|Thurstan to celebrate rugby Golden Jubilee with schools sevens contest|
Thurstan College will be celebrating their Golden Jubilee this year and an Inter School Rugby sevens tournament at the Royal Stadium on March 24 and 25 will herald the celebrations and will wind up with a Grand Rugby Dinner in July. The Tournament Committee for the event is headed by Chula Dharmadasa.
Thurstan began playing Rugby in 1956/57 but took part in active inter school matches only in 1958. The 1956 team was captained by Errol Van Twest, while in 1957 the captain was Surath Wickramasinghe. The inaugural Thurstan team in 1958 too was captained by Surath Wickremasinghe. Some of the stalwarts in this team were Jeff Ratnam who later on became a legend in Ceylon Rugby by captaining Air Force, Havelocks and Sri Lanka and became the first national coach of Sri Lanka. Undoubtedly he was one of the finest rugby players Sri Lanka has ever seen. Also in this team were well known sports writer par excellence T. M. K. Samat, Rafi Abdeen of boxing fame, Wigna Sellamuttu, late Shivantha Thambiah, late Anton Wickremaratne and the late Lionel Wickramasekera. The team was coached by Brian Mills.
However Thurstan stormed into prominence in 1963 with a team coached by the late Kavan Rambukwelle and captained by fiery wing forward, the late Deepal de Zoysa (CR and Kandy skipper). His co-wing forward was another classic player: Ranjit Jayawardena (Havelocks, University and Air Force) with Vernon Caldera (NCC) better known in the cricket circles occupying the no 8 position. Other stalwarts of this team were Dushyantha Samarasekera ( who captained CR), Sunil Jayakody ( who captained Dimbula), Srinath Gunasekera (who went on to captain University) and the late Indra Piyatissa.
Thurstan can also be proud of their contribution to national rugby coming from Harsha Mayadunne Dusyantha Samarasekera and Sunil Karunanayake serving as President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively in the SLRFU. It is also noteworthy to mention that two of countrys leading rugby scribes T. M. K. Samat and Lal Gunasekera too represented Thurstan at rugby.
1963 was a memorable season for Thurstan where they lost only to Trinity and scored glorious victories over two of the strongest sides Royal and Zahira with Ranjit Jayawardena scoring two match winning tries in both these games. The match against S. Thomas’ at the Race Course was abandoned due to poor ground conditions.
Thurstan continued this trend and produced a rich crop of players like CR & FC stalwart Chula Dharmadasa, S. Karunathileke, Tissa Nanayakkara, Upul Pieris Kokum Seneviratne all of whom donned the national jersey with distinction. Other well known players were Sunil Jayakody (Dimbula), Wimal Kulatunga (CR) Mangala Ratnayake, Wasantha Perera, Sathyapriya Liyanage (All of Army), SSP Upali Hewage, Rohan Boudweyn (Dimbula), Harsha Mayadunne (Navy) and Ajanta Rodrigo (Police), Asela Weerasighe (Havelocks) and Charles Perera (CR).
Thurstan did well to clinch the Presidents trophy in 1998 under Nuwan Kumara who became a youth national cap and 2005 under Amila Eranga beat Isipathana to wrest the Jabar trophy for the first time in 38 years. In 2006 under the captaincy of Ishara Muthumala Thurstan won the first ever U20 Sevens trophy beating the reigning champions Isipathana College.