COLOMBO – The 2023 Inter-Schools Under-19 Division One League Rugby Tournament will reach its climax when arch-rivals Royal and Isipathana clash in a Super Round segment fixture on Saturday at the Royal Sports Complex in Colombo.
This game is of highly importance for both teams as they will be also vying for the Major Milroy Fernando Memorial Trophy, which has been on offer since 1986.
The Royal-Isipathana matches have always produced some fascinating rugby over the years and once again the two schools’ rugby heavyweights are set for another rousing battle.
The Major Milroy Fernando Memorial Trophy was donated by Colonel Dudley Fernando in memory of his son, who died in a landmine explosion in Omanthai in January 1986.
In fact, Isipathana had the honour of winning the Trophy in the inaugural year as the lads from Havelock Park led by the dynamic Selvin Sally defeated Royal 11-9 in a thrilling encounter.
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 which was 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 but Isipathana recorded back-to-back victories in 1992 (14-3) and 1993 (12-10) under the leadership of Champika Nishantha and Chamila Samantha respectively.
Royal emerged victorious in 2018 under Sabith Feroze and in 2019 they retained the Trophy under T. Hassan before the COVID-19 epidemic brought a temporary halt to the series in 2020 and 2021.
The series between the two schools resumed last year and Isipathana grabbed the opportunity to record a pulsating 21-15 victory at Havelock Park, which was also the league decider of the tournament.
Meanwhile, 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 31 matches played so far, Isipathana lead the series with 15 wins while Royal have won 11 with four games ending in a draw and one fixture declared as 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 (Null-and-void), 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), 2022 (Isipathana won 21-15).
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