The Tokyo Gaijin RFC entered two teams into their first attempt at winning the Edogawa 7's. For the first time ever the Gaijin decided to go with a 'Locals' team and an 'Aliens' team with all their Japanese players in the former and all the foreigners of the squad in the second team. With 16 teams competing they would be doubling their chances of silverware.
Game 1: v Goddams
The Aliens started the tournament off with an excellent win against Goddams (the winners of the Shuto 10's last year) with a 40 v 5 flogging. First half tries to Apisai Bati and Phillip Ferreira and a conversion had the Gaijin out to a 12 v 0 lead at halftime. Bati's try came from a clever dart up the blind from a scrum and Ferreira's try came after he followed Sam Deroeck on a 50 metre angled run. Deroeck was tackled just short of the tryline but managed to pop the ball up to Ferreira who was rewarded for good support play.
The second half started with another Gaijin try when Gareth Palmer swerved his way through the defense and scored under the posts.Mosese Rarasea converted to make the score 19 v 5. Goddamns finally got on the board with a try but then it was all back to the Gaijin with three more tries for a comprehensive win.
Paulo de Berriozabal got the next one, and the last try of the game with strong bruising running and even converted his last one. In between Mosese Rarasea made good yards on a charge to spilt the defense and race away to score.
Result: TGRFC Aliens 40 (Paulo de Barriozabal 2, Apisai Bati 1, Phillip Ferreira 1, Gareth Palmer 1, Mosese Rarasea 1; A. Levula1/2, M. Rarasea 3/3, P. de Berriozabal 1/1 conversions). Godamns 5 ( 1 try, 0/1 conversions)
Won on forefeit. Not sure who the opposition was but they were obvioulsy running scared. Looking back, though, perhaps the Aliens needed to play to stay in the groove.
Game 3: Semi Final : v Softbank.
Softbank was a well drilled team and played 7's more like touch, avoiding contact as much as possible but still getting into rucks quickly and fighting for the ball, something they did much better than the Gaijin. The referee was very officious and wanted people to know that he was out there on the field and the Gaijin were soon in trouble with Mosese Rarasea getting a yellow card for a high tackle and two minutes in the bad boy's chair (sinbin). To be fair to Rarasea it was a around the chest, but it was a big hit and the ball carrier crumpled, which made it look bad. Just a great tackle in my (one-eyed) book. Rarasea got himself an instant 'Goat of the Day' award.
Apisai Bati should have scored the first try or at least passed to an unmarked Nic Pavesic outside him but chose to 'hog' the ball. He was caught in a tackle just before the line and chose to throw a no-look pass back inside...straight into the hands of a Softbank player. They quickly made their way upfield and scored less than 30 seconds later. Bati was given one of the 'Goat' awards for the terrible play.
Sam Deraock restored some order for the Aliens when Nic Pavesic put him into a hole and he raced 75 metres to score untouched. With Rarasea's (now back on the field) conversion the score was 7 v 7.
The Aliens began to crumble though and let the referee's decisions get to them. Softbank ended up getting two more well-worked tries. They were quicker to the breakdown and made some good steals. They also tackled well.
The last two minutes were ferocious with the Aliens smashing into players with the ball and rucking furiously. The Softbank team never gave any quarter though and held on to win. The Aliens should have got at least one more try but Arthur Levula who was heading for the line believed that he was out of gas and would be caught by his chaser so he chose to throw a long inside ball to Gorka Garediaga running down the middle of the field. The pass wasn't the greatest and Gerediaga put it down to finish off a poor effort by the Aliens. Maybe they were too confident? Too casual? There was a lot of blaming of the referee after the game, some of it justified, but at the end of the day Softbank were just too good, too committed and well-drilled at 7's.
Result: Softbank RFC 17 ( 3 tries, 1 conversion) TGRFC Aliens 5 (Sam Deroekc 1 try, M. Rarasea 0/1 conversions)
Game 1: v Sunmails
In a game where they didn't care if they won or lost so that they could avoid the tougher side of the draw the Locals ran away with a big win. Natsu Kunitomo surprised all when he ran (waddled?) down the blind to go over for the first try. Guest player Yoshiaki Norifumi got the next one and then Kunitomo double surprised onlookers when he dummmied his way over the tryline again. Another guest player in Takehito Takizawa scored the next one to give them a healthy lead at halftime.
In the second half the Locals scored three more tries, one each to Kimi Shimizu, Takeshi Ochiai and shinchiro Nakayama. Their opposition managed to get one too, making the final score 39 v 7. The three guest players in Kimi Shimizu, Yoshiaki Norifumi and Takehito Takizawa had a big impact on the game and those two Natsu Kunitomo tries will be talked about for a long time.
Result: TGRFC Locals 39 ( Natsu Kunitomo 2, Yoshiaki Norifumi 1, Takehito Takizawa 1, Kimi Shimizu 1, Takeshi Ochiai 1, Shinichiro Nakayama 1 tries; 2/7 conversions to Yamagen?) Sunmails 7 (1 try, 1/1 conversions)
Game 2: v Supermen RFC
Facing a much stiffer opposition this time in Supermen RFC the Gaijin Locals signed up a couple of Gaijin Aliens to help out and this proved to be thee most excting game of the day.
Supermen RFC scored three first half tries to just the one to the Locals to take a comfortable 19 v 7 lead into halftime. Alien Sam Dereock had scored a lovely 55 metre try for the 'Locals' points with Hitoshi Chihara converting.
The Gaijin started the second half brightly and full of purpose and were rewarded with a nice try to Gareth Palmer (yet another Alien). Takehito Takizawa made it a nail-biting finish when he got his second try of the day, which was converted by Arthur Levula to make it all even. Unfortunately the 'Locals' couldn't hold out their opposition who scored a final try and converted making the final score 26 v 19.
Result: Supermen RFC 26 (4 tries, 3/4 conversions) TGRFC Locals 19 (Sam Dereock 1, Gareth Palmer 1, Takehito Takizawa 1, H, Chihara 1/1, A. Levula 1/2 conversions).
The Gaijin had performed well throughout the day, all perhaps except for the Aliens game against the Softbank side. They let the referee get to them and were outplayed at the ruck and chose silly options when try-scoring opportunities presented themselves. Over confidence may have been the culprit.
No silverware but the boys enjoyed a few beers at the lovely Kasai Rinkai Koen station frontage.
Man of the Match: Sam Deroeck (Aliens) & Natsu Kunitomo (Locals)
Goat(s) of the Match: Apisai Bati & Mosese Rarasea
Locals: Natsu Kunitomo, Shinichiro Nakayama (c), Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan), Hitoshi Chihara, Takeshi Ochiai, Ikuo Fukuda, Ryogo Takemura, Tomofumi Nohara, Kimi Shimizu, Takehito Takizawa, Yoshiaki Norifumi, Yamagen, Masamichi Itagaki
Aliens : John Herger (USA), Nik Pavesic (Croatia), Gorka Gerediaga (Basque), Andy Tindall (England), Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque), Richard O'Shea (c) (Wales), Gareth Palmer (Wales), Aurelien Anatolinez (France), Apisai Bati (Fiji), Arthur Levula (Fiji), Mosese Rarasea (Fiji), Phillip Ferreira (South Africa)