The Tokyo Gaijin RFC managed to get the minimum 10 players together for a crack at the Manila 10's 2013, set for the weekend of March 16th & 17th, but only due to the assistance of the Old Boys network around the world. In fact only 7 members of the team back in Tokyo would be making the tour. This included a herculean effort by Gorka Gerediaga to join the squad at the last minute while fixing up his new visa at the same time. Tour manager Rick Bales had also been working hard behind the scenes to procure two Fijian players from the Fiji Flat Earth Old Boys to give the Gaijin an eventual squad of just 11 players. Fingers crossed there would be no injuries.
The tour did not get off to the greatest of starts when Mauro Sauco (not on the list below), an ex-Tokyo Gaijin player now living in Singapore, checked into the team hotel early in the morning of the Thursday before the tournament only to get a call saying his wife had been rushed to hospital in Singapore. He was back on a plane by 3pm that afternoon with his tour over. By the time he got to the hospital his wife had brought a new addition to his family, a third girl. So while it wasn't a great start for the Tokyo Gaijin RFC, losing a player from their already small squad, it was a great start to the weekend for Mauro and wife Mizue.
Later that day, Joffa, Peter, Rick and Phil got to meet the newest addition to the Tokyo Gaijin ranks, Mauro's team mate from Singapore, Duncan Foster.....a handy loose forward.
By Friday evening the whole squad had assembled in Manila and had a team dinner and Rule Rehearsal at the Woodsman's Head, the Brittish style pub and restaurant that sponsored the team this year. Then it was onto a few more bars for beers and giggles. The guys were fairly sensible and not too many could be found on the streets after 2a.m.
DAY 1 - SATURDAY, 16TH MAY
Game 1 - versus Arabian Pot-bellied Pigs 25 v 0 win (Joffa Harris 3, Leone Tuisolia 1, Peter Harris 1 tries, Gorka 0/5 goals)
Joffa Harris, playing at hooker, scored the first two tries down the flanks, showing surprising pace. It was then centre Leone Tuisolia's turn to score up the middle of the ruck. Peter Harris, playing at halfback, then scored his first try for the Gaijin after 7 Manila 10's tours. I'm sure he was chuffed to finally cross the white line. Joffa Harris scored the last one of the game giving him a hatrick, perhaps his first hatrick in any form of rugby. The plan to spin it wide and out-run the bigger pot-bellied pigs worked a charm. There was also some great defense from Phillip Ferreia and Richard O'Shea.
Game 2 - versus Nomads Carabaos 14 v 10 win (Duncan Foster 1, Gorka Gerediaga 1 tries, d. Foster 2/2 goals)
The Gaijin did not start too well in this game and found themselves 10 v 0 down early to the Tournament host's second team. Duncan Foster finally got the Gaijin on the scoreboard after running a nice inside line off centre Joffa Harris, who had been put into a gap by a pin-point pass from Hitoshi Chihara, who held up the defense. Foster scored next to the posts and then easily converted his own try to get the Gaijin back in the game. After the bell, and three consecutive penalties, Gorka Gerediaga smashed over through a tackle to win the game for the Gaijin. It was Gorka's first try for the club, having had no luck in Tokyo thus far.
Game 3 - versus Brisbane Warriors Win on forfeit.
With the Brisbane Warriors failing to show for the 10's, each team in the pool was set to play a scratch team and still get the points and a 20 v 0 win whether they won or lost. With the Gaijin team starting to suffer various injuries, including 7 stitches to the head of Leone Tuisola from the previous game, the Gaijin arranged the cancellation of the next game. The Tournament committee didn't seem to mind too much as this allowed them to get back on schedule. The hope was that the players could refresh in the pool and probably suck down a few cold ones and just enjoy the afternoon and the rugby spectacle on display.
The Gaijin ended up finishing top of the second division pool and as luck would have it, were set to play the Nomads Carabaos again at 8:45am Sunday morning. Though the game had been tough the Gaijin knew they could win it as they had done previously that day.
