Dateline: June 3rd, 2012
After the intensity of the Tokyo Cup 1st Division and the disappointment of losing the semi-finals to Tama RFC the Gaijin turned up at Setagaya Field in Futako Tamagawa to participate in the Setagaya 7's mainly looking to enjoy their rugby and have a fun day out. Expectations were not high as the team was missing a few of their 'stars' and Bryan O'Brien, arguably the fastest man in the club, had pulled out in the morning after a week battling a bad cold.Eight teams had gathered to contest the 2012 Setagaya 7's. The Gaijin were set to play three pool games, and then, if they were victorious in every game, they would then play the winner of the other four team pool. The team played under the Phoenix RFC banner, an Old Boys team that some of the senior Gaijin members particpate in regularly. The reason for this was that at the time of registration the Gaijin club didn't know if they would be contesting the Tokyo Cup 1st Division Finals on the same day or not. Having been defeated in the semi-finals particpation was not a problem and the team was only Phoenix by name as all the players were Tokyo Gaijin members (as can be seen on the list below).
The Gaijin, in the yellow Phoenix RFC strip, played the first game of the day and beat the Papas by a score of 14 v 5 with the diminutive Tatsuma Mutou standing out for his excellent tackling and captain Shinichiro Nakayama leading by example with excellent ruck work and good running. The Gaijin led by 14 but let Papas in for the last try showing how quickly you can be under pressure in 7's with any slip-ups. This game also saw the tackle of the day when Mosese Rarasea came flying up out of the line and put on a big hit on his opposite centre and dumped him backwards. The Gaijin also lost Sean Hannon for the day with a concussion after he was tackled rather heavily from behind and hit the deck rather hard and headfirst, which would have been disappointing for the young American in his first year of rugby, having missed the entire Tokyo Cup campaign with an injury. It was also disappointing for the Gaijin as he was probably the fastest player in the squad, but there was no hope of a recovery as he spent the next 30 minutes wondering about the events of the morning and how he had got to the field. So, despite a few hiccups, the Gaijin were off to a good start to the day.
The second game was marginally closer but the Gaijin came out on top with a 12 v 5 victory over Helvas, who had looked like the most dangerous opposition until this stage of the tournament. The Gaijin also got out to an early 12 v 0 lead in this game but a chip over the top from Helvas showed that the Gaijin lasked a bit of pace out wide when their winger easily overtook the Gaijin outside backs to win the race to the ball and race away to score.
In the last pool game, Setagaya Club, in a bright orange strip, got out to an early two try lead but the Gaijin hauled them in with some excellent play with Dave Middleditch and Shinichiro Nakayama sparking a four try comeback, to win the game 26 v 19.
The Gaijin then met MGS (Meiji Graduates) in the final who had also gone through their pool games undefeated and looked like they would be a tough opponent, however the final was a one-way affair with the Tokyo Gaijin RFC running away with a strong 25 v 7 win. Captain Shinichiro Nakayama got them on the board early when Tatsumo Mutou sent the ball to him down a narrow blind. Nakayama beat the defense and raced down the wing and then around to the posts to score. Mutou also got himself amongst the try-scorers with a well-taken try and Mosese Rarasea took an intercept from an attempted long pass to race 40 metres untouched to score. Dave Middleditch got the other two tries with 50 metre efforts as he streaked away from the cover showing good pace.
It is perhaps a little unfair to pick out the better players on the day as everyone played well but David Middleditch, in what was probably his last game for the Tokyo Gaijin RFC before his return to England, played standoff for the day and was top-tryscorer for the Gaijin with 4 long-range tries. He was awarded Player of the Day for his match-winning efforts. Tatsuma Mutou was also a key player with his excellent cover tackles and gap-finding ability and will be pushing captain Alistair Nimmo for the halfback position come September, when the Shuto League campaign kicks off. Another standout was big American lock John Simpson who made some telling tackles and hit the rucks hard.
Hitoshi Chihara was given the Goat of the Day after butchering a certain try in the final. He made a break on halfway and raced away and believing there were no chasers slowed down to a jog as he approached the posts. Having not looked back after initially seeing nobody chasing him he was surprised as he made it to the tryline by a committed player who had decided to give chase and held him up over the tryline. Not only was the embarrassed Chihara the Goat of the Day for the Gaijin, he should have been the Goat of the Day for all teams.
The Gaijin received three new Gilbert rugby balls as the winning team and quite a few free beers. Overall, an excellent day and an excellent result.
V Papas 14 v 5
v Helvas 12 v 5
v Setagaya Club 26 v 19
Final: v MGS 25 v 7
Player of the Day: Dave Middleditch
Goat of the Day: Hitoshi Chihara
TEAM: (in no particular order)
1. Shinchiro Nakayama (c) (Japan)
2. John Simpson (USA)
3. Gaz Dalrymple (Scotland)
4. Liam Ramshaw (England)
5. Gareth Palmer (Wales)
6. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
7. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
8. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)
9. Tatsuma Mutou (Japan)
10. Phillip Ferraira (South Africa)
11. Dave Middleditch (England)
12. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
13. Sean Hannon (USA)
14. Yamagen (Japan)