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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Creative Spot by Sriani Dissanayake Basnayake

Old Aunt goes down Memory Lane…………

     Old Aunts interest in rugby has had many resurrections, the last being in 1996, when one nephew donned the No; 8 jersey. My interest was sustained up to the end of 2004, when the younger brother captained the College team. These two dear nephews (hereafter referred to as DNs) looked so handsome in their heyday, that all females young and old drooled longingly at their physique. Today, they both look like Sumo Wrestlers, and no one would imagine that they could even grasp a Gilbert, leave alone play rugby!

After DN’s exist from the rugby scene following the Bradby of 2004, OA’s (Old Aunt’s) interest in rugby waned gradually, due partly to advancing age, and partly due to the absence of a family member in the College 1st XV. One DN produced a male offspring 3 years ago, and he may be the first 4th generation Royalist to play in the Bradby. My father played in the 1st XV in 1930 and captained in 1932, my late brother, of “drop kick fame” played from 1962 – 1964, his son was Vice Captain in 1998 and his youngest son captained in 2004. Will little Thushin be the first 4th generation Royalist to play for College?

Even though the game of rugby in Sri Lanka is an all male affair, the interest in the game is shared by a large segment of the female population, ranging from sisters, girl friends, friends of girl friends, mothers, aunts and even grandmothers. In my life, I seem to have gone through all those categories.

A rugger match is a place for females of all ages to display their fashions, their anatomical endowments, and to see and be seen. The numbers that fell for tackles in the stands may have far surpassed those tackled on the field. The antics in the stands often convinced me that there were much faster numbers on the side lines than the fastest three quarters on the field. In addition to the ill effects of the natural process of aging, OA’s concentration on the game has been constantly interrupted by disturbing elements which are now part and parcel of popular school matches, viz..vociferous female supporters. Females with little knowledge of the game keep shouting instructions to the players, and one wonders whether their high pitched screams of “tackle low”…  “pass it….pass it”  or “go boy go” etc were meant for the players on the field or those sitting by them in the stands, who were either tackling too high, or had not found touch even though they had covered considerable ground up and under. “Well tackled” comes a shout from behind. For a moment I wondered whether he was referring to Mr Heththumuni sitting in front of me, for despite his persistent “heththus” he was off side for the early part of the game, but now seemed to have found good touch on innumerable occasions!! Some women are quite knowledgeable re the game, and recently at a school match, the women behind me were screaming at the Ref to give so and so a yellow/red card etc….even before I could fathom what the infringement was.

Judging from the matches I have witnessed in the last few years, the behavior of the female of the species has not changed over the past 60 years. The only difference I have noticed of late is that there is plenty of shouting in the vernacular, with shouts of “gahapang”, “allapang” and even a “marapang” thrown in!

I am taking a crash course on the laws of Rugby, so that by the time of the Bradby I would know that a “low tackle” is not the act of a lecherous man, and being “off side” is totally different to fielding on the off side in cricket, and anyone finding good touch need not be charged for sexual molestation!

 I do not know whether I will have the pleasure of watching still another Dissanayaka take the field, but even otherwise, I can go down memory lane, and sing:

                        “And we their loyal sons now bear
                         The torch, with hearts as sound as oak,
                         Our lusty throats now raise a cheer
                         For Hartley, Harward, Marsh and Boake.

                                                           OLD  AUNT SB
                                                                            June  2017



  1. Oh Sriani, that's a marvellous article! I learned a lot about the game and the other enjoyable bits and pieces, so amusing made me think this:
    Full many a rugby game has reined serene
    In the super, athletic Rugby ground
    As others in the stadium match the scene
    And truly enjoy an equally satisfying round!

  2. Funny & clever write up, Sriani
    Thanks for the entertainment.

  3. Sriani, that's a wonderful bit of prose and verse. You have not referred to your brother -in-law, Justin Labrooy nor your partner Ralph W. Why is that? I am sure that the 4th generation of Dissanayake's would make it but we are unlikely to be around to savour it.

