Dateline: July 31st, 2012

This is the column where you find out what is happening with your team. Read on to find out about the comings and goings nto and from your team, the rumours and innuendo, with a few sprinkles of real news to top it off. This is the first Around the Traps since February 1st so there has been a lot of new players join the team and a lot has happened.

ODDS & ENDs:

* Tokyo Gaijin RFC made it to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Cup 1st Division for the first time in their 21 year history. Unfortunately they went down by one point after a close and uncompromising match with Tama Club who came from behind to clinch it in the end. Koryo Club (a Korean club) won the 1st Division final. The Gaijin actually were a bit surprised by this as they felt the game against them could have been won with a bit more luck and especially because a few key players were missing. Maybe next year.

* TGRFC won the Setagaya 7's in the first year they have participated in it with David Middleditch being the top try-tryscorer and claiming Man of the Day honours.

* Both the Southern Hemisphere TGRFC and the Northern Hemisphere TGRFC failed to get any silverware in the Shuto League 10's but the Southern hemisphere team were impressive in going through the 5 pool rounds undefeated. With only 6 minute matches any mistakes proved costly and this led to the downfall of both teams.

* The Gaijin finished the summer season with a booze cruise around Tokyo Bay. I'm not sure if anyone actually appreciated the Tokyo Bay scenery but the beer outlets were very busy. Everyone had a good time and are thankful for Natsu Kunitomo for his organization of the event.

THE EXPANDING GAIJIN FAMILY:

* Former Gaijin prop Mark Pearson, of American & Canadian heritage, and his lovely wife Polona, have had an addition to their family with the birth of Peter Mark Pearson on may 16th, 2012.

* Ex-Gaijin captain and hooker Toz Togo, brother of the devilishly handsome Yoz Togo, who ocassionally flanks for the Gaijin when he hasn't got family commitments like shopping and painting the bedrooms, had his wedding ceremony on 26th of May, 2012 at Restaurant Ramages in the plush Minami Aoyama district. Everbody enjoyed the night, even Yoz.

* Richard O'Shea and his new wife Hitomi have recently been to Wales to get hitched. Rumours are that there will be a wedding party later in the year in Japan.

* Australian Matt Stride recently got married to his lovely girlfriend of quite a few years, Nadya, and had a reception at The Beer Garden in Ebisu Garden Place. Matt has not been seen on the field for the Gaijin in over 18 months due to a change of jobs and abode. Hopefully with all those things out of the road and the wedding band he will be allowed to come out an dplay soon.

*Captain of the TGRFC, Alaister Nimmo married his long time girlfriend Hannah-Lyn Kochi on the 30th of July in France.  Al had sensibly refrained from rugby in the weeks leading up to his ceremony and was looking positively radiant on his big day.

*It should be duly noted that none of the aforementioned marriages were forced on either of the parties, which is quite a turn for the team.  Well done and may we long continue to be so responsible.

COMINGS AND GOINGS:

GOINGS:

* Englishman David Middleditch returned to his homeland at the end of June after a year in Japan. As mentioned earlier, he top-scored and received Man of the Match in his last day on the field with the Gaijin, He reckons he will be back at the end of the year for a couple of weeks, possibly around the time of the Christmas party. We're looking forward to catching up for a couple of drinks Dave!

* Brendon Doherty will be returning to Australia and with the birth of his 4th child on the way, failed to make an appearance in the Tokyo Cup this year as he was too busy preparing fro departure. Good luck with that tribe of kids Brendon.

* Andrew Fennel's 3 year stint in Japan as part of the American forces came to an end. We hope he continues to play rugby and can only see an upward curve in his rugby development as he cottoned onto the game very quickly.

COMINGS:

* At our first BBQ of the year in July we had 4 newcomers to the team, Lachlan Ainsley, a prop from Sydney Australia (Lachie has alreay impressed with 2 tries in his first two games); Maxwell Manson, a utility back from New Zealand; American Andrew Fennel, who was introduced to the team by fellow US soldier John Herger. As mentioned above, unfortunately Andrew only had 2 games with us. He had never played rugby before and was a quick learner and showed excellent positional sense for one so new to the game. Tomoya, a Japanese halfback also came along but hasn't started a game yet due to other commitments. Apparently he lived in Manila for 7 months and is keen to play in the Manila 10's with the Gaijin.

* Takeshi Kawai has also been with the team for a while now. He used to play professionally with Japanese company team IBM and has also played 2nd grade at Sydney Club, Manly, a grade behind the legendary George Smith. Takeshi can play anywhere in the backline. We are looking forward to Takeshi showing more of his class for the Gaijin.

* Gorka Gerediaga is back with the Gaijin after two years back in Basque country, Spain. He was back in time to play with the Northern Hemisphere team in the Shuto 10's. It's great for the club to have two new reliable props in Gorka and Lachlan to ease the burden on John Herger and Natsu Kunitomo.

* Big Samoan lock Maoula Sega joined the team for the Tokyo Cup. Halfway through the Tokyo Cup he underwent a long overdue shoulder operation so he will not be seen on the rugby field until late 2012. His aim is to make the Samoan team for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Having watched him play he is more than capable of achieving this dream. We wish him the best for the future and hope to see him back on the field for the Gaijin before he leaves Japan.

* Senior Japanese lock Tozo has also said he will be joining the Gaijin for the Shuto League campaign. He's around the Joffa/Bati generation and used to lock horns with them when they represented the Tama league and he repped for the Shuto League. He remembers clearly the shocking language that used to come out of Joffa's mouth on the field.....and that was at least 10 years ago.

RUMOURS:

* The unlucky Simon Palm has been seen at a recent game in the Tokyo Cup with a knee brace. Did he finally get that operation? After a year resting the cartilage problem in his knee, under doctor's advice, he blew it again at his first training run after all that time out. There are high hopes that the German will be back on the field in 6 months. Wishful thinking? There are rumours that if that fails he will join the Bodybuilding Competition Circuit.

* With the recent switching of Nik Pavesic and Sam Deroeck to the Lion Company rugby team all Lion scouts are banned from all Gaijin games and training. It what has been one way traffic the Lion Club have now taken five Gaijin players with not so much as a BBQ in return. Lion are quickly earning the ire of Gaijin management with this selfish approach. In the only positive sign of Nick and Sam's switch, both have said that they will continue to play for the Gaijin whenever possible.

* One of the players mentioned above Sam Deroeck, has had a number of recent surgeries to correct some abnormalities with his structure and physical appearance.  Among the items he selected from the surgery menu  were a replacement knee, wrist strengthening (for what we can only imagine), replacement fingers and some hair transplants.

* If facebook updates are anything to go by we are expecting a streamlined Warren Adamson to be back in the new season.  Regular updates from the Blue Earth Gym have him looking somewhere between Usain Bolt and Fabio.

* Mystery man Andy Ballard has not been seen on the field for the Gaijin since November last year. There were rumours that he had been helping out the Great Britain Olympic team, then others about him actually participating in the Olympics, in perhaps his weakest event, sychronized swimming, but I have received word that he has actually taken up his old love of hiking and camping. He was last seen by my scouts heading out into the mountains with a Grizzly Adams beard, a tent and a sharp knife. Andy, if you are in touch with civilization, we still love you. And so does your mum!

* Dave Kelver has returned to the playing field after 3 or 4 months away. Apparently he escaped from the Afghanistani prison where he was being held disguised as a Taliban warrior.