Pavilion Parade by M V Muhsin

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January 3rd, 2020 by Admin

Of waists, hips, coffee and grunts!

Now that all the eating and drinking is over and you’ve made your New Year resolutions, it’s good to read on!

Waists and hips

Before you any further, do go and get a measuring tape! Then get to work. Try answering the question: what’s your Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR)?

Let’s begin: 

First measure your waist at the smallest part. 

Waist = … inches 

Next measure your hips at their widest points.

Hips = … inches

3. Don’t cheat!

Now divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

WHR = …

Now take a deep breath and reflect on the result.

A study some years back in the medical journal The Lancet argued that the results of this exercise can help to better assess a measure of fat distribution and thereby the risk for disease linked to being overweight (obese). 

If you are a woman, you are said to be at lower risk if your WHR is less than 0.8. But at higher risk if it’s greater than 0.8. For men, the risk is lower if the WHR is less than 1.0. By implication higher if it’s greater than 1.0.

If the math confuses you, and you are beginning to perspire, here is an example: if you are a man with a 42 inch waist and 38 inch hips measurement, your WHR is 1.10. You fall into high risk category. If you are a woman with 36 inch waist and 39 inch hips, your WHR is 0.92, and you too fall into the high risk category. If you are woman with a 26 waist and a 34 hip measurement, with a WHR of 0.76, all one can say is wow!

The Lancet study is, of course, only an indicator. There are other factors that play into the elements of risk. But the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in the US says: “However defined, overweight and obesity contribute to the development of a number of debilitating diseases, including arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.”

The reason being, according to an analyst J.W. Payne of the Washington Post, body fat stored around the abdomen is more dangerous than fat stored around the hips and thighs. More abdominal fat surrounding internal organs, including the liver, has been linked to higher risks of heart attacks, diabetes and other illnesses.

For those who refuse to accept the reality of the ratio and the risk factors, yes there are many arguments for and against the concept, but for now my advice is eat less rice and consume no sugar, and exercise!


There are many ways to get into the Guinness Book of World records, but a Maryland resident in the US is tried to achieve this in an addictive fashion. John Winter Smith bought coffee at more than 4,500 outlets of the Starbucks Coffee chain in North America and 213 overseas. His goal is to go “global” with Starbucks. 

According to a journal Newsday, as of December 2005, the chain owned 4,525 stores in North America and 1,018 abroad. Smith, the journal says, has driven over 70,000 miles in the past year.

What a fine advertisement at for Starbucks. Here’s a challenge: who will attempt this for a brand of good Ceylon Tea?


The women’s singles at the Australian Tennis Open Championship some years ago drew much attention when Justine Hardene, threw in the towel (or racket) through exhaustion when the final was just a set and two-and-a-half games old. 

This brought to mind another dimension of women’s tennis. During the Wimbledon years back, a London Tabloid, ran a “gruntometer” score of 101.2 decibels for Maria Sharapova, measuring the level of “grunting” that was heard whilst serving. It was said that the noise was as loud as a police siren, give or take some exaggeration!

Picking up this concept a San Jose journal came out with the following sound equivalents:

Maria Sharapova (101) = subway train

Serena Williams (88) = lawn mower

Venus Williams (85) = heavy traffic

Lindsay Davenport (84) = hand saw

Elena Bovina (81) = hair dryer

It is said that according to the League for Hard Hearing, continued exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause hearing loss over time!

As to why the results were released only for the women players is a good question, though. Maybe it’s off the charts, as when one’s wife yells at you… sound of an oncoming train!

December 30th, 2019 by Admin

Indrajit Coomaraswamy: Classy sportsman, super banker

He made the choice to serve the country at a time of dire need. He seemed to say: what’s the big deal? I am clean. I can give and take a tackle. You want me to lead, sure I will 

A Google search,  or even the Guinness Book,  will not yield anyone who has the twin attributes of having captained both his country at Rugby and the Banking Industry as a Central Bank Governor, Fed Chairman or Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Except our own Indrajit Coomaraswamy.

With a true Shakespearean flavour he was gentle, purposeful and classy, and the elements of ‘sportsmanship’ mixed so well in him that the accolades we have read in the media on his self-imposed retirement, says to all the world: ‘this was a man’.

And he was indeed a sportsman. The connotation of sports is different from sportsmanship; to wit, countless politicians and industry leaders have sports as their attributes in their record books. They are in our Parliament too. Yet how many could claim to be sportsmen in the larger sense of behaving sportingly?

45 years ago, as a rugby reporter and columnist, the sports editor of the erstwhile Times of Ceylon Elmo Rodrigopulle asked me to keep an eye on ‘this man’ – Indrajit – as he had a winning and stylish streak in him.

In doing so I found that the path from the local and international playing fields of cricket or rugby, to the higher echelons of the banking industry or the multilaterals is well-trod, but rarely with greater distinction than by Indrajit Coomaraswamy.

Sports builds character and class and if applied in the right spirit makes one a god given gift to society.

Humility is foremost. For instance, as the guest speaker at a Transformation seminar by Milinda Moragoda’s Pathfinder Foundation in November, Indrajit in came in a bit late. He prefaced his opening comments with an apology: he was held up attending a Central Bank training program on Leadership conducted by an expert. He then shares his learning by stating I drew one chastening conclusion for myself; that I am not a very good leader, in fact rather a poor leader! He meant it seriously.

And then he spoke on the subject of change and transformation in the Central Bank. More on this later, but first to rugby and its links to his personality.

