Inter University Rugby used to be tournament where all universities play against each other in groups and in the end, University of Moratuwa and Peradeniya face each other in the finals. SPOILER ALERT!. This years finals feature neither team and a new winner will be crowned champions (doesnt this remind you of the recently concluded Cricket World Cup?).
This year will be different as University of Colombo who have so far been the most marauding team in the Inter University circuit and the surprise contenders University of Kelaniya who defeated the defending champions Mora last week. Definitely the biggest upset for this decade because University of Moratuwa have been finalists consecutively since 2011 and have won the championship 5 times including last year. However they will be playing with their arch rival Pera, yet again but this time its for 3rd place in the consolation finals.
When David was confronted by Goliath the Giant, he only had a catapult as a weapon but with a single swing, he killed the mighty Goliath by striking him on the forehead. This was exactly how Kelaniya led by flanker Minura Punchihewa defeated the defending champions Mora. Despite being one try short, they outscored their opponents with penalties and successful conversions. They simply did the basics right in terms of kicking and that became the turning point of the game.
Kicking the penalties at the right place and time has made the difference for Kelaniya. In fact their kicking is what enabled them to edge past Sabare by 2 points in the quarter finals, thanks to the reliable kicking of Thilina Aluthge who plays as wing three. Continuing the good work he went into score 13 points with the boot by slotting 3 penalties and 2 conversions. Kelaniya will be very pleased to kick for 3 points and that is something Colombo should be aware of. Not give away penalties in their own 22. Former skipper Akbo Perera (fly half) and vice captain Chamal Chandrasiri have been the frontline men for the Kelaniya team along with the captain himself. The revival of Kelaniya Rugby would not have been possible without the guidance of club rugby players Umesha Madushan and Nimshan Jayawardhene, both former players at Royal College.
Colombo on the other hand have been a completely different side this year led by outside centre Krishmal Fernando. They have also scored an average of almost 8 tries per game and that shows the level of commitment they have as a team to not just be satisfied with a single win but going for the kill. Action speak louder than words, their scorelines 36-14, 41-06, 46-05 and 64-00 shows both their depth of attack and almost unbreachable defence. In fact only 3 tries have been scored against them so far.
The team has been very strong in the backline with captain Krishmal leading by example and their highest try scorer is Yasitha Botheju, the chief destroyer behind the menacing rolling maul. Harith Lokugamage a former Royal College player who coincidentally played alongside with the coaches of Kelaniya is also another key player along with their place kicker Kusal Perera. The team is coached by Sudam Sampath, one of the best 7s rugby players produced by Sri Lanka.
Despite having come so close in the previous years, both teams will be facing off together for the first time in the finals after a very long period of time. Will Colombo be able to complete the #10yearsagochallenge having last win in 2011 or will the giant killers Kelaniya be able to repeat last weeks heroics and spoil the party with an absolute nail biter? We have a rugby version of the Cricket World Cup coming up this Saturday at the Koggala BOI grounds. May the best team win!