Gutsy Royalists retain Bradby

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Down to 13, Royal churned out a gutsy performance for a runaway 29 points to Nil win over Trinity in the first leg of the Bradby Shield at the Royal Complex, gambling on the maul. Royal led 10-0 at the break.

The game turned out to be a stop-and-start affair caused by handling errors, penalties (17) and referral to the TMO (almost 12 minutes of play lost due to this).  

However, Trinity lost the second half, hook, line and sinker.

To win back the Bradby in Royal’s possession since 2019, TCK need to run further uphill in the second leg to cover the 29 points already on the board in Pallekelle. (COVID prevented play in 2020/21).

The Tuskers of Reid Avenue had prepared to meet lions from Kandy, but found a church mouse. What turned them into church mice was that they were disadvantaged and quiet without rugby for three weeks.

For sixteen minutes, Trinity had more territory and possession. Still, Royal scored first through a penalty put over by Nabeel Yahiya. RC 3 -TCK 0.

Royal pressed and inched to the TCK 22. After several phases of pick and hit, Hooker Dhananjaya Samararatne scored under the post in the 24th minute.  Nabeel Yahiya converted, and Royal increased the lead to 10-0.

Trinity missed three kickable penalties using two kickers. As a result, the 10-0 score in favour of Royal stayed at halftime.

The first of the TMO referrals was in the 37th minute, checking whether Royal’s Nabeel Yahiya was guilty of dangerous play suspected by the Assistant Referee. Then, in the 39th minute, there was another referral to the TMO to check the grounding. Meanwhile, the try scorer Dhananjaya Samararatne was shown a yellow card as Royal kept infringing close to the goal line.

Finally, in the 40th minute, the TMO confirmed a deliberate knock-on. Philo Kalyanaratne knocked the ball while tackling, and received a yellow card for his efforts. Meanwhile, Trinity kept attacking the five meters of Royal territory, and as a result, the Royalists were penalized on five occasions from the 38th minute to the 42nd minute. Still, Trinity failed to score. 

Royal were down to thirteen and gambled with the maul. The gamble paid rich dividends and scored a try that lifted them and demoralized the Lions. Around the 47th minute, Trinity was penalised for not being ten inside the Royal twenty-two. They opted to kick to touch. The 13-member Royal team had a line out inside Royal 10. TCK erred as they could not hold the Royal maul and were penalised for a collapse. The kick to touch by Royal gave them a line out almost on the Trinity five meters. Each time Tiven Perera kicked he gained valuable ground for Royal. Royal used the maul – their trade mark – off the line out for Navin Perera to score. Royal increased their lead to 17 -0.

They made calculated attacks from inside the twenty-two, used the rolling maul, milked penalties, and kicked to gain ground.

In the 55th minute, the third Trinity kicker failed. In the 58th minute, Trinity›s litany of misery continued, and Kavitha Wickramasinghe saw the yellow card. Royal set their forwards in motion after a line out five meters from the Trinity line. Royal forwards worked their way to the goal area and Dhananjaya Samararatne touched down for his third try. Nabeel Yahiya missed the conversion, and Royal led 22 points to 0. In the 65th minute, the Royal forwards started to push after a line out – 5 meters from the goal line. Thineth Gamage scored after another TMO referral. Nabeel Yahiya converted and Royal led 29 points to nil.

In the 56th minute, Kalyanaratne saw yellow a second time for a deliberate knock-on while tackling, thus receiving a red card. Later, Thevinu Saparamadu received a red card for a dangerous tackle of lifting a player and dumping. Royal finished the Game, winning with only 13 players.

 St. Peter’s vs S. Thomas’ for the Archibald Perera Memorial Trophy

A game of fluctuating fortunes in Bambalapitiya ended in favour of S. Thomas’ 22 (3T 2C 1P) – 23 (4T 1P).

They secured a single-point win to retain the Archibald Perera Memorial Trophy. The hosts were without skipper Sudesh Jayawickrema, while
S. Thomas fielded their might.

The Thomians opened scoring through Jonathan Bulathsinhala in the 4th minute, and the team looked confident.

St. Peter’s scored through fullback Kushan Tharindu putting his team in the lead by 7 points to 5. Flanker Hirun Gunarathne followed the effort, and St. Peters went ahead 14-5 as Emil Jayaweera converted.

 STC scored three more times through Centre Rehan Wickramasuriya and Lock forward Dela (2), and on all three occasions Yehan Bulathsinhalage was off target with the conversion. At lemons, the scores were Peter’s 14 (2T 2C) trail S. Thomas’ 20 (4T)

Peter’s started the second half with a score through Chathumina Nethsara. Windya De Mel failed with the conversion, but added a penalty shortly thereafter to take a two-point lead with more than 20-minutes left. (SPC 22-20 STC)

Bulathsinhalage, who was kicking astray previously, was successful with a penalty as the Thomians grabbed a single-point lead to win 23-22.

Discipline

The Vidyartha Captain is subject to a ban from playing in the school knockout after an inquiry on the problems in the match against Isipathana on 29 July. The Isipathana players came under heavy attack, allegedly assaulted by the opposition players and a section of spectators, moments after the visitors pulled off a hard-fought 25-23 victory. A one-month ban suspended for six months is being imposed on four other Vidyartha players as well.

Though not confirming the outcome of an inquiry against St. Peter’s for fielding an ineligible player, the team was taken off the school’s knock out according to the fixtures released.

 Whistle Watch

Some interesting issues have arisen concerning the ordering of a player and subsequent disciplinary protocols, as players issued a red card are on the field. In addition, there is a claim that some matches are friendly and not the tournament. These disciplinary matters that do not follow a uniform sanction implementation can lead to governance issues. The World Rugby Regulation sets out a harmonised approach to the administration of discipline and implementing sanctions for foul play at all game levels.             

What happens when a referee blows his whistle for foul play, and a red card is issued? In the case of the non-tournament matches, the red cards look academic as there does not seem to be a disciplinary process. However, you may see both players back in the second leg as Royal played a player who received a red in the tournament’s last match.

World Rugby regulation, 17 – Discipline and Foul Play: The responsibility for Matches shall be that of the Union in whose territory such Matches are played.

Accordingly, the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA), affiliated to Sri Lanka Rugby, is responsible for ensuring the implementation of regulations. For tournament matches and friendly matches approved by a responsible body, SLR or SLSRFA?

The SLSRFA manual says, “the matches of the above tournaments shall be played under the rules of the Game of Rugby Football, as framed by the World Rugby Board. In any event, SLSRFA shall have the right to vary the adoptions before the commencement of any Tournaments above.

The expectation conflicts with the Tournament Manual of the SLSRFA, which says it shall be conducted according to the rules stipulated by the SLSRFA, and they are responsible only to the Ministry of Education.

The underlying rationale for Regulation 17 is to maintain and promote fair play, protect the health and welfare of players, ensure that acts of foul play are dealt with expeditiously and appropriately by independent means within the Game and that the image and reputation of the Game are not adversely affected.

Laws

 A deliberate knock-on is one of the most difficult for a referee as you have to read the player’s mind – is he trying to catch the ball or deliberately knock it over? What about when your hand knocks the ball in the process of a tackle? Now get into the mind of the player. Once a red is issued, there must be a system and method for follow-up, whether for deliberate knock-on or dangerous play.

By Vimal Perera