Radhika Hettiarachchi the ‘Iron Man’ of rugby | Daily News

Radhika Hettiarachchi the ‘Iron Man’ of rugby

 

It is very rare to see a player engage in various sporting disciplines during his school career, unless he maintains an extremely good physique . Radhika Hettiarachchi was one of them who excelled in several sports in school and later ended up as one of the finest ruggerites and an excellent coach.

Radhika was born in 1977 in the outskirts of the city of Kandy. With a height of over five feet he was called the ‘Iron Man’ in the field of rugby. His father was Vijey Hettiarachchi a businessman while his mother Nirmala is a housewife. He had two siblings Vinod the elder brother and Udaya the younger brother, both of whom schooled at Dharmaraja College. Udaya played rugby for the school and later donned the jersey of Kandy Sports Club, CR and FC and Sri Lanka. Radhika attended Dharmaraja College, Kandy from his primary education to higher studies, before he left school in 1996. Apart from his active involvement in studies, he was a sports fanatic during his childhood and was an active member of the college football team from

under-12 to 19 age categories, ending up by leading them in under-12, 14 and 19 age groups. He was awarded college Colours and ‘Dagoba’ the highest award offered at school in the year 1995 and 1996 respectively. Due to his excellent performance in that era, he bagged several trophies.

During the latter stages of his school career, he was a member of the college Athletic Team in 1996. He went on to win second place at the Central Province Athletic Championship in the same year. He was a member of the college hockey team and was a member of the College under-19 bodybuilding and weightlifting teams. While in school, he was instrumental in securing several trophies which included winning the Plate Championship in 1996 in the 10-a-side inter school rugby tournament. Losing to their home town school St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota in the knockout semi finals, which ended in a draw , then moved to extra time which also could not produce a result. Ultimately the winner was decided on a penalty shoot out which Antonians won 3-2

At school he was coached by Gunawardana, Padmasiri, Nimal, Srimal along with two past students Dimuthu and Weera. He wanted to extend special thanks to Anil Jayasinghe who coached his first XV team in 1995/1996 seasons. He initially occupied the center three quarter berth later went on to play as full back and ended up by playing as a wing three quarter in the back division.

After he left school, he opted to play club rugby and enrolled with Kandy Sports Club in 1997 and surged ahead until 2005. Then he rejoined and locked horns with them from 2008 to 2010 . He led them in 2004 to win the ‘Triple Crown’ as undisputed champions that year,

He was adjudged Best Captain of the Tournament in 2004. Best Player of the Tournament in 2002 and the best three-quarter of the Tournament in 2003. Owing to his scintillating performance, he was called Sri Lanka’s Jonah Lomu. He was coached by late George Simpkin, Hemantha Yatawara, Laga(Tavita Thulagesi), Yohan Taylor and Ananda Kasthuriarachchi. He played for Up Country Lions Sports Club in 2012 and 2013 and captained the knockout tournament. Won the Inter Club sevens championship for them in 2013 and called it a day to his club rugby career with some unforgettable memories under the coaching of Imthi Marikkar. He also played for CH, CR and Air Force in short stints.

He had the National call in 2003 with the under-24 Sri Lanka team at the age of 19. He was then appointed as captain of the Sri Lanka National sevens team in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010 playing as prop and hooker respectively winning several trophies. He went on to captain the Sri Lanka team at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the Dubai, South Africa, Malaysia and the Singapore Sevens. In 1998, he made his debut in XV-a-side rugby with the Sri Lanka National team on tour of Australia. In 1999 he played against China and won both matches. Won the Quadrangular tournament in Singapore. In 2000 played against Chinese Taipei at Nittawela. He also represented the country at several tournaments held in Asia and other countries, where he played a pivotal role as a player while captaining the National team bringing honour and fame to the country. He occupied the positions of wing three quarter and full back’ during his tenure in the National side. At the National level he was coached by Ana Saranapala, retired DIG Nimal Lewke, George Simpkin, Asanga Seneviratne, Imthi Marikkar, Chandrishan Perera, Ajith Abeyratne, Tony Amit, Ben Gollings, C.P. Abeygunawardana and Dr. Maiya Gunasekera.

After quitting club rugby, he completed World Rugby Level-3 part one, IRB Level -2 Coaching, IRB Level One Coaching and currently working as Head Coach of Sri Lanka Army Rugby Team from 2019 to 2021. He held the post of Head Coach of Nepal National Men’s and Women’s 7s Team from 2018 to 2019. He was the Head Coach of Dharmaraja College Kandy First XV Team in 2013/14 and 2015/16 seasons. As Head Coach he guided his school to win the Schools League Championship followed by the William Gopallawa trophy in 2013. His illustrious career was a lengthy one instrumental in guiding the schools and clubs to win several championships.

His wife is Chathurika and his children are Methumya (14) and Kinara (11) years old.