Clifford Cup Rugby Kandy out for rugby double

By Shamzeer Jaleel

 

Clifford Cup is the most prestigious club knock out rugby tournament which will kick off later this month in Colombo and Kandy. Quarter finals will be worked off on March 15, 16 and 17 with the semi-finals scheduled for 19, 21 and the grand final on March 24. Kandy games will be played at the Trinity College Rugby Stadium in Pallekelle. In case Kandy comes in the final after their 2 encounters then the final will be staged at Pallekelle giving equal chance for both Colombo and Kandy teams. Originally this event was organized by the Central Province Rugby Football Union (CPRFU).

 

Probably the oldest rugby tournament in Asia, Clifford Cup commenced in 1911 and has been played continuously since 1950, having completed 79 seasons. In 1911 Lady Elizabeth Clifford (the wife of the acting Governor of Ceylon, Sir Hugh was interested in the annual rugby football fixture, Colombo versus Up Country, and expressed his wish that a match take place in Colombo on her birthday, 26 August, between teams representing the United Services and All Ceylon.

 

The competition was suspended until 1926 due to the war. In 1925 Sir Hugh Clifford returned to Ceylon as the Governor of Ceylon and Lady Clifford, who was keen to revive the Clifford Cup tournament, donated another trophy for the competition in 1926.

 

This time the Clifford Cup was awarded to the winner of a quadrangular tournament between four teams mainly Low Country, Up Country, Ceylonese and United Services. The competition then continued until 1938, when it was disrupted by the advent of the second world war.

 

From 1950 on wards Clifford Cup was handled by Central Province Rugby Football Union (CPRFU). In 1985 Sri Lanka Rugby Football union (SLRFU) decided to award the Clifford Cup to the winners of a separate knock-out tournament, conducted amongst the 'A' Division Clubs, held at the end of the regular season.

 

In 1992 the Clifford Cup final was held in Kandy at the Nittawela Rugby Stadium, the first time the cup final to be played outside of Colombo since 1957, at which Kandy SC defeated Police SC 22/9. This was the first Cup win for the Up Country Club after being in existence for over 100 years.

 

Cup final, since 1992, has been held in Kandy with the exception being in 2006 when it was switched back to Colombo, resulting in Kandy SC withdrawing from that year's competition in protest.

In 2014 the Clifford Cup tournament was played in February/March, shifting from its traditional dates in the September/October period, resulting in no competition being played in 2013.

 

Kandy Sports Club has won the Clifford Cup a record 21 times, including a consecutive period of ten years between 1995 and 2005 (the competition was not held in 1998) and six consecutive years between 2007 and 2012. In 2006 the Kandy Sports Club and Navy SC both withdrew from the tournament (Kandy due to dispute over the ground allocation and Navy as their members were called up for national service duty), the Cup was won by the CR & FC CR & FC have won it 14 times, including a tie with Dimbula ACC, Havelock SC have won 13 times including a tie with Police SC, Police SC 8 times with ties against Havelock SC and Army SC, Colombo H & FC 7 times, Dimbula A & CC twice including a tie with CR & FC, Army SC twice with one tie with Police SC, whilst Air Force SC and Navy SC have only won the cup once.

Club

Wins

Seasons

Kandy Sports Club

21

1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122015201620172018

CR & FC

14

1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959++,2021, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1987, 1988, 1989, 2006

Havelock Sports Club

13

1950, 1951, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1970++,2021, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981

Police Sports Club

8

1970++,2021, 1972, 1973++,2021, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1991

CH & FC

7

1957, 1960, 1962, 1982, 1983, 1990, 1994

Low Country

7

1926, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1936

Up Country

6

1927, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1938

Army Sports Club

2

1973++,2021, 1975

Dimbula Athletic & Cricket Club

2

1953, 1959++,2021

United Services

2

1911, 1913

Air Force Sports Club

1

1986

Navy Sports Club

1

2014

All Ceylon

1

1912

 

Quarter finals

March 15 CR & FC vs Police SC

March 16

Kandy SC vs Air Force

CH & FC vs Army SC

March 17

Havelock SC vs Navy SC

Semi-finals March 19 (Kandy) and March 21 (Colombo)

Final March 24 (Pallekelle or Colombo)

 

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