Poaching factor at play in rugby
JCT snatch 3 points from Tolly
Lien lure in IFA league from this season
A time to toast and talk about Indian table tennis
East Bengal reach final
Paes, Bhupathi win another three-setter
Mumbai Races/ Noble One may come good
Mumbai Races/ El Cid wins in close finish

Calcutta, April 21: 
Even as rugby worldwide is growing professionally, there is no perceptible change in the sport�s amateur status in these parts. Worse, there appears to be an undercurrent of tension between the very pioneers of rugby in Calcutta (and India): The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CCFC) and La Martiniere Old Boys (LMOB).

The city has already seen many closures, from business establishments to eateries to what have you. And, till the other day, the prospect of LMOB (founded 1873) pulling out was pretty real.

[The Armenians, by the way, have already packed up. History, too, is the LMOB Tigers outfit, which comprised the second-string.]

That would have been yet another body-blow for Calcutta but, thankfully, LMOB decided to �give it another year.�

Yet, last week, LMOB took the unprecedented step of advertising for recruits. Specifically, LMOB sought �tough, brave and young� enthusiasts �with or without experience� for the �Men�s Only� sport.

According to The Telegraph�s sources, LMOB have been hit hard by the �brawn-drain� for some years, but what almost became the proverbial last straw is the CCFC�s reported offer of sports membership to two key players � Howard Hooper and Gerard Menezes.

In other words, an �inducement� to switch colours (red-white from black-amber) and, thereby, push the Calcutta Cup holders into a corner. On offer from the LMOB, really, is nothing but the pride of wearing the famed jersey.

It�s significant, though, that LMOB have won the Cup 16 times (including six in-a-row) since their first success in 1973.

For the record, LMOB have also won the All India and South East Asia title eight times (twice jointly with Bombay Gymkhana), success No.1 coming in 1974.

While CCFC president M. J. Z. Mowla diplomatically maintained he �wasn�t, as of now, aware� of LMOB players being invited to come on board, he did acknowledge LMOB veteran Iqbal Ahmed recently spoke to him about a �problem.�

Mowla explained: �As a concept, I�m personally not in favour of poaching. However, it�s a different matter should somebody be interested in membership, meets our high standards and, more important, the committee too thinks he should be a CCFC member.�

As the rugby season is still some weeks from beginning (traditionally, first Saturday of June), it�s possible those running the CCFC�s rugby section will formally brief their president closer to the season�s launch.

Mowla, of course, may himself take the initiative much earlier.

That something is up, however, has reached former CCFC president Vece Paes� ears. Paes incidentally is founder-president of both the Indian Rugby Football Union and the Bengal Rugby Union (BRU).

Currently in New Delhi, Paes said elder statesman-like: �The rugby community, indeed, is very small and every effort must be made to ensure there is no acrimony. Left to me, I wouldn�t support poaching.�

The issue, clearly, isn�t of breaking rules and regulations but more of ethics. Again, many may perhaps argue: Who bothers about ethics in this age and time?

For his part, Paes made a sensible point � that the rugby fraternity look to eliminating rather than encouraging acrimony.

Disappointed that two top players are headed the CCFC way, LMOB manager Moroth Vasant Kumar remarked: �It�s very distressing... We pick the boys up, sometimes just out of school, but once they�ve established themselves, they�re taken away...�

But then Kumar�s sentiments have, at different times, found an echo in other sport. Entally AC and Howrah Union officials have talked on similar lines where hockey is concerned; likewise the Aryan and Kidderpore mandarins when soccer has been the focus.

Actually, LMOB�s success 1973 onwards notwithstanding, the start of their problems would take one back to around the end of the Sixties, when rugby was taken off the La Martiniere curriculum.

In fact, according to old-timers, LMOB till then was almost exclusively for ex-students. But that change in the school itself forced a change in recruitment.

At least 25 players need to be on the rolls if a team intends surviving the three-month �Men�s Only� season.

Today, though, the encouraging news is that Richard Flynn, the present principal, intends reintroducing rugby. �Perhaps, as early as this season itself,� he informed.

That should re-open �supply lines� and take some of the pressure off the Kumars. Still, that won�t happen overnight.

