‘Tigers’ savour promotion to top league…
By Ranil Prematilake
Perennial whipping boys of inter schools rugby and then a causality of talent scouting, Vidyartha College rugby hit rock bottom in the year 2009 following a mass exodus of senior players. It was only a year later that a bunch of determined die hard old boys sought the services of Anil Jayasinghe. Taking upon himself the intricate task of putting in place a destroyed rugby culture, Jayasinghe fared admirably in his first season in charge and Vidyartha managed to endure the league of second stringers, quite satisfactorily. Anil Jayasinghe suffice to state was a much respected rugby referee who took up to coaching later on.
Jayasinghe, a Bradby winning coach had a long and successful stint at Trinity College. First as the coach of the Under 17 (now under 18) side. Thereafter he was pushed up as assistant coach of Trinity College rugby alongside Kiwi Nigel Krone. Anil was the head coach of the Trinity College 1st XV rugby sides of 2008 and 2009.
A visionary Jayasinghe arriving at Vidyartha moulded a strong unit with the age factor behind them through a tough season 2010. Vidyartha could consider themselves unlucky to have missed out on promotion by a whisker. Then came the current season and the‘Tigers’ led by second row forward Ayesh Galahawela left no stone unturned in emerging unbeaten champions of the Division I Group ‘B’ category. En –route to league title honours Vidyartha defeated DS Senanayake College ( 43-07), Zahira ( 51-00), Mahanama (37-36), CWW Kannangara (63-00), St. Sylvester’s (64-11), St. Anne’s ( 136-00), Royal Panadura (65-17), Ananda (43-11), Prince of Wales (36-11), Lumbini (36-31) and St. Johns Nugegoda (203 -00). The annihilation of St. Johns Nugegoda is regarded as an all time inter schools rugby record.
The successful season 2011 saw Vidyartha College producing the only player from the Division I Group ‘B’ category representing the Sri Lanka Youth rugby side at the recently concluded Junior Rugby Asiad. The honour went to No. 8 forward Jason Dissanayake ( a nephew of former national prop forward Dunstan De Silva) who would be taking over the captaincy reigns of Vidyartha, when they return to the top division after a five year absence in 2012. Another player to watch next season would be Danushka Talwatte. The speedy center three quarter was responsible for an avalanche of tries (34 in all) and was a Junior Commonwealth Games poolist. Talwatte has two more seasons of schoolboy rugby.
The triumphant season continued for Vidyartha College when they ended up an impressive losing finalist at the Zahira Invitation Inter-School rugby 7’s tournament yesterday. Anil Jayasinghe an old boy himself had resurrected Vidyartha rugby from the doldrums. A new chapter unfolds when Vidyartha lock horns with the big guns of inter schools rugby in the year 2012.