By Harsha Amarasinghe
Ranjith Chandrasekara President - Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association stated yesterday that the ‘competitiveness’ within the Inter-School League Rugby Tournament has been the underlying factor behind the recent post-match violence.
Sri Lanka Society of Rugby Football Referees (SLSRFR) on Monday announced that they had decided to boycott all the games involving Wesley College, Maliyadeva College and Zahira College after various incidents that were observed during the last weekend.
As a result of that the Minister of Provincial Councils, Local Government and Sports, Faiszer Musthapha released a statement on Wednesday (23) claiming that he had given instructions for referees to not officiate any inter-school game this weekend.
“We should make amendments to problematic areas. I have been in this field for many years now and I genuinely believe that the real issue is with the format. Now the schools are spending millions on the coaches, and sponsors are involved heavily which has promoted the attitude of winning at all cost. Back in the day players would visit the ground together and have dinner afterwards with players from the opposite side, but this has disappeared now. At the moment, we need to find a solution to make this less competitive,” Chandrasekara explained.
However, after hours of discussions on Friday with the representatives of rugby-playing schools, several members of SLSRFR, SLSRFA and SLR, Musthapha revealed that the suspension would be lifted from Monday (28).
“The ban will be lifted from Monday and respectfully urge all the schools to find solutions to avoid post-match violence,” stated Musthapha.
It has also been understood that consumption of liquor inside the stadiums during the games, has led to most of the violence and the Minster urged the hosting teams to ban alcohol within the stadiums on match days.
Sri Lanka Rugby Vice President Lasitha Gunarathne meanwhile made a controversial statement claiming that SLSRFA has allowed under-aged players to take part in this tournament.
“Sri Lanka Rugby is this country’s representative of World Rugby and there are certain rules and regulations we have to follow. The rules clearly suggest that no tournament in the country could be organized without being sanctioned by the parent body. However, under-aged players are taking in this tournament. Players safety comes first, but kids of 14 or 15 are participating in this tournament which is illegal,” Gunarathne who is tipped to be the next SLR President said before Musthapha played the role of peacemaker.