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Sunday, 28 September 2008





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Rugby heavyweight behind withdrawal of Kandy SC players- charges SLRFU chief

Nimal Lewke - President of Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union - Says interested parties want to disrupt the smooth flow of activities.

RUGBY: President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) DIG Nimal Lewke charged a powerful person connected to Kandy Sports Club was behind the recent withdrawal of 12 players from the club for so-called ‘personal reasons’, in the wake of the appointment of his son Dushanth (Lewke) as skipper of the National XV ahead of the Inaugural Asian Five Nations - Division One Tournament in Chinese Taipei in November this year.

“It is a well-known fact who this powerful person is”, DIG Lewke told Sunday Observer.

“Anyone who has followed rugby in the past 10 to 15 years would know the person that I am referring to. “I needn’t mention his name. He is the person behind this whole sorry saga, and what is awful about the whole episode is that he doesn’t care for the damage that this sort of action does to Sri Lanka rugby on the whole, let alone the players.”

DIG Lewke said that it was very unfortunate that both he and his beloved son has become victims of circumstances and that his tenure as President of the SLRFU has coincided with the peak of his son’s rugby career.

“As any neutral follower of rugby would admit, my son is at the top of his game and apparently that seems to have occurred when my term was still in effect as President of the SLRFU.

“Therefore, those people who see through tinted glass panels, allege that I have put undue pressure on the selectors to make Dushanth the captain of the national team.”

The SLRFU boss stated that under no circumstances during his life as a rugby administrator he had put or brought about pressure or influence in favour of Dushanth Lewke and that his son’s playing credentials alone was sufficient for him to have been made skipper of the Sri Lanka squad.

DIG Nimal Lewke, continuing further, said that he had personally written to the President of Kandy Sports Club Dr. Sarath Kapuwatte and their rugby committee Chairman Lasantha Wijesuriya in order to clarify the SLRFU position on the appointment of the new Sri Lanka captain, but, he bemoaned Kandy SC’s negative response thus far.

“This is a clear case of one club trying to hold the Rugby Union to ransom”, he charged.

“How long are they planning to continue with this type of action”, he then questioned.

“The Chairman of the Selection Committee retired Brigadier Jupana Jayawardena has already informed me that the decision to hand over the reins of the fifteens squad to Dushanth, was a unanimous one.

Local body helpless

“Now, if Kandy SC players cannot accept that, then there is something radically wrong with them, because the selectors have all played top-class rugby for the country and they, I feel, know what they are doing.” He said the game’s local ruling body was helpless in trying to take action against the 13 KSC players who have continued to boycott pool practices for close upon three weeks, after former Sri Lanka captain Sanjeewa Jayasinghe walked out of training sessions, blasting the appointment of Lewke as skipper for the tournament in Chinese Taipei in November.

DIG Lewke added that despite the withdrawal of cream of talent from Kandy SC, the selectors had done well to include deserving schoolboys and other players from the service teams to a 39-member pool currently under training of national coaches - South Africans Dawir Dawie Snyman and Norman Laker.

Sri Lanka will ‘lock horns’ with China, Singapore and hosts Chinese Taipei in this newly sanctioned International Rugby Board (IRB) tournament to be held from November 12-15. He finally stated that looking at both coming tournament, in Taiwan, and at the opposition teams, his personal view was that Sri Lanka would have a genuine chance of winning the four-nation competition and then qualify to the top tier which includes such formidable sides as Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Arabian Gulf and Kazakhstan respectively. “This is a massive chance we (Sri Lanka) has got to win this inaugural event. “I hope the boycotting Kandy SC players realise the harm and damage they will be doing to the game and for the sake of the game, return for practices immediately. I urge them to put personal differences aside and put country first where rugby is concerned.” Five outstanding schoolboy rugby players Isipathana’s Dinusha Chathuranga and Sajith Saranga, Royalist Bilal Hassen, Peterite Ishan Noor and Josephian Shanaka Peitersz have been included in the 39-member pool in preparation for the tourney in Taiwan.



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