Tag Archive | "TEAM OF 1966"



Didacus de Almeida, Hiranjan Perera, Hadji Omar, Jeyer Rodriguesz and Rohan Abeysundera were in the 1966 Presidents XV team

Posted on 03 January 2017 by admin

Courtesy: Sharm De Alwis – Sunday Leader

The most awesome performance by any of our teams against a visiting team was in 1966.

RUGBYThe President’s XV played the British Joint Services (Far East) at Longden Place and went down heroically by only 3 – 6 , which, when compared with other games played by the country’s teams, was certainly  a pyrrhic victory by the visitors who got as much as they gave in total rugby warfare.

Sari de Sylva and his band of doughty fighters made us proud when they showed us what roaring spirit was. They took on a team that was considered superior to ours in every department of the game. Our team was out-weighed, out-sped and roughed up. But we wouldn’t be out-classed. We played a heroic game never seen within memory before or hence and were like a pack of terriers amongst the stallions, and the terriers prevailed.

We went to applaud quintessence of rugger at the expense of our own team but the tide of emotion was turned around in splendid manner and we were gripped with feeling, cheering and surging with our own team as they surged to Olympian heights of glory.

Every one of us would gladly have forgone seasons of rugby just to witness those magnificent moments right through to the final whistle.

The Joint Services were given the roughest time this side of Vietnam. So much so, they forgot it was a game and thought it battle. And, like in war, they did not pull any punches.

There was Mike de Alwis, battered in the scrums, wiping the blood from his face, spitting out a tooth or two and out-hooking them against weighty odds. Referee Bartholomeusz was never called upon to keep a sterner, disciplined eye on the course of a game.

And Sari gave an object lesson on how to tackle, when to tackle. In the process, he was subjected to hard hand-offs which made him shake like a terrier, but he still downed his man. That was embodiment not only of rugger but also guts and glory.

There was Tony Sirimanne, playing the game of his lifetime. At the base of the scrum or in the loose he was terrier breed. Once he punched his full frame against 200 pounds of hulk and nearly dislodged his adversary’s knee-cap.

Didacus de Almeida was the Jack of Spades, always cutting, thrusting, piercing. He must have been immortal to have scored that try. He was a solitary jack shuffling through the pack to come up trumps.

Rodriguesz played valiantly but was out of luck in the hour of need. Henricus, Rutnam, Rankine and Thiruchittampalam used their heads for tactical play and left Omar, Roles, Abeysundera and Hiranjan to harry, hustle and make them rush or drop their passes.

Noel Brohier exposed Jones and made him play like a smith. Only Flamer-Caldera was erratic.

All in all, the game of a lifetime was on and the visitors were made to look inanimate. The programme did give their names as such — Wood, Acorns, Picket and Frame. They were not wrongly christened.

The statistician might be content to record you lost 3 – 6. But we consider you won a moral victory.

The full contingent of the President’s XV: Maxim Flamer-Caldera, Basil Henricus, Didacus de Almeida, Tony Rankine, G. Thiruchittampalam, Jeff Rutnam, Tony Sirimanne, Hadji Omar, Mike de Alwis, Jeyer Rodriguesz, R. Abeysundera, Eric Roles, Sari de Sylva, Hiranjan Perera, Gama Fernando.

In the light of such valour and gallantry it is not fitting to mention other games in which some players looked as though they couldn’t crack their knuckles without another’s help but the record has to be set straight even if it is not about roses but that which would bring a blush to fair cheeks.

It would be a litany to mention the names of all players but those flamboyant threads that were in the tapestry with regularity through the years were of Summa Navaratnam, Basil and brother Alan Henricus, Claire Roeloffsz, Kavan Rambukwella, Lecho and brother Conrad Ephraiums, Ago Paiva, Mahes Rodrigo, Alan Drieberg, Geoff Weinman, Ashy Cader, Malcolm Wright, D.L.Y. Pakstun, Maurice Perera, Maurice de Silva, Brute Mahendran, Larry Schokman, Stanley Unamboowe, Michael de Alwis, Mike Schokman, Dharmasiri Madugalle, Lionel Almeida,  Franklin Jacob, Gogi Tilekaratne, Y. Chang Fa, Keith Paul, Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Selva Canagasabai, Lorensz Pereira, Indrajith Coomarasamy, Hubert Aloysius, Nimal Maralanda, M.U. Odayar, Noel Brohier, Ralph Gauder, Raji and brother Sari de Sylva,  Tony Sirimanne, Jeff and brother Dan Rutnam, Abdul Majeed, Mohan Sahayam, Glen Vanlangenberg, Gama Fernando, Jupana Jaywardena, Didacus de Almeida, Y.C. Chang, Hadji Omar and that Prince of scrum-halves, S.B. Pilapitiya.