Rugby and its connection to his personality

To play rugby and captain a team is one thing but to apply its attributes to one’s career is another. My first coverage of him was in my hometown Kandy. The CR&FC captained by Mohan Sahayam was playing Kandy Sports led by Denzil Kobbekaduwe. Indrajit played in the game. 

CR&FC won due to the brilliant loose play especially by wing forwards Indrajit and ‘Doc’ Tony de Sylva who not only pounced on the loose ball but marked Denzil and centre Jayantissa Ratwatte giving them no room to work their three-quarter line. He made not one, but a few sizzling runs which caught the Kandy side off-guard.  

CR went on to win the Clifford Cup thanks to vibrant play of the duo and of course the brilliance of Sahayam Specials. They went on to play in the Ceylon Side. And Indrajit deservedly graduated to captain the Sri Lanka team in the 1974 Asiad where we emerged runners-up; the highest achievement we have had to date.

Wing forwards had a very pivotal role to play under the old rules. They were both required in attack as well as in defence. In these roles Indrajit played like a veteran. If you wanted to see a good wing forward, one with flash and beauty, and substance and urgency, then the duo of Indrajit and ‘Doc’ Sylva were there for us to see.

Part of Indrajit’s genius is that he knew when to take risks. When the Bond Scam hit the Central Bank and the country it shook the political firmament. Who would want to risk one’s record to take on a thankless job? But that came naturally to the ruggerite after some reflection.  

He made the choice to serve the country at a time of dire need. He seemed to say: what’s the big deal? I am clean. I can give and take a tackle. You want me to lead, sure I will. But the field has to be open and fair and I should have the liberty to do what I need to do. The then President agreed.

Two years later as I lunched with him and Milinda Moragoda, Indrajit mentioned that challenging as the times were, he was optimistic. He had very good people at the Central Bank. But he had set for himself a time limit of (say) three years. He will use that time to build and prepare a team for the future. He was determined to put the stigma of the Bond scam into the dustbin of history so that the path can be cleared for the good people of the bank to get on with their professional work.

Yet as he moved in, like a true captain with substance, a sense of urgency and to defend his team where they were right, and put right what was wrong, there were some brickbats thrown at him for defending his team and the practices at the bank. In true Michelle Obama style, ‘when they went low to attack him, he went high!’ Being a magnanimous and self-confident captain, he not only took criticism like a man but acted like a gentleman.

Scrums, mauls and lineouts were his domain. He could take them in his stride. He had a keen sense as to where the ball will be in the scrum. He got there before others were destructive. He had good timing too. He would move right up to the line of attack to face the opponents but was careful not to overstep, lest he his blown offside! Calculation was critical for him.

He was intent on transforming the team in the field. But the Governance Structure in the ‘Big Clubhouse’, as it were, must change too! Hence, he was passionate that the new Central Bank Bill must be passed by Parliament. That the Monetary Policy Board should have an arm’s length relationship with the Governing Board; that the technical team (the players in the field) should be able to play their fair game without interference from the ‘Clubhouse bosses’.

He also was an advocate of a tight architecture. He had the direction of the goal posts in mind. He did not want random play where the ball went loose, that every Tom, Dick and Harry could walk into the Operations room.  And where everybody was scampering as money was printed and asset bubbles waded into the field and goodies were distributed to the fans in the stadia and beyond. Everything got inflated!

So, he wanted a clear framework within which to play. ‘Flexible inflation targeting’ to arrest the volatility on the field; no printing of money. ‘Active Liability Management’; that we had the ability to raise funds in the markets to keep the team and the fans alive; that we could yet actively borrow funds in the market and reserve funds into ring-fenced areas for judicious use later.

As an agile ruggerite, he preferred a ‘flexible exchange rate’ than a ‘crawling peg’. Good wing forwards manage volatility in the field not only through needed cover or corner flag defence, but with frontal attacks as well judiciously managed.

His was intent to set the stage to manage exogenous shocks. Expensive defence tactics of the exchange rate, however, can hurt: “don’t defend the rate unnecessarily as it can be pretty expensive and the outcome could still be what we are trying to avoid” (some $ 4.5 billion was applied in defence of the rate and yet inflation remained at a high).

While the local teams played their best looking inwards, as captain and coach he advocated Open Play.  Move the ball with fluency down the line and the scoring will come. Be outward looking. Attract outsiders to what we can offer. 

We are blessed with factors of land, labour and produce and garments, precious stones and tourism, and skills and a service orientation. We can attract them all to our matches! He recognises that we have a fabulous location, a geopolitical dynamic and an aspirational fan base or population. We need to monetise these god given gifts so we carry the fan base in the stands to job growth and prosperity. 

So that they are able to watch the game and participate in the match we must ensure not having to borrow to pay for our tickets which have become pretty expensive! They eat into our food budgets.

Export orientation (even our sports) is the Top Line to Indrajit. It has to be enhanced. 

If not, we will not get out of the stadium. Rather, get caught instead to the debt-trap! To this end we cannot resort only to defensive play by protective imports substitution, but rather have ‘open play’ given that the share of traded goods have gone down (from some 60% to 40%).

Don’t have an ‘Anti Export bias’ is his rescue clarion call. Build strong relationships with all. Like good ruggerites, we need to build good alliances with those who can improve ‘our game’. Rugby although a rough game has its charm when played in flowing, open style. Scissor moves and dummies will in turn add zip and zest to our game.

