Can Navy torpedo Kandy in the hills?

Friday, 6 December 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Local rugby Kandy SC will take on Navy this weekend and what is expected to be hard fought game. Over the last decade, Kandy has been a dominant force in local rugby, and the other teams have been playing catch up. Despite that dominance, Navy have over the last two or three years run Kandy in very close. It could be the physical aspect of the Navy game that has had Kandy flustered but they have never looked comfortable against the sailors. Last year Havies got the better of Kandy in the league stage only to miss out in the knock-out stages. As of now Kandy and Navy are unbeaten and both teams have had good performances to date. In a way, it’s sad that they should meet so early in the season as these games are worthy of a ‘final’ status. Last year Navy had the better of Kandy in a jam packed stadium in Welisara but this year they will have to contend with the Kandy crowd support as well, which can be overbearing at times. The question in many a mind is, can Navy beat Kandy in Nittawela? Be there on Sunday to find out. Also this weekend will see the traditional CR vs. Havies game at the park under floodlights. This game is steeped in such rich tradition that I am surprised that it does not get the attention that it deserves. It could be the poor run that the Havies have had for almost 30 years that has taken the gloss out of the game. In the early eighties, as soon as the fixture list was released, one would look for the CR vs. Havies game and the date would be firmly pencilled in. It was considered a hallowed weekend and no other sport would clash with this item. Based on current form, the Havies should get the better of CR, but a game so rich in tradition generally brings out the best in each and every player. Thus it’s best to get to the grounds early and sit back and enjoy the rugby on display. There is bound to be plenty of excitement, time to catch up with friends of yesteryear and gradually let the ale sink in. Many a rugby stalwart who has donned the jersey for CR or Havies have gone on to represent the country and to just name a few would be an injustice to the others. After the game the traditional social/dinner will follow and I am sure that it will be a night to remember. International rugby With the international rugby calendar complete for the year 2013, focus shifted on to the annual awards. New Zealand No. 8 Kieran Read was named ‘World Player of the Year’ as the All Blacks dominated the International Rugby Board awards. New Zealand, who set a new record in the professional rugby era by winning all 14 of their Tests in 2013, won ‘Team of the Year’ for the seventh time. Steve Hansen was named ‘Coach of the Year’ for the second time in a row. “This is fantastic recognition of a very special team,” New Zealand Rugby Chairman Mike Eagle said. “We are very proud of what Steve, Kieran and the team have achieved in 2013 as they have worked hard to be the best.” Read was picked ahead of Ben Smith, Leigh Halfpenny, Eben Etzebeth and Sergio Parisse. He is the third All Black to win the award, after Dan Carter in 2005 and 2012 and Richie McCaw in 2006, 2009 and 2010. The winners were picked by a panel chaired by Australia’s Rugby World-Cup winning captain John Eales including Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphael Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace. Read said the award could be attributed to the quality of the All Blacks, but he warned his team-mates that they couldn’t expect the same degree of dominance next year. “There’s a little gap but teams are catching up. South Africa is really close. They’re building pretty nicely. And a couple of northern teams - England and Wales - are pretty good sides. So we’ve got to keep improving.” (The writer can be reached via [email protected].)

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