Joes attack on rugby referee exposes player-grabbing syndrome | Sunday Observer

Joes attack on rugby referee exposes player-grabbing syndrome

14 July, 2019

Following revelations in the Sunday Observer last week after ex-players and old boys complained of atrocious rugby standards at St. Joseph’s College, more parents came out in full fling accusing the school authorities of turning a blind-eye to what they charged was an ungodly scenario.

Considered one of the best disciplined schools in the country, St. Joseph’s College made headlines for the wrong reasons last week after two of its players manhandled or assaulted a rugby referee, an international crime, at their League match against Royal College. While one of the players virtually escaped with a two-year ban imposed by the beleaguered Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association, more shocks were revealed as a can of worms opened.

Some of the parents charged that what has been exposed was only the tip of the iceberg and pleaded that their identities be kept a secret fearing their off-spring could be victimized.

“A self-appointed Ad-Hoc group runs rugby at St. Joseph’s and the value system in sports has been destroyed,” charged one parent, an old boy of the school.

St. Joseph’s College was never a major force in schools rugby but it produced several individual players who performed for the country and their clubs with honour and dignity in the past. Eventually over the past five years in an unholy quest to hunt and run with the best and pocket trophies in a highly charged environment, the Joes desperately strangled their traditional and spiritual values disregarding sportsmanship as they enlisted players from other schools with lowly street-fighter attitudes.

Another parent told the Sunday Observer that he was privy to principals from lesser known schools warning St. Joseph’s College against pinching off their players by the cart loads which has now become a common syndrome among schools. He claimed to know of a principal who told him that St. Joseph’s College was “hijacking his players” in a dangerous game.

“With so many outsiders coming into the school many young and aspiring Joes have been discouraged with some of them even giving up rugby,” he said.

Moves by the Sunday Observer to investigate the matter further proved futile as St. Joseph’s College is presently in transition over the appointment of a new school head following the retirement three months ago of its rector Fr. Travis Gabriel, an ardent sports promoter and spiritual advocate.

Presently the school has an interim rector in Fr. Anton Ranjith, said to be a strict disciplinarian but who will make way for a new school head later this month.

The Joes had an opportunity for damage control with the launch of the 35-year old Knock-Out tournament last week but the ceremony was boycotted by them, an indication of the degrading depths the school’s sports set-up has been plunged into.