Royal players avert show spoiler as Peterites win blockbustre Centenary Rugby Sevens | Sunday Observer

Royal players avert show spoiler as Peterites win blockbustre Centenary Rugby Sevens

9 April, 2023
The champion St. Peter’s College team comprising Dulaj Navodya, Vishenka Silva, Yometh Shehara, Ashen Madugaspe (captain), Emith Jayaweera, Praneeth Silva, Salith Gallage, Kushan Tharindu, Sulaimaan Riyaz, Pasindu Thakshila, Kalindu Nimnajith, Janaka Ranasinghe, Vindya de Mel, Jamal Wahab and Rahul Peter Denish celebrate on the podium after winning the schools segment of the CR and FC Centenary Rugby Sevens at Longden Place in Colombo last Sunday. The Peterites beat Royal College in the final 21-0 after knocking out Trinity College in the semi final (Pix by Sudath Nishantha)

Members of the Royal College team came in for high praise after they made a timely intervention to hold back a team-mate who behaved like a street thug as he attempted to attack a player from St. Peter’s College as both schools contested a most eagerly awaited final on the last day of the CR and FC Centenary Rugby Sevens at Longden Place in Colombo last Sunday.

The Royal College player, whose name the Sunday Observer has decided to hold back out of concern for his team-mates, was on the reserves bench and no sooner the final whistle was blown stepped onto the field to attack the Peterite opponent in full view of a group of reporters.

The intervention by the Royal players may have prevented what could have been a disaster to the culmination of what was witnessed as a superlative rugby championship that offered high octane fare to a packed crowd that had been starved of super quality action for almost three years.

The Royal-Peterite match served as the grand finale that followed a brilliant Kandy SC team shrugging off their shock defeat to host team CR and FC in a group stage game to beat a do-or-die Havelocks team in the men’s Cup final after a women’s team from Australia, Burraneer Women’s Rugby Club, beat an enterprising Army team in the women’s Cup final.

But it seemed the Royal-St Peter’s game was the one match that everyone at the venue, from the young and old that included the evergreen former Sri Lanka captain Indrajith Coomaraswamy, wanted to see and never left their seats or where they stood in the open stands.

Although the entrance had no price tag, the large crowd present got their money’s worth as the teams dished out top shelf Sevens rugby while the Peterites were eventually a cut-above-the-rest among the 12 heavyweight schools in the fray.

The Peterites crossed the Royal defence three times for tries and never let their opponents run the way they did by cutting them down with an exhibition of some persistent low tackling.

The rugby story between Royal and St. Peter’s dates back to more than 85 years and it was only fitting that history was kept intact although one player was out of place and did not suit the special occasion.

But although Royal lost 0-21 they won the admiration of rugby followers by also preventing a possible crowd reaction or outburst that could have spoilt a Sevens tournament organised in the most admirable way thanks to the former Sri Lanka fly-half, the dynamic and down-to-earth Dilroy Fernando, the tournament director who left no stone unturned.

It would have been hard to find a spectator or rugby follower who would have left the venue dejected as the overall action by the 12 schools, eight hardcore clubs and six women’s teams that also included another from Doha in Qatar took back memories they came to cherish.

If one team deserved more sympathy, Zahira College would have taken a bag full of it home as they just missed bowing out as the third best team having stretched the fancied Ispathana College into extra-time in the Plate final and lost.

Members of the Burraneer Women’s Rugby Club from Australia who became a big hit with the crowd greet young players at the CR Centenary Sevens. They eventually bowed out as champs in the women’s segment after beating the local Army women’s team in the Cup final