St. Benedicts College, Colombo, Sri Lanka
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Bens Rugby onwards view!
SportBens Rugby Wing under the presidency of Lucian Siriwardana (former Captain 1992) with the backing of College and Old Bens which I'm also a part of is on a mission to revive Rugby at College in terms of developing skills, standards and discipline and also the passion for Bens Rugby among young & old Bens around the World.

As you know St. Benedict’s College is one of the leading and oldest catholic school in the island, with a history of over 148 years and shortly SBC will be celebrating 150 years which can be termed as Sesquicentennial of St. Benedict’s. College has produced reputed Benedictines who have gained fame internationally and locally in various fields over this period and has been able to produce good results academically and has also produced All-Island champion teams in Cricket, Soccer, Basketball, Hockey and Athletics. In fact going by the recent records at senior levels; College became All-Island Athletic Champions in 2008, All-Island Football Champions in 2006, 2007 and 2008, All-Island Basketball Champions in 2006 & 2009 and All-Island Hockey Champions in 2007.

The Rugby Wing has come out with a long term ambitious plan which is for a change, is not based on the popular norm of winning silverware in Rugby but more on the lines of laying a strong foundation to achieve overall excellence in the future of Rugby on and off the field. Though the boys did well during the 2013 season and emerged as Runner’s Up in Group C of Division 01 and with that gained a promotion to Group B in the same Division for 2014, Rugby Wing believes their task is getting harder and as such Rugby wing just need to first lay a proper foundation before building castles.

Don't forget College has a Rugby Culture going back to 50 years with very first team coming under the leadership of former Sri Lanka Cricketer and now an International Cricket Commentator Ranjit Fernando as the first ever Rugby Captain back in 1963 carving a name for St. Benedict’s in local Rugby annals. It’s worth a revisit to 1963 season and reminisce some vintage memories of yesteryear for the knowledge of the present generation. Bens notched up two wins in their maiden season which were against debutant Isipatana by 6-0 at SPC Grounds Bambalapitiya and against Wesley 5-3 at Capmbell Park and featured in a 3 all draw against St. Joseph’s at Darley Road. Bens started their footing on the rugby field with pre-season games against Club teams and tasted defeats against Air force, Army, CR & FC ‘Bees’ and Havelock ‘Barracudas’. St. Benedict’s played their first ever schools rugby game against St. Anthony’s College Katugastota at Bogambara and lost by 12-3. Then Benedictines lost to St. Peter’s 9-3, Trinity 11-0, Royal 9-0 before recording their first win against Isipathana. Bens lost their final game, which was against the eventual league Champions St. Thomas’ by 18-0. In that season Benedictines played 08 games, won 02, drew 01 and lost 05 and ended on 7th position among 11 school teams. The Benedictines received plenty of praise and recognition from Sports Journalists and Rugby enthusiast for the heartwarming and determined effort put on the show in their very first outing. This was well documented on the wider press coverage the 1963 St. Benedict’s College 1st XV team received.

Thanks to Ranjit Fernando who kept a clean sheet of his records, I’ve been able to summarize and share the highlights. Some of the noteworthy headings were (extracted from published news papers); ‘Bens not Disgraced’ on their loss to Peterites, when Bens lost to Royal the news papers said ‘Royal had it Hard’, ‘Lesser Fancied took the Kudos’, ‘Benedictines are improving’ and when Bens recorded their maiden win against Isipathana it was covered ‘Bustling loose play paid for Bens’, ‘Delight and Dole’. This was followed by a win against Wesley and the newspapers said ‘St. Benedict’s win on stroke of time’ and ‘Another Good win for Bens’, ‘A Bouquet for Bens’ and when Bens drew with Joes the news papers gave headings ‘St. Benedict’s hold St. Joseph’s to a 3 all draw’. Benedictine captain Ranjit Fernando was picked to represent Colombo Schools Team in their annual encounter against Outstation School Team for the Gratian Cup in the same year.

