The epic tale of Royal-Isipathana Under-20 rugby series
Two of the biggest rivals in schools’ rugby, Royal College and Isipathana College will face off in what could turn out to be a blockbuster clash in their Inter-Schools Under-20 ‘A’ Division League Tournament Super Round fixture at Havelock Park on Sunday.
This game will be of great significance for both teams, as the winner will be crowned as the Under-20 Schools ‘A’ Division League champions for 2022. Even then, there is more pride and prestige associated in this clash between the two teams as the match will also be played for the Major Milroy Fernando Memorial Trophy, which was donated by Colonel Dudley Fernando in memory of his son Milroy, who died in a landmine explosion in Omanthai in January 1986.
In fact, games between Royal and Isipathana have always provided some high-class rugby and the Major Milroy Fernando Memorial Trophy series, which began in 1986, have also been marred with high drama, incidents, and controversies both on and off the field.
Isipathana of course, had the honour of winning the Trophy in the inaugural year as the Havelock Park team led by the dynamic Selvin Sallay defeated Royal 11-9 in a thriller. Isipathana, under the captaincy of the late Nilantha Lakshmiwewa retained the Trophy in the following year as the match ended in an exciting 13-13 draw in 1987.
Royal took hold of the Trophy for the first time in the series when their 1988 invincible team led by the burly number eight Lasitha Gunaratne triumphed by a convincing margin of 24-9.
Royal then went on to make it two-in-a-row as the lads from Reid Avenue Captained by the dashing centre three quarter Anura Dhammika edged out Isipathana 9-6, in a game decided by penalties.
However, Isipathana regained the Trophy in 1990 as the team led by fly half Miyuru Yuganthara defeated Royal 10-3 in another absorbing contest.
The match was not played in 1991 as Isipathana did not take part in competitive rugby but Isipathana recorded back-to-back victories in 1992 (14-3) and 1993 (12-10) under the leadership of Champika Nishantha and Chamila Samantha.
However, Royal are the current holders of the Trophy having won the game in 2018 and 2019 while the match was not played in 2020 and 2021. In fact, Royal’s 41-7 success in 2018 is the biggest victory in the series while Isipathana’s best performance was in 2012 when they emerged victorious 34-22 in a high-scoring encounter.
Out of the 30 matches played so far, Isipathana lead the series with 14 wins while Royal have won 11 with four games ending in a draw and one fixture declared null and void.
The past winners of the Major Milroy Fernando Trophy:
1986 (Isipathana won 11-9), 1987 (Drawn 13-13), 1988 (Royal won 24-9), 1989 (Royal won 9-6), 1990 (Isipathana won 10-3), 1991 (Match not played), 1992 (Isipathana won 14-3), 1993 (Isipathana won 12-10), 1994 (Match not played), 1995 (Match not played), 1996 (Isipathana won 16-10), 1997 (Isipathana won 30-6), 1998 (Royal won 14-10), 1999 (Isipathana won 10-5), 2000 (Royal won 18-14), 2001 (Match drawn 0-0), 2002 (Match drawn 5-5), 2003 (Royal won 19-8), 2004 (Royal won 7-5), 2005 (Isipathana won 12-10), 2006 (Isipathana won 22-7), 2007 (Match not played), 2008 (Isipathana won 17-12), 2009 (Royal won 22-3), 2010 (Isipathana won 27-5), 2011 (Royal won 11-10), 2012 (Isipathana won 34-22), 2013 (Match drawn 20-20), 2014 (Isipathana won 15-14), 2015 (Royal won 21-8), 2016 (Isipathana won 28-14), 2017 (Isipathana won 22-17), 2018 (Royal won 41-7), 2019 (Royal won 19-6), 2020 (Match not played), 2021 (Match not played).