Bradby Shield: a no-go | Daily News

Bradby Shield: a no-go

The 76th Bradby Shield encounter was recently called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the virus has caused the most significant disruption to the sporting calendar. Across the country, sports events have been postponed or cancelled. Spectators have no games to watch and players, no games to play.

Even during the War, the Bradby game was played. This game has inspired brotherhood and unity and is one of the most anticipated school rugby events in the country. The first-leg encounter was held in May at the Royal Sports Complex, while the second leg was at Pallekelle in June.

This encounter has a deep-rooted tradition that has fostered lasting friendships. Everyone knows that the Bradby Shield had their beginning in 1920, which was a historic occasion (though it was not the first inter-school match to be played in the country). It was only one match played every year. Before the Second World War, four schools used to play: Trinity, Royal, Zahira, and St. Peter's. But during the Civil War, St. Peter’s and Zahira dropped out.

To prevent them from dropping out of the tournament, then Royal College Principal E.L. Bradby, a great rugby lover, came forward to present a Sheild as a new concept in 1945 for the competition between Trinity and Royal, with two matches: one played in Kandy and the second in Colombo. The team which gets the highest aggregate of points in both matches is awarded the Bradby Shield.

Every year, this scrum-down produces rugby of very high standards, where thousands of rugby lovers come a long way to see. From 1945, matches have been played every year; but this year, is a sad story. Even amidst the Second World War, the game was played.

A peep into the history of the matches’ sparkles volumes of the enthusiasm and excitement that the game generates—that surpasses even the Clifford Cup rugby matches and is hailed as the grand climax to the Schools' Rugby Season. Rugby lovers all over the country; friends, fans, well-wishers, and old boys who live in different parts of the world; make certain that they visit their loved ones back home during the Bradby, while some others travel all the way mainly to be part of the game.

The Bradby Shield, at its infancy, drew only a few hundred spectators; crowds weren’t encouraged at this stage probably because of the post-war situation, and the game was not popular. Only four schools were engaged in the game, and among clubs, it was Kandy SC, CH & FC, CR & FC, Havelock SC, KV (Kelani Valley), Uva Gymkhana Club, Dimbulla A & CC, and Dickoya MCC. In the last four clubs, mostly planters switched to the game; Europeans were the front-runners, while the locals had only a few chances to engage in the sport.

At one time, the popular event in our country was horseracing, which was the most popular sport until the mid-1950s. At that time, not many schools took to rugby. Late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike banned horseracing in 1956, and that helped rugby to attract new enthusiasts. It was only after 1957 that most of the schools took to the game. However, the game’s history here goes back to 1920; it was on July 31, 1920, at 5.15 p.m. at Serpentine Road (now Reid Avenue), that Trinity met Royal in their inaugural match, where they crushed Royal 26-00.

The Trinity team was made up of G. David, E.M.N. Pallet, A.P. Maralande, N. Moonemalle, A.W. Myanga, L.C. de Mel, H.R.V. Johnson, V.C. Schockman, J.L.C. Periers, C.E. Weeperumal. G. Wells, S.Thitrunavakarsu, A.R. Kandaswamy, M.Wetteasinghe. Royal team – E.C. Rose, E.M. Jonklass, A. Splendwine, P.N. Bathalomeusz, M. Morgan, C.G.A. Perera, T.E. Tweed, D.R. Rutnam, C.E. Hettiarhchi, S.C. Block, H. Vancueylenberg, E.K de Vos, G. Senaratne, A. de Bruin, and H. Sansoni. The game was refereed by A.C. Holder.

The Royal-Trinity game was an annual event until Royal gave up the game in 1926, but resumed in 1928 and continued their annual battles despite losing continuously to Trinity. The first win for Royal came in 1941, under the captaincy of N.N. Jilla. The other members of his team were E.M. Aldons, E.V. Peiris, A.R. Demer, A. Amrasinghe, Summa Navarthnam, H.C. Aldons, C.O. Fonder, C.Q. Perera, S.G. Salgado, H. Miles Christoffersz, L.I.W. de Alwis, T. Wickemasinghe, J. H.M. Bartholameusz, M.N. Jilla, and S.E.Strange. The first Trinity losing side had players S.B. Dissanayake (Captain), M. Kagwa, S. Thambugala, B. Aluwihare, W.J. Jenkins, E.R. Jenkins, M.B. Weerasekara, N. Sanmugam. E. Lionel Fernando, R.B. Reith, C. Dhanapala, E. Marambe, J.S. Hatch, and H.W. Fernando. Royal beat Trinity 11-3 in that game, which was refereed J.C.A. Prins.

In 1942, Trinity won, and in 1943, two games were played to make up for the pulling-out of Zahira College and St. Peter's College, who had to give up during war as their schools were taken over by the Army. Royal won both those games. When the game was fading in 1945, the Royal College Principal E.L. Bradby put forward the idea of playing an annual two-match series, to which then Trinity College Principal C. E. Simithraaratchy readily agreed. To ensure the success of the series, Principal Bradby offered a shield, which was to be held for a period of one year by the winner of the series. The series has been played annually and uninterrupted ever since.

The Shield, designed and made by Kandyan silversmiths, was donated by E.L. Bradby on his departure from Ceylon in 1945. It is a wooden disk decorated with intricate traditional Kandyan silverworks. On winning the series, the shield is presented to the winning team's captain at an awards ceremony held on the playing field, immediately following the end of the final whistle in the second leg. The winning team is then privileged to hand the shield over to their school, where it is kept on display until the following year, where it will again be up for grabs.

The first Bradby game was in 1945, when Royal led by C.D.L. Fernando beat Trinity led by Robert Sourjah 3-0 in the first leg in Colombo. However, in the game played in Kandy, the Trinitians managed to win 6-0 and clinch the shield in the inaugural year on the basis of aggregate; in the second leg, Trinity were led by S.B. Pilapitiya. Strangely enough, the two captains of this inaugural Bradby tournament, C.D.L Fernando and R.G. Sourjah, both went on to become doctors. In the first leg played in Colombo went in favour of the Royalists (3-0), while the second played in Kandy went in favour of Trinity (6-0). In the first leg, Royal scored through a try, where Royal forwards charged and Vice-Captain Fred Schoorman was able to score; it was a unique record of scoring the first points in a Bradby encounter. The second leg went in favour of the Trinitians, who did not succeed in crossing Royal’s line, but were successful with two penalty kicks to earn a hard-fought 6-0 win and take the Bradby on a 6-3 aggregate.

That year, the Royal team was made up of C.D.L. Fernando (Captain), T. Mukherjee, S.V. Edirimanasinghe, F.D. Schoorman, D. de Moor, L. Kumarasinghe, J.M. Cumaraswamy, D.R. Amerasinghe, Mahes Rodrigo, R. Rajaratnam, U. Amarasinghe, N.W. Karunartne, A.C.M. Nizar, R.M.S. de Silva, and M. Kassipillai.

Meanwhile, the then Trinity team was comprised of W. Thurairatnam, R.V. Mottram. K.A. Gunawardene, H. Ranaisnghe, G. Sanmugam, R. Vacuylaenberg, H. Jones, Robert Sourjah (Captain – 1st leg), S.B. Pilapitiya (Captain – 2nd leg), T.B. Madugalle, P.S. Dedigama, J. Kuruwita, A. Yatawara, S. Mediwke, and A. Ratwatte.