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Sunday, 17 June 2012

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Plantation schools take to rugby football

RUGBY: Significant progress has been made by the Central Province RFU in the introduction of rugby to the plantations schools and other schools where rugby has not been played.

In a history making rugby match played at the Darrawela grounds recently Panmure Tamil Vidyalaya - a plantation schools in Abbotsleigh Estate in Hatton held Zahira College, Gampola to a scoreless draw in a Singer Shield 'c' Division Rugby tournament match.

A very large crowd mostly estate workers and residents of Hatton, Dickoya and Bogowantalawa turned up to witness this match which was officiated by T.S.P. Karunaratne.

The credit of introducing rugby to the schools in the plantations should go to former Dickoya Maskeliya CC ruggerite R. Wimaleswaran who is the Factory Officer attached to Abbotsleigh Estate - a prime plantation in Hatton. Wimaleswaran who has no school rugby background, picked up the game having being invited to play for the planter dominated Dickoya Club.

Having played the game for over 20 years, he did not allow this sport to die and instead he took an active interest in spreading it to the plantations. Already schools in Hatton like St. John's Boscoe College, Highlands Central College along with two schools from the plantations - Panmure Tamil Vidyalaya and Pulliyawatte Tamil Vidyalaya in Rozella have taken to the game.

The two major planter clubs in the hills Dimoula Athletic and Cricket Club and Dickoya-Maskeliya Cricket Club, though having a rich rugby heritage of 120 years have had top class ruggerites, but they were either expartirate planters or from leading schools in Colombo and Kandy and had taken to planting as a career.

But hardly any locals played, except when they were asked to fill a void. There was no nursery and the two planter clubs are now finding it difficult to field sides in a sport in which they participated in the highest level before the exodus of the planting fraternity took place.

The present action taken by Wimaleswaran to introduce rugby to the plantations is a laudable move and he is doing his task with dedication as the rules of the game are so complex, that it takes a long time to get conversant with them by the schoolboys who are soccerites.

The President of the Central Province Rugby Union Tuan Dole himself a former planter having led the Upcountry team and also played Dickoya and Dimbula, said that funds permitting, action will be taken to take rugby to more plantation schools with the assitance of the Secretary Anil Jayasinghe, former President Mohan Samarakoon, Treasure Anura Madawela and Viper Gunaratne Snr. and Jnr. Gamini Udugama, Kalu Perera and others.

 

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