By Harsha Amarasinghe
All Inter-Schools League Rugby games in both ‘A’ Division and ‘B’ Division Tournaments have been postponed under the instructions of Faiszer Musthapha, Minister of Provincial Councils, and Local Government and Sports, following the post-match violence observed during the last couple of weeks.
The Sri Lanka Society of Rugby Football Referees (SLSRFR) had opted to boycott the games of Wesley College, Zahira College and Maliyadewa College after various incidents that took place last week, but the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) was hoping to get all the issues sorted out by today (6).
However, it was decided at a meeting yesterday to postpone all the Inter-Schools games scheduled for the coming weekend.
“We have taken a decision to postpone the games for this weekend after the discussions held yesterday. We have not yet decided when to resume, but we are hoping to find a solution at another meeting scheduled to be held on Friday at 10 a.m.” SLSRFA President Ranjith Chandrasekara told Daily Mirror yesterday.
This has come in the wake of a press release issued by Faiszer Musthapha, Minister of Provincial Councils, and Local Government and Sports yesterday.
“Consequent to the recent incidents where spectators have taken the law into their own hands which resulted in threats to the safety of Referees, spectators and players. This is seen as a threat to the deputation of schools rugby. Consequent to the discussions I had with SLR and the Referees Association it was decided no Referee will be permitted at the ongoing school tournaments until a discussion is held with SLR, SLSRFR, Schools Association, Education Department and School Authorities to resolve this issue and instill discipline in rugby,” Musthapha stated in the press release.
The Secretary of SLSRFR, Dinka Pieris who officiated at the controversial Wesley-Royal game also revealed that they have been instructed not to involve in any Inter-Schools game this weekend.
“We were told by the Minister (Musthapha) not to officiate at the matches this weekend due to the problems that occurred during the last week. We were told that there will be a meeting soon to sort out all these problems,” the veteran Referee told Daily Mirror.
The post-match violence is something that is not new to Inter-Schools rugby, but the safety of the Referees has come under fire right throughout this season.
Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) had suggested in previous years that one way of sorting this out is by taking schools rugby under their wing, but the current Vice-President of SLR, Lasitha Gunarathne believes that incidents of this nature could not be avoided unless certain spectators improve their self-discipline.
“It is very unfortunate to see what has happened within the last few weeks. It’s very disappointing and tarnishes the name of this great game. It doesn’t matter of if the tournament is organised by the SLR or SLSRFA, incidents like this could only be avoided by behaving well. The fans must understand that a certain game could be won, lost or drawn, and when they enter the stadium they should be aware of this, and be good enough to accept whatever the result because this is Inter-Schools games and a lot of kids are coming to the grounds to watch the game. People need to be more self-disciplined,” Gunarathne said during an interview with Daily Mirror.