Sudath Sampath the Rugby Sevens specialist-by Althaf Nawaz

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Source:Dailynews

One should maintain a good physique regularly to engage in a body contact sport like rugby while having extra ordinary skills to survive in a team. Sudath Sampath is a diminutive person and a gifted player with great skills who handled the oval shaped ball Sudath Smapath who is called the ‘Serevi’ of Sri Lankan rugby, started his primary education at Isipathana College by enrolling in grade one in 1974. From his younger days he had a liking to this game as he attended Rugby practices regularly for the love of the game.

He used to spend his intervals and after school time playing tap Rugby in the College Grounds or at Havelock Park with his classmates with a mango seed or a plastic bottle instead of a Rugby ball. His initial involvement in rugby was in the year 1981, when he was selected to play in the under-13 inter school tournament in 1982. Subsequently due to his extraordinary skills, he was chosen to lead the team ahead of others. This was the turning point of his rugby career as he surged ahead to be a regular member in the under-15 team in 1983 and next year he was entrusted to captain the side. Later in the 1985/1986 season he established a regular position in the under-17 team and went on to lead them.

While playing, he had a liking to the position of scrum half, which he complimented throughout his career. He was finally rewarded for his unstinted efforts and skills, when he was chosen to don the first XV jersey in 1987, under late Nilantha Lakshmiwewa’s captaincy.

He rates OWR Perera as his mentor and his guru the great legendary coach of Isipathana, who was responsible for his success in his rugby career. OWR was the head coach from 1978 to 1988 while Gamini Indrasena and Maxwell Dias were the junior coaches. He came from a humble background from Polhengoda and his father K.D. Dharmadasa was working at Wellawatte Spinning and Weaving Mills and played Football. He has three brothers and one sister.

All his brothers schooled at Isipathana and took part in athletics The eldest Sumith Sampath and Priyantha Sampath played soccer for Isipathana while younger brother Hyacinth Kumara played Rugby for Isipathana from 1989 to 1990 as winger later turned out to be the fastest winger in the 1989/1990 schools season. Sudath took part in Athletics, Soccer, Cricket and Hockey, apart from rugby, where he obtained the College colours in Rugby, Athletics and Soccer.

He was also a member of the College Rugby Sevens team in the year 1987 and 1988. In 1987, he played a few first XV matches as a regular scrum half under Mahesh Abeysinghe. In 1988, he was the regular scrum half and played under Sudesh Abeysinghe, which consisted of many talented players who later represented the country. In the 1988 league season they lost to Royal and St Peter’s and won all other games against Trinity, Nalanda, Wesley, Ananda, Vidyartha, St Joseph’s and Thurstan and qualified to enter final of the R. Premadasa Knockout Tournament and lost to Royal in the Final 13/3. He left College in 1988 and joined Havelock’s for the R. Premadasa tournament in 1989. Then he crossed over to CH and FC to play under Rohan Abeykoon in the 1989 season. He also captained the CH under 20 team at the ‘Ziyan Saheed’ tournament and lost to Isipathana in the final.

He was extended an invitation to join the Police in 1990 by late DIG Daya Jayasundera the Police Coach at that time to play under the leadership of Indrajith Bandaranayake where he joined as a Sub Inspector and played in 1990 /1991/1992 and 1993 season as scrum half. In 1994, he was invited by Malik Samarawickrema to play for Kandy Sports Club and continued playing until 1996 under Imthi Marikar, where they won the Triple Crown for Kandy.

He then opted to cross over to a Colombo club and rejoined CH, where he played two seasons in 1997 and 1998. CH became inter club sevens Champions in both years. He went to the USA for two years in 1998 to 2000 and when he returned to Sri Lanka he joined Havelocks and played for two years from 2000 to 2002.

He rejoined the Police in 2002 and went on to play until 2005 where he hung up his boots to take over Referring and Coaching. Former senior DIG Nimal Lewke supported him to take up Refereeing and also started Coaching Police Sports club for many years. Under Nimal Lewke’s Presidency at Sri Lanka Rugby, he got an opportunity to attend a coaching Programme to New Zealand in 2008 with the Support of Hassan Sinhawansa who coordinated with New Zealand New Plymouth Hurricanes.

His National Representation in the 7’S Format commenced from 1990 Sicily Sevens in Italy, in 1991 Dubai sevens, in 1992 Cathay Pacific Hong kong Sevens, in 1992 Dubai sevens, in 1992 Rugby World cup Qualifying Sevens Italy, in 1993 Singapore cricket club Sevens, in 1993 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens, in 1994 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens, in 1994 International Fiji Sevens in Suva, in 1994 International Cargills Sevens as( Captain) in Colombo, in 1995 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens, in 1995 Taipei International Sevens As (Captain ), in 1996 Cathay Pacific Sevens Hong Kong( Captain ), in 1996 Dubai sevens (Captain ), in1996 World Cup Qualifier 7 s Dubai( Captain ), in 1998 Commonwealth 7 s in Malaysia, in 2001 World Cup 7 s Qualifier In Hong Kong, in 2001 World Cup Sevens Qualifier in China, in 2001 Singer 7 s In Kandy, in 2001 IRB world Sevens Qualifier in South Africa and 2001 IRB world Sevens Qualifier in Dubai.

In the 15 A side National Representation from 1991 Hong Kong tour Under 24, in 1990 Colombo Rugby Asiad, in 1991 President XV against Fiji Lautoka, in 1992 National Tour Papua Guinea, in 1992 Rugby Asiad Korea, in 1994 Rugby Asiad Malaysia, in 1996 Rugby Asiad Singapore 1997 Rugby Tour Thailand, in1997 Rugby Tour Singapore, in 1997 World Cup Qualifying round Asian zone in Singapore, in 1997 rugby tour of Hong Kong, in 1997 Rugby Tour of Taipei, in 1999 Asian Zone Qualifying Tournament Malaysia, in 2000 Chinese Taipei Tour in Sri Lanka, in 2001 Asian Plate Vs Thailand, in 2001 Tour to Malaysia and 2002 18th Asian Rugby Tournament.

He has a distinguished coaching career coaching schools, clubs and at National level especially the Ladies teams elevating them to top levels in Asia. He would like to express his gratitude to Club Team Captains, National Team Captains and Club Coaches and National Team Coaches who Molded him as a skillful player to achieve his Goals in the Oval shaped ball game.

The Club Captains Michael Jayasekara, Rohan Abeykoon, Priyantha Ekanayake, Indrajith Bandaranayake, Imthi Marikar, Nizam Jamaldeen, Leslie de Silva, Niranjan Abeywardena and Nazeem Mohamed.

The National Captains Priyantha Ekanayake and Hisham Abdeen. The Club Coaches and National Coaches Tony Amit, Ana Saranapala, Nimal Lewke, MD Ifthikar, Sheham Siddik, Asanga Seneviratne, Imthi Marikar, MH Marso and Anton Benedict.

Foreign Coaches Jeff Mattheson and Late George Simpkin. and a very Special appreciation of Kishin Butani for supporting CH rugby in 1989. He is married to Rukshana Miskin and has two sons Nishith Harshil and Nishil Hamish both attending Isipathana College.



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