Dateline: March 16 - 21

The Manila 10s tournament held at the Nomad’s rugby club has become a regular event, and this year was no different. The mails were sent out well in advance, and an eager posse of dedicated rugby players put their names down as keen tourists. As with most years however, realities of finance and time and loving families forced numbers to dwindle. This year saw a cruel twist as the Tohoku Earthquake on the 11th of March and its subsequent tsunami and nuclear concerns meant that not just the TGRFC but the whole of Japan had other things on their minds.

There had been discussions of cancelling the trip altogether, but after some to-ing and fro-ing the team decided to go ahead as planned and raise money for charity via the sale of old team jerseys and club polos donated by team members – the result of this was quite successful, raising a total of Y200,000 (USD2,472) for charity (donated to the Red Cross).

Twelve brave souls donned the tour jerseys, which this year were designed by Lonnie Childress. He had opted for a mauve and violet synthetic material with a gold TGRFC motif – this was a quite a popular look in Milan this year according to Lonnie and he wanted to ensure that the TGRFC would stand out in the crowd as the most stylish team in the competition. The tourists were:

Joffa Harris
Pete Harris
Alaister Nimmo
Lonnie Childress
Chris Lucas
Alex Glover
Ian Roy
Wataru Sato
Gaz Dalrymple
Rick Bales
Mauro Sauco
Bryan O’Brien
Day 1 - Saturday, March 19
Game One - TGRFC vs Cebu Dragons (draw 0 – 0)
The game kicked off past nine in the morning... A nail biting 0 - 0 draw vs old rivals the Cebu Dragons. It was a hectic match with end-to-end action. The home team had most of the possession and in that respect deserved a victory, however with the last phase of the game, the TGRFC were gifted a perfect try scoring opportunity – a ruck in the opposition 22 close to the left touchline. Scrum-half Nimmo passed to flay-half Roy. The Nimmo-Roy combination had been proving a handful all game, and the two managed to draw 3 men, leaving hooker Dalrymple with ample space to beat his man on the outside. But second row Joffa Harris had adopted the wing (not an uncommon position for Harris, particularly at later stages in the game) and was close to the right touchline. Dalrymple, a football player by trade had only one thing in mind – a little “cross field” chip kick to Harris (no less than 5 metres away). The execution of such a move proved difficult however, and the ball never reached Harris… nil all.

Game Two – TGRFC vs Alabang Eagles (defeat 21 – 0)
The second match versus the Alabang Eagles (probably the favorites of the group) saw a 21 - 0 defeat. This was a tough game, but the TGRFC came surprisingly close to scoring on a couple of occasions. It was tighter game and perhaps suited the TGRFC style of play, however lacking in squad depth the Japanese team failed to keep up with Alabang substitutions.

Game Three – TGRFC vs Kowloon (win 19 – 5)
This match was a must with for the TGRFC if they wanted to remain in the plate competition, and they did so in style. The TGRFC took the lead through a Joffa Harris try after picking up a dropped ball and rounding the posts to score, and were always ahead. Harris also scored the next try when he ran to the left of the forwards after a quick penalty tap from Nimmo, broke a tackle, and dived in to score in the corner. But in was in the last phase of the game which saw the try of the day… mistakenly word had been spread that the TGRFC required an 11 point margin victory. It was 12 points to 5 with a TGRFC scrum in the opposition half on the right side. “We have to score in this phase”, and the pressure was on. A successful scrum win saw flay-half Roy with the ball. He drew his man and passed to Childress on the outside. Roy then looped around creating an overlap, a dummy pass to winger O’Brien, and he was in under the posts. It turns out it was an unnecessary try as a victory would have sealed it… but it was a sweet victory nonetheless.

Day 2 - Sunday, 20th March
Game Four, Plate quarter-finals – TGRFC vs Taipei Baboons (defeat 21 – 12)
Saturday night saw the manila tour members with a cup of hot coco tucked up in bed before they got too tired. Thus the sub-par condition of the team on Sunday morning was put down to food poisoning. But there were bigger fish to fry, and the TGRFC had to get their head in the game. The first half saw the opposition with most of possession, and weak tackling from the TGRFC let them down. Two tries were conceded, and reorganization was necessary. The second half saw two TGRFC tries, to Ian Roy and Alaister Nimmo, which made it close… 14 points to 12. Sadly The Taipei Baboons snuck one in to make it 21 - 12. The Taipei Baboons went on to win the Division, so that made the players feel a little better.

It was a good game, and although this meant an exit from the pitch for the Tokyo Gaijin, it was also an entry into the Oakwood Tent (the TGRFC sponsor). The Oakwood tent is the place where dreams are made – beer flowing on tap, and top-notch food.

The touring members would like to thank the tour organizers – Lonnie Childress and Chris Lucas, and the team sponsor – Oakwood.