Lalindra the paddler turned ruggerite | Daily News

Lalindra the paddler turned ruggerite

Lalindra Rodrigo
Lalindra Rodrigo

Lumbini College, Colombo, one of the prominent Buddhist schools in town has contributed immensely by producing several sportsmen apart from studies. The game of rugby has been in the forefront listed in their sporting calendar, which enabled them to unearth several renowned players, who later represented clubs and the country bringing honour and fame. Edirimuni Lalindra Chaturanga Rodrigo was one of them who had an immaculate career in handling the oval shaped ball.

Better known as Lalindra Rodrigo in the rugby circles he was born in 1978. His father was Edirimuni Kingsley Rodrigo who worked as a clerk at Colombo Municipal Council while mother Siyabaladuwa Pathiranage Somalatha is a housewife. His elder sister Pramitha Rasanjali is a housewife and younger sister Buddhika Harshani is working at Singer Sri Lanka. Lalindra was enrolled at Lumbini College in 1984 as a primary student and went on to complete his schooling career with them by 1997.

He had a flamboyant start to his sporting career at school by engaging in table tennis at the age of ten years, under former National coach Chandana Perera who produced several national stars. But he had a liking for rugby and followed his school matches frequently. However, he finally decided to get into playing rugby in every age group starting from under-13, 15,17 later with the first XV team from 1995 to 1997. His first junior rugby coach was Old Lumbinian P. L. Senaka and trained under Vikum Dhamsiri from under-15 to first XV. While donning the school jersey, he was a utility player representing the back line due to his competence as a player. He sneaked into the first XV team in 1995 as scrum half, in 1996 as a full back cum scrum half, and in 1997 as a centre three quarter. Subsequently in his final year in 1997, he played as a Centre and lost to Thurstan College in the Presidents Trophy Semi-finals. He was finally rewarded with school colours for rugby in 1995 while grabbing the college ‘Best Rugby Player of the Year’award in 1997. These awards apparently motivated him to continue his rugby career further with clubs. Lasantha Pradeep was his first XV coach in 1995 captained by Sampath Perera. Vikum Dhamsiri coached them in 1996 and 1997 season captained by Thusitha Roshana (1996) and Dinuka Chamara (1997) respectively.

He too was a great follower of Havelock Sports Club and surged ahead to lock horns with them from 1998 to 2007. He first played with the Havelock ‘Bambaras’ team coached by Marco de Silva. His first game was the ‘B’ division knockout final against Army ‘B’ where he played as full back.

In the meantime, he was introduced to Havies junior team where he played for Havelocks cup winning under-21 and 24 teams as a scrum half and wing three quarter coached by Ana Saranapala, who guided him to mature as a top rugby player. Those teams were led by Sanjeeva Jayasinghe and Ruwan Suranga.

The peak of his rugby career started from 2000 where they went on to defeat CR 49-14 under the captaincy of Nishantha Chanaka (Alex) in the Inter club sevens final where he played as a scrum half and was instrumental in scoring one of his best tries in his career in the final against the star studded CR team. In the next season in 2001, they went on to beat CH and FC coached by former Havies legend Hisham Abdeen. He was in the Havelocks team which became

the runners up in 2002 losing to Kandy SC by a narrow margin. Apart from the sevens arena, he also played a pivotal role in the XV-a-side rugby with his team where they won the Premier Trophy in 2003 under Shafi Hassan’s captaincy. by beating CR and FC 21-19 He was lucky enough to be in the same team which included several players who had international exposure like Nishantha Chanaka, Sudath Sampath, Leonard de Zilva, Sanjeeva Jayasinghe, Ruwan Suranga, Rajeev Ganapathy and Lakala Perera . He was finally picked to captain the Havelocks sevens team in 2007 before he opted to migrate to the United Kingdom in February that year. Apart from his club he had a profound career donning the National jersey from 2001 to 2006. He represented Sri Lanka for the first time in Dubai Rugby Sevens in December 2001 ”, and his first international game was against mighty All Blacks as a scrum half which they lost 5-77 in which Sanjeeva Jayasinghe scored a brilliant try after a 80 metre dash. Lalindra scored his first international try against Wales in the same tournament and few other tries against Portugal and Kenya. This team was coached by Asanga Seneviratne.

Ever since that tournament, he was part of the National sevens team up to 2006 before his migration. Some of his significant sevens tournaments were at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England led by fellow Havies team mate Leonard de Zilva. In 2006 Asian Games in Doha, in 2003/4 Hong Kong sevens tournament. In 2004 the Durban Sevens in South Africa and followed by the Singer Sevens winning the ‘Bowl Championship’ in 2005 in Sri Lanka.

He was keen in playing sevens rugby until the New Zealand born coach late George Simpkin spotted him and motivated him to get into playing the XV-a-side rugby even though he was a compact player. He went on to play from 2003 to 2005 in this segment of the game at the World Cup qualifier in Colombo in 2003/4 season. In Hong Kong in 2004 against Kazakhstan in the two legs. He was also a part of the team that played at the World Cup qualifiers played in Hong Kong and Kazakhstan under the leadership of Sajith Mallikarachchi. He took part in the Mercantile Rugby and was part of the Cup winning Sampath Bank team in 2005 and runners up in 2004. He continued playing rugby after migrating to London in 2007, actively played 7’s, 10’s and 15’s side rugby with local rugby club Ilford Wanderers RFC from 2007 to 2016 in (London Div 3 league). Currently working at a Software development company (Asite Solutions Ltd) in the Finance team.

His wife is Kushanthi Samarakoon (married in 2006) is a teacher in the UK by profession. He has a four year old daughter Binuli Edirimuni.