  4. As always Sriani comes up with these hilarious stories. Female admirers and "experts" are not restricted to Rugby. Quite a lot display their physical endowments as Sriani put It, and shout advice from the stands. Mind you it us not just the ladies, you get many males who have never handled a ball, may be with the exception of the tender variety, become vociferous and animated experts at matches. More from you please Sriani

  5. Sriani,
    Thank you for this article, it was fun to read! I remember your brother fondly, and the time he spent with us, the Connecticut expats, many years ago, when he was doing some post-graduate work at Yale. I don't think I ever saw him play rugby. Well, OA, you just have to stick around for about 12 more years, and you may see another Dissanayake playing rugby. But, what if he takes up cricket? Oh no! Srianee/Bunter

  6. Sriani, I'm so glad you decided to share this in the blog -
    Nice to see your humour again- hope to see more soon .
    Cheers -

  7. Thanks Zita, Indra,Lama, Speedy, Bunter and Rohini for your comments. This year too, I was seated with Swyrie, Bala and Chandran Thiruchchi at the 2nd let of the Bradby, when Bala and Chandran took on some of those vociferous females who were screaming their vocal cords off behind us, and yelling "go royal go, go royal go....." Chandran turned round and yelled "where do you want them to go?" Silence for a few seconds, and they started again. Bala and Chandran went on meeting all their remarks with some witty repartee,which never silenced them, but got them to blow some terrible whistles, which nearly burst my ear drums.
    Lama, I didn't mention my BIL Justin, or hubby Ralph, as my sister and Ralph both objected to my forwarding this article, saying that I was "far too old" for bawdy rugby stuff etc...etc. and that it was a "slur" on the family name, and my sis was worried that people would think we had all come from a "brothel"!!! Sriani

  8. Old Aunt SB has done it again. As expected, the "regulars" have commented. I sincerely wish that there would be many more "regulars", not only commenting but actually contributing.

    It's nice to see shades of Gray's Elegy and the mention of Justin Labrooy and Ralph Wickramaratne in this Forum. I have never played Rugby, but have always enjoyed watching the game from the sidelines - JL playing for the University and RW for Dickoya. I can't quite remember them during their playing days at Trinity and Royal respectively.

  9. My all too brief encounter with Rugby is worth mentioning (I think!). Rugby players at Royal used to strut about and were admired by impressionable younger boys,and I was one of them and wanted to be one of the special ones. I visualised myself being a top Rugby player and walking about in school with a swagger with lots of admirers gazing at me. I plucked up courage one day and turned up for rugby practice We were all lined up and starting from the left, one by one, we ran out on the field. When the person to your left ran out, after a signal from the coach, you had to run after him and tackle him. I was about the sixth down the line. The person I had to tackle was a big fellow. When it was his turn, he ran out and I started running after him, but....didn't tackle him as I was petrified and continued to run till I left the field and went straight home! Thus ended my brief Rugby career and with it hopes of winning the adulation of Royal boys!

  10. What a shame Speedy that your budding rugby career ended like that!

  11. Sometimes, reality strikes you in unwelcome ways Sriani! But with hindsight, I may have been spared of broken clavicles as happened to my cousin, Cigar Jayanetti.

  12. Sanath LamabadusuriyaJune 11, 2017 at 6:43 AM

    Srianee, I last met Justin Labrooy in London in June 1972,at the MRCP Part 2 exam, which both of us passed at the first attempt.

  13. Sriani
    What a wonderful complement to school rugby in general and Bradby shield in particular. That was the place to be seen and noticed since I was a boy. I wish you entertain us more often with your fine brand of laconic humour. Laughter indeed brings people closer together. You seem to know the nuances, subtleties and niceties of the game better than most.
    May the better side win the next Bradby. I'm sure you may feel the better side is the Maha Vidyalaya in Reid Avenue. Good luck and thanks again for the wonderful entertainment.

  14. I was equally entertained reading the comments as much as reading Sriani's original article. I could just picture our good friends Bala and Chandran Thiruchi having a verbal exchange with the crazy, loudly cheering females behind them. And Mahen's story of running all the way home aptly illustrated his survival skills. Sriani, you are never too old to do what you wish to do. (Don't listen to your family members!) Rugby is becoming more and more popular among women in the USA. One of the funniest bumper stickers that I have seen says " GIVE BLOOD, PLAY RUGBY."

  15. Mahen' story of running home was very amusing!
    Well run Mahen ! After all discretion is the better part of valour !

    1. Yes Rohini. I also illustrates how a lot of us wanted to be "something" in the World and be recognised and maybe, loved I suppose. After that fiasco, I knew had no realistic chance of achieving anything substantial in the field of sport and stuck to my studies.

  16. Indeed Mahen, Believe it or not- when I was little, I had every little girls' dream of becoming a ballerina !! I did learn ballet till I was in my early teens, when my conservative parents decided that parading in a tutu would not become their teenage daughter !! and out went that dream to be replaced by Oriental dancing which also I greatly appreciated and enjoyed. No regrets-
    Our life's journeys takes so many twists and turns and we dont always end up where we planned to go !!

