Jayasena first Anandian to play for Lanka | Daily News

Jayasena first Anandian to play for Lanka

Asoka Jayasena
Asoka Jayasena

A player who had no grass root level involvement in rugby later turned out to be a one of Sri Lanka’s finest rugby players produced by Ananda College, Colombo was Asoka Jayasena who is the first Anandian to play for Sri Lanka

Asoka hails from a sports loving family and lived in a neighbourhood in Minuwangoda. His father was Jayasena Pathirana while Vijitha Tennakoon was his mother. He is the eldest of a family of three including two sisters. His father served in the Sri Lanka Police representing Athletics team in 1960. His father’s elder brother G.P.Wimaladasa from Mirigama and uncle Charles from Gampaha were two popular figures in the sporting circles as both represented Sri Lanka at volleyball in the same era.

Asoka enrolled at Joseph Vaz College, Wennappuwa to follow his primary education in GCE Ordinary Level class and crossed over to Ananda College, Colombo for further studies. He likes to extend his sincere gratitude to late Reggie Ranatunga, father of former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who was instrumental in enrolling him at Ananda College in 1984. Late Ranatunga was a close family friend and monitored the potential of Asoka during small days, who by then was a very indefatigable sportsman involved in Athletics and Cricket at Joseph Vaz, where he competed in the Public school meets and All Island Junior championship meets from 1978 to 1984.

Due to his build and body structure one of his school mates Vajira de Silva motivated him to take part in Rugby instead of playing cricket at Ananda College.

He then played a pivotal role there from 1984 to1988, engaging in Rugby with the first XV team under the coaching of G.B. Gunadasa. His team came to the R. Premadasa Trophy semi final and lost to Royal College 6-11 but in the quarter finals they defeated S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia 14-4, under the captaincy of Asela de Silva in 1988, which was a remarkable achievement in his school’s rugby career.

In his final year at college he represented the Sri Lanka school Sevens team which took part at World Schools Sevens Tournament at Roslyn Park, United Kingdom in 1988 with the players of the calibre of Lasitha Gunaratne, Bindu Dandeniya, Rohan Ranaraja, Sudesh Abeysinghe, Ruwan Ranasinghe, Thakshila Heatthiarchchi , Mohamed Intikhab, Hilmy Shaeed under the watchful eyes of Alex Lazarus as coach.

With his unstinted performance in school’s rugby, he joined the Sri Lanka Police as a Sub Inspector. He was stormed into the Police rugby team to associate with some of the greats in the game Hafeez Marso, Norman Silva, Ajantha Samarakoon, Leslie de Silva, Palitha Siriwaedana,

Aruna de Silva, Neranjan Abeywardena, Roger Rodrigo, Sudath Sampath, Nizam Jamaldeen, Nilantha and Hemantha Laksmewawa, Saman Kothalawala, Hemantha Yatawara, Subasinghe, Damith Jayawardana until 1995, which was the ‘Golden era of Police Rugby’, where they went on to win many trophies such as John Player Rugby league championship, Clifford Cup, Club Sevens Champions and Under-24 Champions under late Nilantha Laksmeewewa, where Asoka was selected as ‘Man of the Tournament’. The Police team was coached by late Daya Jayasundara and Ibrahim Hameed

In 1996, he opted to go for early retirement and joined the mercantile sector. He joined Kandy Sports Club and scrum down with some of the great yesteryear players likes Priyantha Ekanayaka, Saman Kothalawala, Lasantha Wijesuriya, L.V Ekanayaka, Bandaranayaka, Imthi Marrikar, Nalin Dissanayaka, Sajith Mallikarchchi, Fazil Marija, Pradeep Basnayaka, Siddik, Suranga Amarasinghe until he gave up Rugby in 2005. In his tenure there he strived hard with his team to win many trophies including the Clifford Cup, Caltex Rugby League Cup and, Sevens Trophy They were coached by Tavitha Tulagaesi ‘, George Simpkin, Priyantha Ekanayaka and C.P Abeygoonawardana including his captaincy season in 1998.

His involvement with the National team was from 1989 to 2002 engaging in the Sri Lanka fifteen a side and Sevens teams consistently. He Captained Sri Lanka team from 1998 to 2001 which included the Rugby Asiad in Japan in 2000. Captained the Sri Lanka Barbarians team in 1994 and toured Malaysia at the International Ten a side tournament which had a mix of players locally and internationally representing the local clubs in Sri Lanka.

He was also selected to represent the Asian Barbarian team against Hong Kong National team and toured Singapore, Malaysia, Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, England, Italy, Australia, Pakistan. Kazakhstan and UAE in the capacity as a player and skipper of the teams played there. Under his captaincy Sri Lanka won the Asian Quadrangular tournament in 2000 coached by Nimal Lewke. He would like to thank his former coaches Nimal Lewke, Anton Benedict, Ana Saranapala, George Simpkin and Tony Amith, all of whom played a pivotal role transforming him into a quality player to become the cynosure of eyes.

His wife is Nibeesha Priyankari Asmadala who is a Chartered Architect and his daughter Isuri is a second year IT undergraduate while son Danuja Pathirana is still schooling representing Dharmaraja College first XV rugby team.