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Is local Rugby top heavy and lopsided?

Is Rugby in Sri Lanka Top Heavy? To find an answer, compare Rugby in the island to the structure of a Prop-forward. As Rugby enthusiasts, you know what a Prop-forward does. Do not, by saying the job of the Prop may be seen as supporting a steady scrum for the Hooker to win the ball. You are falling short of what he actually does. There is more to the demanding role of the broad shouldered, square and strong man in the team. He is the man who protects the jumper at a line-out, and gets the ball after the jumper secures it.

Then, get it to the scrumhalf, to start moving forward. He is there in the first line at rucks and mauls. He is there to protect and defend by tackling opposition ball carriers. A Prop has to enjoy the contact side of the game. He needs to have very strong, broad shoulders and a short neck which are advantageous, because of the force applied through the spine. The legs need to be strong, together with a strong core body.

If a Prop is to perform at his best for the team, all parts of his anatomy need to be well oiled and in ship shape. Apply this body of the Prop to the various levels of Rugby. Strong legs that are required for a Prop, represent the large numbers of junior players – the foundation of Rugby building. Are the legs of Rugby SL catering to the need of developing what is needed for a better game?

The bulky thighs and strong quads stand for the strength of the game at an amateur level. That is something that seems to be totally missing in the game and has to be developed to spread the game wide. This possibly means the promotion of more Rugby at community level. The girth, upper body and shoulders of the Prop would be those playing the game at Club, representative, or Provincial level.

What type of Rugby do we have at Club level, and what is happening to the provincial Rugby which is the cornerstone of the SLR constitution, which has been in place for almost 30 years. We see 8 Clubs and nothing more, except when two Clubs were fast tracked, but fell off in no time, unable to sustain the high, top heavy spending. Today, we find what is probably the oldest Club ‘CH’, falling down and down and sinking deeper and deeper to nothingness.

At the top, the Prop is a small bald head, which would be the players at the absolute elite level. The player as a whole would be strong and durable, able to run all day. Can we boast of the bald head at the top; the elite; who can take the game to the next level. This is only possible if the legs are strong and junior Rugby nurtures the spirit and skills. Are we selling the spirit and technique at the level of the legs pushing a win and talking about how much is spent?

Does Sri Lanka Rugby have the balanced body to take the game to 2017 - File pic by Amila Gamage

This leads to the question, “Does Sri Lanka Rugby have the balanced body to take the game to 2017 and beyond and be among the Elite in Asia. If not, can it at least dish out entertaining Rugby, that will keep supporters and sponsors happy”?

Does the game look impressive when you see crowds at school games. And when you hear of the big money spent. The game is more or less stagnant at some points, retarded at most, save to boast of success in Sevens. If that is our forte, what exercises are we doing to strengthening this leg?

The body, especially around the legs, is wobbly, suggesting that we are not in the league of class Rugby in Asia; if not, keep doing this for better Rugby entertainment at home. Up top, there is a full head of funky hair that scares the daylights, and looks fearsome and somewhat flashy. It gives an idea that Rugby in Sri Lanka has become far too focused on funky punk at most levels of the game.

It is a game that is dominated by a few elites who still think, if we spend we can make athletes. Across all levels of Rugby, except in some schools, the game is less than healthy, and is struggling to maintain a position of primacy. Resources are overwhelmingly being directed to the top, to the detriment of the wider sport.

Some will argue that it is necessary to concentrate in the elite schools and the few Clubs. We also have moved to a system where the so called top players, individuals are considered to be more important than the Rugby as an institution, and the Club as its base.

Is Rugby SL reminiscent of the trends of inequality that occurred over the last few years. Those at the very top have seen their incomes rise dramatically at Clubs, and the spending increasing in schools. But those at the bottom and in the middle see nothing to keep them going.

Rugby as a whole is less healthy as a result. Throwing money at the top and expecting their investment to trickle down may be true in economic theory: it does not seem to work in Rugby. There should be more investing in grassroots programmes. Maybe, reconsider the ludicrous ticket pricing that keeps people away. Play good, entertaining and decent rugby and there will be sponsors to back you, than wait for ticket money.

The top heavy approach of Rugby will cause it to overbalance and fall over, and nobody will have any reason to pick it up again. I say top heavy because spending is not congruent with the results. Then again, look at the SLRU which is adding more generals. It is a good move but, is the top too heavy, as some generals continue without being asked to take a pension.

Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB   

Posted on 2017-01-08 18:58:53
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Nov 23
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QUESTION?

Should Dilshan have continued until Cricket World Cup 2019?

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THE DAY'S QUOTE

“That was pathetic. No excuse at all. The whole team is responsible. Whoever the captain is, we have to back him and try and support him. The captain has to do so many other stuff. All the 11 guys must back him and support him.” “We have addressed the issue of finishing off the overs on time in the past as well, but it cropped up again. It’s so unfortunate to see Upul going out as he is a crucial player in our set up. He batted well against South Africa and it’s so unfortunate. This can’t happen again,” - Angelo Mathews

FEEDBACK/COMMENTS

Cricket is a game of fine margins and Mathews is set to be a modern great. Hang in their Angie, this team can achieve something on this tour. Thirimane and the youngsters form was a real positive. Prasad was missed. Chameera should be persisted with. If Bairstow was our early outcome could have been very different.

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