Utility player Kapila Knowlton did Army and Sri Lanka proud | Daily News

Utility player Kapila Knowlton did Army and Sri Lanka proud

 Kapila Knowlton
Kapila Knowlton

Some players in the game of rugby had naturally gifted talents imbibed with them where they had the capability of occupying several positions as a utility player, later contributing immensely to his team’s success. Kapila Knowlton was a robust player who performed exceptionally well in handling the rugby ball in the three quarter line, starting his career as a centre three quarter, at times as a wing three quarter while occupying the crucial fly half berth as and when his service was needed due to his kicking skills from the time of his school career until he represented the country.

Kapila Knowlton was born in 1975 in Thimbirigasyaya and his father was late Stephen Knowlton and mother is Cicy where both of them served in Sri Lanka Police.

He had three siblings with his elder brother late Major Charles Lasantha who died in Paranthan in 1997 during the civil war Indika is his sister and Gaya is his twin brother. Since his parents were in the Police they grew up in the Police flats Thimbirigasyaya, Havelock Town. Kapila had the opportunity of spending his free time with other children engaging in various sports.

He was admitted to Mahanama College, Colombo in 1981 as a primary student and went on to complete his schooling by 1994. Due to his healthy physique, he was able to represent multiple sporting disciplines cricket, basketball and rugby.

He launched his illustrious sporting career with cricket at school with the under-13 team and went on to compete in the first XI team.

Basketball became his second sport which he competed from the age of 15 years until he played in the under-19 team. The game of rugby was his third sports discipline which he took up mainly because of the involvement of his friends at Police flats, where most of them opted to handle the oval shaped ball while witnessing rugby matches involving Police which motivated him to take up rugby. With his regular academic studies and other sports, he finally joined the under-15 rugby team at school.

Just after one year, he was called to join the College first XV team at the age of 16 years and was associated with them from 1991 to 1994.

The best achievement during his tenure as a player was when they came to semi=finals of the under-19 ‘Premadasa Trophy knock out Tournament’ defeating Royal College in 1991 under the captaincy of Nalin Dissanayake. They also emerged Cup Runner-up in the ‘Milo Trophy’ Schools under 19 Rugby Sevens in 1993 under Sharad Khan’s captaincy. losing to S Thomas College Mount Lavinia 21- 0 in the final. He also represented the Western Province under-19 school rugby team in 1994. His coaches were Marco de Silva (former Sri Lanka and Havelocks player) and T.D. Motha (former police player) during his school rugby career.

After his eventful school career, he decided to continue his club rugby career and joined the Sri Lanka Army ‘A’ team in 1995. He launched his first club league tournament in 1995 and played his first match against Kandy at Galle Face ground, at former Army headquarters under the captaincy of Prabath Naranthota, which they lost to Kandy SC 10 – 0. Subsequently, Army couldn’t continue the tournament due to the outbreak of the ethnic war . This resulted in all services teams withdrawing from the tournament and joining war operations. He had to undergo his basic training in Army Military Academy in Diyatalawa in 1995 and got commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1997. From that point, he continued his rugby career with Army from 1995 to 2013 which spanned 18 years,as a regular player.

He led the under 24 Army ‘A’ team in 1998 and participated at the All India Rugby Tournament in Kolkata in 1999 ending up champions. He surged ahead to captain the Army ‘A’ team in 1999 under New Zealand coach Kelvin Farrington.

Some of their achievements during that period was becoming runner-up in Clifford Cup Knock Out Tournament losing to Kandy SC 15 -36 (in 2000 led by Ajith Peiris),16-17 (in 2001) and 19-26 (in 2002 led by Ajith Peiris) while ending up runner-up in the Caltex League Tournament in 2001 under the leadership of prop forward J M Jayatilleke. They became Champions of the Dialog Club rugby sevens tournament in 2004 under foreign coach Rob Gibson.

He captained Defence Services team in 2006 and was awarded Army Colours, Defence Services Colours and National Collours, piling up 100 points during the 2009 rugby season by scoring tries and kicking at goal. Army team participated in the 80 x 80 International tournament in Thailand and were placed third under his captaincy in 2007.

He took over as Army coach with the assistance of foreign coach Ben MacDougall in 2013. He has an unforgettable memory during his tenure as a player with Army beating Kandy at Galle Face ground in 2004. It all happened with him scoring a try within the first five minutes. Laga as no 8 and England player playing as centre. From the starting whistle, Army dominated play and went on to score at regular intervals. Kandy bounced back in second half but just fell short by two points after Nalaka Weerakkody’s penalty kick went astray to give them a memorable 21-19 win. This Army team was under Y.P. Rajapakse’s captaincy. While his tenure donning the Army jersey he got the National call in 1997 for national sevens Squad, which he competed until 1999.

With this, he established a permanent place in the National Squad in both sevens and XV’s format from 2000 to 2005. He played in the under-24 National team in 1998 against Hong Kong in Sri Lanka under Harris Omar’s captaincy. He participated in the Rugby Asiad in Japan in 2000 under Asoka Jayasena’s captaincy coached by retired senior DIG Nimal Lewke. Became Champions at the Triangular. Tournament in Malaysia in 2001 He took part at the Shanghai Sevens in China in 2001 under Sanjeewa Jayasinghe’s captaincy coached by Nimal Lewke.

Participated at the Rugby Sevens at Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2004 under Leonard de Zilva’s captaincy coached by Asanga Seneviratne. Participated in the Rugby Sevens and XV’s at the Asian Games in Busan, Korea in 2002 under Harris Omar’s captaincy coached by Tavitha Thulagesi (Laga) and C.P. Abeygunawardena.

Participated at Rugby Asiad in Bangkok, Thailand in 2002 under Asanga Rodrigo’s captaincy coached by Tony Amit. Played test matches in Sri Lanka during above mentioned period against Thailand, Chinese Taipei and China National teams winning all the test matches. Played a triangular tournament in India and became champions in 2005 under Pradeep Basnayake’s captaincy coached by late George Simpkin, played in Hong Kong Sevens in 2008 under captaincy of Pradeep Liyanage which eventually was his final appearance with the National team.

After his tenure as a player, he has served as a member of National Rugby Selection Committee since 2017 under three chairmen namely Michael Jayasekara, Rohan Abeykoon and at present under Asoka Jayasena. He

likes to extend his sincere gratitude to former chairmen of Army Rugby Committee, Brigadier J. . P. A Jayawardena(retired), Major General Nimal Krishnaratne (retired) and Major General Evan Chandrasekara (retired) for supporting his successful career.

His wife is Pushika Jayasuriya who worked at Janashakthi Insurance and at present works at Rukula Company as head of recovery. He has two children with son Dinil 18 years studying at Mahanama and daughter Thinaya 16 years studying at Defence Services College. He is a Lieutenant Colonel who is the Commanding Officer in 4th Sri Lanka Army Service Corps at Hingurakgoda in Polonnaruwa.