Dialog rugby league unleashed .... look out for CH&FC
Promising yet another 14 full weeks of excitement, the Dialog Rugby League 2018/ 19 kicked off this weekend. The first round, which began on Friday will continue for seven straight weeks and will come to an end on December 23 while the second round is set to be played through January 4 to February 17 next year.
In addition to the traditional two rounds, this time the Dialog Rugby League will include a Super Round, which will include two semi-finals each and a final each to determine the Cup and Plate winners. The first round will include 28 games with four games per weekend and 10 of them are to be played under lights.
The title holders, Kandy Sports Club, who will be eyeing for a back- to- back fifth title win, will be led by back division player Richard Dharmapala. He takes over the leadership role from Gayan Weeraratne, and will have the assistance of a fleet of experienced campaigners, who have made Kandy SC proud in the recent years.
The side is coached by its former flanker Sean Wijesinghe, who will be assisted by former standoff Fazil Marija, who retired from playing last season. In addition Kandy SC will open doors for six school leavers to make their Club Rugby debut this season. Among them are former St. Anthony's College forward Mohamed Shabeer, former Kingswood College prop Rashmika Chandraratne and four from Maliyadeva College Kurunegala -- Lahiru Daulugala, Ishara Herath, Himalka Dananjaya and Malitha Wijesundera.
Veteran trainer and coach Mothilal Jayathilleke will continue as Head Coach of Navy Sports Club, who emerged runners-up last season. Assisted by former Sailor Dev Anand, the side will come under the leadership of Thilina Weerasinghe, who takes over the mantel from Danushka Perera. Much is expected from Weerasinghe, who became the highest points scorer, with 130 points last season. Among the experienced lot last year's Royal College back division player Mubeen Faleel will be the only fresher straight from school to join the Sailors.
Led by standoff Niroshan Fernando, last season's No.3 team, Havelocks Sports Club experienced a slight shakeup after a mass exodus of its experienced players prior to the beginning of the season, but the Park Club is ever determined to sustain its status with a blend of known names and fresh legs. Among the new entrees to the Club level through Havelocks are former S. Thomas' College back division player Christian De Lile, last year's Royal College deputy skipper Maleesha Madumewan, St. Joseph's College winger Dilan Kavinda and Wesley College captain Dayan Sabar. With the expertise of the game's most shrewd tactician, Sanath Martis as Head Coach, the Havies could pose a threat to any opponent who comes their way.
Flanker Yoshitha Rajapaksa will lead the fully revamped CH&FC side, which comes under the watchful eyes of Head Coach Ronnie Ibrahim and Assistant Coach Dinesh Kumara. The Maitland Crescent club does not have talent straight from schools from last season, but they are sure to have an army of top campaigners, who had shifted sides during the last couple of years. If Kandy SC is to defend its title this season, the biggest threat is identified as CH& FC by rugby experts. The side had a few disastrous seasons in the recent years, but last season they finished fourth, and would be a definite contender for the crown this season.
Much is expected by the paring of Head Coach Nilfer Ibrahim and his comrade in arms for years, Anuranga Walpola, who took over CR&FC from the point the side finished fifth overall in the League last season. Winger Kavindu Perera takes over the captaincy from Shane Sambandapperuma this season, as the side is determined to finish on top. The Red Shirts, may have lost few of its experienced players over the past couple of seasons, but also have managed to secure the services of a few known names as well as well known names from last year's school season. Among them former Royal College winger Janidu Dilshan, St. Joseph's College winger Gemunu Chethiya and Trinity College winger Vishwa Ranaraja stand out. With a blend of experienced and youth, CR& FC could surely produce the unexpected moments this season.
Army Sports Club finished sixth last season, and have been quite impressive on the field, despite not finishing much of their games victorious. For years the Soldiers have had the same old challenge of raking in the talented, due to their institutional procedures. But they have the privilege of getting the services of top coaches, who have been instrumental in shaping up untouched talent, into top fighters among the experienced.
This season the side coached by the veteran in the trade, Nihal ' Viper' Gunaratne, who will be assisted by Asanka Perera. Chandima Upul, termed as one of the most gifted flankers in the recent times, will lead Army SC this season after Thusitha Senanayake's tenure as captain ended last year.
Though Police Sports Club finished seventh last season, they have been quite impressive as a unit on the field. They almost beat couple of top contenders last season with a bunch of well talented players, but the Cops will be eyeing for a top half finish this season. Fly half Chanaka Udara regained the captaincy of the side after a lapse of a season and takes over Police SC from Jayanga Silva, who continues his duties as hooker.
As last season, Police SC has managed to secure couple of new talents straight from school -- former St. Peter's College centre Rukshan Madushanka and Zahira College prop Amjad Fawmy. Shamly Nawaz continues his role as the Head Coach with Asanga Rodrigo as Assistant Coach.
Couple of years ago Air Force Sports Club made headlines for the right reason, beating four- time League champions Kandy SC in a curtain raiser game. But their glory did not last long and as a result finished off eighth, or the bottom of the table without much fanfare. The Airmen have the potential to produce surprises and they have been successful on and off in the recent past. Their prime task this season will be to produce a few surprises that could earn them a slot in the top of the list.
To make that a reality, Air Force SC has recruited Fiji national Fereti Verebula as its Head Coach while hooker Lahiru Kumara has been appointed as captain. Air Force may not have big names in their unit, but they surely do have a bunch of players who are ever willing to make a difference.
The title holders, Kandy Sports Club, who will be eyeing for a backto-back fifth title win, will be led by back division player Richard Dharmapala. He takes over the leadership role from Gayan Weeraratne, and will have the assistance of a fleet of experienced campaigners, who have made Kandy SC proud in the recent years.
Kandy SC are the title holders of Dialog Rugby League