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Sunday, 6 February 2011

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Decisions to be made in Rugby Football...:

Dimbula, Dickoya and Uva to redeem lost prestige

RUGBY: Rugby Football was first introduced to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in 1879 with the corporate sector initiating rugby promotions in Colombo and taking it to the Up Country by the planting sector confined to the British Raj. The seeds of rugby was planted in the upcountry with Scottish and Englishmen stationed in the plantations. During this time the game of rugby flourished mainly due to the plantations companies enthusiasm and commitment to promote rugby in Sri Lanka.

Possessing such a long history, Sri Lanka rugby's main contribution to the game is certainly the famous Clifford Cup tournament finals played at either Radella or Darawella. This glittering silver trophy holds a prominent place in its own right in the history of the game. The clubs that represented the upcountry were Dimbula AC, Dickoya MCC and Uva at one time were the three top leading rugby clubs in the country.

Planting community keen

According to past records of rugby, those who took the game seriously in the early years were the planting community from Dickoya, Dimbula and Uva. In 1908 when the Ceylon Rugby Football Union was formed with only six clubs in the game, Dimbula ACC, Dickoya MCC, Kandy SC, Uva Gymkhana Club, and Kalutara SC. During that year only two Kandy schools Trinity and Kingswood were playing the game. And there were two Ceylonese teams Kandy Rovers and Colombo Ceylonese.

The first ever club game to be played over here, were two Up-Country clubs, Dickoya MCC played Dimbula ACC. This match was played on 7th September 1880 with Dickoya planters wining the game by 9 points to 3.

This match was played at Darawella. The return game took place a week later at Radella grounds and Dimbula came out as winners with 3 point to nil.

Unfortunately, Sad to Say, today, these two clubs have been out of rugby for quite some time with no interest from either the plantation companies or the planters themselves.

Dickoya was led by Metafile, the others were Curtis, Frees, Dove, Roswell, Corrier, Grahm, Haden, Messervy, Ogilvy, Parsons, Power, Wetherill, Wilton and Richardson.

Dimbula led by Fyers had Tatha, Verelsh, Wright, Boyd, Evns, Fitzclarence, Gwatkin, Hardie, McClintouch, Roper, Setton, Tynte, Eright.

Dimbula the first Clifford Cup winners from Up-Country - Dimbula ACC was founded in 1856, their sports activities were Rugger, Cricket, Squash, Billiards & Snooker, Tennis, Badminton.

Dimbula ACC was a major force in rugby until the mid 1970s when sports decline after plantations were nationalised. Dimbula were the first Clifford Cup winners from the Up-Country in 1953, when the Clifford Cup was just four years old at club level.

Then in 1956, Dim/Dicks (combined Dimbula-Dickoya team) were second to CR & FC in the Clifford Cup Tournament, then again in 1959 Dimbula ACC shared the Cup with CR & FC

Ken Murray to the front

Another movement came in 1970 under the leadership of evergreen Ken Murray, Dimbula emerged as the Clifford Cup division league champions, and they were deprived of the rugby double when they lost to Abdul Majeed's Policemen team 0-6 in the Clifford Cup knockout Semi-finals.

Dimbula ACC were not only a major force in rugby, but also produced some of the finest ruggerites in the country namely, D.R. Macare, J. Bousfield, J. Warning, Miles Christoffelsz, Larry Shockman, S. Canagasabai, M. Parry, I. McDonals, Mike de Alwis, Stanly Unamboowe, Dharmasiri Madugalle, Owen Mottau, Jayantha Jayewardene, Rohan Wijanayeke, Clifford Elahart, Roger D' Silva, Sunil Jayakody, Tommy Kelaart, Peter Amerasinghe, Rohan Kulatunga, Mohan Samarakoon, Iswan Omar, Tuan Dole, P.H.A.N. Dias, Brain Lourenzz, Lanil Tennakoon, Brian Lieverze, Cedric and Brian Munaweera, Maithri Liyanage, Chandika Brodie, Senaka Alawattegama, Johny Daniels, Mohan Ganapathy, D.J. Ratwatte, Ana Wijaratne, Trevor Nugawella, Channa de Costa, Ravi Bandaranayake, Ronnie Ibrahim.

In recent times there has been a suggestion to resurrect the game and play it for a trophy in memory of the Late. P.H.A.N. Dias.

