The following are excerpts from an article by a Sharm de Alwiis, an Old Trinitian, that appeared in 'The Island' newspaper of 3rd April 2013 discussing the greatest Giants of Rugby in this country, though of course this is not the last word on this subject. In regard to reference to 'Bande' here, one need to admire the self pride of his father, late Laksman Bandaranyake a true aristocrat by birth & deed; a lesson to our Old Boys, though Laksman B. was not an Old Rajan, which makes it all the more admirable.
" by Sharm de Alwis
Hisham Abdeen was the best thing that happened to SL rugby since Jayasekera left the field. He often turned the tide of the game by just entering it from the bench where he was nursing a fever. He was called ‘Bionic’ Abdeen and that astute reader of the game, TMK Samat wrote up the team composition as A TEAM NAMED ABDEEN. Abdeen’s flair had to be seen to be believed; that one player could be capable of such lofty heroics!
Had he been born in any other rugby playing country like New Zealand, he would have set the world alight, like an earlier day Richy Mackaw.
Lionel Almeida is the best rugby product of Royal College which dates its beginnings to 1920. Like Abdeen, Lionel was vigorously versatile and played with exemplary skills from scrum-half to full back, occupying every slot in the three-quarter line.
Players like Abdeen and Almeida re-defined the game of rugby.
I am placing here the dream team that will give any country the shivers up the spine.
Y. C. Chang. Chip of the Great Wall of China. His loose play scared opponents out of their wits. Another who did not play for his school [Trinity], but captained the country.
Hadji Omar. The perfect complement to YC. Together, they were a team of battering rams.
Mike de Alwis. Also captained the country. Used to get the ball out of the scrum with clock-work precision. A terrier on the loose. The only player who could have held a candle to him was Frankie David.
Hisham Abdeen. Although an attempt has been made in the introduction, Hisham defies description. He is the crown jewel in the country’s rugger.
Lanil Tennekoon. Another who did not play for his school, Trinity, but emerged as the rock-hard 2nd rower the country’s rugger has known. Felled opponents like a lumberjack. The bigger they came, the harder they fell.
Thajone Savangah and Jeff de Jong; two who played together for club and country and understood every move the other would make. Inseparable at the base of the scrum or at the bar. Always got their man.
In the long line that comprised such eminent players like A. Cader and Priyantha Ekanayake, Haris Omar is the distilled product.
S. B. Pilapitiya remains the ‘Prince of scrum halves’ even though there have been many pretenders like Mahes Rodrigo. He would be airborne in feeding his threes and could not, therefore, be tackled. In a five yard scrum, he would leap over the defence to plant tries at will.
Nimal Maralande remains the best in the position even though Mohan Sahayam, Glen Van Langenberg and Shah Dole set benchmarks with their own play.
1st inner: Philip Buultjens. He scored only three tries in his career, but he made openings for countless others to score. He’ll do it again.
2nd Inner: Michael Jayasekera. He was the best after Buultjens. Could spot and go through, never mind a half gap, he would through a quarter gap.
Lionel Almeida. Could occupy with distinction any spot in the three-quarter line. Perfect utility player like Hisham Abdeen.
Indrajith Bandaranayake. Trinity’s loss was Dharmarajah’s gain. Trinity didn’t want him when he was six years old. The father didn’t want Trinity when the son excelled for Dharmarajah in soccer, rugger, cricket and hockey. Continued National rugby with a rare flair. And flare.
Nalaka Weerakkodi. Fifth highest points scorer in world rugby at one time of his lengthy career. Safe as Horatio on the Bridge when try plundering opponents descended like ‘the Huns from the hills’. "