SLR gets green light for Commonwealth Games


“Accreditation received for Sri Lanka Rugby to participate at the Commonwealth Games 2022”.

One might get confused hearing different stories and reports conveying a message that the Olympic Charter recognises only the elected body and not an appointed body. Director-General Sports Development (DG) Ministry of Sports – the Competent Authority (CA) for
Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) – confirmed to Ceylon Today that the Sri Lankan Rugby team will travel to Birmingham and the appointment of Nilfer Ibrahim as the National Coach. However, he said that rugby is not a medal prospect, and therefore, will not receive funding from the Ministry.

The good news, however, is that there have been successful discussions with the National Olympic Committee (NOC), and an agreement has been reached to finance the rugby teams, and this will ease the pressure on the Ministry as there is no State funds involved.

I asked about the rationale of the appointment of Nilfer Ibrahim as coach, as there is speculation that the Technical Committee of SLR headed by Ajith Abeyratne had recommended Fazil Marija to be the coach. The DG/CA explained that he had gone through the Council minutes, which had recommended Nilfer Ibrahim and Fazil Marija to coach the sevens team that travelled to Dubai for the Asia Sevens. However, the minutes ranked Ibrahim ahead of Marija.

 Marija had declined to be part of the coaching team, and Nilfer was appointed coach for the Asia Sevens according to the minutes maintained, and to ensure continuity, Nilfer has been assigned to coach the team for Commonwealth 2022 as well.

Viper Gunaratne, a member of the Technical Committee, said that the speculation that Chairman Ajith Abeyratne had sent a letter was inaccurate. The Technical Committee did not meet or discuss this in the last three weeks. Instead, they discussed the appointment of coaches for the trials. The coaches appointed were Sanath Martis, Nilfer Ibrahim, Fazil Marija and Shamli Nawas.

The last recommendation was the appointment of a coach for the Asia Sevens in Dubai. A footnote said the position was for that tour. The DG stated that there had not been any qualification specified in the minutes of the Council made available to him, and the coach’s appointment was in line with the prior decision of SLR.

Asked about the non-appearance in Court by the parties to answer a petition filed by the deposed President and Council members of SLR, he said that this is a civil case. A proxy authorised the lawyers and did not require a physical presence. Legal sources confirmed the position.

Asked about the mail sent by the Executive Director Hamza Hidayathulla addressed to the DG, Department of Sports Development informing the request made by the sponsors to postpone the league, and were not in agreement to allow SLR or the Competent Authority to use their branding if they go ahead with the league matches. He said that the Executive Director seemed to be misplacing his direction in writing to the Director-General when the Gazette issued has appointed the Competent Authority. This is an indication that the Executive Director, an employee of Sri Lanka Rugby, wants to prove a point in not accepting the order of the Government Gazette. He also said that there is speculation that the Executive Director is writing to various persons under the direction of the Council and/or the Executive Committee, which stands dissolved. These are matters that have to be resolved and declined to comment as there is a case filed.

By Vimal Perera