By M. Shamil Amit
With the club rugby season wrapping up, focus will now turn to the Under 19 inter-schools rugby season which is just three weeks away, and will kick off next week, on March 3.
In the top division 12 teams will be in action which is divided into two groups comprising of six teams in each. The Group A consist of defending champions Royal their traditional rivals Trinity, St Joseph’s, S. Thomas’ St Anthony’s Katugastota and Kingswood who have been promoted. The Group B comprises of last year’s runner up Isipathana, Wesley, St Peter’s, Zahira, Dharmaraja and D.S. Senanayake College.
The tournament will kick off with the first match scheduled to be played between defending champions Royal and Kingswood at Royal Sports Complex.
This will be followed by five other matches due to be played in the second week of March with Isipathana locking horns with DSS on March 7 at Havelock Park, Wesley vs Dharmaraja at Racecourse and St Peter’s vs Zahira at Havelock Park both on March 10 and two matches on March 11 being St Anthony’s vs Trinity at Nittawela and St Joseph’s vs S. Thomas’ at Havelock Park.
Apart from the matches in the top division, action will take place around the island in three other divisions where over 100 teams will contest including three teams from the Jaffna district who will be participating for the first time.
This time the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) has decided to change the age group from Under 20 to Under 19 to be in line with the structure by the World Rugby body and there will be amendments in the playing field.
One of the key changes will be the time duration of play which will now be 70 minutes split to 35 minutes in each period with no extra time being allowed.
The tournament committee of SLSRFA has to abide to the rules and regulations of the World body and all junior international tournaments including at Asia level is being conducted in Under 19 hence they had to introduce this structure to be in line said an official of the SLSRFA.