Reggie Bartholomeusz the athletic and rugby star-by Althaf Nawaz
It is very rare to witness a person engaged in several sporting disciplines especially in the school arena later transforming himself to a top sportsman in one or more sports which enabled him to reach the pinnacle to bring honour and fame to his School, Club and the Country.
Reggie Bartholomeusz was one of the finest sportsmen who had a profound career with his school Wesley College later had an enthralling club career finally ending up donning the National jersey for the country handling the oval shaped ball.
His father was Rex Bartholomeusz who was one of the great Thomians while his mum was Eileen de Cruze. He had three sisters Blossom, Maureen and Mavis all of them schooled at St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo. Reggie had an interesting academic career. As a tiny nursery kid his mother was very particular about enrolling him at a Catholic school and he started his education at St. Bridget’s convent until grade two. Then he was transferred to Wesley College, Colombo for further studies. From his childhood he had a desire to get into sports and finally his dream became a reality. He transformed himself as a champion athlete from under-10 to 19 age category, later went on to establish a record in100 yards in 10.5 seconds in 1965 for his school which is an unbroken record so far. He also played Cricket, Rugby and Hockey for college.
He played for Colombo North team at the hockey carnival. He excelled as a sprinter representing the Ace Athletic Club in their relay teams at many athletic meets in various parts of the country. He went on to represent Wesley at the public school’s athletic meets in the under-16 and 19 age groups winning colours in these meets.
Reggie played rugby for school from 1961 to 1965 as a wing three quarter. He started playing the game at the age of 14 years and went on to represent the college first XV team. His colleagues in the College team were Bill Deutram, Basheer Musafer, Shari Musafar, Kevin Gauder, Trevor Collet a few to be named. In 1964 beating Isipathana and losing to Thomians 9-8 in a nerve tingling game were two of the most unforgettable matches in his school rugby career.
He stepped into Club rugby with CR and FC in 1966, under Eric Roles’s captaincy. CR remained an unbeaten side that year, and played in the all India Rugby Tournament in Bombay. Hamzie Hameed and him were picked to go on that tour as the understudy of the regular wing three quarters Thiruchitampalam and Tikiri Banda Wijesinghe, where they won the All India tournament.
He cemented his position at CR in 1967 under Mohamed Azain and in 1968 under Tony Sirimanne (where they won the All India tournament that year). In 1969, under Mohan Sahayam they clinched the prestigious Clifford Cup. by beating Kandy SC 12-6 in the final With his fine performance as a player and in his peak, he was picked to play for Sri Lanka that year against the touring Singapore team, where he planted a try which subsequently turned out to be his first game for the country.
In 1971 under Dushantha Samarasekera they won the Clifford Cup by beating Police 27-6 in the final and in 1973 under Kamal(Ali) Ratnapala won the All India tournament after emerging unbeaten league champions but were deprived of the double when Army knocked them out in the Clifford Cup semi final 16 -12 The year 1974 was a memorable one for him as he was appointed as captain of the Longden Place Club.
They won every game and remained unbeaten League Champions but lost the Clifford Cup when Havelocks beat them 16 -4 in the finals H e continued his club career playing in 1975 under Ronnie Schokman and in 1976 under Indrajith Coomaraswamy respectively before he called it a day for the fifteen a side rugby. But he opted to play in the short form of the game, the sevens rugby under Dr. Maiya Gunasekera.
He would like to mention some of the players which was a pleasure for him to be associated with from 1966 Hadji Omar, Bumpy Jayasekera, Dushantha Samarasekera, C.R de Silva (bulla), Keith Perera, Cecil Perera, Hiranjan Perera, Didacus de Almeida, Shiraz Fernando, Roy Balasuriya, Mohan Balasuriya, Rohan Abeysundera, Kamal Ratnapala, Junie Cader, Sari de Sylva, Michael Perera, Eric Roles, Deepal de Zoysa, Ranil Soysa, Dr. Tony de Sylva, D.R. Weerasinghe, Wendell Flamer Caldera, Ajith Abeyratne, B.C. Molligoda, Mark Sunderalingham, Cargo Siriwardena, Gotabaya Dissanayake, Raja Sahabandu, Hasitha Kanangara, Malik Samarawickrama, Ronnie Schokman, Iqbal Jumar, Dr. Maiya Gunasekera, Sheehan Rahim, S. Chandrasekera, Ronnie Gunaratne, Hamzie Hameed, Tikiri Marambe, Andrew van Hoff, Irvin Howie, Michael Muller, Jagath Fer nando, Mahes. Sabaratnam, Dennis Chanmugan, Hafi Abdeen, T.B. Wijesinghe, Thiruchittampalam Mahendra Talwatte, Shanthi Kumar all from CR.
He launched his National career from 1969 till he retired in 1976, where he played with great players. like , Denzil Kobbekaduwa Gogi Tillekeratne Glen van Langenberg, Omar Sheriff, Jeyer Rodriguesz, Jeffrey de Jong Jeffrey Yu, Shafi Janudeen, Desmond Harridge, Tyrone Holdenbottle, George Jayasena, Bryan Baptist Nimal Malagamuwa, Japana Jayawardena, Tony Sirimanne, Bumpy Jayasekera, Jagath Fernando, Roy Balasuriya, Mohan Balasuriya, Hamzie Hameed, Bandula Wijesinghe, (M.P. Amaradasa, G.B. Gunadasa, M.F. Fernando Basheer Musafer – all from Army) Anton Benedict, Indrajith Coomaraswamy, (captain 1974) Nizam Hajireen, Rohan Gunaratne, Lofty Perera, Viper Gunaratne, Ajith Abeyratne, Ronnie Schokman, Mahes. Sabaratnam, Dr. Maiya Gunasekera, Dr. Tony de Sylva, Hamish Patternott, Boga Gunasekera, Clifford Elhart and Gamini Udugama,
He first played for Sri Lanka in 1969 against Singapore in Colombo under Hadji Omar, then played under Jeff Ratnam in 1970 against the Bosuns and Blackheath Rugby Club, England and Paris universities. In 1972 played under Y.C. Chang at the Rugby Asiad in Hong Kong while playing against other touring teams like Dubai Exiles, Australian Emus, Singapore, Japan, Nachanga RFC just to name a few.
His greatest joy was playing for the Pink Elephants, a team of all retired players meeting up to have a run around and a good social night. This was made possible by Rodney Patternott and Peter Amerasinghe, who gave a lot of their time phoning players to turn up.
They only had one referee that was B.K Ramachandra who could never lose! (great fun) After retiring from playing, he coached the Wesley College team for a decade from 1971 to 1978.
His greatest joy was to watch some of the boys go on to play good rugby for the clubs and also for Sri Lanka. Guys like Iqbal Musafer, Zubair Doray, Ronnie Omar, Batchie Omar, Kamaldeen, Rushmo Ferdinands, Iqbal Udaman, Ransiri Sahabandu, Fazie Doray (deceased) to name a few He migrated to Australia in 1984 with his wife Dawn and children Natalie and Warren and played a few games for the Box Hill Quenches, which is a team of all retirees over 40 and then coached the Boxhill under-14 and 16 for about four years until he retired permanently from the game.