The more immediate worry remains the poaching-issue and, according to LMOB, this will be �raised� at BRU�s next meeting. Somewhat ironically, the LMOB manager is himself the BRU secretary!

In any case, BRU (currently headed by Noomie Mehta) itself is finding feet and an absolute priority must be the registration of players.

At the moment, even that isn�t done.

Generally, one understands, funding is a problem. When the parent body is affected, the plight of affiliates like LMOB can be imagined.

Also, whether it�s LMOB, Calcutta Police or the Sergeants Institute, all are dependent on the CCFC for providing the playing field.

The re-laying of the CCFC turf, in 1999, put rugby on hold that year and the episode should be an eye-opener to those still interested in the sport.

The present rumblings within the small community, too.


Calcutta, April 21: 
Tollygunge 1

Driven by the urge to steer clear of relegation zone and fuelled by the energetic Jaswinder Singh, JCT carved out a 2-1 victory over Tollygunge Agragami in a National Football League (NFL) duel this afternoon.

The three crucial points, earned the hard way at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, took the Phagwara millmen�s tally to 19 from 20 matches. Air India and SBT trail them with 18 and 17 points, respectively.

A victory in either of their two remaining games � versus ITI in Bangalore Wednesday and against Salgaocar in Ludhiana April 30 � should be enough for JCT to hang on to the top tier of NFL. Tollygunge remained on 23 points and face Mahindra United in their last tie at Mumbai April 29.

It was the home team which fired the first salvo in the 68th minute, after a dreary opening session. Abdulateef Seriki�s probing pass from the right found Emeka Achilefu just inside the 18-yard box. The big Nigerian turned quickly, screening marker Ranjit Singh, and found the mark with a stinging left-footer.

The last 20 minutes brought the best out of Parminder Singh�s team. Using the speed of Jaswinder on the right, the relegation-threatened JCT penetrated the Tollygunge Agragami defence twice to seal a terrific win.

Jaswinder got the equaliser just past the one-hour mark and provided the telling pass for Hardip Gill to fetch the winner five minutes later.

Both times, Partha Sarathi Dey was caught napping at the left-back position. He first misjudged a Jaspreet Singh cross and let it sail over his head. Jaswinder, who was following the ball alertly, let go with his left foot on the half-volley. The angular shot boomed into the net past a bewildered Hemanta Dora. The last thing the former India custodian expected was a precise first-timer from such an angle.

In their next duel, Jaswinder snatched the ball from Partha, sped forward wide to the goalline and played it square in the path of Gill. The striker stabbed the ball none too powerfully, and it rolled in off Dora�s hands.

The enterprising Jaswinder and the dangerous Gill were in the thick of things in the first 45 minutes too. Gill�s 25-yard shot was a foot off target in the 10th minute. A little later, Jaswinder beat Partha by sheer speed but failed to direct his pass to the unmarked Gill in the striking zone.

In the 32nd minute, referee M.K. Roy came in Achilefu�s way and the ball ricocheted to Jaswinder. Receiving the ball midway in the JCT half, he weaved past a host of non-plussed rivals and was into the Tollyugunge zone in a jiffy. Set to score a magical goal, Jaswinder pushed the ball straight to Dora.

Tollygunge, without coach Amal Dutta on the bench, looked intent on a draw. But for a few spells of purposeful activity orchestrated by their foreigners � Achilefu, Seriki and Abayomi Felix � Tollygunge were mostly on the receiving end.

But for Achilefu�s second-half strike, Seriki wasted the two other chances that came Tollygunge�s way. Both times, he blasted the ball miles over the crosspiece from close range after goalkeeper Arvind Kumar�s weak punches (off Partha and Sashthi Duley shots) fell in his path.

Had either of those chances been taken, there could have been a different twist to the tale. But one never knows. JCT had, after all, fought their way to 2-2 results against both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the second leg at Salt Lake Stadium.


JCT: Arvind Kumar, Tarsem Lal, Ranjit Singh, Balkar Singh, Daljit Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Hardip Saini (Harjinder Singh, 66), Rampal, Jaswant Singh (Jaspreet Singh, 59), Hardip Gill, Sukhjit Singh (J. Randhawa, 38).

TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Hemanta Dora, Reazul Mustafa, Debasish Pal Chowdhury, Satish Bharti, Partha Sarathi Dey, Bhabani Mohanty (Sandip Das, 85), Saliu Abdul Wasu, Sashthi Duley, Emeka Achilefu (Sumit Sur, 88), Seriki Abdulateef, Abayomi Felix.

Referee: M.K. Roy.


Calcutta, April 21: 
The IFA is all set to allow teams to hire players on lien during the ensuing Calcutta Football League. The move follows AIFF�s clearance to the practice during the ongoing National League.

According to IFA joint secretary Ranjit Gupta, the clubs can hire players on lien from states which does not hold a league of their own. �Punjab, for instance, does not hold any state league. So any club will be free to take a player from JCT or Punjab Police during the Calcutta League. Once the League gets over, the concerned player will be free to turn out for his home team in other tournament,� explained Gupta. He feels getting AIFF�s nod to the proposal will be a mere formality.

�No� to Telecom bid

At its governing body meeting today, the IFA decided to reject Telecom�s application for a berth in the Super Division this season on the plea that the office club had not deposited the requisite application fee of Rs 50.

After a lot of debate regarding the pros and cons of allowing the side�s participation, the members decided that a fresh application can be considered at its next meeting. The team will, however, have to meet the infrastructural requirements for the clearance.

The meeting also decided to introduce championship and relegation play-offs in first division (for both group A and B) from this season.

The proposed India International Club Cup will be held in the first week of June with a total of six teams � East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and India Juniors besides three foreign outfits. AEK Athens, Argentina Juniors and a Iranian club have confirmed participation.

Customs win

Calcutta Customs defeated SAI Training Centre by a Paulus Soy goal in a first division group A tie of the BHA league today.

In group B, Calcutta Parsee Club drubbed Baranagore SC 11-0. J. Mehta top-scored with five strikes.


New Delhi, April 21: 
The pulsating men�s singles final of the 15th Commonwealth table tennis championships between Mathew Syed and Chetan Baboor would rank with the 1999 Uefa Champions League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich for sheer excitement, unpredictability and dramatic reversal of fortunes. In these championships, Baboor was a shadow line away from winning three titles even as India touched a new high.

Three runners-up spots in men�s events � team championship, Open singles and Open doubles � and a first-ever bronze by the women�s team surely signalled a time to talk about Indian table tennis.

No wonder a beaming Manjit Dua claimed that the crop of emerging young players was the best in the last decade. The coach felt that exposure to systematic coaching at the PSCB academy at Ajmer had helped standards. �Stroke selection, technique and fitness of Indian players had improved a lot,� he said.

Dua admits that professional coaches like Korean Kim Chung Ho at the Centre of Excellence in SAI�s eastern centre and his Chinese counterpart in Ajmer had used technology to improve standards.

Baboor felt that exposure in foreign leagues is essential to progress. Narrating his own experiences with Enig Club of Kalmar, a premier Swedish league outfit, Baboor says he improved in three vital areas. �I have learnt to think during a game, change my tactics according to the match and, above all, not get overawed by a player�s reputation.�

He also added that exposure against the style of different players has helped him improve. �Previously, I struggled against defensive players � there have been no defensive players in India since G. Jagannath in the late 1970s and S. Sriram in the 1980s � but now I can cope better against them.� This was evident in his change of tactics against Mathew Syed in the men singles final.

Suggestions that Baboor chokes in close matches have become louder, but he dismissed such ideas. �It was the hectic scheduling of matches that drained me of energy,� he said. On the day he and Raman lost the doubles, Baboor played eight matches.

These championships have often been scoffed at as being a meet for lesser mortals. However, as national coach Manjit Dua points out, �the standards are constantly improving, especially with the numerous Chinese expatriates in various teams�. In fact, so strong is this factor that Dua used a subtle ploy to ensure that the Indian paddlers did not develop a psychological block opposing teams with Chinese players. He kept telling his young players that they were Koreans and not Chinese migrants.