For this we need strategic and tactical alliances. China and India are our big brothers. We need them as we do the US (60% of our Bond investors come from the US). And the rating agencies take all these relationships and activities in grading us for the market. If these relationships go sour our ability to raise funds diminishes. If the players start jabbering and not focusing on the way to attract support, and talk out of turn, we will be undermining our efforts.

Indrajit, the pragmatist, strongly feels we need them all for the short and long haul. And they need us too given our endowments. And we need them badly to help us ride out the coming storms.

But in all this we need to ‘box cleaver”. In this age of international diplomacy, Indrajit reminds us of Jane Austen’s Penelope, as a parting thought.

Penelope had many men who were interested in her. They courted her, but she made sure that none of them got into her bedroom. Nonaligned as we are, we should not get too close. And, to use a rugby analogy, as a wing forward, we should get close enough to the front of the scrum but make sure we stop just short of being blown offside.

The writer could be reached via email at

June 14th, 2019 by Admin

Rt. Royal-Trinity Bradby Specials –1956-1965

His shoulder was dislocated, elbow smashed, nose broken and his Jaw popped out only to be jutted back again. And yet rugby and the Bradby was his life. That was Mike de Alwis the Trinity Scrum half of the 1956 team, who went on to Captain Sri Lanka. If Mike was a  ‘gutty’ player of the Trinity side, M. Odayar was the ‘celebrity. Wearing a hair net to keep his hair in place, and playing in soccer boots, he was so valiant in the Bradby that he dislocated his collarbone but continued to play; fielded the ball with the injured arm and dealt a ward-off with the other.  When there was a lightening food strike in the boarding dining hall days before the Bradby and all others walked out, Odayar tactically stayed back. And when waiter ‘Bittara’ Banda brought in the boiled eggs, Odayar smartly consumed a dozen or so to derive his energy for the game! There were heavyweights too in the side! Gamini ‘Bull’ Weerasinghe and Jinna Dias Desinghe, playing true to his double-barreled name, heaped “One Tonne” tackles on Royal forwards who out jumped Trinity.

Rugby at that time was fast, brutal, strategic, and colourful, and have I mentioned brutal? Tackling from head to toe was permissible!

If this line up seemed brutal then it was balanced by the finesse of the rest of the 1956 team whose line was not crossed once in school matches; winning the Bradby 15/nil & 11/nil; winning all upcountry games beating Uva, Dimbulla and Kandy; six of the players later played for Sri Lanka and two captained. In the team were also forwards Wilhelm Balthazaar, Rodney Frank, Raji de Sylva, and Frankly Jacob, Halves Feroze de Alwis, and Nimal Maralande; Ken de Joodt, Sena de Sylva, Sene Ettipola Vernon Boteju; besides of course Mike de Alwis, Jinna and Odayar. Leading from the front was David Frank acclaimed as the best captain Trinity has ever had in our generation and coached by the best Coach we’ve ever seen in Bertie Dias who later was National Coach.

The bonds between Trinity and Royal have always been strong and exemplary. In the 50’s both teams would spend time together before the Bradby’s– stay together, eat, relax and travel together to the match…walk together from Trinity to Bogambara; and from Reid Avenue to the Racecourse grounds.

If the teams in the 50’s demonstrated this spirit then even a better example was set in 1965 by the Schools’ enlightened leadership when a Royalist, Cedric Oorloff was the Principal of Trinity while Dudley de Silva was Royal’s head –both leading educationists and disciplinarians. A thoroughbred Royalist, Miles Christoffelsz was Trinity’s Coach; and a Trinitian MT Thambapillai ‘Gentleman of Class’ was Master -in -Charge of Royal Rugger. The Royal coach was the redoubtable Mahes Rodrigo. The referee in the Kandy encounter was Royalist Dr. Larry Foenander and that super Trinity Coach of the famous 1956 side, Bertie Dias, refereed in Colombo. What are the odds of such a cocktail of leaders being presented to rugby fans in these times!

To meet the expectations of these leaders, Athleticism and Adrenaline was often in full display by both teams.

It’s now called the Obolensky try. Named after the “flying Russian Prince”. In 1958 Royal had their own Prince, Lorenz Pereira. He scored one of the best ever tries in what was Bradby’s own Obolensky moment. Trinity, playing at Longden Place started to lose possession and then the Royal threes were heading towards a bunch of Trinity defenders and was eventually brought down. But right-winger Lorensz Pereira scored the try! He saw what was about to happen and in a flash sped right across the field, joined the line as an extra man to snap the loose pass and score. 

The return in Colombo had its own share of shock and awe. Lorensz had two brilliant interceptions and had fashioned a Royal win. In the dying minutes, the Trinity third row led by Rodney Frank began what remains a phenomenally highly skilled dribble covering 75 yards with perfect control at a sweeping speed to score. This brought back memories of the previous year in Kandy when Ken de Joodt’s seventy-five yard run and try electrified the match. 

Denzil Kobbekaduwe was the Trinity Captain in 1959 where his super leadership qualities were evident. As a Captain he had it in him not only to lead and inspire but to coach and mentor.

The early ‘60s had it’s own moments of a special kind of leadership.

The 1960 Trinity team, coached by Phillip ‘Feet Feet’ Buultjens, was captained by the famous all –rounder Eric Roles who, besides him, had three others playing for Sri Lanka in later years: CH Seneviratne, Jayantissa Ratwatte and Noel Brohier. In 1961, Noel Brohier was asked to captain the Trinity team.  But with characteristic humility he says to the Master-in-Charge Hilary Abeyratne “Sir, ‘Bull Dozer’ Jayanatha ‘Jaws’ Jayawardene is senior to me and I can’t match him and I will play under him’!” Such magnanimity was the selfless character of the ruggerites then. With such a code of conduct Trinity regained the Bradby in 1962 and retained it in 1963 under ‘Big Piya’ Piyasena who also was a Sri Lanka Cap.

