Royal go as favourites but history is against them

Ovin Askey Captain of Royal College-Nathan Yee Captain of Trinity College-Sanath Martis Head coach of Royal College-Lote Raikabula Head coach of Trinity College
Ovin Askey Captain of Royal College-Nathan Yee Captain of Trinity College-Sanath Martis Head coach of Royal College-Lote Raikabula Head coach of Trinity College

73rd Bradby Shield – 1st leg in Kandy:

Will history repeat itself with grisly accuracy when number eight Nathan Yee’s Trinity College Kandy team lock horns with fly half Ovin Askey’s Royal College Colombo team at the Trinity Sports Complex in Pallekelle, Kandy at 4:15pm today.

The question is whether Royal who go out as firm favourites will be able to win and thereby win the Singer ‘A’ division league rugby championship as well as the Bradby Shield.

If historical statistics means anything then the odds are stacked heavily against this year’s Royal team as they prepare for the first leg of the 73rd Bradby Shield encounter in Kandy.

1990 was a year of great expectations for Trinity rugby much like 2017 has been. Both teams were coming after disappointing seasons in the previous years. The 1990 Trinity team was expected to reach the same heights that sensational flanker cum captain Tyrel Rajapakse’s champion team in 1987 and the 2017 team is following in the footsteps of the 2014 team that last brought home the Bradby for Trinity.

Prop forward Ravi Kalpage led the team in ’90 and fly half Tharinda Ratwatte in 2014. Both teams boasted of arguably the best back divisions in schools rugby that year, with the ’90 side putting up over 200 points and the 2014 side bettering that with approximately over 350 points.

Coming into the Bradby the 1990 side had just one loss against the mighty Thomians.

In todays match if Royal could adjust themselves to the conditions early in the game, they could always head towards a good lead. Much will depend on how Royal’s heavy and mobile pack, which includes highest try scorer of the ongoing league Hamza Reeza who occupies the all-important hooker’s berth will fare. If their halves combination of young Nikhil de Silva and captain Ovin Askey link effectively, then they should be able to feed the Royal three quarters more often. At the same time, Trinity captain Nathan Yee playing in today’s game as a third row forward and his presence in the ‘pack’ should make exchanges even in the forwards’ play. Yee will pair off with Keshawa Palayangoda and Kanesha Alwis in the third row.

Trinity teams, over the years, have always produced penetrative back divisions and there is no exception this time too. Royal have already finalized their team for the big game while Trinity is yet to decide one final slot in the three quarter line up.

Customary, the season’s track record does not matter much in the ‘Bradby’ series. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to have a look at how the two teams have fared this season.

Royal have won eight matches they have played this season. But two of those eight wins have been close games with the best being their exciting 35-19 win over Wesley last week. They also had a close 18 points to 15 win over Dharmaraja. Their season’s record is enriched with convincing victories over D.S. Senanayake College (49-07) and Zahira College Maradana (65-14). They only lost to Isipathana (17-22).

In contrast, Trinity too has almost an equally good record, except for that shocking (13-15) defeat they had at the hands of sensational St. Peter’s College. Except for that loss Trinity has shaped well this season, winning seven out of eight matches. They had good wins against Wesley (64-24) and St. Joseph’s (30-25). But their richest harvest this season came in the game against Prince of Wales Moratuwa which the Lions won 94 points to 9.

The Reid Avenue boys are the current custodians of the coveted Bradby Shield, named after the late Royal principal E.L. Bradby, who donated the shield to the Royal-Trinity rugby series in 1945. The winners of the shield are determined on aggregate of points after two legs played in Kandy and Colombo. The Royal-Trinity rugby series began way back in 1920 but the Bradby Shield was introduced only in 1945 after which it turned out to be a two-leg affair. The first ever inter-school rugby match between the two teams in 1920 was won by Trinity which beat Royal by 26 points to nil. The first leg of the inaugural Bradby Shield encounter was won by Royal 3-0 but their joy was short lived as Trinity won the second leg 6-0 and with it became the first holders of the ‘Bradby’.

The highest ever aggregate in the ‘Bradby’ series was registered in 2002 when Royal led by Zulki Hamid massacred hapless Trinity team 39-nil in Colombo in the first leg and 44-nil in the second leg in Kandy to take the shield with a record aggregate of 83-nil.

Of the 72 encounters played so far Trinity takes the lead with 39 wins to Royal’s 31. There were two ties in the series which was witnessed in 1992 and last year in 2016.

The 2015 Royal College number eight Supun Warnakulasuriya remains to date as the only player in the history of Bradby shield to score four tries in a single match which he did in the second leg at Royal Sports Complex, Reid Avenue. Incidentally he is the present team manager of the Royal College rugby team.

TEAMS:

ROYAL COLLEGE (PROBABLE XV)

Rashmal Fernando, Hamza Reeza, Himantha Hirushan, Ashen Fernando, Sasitha Siyath, Maleesha Madumewan, Samadhi Induwara, Lennox Calyaneratne, Nikhil De Silva and Ovin Askey (Captain), Nikil George, Thuleb Hassen, Janidu Dilshan, Shabith Feroze (Vice Captain) Shaqir Nawfer , Head Coach- Sanath Martis, Asst. Coach- Dushanth Lewke, Manager- Supun Warnakulasooriya

TRINITY COLLEGE ( PROBABLE XV )

Shaveen Ekanayaka, Hasiru Weliwatte, Aveesha Piyankara, Rishane Madena, Pasan Samarawickrema, Keshawa Palayangoda, Kanesha Alwis, Nathan Yee(Captain), Anuka Boyagoda and Akitha Sakalasuriya, Amit Kulatunga, Warron Weerakoon, Diluksha Dange, Reshan Bandaranayaka, Rashen Bandaranayake, Head Coach- Lote Raikabula, Asst.Coach- Buddhika Abeysinghe. 


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