Will endeavor to make rugby the No 1 sport in the country
A visionary leader
Mr Rizly Illyas was elected the 67th President of Sri Lanka Rugby(SLR) at their Annual General Meeting held at the Ramada Hotel in Colombo on Saturday 30th August with the highest number of participant members from the union.
Mr Illyas is a vastly experienced administrator and served previously as the Honorary Secretary of Sri Lankan Rugby. He was the second-in-command in the previous committee and played his rugby at St. Peter’s College Colombo, Peterson’s Rugby Club and the Colombo Gymkhana Club.
One of the first priorities of Mr Rizly & his committee is finding a way of resuming tournaments within the health related guidelines which he has labeled as “getting back to rugby”.
He is scheduled to meet the authorities this week to discuss the possibilities to resume the game both at schools and club levels. A draft of health related matters has been proposed after discussions with Dr.Namith Sankalpana who is a World Rugby accredited doctor in the country. He hopes to conduct workshops in Colombo and Kandy to educate all stakeholders in the game from schools and the clubs arena.
It’s his view that the present tournament structure is too long which spans about 18 weeks followed by the knock out tournament. His idea is to curtail the tournament to nine weeks followed by the knockouts. The main idea behind this is to get the players to play competitive rugby while maintaining their physique and remaining injury free.
With Covid-19 restrictions most clubs are struggling along with their respective sponsors, who are reluctant to release funds due to the effects on their businesses during the pandemic.
While making efforts to resume the game, the most important other aspect on his agenda is finding sponsors. There is money out there, to be rescued by executing a proper plan, for which Rizly is very optimistic of clearing the hurdles, which are listed, prioritized and to be addressed in his plan.
With a young energetic rugby loving sports minister Namal Rajapaksa who himself is a former player along with his brothers, who also play the game, will no doubt give their unstinting support for the growth of the game. Rizly, with a portfolio of agendas expects the stakeholders and media to support him in his endeavours to achieve the desired results in the game with the commitment of his energetic & youthful committee.
“I am delighted to have such a big gathering for this event with over 110 members and 200+ guests from the rugby fraternity being present, including Old Boys Schools Union, Referees, Coaches, the National men’s and women players, club presidents, secretaries, past players and friends”.
“I have been entrusted to rejuvenate the game both in the country and Internationally. My immediate priority is to look at the possibilities of resuming the game at schools and club rugby for which we have to have a proper plan. We are scheduled to meet the concerned authorities in the upcoming weeks with a health related plan drafted by Dr.Sankalpana. We are very confident that we could start playing rugby in the country as soon as possible.” Mr Rizly said.
“Getting finances is another herculean task in any sport. We can see that the IT sector and some other sectors are ready to support sports. But they will expect a well thought out and executed proposal. We have drawn a lot of plans and proposals, which we will offer them for potential sponsorship. We will propose amendments to the tournament structure which we deem as too long. We will look at productive schedules which will benefit all parties. By and large I hope to do my best with my team to revamp all formats of the games in my two year tenure in office.” he concluded.
No doubt getting Sri Lankan Rugby back to the regional force it once was will be a huge challenge but if anyone is upto that challenge its Rizly Illyas & I for one am confident that he will succeed.
The SLR Committee
- President- Rizly Illiyas
- Deputy President- Nazeem Mohamed
- Vice President- Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiarachchi
- Secretary- Dimithri Jude
- Treasurer- Dinesh Perera
The honorary life members are DIG (retired) Hafees Marso, Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Goonathilake, DIG (retired) Nimal Lewke Arjun Dharmadasa, Rear Admiral (retired) Harsha Mayadunne, Asanga Seneviratne, Priyantha Ekanayake, Kishin Butani, C.P.P. Abeygunawardena, Mohan Samarakoon, Cicero de Fonseka.
Rugby in Sri Lanka was inaugurated way back in 1879 when the game was played under the name of “Ceylon Rugby Football Union” in 1908 & will celebrate its 141st anniversary this year.