By Harsha Amarasinghe
The Under-20 All Island Inter-School Sevens Rugby Tournament is facing the prospect of being cancelled after the continuous grudge between Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) and Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) took another acrimonious twist on Thursday (18) when Sri Lanka Society for Rugby Football Referees (SLSRFR) was ordered not to officiate the Under-20 Sevens tournament scheduled to be played during the weekend.
SLSRFR Secretary Dinka Peiris received a scathing e-mail from SLR Deputy President Rizly Illyas on Thursday.
“Please understand that SLR we are (sic) the governing body for rugby football in Sri Lanka. We are not concerned as to what directions you take from the schools union. We have directed you at our last meeting and verbally today and now via e mail not to officiate in any tournament conducted by the Schools Union or any Provincial Unions. I request you not to further justify the current wrong status taken by the Schools Union as the Referees Union is affiliated to the (sic) SLR. If you further ignore the (sic) SLR decisions taken and conveyed to you as the Secretary of the referees Union it will be detrimental conduct of your Union in violation of World Rugby Laws. I do not wish to further discuss this matter with you, as our status remains same,” the e-mail reads.
Illyas later told ‘Daily Mirror’ that SLSRFA has not provided the tournament rule book and the other documentations; meaning SLR cannot sanction this tournament.
SLSRFA President Ranjith Chandrasekara however, claimed that they have provided everything that is required and got the approval for the tournament even before the start of the league competition.
“What they are saying is that we did not get the approval for the tournament. That is rubbish, we did that even before the league tournament and we submitted all the handbooks, amendments and all. We conduct all the tournaments according to the rules and regulations imposed by World Rugby. So what does SLR want? They want us to get their approval for every tournament week by week? If this was the case why didn’t they react like this during the Under-14 and Under 16 tournaments which were concluded recently? It’s shocking,” Chandrasekara told ‘Daily Mirror’.
Illyas in response said that they could not afford to let SLSRFA continue in this manner.
“Listen the World Rugby has nothing to do with some School Association. If something goes wrong, we SLR as the parent body is responsible for that. For instance last season there was an incident with a school coach, but World Rugby contacted us and inquired about it. So we just cannot let them have it in (sic) their own way. We have been watching all these tournaments and how they are conducting this. If you don’t take an action today, this will happen even during the league next season. Whatever they have provided has not been updated for years,” Illyas added.
SLSRFR Secretary Dinka Peiris however, revealed that a rule book must be submitted for the tournament.
“We are actually under enormous pressure because SLR says one thing and SLSRFA says another, but generally you have to have a rule book for a particular tournament,” Dinka told ‘Daily Mirror’.
However, Chandrasekara is fully confident that the tournament will go ahead as planned.
“It’s actually funny that SLSRFR has to take orders from SLR despite the fact that they owe the referees, I think close to four million rupees. Further, schools come under the purview of the Ministry of Education and they have already approved this. So, I have no doubt that we could go ahead with the tournament this weekend,” Chandrasekara stated.
There was also a heated exchange of e-mails when SLR opted not to inform of their decision directly to the SLSRFA. Instead they got SLSRFR to convey the message to SLSRFA.
“If SLR is our parent body or we are an affiliated Association to SLR, they should inform the decisions taken by the Council to SLSRFA. Otherwise they cannot act like this,” an e-mail from Chandrasekara to Dinka reads.
In response Illyas has informed Dinka through e-mail “The SLR council has taken a decision and we have communicated that to you. There is no reason we being the parent body have to contact anyone. The Schools and all Provincial unions have to inform SLR, and the referees Union should have consent from SLR and approval for such tournaments and it should be mandatory without any further discussions.”