Dateline: 10th April, 2011
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were keen to test themselves against Tokyo Cup Division 1 opposition, in preparation for the upcoming Tokyo Cup, and NSC Ruggers were just the type of team to fill the bill. The Yanokuchi Field, was seriously lacking water, despite being a hop, skip and jump away from the Tamagawa river. In fact it is in the worst condition it has been in for 10 years. (Apparently a lack of powerful typhoons, which usually cause the river to break its sides, led to no seeding of grass last year).
The game kicked off and was full of action from the get go. Problem was it was difficult to find the ball in all the dust. It must be said that the referee did a good job to spot ruck infringements as from the sideline it was a complete mystery. The forwards must also be complimented for choosing to play a pick and drive game as the constant dust made it quite a challenge.
The first try of the match went to Gaijin flanker Alex Glover who made a powerhouse run of about 25 metres to the tryline, busting a few tackles along the way. The try was converted to get the Gaijin off to a good 7 v 0 start.
Toshi Miyano was to score the other try after a flowing team move propelled the team downfield. Some quick phase ball caught the opposition napping and with numbers to spare he was able to improve the position for the kicker. However, for every try that the Gaijin managed to create the opposition responded. By the end of the half NSC Ruggers had also nabbed 3 themselves, generally out wide through flimsy back defense. So with the score 21 v 14 to the NSC Ruggers at halftime some stern words were said and tactics changed.
The Gaijin would go on to outpoint the NSC Ruggers in the second half 4 tries to 1. The game plan for the second half was based around a strong pick and drive game. Shinichiro Nakayama was awarded for a tireless effort in the rucks and mauls with a double after coming on at halftime. Other tries went to Charles Joffre and Ken Asakura. Joffre's try came after Joffa Harris had busted 3 tackles on a 20 metre run then offloaded as he was brought down in a tackle by the fullback. All Joffre had to do was catch the ball and stride over. Despite a juggle he managed to dot the ball down and redeem himself for a simple drop earlier with the line wide open. It was to be the only try not converted in a good day with the boot. Asakura's try came after Aaron Nutsford snuck out of a ruck and found no-one in front of him except the fullback. Nutsford drew and offloaded and Asakura did the rest to cap off a fine game of support play and tenacious pick and driving. The final score was 38 v 26 to the Gaijin and would have been even more entertaining if there was not so much dust floating around.
The win should be credited to the Gaijin's powerful forwards. The scrum was outstanding and constantly overpowered the NSC Ruggers. New boy, prop Yuichi Ideguchi, was a rock in the scrums and one off the ruck. Fellow newcomer, Takuya Hayakawa, was also in the thick of things in the second half and played well except for a dropped ball over the NSC Ruggers tryline. The pick and drive game employed by the forwards was first class with Ken Asakura, Shinichiro Nakayama and Liam Ramshaw leading the way. Ken Asakura had his best game since joining the Gaijin at the beginning of the season and added energy and enthusiasm around the ruck. He was awarded the Man of the match award for his high workload.
SCORE: TGRFC 38 ( Shichiro Nakayama 2, Alex Glover 1, Toshi Miyano 1, Charles Joffre 1 tries, 5/6 conversions ) NSC Ruggers 26 (4 tries, 3/4 conversions)
Man of the Match: Ken Asakura
TOKYO GAIJIN RFC TEAM:
1. Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Yuichi Ideguchi (Japan)
4. Jesse Takahashi (USA)
5. Dave Richards (Wales)
6. Alex Glover (England)
7. Dave Kelver (USA)
8. Joffa Harris (Australia)
9. Alaister Nimmo (C) (England)
10. Toshi Miyano (Japan)
11. Brian O'Brien (USA)
12. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
13. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)
14. Charles Joffre (France)
15. Blake Walker (NZ)
Reserves: Takuya Hayakawa (Japan); Natsuhiko Kunitomo (Japan), Takeshi Koba (Japan), Shinichiro (Japan), Akio (Japan), Tristan O'Connor (Australia); Yamagen (Japan), Aaron Nutsford (NZ)