Sri Lanka portrayed in empty hall
Sri Lanka produced some electrifying moments like never before seen
on home turf but distressingly few fans saw the spectacle when the 2015
Asian Rugby Sevens got underway at the Race Course ground in Colombo
The spectator turn-out was so pathetic that there were more players
and match officials than the number of Sri Lankan fans and the handful
present may have seen what could have easily been the moment of the day
when the home team scored the fastest try inside 20 seconds after kick
off against the Philippines.
Shehan Pathirana was the architect of the masterpiece when he swiftly
moved under the ball at kick-off, grabbed it in the air, landed firm on
his feet, made a few strides and then flung out an inside pass to Nigel
Ratwatte who sprinted some 35 metres to score under the post as Sri
Lanka crushed the Philippines 38-7 and subsequently booked a quarter
final berth after outplaying Malaysia 40-0.
But that there was absolutely no big cheer house for the biggest ever
gathering of 12 Asian nations to contest a rugby championship in the
island may not have even mattered to the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union
(SLRFU) which has now been deflated with even insiders not knowing who
administers the sport other than a so-called Competent Authority
appointed by the Sports Minister.
The overall performance of the Sri Lankans at yesterday’s proceedings
was clinically refreshing and an eye-opener for a defunct administration
whose actions to cling on to political agendas could have run rugby to
the ground if not for the sacrifices of a bunch of players who took
pride in the jerseys they wore.
The team comprising the likes of Fazil Marija (captain), Nigel
Ratwatte, Sandun Herath, Srinath Suriyabandara, Dhanushka Ranjan, Dulaj
Perera, Richard Dharmapala, Gayan Weeraratne, Shehan Pathirana and
Anuruddha Wilwara will take on South Korea in the quarter finals today.
Dhanushka Ranjan finished the day as the leading try-scorer for Sri
Lanka after crossing the line three times in the two matches while
Ratwatte and Srinath Suriyabandara touched down twice.
Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Taipei were the other
teams to enter the quarter finals.
The Sri Lankan women’s team did not have much success until their
last match of the day when they trounced Singapore 28-10 after losing to
Kazakhstan (17-10)and China (45-0).
But they have a date with Thailand in the quarter finals today.