanushka Pushpakumara, SaliyaKumara, Suranga Pushpakumara and Anuruddha Wilwara. The last three may havesought greener pastures in pursuit of fame and glamour. However there’s is nodenying that all of them learnt their basics at Nittawela, playing in Vidyarthacolours.
As a team, this year’s players have out-stripped many of theirpredecessors. At the time of writing, they have drawn one and lost one. The salutaryfactor however is that they have completed their games against two of the bestin the business – Isipathana and Royal – and come off with their heads heldhigh.
According to their coach, Anil Jayasinghe, both games could have beenwon. But the fact is that their opponents capitalized on their mistakes. 19-allversus Isipathana and 29-38 against the very formidable Royalists points to thefact that Vidyartha’s players have more than found their feet in the topdivision.
Number eight Jason Dissanaike, a member of last year’s Junior Sri Lankaside, captains the team. A hardy player, he has made it a habit to chip in witha try or two when the going gets tough. The only fourth year player, Dissanaikegives one hundred per cent and demands nothing less.
Third year player talented centre Dhanushka Talwatte is the deputy. Aheavy try scorer last year in the Division I B, we have yet to see the best of himso far. Apart from Talwatte, the other third year players are prop AmithBandara, massive second rower Lahiru Ratnaliwalata, line man ChamathFernando fly half Hashan Bandara and centre Kavindu Perera. Fly half ChamathFernando is in charge of the conversions, but he will have to add consistencyto his kicking.
Training started in late September even as last year’s achievementswere being put to bed. The KandySC gymnasium serves as their gym.There is now a more professional approach as regards nutrition.
The emphasis is on running rugby. The coach oozes confidence. “We havea good side. We can compete with anyone. My target is to finish in the firstfour.”
A former skipper of Vidyartha, Jayasinghe who also represented Kandy SCand Upcountry is not given to hyperbole. Of the remaining seven matches, hefeels that Trinity and St. Peter’s will be the toughest nuts to crack. Six longyears coaching Trinity has imbued him with the necessary experience. A refereeof many years standing, Jayasinghe has seen rugby life from another angle He isin his second year as coach of Vidyartha. Ananda Upatissa is the Prefect of Games.
Props: Eran Samarakoon, Amith Bandara, Sachin Abeysekera, HashanFernando
Hooker: Dilshan Gunaratne, Jeevantha Kaluarachchi Hashane Weerasuriya
Locks: Lahiru Ratnadivakara, Lasantha A Hanayake, ChaturaLiyanage Niroshan Bardon
Flankers: Ravindra Upul, Malith Priyankara, Romesh Bandara
No.8: Jason Dissanaike, Ashan Karaliyadda
Scrum half: Chamath Fernando, Chaturanga Chandrasekera
Fly half: Ashan Bandara
Centres: Dhanushka Talwatte, Kavinda Perera, Donila Perera
Wingers: Shanaka Bandara, Samitha Salinda, Chalana Samarawickrema, Dinesh Tillekeratne
Fullback: Isuru Lakmal, Asela Bandara