In the second leg of the 72nd Bradby Shield Rugby encounter played on the 14th May at the Trinity Sports Complex in Pallekelle, Kandy, Royal College staged a spectacular fight back in a wonderfully exiting game, where their 16-year-old full back Ovin Askey put over a spectacular 30-metre corner flag penalty, to help them retain the Bradby Shield for another year.
First leg:- The Royalists, despite the sky above the Royal College Sports Complex growing darker and losing in terms of territory and possession, made maximum use of their strengths – the forwards and the rolling maul and more importantly the spectacular try in the 36th minute of the second half by hooker Azmir Fajudeen, to edge out the Trinitians in securing a 22-17 victory, at the Royal College sports complex on 30th April, in a neck to neck battle for supremacy, under rainy climatic conditions. It was the Royal pack and rolling maul that emerged the decisive factor in handling the wet ball following a heavy shower. The match was graced by the Hon. Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickramasinge and Mr. Rohantha Peiris as the Chief Guest. The highest capped Australian ruggerite and influential skipper, George Gregan too honoured the match with his presence.
In just over 20 seconds a surprise interception by Janidu Dilshan, led Royal College to their first try of the game. This went down in history, as the fastest try of the series. Royal’s star kicker Ovin Askey added the extras to set the score at 7-0. After close to 15 minutes Trinity made the much needed breakthrough as they secured their first try to level the scores at 7 – 7. However, Trinity’s hopes were short-lived as Ovin Askey converted a penalty from just over 22 metres out, regaining the lead and setting the score at 10 – 7. With about 10 minutes left to the end of the 1st half, the Reid Avenue boys gave the boys from Kandy, a taste of the infamous ‘Royal Maul’, which resulted in hooker Azmir Fajudeen going over the line to score Royal’s second try. Ovin Askey made no mistake in the conversion, bringing the score up to 17 – 7 before the halftime whistle.
Trinity was more dominant in the second half. Substitution of the acting skipper Thusila Perera proved to be a wise decision, as Lashan Wijesuriya who took his position, scored a penalty no sooner he came in to lift their score to 17 – 10. Despite the attempt by the Royal defence, Trinity College was awarded their second try by the Television Match Official (TMO), used for the first time in a Sri Lankan Rugby encounter. In the 64th minute, they bounced back to score ten more points. Despite their efforts, the Reid Avenue boys pounced at the opportunity to score a try in the 76th minute of the game.
In addition to winning the Leg, Royal College also managed to finish in 2nd place in Division 1A of the Singer Schools Rugby League.
Second leg:- Askey, put the Royalists on top by scoring a simple conversion, in the ninth minute. Royal’s prop forward Ayesh Maduranga barged over for a brilliant try. Askey made the conversion to take the lead 7-0. Soon after, Royal increased their lead to 10-0 with a 30-metre penalty, put over by Askey.
Having led 10-05 at the break, the rolling maul of the Royalists was blocked by the strong Trinity forwards, as such Royal changed their strategy to get their backs a bit more involved.
A penalty taken by the Trinity full back Sanushka Abeywickrama cut the deficit to 10 – 08. This was followed by another penalty in the 18th minute which was nicely angled in by fly half Lashan Wijesuriya to put the lions in the lead for the first time, 11-10. Fly half Wijesuriya put over another penalty and Trinity went further ahead and the score read 18-10 in favour of Trinity.
Royal’s persistence in the vital last few minutes paid off when Trinity was penalized.
Before the final whistle was blown, Royal was awarded a difficult 30-metre corner flag penalty and Askey, not showing any nerves, took on the pressure and sent the ball sailing over the cross bar much to the relief of the Royalists to lift the score to 18 – 13, with an aggregate score levelled at 35 all.
What happened post the match did not bring any credit to either school. When Royal captain Nikila Gunadheera was presented with the Bradby Shield at the end of the second leg at Pallekele, members of the Trinity College team it is alleged had tried to grab the shield from him.
However, members of the Royal team came to the aid of their captain and prevented the Trinitians from doing so. In the ensuing melee a fight broke out amongst the two schools and it later spread to some spectators as well.
It was later learnt from a reliable source present at the scene that in the event, the aggregate score was tied, the “Bradby Shield” remained with the present holders, as in 1992 when the aggregate scores were 3 all and Trinity retained the trophy as they won in 1991. In this case, it was Royal who had won it last year. It seemed that the Trinity boys were not educated on the rules of the Bradby and thought the shield was to be shared by both schools.
The annual Rugby encounter between Royal College and Trinity College commenced on the 31st of July 1920. In 1945, the principal of Royal College, E.L. Bradby, put forward the idea of playing an annual two-match series and since then the encounter has been played for the Bradby Shield.