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SL face tough challenge from Malaysia

May 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Yohan Bhasura reporting from Malaysia

Sri Lanka will take on Malaysia in a vital Asian Rugby Championship Division One Tournament fixture in Malaysia on Saturday (20). The match will kick-off at 1.30 p.m (Sri Lanka time).

Marija
File photo of Fazil Marija

 Sri Lanka are faced with a must-win situation if they are to clinch the title but a draw would be sufficient for Malaysia to emerge Asian champions as they are on top of the points table with an extra bonus point.

Sri Lanka failed to collect a bonus point in their match against the Philippines which they won 24-13 but secured a bonus point in the game against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while winning 33-17.

In contrast, Malaysia had the satisfaction of obtaining a bonus point in both their outings against the UAE (36-22) and the Philippines (40-8) respectively.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Skipper Roshan Weeraratne said the players are quite confident and are in a good frame of mind ahead of the game against Malaysia.

“I think this will be a very tough game for us. In the past we have lost to Malaysia on several occasions. But this time we have a different game plan to counter-attack the opposition,” said Weeraratne.

However, Sri Lanka will be forced to take the field without their star player Danushka Ranjan who missed the second half of the game against the UAE following a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, veteran player Fazil Marija will make his final appearance for his country in a 15-a-side international game against Malaysia today (20).

The 31-year-old dynamic scrum half who has represented the country in both formats of the game for over a decade has already announced his retirement from club rugby after the 2017/18 season.

However, Marija said that he will continue to play sevens rugby for his country and for his club Kandy Sports Club in Inter-Club Rugby Tournaments.

The former schoolboy of Kingswood College has represented Sri Lanka in more than 5015-a-side internationals in addition to over 100 seven-a-side matches.

SL record easy win over the UAE

May 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Yohan Bhasura reporting from Malaysia

Sri Lanka made it two wins out of two games in the Asian Rugby Championship Division One Tournament after beating the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 33-17 in Malaysia on Wednesday.

Rugby

Sri Lanka’s 33 points came through four tries and three penalties put over by fullback Thilina Wijesinghe, who was also successful with the two conversions.

The UAE fielding a team full of expatriate players managed to collect their points from two goals and a penalty in a game played in searing heat with temperatures rising to 35 degrees celsius.

However, it took Sri Lanka less than a minute to open the scoring with flyhalf Fazil Marija scoring an unconverted try but his opposite number Andrew Stevenson reduced the lead with a fifth-minute penalty.

But Wijesinghe restored the early lead two minutes later when he put over the first of his three penalties.

Five minutes later lock forward Sharo Fernando ran in Sri Lanka’s second try before number eight Glen Moore’s converted try seven minutes later reduced UAE’s deficit to one point.

Outside Centre Danushka Ranjan changed that however, two minutes later when he scored a try which was converted by Wijesinghe.

But the centre was soon off the field after hurting his shoulder. While the extent of the injury was unknown a team official later confirmed that it was not serious.

Wijesinghe put over another penalty in this half to give Sri Lanka an 18-10 lead but Andrew Powell’s injury time converted try made it a one-point game at the break.

However, that was as close as the game got as inside centre Lee Keegal and flanker Jason Dissanayake ran in converted tries which proved to be the only scoring in the second half.

Could have done better – Weeraratne

May 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Yohan Bhasura reporting from Malaysia

Skipper Roshan Weeraratne believes that Sri Lanka could have put up a better performance in their Asian Rugby Championship Division I match against Philippines that was played on Sunday, which they won 24-13.

“We’re really happy but we could have done better. This was not our best performance but I think everybody played well. The weather was not in our favour, but we’re satisfied that we won this match,” said Weeraratne.

Weeraratne also expressed his disappointment for conceding two late tries to their opponents.

“I think Philippines scored those two tries because of our mistakes. We cannot blame any individual for that. The wet conditions did not help our cause and that was a major concern for us,” added Weeraratne.

The Sri Lanka captain also believed that Thilina Wijesinghe’s place kicking was key for Sri Lanka’s success against the Philippines.

“His performances helped us to stay ahead throughout the game. I think the try scored by Richard Dharmapala was also a vital factor for our success. But I think everybody played well in this match.”

Weeraratne also praised the efforts of senior player Fazil Marija.

“I think he’s still playing well like in the past. He’s still the same player he was 10 years back. I hope he will continue the same form in the remaining matches ,” the captain said.

We have picked the best available talent – Michael Jayasekera

May 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Shehan Daniel 

Having picked from the best available talent, Michael Jayasekera, Chairman of Selectors of the Sri Lanka rugby team, on Monday said that he was confident the team could perform well at the Asian Championship Division I rugby tournament, which begins in Malaysia this weekend.

Sri Lanka, who were runners up in last year’s tournament, will open their campaign against Malaysia this Sunday, before taking on Philippines and the United Arab Emirates next week in a bid to qualify for the Asian Top Three tournament.

