Today will resemble Derby Day in England, the fillies in the stands showing off better than the foals in the arena. This display will be the 148th match and the first leg of the 63rd Bradby Shield encounter between Trinity College and Royal College at Bogamabara stadium in Kandy.
Bradby with its long history and the glamour that the event spawns has created great enthusiasm among all quarters of the public and today`s event is no exception.
One cannot come out with pre declarations in respect to the result in a Bradby Shield game due to its uniqueness and the exceptional manner in which the two teams display their talents and particularly both Trinity and Royal gear up to this game with great enthusiasm in order to seize the honours.
Trinity leads the Bradby tally with 34 wins against 27 by Royal with one ending in a tie which was recorded in 1992. This inter school dual encounter that commenced playing in 1945 for the Bradby Shield has gone uninterrupted ever since the only occasion where the match had only one leg in 1971 due to the insurgency in the country and subsequently the Trinity Principal awarded the shield to Royal considering their victory in the first leg.
Trinitians who have had four outings this year have recorded two wins against Wesley and Kingswood while loosing to three saints, S. Thomas`, St. Anthony`s and St. Peter`s. Royal has had three successes out of their five matches during the season so far and they beat Wesley followed by Thurstan and Ananda and came down to Kingswood and St. Anthony`s.
It will be a battle between the Royal forwards and the Trinity three quarters today since the Royalist will heavily bank on their set of forwards who weigh 675 kgs while the Lions make it to 640 kgs.
Given the current form Trinity College will have the edge over the Royal College today under home conditions and just after a sensational showpiece against Kingswood. Yet the Bradby is unpredictable since there are a number of instances where the underdog has grabbed honours.
`It is totally a different ball game and what matters is the manner in which the boys play on the day and am quite confident and look forward to an exciting game of rugby,` said C.P. Abeygunawardana, coach of Royal College. Trinity College coach Nigel Krone too expressed similar sentiments. Trinity Skipper who will not have a full game today due to injury speaking to `The Island` stated that: `We`ve had mixed emotions this season and we`ll not be resting after our performance and be pulling something like what we`ve had last year and expect a repeat performance.`
Manil Abeyratne, Royal captain said: `We`ve played well this season and we shall try to make every effort while relying on our forwards who have done really well and to bring back the Bradby to its right place.`
Trinity College proved quite productive after pumping in new blood to the senior squad at both their last two outings and the coach seem to have a lot of confidence on them. Royal on the other hand have brought in a few changes in the team with seniors, centre, Omar Hassan being dropped along with full back Ishara Perera and Asif Hassan with Sailendra Chanrdasekara will replace the two.
While Trinity will loose Kenneth Jacobs and Kennan Armstrong due to injuries, while regulars, prop, Sathya Ranathunga, winger Ishan Deen, full back Krishan Kirinde will be replaced by Fazal Zavahir, Shamreen Zameer and Lasantha Samarasekara. In the absence of Sean, the hooker, Mahendra Wickramasiri will lead the warriors for Trinity, while prop forward, Manil Abeyratne will lead the Reid Avenue lads.
The dynamic number eight of Royal who has had a wonderful season should be kept under close watch by the lions and on the other hand the baby in the team, winger, Duminda Attygalla will have to handle the vital task of taking the kicks, which would probably be a decisive factor on the day.
In the lions point of view Mahenda Wickramasiri and Milinda Gunawardana along with Jazeer Hassan will be the dangerous customers to handle, while flanker Idris Omar and nippy scrum half, Adib Hameed too will have a great deal of responsibility, if they are to pull the game in their favour. It will be Censi Siegertsz who will be taking the kicks for the Trinitians.
Among the three quarters Trinitians are solid and Royalists will have to come out with some rock-solid work and a good game plan to embark upon the lads.
All in all an exciting game of rugby is on the cards and it is expected that the spectators should have their monies worth.