The Bradby Shield Encounter – commonly known as “The Bradby” – is the most important event of Sri Lanka’s school rugby union season. It is played annually between two traditional rivals; Royal College – Colombo, and Trinity College – Kandy.
Royal College and Trinity College were the first elite schools in Sri Lanka to take up the sport of rugby union, and the first historic match between these schools was played on the 31st of July, 1920. This was made a yearly encounter, with Trinity College winning for the first 21 years, until the Royalists recorded their first victory in 1941. In 1945, the principal of Royal College, E.L. Bradby, put forward the idea of playing an annual two-match series, to which the principal of Trinity College, Mr C. E. Simithraaratchy, readily agreed. To ensure the success of the series, Principal Bradby offered a shield which was to be held for a period of one year by the winner of the series. The series has been played annually and uninterrupted ever since.
The Shield itself, donated by Principal Bradby, is a wooden disk decorated with intricate traditional Kandyan metalwork. On winning the series, the shield is presented to the winning teams’ captain at an award ceremony held on the playing field immediately following the end of the second leg. The winning team then hands the shield over to their school, where it is kept on display until the following year, where it will again be up for grabs.
The winner of the match is decided on the aggregate of the scores from these two matches, usually played a couple of weeks apart. The Bradby is generally played in late August or early September and is the most watched rugby match in the country, drawing a major volume of spectators. It is also an important social event of the Sri Lanka’s elite drawing over 20,000 spectators and watched live on television by millions more.
One leg of the Bradby Shield Encounter is played in Colombo and the other in Kandy. The venue for the game in Colombo had been Sugathadasa Stadium until matches were transferred to the Royal College Rugby Ground in the early 2000s. The Kandy venue was the Bogambara Stadium until 2011, but now it is played in Trinity’s home ground; Pallekelle Stadium.
View the results of previous encounters here.