“The squad was selected from the best that we had. The players who were omitted were players who chose not to turn up for practice. There were about six players who wanted to focus on sevens and therefore opted out of this tournament,” Jayasekera said.

“I think this squad can still perform and we are hoping and expecting to win this tournament.”

Jayasekera however added that the inter-club rugby season had limited the time available to pick a squad and train for this tournament.

“We would have liked a longer preparation period, and the time we had was far too short for a tournament of this nature. Ideally the club tournament should have been held a lot earlier to give us time to prepare.”

The team will be led by Kandy SC scrum-half Roshan Weeraratne and coached by Fereti Verebula.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Rugby released the names of 25 players who would make the tour and also six standbys.

The 25 member squad: Ashan Darling, Ashoka Jayalal, Chanaka Chandimal, Dhanushka Ranjan, Dushmantha Priyadarshana, Fazil Marija, Ganuka Dissanayake, Jason Dissanayake, Joel Perera, Lavanga Perera, Lee Keegal, Niroshan Fernando, Nishon Perera, Omalka Gunaratne, Prasad Madushanka, Richard Dharmapala, Richie Dharmapala, Roshan Weeraratne (Captain), Sajith Saranga, Sathya Ranatunga, Sharo Fernando, Soyuru Anthony, Taariq Salih, Thilina Wijesinghe and Umesha Madushan

Standbys: Damith Dissanayake, Gayan Jayamanne, Sashan Mohammed, Radeesha Seneviratne, Stephen Gregory, Sudam Sooriyarachchi

Ready to hit next level – SLR Chief Asanga Seneviratne

November 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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A re-branded identity, a unified vision for schools rugby and a rapidly developing Women’s game are reasons for optimism for the foreseeable future, Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) President Asanga Seneviratne said at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday.

SLR President Asanga Seneviratne addresses the gathering. (Pic by Waruna Wanniarachchi)
SLR President Asanga Seneviratne addresses the gathering. (Pic by Waruna Wanniarachchi)

Seneviratne during his address to representatives from provincial unions and clubs said that a Joint-Committee with members from Sri Lanka Rugby – the new name officially adopted by the governing body at the AGM – and the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) is being established and they would work together to improve the grassroots of Sri Lankan rugby to bring it up to international level.

“None of us will be able to do anything to develop Sri Lanka rugby if we don’t have the schools’ matches. The schools have been going on their own journey, a completely separate journey, and that has contributed to where Sri Lanka Rugby is today. We cannot make it at international level because our [Under] 16s, 18s, 20-year-olds don’t get an opportunity to play international rugby. Even if they do, they only play against a couple of Asian sides and that too in one tournament. We have to have a high performance unit and we finally embarked on that and we have to train our kids from the age of 15 or 16 to play international rugby and get them on the right strength and fitness programmes. It will be a matter of time before we make a contention in world rugby,” Seneviratne said.

Elaborating on it further, Seneviratne said, “The Joint Committee is looking at development of rugby at Under-16, 18, 19 and 20 levels and we will organise national tournaments for these age groups, in the hope of developing more international pedigree players. We are hoping to work together and we’re going for a joint sponsorship. The sponsorship we hope will be about three or four times the amount they are getting now, so we can sustain the development.”

He also said that Nic Groube, a strength and fitness specialist from New Zealand, would be added to the player development set-up.

“[We have] Nic Groube from New Zealand, who was heading up the Canterbury Academy for strength and fitness. I believe that scientific training is the only way we can get our players to compete on the world arena. So we have put him in place,” he added.

He said that adding Priyantha Ekanayake as CEO was one of many impending additions to the SLR structure, and that an expansive team would be required to look after an expanding game.

“[It] is an enormous task so very soon we need to have an SLR which is fully equipped with personnel, with a proper structure. You can’t manage Rs. 200-300 million with three of four people. We will have to employ people, have a structure in place and take this forward. Hopefully it will be a matter of time before Sri Lanka is the Fiji of Asian rugby, because I believe we have the talent and the capacity. No country in Asia has the base that Sri Lanka has. Where the schools play so much of rugby and people actually pay to watch games. We need to harness these resources – for that we need finances and intelligence in rugby – and I hope we have both of those from this year. I think in the next eight years we could look at serious contention in World Sevens Rugby,” he said.

Seneviratne added that the Women’s game will be developed on a larger scale with a league likely to be put in place next year.

“There is a lot of emphasis being put on Women’s rugby by World Rugby, Asian Rugby and the Olympic Movement. We are very serious about developing Women’s rugby and our women did really well at the Asian Sevens Series Tournament in Colombo. We ended up sixth in the leg, and seventh overall. A year before, we hit the doldrums, we had gone out of the main eight and we had a bit of a task getting back in but we are back in and we’re in good hands. Very soon we hope to have a Women’s League and have a Women’s segment at the next year’s Sri Lanka Super Sevens Tournament. I believe that will help the women considerably because we want to bring in overseas players into those teams – following the same sort of format that we are doing with the men,” he said.

The name change to Sri Lanka Rugby, Seneviratne explained, was motivated by a growing trend in international rugby.