A picture of the 1963 St. Benedict’s College 1st XV Team is shared here and the squad comprised of (as per seating)

Standing Back Row - Nihal Peiris, Malcolm Adaman, Alfred Wijewardena, Cletus Gomez, Ranjit Dharmaratne, Rajah Sahabandu, Lakshman Thurainayagam, Erken Golieb.
Standing Middle Row - Milroy Adolphus, Ranjit Annandappa, Lloyd Silva, Rywen Gunasekera, Stanley Joseph, Telesphore Annandappa, Emilton Ramanaden, Errol Perera.
Seated - Tony Dole, Mr. Numan (coach), Ranjit Fernando (captain), Rev. Bro. Lawrence (director), Ronnie Bolling (vice captain), Mr. Armyn Weerasinghe (master in charge), Mr. Bede Puvimanasingham ( Prefect of Games)
Ground - Laksman Silva

Bens Rugby did continue to blossom thereafter in 60’s and 70’s with some outstanding Benedictines and teams coming out and one such player would be the current Rugby Advisor former Double International (Basketball & Rugger) and former National Rugby Captain Rohan Gunaratne. However there was a break in between and lull in Bens Rugby until it was revived back in 1980’s, to be precise in 1988 a time when Schools Rugby and Club Rugby was inseparable and most of the Schools whom Bens used to play in 60’s & 70’s were playing top notch rugby. Like St. Anthony’s, Isipathana and St. Joseph’s taking the fight to the old guards Trinity, Royal, St. Peter’s and St. Thoma’s. During this time, as I recall when I was a keen follower of Sports, especially Rugby & Cricket from my early age and always wanted to see a Benedictine Rugby team in action and competing with the top schools teams, it was a dream come true to see a Bens 1st XV taking to the Rugby filed under Angustus Gordon. The ‘Revival Squad’ in 1988 comprised players such as Gavin Anandappa, Shervin Anadappa, Osca Dale Suraweera, Lasantha Rodrigo, Rohan Wettasinghe, Mevan Rajeeve, Ruwan De Soyza, Angustus Gordon, Thushara Ganegoda, Manoj Krishnarajah, Ashok Anton Nadarajah, Sonal De Silva, Anura Fernando, Aruna De Alwis and Sujeewa Wickramaratne. I was barely 13, and when on the field with Under 15 Cricketers I used to admire the ruggerites that used to occupy a corner for their regular training at the muddy outfields at Kotahena. The mud, the guts and the thrills inspired me and few of my mates such as Munna Hussain, Berny Suresh, Thushan Asitha, Sanjeewa Abeynayake, Charinda Perera, Suranga Gunarathna, Anilal Fernando, Indika Ranga, Roshan Dias to pick up the oval ball and form a mini Rugby squad, the first ever junior rugby squad of SBC. This was not to the liking of Mr. D.J Anthony who was the MIC for Cricket as he feared I will break a limb or give up Cricket, which I did eventually. He used to call this ‘Rowdies Game’ of course Rugby is a Rowdies Game played by Gentlemen. Though we did practice tirelessly for few months on rain and sun shine, we never played a game against a school team. Mostly being used as opposition for 2nd XV or used to fill the scrum machine as dead weights. Closest we came in playing a real game was having a friendly game against St. Thomas’ Prep but alas that was called off on the 11th hour. That was my first Bens Rugby encounter.

Now moving into the misfortunes, Bens did not have much success in the first year of reentry as the team faced some heavy beatings from formidable sides who were in their prime form but in 1990, with the commencement of 125th Year celebrations of St. Benedict’s College, Bens Rugby blossomed by winning the B Division plum with an unbeaten tag and also recording a thrilling win against St. Joseph’s at Kotahena and drawing against St. Peter’s at the same venue where both teams were in the A Division. St. Benedict’s were selected to play in the then R. Premadasa Schools Knockout tournament and Bens lost to Lumbini MV in the quarter finals at Sugathadasa Stadium in a close encounter. Bens did put up a great show but with injuries sustained by some of the key players earlier during the season put heavy burden on the rest and made the task more difficult to the captain Ashok Anton and his boys. Though lost Bens Rugby once again gained admiration and recognition where some of the A Division teams feared to give a fixture to the lads from Kotahena. Meanwhile Lumbini MV was subsequently suspended due to fielding an overage player in that year. Benedictine 1st XV was promoted to A Division in 1990/1991 but did not have the fire power to sustain in the A Division. However during this period St. Benedict’s college has produced three players for the National pool. These three wonderful players are Anura Fernando who played for college in 1988/1989 and captained Police Rugby team, Lucian Siriwardana (90-92) who went on to represent Red Jerseys at CR & FC and Navantha de Silva (94/95) who went on to represent Navy SC

