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Peterite Rugby – 75 years of proud history

Posted on 11 April 2016 by admin

Peterite rugby – 75 years of proud history.
by Ruchira Mendis – Courtesy: The Island.


St. Peter’s College, Colombo, celebrates its 75 years of rugby in grand scale this year as they created history in 2006 by becoming school double Champions by winning outright the Singer League and Milo President’s Trophy, the first Peterite team to achieve this feat, under the captaincy of Harendra Ariyawardane and coaching guidance of Sanath Martis.

Amidst the celebrations of 75 years of rugby, St. Peter’s rugby team achieved that invincible status in 2007 by becoming the first Peterite XV to become the "unbeatable school rugby champion" under the captaincy of Ranuka Jayasinghe again under the guidance of Martis.

Enthusiastic young ruggerites of St. Peter’s College donned the now glorious College Colours of Blue, White and Gold for the first time, in 1932 under the Rectorship of Fr. D.J. Nicholas Perera. The brilliant rugger player and sportsman, Herbert Wittahatchy took over the fortunes of Peterite rugby the same year, as Prefect of Games. No one dreamed that a glorious history was about to be created.

Brilliantly moulding a team of freshers together with Lim Billimoria (the first Peterite rugby captain), St. Peter’s entered the then Ceylon schools rugby arena with its inaugural 1st XV in the same year, 1932. St. Peter’s (SPC) became the fourth school in the history of Sri Lankan rugby to play at competitive level.

St. Peter’s played their first match against Royal College at home grounds at Bambalapitiya. Though they lost that match, their team’s performances then on field showed a glimpse of the potential that they had to lead to built a majestic legacy in the future.

Success was not long in coming their way and with brave and intelligent play against all opponents, Peterites first tasted success in 1934 recording the first rugby win against Royal at Bambalapitiya by 5-0 under the captaincy of Shirley Illesinghe.

Then in 1935, under the captaincy of Fred Keller, the Petes posted a historic feat beating the vastly experienced Trinity College, Kandy, in an encounter at Bambalapitiya as a ‘stunning’ scoreboard read 6-0. This was only their third attempt. Emotions ran high as Peterites were adjudged Joint Champs (with Trinity College) of the inter-collegiate rugger tournament.

St. Peter’s continued to grab the Schools Rugby Championship title for five consecutive years from that point onwards, a rare feat in the history of Inter-Collegiate Rugby in Sri Lanka. While remaining invincible through the rugby season in 1936, under the legendary Archibald Perera and in 1938 under Percy Perera, they reigned their supremacy in the local rugby scene.

In 1948, under the stewardship of M. Numan, former Peterite rugby player, and Harold de Silva, the captain, their fortunes began to have a new rise. Harold de Silva is today the oldest living Peterite rugby captain.

It took a long for the Peterites to settle and stamp their class after resumption as they were playing against much experienced teams.

The legendary Archibald Perera became rugby coach of St. Peter’s College in 1956 and he continued to serve the College uninterrupted till his demise in 1982 ending an era that touched hearts of all Peterites for more than 26 years at the helm.

During his tenure, St. Peter’s produced four schools rugby champion sides, namely: Under Darrel Wimaleratne in 1965, under Hamzi Hameed in 1966, under Jeffery de Jong in 1972 and under Rohan Wiratunga in 1973.

St. Peter’s College, regrouping in the early 80s with Archibald’s successor Frank Hubert as coach, assisted by Angelo Wickramaratne, were instrumental in producing another famous side in 1985 under the captaincy of Rajith Abeygoonewardena and St. Peter’s finally broke the hoodoo of losses against some top school teams, crafting a new destiny for them by beating Trinity 8-0 after 44 years, beating Royal 24-0 after 13 years and St. Thomas’ 7-4 after eight years.

In 1986, under the late Rowen Gunasekera, St. Peter’s ended the season as runners-up to Isipatana against whom they recorded their solitary loss though managed to beat other more fancied teams and drawing with Trinity College in Kandy.

Then came 1994 when the Peterites, captained by Roshare Alles, went in to ‘the lions den’ to beat Trinity College in Kandy after 53 years and in 1995, under Sanjeewa Abeygoonewardena, they tamed the Trinity Lions twice over under the watchful eyes of another Trinity Lion Ajith Abeyaratne and Nimal Lewke thus becoming league runner up by just a few decimal points to Isipatana whom they beat twice in that season. However, St. Peter’s came back strongly to win the inaugural President’s Trophy in 1995.

In 2002, under Dilanka Wijesekera, St. Peter’s became the ‘A’ Division Schools Champions to become the fist Peterite champion side of the new millennium.

St. Peter’s College has produced many brilliant rugby players in her 75-year rugby history feeding National teams with high quality players both with skills and discipline emerging from its system in every single decade. Peterite rugby players have found favour with many leading rugby clubs and are always in great demand due to this particular quality. That was so even during pre-independence days during which the British expatriates dominated the game.

Many Peterites have featured prominently in national or combined teams, be it Combined Schools, All Ceylon, Ceylonese or Sri Lankan XV’s or even at rugby 7’s. They’ve brought much honour and glory to St. Peter’s College, its rugby and its fervent followers when ever they’ve donned the Blue White and Gold jersey or the National jersey against visiting teams or playing on foreign soil.

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