After the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Chinese expatriates in several Commonwealth nations have left improved teams. Singapore�s 19-year-old women�s triple crown winner Li Jia Wei lived in Beijing before migrating in 1996. Sydney Olympics semi-finalist Jing Jun Hong left Shanghai in 1993 when she married a Singapore coach Loy Soo Han. Twenty seven-year-old Yao Lingjing left Liaoning to represent Malaysia. Women�s singles runner-up Li Chunli is another promising Chinese who represents New Zealand. Another Chinese-Kiwi, Li Aaron, who defeated our national champion Somyadeep Roy in straight games in the pre-quarter finals, is a 32-year-old coach-cum-player who migrated to Auckland seeking greener pastures.

�The Chinese migrant factor should be kept in mind whilst evaluating India�s overall performance,� says Dua. �Both Mouma Das and Poulami Ghatak showed good potential and lost to highly rated Chinese girls.�

Mouma, the highest ranked Indian among women, lost to the ultimate champion Li Jia Wei. Poulami was eliminated in the pre-quarter finals by Yao Linjing of Malaysia.

Dua also says that there is now greater depth amongst participating nations. A perusal of the results do vindicate Dua�s observation.


Calcutta, April 21: 
East Bengal survived some anxious moments before coasting to a four-wicket victory over Calcutta Port Trust to move into the final of the CAB senior division League championship play-off.

At the Eden Gardens today, East Bengal chasing 203 for a win lost four early wickets. But veteran Arun Lal (38) and Srikant Kalyani (28) arrested the slide before Narendra Singh Negi fashioned the victory with an unbeaten 43.

East Bengal will now meet the winners of Mohun Bagan and Wari.

In A. N. Ghosh Trophy, Mohun Bagan defeated Eastern Railway by 111 runs. Despite unbeaten centuries by Souvik Mukherjee and Asif Murtaza, Eastern Railway fell well short of Mohun Bagan�s huge total of 401.


League Championship play-off

CPT 202. East Bengal 203/6 (Arun Lal 38, Srikant Kalyani 28, Narendra Singh Negi 43 n.o.; Soumen Singh 3/59). East Bengal won by 4 wkts.

A.N. Ghosh Trophy

Mohun Bagan 401/2 in 45 ovs (Nikhil Haldipur 100 retired, Devang Gandhi 125, Sanjib Goel 42). Eastern Railway 290/1 in 45 (Souvik Mukherjee 103 n.o., Asif Murtaza 115 n.o.). Mohun Bagan won by 111 runs.

P. Sen Trophy

Eight teams � East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Wari, Tapan Memorial, Shyambazar, Aryan, CAB Blues and CAB President�s XI � will participate in the P. Sen Trophy from May 4. The final is slated for May 14.

Sponsor for jr meets

Pepsi will sponsor the CAB organised junior tmeets for the next three years. The tournaments to be sponsored are � the meet in the age-group of 14-16 years, Ambar Roy sub-junior meet, CAB Dattu Phadkar Trophy, CAB inter-school meet (under-19) and Ajoy Ghosh Trophy. The inter-school meet, with 44 teams in the fray, begins Monday.

21 teams to participate

Twenty one teams will participate in the Flight 10 organised men�s doubles bowling meet from Monday. The final is slated for April 29. All matches will one-game affair except the final which will be best-of-three games.

Kalyan Jayant TT

The sub-junior boys� and girls� quarter-finalists at the Kalyan Jayant Memorial table tennis championships were identified at Khudiram Anusilan Kendra today. The quarters and semis will be held tomorrow while the finals come off Monday.

Following are the quarter-finalists: Junior boys: Amarnath Das, Abhishek Mukherjee, Kankojit Mondal, Jayanta Sarkar, Sudipto Ghosh, Soumya Nandy, Rohan Chakrabarty, Soumyajit Sarkar. Junior girls: Sukanya Bose, Soumi Mondal, Pallabi Kundu, Sharmita Pal, Shabana Parveen, Triparna Biswas, Sweta Mondal, Salankara Mahalanobis.


Calcutta, April 21: 
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won their second consecutive three-setter to move into the last four of the Monte Carlo Masters Series meet.

