Sanj Medis "Sanj"
Team: Melbourne Gerries
Five Nations Team: Old Blacks
Sanj started his rugby journey at the age of 9 years old running around playing barefoot rugby in Sri Lanka. He enjoyed his rugby and always looked to keep improving and played through the age groups and ended up captaining the Under 15’s team on a tour to Malaysia and lastly captaining the St. Joseph’s College, 1st XV rugby team in 1997. During his school days, Sanj enjoyed all sports and in addition to rugby he spent a lot of time playing tennis and swimming. He started off his rugby as a fly half and then found his most enjoyable position in the forwards playing in the back-row for most of his days since he was 15 years old. Some of Sanj’s best memories are based on time spent playing rugby for college as the team mates all grew up together from the age of 9 and had a great team culture where they all trusted each other to complete their role in the team. Sanj was proudly supported by his parents who would come and watch every game since Sanj was 9 and who always encouraged him no matter what the outcome was.
From his younger days, Sanj has always looked up to the mighty “All Blacks” and during his time in Sri Lanka, he always wanted to buy an AB’s jersey and watch a live game, if possible. He is a huge fan of the All Blacks, to the point where his family and friends call him an addict. His favorite players include the great Richie McCaw, Josh Kronfield and Zinzan Brooke.
After completing college, Sanj took a brief break from rugby for a few years before starting to play club rugby for a local club (CH & FC) for the last three years he was in Sri Lanka before moving to Australia for studies in 2003. In Australia, he was then able to actually watch his first live All Blacks game (2003 Rugby World Cup) and could finally afford to buy his own AB’s jersey – This was a dream come true for him. The time he spent not playing rugby in Sri Lanka took its toll on his body; with moving to prop forward due to the extra weight he had gained (thanks to all the rice and curry). Sanj completely gave up any form of rugby since moving to Australia and during this time had unfortunately moved to a personal best weight of 127kgs. In 2013, Sanj and his wife (Lucky) both decided to actually take ownership and do something about it, thanks to a motivational and very honest conversations by one of their close friends – “Who we owe our happy life to”. Lucky and Sanj commenced their health and fitness journey along with a new and improved lifestyle. It was extremely difficult to give up all the rice and curry however once Sanj started to see the results coming through weekly, it made it all worthwhile. He has since lost over 37kgs and is extremely happy with his progress, although he has had a slight fallback last year he is now back on the journey and is committed.
In 2016, Sanj spent the year working in Wellington, New Zealand and was asked by his team in ANZ to come play some reserve grade rugby alongside them. Given his current healthy lifestyle, he was actually able to put on the boots again after 12 years and enjoyed running around the field playing for Poneke Panthers (with his work peers on the same team). One defining moment was on the last day in ANZ New Zealand when his manager had a surprise for him. He asked Rodney So’oialo (former AB, Hurricanes player) to come and personally farewell Sanj, (Rodney walked up-to Sanj and personally Said “Hi Sanj, I hear that you are leaving us in NZ and I wanted to say Thank you”) followed by his team doing the HAKA. This was an out of this world, unforgettable and a very emotional experience. “Rodney got a big hug from Sanj” He never looked back since.
Sanj then returned to Melbourne and desperately looked for a rugby club to continue playing and was introduced to the Melbourne Gerries by an ANZ work colleague. This will be the third year playing for the Melbourne Rugby Club and in the VIC Masters where he has thoroughly enjoyed the culture, family atmosphere, mateship, genuine willingness to help each other and ultimately have a good time. Sanj has played a few games for the Old Blacks and filled in for the mighty Baa Baa’s as well. One of his key highlights was actually doing the HAKA with the team for the first time in his life. Last year, Sanj had a personal loss where one of his Maori sisters (sister’s from another mother) lost her beautiful 19 year old daughter. She is family and we are all still missing her dearly. The day after her loss, he still played in the Bloody Slow Cup for the Old Blacks, where he dedicated the game to her unexpectedly. The HAKA that was performed before the game was very emotional as there was a deeper meaning that normal to him personally. He played the game in her honor and was happy to be nominated player of the match that day – Sanj was proud to say “That was for her”. Playing rugby for the VIC Master helps him forget everything else for 60 minutes and focus on teamwork while simply enjoying rugby with an amazing group of people. #Rugby4Life
Sanj is thankful and is fortunate to be supported by his amazing wife Lucky who has always been a pillar of strength for him, a caring and supportive part of his journey in rugby and life. He would not be where he is today without her. “Thank you for everything that you do”
An interesting fact – Sanj and Lucky have always worked together for the same organization since they first met. They started their first job together in HSBC Sri Lanka (Where they met and got married) and have worked for Coles Supermarkets and then ANZ across Australia and New Zealand together ever since.
Sanj has a bid going to watch the All Blacks during the next Rugby World cup in Japan in 2019 and is hoping to get through the draw