Since then, like it has been since 1963, Bens Rugby had its ups and downs in 90’s and during the new millennium. There had been some very good and promising teams and few teams won the B Division and gained a promotion but failed in the subsequent year in the A Division and slipped down. This exposes the reality, lack of long term planning and not having a strong support and development structure in place. The Rugby Wing is confident of turning the cycle or arresting the situation and firmly believes they can bring glory to College.

The Target is 2015/2016 season and this needs the backing and involvement of all stakeholders. For that we have a long term Mission, Vision and a strategic plan with College being placed in the central point with the direct supervision of Br. Director and associating Students, Parents & Old Bens. The plan will cover 09 strategic areas
1. Gather - Building awareness and gathering of the support base.
2. Guide - Setting standards and guidelines for players, parents, supporters and coaching staff.
3. Goals – Short terms to long term objectives for Junior Rugby and Senior Rugby
4. Invest - Talent and skills development (including mental, physical, discipline and grooming and conditioning of players)
5. Management - Restructuring and strengthening the Rugby Management set up, delegation of responsibilities with accountability
6. Performance Management – Rugby gears, Nutrition’s, facilities, technical expertise and exposure
7. Welfare - motivation, injury management, player welfare and career development
8. Funding - Fund Raising and sponsorships
9. Navigation - Continuous assessments and evaluations with the plans and objectives

This is good as a Corporate Plan to run a corporate institute with set of Corporate Goals under a Corporate Brand as Rugby in present age has evolved into a professional sport and it needs proper directions, support and funding and branding to sustain and deliver results with the involvement of all stakeholders.

This plan was presented to Rev Br. Director, OBU Committee and Welfare Committee and Bens Rugby Wing has got the green light to proceed. Though looking rosy, it’ll be a painstaking slow build up and not an instant winning at any cost approach. If the teams are good, if the players are skillful and if we manage, promote and play this in right spirit, College Rugby will be recognized and rewarded.

Now for us to pursue and take this forward we need your assistance and encouragements and also sharing the Passion of Bens Rugby with your mates. First we like to get to know you better. It doesn’t matter whether you played Bens Rugby or not or whether you have followed it or not, if you are passionate about College, bleed Green and like to see and be part of the Revival of Bens Rugby then do write to us and share your passion. If you know the history, or if you have some Bens Rugby memories or stories to share with the rest then please do write to us as we need to set our records straight. If you are also willing to support the Rugby Wing through either your expertise, time, money and or materials please do let us know as we need them dearly.

You can write to us on – or
Follow us on - on the Facebook (Bens Rugby Group)
Visit - to find out our latest initiative.

Meantime Old Bens Qatar wing came forward to sponsor the Warm Up kit for the 2014 1st XV Bens Rugby Squad and Old Bens UK wing has come forward to sponsor the College Interhouse Mini Rugby Carnival in Januray’2014. Also in the pipeline is Bens Rugby Night in the 1st week of February’2014.
Calling boys of St. Benedict’s young and old; promptly to rally at duty’s call and to support the resurgence of Bens Rugby!
Share this and scrum down with Bens Rugby Wing.
Sujith Silva
On behalf of Bens Rugby Wing
This article is posted on -
 Posted by DARREL LUDOWYKE on November 04 2013 02:19:01 · 0 Comments · 1260 Reads Print
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