Those names themselves form a sacrament calling for divine rites.

There were, of course, other games in which All-Ceylon, The Barbarians (2nd XV), the Services, Up-Country and Low-Country teams engaged the visitors in brutal battle and the first I watched was in 1950 when the All-Ceylon team comprising ex-pats except for  Claire Roeloffsz, Summa Navaratnam and  Letcho Ephraiums lost 6-44 to The British Isles. I couldn’t remember how much I paid to watch and so I asked Summa. He said he didn’t have to pay to play.

Philip Buultjens had been a Reserve in the 1930 All-Ceylon team against the British RFU XV which the visitors won 45 – NIL.

1932 – Others who played representative rugger were Edward Aluvihare, N.W.Weerasinghe, Noel Gratiaen,  Gratiaen was the only non expat in the All-Ceylon team which beat Madras 25-8 at the Race Course.

1938 – Western Australia RFU team beat at the Race Course 16 – 6 The Ceylonese  which comprised Ray de Zylva, Percy de Silva, Archibald Perera, Percy de Zilva, G. and Fred Kellar, A.H.A.Samad, Claire Roeloffsz, B & C. Ohlums, A.P. Koelmeyer, E. D. W. Jayawardene, D.L. Pate, Dr. Willie Ratnavale and Duncan Reith. It was a virtual CR & FC team except for Duncan Reith of the Kandy Rovers. Sammy David, also of CR was listed to play but did not as he was carrying an injury and  advised to rest.

The visitors beat Low-Country 11-9 and Up-Country 24-3. Claire Roellofsz was loaned to Up-Country by Havelocks! All-Ceylon won against WA 12 – 3 at the Race Course.
1939 – The Wallabies match against All-Ceylon was cancelled as the ship arrived late. All the non ex-pat players, including the reserves were from the CR&FC.

1950 – Mention has already been made of the British Isles – All Ceylon match. The decade gave good fare to rugby enthusiasts.

1953 – Australian Colts beat Colombo 35 – 11 at the Race Course and All-Ceylon 39-NIL at Darawella and Up-Country 32-3  at Bogambara, beat the Barbarians 30 – 3  and All-Ceylon 11-3.

1955 NZ RFU Colts brought a fresh approach to the game when the back Division formed a phalanx and proceeded as one. It was not a three-quarters’ rolling maul like that exercised in the 1st Leg of the Bradby by Prasanna Jayawardena, Suren Hulangamuwa, Dilan Denzil and Zameel Mohamed under the direction of that foxy coach, Quentin Israel.

In their opening game, the Colts beat Colombo Clubs 35 – 5 at the Race Course and went on to Bogambara to beat Up-Country 24-3. In their 35 – NIL match against All-Ceylon at Radella the Colts inner-three cut through the defence line as though of ribbon and was brought down by Malcolm Wright, the lone wolf in the last line of defence. They went storming on in their wins against the Barbarians, 33-NIL at the Race Course before calling it a day and going home undefeated.

1957 brought the Australian Colts for their second spell of wins by beating Low-Country 14-9 at Longden Place, Up-Country 43  – NIL at Nittawela and All-Ceylon 21-NIL at Radella, the Barbarians 22-NIL and All-Ceylon 37 – 3 at the Race Course.

1959 had the combined might of Oxford and Cambridge pitting their wares against our lads and Hurst was the only non-Blue in the team. The Colombo Clubs with a virtual All-Ceylon team lost NIL – 41 even though they had a heady team with Lionel Almeida, Rajah Sumanasekera, Ago Paiva, Tyrell Muttiah, Sandy Gomez, Alan Drieberg, Hubert Aloysius, Ranjit Sri Nissanka, Franklin Jacob, Ashy Cader and Conrad Ephraiums.

Their next game was at Longden Place where they won 37 – 3 against All-Ceylon, not as good as the win against the Colombo Clubs. Then at Badulla against Up-Country they came in to their own with a resounding win of 52 – NIL, Darawella – 55-NIL against the Barbarians and 45 – NIL Vs All-Ceylon.

