When my classmates & teammates back in Colombo, emailed me, to inform that two of our school teachers have passed away, it struck me hard, that we too are lined up to face the inevitable one of these days.
40 years ago we were teenagers, sportsmen of the era, aspiring professionals, budding politicians, and working hard to become brilliant academics. Let it be in the field of sports or in the class room, we are all what we are today, due the patience, guidance, coaching, tolerance and the tender loving care, our school teachers extended to each and every student.
Before I go further, I call upon the membership, to stand in silence for two minutes in memory of Mr Leo De Silva & Mr Quentin Israel. THANK YOU VERY MUCH
Mr Leo De Silva, I remember him as a robust individual, always on the move, used to dominate the younger students in the Lower school, along with then Head Master Late Mr.Pieris. STC needed school masters of their stature to control and mould the young Thomians. Mr De Silva wore a moustache most of the time, which added on to his menacing looks. I can visualize him, always in brilliant white attire, bouncing away from the lower school to the Warden’s Office, most young students found it very difficult to keep up with his pace.
Mr Quentin Israel, a product of Trinity College Kandy, was very dear to me.
In 1966 he was the Under 17 rugby coach, at STC. I managed to find a place in the Team, alongside, Neil De Abrew & Hasitha Kannagara, both of whom are not with us anymore.
He taught Math’s, Chemistry & Physics in College, his application was paramount. Education was first on his list followed by Rugby.
In 1969 I, along with the other senior Rugby players, was instrumental in convincing, Warden Anandanayagam, that we needed a more vibrant coach, as the game of Rugby had changed. Quentin Israel, who was then turning up for Havelock’s, agreed, all those who turned up for practice were thrilled to have a new coach, who could play with us, as well as show us how to execute bone crunching tackles. His favourite was the smother, he taught our three quarters how to smother tackle, it was a great hit among the runners, coupled with speed and agility, many an opposition could not match the arsenal of tricks we had up our sleeves.
A new era has just begun, at STC Rugby. This was the transition period for better days ahead. Rugby moved heaps and bounds under his guidance. The players responded to his demands, his masterful ploys and strategies were well executed. I can remember the 1st game in 1969, was played in Kandy against Vidyartha College, we beat them convincingly, this was the turning point, the players gained confidence, it was a real moral booster, and most of all we had fun on the field.
1970 was a great year, we emerged unofficial school champions, and we brought the Gunaratna Trophy and the Lady Jayatileke Shield back to Mt Lavinia. The Jewel of the crown was when we defeated Trinity College at Havelock Park, yes the following day headlines read “Lions Tamed at the Park”. All members of the Team moved in the school premises with pride. The attendance at Rugby matches increased, the academic staff and the minor staff were there to cheer us. We did not let them down, at each game we played our hearts out.
Fondly known as QUINTA, a legend was born. Mr Israel continued as Rugby coach, at STC for several more years, and kept on producing Champion sides, before he moved over to Trinity. At one time STC had over 40 wins continuously. He was firm as well as very fair in selections. The players respected and loved him, he in return gave us his undivided attention and dedication. Our loss was Trinity’s gain, during his six year run, Trinity won the Bradby 5 times. Nothing more needs to be said of his success and motivation to produce Champion sides.
In the year 2000, I was fortunate, to have met him again. After all these years the respect and affection was spontaneous. Along with a gang of Thomians, we agreed to meet at the Havelock’s for a drink at 10 in the morning, a short get together went on for hours and hours, never ending story after story.
When I joined CR&FC, he was very disappointed, he never pushed me to join the Havelock’s, sorry Sir I too had dreams. He was present at most of the CR&FC matches, and never failed to come up to me either before or after the game to wish me well.
FAREWELL SIR – WE ALL, WILL MISS YOU DEARLY, MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PEACE