St. Joseph’s College rugby coach Nalaka Weerakkody has promised rugby referee Priyantha Gunaratne that he will get the Josephian rugby player Tharindu Maduranga to publicly apologize to him after the player was found guilty for assaulting the referee at their recently concluded school’s rugby encounter played against Royal College at the Royal College Sports Complex in Colombo.
It is reliably learnt that Joe’s rugby Coach Weerakkody has personally assured Rugby Referee Gunaratne that he will do so.
“I will bring Tharindu Maduranga and make him apologize to you publicly,” Weerakkody had promised.
The Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association in its concluded inquiry into the incident has enforced a two year ban on the player from taking part in the sport.
The second culprit in the incident Josephian Fly Half Santhush Algama got away scot-free despite holding the referee by the collar, when he was assaulted by his team mate Maduranga. In his defense Algama had stated that he had attempted to protect Referee Gunaratne and had never intended to assist him being assaulted. The committee reviewing his seasons performance took into consideration that Algama had never been issued even a yellow card throughout the season and decided to pardon him.
It can be safely reported that the respected rugby referee Priyantha Gunaratne has never been assaulted by anyone before despite being involved in the sport in many capacities, especially as a rugby coach for over a 25 year period.
The laws according World Rugby clearly states that a player may face a penalty ranging from 24 months to a life ban if a player is found guilty of physically abusing a match official.
In this incident Joe’s player Tharindu Maduranga was captured clearly assaulting rugby referee Priyantha Gunaratne in broad day light and in full view of many spectators and other rugby match officials at the conclusion of the match.
However it is yet to be established if Minister of Sport Harin Fernando, a die-hard old Joe himself, has been instrumental in influencing the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association’s decision of enforcing such a mild penalty.
The inconsistencies within the Yahapalanaya government continues to prevail, as due to a similar offense committed two years ago, Darmaraja College Kandy had their entire team suspended from playing rugby for an entire season. But then again Darmarajah College did not have an old boy as their Minister of Sport then.
It was Minister Harin Fernando’s dream to make St. Joseph’s College lift the league title this season, a dream they have never ever cherished even in the past.
In fact the importing of students had been rampant with even the ‘rugby referee assaulter’ Maduranga being parachuted from Science College Mount Lavinia to play for the Darley Road Maradana school.
Josephian players who were heckled by spectators at the conclusion of the game were also captured on video making rude gestures in return. Even an amateur lip reader could also identify the uncouth language the boys from this saintly school retaliated in their defense.
“A two year suspension for such an offense is like a slap on the wrist. This is a joke. What example is the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association setting in this instance to other school boy rugby players?” cried a disheartened parent of a schools rugby player.
Assault, thuggery and even alleged murder is nothing new to the sport of rugby in Sri Lanka.
At the commencement of the season St.Peter’s College rugby Coach Sanath Martis was caught on video mounting an assault one of his students during a friendly game played against D.S. Senanayake College at Havelock Park.
That incident which went viral on social media even had one commentator on Facebook stating that she would hang Martis’ testicles on his ear lobes if given the opportunity.
However a reliable source within Sri Lanka Rugby said that despite World Rugby instructing them to remove Sanath Martis as an official World Rugby Educator and give him a suspended sentence, the decision has not yet been made official to Martis as yet.
“It has been simply brushed under the carpet for several months,” he said.
Sanath Martis was deprived from coaching St. Peter’s College and Havelocks SC during the season. (By Janaka Ranaweera)