A look at what went down through 2008.
The calendar year started with one last match to play in the Shuto League against Koganei. While we had already sewn up the 2007 Championship, we still wanted to close this one out and go undefeated if at all possible. We managed to fall asleep at that wheel on this day but it served as a great warm up for our match against cross-town rival YCAC the following week. We went down against YCAC by 8-14 but were heartened by the effort, with the referee missing two tries by the Gaijin that even - in the bar later on - our opposition admitted they were lucky to escape from.
In February and we played in the Champions League against the Championship winning teams of other Autumn season competitions around Tokyo. We won our first match (over Ichihara, Chiba League) 43-19 but lost our second 5-12 to the Blackeye's (Edogawa League) who pulled it out with a try in the dying stages.
Ending February we held the AGM where a new Captain (Murray Clarke) and Vice-Captain (Matthew Downer) were elected (Al Nimmo stepping down through work commitments), along with Co-Managers (Clarke and Erin Hughes) to assist Joffa Harris and Jesse Takahashi.
At the Shuto League Closing Ceremony Apisai Bati, our long serving Fijian center, was named MVP for the Shuto League and the following week we went up against the Japan National Deaf Representative Team known as the All-Quiet Typhoon, where we won in an enjoyable running game 48-19. Meanwhile in Manila, keeping up with tradition, we were well represented again as one of the most festive teams in the Manila 10's competition despite bowing out in the Plate Quarters as certain players had arrived to the game direct from the bar.
The Tokyo Cup started with a surprise loss by 13-30 to Fuji Club who we normally beat easily. This served to wake us up and we then won our remaining two pool matches against the Goddamn's (53-13) and the Donkey's (55-5). We met All Jin Jan in our semi-final in a hard fought, mud-bog of a game, winning by a single try 7-0. However we went down to Musashino 22-16 in the final minutes of our final, one of the most exciting matches played in recent memory with the Gaijin having scored in the dying stages to regain the lead but only to lose it one last time as the clock wound down. We had to wait several weeks before we played our promotion/relegation match against Rokko East, where again we went down in the final minute of the match for a final score of 20-24. A full score board of results for the Tokyo Cup 2008 can be found here: click here
Going into the summer we had the Urayasu 10's Tournament, featuring teams from the two Shuto League Divisions. We started well, winning the first 6 games but lost our semi-final to the Hitotsubashi OB's (Blue Lions). Next up was the trip to Sugadaira for the 10's Festival, where we have been extremely successful in years past. Unfortunately this season we had less luck and ended with 1 win and 2 losses.
The new laws known as the ELV's came into effect for the Shuto League and much was discussed of these. We had the chance to test them in a series of shortened warm up matches against Kichijoji Wild Turkey's and Shinjuku Jack, which were very much fun and a great BBQ was put on by the hosts. The verdict was that the ELV's were to our advantage but really they did not change our game much.
The Shuto League opened with a storm-struck match against the Urayasu Beers and we won on "decision" as, when the lightening storm struck, we were up 12-10. Fuji Club followed and revenge for our big loss during the Tokyo Cup came with a 45-0 drubbing. Tentou Mushi were next and they tested us strongly, requiring a tough final quarter to win 10-7; while it was Koganei who tested us physically once again, though we overcame them 34-22.
In the middle of the Shuto League we played two non-competition games against sides hoping to join the league in the top division from next season: Hitotsubashi University Old Boy "Blue Lions" and a Microsoft company team called the Sharks. We saw off the Sharks 18-12 but struggled for numbers and drew 24-24 with the Blue Lions the following week.
Going into November we and the Gentle Giants were both undefeated and our meeting was expected to be a stern test. However it was the Gaijin who took control early on and pulled ahead as the winners, 24-7. The Giants still had a mathematical chance to take the Championship if we lost our last match against Baku & Clover but this was not to be and we easily took them out, 40-0.
Rounding off the year we beat Idemitsu Oil company's team out in Chiba 34-5 and had a large number of the Gaijin representing the Shuto League in the annually held New Zealand Ambassador's Cup versus the best of the Sun Tama League. Our lads played well and we had two win Player of the Day mentions out of the three matches played.
Overall Season Record: Won: 14 Lost: 6 Drawn: 1
2008 Tokyo Gaijin RFC: Adam Shockley (USA), Akinori Asakuma (Japan), Alaister Nimmo (England), Alexis Ottenwaelter (France), Amir Yassari (Iran/Austria), Andy Ballard (England), Apisai Bati (Fiji), Arthur Strang (England), Blake Walker (New Zealand), Buck Kozlowski (USA), Chris Fearon (New Zealand), Chris Lucas (Australia), Dan Salter (England), David Kelver (USA), Erin Hughes (USA), Garren 'Gaz' Dalrymple (Scotland), Garrett Washington (USA), Hiroyuki 'Hiro' Ikeuchi (Japan), Hitoshi Chihiro (Japan), Ikuo Fukuda (Japan), Jeffrey Takahashi (USA), Jesse Cutler (USA), Jo Iwasaki (Japan), Joe Fisher (New Zealand), Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji), Joffa Harris (Australia), Justin 'Scoobie' Mynah (USA), Ken Kondo (Japan), Kevin Rebay (France), Lawrence Hii (Australia), Lonnie Childress (USA), Matt Downer - VC (New Zealand), Mauro Sauco (Argentina), Mike Tokue (Japan/Scotland), Murray Clarke - C (New Zealand), Niall Conlon (England), Paulo Berriozabal (Basque), Riki Pitter (France), Rob Poulton (England), Rory Brown (South Africa), Ryuta Onoue (Japan), Sean O'Donoghue (Ireland), So Nagashima (Japan), Steven Bull (England), Takayuki Kitajima (Japan), Takeshi Ochiai (Japan), Thomas Jayson 'TJ' Cruz (The Philippines), Toru Kanamori (Japan), Tsumugi 'Aki' Akiba (Japan), Tucker McEwen (USA), William Thompson (Australia), Yoichi Ohira (Japan), Yoshihiro Sato (Japan).
Departures: Garrett Washington (USA), Tucker McEwen (USA), Lawrence Hii (Australia).
Arrivals: Scoob Mynard (USA), Kevin Rebay (France), Rory Brown (South Africa), Saki Naita (Fiji), Thomas Jayson 'TJ' Cruz (Phillipines), Hiroyuki 'Hiro' Ikeuchi (Japan), Ikuo Fukuda (Japan), Amir Yassari (Iran/Austria), Mike Tokue (Scotland/Japan), Tsumugi 'Aki' Akiba (Japan), Hiroyuki 'Hiro' Ikeuchi (Japan), Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji), Takeshi Ochiai (Japan), Alexis Ottenwaelter (France), Ryuta Onoue (Japan).
Returnees: Chris Lucas (Australia), Shin Okazaki (Japan).
Season MVP: Kevin Rebay (France); Runner-Up MVP: Matthew Downer (New Zealand).
Managers: Joffa Harris (Australia), Jesse Takahashi (USA).
Treasury: Steve Bull (England), David Kelver (USA).
Special Thanks: Congratulations to the team, our supporters, medical staff (Yoshi Sato, Shino Iwasaki and Lucy Ballard, especially) and those that helped make it possible with all the off-field work: Jesse Takahashi and Joffa Harris, in particular. A sincere thank you to our sponsor Oakwood Apartments, the above organizers and to our helpers throughout the year, also to Erin Hughes and Mauro Sauco who have done all the work on our website.
Go You Good Thing!