It was in that year one recalls how Keith Paul left the field with a dislocated knee.  But got back as things were tight. In his own inimitable gutty style he goes in and scores a try!  In the dying minutes, Trinity was awarded a penalty.  Had it gone over, the match would have been drawn and the Bradby shared. But drama—and fate– unfolds.  The ball hits the upright and bounces back into the field, only to be pounced on by that brilliant Trinity winger Justin Labrooy who darts like a gazelle and scores to give Trinity victory!

Bradby’s never get won or lost till the last whistle calls!

The 1964 teams were ‘special ‘in many respects. Trinity came into the match with the reputation of the infallibility of the magic wand that was the ‘Sahayam Special’. Mahes Rodrigo was a good judge and had a sixth sense. He was a master tactician. He says to the team before they run in “ guys, remember Sahayam will score, but Royal will win!

Zaruk slings out a long pass to Sahayam. Aladdin’s lamp is rubbed and then the “magic” unfolds: Sahayam collects the ball, pretends to toss it in the air, then fakes a pass, and appears to recapture it. Time’s winged chariot seems to be at his back as he changes direction and makes a compelling move. He is fast and flashy as he darts with a disarming smile through 35 yards. And then the reality dawns: that the instantly classic signature of the “Sahayam Special” has been delivered. The Nittawela crowd bursts into a deafening victorious roar!

That Roar and merriment was however, short-lived.   Royal’s Lakdasa Dissanayake decides that to counter Trinity he has to count on aerial bombardment!  So he resorts to one of the most dramatic displays, several at that, of drop goal kicking that any school to this day has seen. His three penalties from forty yards out and his conversion from the touch line gave him a personal tally of 11 points in a 14/6 victory. Yes, his best kick was the only one he missed, from fifty yards out, middle right, and only just short. There were gasps and applause and jaw dropping disbelief that such a feat could have been accomplished to give Royal a well-deserved victory.

 Lakdasa was the Rt. Royal Hero of that day and for years to come. God’s will has its own designs. Being the hero he was, Dr. Lakdasa Dissanayake, a dear friend of this writer, lost his life in its prime while attempting to rescue a friend’s son who was drowning at sea.

Miles Christofelsz in 1965 took charge of coaching with refreshing advocacy of ‘open play so intensely committed the run and pass game and rarely to resort to kicking even in defence!  Trinity captain and scrum half MTM Zaruk and Glen Van Langenberg, the glamor boy of Trinity sports, made an art of this. Throughout the season rugby fans marveled at the unique ‘open’ playbook that Trinity played to. They came in throngs to see the Welsh –type of rugby. But at the Bradby, Royalists countered by spreading defense across the field.  And in tightly contested games Royal tactics got the better of Trinity.

The other star performer for Trinity was SamCanagasabai. He had a two pronged strategy as lock forward – thunder and brute force.’ Pack Leader Extraordinary.’  On the last day of school closing at Trinity there is a General Assembly where awards are given. For Trinitians, winning the Rugby Lion –the insignia of excellence –is a treasured accomplishment in life’s journey. The evening before, Vice Principal and disciplinarian GY Sahayam sees Sam in the corridor and the VP calls out to Sam in his nasal accent and says ” Hey Monkey! Make sure you come properly dressed to Assembly!” And at Assembly the roof was brought down when the Lion award was announced!  In our time no one deserved it more than this rugged and much admired ruggerite and leader.

( Published in Behind The Shield –the history, the heroes, the hearts of 75 years 1945-2019)

Author M.V. Muhsin

June 10th, 2019 by Admin

When Bradby’s last charges go thundering

A herd of humanity was hurtling down Independence Drive the main street of Lusaka. They were yelling in unison ‘Kavolala, Kavolala’ –“Thief, Thief” in the local dialect. Running ahead at thunderbolt speed to save his life was the subject of the attack.  It was the Bradby weekend in 1979, forty years ago. As  Bradby fever transcends global boundaries, we were in Zambia, doing our Saturday shopping but anxious to hear news on SLBC of the outcome of the game in Colombo.

We were about to witness ‘Instant Justice’ being administered in the streets of Lusaka.

And then the one- man rescue squad next to me darted forward with a rasping primal ‘Haka, Haka’ cry.  He dealt a bone crunching tackle and synchronized it by dragging the Kavolala into the shop nearby. The mob was stunned.  Frozen in their tracks.   Invectives were yelled at the rescuer for being a spoil sport. The shopkeeper closed the door with the rescuer,  me and the Kavolala pulled inside. A merciless beating, perhaps a killing, was averted!

So, I asked ‘Boga’ Harinda   Gunasekera, the rescuer in the story, what made him jump into the fray. With the Bradby at the back of his mind, he says,  showing off his boxer torso, “I tackled Maiya Gunasekera at the ’69 Bradby, and this was a piece of cake!”

As it turned out in later years, Maiya and Boga honoured the class of ’69 by playing for Sri Lanka.

This week as the teams of the Class of ’69 celebrate their 50th reunion, the Bradby Canvass in my mind’s eye is illustrated with such memories, and those related to the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Bradby series. It’s an emotional time for Bradby aficionados.

