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