1964 saw the British Joint Services (Far East) beat Ceylon Services 16 – 5 at Galle Face; 14 – 6 against President’s XV.

1966 – The British Joint Services (Far East) emboldened by their success in 1964 came again and trounced Ceylon Services 39 – NIL; President’s XV which was covered earlier in this article when Sari de Sylva’s thunderbolts gave as much as they got.

1968 – British Joint Services beat All-Ceylon in a narrow 14-12 game.
A Combined All-India team lost to All-Ceylon 18-19.

1969. Bosuns, comprising a strong team of players from the best rugby clubs in England beat All-Ceylon: 56-3 at Havelock Park; Up-Country: 56-3 at Radella; President’s XV 48-5; All-Ceylon : 34 – 8. For the first time our own countrymen came in to the team in full force other than John Burrows whose inclusion was a regular feature; beat Ceylon Services : 26 – NIL at Longden Place;

British Joint Services team from Singapore made their fourth visit and beat Ceylon Services 19-8 at Galle Face.

A notable feature was that even though an All-Ceylon team lost 9-11 to an Indian team in Calcutta the Ceylon Services team was able to win 20-3 against the same Indian team.
1970 — Blackheath Football Club bulldozed their win against Ceylon Services : 47-13 at Havelock Park and 44-16 against Colombo Clubs at Havelock Park; 42-3 Vs Up-Country at Darawella; 36-8 and 33-15 against the President’s XV the foreign teams always proved superior.

The Indian Rugby Football team won a close 9-8 encounter against Up-Country at Radella and All-Ceylon won for the first time against a visiting foreign team when scored 19-5 the visitors. The Ceylon Services followed up to inflict a 19-5 win against the visitors.

The All-Singapore team beat All-Ceylon 11-6 at Longden Place and 16-9 in the return game.

Paris Universities beat President’s XV 21-9 at Havelock Park and 38-3, the President’s Colts at Longden Place. The CRFU XV won against the visitors 11-8 at Longden Place.
1971 also had the England Far East team providing our rugby enthusiasts with good fare in two games, both of which they won 40-11 and 34-6.

The Nchanga Rugby Club lost to President’s XV 11-18.

1972 – Paris Universities 2nd tour. Won 70-6 Vs Ceylon Services; at Galle Face; 60-NIL Vs Up-Country and 51-4 Vs President’s XV .

London Welsh 70, CRFU 3 at Galle Face; 104 Vs Defence Services 3; 96 – 3 at Galle Face Vs Colombo Clubs; 108-4 Vs Up-Country; 106-4 Vs President’s XV at Nittawela and 66-3 Vs President’s XV at Longden Place.

Bancroft RF Club 18-12 Vs Rugby Football Club of Ceylon
Australian Emus 34-15 Vs Colombo Clubs at Havelock Park
36-9 Vs Defence Services at Badulla
43 – 4 Vs President’s XV at Nittawela
48-3 Vs CR&FC
52-9 Vs CRFU at Longden Place

RAF Gan Island tour organised by SL Air Force and the SL Army played two matches. Results and teams not readily available.

1973 – Athletic Club Boulogne Billancout 84 Vs Up-Country 4 at Radella; 24-15 Vs Defence Services  at Galle Face; 27-6 Vs Colombo Clubs at Longden Place
Nomads (English Schools) 82 beat President’s Under 20 – 2nd XV at Maitland Place;
20-16 Vs President’s Under 20 2nd XV; 32-7 Vs Defence Services at Badulla; 52-NIL Vs Dimbulla 2nd XV which had a fair complement of first grade players in Keith Paul, Jayantha Jayawardene, Ken Murray, Lionel Almeida and Mike de Alwis; 21-4 Vs Outstation U20 at Nittawela; 28-NIL Vs SLRFU Colts at Longden Place; 24-10 Vs President’s XV at Longden Place.

1974 – Japan RFU  88 Vs Sri Lanka 3 at Havelock Park.

1975  – Hastings Bexhill RF Club played seven matches and lost all their games against Havelocks, Combined UVA, Army/Navy XV, Kandy Sports, CH&FC, President’s XV and CR&FC.

One redeeming feature that surfaces is that today’s contingent is far superior if scores against visitors  are taken in to account even though the players of bygone years were more committed to the game and yet have grandeur attached to them. And, of course, there were in the most recent past two players in Michael Jayasekera and Hisham Abdeen who bear no comparison with the hoary past or the present.

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