What Has Happened To Gratien and Capper Cups, Tyrell Muttiah And Denzil Kobbekkaduwa Trophy Games?
By Hafiz Marikar
In the good old day’s schools rugby was a prestigious competition where only a handful of schools participated in the game which was considered an elite game played at the highest spirits with the parent body the Ceylon Rugby Football Union (now known as SLRFU) being the custodian of the sport in Sri Lanka. During this time Club rugby was in vogue and played at the highest levels with huge crowds to witness all games, in particular the Colombo Clubs and Planting sector Clubs were on top with the Mercantile sector most of them Britishers promoting the game.
This promoted the schools sector to spread the game to all parts of the provinces as the need to produce good rugby players to represent the club was a requirement. In the good old days a rugger player’s first choice was planting after the school career.
During this time the Ceylon Rugby Football Union introduced a trophy for the schools sector as known as the “Gratien Cup” where after the schools rugby season the provincial unions selected the elite rugby players from their schools to represent the Colombo and Outstations schools rugby clash. Thereafter, the Ceylon Rugby Football Union decided to select the best players from this encounter and select a Combined Schools team from the cream of the players.
The first encounter was played on the 9th August 1958 at Longdon place. Teams that represented the Colombo schools were drawn from Royal, St. Peters, St. Josephs, Thurstan, Wesley and Zahira and for the Outstation Schools drawn from Trinity, St. Anthony’s, St. Thomas” Mount Lavinia and Dharmasoka – Ambalangoda. Unfortunately, Daharmasoka that year were not been able to play much rugger, owing to the emergency and the curfew.
At this game the best players from the schools represented the game and the elite Mercantile and Plantation companies selected their trainee’s executives from the schools to their establishments. In that first ever game, Royal and Trinity provided ten players each, for the teams. There was another trophy called the Tyrell Muttiah, which the juniors at school level played, later in was presented to the winner at the schools sevens, that tournament too is no more.
In a good game of run and pass rugby, the Colombo Schools failed to match the Outstation counterpart and failed to score a single point in answer to the thirteen points scored by the Outstation Schools off two goals and a penalty goal. On the run of play there had been not that much of difference in the quality of play of the two teams.
What really had happened, in his game, that Colombo side were badly served by some key-players and no amount of sterling hard work by their excellent pack could atone for the fact that chance after chance of scoring was thrown away. The architects of Colombo’s misfortunes were their halves; Outstation Schools playing a better game were able to win.
There forwards had combined well and they had made every effort to see that their threes moved the ball. The Outstation Schools halves combination of Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Nimal Maralande worked well and Mike de Awls the hooker of the winning team got the ball seven times out of ten scrums, in the line outs it was 50-50. Skipper Ken de Joodt was responsible for seven of his side’s points by his place-kicking and initiated the movement which ended in one of the tries, another three points.
His Kicking was excrement, as good as the best seen that season. Peterite N. Dharmaraja who placed two penalties missed both. The two tries for the winning side came from scrum half Denzil Kobbekkaduwa and hooker Mike de Alwis,
Colombo Schools team was made out of S.M. Rajasingham (Wesley), F.I. Pereira (Royal), A. Anghie (St. Peters), M.A. Rankie (Royal) C. Direckez (St. Josephs), M.L. Anghie (Royal), R.A. Pothuhera (Royal), L de Slva (Royal), Ken Balendra (Royal), C.J. Rajaratnam (St. Josephs), H.S. de Silva (Royal) R.H. Fernando (Royal), D.N. Fernando (Royal) R. Sivaratnam (Royal) (Captain). Reserves: – N.R. Perera (Wesley), A. Wickremarthne (Thurstan) and B. Senavirathne (St. Peters).
Outstation Schools - S. Soysa (St.Thomas), S.P de Silva (Trinity) Ken de Joodt (Trinity) – (Captain), P.A.Bultens (Trinity) B. Fairweather (St.Thomas), Nimal Maralande (Trinity) Denzil Kobekaduwa (Trinity) J. De de Singhe (Trinity), Mike de Alwis (Trinity), C. Joseph (St. Antony’s), Eric Roles (Trinity), D. Ferdinands (St.Thomas’) D. Hermon (Trinity), Larry Fernando (St.Thomas) D Janakiram (Trinity). Reserves:– M. Azain (Trintiy), S.Sinathamby (St.Thomas’) M.Abeyakoon (Trinity) M.A Perera (Trinity)