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The Clifford Cup

Sep 1, 2011 4:28:24 PM - www.ft.lk

After a lull in the local rugby calendar, the Knock out phase is about to commence. The tradition of the Clifford Cup dates back to 1911 and was the plum trophy for all the local clubs. In the past the league was for the Clifford Cup, but with new sponsors and new lines of thinking, the leagues are now styled differently.
In the past few weeks we have been treated to some superb rugby overseas in terms of the Tri Nations and the World Cup warm up games. One needs to get used to the local style this week, from an international buffet to the simple yet tasty Lankan Cuisine. At times, it could be a bore as the ball handling skills and the tactical play of the local players/clubs need some catching up to do.

As we watch Japan having made great strides in the game, the think tank in Sri Lanka needs to get its act together and plan well in advance for the next Asian Five Nations championship.
Reflecting on the interview with the ex England Skipper Martin Corry, their quest to become world champions started soon after their exit from the World Cup in 1999. Four years later they held the World Cup in their hands and in his own words ‘it was more a sense of relief rather than jubilation’.
Will those in the current administration be willing to develop a blue print to achieve such results, is a question oft asked and yet remains unanswered by way of action.
Even if one was to look at Hong Kong, having lost to Japan by almost 100 points previously; they gave a very good account of themselves this year. After having a long standing tradition like the Clifford cup, that spans over 100 years, we are yet unable to convert that to an ability to compete in the big league.
As I chatted with one of the coaching staff of the National side, he indicated that at very junior level rugby, the change needs to take place. I remember with great fondness when we as juniors we were permitted to have the coach in the field of play advising us on where we should be, and what we should do with the ball.
The first lessons of positional play and ball retention was engraved in our minds. The need to have a larger number of our coaching staff being trained and accredited cannot be overemphasised. This must start at junior level rugby, move onto school level and then manifest itself in the local club scene.
The need for discipline both off and on the field must be re-emphasised and implemented. We cannot have a situation where three national level players sit out an entire club season on the back of a ban.
We need to have a proper central contract system and the performance of these players must be monitored throughout the year. It’s obviously hard work and needs adequate funds.
If the games administrators can demonstrate a sense of vision and transparency, I am sure that there will be adequate sponsors to take care of the funding. Whether the same will materialise in the foreseeable future is the million dollar question.

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