In the year before -1968- the ‘Bulla Team’ had bullied Trinity to a 19/0 thrashing and a 5/3 win in the return. Smarting over this loss it was Shafi Jainudeen’s Trinity team’s challenge   to avenge defeat. This the Trinity Captain accomplished with an 8/0 and a 9/3 win. It was a major upset against the odds.  As one scribe described it: ‘when the Trinity bus makes its way back to the Kandyan Hills, it will surely run on champagne’!

Yet, score lines are really a misnomer in Bradby Shield games. Both Royal and Trinity over the past 75 years have upheld and handed on some of the best traditions of the game exhibiting a repertoire of the finest qualities, on and off the field. They play for the love of winning and not for the fear of losing. And even when they do lose, they take it in a spirt that was best described by the late, and much loved, Bishop Rev. Lakshman Wickremasinghe :  Rugger, he wrote,  is and always will be to me the ‘Queen of Games” A good match is the thing of beauty, a satisfying aesthetic experience , and exhibition of skills, vitality and controlled power which fine specimens of manhood can display.

Bishop Lak continued: My old school is Royal, and nothing can break the ties that bind me to my alma mater. But Trinity for many reasons has been my ‘adopted school’ with which I have intimate ties. I must admit Trinitians, especially when they dominate play, have a quality which is uniquely their own. So much so, that when I watch the annual match, like St Paul, ‘I am torn two ways’ unable to decide which side I would like to see win the match.”

While partisanship is inevitable and adds to the colour of the Bradby, the overall yearning of the throngs of fans is to see rugby played at its best.

1969 was no exception. A relatively inexperienced Trinity side under the  Shafi Jainudeen was molded by Denzil Kobbekaduwe to win and regain the Bradby. Denzil was always strategic.  He prepared his team by reading the minds of the Royal’s  treble -barreled coaching outfit in Geoff Weinman, anchor Lakshman Kaluaaratchi and MT Thambapillai.  

Royal went out as favorites. But both teams dished out block- buster fare.  It stood to the credit of the Trinitians to have withstood

tremendous pressure and win both encounters.

Standing out in bold relief on my  ’69 canvass are many memories:

 Of Royal’s  versatile  Jagath Fernando,  their chief play maker, being  closely marked by Trinity’s own trump card in gutty  Sam Samarasekara; of how Royal’s scrum half Beverly Janz hounded  his counterpart the ubiquitous Tikiri Marambe resulting in   passes to Trinity’s darting gazelle of a fly half  Irwin Howie being put at odds with the expected sweeping movements of the Trinity line that included Fredrick  Prins, Nihal Marambe, and Cuda Wadugodapitiya; of how the stylish Harin Malwatte, the Royal Fly-half and captain, along with his insides were schooled to try beat  Trinity at their own art  in open play; of how Royal’s forwards Maiya Gunesekera and Fred Perera dominated the line-outs but  were matched by  capable Trinity counterparts in Anura Madawela , YS Ping , Mohan Samarakoon and Rohan  Tennekoon; of how the respective hookers  in  Dushy Perera  and Boga  Gunasekera engaged in Houdini type exploits to gain access in the scrums; of how  Ralph Roberts and Ranjith Panabokke ably commandeered by Izwan Omar  formed a stunning   Trinity back row ; and of how Izwan was at his best in cover-defence while architecting,  with tactical finesse, several good moves.

The canvass of memories further shows the Royal line  in motion in the Trinity’s ‘ 25 and a crafty Harin Malwatte dummy selling   two defenders, sending a pass over to  Senaka Abeyaratne who sent  Dilanjan  de  Soysa sprinting over for an unconverted try; of how  both Royal’s  wing-threes  in Dimitri Gunasekera and  Prasanna Kannangara  tactically backing the move to guarantee a precious try; of how this move gave  Soysa the distinction of being the first player to cross the unbeaten Trinity line that season.

And the canvass shows in bold relief Shafi Jainudeen the exemplary leader firing  across two penalties—the first a beauty from thirty yards out and mid right; and the second from 15 yards out of the posts; and of   a peach of a move – the piece de resistance—with   Trinity winning  the ball in midfield,  Irvin Howie ‘s well timed pass to Sam Samarasekera who,  with a sizzling run,  hotly pursued by Royal defenders,   dives over near the corner flag for an unconverted try.  `

 Both teams had solid bench strength that gave coaches the tactical flexibility to substitute with such payers for Royal as SDR Arulpragasam, RCA Ponnaswamy and T Lazarus ; and for Trinity in Romesh  Nugawela.

The Trinity win against the odds was characterized by Royal’s MT Thambapillai, an old Trinitian himself,  who  wrote : Trinity wielded on me both as a scholar and a sportsman a great influence, and you can count on them to live up to the lines of the school song ‘ When the last charge goes thundering towards the twilight goal’ to do the unexpected.

Over the years, especially in recent times, Royal’s rugby has taken a remarkable with a stunning forwards display in mauls and scrums, equaling the ‘open play’ that Trinity three-quarters captured the hearts of all fans. This is a happy augury for higher standards in school rugby. 

 As I leave the ’69 canvass to posterity one sees dedicated coaches and teachers of the caliber of Denzil and Thambapillai. And in a tribute to Coach Denzil, his Captain Shafi recalled to me,  a few weeks before Shafi’s  untimely passing,  how Denzil taught him the elements of leadership on how to work the players, to coordinate and play together, to display commitment and to win, but more importantly to abide by the rules of the game and uphold the spirit of rugby.

