By Emil van der Poorten –
Let me add a few more relevant facts to the disgraceful scenario depicted by reports appearing in the media since the violence perpetrated by navy personnel on Sunday August 12th in Kandy when the Kandy Sports Club played the Navy Sports Club in what was supposed to be a rugby match.
1. The Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union has, at last, displayed something resembling a backbone and banned, for two years, the referee who deliberately cheated for the Upcountry (aka Nawalapitiya) Lions in their first round game against the Army, thereby eliminating the latter team from the second round of the national rugby competition and elevating the former to that virtual “play-off.” However, the totally skewed result of that match stands because according to International Rugby Board rules, the result of a game cannot be reversed!
2. Now that the Navy has lost to Kandyin the first honestly- and fairly- refereed game of this season, the rumours swirling around the hill country are that the Upcountry (aka Nawalapitiya) Lions have been instructed to “throw” this coming weekend’s game against the Navy, enabling the Navy to keep their chances alive. It is one of the more poorly-kept secrets in this country as to who completely controls the Upcountry (aka Nawalapitiya) Lions. Therefore, there is little doubt as to what the outcome of this week-end’s game is going to be!
3. A host of spectators who were trying to escape the post-game violence last Sunday have been arrested by the police and are being charged despite the fact that there is irrefutable (video) evidence that this entire criminal activity was begun and perpetrated by the 1200 navy supporters, brought in 60 buses, garbed in civilian clothes for reasons best known to the Navy and whose tickets were purchased from the Kandy Sports Club by the Sri Lanka Navy out of public funds. At time of writing, there are several newspaper reports of Kandy residents still warded in area hospitals due to the injuries inflicted upon them by navy personnel. Yet, not one member of the Navy has been detained, leave alone charged, for their criminal behaviour!
4. Last year, in response to what was happening every time the Air Force or Navy teams played in Kandy- irrespective of whether it was at Nittawela or Bogambara – the Kandy Municipal Council passed an UNANIMOUS vote of condemnation of the behavior of the service teams and those in charge of them, asking that this be stopped by those in authority. Obviously, the head of the Navy has not thought fit to take the action required in this connection. Instead, all the evidence points in the opposite direction!
This is no longer a matter concerning rugby players and their supporters. It has become a national travesty of justice and the general public needs to raise its voice in protest against yet another instance of rampant lawlessness.