Having not lost to All France in around 15 years, the Gaijin certainly did not expect the almighty bumshellacking they received at the hands of the French on a grey Sunday afternoon in February.
Resting some key members and fielding a largely experimental side should not hide the fact that the Gaijin were completely outplayed and out passioned by an All France team that played with skill and committment despite having only 15 playing members present on the day.
In fact, one Gaijin member did turn out for the winning side on the day. Following a bloodbinning of one of the All France forwards, Blake Walker donned a black jersey and went into battle for the opposition, earning the considerable ire of his team mates in the process but ensuring that All France maintained a full contingent of players on the field.
Joffa Harris, playing at standoff, was awarded "Goat of the Match" for an attempted cross field kick that ended up going backwards (although it must be said that Joffa made a reasonable fist of his time at standoff other than this appalling effort). Rob Poulton, who smelt like he had taken a case of beer to an alcohol distillery and spent the night there, bathing in one of the distillery tanks while knocking back the beer, narrowly escaped the goat award by coming alive in the last quarter of the game and making some bullocking runs (although it may have been the fumes emanating from his body that temporarily intoxicated the opposition, allowing him to pass by with relative ease). Also in line for the goat was our very own Frenchman Charles Joffre whose impressive form and progression of late seemed to stall when he was forced to play against his countrymen. Despite being a tall man of at least 6-foot, Charles (or Chabal as he is lovingly known) was unable or unwilling to compete for a high ball against the All France winger who was a good 25cms shorter than he. The impressive young winger scooted away after claiming the ball and was only just brought down close to the try-line by a desperate covering tackle. In weighing up the indiscretions of the 3 candidates in line for the goat award, many factors were taken into account but ultimately it was the unwillingness of Mr. Harris to accept he had done anything wrong that clinched the award for him.
The final score was something like 35 points to 7, with the Gaijin's only try coming from try-scoring freak Bati Apisai, who along with countryman Joe Vandell, entered the fray at half-time and worked hard to limit the damage inflicted by the frogs. Other than the two Fijians, Erin Hughes was the only other player worth mentioning and he was duly awarded man of the match. Hughes fought hard all day making tackles, hitting rucks, running the ball up hard, and contesting the lineouts. It was just reward for the 37 year old veteran who continuously gives his best for the team on and off the field.
Goat of the Match: Joffa Harris
Man of the Match: Erin Hughes
1. Warren Adamson (South Africa)
2. Tomo Togo (Japan)
3. Rob Poulton (England)
4. Richard O'Shea (Wales)
5. Erin Hughes (USA)
6. Takashi Narita (Japan)
7. Toru Kanamori (Japan)
8. Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
9. Junnosuke (Japan)
10. Joffa Harris (Australia)
11. Charles Joffre (France)
12. Andy Ballard (Eng)
13. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)
14. Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
15. Brian O'Brien (USA)
Reserves: Mark Scott (USA), Yoz Togo (Japan), Apisai Bati (Fiji), Daisuke Ikeda (Japan), Joe (Fiji), Isaac Law (USA)