Full back Chanka Jayaweera was a top class ruggerite-by Althaf Nawaz

To play as a full back in the game of rugby football one should possess special skills and talent especially in kicking and ball handling. Chanka Jayaweera was one of them who played a pivotal role in that position handling the oval shaped ball from his school days upto international level.

Chanka’s father was an ex-Army officer and later joined the International Red Cross. He has four siblings – one brother who is a businessman and three sisters who are housewives. His brother Chandana Jayaweera represented Thurstan College in rugby and captained the school in 1984. He later played for CH along with Chanka.

Chanka started his school career with Isipathana College from year one . He was residing at Anderson Flats, Park Road, Colombo 5 at the time he joined the school and had the passion for sports from his early age. He had many opportunities to take part in sports activities due to the fact there were many grounds around his school and home, with Shalika Grounds located at a close distance. Every day after school he used to go to the grounds to play Soccer and tap Rugby along with some of his friends residing in the flats mainly schoolboys from Royal and St. Peter’s Colleges. His start in sports was badminton, where he won the All Island Badminton Championship in under -15 age category and also became Colombo South Zonal Champion in Athletics in under-13/15/17 levels.

Later witnessing his brother play rugby for Thurstan College, while still taking part in athletics and badminton in school, he was forced by his classmates to take up rugby in 1985. His stepping stone in rugby was in the under-15 team under coach Gamini Indrasena and in 1986 he was given an opportunity to get into the first XV pool for his talent in kicking and skills in ball handling, under the captaincy of Selvin Sallay.

He played a few games in the first year when they won the Triple Crown and continued to play in the 1987 team under Nilantha Lakshmiwewa and in 1988 under Sudesh Abeysinghe. In 1989, he captained Isipathana.

They had a fairly decent season by becoming the runner up in the League and winning the ‘Philip Buultjens’ sevens Tournament. They entered the final in the R. Premadasa Trophy Rugby Tournament losing to St Thomas College, Mount Lavinia by 3-15. He was a member of the team which played in the R. Premadasa Schools Knockout tournament for three consecutive years 1987, 1988 and 1989, where they ended up as runners up. While playing for college he got an opportunity to play Club Rugby from 1988 for CH and FC and the same year he was selected to tour Bangkok with Gymkhana Club. He was approached by CH Rugby Chairman Kishin Butani at that time who offered to help Isipathana Rugby under his captaincy in 1989.

He took this as an ideal opportunity to develop College Rugby. Soon after coming back to Sri Lanka, he conveyed this message to the Old Boys Rugby committee and Kishin agreed to sponsor Isipathana Rugby for the next three years from 1989.

This opened the doors to most of the school boys from the 1989 Isipathana rugby team to join CH and FC. Players such as Bimal Perera, Kimal Muthapha, Rizwie Haniffa, Parakrama Rathnayake, Hyacinth Kumara, Miyuru Yuganthara, Champika Nishantha, Ruwan Dananjaya, Frank Abeysinghe, Jeehan Jayah, Kariyawasam, Sadara Jayakody,In 1989, the under-20 Isipathana team became Champions of the ‘Ziyan Saheed Tournament’ and later he got the opportunity to represent Sri Lanka Under-24 National Team.

He represented CH and FC from 1988 to 1996, finally captaining the team in 1996 in the centenary year of the club. He played in all the R. Premadasa knockout tournaments from 1988 to 1995. After his illustrious career with CH he crossed over to play for Havelocks in 1997 and Petersons in 1998 and CR and FC in 1999.

He turned out to be a regular member of the National team from 1990 to 1999 as full back and at times as a centre three quarter.

He played in the 1990 Rugby Asiad as a full back and scored a try against South Korea. Whilst at CH he got the opportunity to play with top class Fijians such as Apisai Nagata, Manasa Qoro, Illaitia Ravouvou, Laisaneia Katonowale, Tomoci Salih, Simon Hunter and top Sri Lanka Players of the calibre of Saman Jayasinghe, Bhartha Hegoda, Anil Dassanayake, Bimal Perera, Imran Salih, Asitha Boteju, Ali Sabry, Kenneth de Zilwa, Jude Pillai, Nazeem Mohamed, Hisham Abdeen, Ananda Fernando, Rohan Abeykoon, Chandrashan Perera, Sudesh Abeysinghe with the support of Rugby Committee officials led by Kishin Butani Chairman Rugby, Hassan Sinhawansa Rugby Secretary, Iqbal Hassan Convenor, Ravi Wijenathan, Faiz Hamdoon, Shehan Seneviratne and Manager cum Coach Tony Amith who guided them to win one double and four Triple Crowns from 1990 to 1994.

In 1988, CH became R Premadasa Knockout Champions and continued to win it in 1990, 1991 1992, 1993 and 1994.

In 1990 CH won the first Triple Crown and in 1991 Double Crown. In 1991, 1992 1993 and 1994 four Triple Crowns in a row with top class competitive rugby in the Local Club Rugby with every team playing with world class foreign players from countries such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, South Africa and Britain.

His first Junior Coach was Gamini Indrasena and senior coaches were OWR. Perera and MPF Sallay assisted by Sanath Martis and Maxwell Dias. He started playing as a wing three quarter and later his guru OWR. Perera changed his position to flanker and later as full back, which he continued until the end of his career. He wishes to extend his sincere gratitude to them. and to his club coaches Tony Amith, (CH and national team), Laga (CR), Ana Saranapala (Havelocks), Nimal Lewke (Petersons) and National Coaches Ajith Abeyratne, Anton Benedict, Daya Jayasundera.

He migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 2014 with his wife Tamara and daughter Minara who is an undergraduate at Deakin University, Melbourne. He is currently working at ANZ Bank.

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