Dickoya first entered the Clifford Cup Final in 1958. Dickoya MCC was founded in 1874 and they started with Rugger, Cricket, Tennis, Squash, Badminton and Cue sport. They too were another major force in rugby to reckon with. At one time it was the most beautiful rugby grounds in the country - the picturesque Darawella grounds with an excellent clubhouse with all facilities in prime condition. It was the venue visited by the famous English Test cricketer Sir. Jack Hobbs during an England team's tour and named his home Darawella after his return to England.

In the past, Dickoya produced great teams and twice entered the Clifford Cup Finals and went down to CR & FC and Havelocks SC in 1958 and 1961. Dickoya, in 1961 under M.G.K. Macpherson, the man who led Kandy SC in 1955 cup final and Dimbula in 1959, went down to Dr. Hubert Aloysius' Havelocks SC team in the final seconds of the game, due to an off side penalty.

In that year, Dickoya team had a few locals in the calibre of T.B. Pilapitiya, Rohan Wijanayake, B.I. Gunawardena and the famous Uvais Odayar. Some of the top products of this club were Barry Cameron, Tony Johnson, Chris Bean, Lionel Almeida, Uvais Odayar, David Weatherton, Baila Samarasinghe, D. Bretherton, Dharmasiri Madugalle, Rohan Abeyasundara, J.M.E. Warning, Mohan Samarakoon, Iswan Omar, Irwin Howie, C.D. Gibon, Lanil Tennakoon, Ranga Gunasekara, Mohan Ganapathy, Mahen Madugalle, Tony Perera, Dushy Perera, Tariq Omar, Dilkshan Ratwatte, Dushan Ratwatte, Rohan Edwards, Sumedha Ratwatte, Suresh Navaratnam, Rajivi Bandaranayake, Chanake Hearth.

UVA was the first club from Up-Country to enter Clifford Cup Final. Uva Gymkhana Club produced good rugby teams at a certain time.

The great rugby players of UVA who played the game at the highest levels being so far away from the main city had great times with entertainment at its best, as such they acquired the name "Merrie on Men" from UVA tag. At that time, the most looked forward match was between Uva and CH & FC. The game appears to be fading with difficulties of funding and the parent body - SLRFU unable to support their existence, but the name "Merrie Men of Uva" will also remain in the memory of many.

However, now it goes as Uva Gymkhana Club - they played the game of rugby in grand style with recognition from all sectors. This club was the first to enter the Clifford Cup final from the up-country. Their first Clifford cup team was from: L. Herath, A. Ariarajah, C. MaCaulayt, P. Pontibridge, G. Fernando, R. Tissera, G. Pethiyagoda, F. Brown, H. Froxely, D. Dawson, M. McKohenck, D. Bertleet, G.Roberts, S. Scobie, J Mac.

Horse racing too held

The Uva Gymkhana Club in search of lost past glory, is a matter to be considered. At one time the Uva Gymkhana Club in fact played rugby on a grand scale and continued until lately. The club was formed in 1928, they played Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, Hockey, Cue Sport and Badminton. The Uva Gymkhana Club at one time conducted horse racing as well. In 1952, the Uva Gymkhana Club entered the Clifford Cup final and lost to CR & FC by 19 points to nil.

Some of the top players who played for Uva were; A. C. B. Horfall, C. D. Herath, M. M. Clarke, J. T. Pettgraw, F. Aldons, K. Ariarajah, D. Parkar, Tyrone Howie, R. G. Howie, J. Boyd Moss, J. Garner, Ralph Gauder, S. B. Pilapitiya, A. Hamer, Lionel Almeida, Rayan Howie, Ronnie Gunaratne, Lanil Tennekoon, Sarath de Zoysa, D. N. "Nipa" Pilimatalawa, Farook "Baba" Cassim, Mohan Samarasinghe, Uvais Odayar, Goerge Jayasena, Dharmasiri Madugalle, Franklyn Jacob, Iswan Omar, Gamini Udugama, Sunil Serasinghe, David Withem to name a few.

Possessing a rich rugby legacy and being among the pioneer rugby playing clubs in the tear drop island, has a story to say. The beginning of such a story could always be on similar lines because the rugby history of Sri Lanka could not be scripted without reference to the other. The history also depicts the game's early beginnings in Sri Lanka. By this report, it is believed that the Rugby Union would entice the Up-Country clubs along with their principals to link rugby once again to form one of the brightest chapters in Sri Lankan rugby.

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