“The International Rugby Board became World Rugby, Asian Rugby Football Union changed its name to Asian Rugby and New Zealand Rugby Football Union became New Zealand Rugby. So we decided to adopt this change as well,” he stated.

Former Consultant bemoans sub-standard refereeing

July 3, 2016 by · 6 Comments 

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In a hard-hitting communication, former consultant to the Sri Lanka Society of Rugby Football Referees (SLSRFR) Garratt Williamson lambasted the poor standard of refereeing—the widely-accepted reason among rugby fraternity as the cause for the unruly spectator behaviour and unwarranted actions by school rugby players on and off the field at recent rugby matches—claiming that the situation had become dire.

Asanga-Senaviratna

Williamson had e-mailed the society’s President Nizam Jamaldeen on 29 June 2016 expressing his displeasure on several issues regarding the referees and officials in the SLSRFR, and added that he turned down the opportunity to return for his consultancy position when asked by Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) President Asanga Seneviratne, as he could not “work in a professional environment with an amateur governance model.”

Williamson was contracted in 2014 by the SLRFU to coach local referees, and continued this role last year.

He said in his time in Sri Lanka, his efforts at improving refereeing were commended.

“In the time I was consulting with the SLRFU, we had zero fights during games, zero referee assaults and the Interim Committee were praised by coaches and administrators, not by referee people,” he wrote, adding, “I know that Vimal (Perera) and yourself have been on (social media) criticizing what we did in the past. This was advised to me by a member of the Colombo community, not related to refereeing. I have screen prints of the comments. I have had contact from three school coaches, two Dialog League coaches and two members of the media who have said the standard of refereeing is dire.”

Williamson also wrote, “During the schools season I watched 6 games of A Division on YouTube. Links were sent to me my stakeholders of Sri Lankan schools. The standard of refereeing was poor. The first leg of the Bradby was average at best and (Irshad) Cader has gone backwards.”

Williamson added that certain decisions take by the President of the Referee’s Society had destroyed the credibility of referees and the decisions that he had taken during his consultancy.

“You need to make people accountable for poor performance. We dropped (two referees) for not meeting minimum fitness standards and told everyone. In New Zealand, our women referees must attain 16.5 on the yo-yo (12.0 on the bleep test) to even take the field in our top women’s competition. You bought (sic) them back which destroyed credibility. Schools have told me this,” he wrote.

“Tony Amith, Mahinda (Jayawardena) and Shamrath (Fernando) were removed from the structure as they did not meet reporting requirements outlined in the contract they signed. This is standard employment practice. In my initial review, these three wrote reports that were nonsense and bore no relation to current refereeing practice. Two of Shamrath’s reviews were identical and obviously copied & pasted,” Williamson also claimed.

He also pointed out a controversial moment in the recent rugby encounter between Isipathana College and S. Thomas’ College, and claimed the refereeing in the game was dreadful.

“Yesterday (the day of the Isipathana-S. Thomas game I watched the Isipathana final and (Irshad) Cader was dreadful. Forget the ruling out of the try for the kicking tee being on the ground for a kick at goal (which nobody in the rugby world see as the correct interpretation of the rule – world rugby have even clarified that recently), but the tackle was dreadful and 50% of (Irshad) Caders (sic) tackle decisions were wrong,” he wrote, adding “Go back to our priorities. You have clearly abandoned them. The tackler issue is as bad as it was when I started, the scrum a shambles (sic) and positionally (sic), Priya (Suranga), D Nimal and Pradeep (Fernando) are all over the place.”

He also said, “I told Asanga (Seneviratne) I could not work in an environment that has Shamrath and Tuan Dole on the National Council, nor a Society that includes Tony, Shamrath and Vimal.”

Williamson also wrote that he had been working on a 10-day opportunity for two referees and two coaches to referee in New Zealand as a learning experience, but as there was a sponsor issue, the opportunity was offered to two Japanese referees instead.

Jamaldeen confirmed having received the email, and said that it was unethical for Williamson to be making comments of this nature.

“He is no longer contracted with us, so it is not ethical for him to make comments of this nature,” he said.

Jamaldeen also said that he had made attempts when he was elected as President of the SLSRFR to bring down Williamson to continue his consultancy, but he had turned it down for “reasons best known to him” and the New Zealander’s claims against the referee’s society and rugby union council members were unacceptable.

“I responded to him afterwards because I was a gentleman, but he did not extend the same courtesy,” Jamaldeen said.

He also claimed that this e-mail had been leaked by Williamson to third-parties who he claimed were ‘out-dated’ individuals who no longer wielded power in the referee’s society, to undermine the word of the referee’s society and that contrary to Williamson’s suggestions coaches were happy with the improvements in the standard of refereeing.

Jamaldeen also said that in later interactions with Williamson, the latter had claimed that his email had been hacked and that the email did not originate from him. However, when ‘Daily Mirror’ e-mailed Williamson for a comment, he replied stating that the e- mail was not intended for public consumption.

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