The first game of the Tokyo Cup in 2010, held on April the 4th,  pitted the Gaijin against Doronco RFC, a team we had beaten comfortably in a friendly game a month or so earlier. Given our propensity to start the Tokyo Cup with a whimper rather than a bang, and the fact that Doronco had only 15 players on board when we had beaten them recently, the senior members of the team had endevoured to expel any complacency that might have existed prior to the game. Sure enough, Doronco looked like a different unit during the dress check, with a number of muscular specimens in attendance that hadn't been there for the game earlier in the season.

Although we suspected it would be a different game to the previous encounter, that's not how things began with the Gaijin running up a 19-0 lead at almost a point a minute. The first try came when Ikuo "sugu iku" Fukuda collected a grubber from standoff Matt Downer and outpaced the defence to go in under the posts. This try came on the back of a very solid Gaijin scrum which was able to push the Doronco forwards off the ball and secure a tighthead (special mention must be made of the tight 5, in particular Tommy Nasuo who was on university holidays from Exeter, Takayuki Kitajima who was on holiday from his wife, and Mauro Sauco who was going on holiday to the Philippines the following week). The Gaijin forward dominance at scrum time was impressive and helped contribute to the next two tries as well. From some more good forward work inside the Doronco 22, the ball was freed to the backs and then on to Joffa Harris (was he shirking his forward duties out in the backline?) who showed good strength to go over in the tackle to score the Gaijin's second try which was also converted by Downer. Score: 14-0 and a rout looked imminent. Soon after, Downer broke some flimsy defence and fed Ikuo Fukuda for him to again "go very quickly" all the way to score in the corner. Fukuda looks like he has gained a yard of pace since last season, something that must surely be attributed to Andy "fitness guru" Ballard's military style fitness training regime. Try unconverted, score: 19-0.

This was when things started to go pear-shaped. Straight from the kickoff, Doronco regained the ball and spread it wide through their speedy backs to go over and reply with an unconverted try of their own. Score: 19-5. It was like the Gods of Rugby had had enough of the Gaijin dominance and leant an invisible hand to the Japanese team because for the remainder of the game (a good 45 minutes or so), the Gaijin hardly touched the ball unless it was to put boot to it. Tackle after tackle was made and penalty after penalty was dished out by the referee, keeping us pinned deep in our own half. It certainly was the best possible form of tackling practice albeit in a "live" situation. Despite giving away so many penalties, the Gaijin kept their cool and refused to let Doronco break their defenses. Even Basque firebrand de Berriozabal managed to keep his temper in check although maybe this was because he was suffering from a cold and really didn't have the energy to complain.

Although everyone who got on the field put their hand up on defence, two players really stood out; they were "Big" Rich O'Shea at lock and "Little" Joe Iwasaki at centre. Both of these two have been working hard on their fitness and it certainly showed with Welshman O'Shea omnipresent throughout the game and Iwasaki pulling off a number of big hits, some of them try-saving. These two were jointly awared "man of the match". Mention should also be made of Mike Ryan at fullback who made some good runs and also managed to singlehandedly hold up a big Doronco forward over the line.

Final Score: 19-5
Tries: Ikuo Fukuda (2), Joffa Harris
Conversions: Matt Downer 2/3
Men of the Match: Rich O'Shea and Joe Iwasaki
Goat of the Match: Rory Brown for drinking from 7am until "I can't remember" the day before the game at Hanami and turning up late

Team list:

1. Tomofumi Nasuno (Jp)
2. Tomo Togo (VC) (Eng)
3. Taka Kitajima (Jp)
4. Rich O' Shea (Wales)
5. Mauro Sauco (Arg)
6. Dave Kelver (US)
7. Paulo De Berriozobal (Basque)
8. Joffa Harris (Aust)
9. Rory Brown (Scot)
10. Matt Downer (C) (NZ)
11. Daisuke Ikegami (Jp)
12. Hitoshi Chihara (Jp)
13. Joe Iwasaki (Jp)
14. Ikuo Fukuda (Jp)
15. Mike Ryan (NZ)
16. Warren Adamson (SA)
17. Chris Lucas (Aust)
18. Bati Apisai (Fiji)
19. Rikki Pitter (SA)
20. Matt Stride (Aust)
21. Charles Joffre (France)
22. Junnosuke Nakamura (Jp)