According to information received here, the former world No. 1 duo saw off fifth seeds Jared Palmer and Donald Johnson 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 yesterday to mark their first semi-final entry since the Gold Flake Open in January.

Paes and Bhupathi next face top seeds Todd Woodbridge and Jonas Bjorkman, who dismissed David Adams and Martin Garcia 6-3, 6-4. The other semi-final will pit sixth seeds Joshua Eagle-Andrew Florent against unseeded pair Jaime Oncins-Daniel Orsanic.

The Indian pair did well to recover from a poor start. They dropped serve in the second and sixth games to surrender the first set. They then hang on with the Americans and got the breaks at the right time � in the 12th game of both sets just when tie-breakers looked imminent.


Mumbai, April 21 : 
Knocking at the door, Noble One is expected to make the 2,000m Abdullah Khairaz Trophy his own at the Mumbai races on Sunday. Z. Sayyed partners the Adil Daji-trained six-year-old horse.


2.30 pm: Monogram 1. Silently 2.
3 pm: Discover 1. Whispering Rock 2. Stage Secret 3.
3.30 pm: Angara 1. Final Verdict 2. Star Of Attention 3.
4 pm: Adam�s Delight 1. Malada 2. Seville Star 3.
4.30 pm: Cotopaxi 1. Millennium King 2. Foreign Connection 3.
5 pm: Rambus 1. Fly Me To The Moon 2. Timbavati 3.
5.30 pm: Noble One 1. Torres 2. Saytarra 3.
6 pm: Alice Charms 1. Arabian Fighter 2. Minneapolis 3.
Day�s Best: Noble One
Double: Angara & Alice Charms

Mumbai, April 21: 
Coming with a late run, El Cid had the measure of the course-favourite Columbus in the 1,400m Red Rufus Trophy at the Mumbai races on Saturday. C. Rajendra partnered the Imtiaz Sait-trained five-year-old.


(With inter-state dividends)
1. Dancing Legend Plate 1,400m: (3-1-6) Classic Rock (Biramne) 1; Prince Shazaan 2; Exhilarating 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 6-1/2; (1-27). Tote: Win Rs 38; Place: 20; 18; Quinella: 57; Tanala: 466. Fav: Prince Shazaan (1).
2. M. D. Petit Plate 1,200m: (6-7-8) Zosyn (Prakash) 1; Soliel 2; Partner Perfect 3. Won by: 2; 1-1/4; (1-15.3). Tote: Win Rs 22; Place: 13; 16; 28; Quinella: 52; Tanala: 189. Fav: Zosyn (6).
3. Kartouche Plate 1,000m: (3-2-1) Free Gold (Prakash) 1; Thunder Clap 2; Arctic Girl 3. Won by: Nk; 1-1/4; (1-2.2). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 15; 15; 34; Quinella: 44; Tanala: 503. Fav: Free Gold (3)
4. Classic Story Plate 1,400m: (5-9-8) Aprilia (Rajendra) 1; Love Me For Ever 2; Innocence 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-3/4; (1-27). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 12; 15; 15; Quinella: 23; Tanala: 93. Fav: Aprilia (5).
5. Red Rufus Trophy 1,400m: (8-2-4) El Cid (Rajendra) 1; Columbus 2; Final Authority 3. Won by: 1/2; 2-3/4; (1-26.3). Tote: Win Rs 55; Place: 23; 18; 41; Quinella: 93; Tanala: 2,215. Fav: Leit Motif (6).
6. Waynak Plate 1,100m: (9-1-4) Tagamet (Appu) 1; Comment Allez Vous 2; Champion Reef 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1/2; (1-7.5). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 15; 36; 32; Quinella: 242; Tanala: 2,463. Fav: Tagamet (9).
7. Supernal Plate 1,400m: (2-6-8) Wine N� Song (Kamlesh) 1; Femme Fatale 2; Cruel Intention 3. Won by: Nk; 1-3/4; (1-28). Tote: Win Rs 99; Place: 19; 15; 12; Quinella: 183; Tanala: 771. Fav: Cruel Intention (8).
Jackpot: Rs 5,954; (C) Rs 152.
Treble: (i) Rs 248; (ii) Rs 2,805.

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