DAY 2 - SUNDAY, 17TH MAY
The Gaijin gathered in the lobby of their hotel at 6:30am for a quick breakfast and then it was onto the bus at 7:15am. Only problem was that the two Fijian guys weren't anywhere to be seen. A quick check at their hotel also didn't bear fruit.
By the time the Gaijin got to the ground they only had 5 injury-free players with Rich O'Shea out with rib and back problems, Rick Bales out with a swollen ankle (and a shopping fetish), and Peter Harris and Hitoshi Chihara out with leg problems, and no Fijians to be seen. What's more, the two Japanese players that played for the local Japanese team the Manila Happons, that had been lined up to help the team out the day before were also unsighted.
Luckily, with the help of tournament organizers a few local boys came and joined in the warmup to make a full squad and 10 minutes before kickoff, the two Happons, Tomohiro Setoguchi and Tsunaki Tanaka showed up. Full squad...game on!
QUARTER FINALS - versus Nomads Carabaos 12 v 10 loss. (Phillip Ferreira 1, Joffa Harris 1 tries, Duncan Foster 0/2 goals)
The Gaijin got off to a perfect start with good defense keeping the Carabaos (Water Buffalo in Philippino) locked into their own half. A nicely taken intercept by Phillip Ferreira about 15 metres out from the Carabaos tryline saw him score under the posts. Unfortunately, Duncan Foster, who had kicked very well thus far, failed with the conversion and this would come back to haunt him and the team. The 5 v 0 score line held until halftime, but it was to be the Carabaos that would score next and leave the game level at 5 v 5 after missing the conversion. By this stage Fijian Leone Tuisolia had turned up and joined the fray. From the kickoff Foster went with a cheeky kickoff to the opposite side of the field (non-forwards side). Gorga Gerediaga managed to show good hands to pick up the ball on the run and make good ground upfield. He passed it inside to Joffa Harris as he was tackled and Joffa ran the final 10 metres to score and put the Gaijin back in front. The conversion was again missed leaving the Gaijin to defend a slender lead of 10 v 5 for the last 4 minutes of the game. Unfortunately the Carabaos were hell-bent on revenge for the loss the day before and put together a strong final few minutes. It was made worse when Gorka Gerediaga spilled the kickoff, taking the gloss off his good work in the previous try, which immediately got the Carabaos on the attack in a good field position. Then the Gaijin were penalised for not having a scrum ready to go when the opposition was, after a mix up on the sideline (piss-poor managing fellas!). The Carabaos scored in the last minute after a few missed tackles (Yes, you were one of them Joffa!) and converted and the locals won the game 12 v 10 to break the hearts of the Tokyo Gaijin RFC.
The rugby was over for the players but all was not lost. There was some good rugby on display as the finals came around and free food and beers at the Woodsmen's Head / JEC tent. A swim at the pool was also rejuvenating for the players and then some kava with the Fiji Flat Earth Old Boys team. The afternoon and night became a blur as the amber liquid took centre stage and the neon lights of Makati beckoned.
The Tokyo members of TGRFC would like to thank the boys who came form overseas (and not the homeland) for their efforts in Manila, and their desire to help us end up with a full squad. So a big thanks to Duncan Foster coming from Singapore, Peter Harris coming all the way from England, Mauro Sauco for at least making the effort to come from Singapore and the two guys coming from Fiji, Leone Tuisolia and Savenaca Tamani. We would also like to thank Manila Hapon members Tomohiro Setoguchi and Tsunaki Tanaka for helping us when injuries started to put a dint in our squad size.
The members of the team below would like to thank our sponsors, the WOODSMAN'S HEAD and JEC for their generous sponsorship of the team for the Manila 10's 2013. The team also enjoyed the facilities provided in our sponsor's tent with free hamburgers, hotdogs and drinks.
TEAM: Richard O'Shea (c) (Wales), Rick Bales (Canada), Joffa Harris (Australia), Peter Harris (Australia), Phil Ferreira (Southh Africa), Hitoshi Chihara (Japan), Duncan Foster (England), Gareth Palmer (Wales), Gorka Gerediaga (Basque), Leone 'Leo' Tuisolia (Fiji), Savenaca 'Wanga' Tamani (Fiji), Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan), Tsunaki Tanaka (Japan)