Winger Chandana Deepthi was a top class ruggerite-by Althaf Nawaz

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The position of wing three quarter is a key position in a three quarter line in the game of rugby. Most penetrative scoring moves are done by players occupying that position. Chandana Deepthi was one of them who turned out be an effervescent player who contributed immensely for the success of his school, club and country

Chandana started his schooling from year one at his village school in Pepiliyana Sunethra Devi Vidyalaya. After school in the evenings he used to play tap rugby along with his friends in the vicinity of Pepiliyana. Most of these friends were past and present students of Isipathana College. He also had the opportunity to witness Isipathana rugby matches with his friends. This created the enthusiasm and a rugby culture in his environment. One day during his

 

Sunday school’ a friend K.G. Siriwardena introduced to him the legendary coach of Isipathana at that time, OWR Perera affectionately called ODA who was instrumental in admitting him to Isipathana in 1982 at the age of 15 years. ODA too was living close to his residence at Pepiliyana.

Chandana took over handling the oval shaped ball for the love and passion of the game as he first engaged in competitive rugby at Isipathana in his first year at practice. He was chosen to play for the College second XV team along with Hassan Sinhawansa and occupied the position of wing three quarter. Later in 1983, he was called to play in the first XV team of Isipathana College under Roger Rodrigo’s captaincy which was a great honour for him to mingle with some of the top players. He was fortunate to play the full season in 1984 under the leadership of Shabeen Siddik which year Isipathana were joint league champions with Royal That unbeaten team consisted of Shabeen Siddik Keerthi Weerasinghe, Chandana Deepthi Romesh Abraham, , Nishan Peiris, Sanath Martis, Selvin Sallay, , K.P. Stanley, Indika Viraj, Neomal Fernando, Gamini Senanayake, Asitha Devapriya, Nizam Jamaldeen, Ramanathan Pradeepan, and Nilantha Lakshmiwewa.

Then next year 1985, he was given the task of captaining the Isipathana Rugby as the most senior player representing first XV team since 1983. This was the first instance at Isipathana College a Rugby captain was offered to a player who joined from a village school. Nevertheless, Isipathana college rugby reached great heights and made a remarkable achievement in its school’s rugby

history, when they became the first school rugby team to win the schools Plum, the ‘Triple Crown’ by winning the League followed by R. Premadasa Trophy knock out Tournament defeating Ananda in the final and clinching the Inter Schools Sevens played for the Philip Buultjens Trophy for the fifth occasion.

The 1985 team consisted of Chandana as the skipper, Keerthi Weerasinghe, Daham Sampath, Indika Viraj, R. Pradeepan, Sudesh Abeysinghe, Sanajaya Fernando, H. Lakshmiwewa, Thushara Bandara, Anura de Silva, Hemantha Peiris, Nilantha Lakshmiwewa, Jaliya Perera, Venura Illanga, Mudalige, Selvin Sallay, Madumantha Peiris, Nawaz Jamaldeen, R. Shanthikumar and Ifthikar Hamid and was coached by OWR Perera and assisted by Maxwell Dias.

In 1986, he continued playing in his final year under the Captaincy of Selvin Sallay where they remained as the unbeaten Schools Triple champions for the second successive year. These two seasons in 1985 and 1986 were memorable moments in his school rugby career where in 1985 he was a member of the champion R. Premadasa, trophy Schools Knockout

Tournament team of Isipathana which beat Ananda College 8-3 at the Sugathadasa stadium followed by the match against St.Peter’s in 1986 edging out the hosts 13-6, after being led 0-3. Due to an injury Chandana started the game in the second half and went on to win the game when Thushara Bandara initiated a move from their own 25 which he planted after a solo effort covering 75 metres

In the same year soon after the school season concluded he was Invited by former Isipathana Rugby Captain of 1973 and former Sri Lanka Rugby Player Group Captain Nalin de Silva, to join Air force as a Cadet Officer to continue his rugby career. In 1986, he represented Air Force at R. Premadasa Knockout Tournament. Before he joined Air force he played his first Club Rugby match in 1984 representing Havelocks in the Club Sevens under Len de Silva as a school boy was also in the National Junior Team for the Asian School Championship in Taiwan in 1985.

His illustrious career in rugby continued from 1986 to 1990 for Air Force along with Nalin De Silva, Tikiri Marambe, Sidath Nagahawatte, Dissanayake, Hector Kumarasinghe, Lofty Perera, Razali Noordeen, Harsha Fernando, Haji Karunaratne, Tony Wimalasuriya, Dhammika Sumanasekara, Lawrence Silva, Lakshman Caldera, coached by Air Vice Marshal, Vijitha Tennakoon Udakka Tennakoon, Shanthi Mendis and Jeyer Rodriguesz. From 1991 to 1993 Air Force did not take part in Club Rugby due to the Civil War in the country. In 1992, he represented CR and FC in the Club league under Lasitha Gunaratne’s captaincy later came back to captain the Air Force team in 1994 and surged ahead until 2000, where he was appointed the skipper of Air Force for the second occasion in 2000.

He was chosen to make his first National Tour in 1986 to take part in the tenth Rugby Asiad under the captaincy of Rohan Gunaratne which included the likes of Hafees Marso, Ajantha Samarakoon, Roger Rodrigo, Palitha Siriwardena, Nizam Jamaldeen, Premasiri Perera,

Tikiri Marambe, Rex Anthony, Nalin de Silva, Hisham Abdeen, Aruna Udiwelagedara, Chaminda Rupasinghe, Kolitha Gunathilake, L.V. Ekanyake, Lalith Perera, Imthi Marikar, Hemantha Yatawara, Saman Kothalawala coached by Daya Jayasundera.

In 1987 the National rugby team made an inaugural rugby tour to Europe and Wales under the captaincy of Hisham Abdeen coached by Ajith Abeyratne where he was also a member. The team consisted of L.V Ekanayake, Hafeel Marso, Norman Silva, Kolitha Gunathilake, Leslie de Silva, Priyantha Ekanayake, Ajantha Samarakoon, Palitha Siriwardena, Pradeep Lakshantha, Hector Gunathilake, Nalin de Silva, Roger Rodrigo, Tikiri Marambe, Aruna Uduwelagedara, Shah Dole, Aruna De Silva, Imthi Marikar, Rohan Abeykoon, Saman Kothalawela, Nilantha Lakshmiwea and Lalith Perera.

He extended his gratitude to his mentor OWR Perera who was instrumental in moulding him as a top rugby player.



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