Reflections on lost friends and team mates – Sampath Agalawatta and Sanjay Sigera

Wednesday, 28 August 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


We lost our teammates and friends Sampath Agalawatta and Sanjay Sigera one year back and three years back respectively in the month of August. As we know, time is always a healer of life but one

Sampath Agalawatta
Sanjay Sigera 

cannot forget the good times, the friendly rivalries, the fun we have all had together as friends and teammates. 

Sampath, fondly known as Agale, passed away around this time last year (28th) and there aren’t many days that go by that we don’t think of him. He was our captain from our junior years of playing rugby as a lot of played alongside him from U13 teams. He was a fierce competitor and would not give up. 

Agale was always keen to win on the field and positively for the 1984 rugby team of Royal, we managed to do that albeit drawing two games against Isipathana and Trinity but winning all the shields on offer in that year – the Bradby Shield, Michael Gunaratne Trophy and the Phillip Buultjens Trophy. Agale was a tower of strength in the 2nd leg match against Trinity College dropping back to help the back three at every given opportunity. 

The 1984 team is probably the only team Royal has produced that has won all the shields on offer from the School section in a single season – the Schools knock out tournament commenced in 1985 so it was not on offer in 1984. 

I had the fortune of also working with Sampath for five years at MAS Active and it was back to the Scrum Half/Fly Half combination of yesteryear. I will not forget those years and I am sure neither would my teammates. 

Agale left behind his wife Dilhani, kids Samali, Samal and Sahan who are doing as well as they could. Along with his family, he also left behind his brothers Dhammika and Manjula and their families. 

Sanjay Sigera was a unique teammate with funny ears and a panache for eating rice – yes he consumed copious amounts of it and loved it. Sanjay was a quiet “kukula” but he was one of the blokes that took care of the front of the battle alongside his other front row teammates. 

Whilst the game was not as scientific in our playing days as it was now, Sanjay was a rock as a tight head as he was strong as an ox. I know that well as I was fortunate to tour with the Sri Lankan U20 national team to Taiwan to represent our country at the 5th Pan Pacific Games. He won a few arm wrestles against much bigger opponents. 

Sige went to medical school to Russia and passed out as a Doctor (GP) and vended his way via Scotland to Palmerston in New Zealand where he lived and had his own medical practice. Sige passed away with a rare illness after he went into a routine inpatient care for a chest cold and would not recover from it.  

Sanjay was the only Doctor from both the teams (1984 and 1985) he played with – a rare feat for us. 

Sanjay left behind a wife and three kids. The eldest daughter is completing her studies in Palmerston whilst his wife has returned to Georgia where she is from. He also left behind his sister Nilmini who recently won the “Performer” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) in 2019. 

As I have said before, life is too short, there is no time for insecurities and grudges, live for the future with some caution but embrace what life gives you. There is no point living the past, but reminisce it and laugh about it and this will keep you in good stead for the future. 

May you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana, my friends! Rest in peace, my friends! You were both a beacon of light to a lot of us. You keep looking out for us and we will do our best to live it, love it, enjoy it and share it – Life, I mean. 

– Jehan CanagaRetna