Isipatana-Joes clash in schools rugby knockout final today

by A Special Correspondent

Unbeaten Isipatana College will face a torrid time when they come up against St. Joseph’s College in the final of the President’s Trophy Schools’ Rugby Knockout Tournament scheduled to take place on September 11 (Sunday) at the Royal Sports Complex.

No doubt Isipatana has been the side to watch having overcome all stiff hurdles this season and also for getting through the tail of the league season sans their skipper Dehan Wickremaarachchi who is recovering from injury. Stand-in skipper Praveen Stephan has led the side well and also added the spice to the back division. The Green Shirts have in their ranks match winners like Naveen Kanishka (fly half), S.D Sansoni (Centre), M.Botheju (Full back) and that unstoppable speedster Rinesh Silva who has punched many holes in most of the oppositions’ defences. Kanishka has been the cut above the rest and the try he scored against Royal College in the league decider is spoken by many as a feat that could only be equaled by a club player. The forwards too have made significant contributions to the side with players in the likes of W.S Kodagoda (hooker), Sooriya Dodangoda (number eight) and T.N.S Wewalapandith (Flanker) dazzling this season. The linkman of the side M.S D De Costa has fed his three quarters well and also been noted this season for giving his opposite number one hell of a time in most of the games Isipatana featured in. Isipatana last won the President’s Trophy in 2016. The side is coached by Saliya Kumara.

St. Joseph’s on the other hand deserve to be in the final after having played so well this season and also for finishing as the runners-up in the schools’ league tournament. Joes and Isipatana played in different groups in the league tournament and only met in the Super Round of the tournament and when they did clash the Green Shirts ran out as winners beating the Josephians by 16 points to 13. The Josephians have taken their rugby very seriously of late and are coached this season by Nilfer Ibrahim.

There is much criticism against the side with posts coming up in social media questioning the recruitment of players from other schools. But these critics only have to turn the pages of time in the annals of school rugby and they’ll find out that most of the top schools also had in their line-ups at least a few imports in their squads; especially when those teams did pretty well emerged as schools rugby champs.

The Josephians are led this season by speedster and College athlete Teran Wickremanayake. The side has talented players in the likes of Jehan Athukorala, Dilhara Subash, Sachinthana Waidyaratne, Rahel Jayawardene and match-winning number eight Naveen Marasinghe. They beat most of the top schools this season with their smashing 20-15 win against Trinity in Pallakele being a match to be spoken of. The Josephians last won the schools knockout plum in 2017 when they beat Isipatana 19-13.

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