|Thurstan Vs Isipathana 38th Encounter for the Abdul Jabbar Trophy match|
Thurstan Isipathana clash for the “Jabar” Trophy
Traditional Rivals Thurstan & Isipathana will clash for the annual Abdul Jabar shield on 26th Thursday at the CR & FC grounds, this will be the 38th encounter in the series that has been dominated by Isipatana from the inception. This year neither team is in the running for Championship honours which will make this game even more interesting. Excepting for 1975 where the match was drawn and in 2005 where Thurstan emerged victorious it has been Isipatana all the way. Thurstan & isipathana met each other for the first time in 1963 at the Havelock Park with Thurstan winning the match by 6 points to three. This was one of Thurstans finest seasons under the leadership of Deepal de Zoysa of CR & FC & Kandy SC fame. The honour of scoring the maiden try in the series rests with Vernon Caldera a Rugby player and cricketer of fame for Nondescripts Cricket club and the match winning drop goal was put over by Lionel Wickremasekera while Mantara scored Isipathana’s solitary try. In 1965 Isipathana under Ana Saranapala brought an end to Thurstan’s glory with a 17-0 win over a Thurstan team led by Indra Piyatissa that also had Sunil Jayakody (Dimbula), Sarath Fernando (CR & FC) and Srinath Gunasekera (University) at the CH & FC Grounds
In 1967 during the tenures of Principals P M Jayathileke (Thurstan) & Col G W Rajapakse (Isipathana) two distinguished educationists the match was elevated to a big match status for the Abdul Jabar Trophy. From the initial years this was a closely contested game, the inaugural match and the 1968 encounter were won by Isipathana with slender margins with Thurstan Place Kickers Tissa Nanayakkara and Diyanesh Rajaratnam missing vital penalties. However the period thereafter Isipathana displayed their superiority while Thurstan under the leadership of Tissa Wickramanayake drew 3 all in 1975. In 1993 Thurstan under Suranga kulawickrema almost turned the tables until Isipatana scrum half Bohoran stole a brilliant blind side try in the last minute to clinch the trophy. In 1998 Thurstan beat Isipathana in the presidents trophy knock out tournament but failed to wrest the “Jabar”. In 2005 Thurstan achieved their long cherished dream to engrave their name in the “Jabar” with a splendid win with skipper Amila Eranga playing a captains game.
Isipathana who began with a clean sweep in the sevens tournaments fared disastrously by losing to Trinity in their first encounter, though beating Royal Isipathana could not find their rhythm and failed to be in the contention for the league crown. Nevertheless Havelock town lads are a competent outfit with their skipper Dinesh Chaturanga and Vishwamitra Jayasinghe being outstanding players.
Thurstan who were relegated to B division enjoyed a moderate season winning four matches, drawing two and losing to group champs St Josephs & Ananda. It will be up to Thurstan Skipper Husseifa Adahan to come up with a improved performance and rise to the occasion on the big day. The commitment and dedication of.Thurstan’s Rugby committee comprising of past stalwarts Chula Dharmadasa, Milinda Ratnayake, Rear.Admiral Harsha Mayadune Suranga Kulawickrema and Mohan Fernando certainly promises a bright future for these lads who are yet forced to practice on their makeshift Ground of sorts at Thurstan Road
Ranjit Jayewardene a member of Deepal de Zoysa’s record breaking Thurstan team of 63 will be a special guest along with Wimal Kulatunga another of his team mates. Ranjit Jayawardena who paired off with Deepal de Zoysa as a wing forward Captained Colombo Schools in 1963 and was a leading member of the Havelocks Championshi, team of 1964 occupying the third row with Noel Brohier and Gamini Fernando. Ranjit was also selected to play for Ceylon Barbarians. Latterly he played for the University and Air Force. Wimal Kulatunga represented CR & FC in the mid sixties