  17. I like these Rugby jokes (only for the discerning Rugby lovers!)

    Q. What do you call 15 guys sitting around the TV watching the Rugby World Cup final?
    A. The Scottish Rugby team.

    Q. What do you call an Englishman holding a bottle of champagne after the Rugby World Cup Final?
    A. Waiter.

    Q. What is the greatest year in French rugby history?
    A. Next year.

    And the best one for the rugby illiterates!

    "I had a go at rugby the other day….I thought I was doing pretty well but all everyone kept saying was, “Nice try,”… Condescending bastards!"

    This is similar to the Golf Joke where Ethel is talking to her good friend Edith. "Hello Edith, I hear that Joe has taken up golf, how is he doing?". Edith replies "I am so pleased Ethel, Joe told me his handicap has gone up from 100 to 110! And that is in just 1 month! He is so talented!"

  18. Another nice one.

    Two local rugby teams with a feisty rivalry are playing each other on a Saturday afternoon.

    On the day of the match, the weather conditions are absolutely appalling, and as the home team coach is addressing his team, he says.”Right, gentleman, because of the weather conditions, our main tactic today will be to kick ahead “.

    The burly cauliflower eared prop puts his hand up and says,” Anybody’s head in particular “?

  19. Mahen, Iam not a rugby fan, and unlike 'Old Aunt' Sriani,I know next to nothing about the game, though being in All Black country, I see the game now and then, only because other family members get very excited about it.
    As rugby rivalry goes,as you'd know, there is none to beat that between NZ and Australia- and here are a few jokes from down under-

    Eddie Jones (previously coach in Australia), took the Wallabies for a training run and told everyone to take up their normal position. They all went and stood behind the goalposts and waited for the conversion!
    Four surgeons are on a coffee break.
    The first one says "Accountants are the best to operate on as everything inside them are numbered"
    The second surgeon says "Nah, librarians are the best ; everything inside them is in alphabetical order."
    The third says-"try electricians-everything inside them is colour-coded."
    The fourth says "I prefer an Australian rugby player.They are
    heartless, spineless, gutless and their heads and bums are interchangeable."
    Q.What do you have when 100 Wallaby fans are buried up to their necks in sand?
    A.Not enough sand!
    The Wallabies rugby practice was delayed two hours after a player reported having seen an unknown white powdery substance on the playing field.
    Head coach Eddie Jones immediately suspended practice while
    police and federal investigators were called to investigate.
    After a complete analysis, forensic experts decided that the white substance unknown to the Wallabies was the try line,
    and that practice could be resumed as they were unlikely to
    encounter the substance again!

    No apology to the arrogant Aussies!

    1. Wonderful! Enjoyed the jokes very much, especially the one about the white substance!

  20. Sriani, I am sorry you and Swyrie couldnt make it to the Lions series with Ralph and Bala as planned. Hope to see you all another time.Cheers

  21. Sanath LamabadusuriyaJune 16, 2017 at 7:29 PM

    There are many wonderful rugby limericks, which cannot be posted on the blog. Ask Ken Bala, Ralph, JC or Lakshman Kaluarachchi about these

  22. Thank you Mahen and Rohini for the great jokes! I guess the NZ/Aussie rivalry is pretty intense. I liked the one about the rugby illiterate complaining about the "condescending bastards" saying "nice try!"

  23. Sorry for coming in so late.
    Rugby was not a sport in the "village" that I went to!!.
    Nevertheless I did watch it as a spectator and learnt the 'nitty grity' of the game. My main interests in sport were Cricket and Athletics... & of course TRUANT!!
    However, Rugby does takes its place in my family. My Dad's brother M S Ahamat was at Royal and did excel in the game playing in the 'wing' for the school and athletics. One of his teammates was the late Dr.H S.R.Gunawardene (Director of Physical Education), our Kamini (Gunawardene) Ferdinando's (now in NZ) Dad.
    My Dad was of course was @ Wesley College and Captained the Cricket team and also Captained the Combined Schools Cricket Team in his day.

  24. Razaque , Kamini has been in Melbourne for about 4 years now - may be more. FYI

  25. Thanks Rohini.
    I was not aware that she has moved to Aussie.
    The last time I met her was @ a Conference in Whakatane on Hepatitis. On the last day of the Conference I hosted Kamini, her mates and my mates for an evening out & had a great meal & it was great company. I left NZ in 2006-- for good & was unfortunate not to meet you.