Rugby at USJ

A sportsman is said to be identified as a philosopher. Rugby being a contact sport, this philosophy differsfrom other sportspersons because of the continuous testing behaviour of physical as well as mental capacities in the game of Rugby. Rugby is one of the most famous yet most dangerous sports that can be found in the sports\’ history. In fact, this is also known as “the game of the courageous” which is more or less the very reason as to why people get second thoughts when getting involved in Rugby.

The history of Rugby traces back to the 1820s. This was actually originated out of an earlier version of football which is why it has many similarities to football, in terms of pitch and the way it is played. According to this version, the players were only allowed to catch and kick the ball but were not allowed to run with it. However, according to the legend, the game-changer who took the very first step in creating the game \”Rugby\” was a young lad called \”Williams Webb Ellis\”. Williams did not really care about the rules and one day during a game of football in England, he caught the ball and did what he was not supposed to do according to the game rules of football. He took the ball and ran towards the opponent\’s goal post which led to the creation of that famous yet dangerous sport we have come across. Although his intentions were never known, yet it can be said that it was those actions which spawned the creation of one of the greatest games on Earth.

With time the concept of Rugby got spread across England. And in 1863, Frances Moore Campbell who was against the fact that football does not allow strong physical contact expressed his honest thoughts during a meeting of the newly formed Football Association. Nevertheless, since the FA did not agree to allow such, Campbell withdrew from the association claiming that preventing such mode of play devalues the game. Later Campbell who wanted to develop this game formed their own Rugby Union with 21 other Rugby clubs on the 26th of January 1871. In order to pay due respect to the genius who initially came up with the concept of Rugby, they named the Rugby world cup after him. The “Webb Ellis cup” which is also colloquially known as the \”Bill\”.

Rugby in the University of Sri Jayewardenepura has a long history too . Since the inception of University Rugby, J\’pura had always made sure to secure themselves in the top ranks of university Rugby. To be frank, J\’pura Rugby team securing their rank among the top ranks in the Sri Lankan University Games (SLUG) Championship awards in 1986 clearly explains it.

Moreover, they have also taken part in a number of tournaments such as KDU 10\’s, MORA 7\’s and even Leo 7\’s. While in 2017 the team emerged as runner-up at the KDU 10\’s, during the rest of the years the team was able to secure their position in quarter-final level which they had earned through their continuous hard work.

The team was represented by outstanding talents where most of them were division one players. The significance of J\’pura Rugby is depicted through such characters like Kosala Pahalagama and Uvin Ariyarathna who had represented Sri Lanka in 2018 at World University Games which was held in Namibia. Apart from the above, there are also some other players who have highly contributed in taking the J\’pura Rugby team towards its success. Kosala Pahalagama, Gayan Kumara, Uvin Ariyarathna, Kasun Jinni, Dinendra Danapala and Kalhara Abeysinghe are some of them.

When considering the achievements of the J\’pura Rugby team, we must say that not only they were able to secure top points and tries but also win awards. While they were the \’Best Team of The Year\’ in 2004, they were also able to achieve what was almost impossible for some time which was winning against the University of Peradeniya at their home grounds in the annual Rugby encounter, Battle of Scholars 2020 after a period of 15 years. Owing to this, the year 2020 is known to be a revolutionary year for the J\’pura Rugby team as their continuous hard work finally paid off. Number 8 player Nadun Gimhana who is the captain of the team along with the vice-captain Poorna Wickramasinha as scrum-half and their team were able to bring the shield successfully to Mother J\’pura this year.

All these victories were brought home owing to the players\’ constant hard work, their team spirit and their dedication. When looking back at the history of J\’pura Rugby there were many outstanding captains and as well as vice captains who actually showed and proved us their love and passion towards the game. Starting from the earlier days; Prof. Baratha Dodankotuwa as the captain for the year 1984, Janaka Hettiarachchi for the year 1991, Rasika Senaratne in 2001, Gayan Abeywickrama in 2010, Amila Chathuranga and Thisaru Wanninayake as the captain and the vice-captain respectively for the year 2011. Similarly Chamindu Ratnayake and Neomal Abesekara for the year 2012, Thejan Madusanka as the captain for the year 2013, Chandika Niroshana as the vice-captain for the year 2016, Uwin Ariyaratne as the captain and Lakal Ruhunage and Sulakshana Hettiarachchi as the vice-captains for the year 2017. Kasun Herath as the captain, Dushantha Dammika and Imesh Dilshan as the vice-captains for the year 2018, Kosala Pahalagama, Dinendra Dhanapala and Isuru Gunathilake for the year 2019 and lastly Nadun Gimhana and Poorna Wickremasinghe as the captain and vice-captain respectively for the year of 2020.

Even though the J\’pura Rugby team has shown their outstanding talent, we should also mention the coaches who have supported each and every player morally, physically and as well as mentally in discovering their true abilities. Luckily for the J\’pura team, not just one but rather there are many brilliant coaches who always had their back. Namely, some of those remarkable coaches are; Ronnie Abrahim as the coach and the consultant for the years 2018 and 2019 respectively. Amantha Perera as the trainer and the head coach for the years 2018 and 2019 respectively. And lastly, Randima Fernando who is the current head coach for the year 2020.

Lastly, we would like to end by quoting the world’s most successful rugby captain Richie McCaw who once stated that \”If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more. You\’re a leader.\” The blood, sweat and tears they have spent on their team have always undoubtedly held the name of the university high. So, we Flamians wish them all the very best in discovering the true leader within themselves and holding the name of Mother J’pura high.

Written by : Amandi Dharmasena
Graphic designed by : Jithmi Rajapaksha

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