The Sunday Leader

Message From The Warden

Cricket was introduced to S. Thomas’ by our revered founder Bishop James Chapman himself and from the earliest days, long before the first Big Match, was part and parcel of the all round education on offer at the school modelled on his own alma mater, Eton College

The Royal Thomian Cricket Encounter that  has been played for 136 years without a break is the second oldest Cricket encounter in the world, next  to that played between Prince Alfred’s School and St Peter’s School, Adelaide in Australia. It is THE ‘Big Match’ as far as Royalists and

Thomians are concerned and the preparations, down to the very last detail, indicate just how seriously the alumni of both Schools, among the first to have started playing Cricket in Sri Lankan, take the encounter. The traditions surrounding the Big Match are many – both on and off the field!It is certainly unparalleled in its ability to draw spectators from all over the world, to a single venue, once a year, for three days! It has become a social event that is looked forward to very much by present boys, old boys and parents of both schools.

While it is true that the two teams battle it out in the middle to try to retain or regain the coveted Rt Hon D S Senanayake Memorial Shield, the spirit of the Royal Thomian goes beyond this. It has over 136 years fostered the bonds of friendship, camaraderie and healthy rivalry between the teams who look on each other not as enemies but as rivals. There is a difference. A ‘rival’ is a person who competes with another while an ‘enemy’ is a person actively hostile to another. There is thus, by definition, necessarily no hostility between rivals just healthy competition.

This is what must exist at any Royal-Thomian encounter for as someone said ‘Royalists define Thomians and vice versa’. This spirit is present even in the way the match is organised with old boys of both Schools coming together to form a Joint Match Organising Committee, spending many hours and giving much of their energies to a common cause. I want to place on record my thanks to all of them for their commitment and loyalty to their schools.

The two teams ‘battling it out’ are for me the most important people at the Match. My hope-filled prayer for both teams, irrespective of the end result, is that they will play the game safeguarding the highest traditions of Cricket, enjoy themselves as they do so and forge friendships for life amongst themselves and with the members of the rival team. May both teams realise that winning and losing are part of life and whichever experience comes their way may they learn the lessons that Cricket teaches for the game of life.

We are part of a glorious tradition and long may this continue.
esto perpetua the one and floreat the other
The Rev’d Marc Billimoria
S. Thomas’ College
Mount Lavinia

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