The Sunday Leader

The Ups And Downs Of Havelocks

By Sharm De Alwis

I am indebted to S.S.Perera for much of this compelling story of a rugby club that waxed and waned since 1915.

Rugby was introduced to our country with the first game played in June 1879. Although the Havelock Park was opened in 1901, it was a sandy patch where cricket was played until 1915 when the Havelock Sports Club was formed with Dr. V.R. Schokman as its first president.

The club took to playing rugby in 1920 with Col. E.H.Joseph as its president and J.C.A. Prins as the secretary and first captain. The first Inter-Club match was against Kelani Valley although it was not deemed a tournament match.

The first Havelocks-CR&FC encounter was on 21st July 1923 and by and by, in 1925 the club’s pavilion-on-wheels was introduced to the membership. This relic is still in use for presidential banquets and on normal, regular times, as the venue for games of cards, particularly ‘bridge’.

In the early years it had to be moved about a few feet at a time to conform to the requirements of tenancy.

Havelocks was admitted in 1948 as a Full Member of the Ceylon Rugby Football Union and the Club’s Fred Kellar captained Low-Country Vs Up-Country in the Capper Cup encounter.

The golden years of the club dawned in 1949 when they won the Inter-District Championship and continued unabated when 1950 found them to be the first winners of the newly re-constituted Clifford Cup Touranament.

The team comprised Ian Labrooy as captain, H.E.W. Metzeling, Hugh Aldons, Fred Aldons, Basil Henricus, E.M. Aldons, S.B. Pilapitiya, Alan Drieberg, Robert Sourjah, Vernon Kelly, Lecho Ephraums, Kenneth Gunawardena, Aubrey Raymond, Ian Bartholomeusz and D. Evarts.

The glorious success of 1950 was repeated in 1951 with the protagonists being the same.

Then a drought ensued for a full decade until it was broken in 1961 under the captaincy of Dr. Hubert Aloysius and the rest of the players comprising Maurice Fairweather, Maurice de Silva, Ken de Joodt, Quentin Israel, Rajah Sumanasekera, Nimal Maralanda, Dicky Jayathileka, Brian Jacotine, Frankie David, Y.C. Chang, Gowi Tilekaratne, Richard Abrahams, Conrad Ephraums and Edward Bartholomeusz.

From then on the glory years spun like the wheel of fortune to win the Clifford Cup in handsome regularity. 1963’s captain was Rajah Sumanasekera who had been an accomplished boxer and could have had the National Fly-weight title if he had only had time before he went to UK for Air Force training. In 1964 the Cup was won under the captaincy of Dicky Jayathileka.

The 1967 team was captained by Gama Fernando and others in the team were Maxim Flamer-Caldera, Maurice Fairweather, Jeff and Dan Rutnam, Basil Henricus, Glen Vanlangenburg, Japana Jayawardena, Jeyer Rodriguesz, Frankie David, Tyronne Holdenbottle, R. de Silva, Gogi Tilekeratne, Noel Brohier and I. Hameed.

Noel Brohier captained the side that won the honours in 1968 and in 1970 Jeff Rutnam’s team tied with Police who were led by Abdul Majeed. Desmond Harridge’s Havelocks team beat CR&FC 16-4 in the 1975 Championship Finals. 1976, 1977 and 1978 saw a hat-trick of wins under Thajone Savanghan, Jeff de Jong and Anton Benedict who has been the only player to captain two Champion teams (the other being Police).
After 1978, except for the Championship under hunting flanker Angelo Wickramaratne success has eluded Havelocks and the Club has not had scintillating players other than Michael Jayasekera and Hisham Abdeen worthy of the name, mainly because although some players have learned the rudiments of the game whilst wearing the chocolate and brown jersey, Club loyalty which used to be the badge of honour was tarnished and discarded when lucre called the shots.
The Club’s 2ndXV had more accomplished players than those now show-casing their wares in the 1stXV. It used to be a faithful supplier of superb players to play for Low-Country, Barbarians, All-Ceylon against visiting foreign teams.

The first Havelocks player to captain Low-Country in the Capper Cup encounter was Nimal Maralanda in 1964 and Anton Benedict repeated the honour ten years later in 1974. Lecho Ephraums was the first Havelocks player to be in a Representative side against visiting teams when he played for All-Ceylon Vs the British Isles R.U. team in 1950.

