Ashean Karthelis the cager and rugby star-by Althaf Nawaz
To play in several positions in the game of rugby, one should be blessed with extra ordinary talent and skills while competing in matches. Ashean Karthelis was one of them who turned out to be a prolific player while handling the oval shaped ball as a prop forward, flanker and lock forward from the time he donned the jersey from school level until he represented the country at international competitions maturing as a prominent player in the rugby arena.
Ashean was born in 1985 and his father was late Asiri Karthelis and mother is Jayasika Fernando. He has one sister Menali and grew up in the town of Moratuwa. He was enrolled at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia from his primary education in1991 and engaged in higher studies until 2004, when he left school.
While having a profound academic career, he had a liking for sports from his younger days. As a result, he started off playing basketball at school. But taking upto rugby was a coincidence, when he participated in the inter-house matches as a wing three quarter in under-13 age category, Until such time he never played rugby.
However, he blossomed out as a quality player and ended up playing in the college first XV rugby team for four years from 2001 to 2004. He ended up captaining the college rugby team in 2003 before his penultimate year in college 2004. He was a fourth year coloursman in College Rugby from 2001 to 2004 for which he was awarded the college colours and also for Basketball and Cadeting as Senior Corporal of the College Cadet Platoon.
The year 2001 was a phenomenal one in his rugby career, when their coach Nimal Lewke (head coach at STC) spotted him while he was playing for the under-17 team for the first year and due to his exceptional skills in winning line outs outjumping the opponents with his unstinted skills in ball handling, resulted him been requested to occupy the wing three quarter position. He was later called to lock horns in the first XV team led by Jivan Goonetilleke in 2001 after engaging in just three games. In his first appearance for that team, where he played the last ten minutes, he was able to score a try as a wing three quarter. Ever since that until his last day at school, he established a regular place both in sevens and XV’s rugby teams, playing in the position of Prop (7’s) and Flanker, Second-row (XV’s).
Some of the best memories of school rugby as a captain was winning the ‘Canon R. S. De Saram Trophy’ winning 27 – 10 against Trinity (he scored a hat-trick of tries in that game), defeating St. Anthony’s College 24 – nil in Nittawela, winning the traditional trophy games against Trinity, St. Peter’s and St. Joseph’s College, Colombo only losing to Royal 6-17 while becoming runners-up in the President’s Trophy losing 22 – 24 to Kingswood College, Kandy.
He went on to annex several awards at college level for his leadership roles. He was awarded the prize for Best all-round Sportsman in 2003, Best Ruggerite of the Season in 2004, Winning the Best Defensive Player at the Inaugural Royal-Thomian Basketball match for the D. S. Senanayake Trophy in 2003, He was appointed College Prefect in 2003 . As a schoolboy ruggerite he represented under-19 Sri Lanka Schools Team in 2002 in Hong Kong and 2003 in Malaysia.
After his remarkable school rugby career, he was invited to play for CR and FC in 2004 and went on to compete for them until 2010.
He mostly played as a flanker and second row forward in XV’s and in the front row as a prop in the sevens arena.
He went onto to captain the Longden Place club in 2009 where they ended up the League and knock-out tournament runners-up. He opted to take a three year break due to personal reasons and made a comeback in 2012 to play for Havelock Sports Club, where they emerged League Champions by beating Kandy Sports Club by 50 points to 19 on their ground, where he was instrumental in scoring the final try to reach the half century mark , which he rates as an unblemished memory.
While playing at CR he was entrusted to lead the President’s XV’s rugby team in 2009.
His National career with the Sri Lanka team started by representing the Sevens Rugby team in 2006 at the Asian Games in Doha.
Ever since that tournament, he established a regular position national team in both formats of the game, the sevens and XV’s till 2009/10 season by playing in his usual positions as second-row (mostly) and Flanker and as Prop in sevens. He has some significant sevens tournament memories beginning from 2007 at Hong Kong Sevens where he went on to score two tries against Scotland and a try against Kenya. He also scored a try at the 2008 Hong Kong Sevens against France and has a rare distinction scoring four tries in the Hong Kong sevens tournament. He also led the Sri Lanka sevens team in 2009 at the Shanghai Sevens in China and was awarded the National Sporting Honours for Rugby in 2008.
He started working at HSBC and ended up as Country Director of AIA for Sri Lanka and Maldives Currently he is engaged as a Corporate and Business Consultant and Executive Leadership Coaching.
He is married to Dulani Batepola former banker and has a four year old son Aiden.