Sundar Niranjan the athletic and rugby star-by Althaf Nawaz
S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia is a leading Christian school with a proud history of producing several sportsmen who stood out in their academic career while becoming renowned players in various sporting disciplines locally and internationally.
Niranjan Sundaranathan was one of them who excelled in his studies while turning out as a quality rugby player who brought honour and fame to his school and country.
Niranjan Sundaranathan well known as Sundar Niranjan was born in 1970 and had a hefty frame with his height and body structure. His father was Sundaranathan a distinguished sportsman who participated in several sporting activities while his mother was Rebecca and both of them were employed at Central Bank. He had three siblings with elder sister Tharini living in Canada while Vanathi the younger sister is working for Hutchinson Telecom in Colombo. His younger brother is Mahinthan living in Melbourne, Australia.
Niranjan grew up in the vicinity of Mount Lavinia which was closer to his ‘Alma Mater’ S.Thomas College, Mount Lavinia where he studied from 1977 to 1989 . He was associated with several other students who represented his school living in his area. They mingled around and played various sports like cricket, basketball and rugby during their free time. His profound sporting career in school was launched playing cricket and rugby in the under-13 age
category where he captained both sports. Due to the clash of the cricket season with rugby, he opted to play cricket and take part in athletics. While playing cricket for school, was a member of the runners up team in 1982 at the all island Division-one under-15 cricket tournament losing to Ananda in the finals. He was also a member of the runner up team in 1986 in the all island
Division-one under-17 cricket tournament once again losing to Ananda in the finals.
In 1987, at the age of 17 years, he decided to get back to rugby when his captain in college, Ravi Gunawardena persuaded him to lock horns for the college first XV team which was coached by another former Thomian Ifthikar Cader. He surged ahead to play for that team and in 1988 he played under Shehan Panditharatne and in 1989 under Rizvi Suhaib while being vice captain of the 1989 team. In 1988 and 1989 the team was coached by the great late Quentin Israel and became runners up in the school championship only losing to Royal College by a point 9- 10 at the Sugathadasa Stadium and losing to Ananda 4-14 in the R. Premadasa Trophy quarter finals.
He also was appointed captain of the second XI cricket team in 1989 which earned him school ‘cricket colours’ for playing four years in the second XI team. During his school cricket career, he was coached by many coaches namely the late Shelton Gauder, the late Trevor Edwards, the late Bertie Wijesinha, the late Gerry Gooneratne and the late Lassie Abeywardena. In athletics, he became Colombo District’s Shot Putt champion in 1989 and was awarded school ‘Athletics Colours’ and the ‘All Island National School Colours’ for Athletics in 1989.
He was Awarded Best ‘Athlete Trophy’ by college in 1989 and his athletic coach was late N.M. Perera. He was a school prefect and the head prefect of the house.
They also became runners up in the school sevens tournament losing to Kingswood College in the finals. The 1989, STC Rugby Team emerged as the unbeaten champs by defeating all the schools including winning the R. Premadasa Trophy by beating Isipathana 15- 3 in the finals. They bagged a few other championships which were on offer the same year including the Archibald Perera Trophy, Lady Jayatilleke Shield, R. S. de Saram Memorial Shield and the Michael Gunaratne Trophy. He toured Thailand and Malaysia in 1989 with the college team as a reward for their achievements.
Whilst he was a schoolboy, he represented the Havelock Sports Club in 1988 captained by the late N.H. Karunasena, coached by Anton Benedict and Gamini Fernando. During his swashbuckling rugby career, he was a utility player occupying several positions including the number eight, flanker and second row. Played for Havelocks from 1988 to 1995 while captaining them in 1993and the Sri Lanka under-20 and 24 teams.
The Park Club was coached by Anton Benedict, Gamini Fernando, Y.C. Chang, Nimal Lewke and Ana Saranapala. During his tenure with CH and FC for two seasons in 1996 and 1997 he was coached by Tony Amit.
He was called to don the National jersey with the Sri Lanka under-19 team which toured Thailand coached by late Quentin Israel. He played as a flanker and second row forward with the National sides. He toured Hong Kong with the under-24 National team and was a regular member of the National team from 1992 to 1997 led by Priyantha Ekanayake. Represented
Sri Lanka in the Rugby Asiads of 1992, 1994 and 1996. Represented Sri Lanka in the Quadrangular trophy in Thailand and Malaysia in 1997, which they won. Played against the visiting teams from PNG, Fiji representing the national team. He was coached by many great personalities at the National level namely Anton Benedict, Ana Saranapala, Tony Amit, the late Daya Jayasundera and Ajith Abeyratne. The national team was managed by Dr. Maiya Gunasekera in the latter part of his career . He was also fortunate to be guided by some foreign coaches namely Chris Padfield from Wales, the former All Black Jeff Matheson and the late George Simpkin.
Some of his unforgettable memories in his rugby career was winning the Schools Rugby Tournament and R. Premadasa Trophy in 1989 and winning the Quadrangular trophy with the National team in Thailand in 1997. .
He joined ANZ Grindlays Bank in 1990 and continued until 2001. Migrated to Australia in 2001 and re-joined the ANZ Bank and worked until 2011 in Retail, Business and Institutional Banking. Currently owning and managing a Wealth Management and Mortgage Brokering Business in Sydney and co-owning an education franchise with wife Manoji His elder daughter Shivani (13) is a NSW state 100 metres sprinter and ‘A’ grade netball player . Aliysha (10) his second daughter represents her school in netball and basketball . He is currently domiciled in the Hills District of Sydney, Australia.