1953 – Colombo Vs Australian Colts : H.E.W. Metzeling, Basil Henricus, Alan Drieberg. All-Ceylon Vs  Do : Basil Henricus  Barbarians Vs Do : Metzeling, S.B.Pilapitiya
1955 – New Zealand Colts  : none from Havelocks in Ceylon or Barbarians teams
1957-  Australian RFU Colts : Low-Country : Alan Henricus, Conrad Ephraums: All-Ceylon :    Alan Henricus: Barbarians :   Eustace Mathysz, Hubert Aloysius, Franklin Jacob
1959 – Oxford/Cambridge: Colombo Clubs : Alan Drieberg, Hubert Aloysius, Franklin Jacob, Conrad Ephraums: All-Ceylon : Hubert Aloysius. Barbarians : Ken de Joodt, Nimal Marlanda, Alan Drieberg, Conrad Ephraums, Franklin Jacob
1964 – British Joint Services [Far East] – President’s XV :Maurice de Silva, Nimal Maralanda
1966 – British Joint Services [Far East] – President’s XV : Cholomondley Henricus, Jeff Rutnam, Gama Fernando
1968 – British Joint Services [Far East] – All-Ceylon: Jeff Rutnam, Japana Jayawardena, Noel Brohier
1968 – All India [Combined Indian Team] – All-Ceylon: Jeff Rutnam, Japana Jayawardena, Glen Vanlangenberg, Noel Brohier, Gama Fernando, G. Ludowyke, Tyronne Holdenbottle
1969 – Bosuns :  Colombo Clubs : Jeff Rutnam, Glen Vanlangenberg, Hamzil Hamid, Gogi Tilekeratne, Japana Jayawardena, Tyronne  Holdenbottle, Noel Brohier, Mark Sunderalingam
1969 All-India Finals : All-Ceylon – Jeff Rutnam, Glen Vanlangenberg, Gogi Tilekaratne,  Japana Jayawardena, Tyronne Holdenbottle
1970 – Blackheath :    Colombo : Wendell Flamer-Caldera, Anton Benedict, Gogi Tilekeratne, President’s XV : Shafi Jainudeen, Dan and Jeff Rutnam,  Tyronne Holdenbottle, Glen Vanlangenberg
1970 – Indian RFU :  All-Ceylon : Jeff & Dan Rutnam, Glen Vanlangenberg, Gogi Tilekeratne,   Tyronne Holdenbottle
1970 – All Singapore -     All-Ceylon: Jeff Rutnam, Glen Vanlangenberg, C. Gauder, Gogi  Tilekeratne, Tyronne Holdenbottle
1971 – Paris Universities .   President’s XV: Jeff Rutnam, Glen Vanlangenberg, Randy, Pietersz, Tyronne Holdenbottle  Colts : Hamish Patternott, Desmond Harridge CRFU XV : Jeff Rutnam, Glen Van langenberg, Randy Pietersz
1971 – England Far East Tour . Ceylon  [both games]: Jeff Rutnam, Glen Vanlangenberg, Randy Pietersz, Tyronne Holdenbottle
1971 – NCHANGA Rugby Club – President’s XV : Jeff Rutnam, Glen Vanlangenberg,  Randy Pietersz, Ranjith Abeydeera,  Tyronne Holdenbottle
1972 – Paris Universities -  President’s XV : None
1972 – London Welsh – CRFU XV : Thajone Savanghan Colombo Clubs : Shafi Jainudeen, Jeff Rutnam, Hamish Patternott, Desmond Harridge  President’s XV [1st game] : Desmond Harridge, Tyronne     Holdenbottle, R. de Silva  President’s XV [2nd game]: Thajone Savanghan, K.Ratnapala, Desmond Harridge
1972 – Bancroft Rugby Club : RFU -  None from Havelocks though schoolboy M.Saleem subseqently played for Havelocks Australian Emus -  Colombo : Shafi Jainudeen, Thajone Savanghan, Desmond Harridge, Tyronne Holdenbottle  President’s XV : None from Havelocks CRFU XV : Thajone Savanghan, Desmond Harridge
1973 – Combined All-India -  Sri Lanka: K.G.Ratnapala
1974 – Japan Rugby Union- Sri Lanka: Desmond Harridge, Anton Benedict
1974 – Hastings Boxhill RF Club – Havelocks won 21-8.

Special mention must be made of the 1967 Clifford Cup Champions Havelocks who beat  24-5 an extremely powerful Tea Industry Team comprising Lionel Almeida, Larry Schokman, Selva Kanagasabai, John Burrows, Ralph Wickramaratne, Jayantissa Ratwatte, Tyrrell Mutiah, John Boyd-Moss, Mike de Alwis, Y.C. Chang, Mike Waring, R. Abeysundera, Ken Murray, John Bousefield and Keith Paul.

2 Comments for “The Ups And Downs Of Havelocks”

  1. Nice blog and everybody should should totally comply with you on this view right here. Its interesting, thats what i can write concerning this. Because this is what the whole site is about or am i wrong? Greetings all!

  2. Ken de Joodt

    SHARM DE ALWIS is an exceptional and excellent Writer! His ability, wisdom and remembrance of ‘happenings’ years and years ago, is incredible! His knowledge to produce an article on some ‘archaic’ matter, that stirs up new vibrant interest and brings back great memories of the past, is simply amazing! He starts with a ‘dot’ and ends with a ‘castle’- on most of his super articles. I can write a book on this great man who stands tall in my mind and is very close to my heart, because he has personality traits that are lovable! Perhaps – here too, it could be said “behind a lovable man, is a wife!” – based on the modern theory of ‘equality’!! May God Bless Sharm and his Family who surrounds him with respect and affection, MANY MORE YEARS OF WONDERFUL WRITING!
    Best Regards.. Ken de Joodt

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