‘Royal’……………………….. ‘Trinity’………………….. ‘Rugby’……………………. ‘Colombo Leg’………………. ‘Kandy Leg’…………………. ‘Train’…………………. ‘Saturday’…………… ‘Fiesta’……………………. ‘Bradby!’
The rates at which these words are heard have noticeably increased since April. The reason why it is so is not a question to ask! Less than a week remains for one of the most anticipated and prominent rugby encounters in Sri Lanka. The 73rd Bradby Shield Encounter! The hype has begun! Trains, buses and hotels have been booked! Leave has been obtained from offices! The school flags are ready to be waved! And most importantly, thousands of faithful supporters are ready to cheer on their players with their lusty throats and roaring spirits!
Going into the history of this legendary encounter for those select few out of thousands who don’t already know about it, the Bradby Shield is the self titled brainchild of the 10th principal of Royal College, Mr. E.L. Bradby. Inaugurated in the year 1945, the encounter has since flourished to become a highlight in the calendar of every student and supporter of Royal College, Colombo and Trinity College, Kandy. The encounter consists of two legs, one held in Kandy at the Pallekele Grounds and the other in Colombo at the Royal College Sports Complex. The leading schools of the commercial capital and the hill capital face off against one another to win back or retain this glorious shield. In the year 2014, another attraction was added to the Bradby season, the Bradby Fiesta! This provides everyone with a refreshing break after one leg of the encounter where Royalists and Trinitians put their differences aside and party hard at the Bloomfield Grounds in Colombo. Not to be forgotten is the Bradby Express, a private train to transport the spectators from Colombo to Kandy and back! This brings us to the question, “Is the Bradby just a rugby encounter?” I will proceed to answer this question, so read on!
As mentioned before, the Bradby Shield Encounter has come a long way. However, like everything that comes a long way, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Bradby. History records various misunderstandings, frauds and fixes that both teams have had an equal share of. Yet, it is worthy to mention that these slight mishaps have never been a cause for stern rivalry or hatred against the two schools. They have in fact brought us closer together and have put us in a mindset of enjoying a good game, accepting the outcome and finally, partying together late into the evening after the encounter in the spirit of brotherhood!
This year’s Bradby Encounter is arriving with no less hype and craze as any of the previous years. Worthy it is to mention that the first leg of the Bradby which is to be held on Saturday the 20th of May at the Pallekele Grounds will serve as the final match of the school league for this year. Therefore, no doubt all Royalists and Trinitians are looking forward to a good fair game and both parties are rooting to have fun and watch their respective teams bring back the shield to their respective schools at the second leg which is to be held on Saturday the 3rd of May at the Royal College Sports Complex . With the Royalists looking to retain the shield and the Trinitians looking to regain the shield after the Royalists record breaking victory in the year 2015 with the final scoreboard displaying 49-00, a day that all Royalists and Trinitians remember with happiness and dismay respectively! The current tally of victories stands at 31 – 39 for Royal and Trinity respectively with 2 ties, being yet another reason for increased competition amongst both schools.
Now I shall proceed to answer that question which I mentioned above, “Is the Bradby just a rugby encounter?” The clear answer is “No.” No with a capital N! The Bradby has evolved into much more than that since it’s’ inception in the year 1945.
Bradby is a culture, a tradition, a brand, a trend, a rugby encounter and most importantly, a pathway towards brotherhood. Brotherhood between two schools which have over 100km keeping them apart. It is thereby clear to see that the best way to rejoice in this beautiful game is by respecting fair play, accepting whatever outcome and always keeping in our minds and hearts the value of brotherhood and friendship! I’m sure that everyone will join me in wishing the very best of luck to the teams, be it the Under 10, 14, 16 or 18 teams. May the best school take home the shield! Go Royal! Go Trinity!