Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) named Isipathana College as the Singer Inter-School Division I-Group A league champions relegating the initial champions Trinity to the runner-up position at an executive committee meeting held yesterday.
The emergency meeting was called after Vidyartha College was found guilty of fielding an over age player and as a consequence, the Kandy school’s under-20 section has been banned from playing Rugby for an year. The strict measures implied don’t stop there as they have been knocked on the head hard for the error in their ways.
The gravity of the punishment is that it’ll take Vidyartha six years to reach the top flight as they’ll re-enter the tournament from Division II Group C in 2014.
Ministry of Education had asked SLSRFA to act according to the schools hand book and with that in mind Isipathana was awarded the title. The criteria they used to crown the champions was the point adding method where the teams who lost against Vidyartha were awarded the remaining points.
Isipathana was eligible to receive two points since they drew their match with Vidyartha. In this kind of a scenario, the maximum a team can obtain is five points and since Isipathana had received three points prior from the Vidyartha match, (draw-2.5 and a bonus 0.5) two was added to their total which tied them with Trinity at 45 points.
But Isipathana edged ahead due to a superior try count thus enabling them a way to the championship. Trinity had complained earlier in the meeting arguing that Isipathana lodged this complain late only when it only came to light that they were within distance of the title. They had insisted that had they knew about this dramatic turn of events they would have planned ahead and acted appropriately regarding the number of tries scored.
But as the meeting went on their voice became less vocal and majority had voted in favour of Isipathana being awarded the title including Trinity.
Earlier there was a rumour going around the rugby circles that school authorities were trying to handover the title to both Isipathana and Trinity but that idea had died down due to two reasons. Isipathana was averse to it and as per the rules in the handbook it is illegal.
Vidyartha’s under 20 side will be kept behind closed doors for next year’s league, knockout and sevens championships. Apart from starting from the rock bottom in 2014, Vidyartha MIC, Ananda Upatissa was suspended from the executive committee of SLSRFA for a year. Furthermore, SLSRFA will request the principal of Vidyartha to take action against Vidyartha coach Anil Jayasinghe.
The other two sides who were caught red handed for similar offences Zahira College and Devapathiraja College, Rathgama was given identical bans with only the one year suspension shifting away from Vidtartha’s fate. The former who was in Division I Group C was demoted to Division II and Devapathiraja who was in Division II Group B was sliced to Division III. Both MICs has been suspended from the executive committee for a year too.
When asked why only Vidyartha was given a one year ban, SLSRFA secretary Susantha Mendis said that only Vidyartha had denied the allegations while other two schools had accepted there had been mal practices from their part at the first time of asking.
Vidyartha vigorously denied the claims and even went on to the extent of holding a press conference on school premises to plead their innocence.
After the league title was taken away from them via the rule book due to unexpected circumstances Trinity Principal Udaya Ariyaratne maintained they won’t revolt against the decision and that it’s up to the rugby loving public to decide who the real champions are.
Speaking after the decision was announced to award the title to Isipathana College he said “We played the tournament and after nine weeks we were named champions. Because of an untoward conduct by a school, SLSRFA has decided to take the title away from us and hand it over to Isipathana. That is the final ruling the disciplinary committee stopped at. So what else can we do? We adhere to the decision.”
“There’s neither a plan nor a need from Trinity to respond against this decision. The committee found it acceptable so we bow down to it.”
Trinity during the meeting has shown their displeasure in the early hours pointing out the time frame of Isipathana lodging a complaint.”The match against Vidyartha was in the first week. After the Royal match only they knew there was a possibility for them to clinch it. Had they presented themselves during April, other teams would have had a fair chance to analyse and play accordingly to draw up plans to score more number of tries.” Ariyaratne said.
SLSRFA rejected the first accusation Isipathana made against Vidyartha which forced the Havelock town institution to turn their attention to the higher authorities. There are many questions as to how ethical it was for Trinity principal to be in the committee which came to the final conclusion since the result had a direct impact on the league title.
When asked Ariyaratne responded, “I am the chairman of the tournament committee and sit in the discipline committee too. I automatically sit in the table because of the positions i hold. We reached the decision to let Vidyartha free after examining the evidence Isipathana gave and what Vidyartha provided in defence. After that we let the executive committee of the SLSRFA know about it and they all agreed to it sans the Isipathana MIC.”
“It’s not my decision or the President Ranjith Chandrasekara’s decision. If anybody thinks like that they are totally wrong.”
Then how did the Ministry caught Vidyartha guilty while the SLSRFA didn’t? “From the evidence we got, there was nothing for us to find out something wrong. But subsequently they went to the Education Ministry along with some photographs. They were not handed over to us. We took our stance from the data we had. What were proceeded to the Ministry are different.
There were some calls from certain parties with Denzil Darling, W. Wijewansa, K.S.P Karunaratne among them who protested that the demotion was too strict from Vidyartha’s point of view during the meeting yesterday. Their theories were based on the future of innocent students of Vidyartha who had no part in it.
Ariyaratne concluded, “We have beaten Isipathana also. So it’s up to the rugby loving public to decide who the real champions are.”