The 4th edition of Dialog Inter Club Rugby League will kick off this Friday, when the Sailors will host the Airmen in Welisara, while Havelocks take on Police under lights at the Park club.
Defending champions Kandy SC look solid yet again; having tons of experience in their squad and will take on the under dogs CH&FC on Sunday at Nittawela. CR&FC will host the new look Army SC on Saturday evening.
The league will be played in the home and away format and the team with the most points will be crowned champions. Despite so much drama with some of star players swapping jersey colours this season, there is a good percentage of school leavers who have joined the clubs, which is a good sign for the future. The worrying part is that the Hambanthota Sharks and Up Country Lions have faded away from the league. CH&FC on the other hand, one of the oldest clubs in the country, was on the fence about whether to compete this year, after pulling out from the first round of the last year’s league.
Quick notes :
- Havelock’s will play their home games under lights 6.30 K/O
- CR&FC v Kandy SC will be played at Race Course on 18th December
- CH&FC will play at either Race Course or Royal Complex
However, a majority of the clubs have said ‘No’ to foreign players which will affect the league in many ways, although there are pros and cons of this decision. The foreigners playing here gives tremendous courage to the locals to take on the challenge one on one. It was clearly witnessed last year when Dhanushka Ranjan, the Havelock’s center, nailed the Fijian legend Rupeni Caucanibuca three times with scorching tackles.
In contrast with the Japanese and Hong Kong club rugby system, Sri Lanka is nowhere close in terms of quality; this is a salient fact. World Rugby’s new rule on qualifying for the next rugby world cup in Japan states that the top Asian team, excluding Japan, (Hong Kong, Korea, Sri Lanka) will play the Oceania winner to qualify for RWC 2019. This will be the next question to be raised: will this club rugby format aid in building a strong national squad?
The other bold action been taken by the SLRFU referees committee is that no foreign referees will blow this season. This will help to improve the standards of refereeing in Sri Lanka and give more confidence to the local referees in the middle. It is a shame that Sri Lanka has not been able to produce referees like Dilroy Fernando or Nizam Jamaldeen in the last few years, who blew in the top tier Asian tournaments and Commonwealth Games. The refereeing during the 2015 world cup came under some criticism after Craig Joubert awarded a controversial penalty to Australia in their 35 – 34 win over the Scotland in the quarterfinal. This goes to show that referees too are human and mistakes happen even at the world stage. Interestingly it was not the referees who made many mistakes last season, butthe players who were not aware of the modern laws in the rucks and breakdowns.
However, this season is set to add another intriguing feature where strong youngsters will challenge the veterans who will have to really notch up their experience and discipline to keep up with the new players coming through the ranks.
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