Maurice de Silva
A funeral service for former sportsman and Sri Lanka rugby player Maurice de Silva will be held on Tuesday, February 9, at 11am at St Bridget’s Catholic Church in Brisbane followed by his burial after he passed away last week at the age of 83 having suffered a massive stroke and was hospitalized.
Maurice was one of the most popular players to grace the Sri Lankan rugby fields and was widely regarded as one of the greatest centers in the history of the island’s rugby who was a star among stars. He was famous as the mystery and miracle man and learnt his rugby at St. Peter’s College and later played for Havelock SC, Kandy Lake Club and Sri Lanka.
He was a player who made waves in the late 1950s,1960s and early 1970s with his natural talent and his coaches were amazed with his play and ability to read the game.
More importantly, his penchant to create mayhem in his opponents’ camp be it at school, club or national level with his running rugby made him special. He was one of the top players at Havelock SC and in the mid 1960s he was invited by EW Balasuriya to coach the Kandy Lake Club.
Being a playing member of the team Maurice de Silva strode a glorious path in his rugby career starting with St. Peter’s College in 1954 from where he moved to Havelock Sports Club and in the year 1963 joined Kandy Lake Club. He played in the “B” division tournament organized by the Ceylon Rugby Football Union and within three years helped the club with his wide experience to win the “B” division title and gain a promotion to “A” division.
Maurice played mostly on the wing, but later in Kandy he played as inside three-quarter alongside the famous Didacus de Almeida. Both of them ran rings around the other clubs in elevating Kandy Lake Club to the ‘A’ division. He was a mastermind with great potential and skill levels using his experience to unleash a game plan to suit the team and play to their strength.
Rugby was not the only sport that Maurice indulged in as he was also a top cricketer, boxer and athlete during his school days.
What was most interesting was that except for Farouk Dole, Niyas Majeed (St. Anthony’s) and Alex Larzarus (Trinity) all other players had no rugby experience at all, but responded to Maurice’s coaching and played the game with a lot of fire.
In cricket while in Kandy, he was invited by St .Anthony’s College and was their coach in the 1970s and under his guidance in 1972 the Antonians beat their traditional cricket rivals Trinity College for the first time.
Maurice modelled his rugby on the lessons he learnt from his uncle Archibald Perera, the ace and legendary Peterite coach. In playing for the country, Maurice paired off with Nimal Maralande and in those days the rugby greats believed fervently that rugby was a running game and it was not rugby not to run. He was known for the art of chip-kicking and punting and sometimes even used his knee to chip-kick.
Some of his teammates at Havelocks were Hubert Aloysius, Nimal Maralande, Dickie Jayatilleke, YC Chang, Ken de Joodt, Mike de Alwis, Condrad Ephramus, Maurice Anghie, Trevor Anghie, L. Sumanasekera and Gamini Fernando.
When he enrolled at Kandy Lake Club as coach and player he had Farook Dole, Niyaz Majeed, Alex Lazarus, D. Ettipola, Tony de Sylva, George Thambiraja, Maurice Windus, Carl Fernando, Nihal Jayatilleke, Hector Galuge, Jadi Dissanayake, Izwan Omar, Didacus de Almedia, and Shafi Jainudeen.
With his expert coaching and playing within three years he helped Kandy Lake Club gain promotion to ‘A’ division which was extremely creditable and the happiest man was EW Balasuriya.