Thankfully the Bradby tradition over the past 75 years is still upheld by Trinity and Royal with the finest quality and spirit of rugby in the country.

Author M V Muhsin

March 5th, 2019 by Admin

Bradby Recollections: The poetry that was ‘The Sahayam Special’

We called them “Sahayam Specials”. In the storied history of Bradby Shield encounters, the 1960’s was illumined by the dash and dazzle that was brought to Sri Lanka rugby by Mohan Sahayam, the Chief Guest at today’s return game in Kandy.

Forty years to this encounter, the two teams were lined up for formal introductions: The Kandy crowd’s self-appointed Trinity Mascot “Cortal” speeds into centre field and in one sweeping movement pays obeisance to Sahayam and his team by touching their feet. Such veneration was, perhaps, justified at that time for the charm that had stoked the fascination of Sri Lanka rugby fans.

Here’s a Sahayam Special: dateline July 1963, Bogambara. Given his headline catching performance during the season, expectations are high that Sahayam will work his magic.

Early in the game the tactical Trinity scrum half M.T.M. Zaruk works the blind side off a scrum to score. The Royal team, coached by Mahes Rodrigo, has a plan to counter what’s predictable.

Every time Zaruk slings his passes flawlessly to Sahayam, Royal flanker Keith Paul is there with quick breaks and fast tackling. Sahayam is a “marked man” under pressure!

The Royal pack are terriers: now it’s forward Upendra Wickremsinghe acting in consort with Rex Perera, or Lakshman Hettiaaratchi, Jayakumar, Lucky Chickera, Lucky Dissanayake or Llyod Perera or Nissanka Wadugodapitiya, all on the war path.

Trinity forwards in Sam Canagasabai, Manik de Silva, George Carson, Gavin Rodie, Sarath Illangantileke supported by Nicko Perera, David Ondaatjie, and H.J. Fernando give stiff resistance.

Royal’s scrum half Rohan de Zoysa targets the elusive Zaruk. And then there is Keith Paul — Sahayam’s nemesis. With quick breaks and fast tackling Keith keeps Sahayam in a pressure cooker. Sahayam hurries his kicks and passes to avoid the crash tackles.

Trinity backs, under advice from that super coach Percy Madugalle, try every ploy to open out the game in contrast to Royal’s defensive kick-ahead tactics.

Much as Trinity tries to work the line from Sahayam to the Piyasena brothers Gamini and Ananda to wingers Rodney Geddes or Justin Labrooy, the Royal forwards are there to tackle like a pack of menacing tigers.

Trinity backs make every effort to open out the game but the close tackling Royal outsides seem invincible as M.C. J. Fernando and Hemaka Amarasuriya have their counterparts fully covered.

At half time Trinity leads 3-0 and soon thereafter Royal equalises through a penalty conversion by Rex Perera. The Kandy crowd is dispirited and deflated by the cramped style of their Star Sahayam.

And then it happens. Trinity Full Back Gotabhaya Dissanayake demonstrates excellent positional play, collects the ball off a Royal kick-ahead and unpredictably sprints 30 yards and invades Royal territory. Off an ensuing line out, Zaruk slings out a long pass to Sahayam.

Aladdin’s lamp is rubbed and then the “magic” unfolds: Sahayam collects the ball, pretends to toss it in the air, then fakes a pass, appears to recapture it. Time’s winged chariot seems to be at his back as he changes direction and in a compelling move makes the lightening field look so plodgy. It is so fast and flashy as he darts his way through 35 yards. The players seem frozen.

It is so fast and slick that the crowd cheers suddenly choke off. It is so fast and elegant that the sound of marvel, for a moment, dies in their throats. And then the reality dawns : that the instantly classic signature of the “Sahyam Special” has been delivered.

The crowd bursts into a deafening roar. And to capture the immortality of this Sahayam Special the irrepressible Cortal darts into the field, and once again, touches and then kisses the feet of his hero for having answered his prayers.

Dateline July 1964: The Bradby Series was billed as a Keith Paul vs Mohan Sahayam series, given how talented and evenly balanced these two captains were. The first leg in Colombo set the tone for Royal when they smudged Trinity’s unbeaten record that season with a 3-0 win through a dashing 40 yard try by Brian Lieversz.

It was a forwards’ game with the talents of Trinity’s George Carson, Andere Jayasinghe and Sam Canagasabai, Malin Goonethileke, Gavin Rodie, Dhathu Senanayake and Eardley Wadugodapitiya being more than matched by the Royalists.

Going into the return game expectations were high for a closely fought battle with hopes that the Aladdin’s Lamp will do the trick for Trinity. And so it seemed. Within the first five minutes : Sahayam collects from Zaruk, crisp and efficient.

Finds a gap and appears to dart into it. He checks his step and runs away from the gap, appears to pass behind him, and then reverses direction. He cuts against the grain and leaves the Royalists and even the Trinitians confused. He then sweeps through in a flash. A slam dunk of a Special!

The stage was set for more. But Trinity forwards are over-anxious to capatalise on the initial gain. They lose possession several times and concede penalties. And then something counter-intuitive and remarkable happens.

Lakdasa Dissanayake, the Royal lock forward begins a phenomenal feat of drop goal kicking from various parts of the field, several in the run of play. Royal win the match decisively. It almost seemed as if the Royalists beat Trinity to the Aladdin’s Lamp.

Several years later a group of Trinitians were reminiscing on this reversal over a few drinks. A yarn or two were spun. The story went as follows: Darley Ingelton the referee was out to catch any infringement by the hooker.

