Putting empty stables right
With two important rugby tours on the cards - the Hong Kong Sevens
and Five-Nation Tournament, that the rugby stables are empty of the
horses by all accounts does not augur well for the sport; a sport in
which Sri Lanka has over the years been labouring to shed the club
glamour image to which many enthusiasts argue it alone is confined and
rub shoulders internationally.
Clearly, all quarters in the game’s nerve centre - the Sri Lanka
Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) have not seen eye to eye leading to the
current breakdown with first the CEO Dilroy Fernando and then its
President Nimal Lewke himself quitting with over a month to go for the
For a sport which had happily made significant strides when Sri Lanka
basked in No. 3 position in the South East Asian Region some two years
ago that it has dwindled both result-wise as well as administratively
when rugby should have taken off on that aura of showing promise for the
future is sad.
That the gamut has shrunk to the depths of an interim committee
having to oversee things upto the forthcoming AGM and its coffers nose
diving to a point at the SLRFU staring at a massive overdraft as its
Chairman Dr. Maiya Gunasekera claims is indeed not good reading.
Analytically, our rugby needs much homework to be done from clearing the
mess in the national team that has been a bane for the past so many
months starting from player dissention as to who should be captain to
the running of the sport and still glaringly the financial side; what
with the SLRFU facing a sponsorship pull out by long time sponsors
Caltex who have alarmingly lost faith in rugby for its shaky position.
Something which according to Dr.Maiya Gunasekera is his biggest concern
where he will be looking to have the SLRFU in its best dress to impress
upon Caltex’s Managing Director Kishu Gomes to win back his nod.
Financially, another area that Dr.Maiya Gunasekera upon whom it has
fallen would be to expedite the obtaining of a somewhat long overdue
International Rugby Board (IRB) grant of 70,000 sterling pounds in 2008
for development of provincial rugby which has been delayed because of a
breakdown in the documentation work by the SLRFU. As contended by him
this had been because there had been a cloud of uncertainty as to who
was CEO at the time.
And this has cost the rugby union a loss of Rs. 5 million as claimed
by the Interim Committee Chairman who claimed that the depreciation of
the pound would now fetch a us only Rs.10 million this year and not
Rs.15 million which would have been the equivalent of 70,000 sterling
pounds in 2008. Not sending over the relevant documentation over to the
IRB is not the best of things that could have happened for our rugby at
a time the sport needs the oxygen of huge currency to sustain it. For
the interim committee chairman hard currency is hugely current to the
former rugby heavyweight now professionally a medical man who best
described the urgency of it all in the following words,”The money that
everybody is saying is there is in fact not there.” That is not in the
best interest of rugby and it is hoped as Dr.Gunasekera hopes he could
speed up his work with the aplomb of his stethoscope before he hands
over things tidily for the March 31 hustings to elect new office bearers
to the SLRFU. In that respect another vital role vested with the good
doctor by the Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge is to review the voting
system of office bearers and their eligibility to contest. He would have
to satisfy himself first hand that the requirements in the Sports Law
which supersedes any other governing law of the SLRFU mainly that.
nominees have played national or ‘A’ Division premier rugby.
Notably, Sports Minister Lokuge, commenting on this area on which he
had called for a report, said,”If I find that there are any loopholes in
the current voting system I will take action to remedy it.” The
Minister’s directive follows representations made by the former SLRFU
President Senior DIG Nimal Lewke who said that he had drawn the
attention of the Minister that some officials were not eligible to hold
office.Indeed, rugby lovers would be looking to the sport being restored
to a platform from which it would reclaim its lost zest and strive to
move up the ladder from 7th position in the South East Asian Region to
be counted at Asian level by achieving that longfelt dream of being
among the top three in Asia and further improve on its 51st position
among 120 countries at world level.