Date: 28th April, 2013

Well, what a week it has been. Whew! The Tokyo Gaijin trained intensely twice this week. On Tuesday it was a few hours in the gym followed by an intense fitness session and then a team run incorporating some new backline moves. The coach would then put it up on the big screen at the stadium and show the players where they were going wrong. Afterwards it was into the ice tubs. On Thursday it was a full team run, with the A team and the B team going full blast at each other in some opposed training. Then it was onto the massage tables as they listened to the team nutritionist go over good eating habits and some fresh recipes. I wish!

In reality it was a lot different. I, being the team manager, sent out the details on Tuesday for the game this weekend, a Round 2 Tokyo Cup clash with Olivers RFC. As usual I got responses from 5 or 6 guys - the same 5 or 6 that are usually prompt and make my week easier. I learn that our key prop is out with a knee injury sustained in the last game, and with our other top prop out, also with a knee injury, and two other good props unavailable due to work, we will be down to our 5th and 6th choices.

By Wednesday I also find out that one of our backs that can cover almost any position in the backline, and is one of our best tacklers, is out due to a concussion sustained in the last game.I'm still waiting for a lot of the team to respond as we couldn't field a full team yet.

By Friday I start to get a trickle of e-mails confirming participation in the game. It looks like we will get a team togther afterall. Not surprising really when we have 57 registered players.

But another prop is out due to work commitments. That means we are down to our 6th and 7th choices. Looks like  we will have to call on a hooker who can play loose head prop, who has never played for us before but was registered for the Tokyo Cup on the off chance that something like this would happen.

Some good news finally when three of our better backs, not present in our big loss in the first round, e-mail me and tell me they will be able to play. The ex-captain and backline general though, won't be able to make it due to his wife's birthday. He must have just remembered on Friday evening. I want to tell him that there are 8766.1536 hours between now and her next birthday that he can show his love. I decide to let it be and let the smitten couple celebrate her increase in age.

By this stage I am losing more of the little hair I have left and swearing like John Malkovich,

At running group on Friday night we get a huge attendance of 3 people....and one who comes right near the end, so he can drink some beers with us I suspect. Despite my 'fitter people do more' mantra attendances have been poor of late as it is a 'choice' thing and attendance is not compulsory. Ideally we would like to train through the week but with everyone having different jobs and different demands on their free time it is just not possible. We train on Sundays when we don't have games....and it often shows.

On Friday night I find out that one of our locks is probably out due to a training camp. On Saturday he confirms this. Great! Now our forward strength is being stretched to the limit, after losing arguably our best lock. And with our other key lock and captain out with cracked ribs things are not looking good. By Saturday night, after work, I decide to e-mail a couple of players who have not responded to my original e-mail as we do not have a full reserve bench yet. One flanker apologises and says he will be there. And around midnight the reserve hooker confirms his attendance. A piece of good news though, a lock who plays University rugby in Japan and occassionally for us when he can make it out, will be available to play if needed.

We all meet at Nishi Kasai at 10:30am. There are plenty of helpers and supporters which is good news. Another lock/loose forward, who doesn't know how to use the 'Enter' button on his computer, has showed up. Sorry, but we have already decided on the squad. You will pay for your indiscretion and hopefully learn how to respond to e-mails. It is the second game in a row afterall that you have failed to respond and I do not have ESP! The usual suspects are late but we manage to get to the field in plenty of time and go through the rigmarole that is the Tokyo Cup. First we are lined up, scrutinized like Michael Jackson in a kindergarten, with a dress check, nail check and so on. Then we have to listen to the referee go over the rules for about 10 minutes as they like to do in Japanese amateur rugby. Then it's time to warm up. But there is no space to warm up! The small patch of grass that we used last time (we are playing on top of a sewerage works by the way, yes, on the second floor!) is taken over by some baseball kids. We are not allowed to use a ball there anyway. In case we break some grass I guess. So we warm up in the in-goal area of the field that is being played on.

Just after half time our reserve hooker sets a first by taking off. That's right. He just leaves and goes home. Something to do with being unhappy about not getting on the field earlier. Never seen that before. We try to get 'friendly' games all the time to give 'fringe' players more game time but some people are impossible to please.

I injure my knee 10 minutes into the second half and need to be replaced. I was pretty buggered anyway. I hope it's not serious. I scored two tries which is very rare but something to cheer me up in such a miserable week.

And the result? A heartbreaking loss by two points after leading the game for 79 minutes. I feel like shooting the two players that missed the tackle. Hardly surprising result after a less than ideal build up through the week for such an important match. Now we find ourselves in a relegation match to decide if we stay in First Division or go down to Second Division.

Time for some free-flowing amber liquid and a night of debauchery to drown our sorrows after a week from hell. Let's hope it gets better !