The Trinity pack leader, the late George Carson, gave strict instructions to the Trinity hooker not to hook the ball even on Trinity throws. But Darley continued to penalise the Trinity hooker.

Gotabaya Dissnayake came out with the theory, swearing that it was true, that the Royal hooker had a Trinity stocking on his left leg and then the Royal stocking over it. And every time Trinity put the ball in, the Royal hooker dropped his Royal stocking and waved his left leg, prompting Darley to “blow” the Trinity hooker.

I can almost hear the chuckle of Gotabaya from the Pearly Gates as this figment of his imagination is recounted! (He sadly passed away a few months ago.)

And that brings me to another anecdote that involves a highly spirited, or should I say spirited highly, bunch of Trinitians. Weeks prior to the Bradby encounter, Trinity were playing St. Thomas’ in Mt. Lavinia. Late into the night before the match, a group of Trinitians scoot out of the St. Thomas’ dormitory.

They head to the Skyline Hotel. The chief organisers of this escapade were members of the cheering squad Nahil Wijesuriya, Mark Sunderalingam, and Sri Sagadevan.

The Trinity players joining in were Sam Canagasabai, Malin Goonethileke, Eardley Wadugodapitiya and Gota Dissanayake.

While the youngsters were busy fortifying themselves with pre-match liquid protection, a Trinity Staffer walks into the Sykline and demands an explanation. Malin Goonethileke with the confidence of a burglar caught in the act responds: “Gota had a bad attack of Asthma. We have come to buy him some Brandy.”

The staffer lets the youngsters go but complains to the Captain Mohan Sahayam, who with his characteristic chuckle and twinkle in the eye says that the youngsters should be complimented for their civic consciousness and social service!

Sahayam went on to represent the CR&FC and the Sri Lanka national team. His signature specials were a crowd puller. In a CR&FC encounter against Dickoya, as many as three ” Sahayam Specials” were delivered prompting rugby correspondent Austin Daniel to describe it as the “Peter Pan touch”!

The style was the man in Sahayam. Known for his bubbling sense of humour, of warmth and sportsmanship, his rugby embodied a poetry of play that touched the hearts of a whole generation of Rugby fans.

Rarely has someone evoked a sense of grace and ,lan and commanded a sense of majesty in the game as Sahayam did through his “Specials”. There are times in history when the sport give us genuine skill and beauty.

In our time, Mohan Sahayam was such a creation.

Author M V Muhsin
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August 19th, 2015 by Admin

The love life of Kumar Sangakkara



A more determined romantic is hard to find. He totally immerses himself in his mission. And his vision compels him to win any prize he sets his eyes on.

He has two heartthrobs. His wife Yehali (plus the kids) and the other… cricket! The affair started when she was at the Hillwood College hostel in Kandy.

The school’s conservatism made it near impossible to permeate the purdah-like restrictions which were imposed on boarders, especially with the Trinity campus not being too far away. Trinitians would unsuccessfully feign the “sister-brother school” relationship to gain entrance!

Even at that time Kumar knew how to spot the gaps, and they would meet somehow, somewhere! And then she had to move to Colombo while Kumar remained in Kandy.

That did not deter him. Those were days in his ‘A Level’ years when the students were less regimented at Trinity.

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May 22nd, 2015 by Admin

The Charm and Character of the Bradby



This is Bradby Week in Colombo. It’s a spiritual moment for all Trinitians and Royalists, and even for many a rugby fan of other affiliations. Many are highly spirited, others are literally spirited highly. Lemon juice or other spiked concoctions gives it the tang and tango that makes rugby spirits spark.

The Bradby has a a unique spirit with a charm and a character that has bonded the Trinity and Royal teams since they first played against each other 93 years ago of which 70 years in Bradby encounters .

Although hard fought with the best in breed of rugby standards there is a special charm and character — friendship and rivalry —as it is on opposite sides of the coin, but it’s one. Toss it any way and yet it reflects the best of tradition.

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May 4th, 2014 by Admin

Sharm de Alwis the colourful sports columnist



Sharm de Alwis’ sudden demise leaves a blank space in the columns we so eagerly read in the Island. And we will miss them as we shall his caring humanity, his effervescent sense of humour and warm friendship.

Death comes to all of us and over time even memories of friends who have crossed the great divide fade away through eternity. Not so, however, with widely read columnists whose inky trademark and keyboard imprints will remain in the history books and archives, available to generations to come.

Sharm was a stylish sports writer. He belonged to a yesteryear class whose alumni are alas so few in these times. He wrote often for the Island, and occasionally to the Daily News, and The Leader about sportsmen and sportswomen and of men and mice. There was much about rugby, some about cricket and then about boxing where he had a track record of being an irrepressible pugilist. He also shared many a personal anecdote of which there was a classic about being a jail bird…more on that later.

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December 22nd, 2013 by Admin

The Mandela Tonic

BY M.V. Muhsin

Bishop Desmond Tutu the trusted friend and spiritual soul mate of Nelson Mandela was visiting Lusaka, in 1986, and I had the privilege of co-hosting a private tea party along with the Limbada Brothers for the Bishop’s delegation which was reaching out to communities in Zambia to gain more support for the Freedom Struggle.

At that time, The African National Congress (ANC) was operating in exile from Lusaka where President Kenneth Kaunda, a freedom fighter himself, had made bold by giving the ANC their Operational Base in Lusaka. In fact their offices were situated less than 500 yards away from State House; and on one occasion the offices were bombed by the operatives of the Apartheid Regime.  This did not deter Oliver Tambo, the Head of the ANC operations, to carry on regardless as they had the unstinting and steely support of Kaunda who entertained delegations such as that of Bishop Tutu visiting the country and reaching out for support.

