Army’s Rugby Revolution: Ashan Bandara and Coach Shamly Nawaz’s Winning Formula

Ashan Bandara

As the Nippon Paint Sri Lanka Rugby Major League XV-a-side Rugby Tournament kicks off on December 1, seasoned Fly Half Ashan Bandara is set to lead the charge for the Army Sports Club.

In his eighth year as a player and renowned as one of the best Fly Halves in the game, Bandara will command a squad of 18 senior players, all of whom have proudly worn the Army jersey for the past four years. Despite finishing seventh in the table last season, the team, under the leadership of Bandara and new coach Shamly Nawaz, is determined to make its mark and secure a spot in the top four this time.

The soldiers boast a formidable three-quarter line, with Bandara at fly half and the dynamic duo of Sudaraka Dikkumbura and Chandana Talwatte as the superb centres.

Notably, the Army Sports Club is dedicated to grooming players from rural areas, inducting them through their regiments across the island. Unlike other clubs, they do not recruit players from other teams or schools. Most of their players, hailing from Sabaragamuwa and the Southern Province, have never handled an oval-shaped ball before joining the Army. However, they undergo physical transformation and rigorous training to compete at the professional level.

With a pool of 40 players, the team faces a new chapter after the departure of Ronnie Ibrahim due to medical reasons. Enter Shamly Nawaz, a highly regarded coach and team builder who successfully led the Air Force to prominence last season. Nawaz, instrumental in elevating St. Thomas, Mount Lavinia school team in the last schools season, has now taken charge of Zahira College, Colombo Rugby starting next season.

Dilan Soysa, the former CR and National player, will serve as their forwards coach. Army Sports Club is set to clash with CR & FC in their tournament opener at Panagoda, their home venue. The team, under the leadership of Ashan Bandara and the guidance of Coach Shamly Nawaz, is ready to tackle the competition head-on and make their mark in the Sri Lanka Rugby Major League.

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