Isipathana retain Lanka Lions Rugby Sevens title in UAE

'Green Machine' keep Roger Rodrigo Challenge Trophy for another year

Isipathana retained the Roger Rodrigo Challenge Cup emerging champions at the 12th Lanka Lions Inter-School Tag Rugby Sevens tournament at the Sharjah Wanderers Club ground on Friday.

They beat three-time winners Mahanama in a tightly contested Cup final 7-0 to win the coveted title for only the second time.

This annual competition is one of the most looked forward to events in the sporting calendar for Lankan expatriates resident in the UAE as old boys of top rugby playing schools battle for glory.

It was organised by Lanka Lions Sports Club with 24 teams vying for a trophy named after former Sri Lanka and Arabian Gulf rugby star Roger Rodrigo.

The old boys of Isipathana in the UAE virtually replicated the success their school in Sri Lanka where they won all major tournaments except the Rugby Sevens title.

However, the ‘Green Machine’ in UAE continued from where they left off in last year’s tournament by remaining unbeaten this time.

Skipper Chinthaka Pradeep, named Player of the Tournament, scored what turned out to be the match-winning try by jinxing his way through shortly before the interval with Kavindu Costa adding the extra points.

Mahanama, playing in their fifth final, made forays in the second half with their star player Sahan Umagiliya being stalled near the line after a lovely break.

However, Mahanama suffered from poor ball handling at crucial moments while Isipathana defended with determination until the final whistle was blown by Sri Lankan referee D Nimal.

“We Isipathanians in the UAE worked hard to achieve this back to back victory. We had three weeks of planning, four days of practice sessions and we became champs,” said team coordinator Akram Abbas.

Isipathana beat Wesley A -21-0 in the Cup quarter-finals and last year’s runner-up Trinity A in 12-7 in the semifinals.

The champion Isipathana side comprised Chinthaka Pradeep (captain), Nalin and Naresh Liyanage, Eranda Dickwella, Kavindu de Costa, Zuhair Zavahir, Dulanka Gunasekera, Nawavi Munaver, Ashoka Gunawardena, Lakshan, Milinda Seneviratne (manager) and Arshadeen Miskin (coach).

Peterites led by Kyle Barthelot tasted success after eight years when they won the second tier Plate final defeating Wesley 12-5.

Malinga Fernando scored a corner flag try to give them a 7-0 edge at the break while Wesley fought back with an unconverted try scored by Sharman Mouffer.

Banuka Nanayakkara put the icing on the cake for the Peterites with a superb try to seal victory after suffering the heartbreak of losing to Mahanama in extra time in the Cup quarter-final.

Trinity College, Kandy led by Hasindu Dassanayake struck gold when they won the Bowl title defeating Royal 21-14.

Riyazy Basheer scored either side of the interval while former Kandy SC star Saliya Kumara gave Trinity a 21-0 lead before Royal crossed the line twice.

UAE Schools came from behind to pull off a sensational 28-12 win over St Joseph’s in the Spoon final.

Dubai Gazette