Trinity retain the Bradby

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 01:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The much-anticipated Bradby second leg was played on Saturday amidst a lot of pomp and pageantry. A plethora of rugby fans, past players and stalwarts were at the ground and the weather gods were kind enough by refraining from the usual monsoonal deluge.

The Chief Guest was Michael Muller and my mind goes back to his playing days with CR. The CR/Havies were then the local showpiece game of the season in club rugby. It was in one such game that CR came up with the ploy of playing two full backs, of which Michael Muller was one, to negate the kick-ahead tactic of the Havies. It definitely caught the Havies off guard and put them off their game.

At the outset the Trinity Lions decided that they needed to emulate the Maori Haka, which for some strange and inexplicable reason appeared to irk the Royalists. The Royalists’ anger was very much in evidence and as opposed to standing and accepting the challenge as most civilised teams do on the international stage, they decided to confront the Lions and even resorted to verbal exchanges, which was a poor display of sportsmanship.

The game itself did not reach any dizzy heights and the number of unforced errors by both sides was large. From a pure rugby spectacle I am sure that the vast crowd present went back short-changed in terms of value-for-money given the cost and hassle that they underwent to obtain tickets.

Trinity came into the game with a fair cushion of points and that made them play differently, possibly defensively as well. Possibly they wanted to protect the lead that they had from the Kandy leg and hence were not all out in attack. The few times that they spun the ball across to the three quarters, they looked threatening. A few more of those tactics and they may have breached the rock solid Royal defence.

Royal, on the other hand, had their work cut out. They had a target to achieve and were buoyed by some very loyal and vociferous local support. They played with greater intent and at the back of their mind they needed the points on the board to cut out the deficit of the first leg.

Thus, whilst they may have lost the overall Bradby shield, they won the second leg and were close to pulling off the shield as well.  Both sides will rue missed chances which would have made them dictate terms to the other. Trinity would have partied late into the night and the trip back to the hills would have been full of ale, songs and yarns of yesteryear.  

Referee Dilo handled the game well, in what was his last assignment with the whistle. The entire rugby fraternity will obviously miss his calm and collected composure in handling high pressure games. It would be great if he continues to impart his immense knowledge and expertise to the juniors who are having a rough ride at the moment.

The Referees Association demanded and obtained the necessary guarantees in terms of safety. The first of the league games got underway in Kandy and it remains to be seen as to whether those involved will abide by the rules and refrain from referee abuse. As pointed out by a former senior Police officer, abuse/threatening of a referee is punishable under the Penal Code and until such time as stern and punitive action is taken, those who threaten referees will get away scot free.

On the international front, Asian giants Japan recorded their first win against a Six Nations side when they got the better of the Welsh. Whilst some may argue that the bulk of the Welsh are touring with the British Lions down under, one cannot undermine the quality of the win. The writing on the wall is clear for SL if we are to win on the big stage. We would need to look at the Japanese structure and see what has worked for them, as these victories have not materialised overnight.

The All Blacks shrugged off their indifferent form against the France in the first test and recorded a thumping win the second test. As we watched the game unfold, the sheer class of the All Blacks was on display. Working the ball from their own 22 after defending stoutly against a marauding French side, they switched gears and scored in the far corner. The quality of the kicks ahead, the sleek passing and the omnipresent support players was a sheer delight to watch.

(The writer can be reached via [email protected].)

Recent columns