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Death of rugby coach Quentin Israel

DEATH: Quentin Israel, the famous and very knowledgeable rugby coach and schoolmaster, is no more. He passed away after a brief illness and his funeral took place yesterday (Saturday) at the General Cemetery, Kanatte amidst a distinguished set of his former students, rugby players and numerous friends he made through the years. He was 73 years old.

Quenta', as he was very popularly known, was a product of Trinity College (Kandy). He shone as a centre three-quarter under Dharmasiri Madugalle and Lucky Vitharana. He later turned out for Havelocks with distinction and went on to coach them to success of many occasions.

Though an old boy of Trinity, 'Quenta', went on to coach S. Thomas' for number of years and even his alma-mater with success. Once he coached the Thomians who registered 43 wins in-a-row, coached Trinity to win the Bradby Shield on five occasions. He was a member of the staff at both institutions and commanded respect wherever he went.

Quenta' was a former President of Havelocks and as a coach, he was one of the best having studied the strengths and weaknesses of every opposing side. He also served the SLRFU.

He will be missed by his numerous friends. He was certainly missed at yesterday's Cup category final between Sri Lanka and Kazakhastan at Longden Place. His remains were laid at the Chapel of Transfiguration at S.

Thomas' College last morning and the cortege left A. F. Raymonds Funeral Parlour in the evening for cremation.

May he rest in peace.

- L.G.


DN Sat Nov 10 2007 - Obituary

ISRAEL - QUENTIN SHELTON NAGALINGAM Son of late Peter Daniel Israel and late Lily Israel, loving brother of late Brenda, Rani, Phyllis and of Damayanthi. Remains will lie at S. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia from 10 a.m. to 12.00 noon on Saturday 10th November. Cortege leaves A.F. Raymond's Funeral Parlour on Saturday 10th November at 4.30 p.m. Cremation at General Cemetery Kanatte at 5.00 p.m.


Quintin Israel - The coaching legend of schools

Who was this elegant hurdler that I saw at the Trinity grounds no sooner I was senior enough and was allowed to run around on it. He had a head of hair luxuriantly black and the body of an athlete who knew that he was the best in the school in that discipline. The elegance of his stride and the easy flight over the hurdle barely touching it was indeed a pleasant sight for his athletic coach Major Hardy. He must have been in his eighteenth year and I just eleven. This young lad was Quintin Israel who was to end up as a legend over the next fifty years as the finest school’s coach in the island.

At Havelocks

The next time I was to meet him was at the Havelocks. It was in 1961. He had already represented the club as a centre three quarter, but had to fight for his place as many others, like Maurice Anghi, Maurice Silva, Raja Sumanasekera, Babu Jacob, Ken de Joodt and Yen Fu Packstan were in the line up. As a Centre Three he was fabulous in his defence but when he was in the offensive he was always looking for that little gap that never materialised and was brought down short of a try. The highlight of his carrier was when he played in the finals in 1961 under Dr. Hubert Aloysius as a centre, where Ken De Joodt took the penalty kick in the final seconds to win against the Dim/Dick Side. Quintin took to teaching as a carrier. He was disillusioned by the politics of that era where they wanted Sinhala or Tamil proficiency at the O’levels. Had they dispensed with it, we may have another Einstein in Sri Lanka. Over fifty years of associating him I have always seen him remorse as he had not achieved his true intellectual genius.

Teaching was a mundane job but his love for rugby kept him alive. What he could not achieve academically he thrust himself into rugby. He was a very active member of the Havelock Sports Club and held positions such as Honorary General Secretary, Entertainment Secretary culminating in becoming its President. He was held in such high esteem that the Club bestowed on him Life Membership. His versatility was never ending. He stage managed some of the finest socials in the country. The best bands were hired for the delight of all its members and guests. I know of guests who were denied entry to the club as the place was too full.

Coaching

He began coaching S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. It is alleged by his pupils that they had the best side’s year in year out, with no quarters given and no quarters asked. His achievements were recognised by the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union that he was made the Under 19 National Coach for the Pan Pacific games in 1988. His passion for the game was never ending. I think he ate drank and slept rugby football. Knowing this the Old Boys of his school would get together and send him to watch the World Cups held in England and Australia. Whilst his coaching talent was amassing accolades he also took to the whistle. This he maintained that it was indispensable knowledge if one was to be a top coach. Without which teams would be a nonentity due to the lack of knowledge of the rules.

I have seen many past students sitting around him and pontificating on some game or another late into the night. I sometimes felt that they held him in awe. Later on in years he found his heart ailing. Despite his stints in the ICU in private hospitals he never ever let up in his life style of living the fullest.
There was a short period when he went back to his old school to give back some of his valuable knowledge. Unfortunately for him it did not bear fruit the way he aspired. I would think that these years were the unhappiest in his life span. He loved Trinity and Kandy, but sad as it is, he came back to Colombo.

Love for wildlife

Quintin’s multi facetted life style had its versatilities. His love for wild and out door life was as enthusiastic. There were many times he would join me on my trips to Mullaitivu where we enjoyed bird watching [the migratory birds], shooting snipe and teal or enjoy an early morning toddy straight from the Palmyrah tree. Inevitably we will all end up in song long after sunset, and from our lot he was the only one with the melody and the words.

Quintin’s failing heart could not survive as it had too many complications. But up to the end he was as cheerful as ever and in fact wanted me to take him out of hospital the next day. Fate decreed that he must meet his MASTER and all his friends who departed before him.

- Y.C. Chang. - LakbimaNews Sunday Nov 11 2007