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June 14th, 2013 by Admin

Of the Hooking Brothers…and unparalleled bravery as Royalists Celebrate

They called them the ‘Hooking Brothers ‘for good familial reasons. A special stream of Rugby Genes had infused their rugby careers that were carried through the family tree. And while six of the Kumar brothers played rugby at Royal, four won colours and two of them captained the school.

And tonight as the Royal 1963 rugby team celebrate their 50th Anniversary and raise their glasses they will toast one of the princely brothers—Manik Jayakumar who captained the 1963 side. He reminds this writer who witnessed the match half a century ago, of a spider like figure playing custodian and originator. Being a hooker and captain has a special challenge but to Maniks reveled in this role. Naturally he went on to captain several up-country sides and to play in ‘friendly’ games against the All Blacks and the London Welsh

Those of us who track ruby history as a pastime cannot recall a family of so many ‘hookers’—with no pun intended– so much so that genetic strains and chromosomes makes way for a lively discussion in the biology classroom. For how else can one reconcile the hooking strain of Devakumar, Punithakumar, Weearakumar and of course Jayakumar?

And tonight as heady brews make way for a lively discussion and banter, there will surely be mention of another hooking incident in another vintage dating back to 90 years ago. The Royal coach was Stanley de Saram who used to speak with a ‘suddah’s accent’. At practice he called for volunteers who can hook. Sargo Jayawickreme, better known later for his cricketing prowess volunteered instantaneously. The others who knew Sargo could not reconcile this and when his teammates stared at him, Sargo asked ‘Yakko Duwanda Neda, Kewwe!”

A fifty year span often relegates memories into the haze. But as the revelers gather to down champagne, the 1963 Bradby’s will almost come to life as if it was yesterday.

Mahes Rodrigo the Royal coach had this thing about the colourful, if not intimidating, Trinity Red, yellow and Blue jersey. He once said to this writer, that the problem is that as Trinity run into the field, they are psychologically five points up when compared with the somewhat lackluster blue gold and blue of Royal. So Royal decided to order Jerseys from India that hopefully would have rich glitter, rather than don the dull Bernard Boteju brand. When the jerseys arrived they were worse than the local brand. It appeared that a middle man had played a role in India, and the product that was received was not ‘Halal’ –to use a contemporary Sri Lankan metaphor. In the end the Royalists ended up with the BB brand. That was ominous of events to unfold. But Mahes shrugged it off and said ‘let’s play (damned well) or depart!”

The first match was a 6 all draw. Trinity captained by Loku Piyasena had such stars as Mohan Sahayam and MTM Zaruk as their trump cards. Others in the side were Gotabaya Dissnayake, Justin Labrooy, Podi Piyasena, Rodney Geddes, Manik de Silva, David Ondaatje, George Carson, Sarath Illangantillake, Nicko Perera, HJ Fernaodo A Canagasabai and Clifford Elhart

The Royal team had some really fine players, in Kusum Vidanage, ‘Mousy’ Thurairatnam, AHN Welikala, NK Fernando, Hemaka Amarasuriya MJC Fernando, RT de Zoysa, Upe Wickremasinghe, U Sellamuttu , Rex Perera, Lucky de Chickera, Keith Paul, Lucky Dissanayake and Lakshman Hettiaartchi.

As memories go, the celebrants at the Royal event will recall among other flashes of memory, of what a superb tackler Hemaka Amarasuriya was, playing as a center and often as a wing three-quarter; of how he scored many tries in his tenure, and above all of humility he displayed the more he shone—a trait seen as his corporate life played out. Of how Rex Perera and brother Fred Perera were better known to eat in buckets of rice to outsmart the Thomian in da Silva brothers who were renowned for eating ‘bowls of rice’! And of the sound and tactical sense of the Royal third row in Lakshman Hettiaaratchi, Keith Paul and Lucky Dissanayake

Going into the return Bradby in Colombo the huge crowd support for Royal diminished any the Psychological upmanship that the Trinity jersey had.

On the scoreboard at least, the teams were evenly matched for most of the game in Colombo. Royal fought tirelessly and one recalls how Keith Paul left the field with a dislocated knee. While he was tying up his knee with bandages, Mahes Rodrigo who as a matter of principle never spoke to a player when a match was in play, walked up to Paul and ordered “ get back on the field and stick there even if you did nothing else!’ Mahes perhaps knew better why he ordered this—Keith Paul in his own inimitable gutty style goes in and scores a try!

Trinity were awarded a penalty and had it gone over the match would have been drawn and the Bradby shared. But drama—and fate– unfolds as the ball hits the upright and bounces back into the field, only to be pounced on by that brilliant Trinity winger Justin Labrooy who darted like a gazelle and scored to give Trinity a victory.

The 1963 Royal and Trinity sides both produced a full complement of outstanding ruggerites that did Sri Lanka proud. Although none of team made the Sri Lanka “Dream Team” that Mithila Gunaratne recently put together to provoke discussion and debate, he was remiss in one important respect in that he omitted one player who should have been crowned into the Dream Team hand down!

And that player, that hero and that magnificent ruggerite and gentleman was the one who in the prime of his later career jumped into the sea to save the drowning son of friend and lost his own life.

Lucky Dissanayake of the 1963 side—we salute you!

Daily News June 12, 2013