Dateline: 3rd November, 2013
The annual Tour to Yamanashi turned into a bi-annual tour this year with the Tokyo Gaijin RFC making their second trip up to Yamanashi. A squad of 19 players gathered at Yanokuchi at 8am for the 3 hour bus trip out to the green hills of Yamanashi. There were three halves (thirds?) of rugby waiting to be played with the Gaijin playing Daen RFC first up, then Ashitaka RFC and then a combination of the two, called the Mt Fujis. The first two halves would be split with a half between the Daen and Ashitaka Clubs.
Half 1 v Dean RFC
The Gaijin started well and should have scored early but a knock-on on the tryline by captain Richard O'Shea started what would become a bumbling first half for the Gaijin. The referee also failed to manage the game and was quick to whistle any penalty rather than playing the advantage or using more common sense.
Daen were first to score when a missed tackle in the outside backs saw them sprint across the line to score. The conversion from wide out on the right failed, to leave them with a 5 v 0 lead.
Joffa Harris got the Gaijin back in the lead when he broke a tackle to stroll over the line and score and with Mosese Rarasea's conversion it was now 7 v 5 to the Gaijin.
Daen scored the next two tries when the Gaijin line defense was just too passive. They then led 17 v 7.
Mosese Rarasea got the last points of the game when he powered over for a try.
Errors from both sides and the referee's constant whistling didn't help the flow of the game. Arthur Levula, now a local in the area after having moved out of Tokyo, was surprisingly one of the culprits with slippery hands and was later awarded the Gaot of the Match.
SCORE: Daen 17 (3 tries; 1/3 conversions) TGRFC 12 (Joffa Harris 1, Mosese Rarasea 1; M. Rarasea 1/2 conversions)
Half 2 v Ashitaka Club
The Gaijin got off to a good start and found themselves in front 19 v 0 after tries to Tomohiro Setoguchi, Hitoshi Chihara and Lachlan Ainley. It was Setoguchi's first try for the club after joining in April and well deserved for strong, solid play.
Ashitaka stormed back into the match to score three tries themselves but the lack of an accurate kicker and the fact that most of their tries were scored in the outside backs meant they only managed to convert one of their tries leaving the Gaijin with a 19 v 17 win.
There were some moments of good play by the Gaijin but they lacked consistency. The backline defense was quite staggered and needed to comne up as one.
SCORE : TGRFC 19 (Tomohiro Setoguchi 1, Hitoshi Chihara 1, Lachlan Ainley 1 tries; M. Rarasea 2/3 conversions) Ashitaka RFC 17 (3 tries; 1/3 conversions)
Half 3 v Mt Fujis (Ashitaka & Daen Clubs Combined)
The kickoff by the Mt Fujis didn't go 10 metres which gave the Gaijin a scrum on halfway. They then won a penalty from the scrum and Mosese Rarasea put a booming kick inside the Mt Fujis 22 metre area. The Gaijin then won another penalty and a quick tap saw a ruck set up and captain Rich O'Shea pick and drive over the line. 5 v 0 to the Gaijin.
The game commenced in frantic fashion with the Gaijin highlighting their clear attacking intent through successful pick and drives. A big run by Lachlan Ainley chewed up quite a few metres then inside balls from Rich O'Shea and Takashi Tanikawa saw Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka chaarge ovre the line to score. Rarasea converted this one to have the Gaijin out in front 12 v 0.
A good run by Arthur Levula got the Gaijin deep inside their opposition's territory but he ran out of puff. A few rucks later though and fellow Fijian Mosese Rarasea smashed his way over the line to score. He failed to convert his own try. Score 17 v 0.
A big run from Rarasea up the middle from halfway was the catalyst for the next try. He cut back in-field as he knew he couldn't out-run the opposition fullback. The ball was quickly recycled and Richard O'Shea ran the last 10 metres to score. Score 22 v 0 after Arthur Levula missed the conversion.
Richard O'Shea then claimed the kickoff and good hands to the right created some space and Hitoshi Chihara, running a great line, carved up the middle of the opposition's defensive line and raced away to score. Score 27 v 0.
A lovely little loop around by guest player Nori Komatsu, with Jo Iwasaki providing the sweetly timed pop-pass, led to Arthur Levula toying with 3 defenders before scoring in the corner for the next try. Yamagen failed to convert leaving the score at 32 v 0.
Takashi Tanikawa scored the next try for the Gaijin after quick ruck work and then the ball was spun wide for him to outpace the cover defense. the score had now ballooned out to 39 v 0 with Yamagen successful conversion.
The Gaijin would get one more try when good forward work led to Hitoshi Chihara getting his second try with a good charge. Yamagen failed to convert it but the Gaijin were happy with their 44 v 0 lead.
The Mt Fuji's would finally get on the scoreboard but it was too little and far too late. Their tall fullback raced through to score out wide on the right after poor placement of the ball at a ruck (Was it Tomo?) saw it bounce away uncleanly and the a penalty for Alaister Nimmo not coming through the back of the ruck (very doubtful call this one!) saw them spin the ball wide.
The Gaijin had completely dominated the 'third' half. They controlled the breakdown well and retained possession with pick and drives. The sustained pressure led to points and the referee (not the one used in the first two halves) let the game flow and seemed to be much fairer with his interpretations of the rules. The scrum also proved too powerful for the Mt Fuji front row. The Gaijin forwards were the heroes with their commitment around the ruck proving too much for their opposition. Lachlan Ainley had a fantastic game but it was captain and locking partner Richard O'Shea who was awarded the man of the Match for a non-stop effort which included two tries.
Beers and some food were put on by the two local clubs river side. Many thanks to Daen RFC and Ashitaka RFC for their hospitality. On the journey home the boys soaked their weary muscles in an onsen before soaking their blood in beer.
Score : TGRFC 44 (Richard O'Shea 2, Hitoshi Chihara 2, Don Tanaka 1, Mosese Rarasea 1, Arthur Levula 1, Takashi Tanikawa 1 tries; M. Rarasea 1/3, A. Levula 0/2, Yamagen 1/3 conversions) Mt Fujis 5 (1 try, 0/1 conversion)
Man of the Match : Richard O'Shea
Goat of the Match: Arthur Levula
1. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
2. Aurelien Antolinez (France)
3. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. Richard O'Shea (Wales)
5. Lachlan Ainley (Australia)
6. Joffa Harris (Australia)
7. Touch Roy (Australia)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Eamonn Murphy (Ireland)
10. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
11. Ryo Takahashi (Japan)
12. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
13. Arthur Levula (Fiji)
14. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
15. Alaister Nimmo (England)
Reserves used: Andy Tindall (England), Murray Clarke (NZ), Kinta Kaneda (Japan), Yamagen (Japan), Nori Komatsu (Japan) NOTE: Big no.8, Nori Komatsu plays for the Ashitaka Club and filled in for the Gaijin in the 3rd half.