|Vidyartha looking forward for successful rugby season
By Hafiiz MARIKAR
RUGBY:The reputation of a school depends either on its physical resources or on the teachers and its students or educational standards and extracurricular activities with sports taking pride of place. There are however, very few schools which could boast of a mix of all the said qualities.
Vidyartha College, Kandy is one school that can be proud to be the category, mentioned above. While inheriting a rich heritage of excellence in the past 65 years of its existence, the school came into being as a result of the Buddhist hierarchy in Kandy deciding to purchase the buildings of the former Kings College which closed.
At this moment of time Dharmaraja College was the only Buddhist school in Kandy in addition to a few Catholic institutions. The primary intention of the Buddhist hierarchy was to establish a second Buddhist leadership in Kandy of the likes of Sir T. B. Panabokke Adigar on-time President of the Senate. Hon. A. Ratnayake and M.B. Kulugammana who made this a reality.
Vidyartha College when first established had only a few buildings with G.D.A. Abeyratna as its first Principal assisted by a staff of 08 teachers. Presently there are nearly 2,000 students receiving their education in the school, with a teaching staff of around 150. The College has an enviable reputation not only in the academic fields but also in sports activities as well. Vidyartha boasts of several students who have represented Sri Lanka in rugby, where they earned a name through the sport and also some of others who have represented the country at Hockey, Boxing and Table Tennis.
The College reached its peak during these 65 years which excelling in all aspects of academic studies and activities.
Many old boys who have passed out from the school since its inception have continually extended their full assistance to the school as brothers of one family. They have proved to be a great strength in maintaining the high standards of the school. When the past history of Vidyartha is examined, it shows that the OBA has been the main instrument for the bond of fellowship between the old boys.
A distinguished committee of Old Vidyartha rugby players instrumental in promoting the development of the grounds adjoining the Nittawela Rugby Stadium of Kandy Sports Club. Fortunately the former Minister of Sports C.B. Ratnayake, a distinguish old boy, took great interest to visit the grounds and propose a restructuring with a new look with all facilities for the school to have their sports training and matches at this venue. Work is progressing.
Vidyartha rugby 2011
Vidyartha College has reached great heights in the field of rugby in 1963 Rugby Football at Vidyartha was mainly due to the initiative of the Old Trinitians S.G. Mediwake, K.A. Perera and T. Muttiah who were on the staff and gave the guidance with invaluable advice from A. Athauda, the then principal. Rugby enabled the lads of Vidyartha to put themselves against lads from reputed schools like Royal, St.Thomas’ and Trinity. The boys from Vidyartha very often held their own at times against other schools at rugby which also helped some to obtain jobs, especially in the armed forces.
There are names like A. Athauda, D.B. Dissanayake, P.M.M.A. Banda all principals, and Lt.Col. M.R. Nugawella, Sarath Wanigasekara, K.A. Perera, M.A. Wijesinghe, who helped to achieve its present status in rugby today.
Kandy Sport Club helped Vidyartha to improve the game of rugby by permitting them to use the grounds at Nittawela, Kandy also channelled its knowledgeable players to coach Vidyartha.
The teams were coached by many Old Trinitians, Bobby Jayaweera, Nihal Halangoda, Jayantha Jayawardene, Noel Paranagama, A.R.A. Mohamed and Major Asean Fernando. The Trinitians obtained the services of late Dr. V.C. de Silva a Royalist, and also Trinity’s Col. Bertie Dias, Gen Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Maurice Perera. Later the Old boys of Vidyartha took up coaching and the following made a huge contribution to the school with their experience and knowledge, having represented rugby at the highest level.
Those who coached were: Late. George Jayasena, Z.M. Zarook, M. Gamage Ariyaratne, Sunil Munasinghe, E. Gunaratne (Viper Snr), late Charles Wijawardene, D.N.K. Meeriyagalle, M. Faizal, Robert Navaratne, Anil Jayasinghe the present coach.
In search of matches
The school was indebted to established rugby playing schools for granting them fixtures at the outset. The Vidyartha teams graduated from playing under 17, 2nd XV teams to playing the fist fifteen teams of Royal, St. Thomas’ and Trinity. Later regular fixtures were played with St. Anthony’s Issipathana, Thurstan and Ananda.
The late Governor General and President of Sri Lanka William Gopallawa donated a shield to be awarded on the results of the Vidyartha – Ananda encounter from 1968. At start, there were two legs – one in Kandy and other in Colombo like the Bradby, However, now only one match is played.
The coaching produced good players at Vidyartha who were snapped up by clubs and some of them soon donned the Sri Lanka jersey. The first such player was T.R. Wijesinghe who improved rugby at Kandy Lake Club and later played for CR & FC. He became the first to play for the country from Vidyartha. George Jayasena learnt his club rugby at Kandy Lake Club later played for Uva, Kandy Sports Club and Sri Lanka, E. Gunaratne (Viper snr) and many others followed.
This season Vidyartha are coached by former Vidyartha, Kandy Sports Club and Up-Country skipper Anil Jayasinghe – a reputed coach with good results at coaching at Trinity with U17- and later first XV team. He is a ARFU Panel referee.
Anil said that Vidyartha has a good chance of getting on to the top of the ‘B’ Division table. The coach said that in the last few years the performances of Vidyartha was not satisfying because some of the coaches who helped players to joined other schools brought the standard down at Vidyartha. Coach Anil Jayasinghe stopped the pirating of good players from Vidyartha.
Coach Anil is determined to mould the Vidyartha side into a formidable outfit this season. Vidyartha started by beating D.S. Senanayake College by 44 points to 03 and in the second outing, beat Zahira College by 51 points to nil. The rest of the matches: vs Mahanama C.W.W. Kannangara M.V., St. Sylvester’s College, Ananda College (for the William Gopallawa Shield), Royal Panadura, St. Anne’s, Prince of Wales and St. John’s.
Vidyartha are led by second-row forward Ayesh Galawela who is reputed to be a good leader and who is capable of getting the best out of the team. The main target is the William Gopallawa Shield. Of the team – Bandara – a strongly built lad is the prop-forward with Lakmal Herath as hooker and the other prop forward is Fran Samarakoon. There is also Ishara Shakila and Dilshan Gunathenis to content with. The second-row forwards are Lahiru Ratnadiwakara and skipper Ayesh Galawela, both of whom are good line out jumpers. There is also Heshan Saumya who is fighting for a place in the second row. The third row consists of Mahesh Ratnayake and Himasana Ranawaka – the vice-captain both of whom are fierce tacklers.
The other players are: Danula Perera with vice-captain Jason Dissanayake occupying No. 8 position. The experienced Chamath Fernando is the scrum half and will pair of with Ashan Bandara.
The two penetrative runners Danushka Talwatte and Kavindu Perera will be the two centres. The ‘wings’ will be manned by Aravinda Ekanayake and Supun Dissanayake – both good runners and standby Danusska Talwatte.
The fullback will be Isuru Lakmal and the reserve Back will be Chathura Wanigasekera.