Wednesday, 26 June 2013 00:00
By Blind Side
With the inter-school rugby season almost coming to a close, it would be opportune to analyse some of the blunders the association which governs schools’ rugby, namely the Sri Lanka Schools’ Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA), has committed. Some of these have been highlighted in the print media while others have not.
A couple of weeks ago the SLSRFR decided not to appoint referees for schools’ rugby matches. This resulted in a match which should have been played in Kandy being cancelled as the appointed referee had not turned up at the venue.
Though SLSRFR’s decision which had been taken for the safety and protection of its members is reported to have been communicated to SLSRFA, the latter had acted irresponsibly by failing to inform such decision to the two schools.
The well-known principle of courtesy was therefore flouted by SLSRFA on this occasion.
The newspapers reported that a communication breakdown between SLSRFR and SLSRFA had led to the above decision taken by the former, not to blow at school matches not being conveyed to the two schools.
One of the teams affected by this irresponsible act by SLSRFA claimed that they spent over a lakh of rupees only for hiring buses for providing transport for their players from Colombo to Kandy.
When popular and advanced modes of communication such as the telephone, fax, e-mail and text messages are being widely used even by students in primary classes, how and why the SLSRFA failed to perform their responsibilities by using one of these modes of communication becomes questionable. The individuals who were responsible for this serious lapse should be identified and held accountable. Furthermore, they should be compelled to make good the financial losses incurred by the two schools.
The SLSRFA has already drawn a lot of flak from the rugby-loving public regarding the double standards it has adopted regarding two separate incidents involving the Royal College team.
The first incident was their walk out from the playing field, while a match was in progress, claiming concerns regarding the safety of their players.
After the match was abandoned the Principal of Royal announced over the public address system that he had decided to award victory to the Isipathana College team which remained on the field and was willing to continue the game.
The Royal Principal was also a member of the presentation party when the trophy was awarded to Isipathana.
However, SLSRFA issued a press statement few days later, and announced that the Royal vs. Isipathana match will be treated as a draw, with the score being made 20 all. However, SLSRFA’s website - http://www.slsrfa.com/category/singer-div-1a/ still displays the score as 27-20 in favour of Isipathana.
The rugby-loving fraternity was thoroughly confused as to the basis on which SLSRFA decided to change the official results of that match. This high-handed act of SLSRFA was criticised by none other than Jonathan Kaplan, a South African born referee of international repute.
SLSRFA had also not imposed punishment, in accordance with Rules 9.1 and 9.2 displayed on their own website, on Royal College, for walking out of that match. SLSRFA’s failure to take disciplinary action for this offence would create a bad precedent whereby it would be compelled to tolerate if other schools decide to stage walk outs citing various flimsy excuses, like what Royal have done.
The second incident took place at the second leg of the Bradby, played at the Royal Complex.
The question to be answered by the SLSRFA in regard to this incident is why it has still not taken any action against Royal College for pushing/shoving, head butting and punching the Trinity players even before the game commenced.
This act of aggression was done by the Royal team by forcibly entering the opponent’s territory. Is the SLSRFA adopting a biased attitude towards Royal College?
Another incident worth mentioning is last year’s League Championship. Sources close to Isipathana claimed last year that a protest was lodged by them against Vidyartha College, for fielding an ineligible player. However, the SLSRFR had ignored the protest, adducing the reason that it did not wish to be bound by the evidence Isipathana had produced in the form of video clips and photographs. Subsequently Isipathana successfully appealed against the decision of the SLSRFA.
The Ministry of Education conducted an inquiry, found Vidyartha College guilty of having committed the offence and imposed a punishment.
However, the result of this year’s match between Royal and Isipathana, which was abandoned as a result of the abrupt walk-out by the former, was changed by SLSRFA. This decision had reportedly been taken after an inquiry panel viewed a Chanel 4 type video clip, hosted on YouTube and given wide publicity by the Royal College Media Unit.
From the few incidents quoted above, it is amply evident that SLSRFA lacks transparency and is run by a set of people who lack efficiency and basic managerial skills and above all, impartiality.
It is high time that the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sports intervene and take action to appoint an interim committee so that activities of this association could be conducted in a professional manner, until all remaining schools’ rugby matches, including the knock-out tournament, are completed.
It would be imperative for competent personnel, who have a good knowledge of the game and administrative skills, be appointed to such an interim committee.