Sri Lanka rugby squad announced for Commonwealth and Asian Games
SL rugby squads for Commonwealth and Asian Games
Sri Lanka men’s and women’s rugby squads were named yesterday (25) for the 22nd Commonwealth Games, to be held from 28 July to 8 August 2022 in Birmingham, England, and the 19 Asian Games, to be held from 10 to 25 September in Hangzhou, China*
Men’s squad (12 players):
Srinath Sooriyabandara, Tharinda Ratwatte, Nigel Ratwatte, Adeesha Weerathunga, Danush Dayan, Anjula Hettiarachchi, Mithun Hapugoda, Kavindu Perera, Buddhima Piyarathne, Sudaraka Dikkumbura, Reza Rafaideen, and Chathura Senevirathne
Standby players (eight):
Lasindu Karunathilake, Iroshan Silva, Ovin Hettiarachchi, Avishka Lee, Heshan Jansen, Ramesh Fernando, Sudam Suriyaarachchi, and Dilushka Dange
Women’s squad (12 players):
Kanchana Kumari, Jayanthi Kumari, Sandika Hemakumari, Dilini Kanchana, Shanika Madumali, Charani Liyanage, Anusha Attanayake, Dulani Pallikondage, Ayesha Perera, Jeewanthi Kumari, Umayangana Thathsarani, and Nipuni Rasanjali
Standby players (eight):
Polhewage Dilani, Anushika Samarawickrama, Hashini Anuttara, Chamodya Madumali, Shanika Dilini, Niranjala Wickramasinghe, Hekashani Krishnakumar, and Randika Kumudumali
*Subject to approval by the Minister of Youth and Sports Thenuka Vidanagamge
*The final 12-player squads may change during the two squads’ preparations for the two events and the standby player/s may enter the 12-player squads
By Ranjika Perera
Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) conducted a one-day trial at the CR&FC grounds in Colombo on Sunday (24) and yesterday (25), in which they announced the 12-member Sri Lanka national men’s and women’s squads for the upcoming 22nd Commonwealth Games in England and 19th Asian Games in China.
The 22nd Commonwealth Games are to be held from 28 July to 8 August 2022 in Birmingham, England, and the 19th Asian Games are to be held from 10 to 25 September 2022 in Hangzhou, China.
Best of the lot
The national rugby selectors have picked a squad of 20 players, with 12 in the squad and eight standbys, out of an initial 60 players who had been selected in a preliminary squad.
Unlike last year, when many national players were missing from the squad that toured the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Asian Sevens, SLR, under the guidance of Director General of Sports Development Amal Edirisooriya, has managed this time to get the best crop in the field to pick the squad for the Birmingham and Hangzhou Games.
Eight players from Kandy
Reigning Sri Lanka inter-club champions Kandy Sports Club (SC) boasts the most number of players in the squad and their nippy half-back, former Sri Lankan Sevens’ player Srinath Sooriyabandara is tipped to lead the national Sevens team for the upcoming competitions.
Apart from “Soori”, there are seven more players from Kandy, including Nigel and Tharinda Ratwatte, Kavindu Perera, Dhanush Dayan, Heshan Jansen, Dilushka Dange, and Budddima Piyarathne.
No one from CR
From Havelock SC, the in-form Mithun Hapugoda, Lasindu Karunathilaka, and Ramesh Fernando have made the cut whilst Avishka Lee, Sudam Suriyaarachchi, and Reeza Rafaideen have been picked from CH&FC.
Interestingly, there have been no players selected from CR&FC, who had had a disappointing season in the latest inter-club league, which has now been halted midway due to the prevailing volatile economic and political situation in the country.
Ovin Hettiarachchi, the youngest
The youngest player in the squad is Ovin Hettiarachchi who has earned his maiden call-up for the national side after his heroics for S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and Air Force SC.
It was deserving that the youngster has been called up for the two key global events as he had shown great skills and temperament for his school in the Dialog-sponsored Schools Rugby Sevens’ Western Province competition held in December.
Former national Sevens Skipper Adeesha Weeratunga and Chathura Senevirathne too have earned their places in the squad, while Iroshan Silva and Sudharaka Dikkumbura also have got the selectors’ nod, representing the forces.
Notably, former Sri Lanka skipper Yoshitha Rajapaksa, who showed interest in facing Sunday’s trials after reversing his decision to retire from the game last week, has reportedly failed to attend those trials.
Standby players may get a chance
SLR sources said yesterday that the 12-member men’s and women’s squads may change in the lead-up to the two Games. In such a scenario, the standby players may be included in the main 12-member squads.
The above two Sri Lanka squads were yesterday issued under the signature of SLR Executive Director Hamza Hidayathullah in a context where the SLR had been dissolved controversially by the outgoing Youth and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa. Rizly Illyas, Head of the dissolved SLR, is challenging the Ministry’s decision.
The Sri Lanka National Rugby Selection Committee includes Chairman Ashoka Jayasena, Leslie de Silva, Hemantha Yatawara, Rohan Abeykoon, and Kapila Knowlton