Enthusiastic young Rugby players of St.Peter’s College donned the now glorious College Colours of Blue, White and Gold for the first time, in 1932 under the Rectorship of Fr. D.J Nicholas Perera. The brilliant Rugby player and sportsman, Mr. Herbert E Wittahatchy took over the fortunes of Peterite Rugby in the same year, as Prefect of Games. No one dreamed that a glorious history was about to be created.
Brilliantly moulding a team of freshers together with Lim Billimoria (the first Peterite Rugby captain), St.Peter’s entered the then Ceylon Schools Rugby arena with its inaugural 1st XV in the same year -1932. SPC became the fourth school in the history of Sri Lankan Rugby to play at competitive level. St. Peter’s played their first match against Royal College at home grounds at Bambalapitiya.
Success was not long in coming and with brave and intelligent play against all opponents; Peterites first tasted success in 1934 recording the first Rugby win against Royal College at Bambalapitiya by 5-0 under the captaincy of Shirley Illesinghe. Then in 1935, under the captaincy of Fred Keller, Petes posted a historic feat beating the vastly experienced Trinity College, Kandy in the encounter at Bambalapitiya. The scoreboard read 6-0 and this was only in their third attempt. Emotions ran high as Peterites were adjudged Joint Champs (with Trinity College) of the inter-collegiate Rugby tournament.
St. Peter’s continued to grab the Schools Rugby Championship title for five consecutive years from that point onwards (including 1937,Joint Champs), a rare feat in the history of Inter-Collegiate Rugby in Sri Lanka, remaining invincible through the rugby season in 1936 under the legendary Archibald Perera and in 1938 under Percy Perera. In 1942, the World War saw St. peter’s College and grounds used as a British base, halting any Rugby progress until, in 1948, under the stewardship of M. Numan (former Peterite Rugby player) and Harold De Silva the captain, their fortunes began a new rise. The legendary Archibald Perera became the Rugby Coach of St. Peter’s College in 1956 and he continued to serve the College uninterrupted till his demise in 1982 – so ending an era that touched hearts of all Peterites for more than 26 years at the helm. During his tenure, St. Peter’s produced four schools rugby champion sides, namely: Under Darrel Wimaleratne in 1965, under Hamzi Hameed in 1966, under Jeffery De Jong in 1972 and under Rohan Wiratunga in 1973 (as Joint Champs).
St. Peter’s College, regrouping in the early 80’s with Archibald Perera’s successor Frank Hubert as coach assisted by Angelo Wickramaratne were instrumental in produced another famous side in 1985 under the captaincy of Rajith Abeygoonewardena and St. Peter’s finally broke the hoodoo of losses against some top school teams, crafting a NEW DESTINY by beating Trinity 8-0 after 44 years. In 1986, under Rowen Gunasekera, St. Peter’s ended the season as Runners-up to Isipatana against whom they recorded their solitary loss though managed to beat other more fancied teams and drawing with Trinity College in Kandy.
Then came 1994 when the Peterites, captained by Roshare Alles, went in to the Lions den to beat Trinity College in Kandy after 53 years and ended the season as Runner’s up at the schools knockout tournament to St. Thomas’ by 6-8. In 1995, under Sanjeewa Abeygoonewardena they tamed the Trinity Lions twice over under the watchful eyes of a Trinity Lion Ajith Abeyaratne and Nimal Lewke thus becoming league runner’s up by just a few decimal points to Isipathana whom they beat twice in that season. However, St Peter’s came back strongly to win the inaugural President’s Trophy.
Following year under Kirk Williams, St. Peter’s reached their third consecutive President’s trophy finals (Knock out tournament) but this time their progress was halted by Isipatana with a 15-7 win. 2001 saw Dilan Abeygoonewardena leading another formidable side which reached the President’s trophy finals and halted by Isipathana with a 20-17 win. However In 2002 under Dilanka Wijesekera, St. Peter’s became the A Division Schools Champions thus becoming the first Peterite champion side of the new millennium. This was the year dashing Peterite winger Mohamed Rinaz set a new schools record for most number of tries with a final tally standing at 34.
St. Peter’s created history in 2006 becoming the Schools Double Champions –winning outright, the Singer League and Milo President’s Trophy, the first Peterite team to achieve this feat, under the captaincy of Harendra Ariyawardena and coaching guidance of Sanath Martis. Amidst the celebrations of 75 years of Rugby, St. Peter’s Rugby team achieved that elusive invincible status in 2007 by becoming the first Peterite XV to be the ‘Unbeaten Schools Rugby Champions’ under the captaincy of Ranuka Jayasinghe again under the guidance of Sanath Martis. That year, St. Peter’s also set another unique landmark in schools rugby annals by scoring 447 points through 11 matches which also included 70 tries. In the 2008 Peterites were also crowned the President;s trophy winners under Poornaka Depachithra. In 2009 Peterites won the First ever Carlton 7’s trophy under Dilshan Paul beating the league Champions Royal College in the final. Next year Kieth Gurusinga’s side remain unbeaten right throughout the season winning the triple. In 2011 and 2013 Under Banuka Nanyakkara and Shan Werrakkody they won the All Island Sevens Tournament. Then in 2018 under Javed Zarook and Kenneth Wimaladasa they clinched the President’s Trophy and repeated this achievement in 2019 under Bilal Hilmy and emerged runners up in the League.
St. Peter’s College has produced many brilliant rugby players in her 90 year old Rugby history feeding National teams with high quality players both with skills and discipline coming out of its system in every decade. Many Peterites have featured prominently in national or combined teams, be it Combined Schools, All Ceylon, Ceylonese or Sri Lankan XV’s or even at 7’s.
We are also thankful to The Rugby Foundation of St. Peter’s College for its commitment to not merely foster rugby par-excellence beginning at Junior XV level, but also to ensure that all students who pass through the portals of this great institution called St.Peter’s College, will prove to be men of unparallel honour and ability throughout their lives.
Finally, how can we ever leave out those guru’s who thought Peterite Rugby tradition. They, through all these years, kept faith with Peterite Rugby vision and helped tirelessly to mould both Junior and Senior Rugby squads. The Junior squad also faring brilliantly against all opponents in their own right. Coaches Mr. B. K. Ramachandran, Troy Bartlett, Shane de Silva, Sunanda Fernando, Shantha Dharmaratne, Senaka Balasuriya, DIG Nimal Lewke, Ajith Abeyratne, Frank Hubert, Archibald Perera, Granville Seneviratne, M. Numan, S. Sivendran, Angelo Wickramaratrne, Orville Fernando, Ciciro De Fonskea, S.W.Chang, Hisham Abdeen , Ben Mc Dougal, Collin Peter Denish and present coach Sanath Martis. If any names have been inadvertently left out please forgive us – your names will always remain in our Hall of Fame.
Today we all enjoy this tradition, and it is set to last forever!
Our game, Our passion and Our life!
VIRTUS ET VERITAS