Dateline: December 13th, 2014
The No.1 annual event on the rugby calendar - the Tokyo Gaijin RFC Christmas Party and Awards night - was held at The Sapporo Beer Station in Ebisu Garden Place on Saturday, 13th December. Seventy guests made up of players, their wives and friends, gathered to enjoy the camaraderie (and tall tales) and see who would be honoured for their services to the team. The event was emceed by team Captain Lachlan Ainley & Liam Ramshaw.
The big winner of the night was Apisai Bati who took out the Most Valuable Player for 2014 and the Top Tryscorer Awards.
Most Valuable Player: Awarded to 44 year old Apisai Bati for a fantastic year in the Tokyo Gaijin rugby jersey. Voted as the MVP by his team-mates, Bati played at a consistently high level throughout 2014. Just like fine wine, he has got better with age. He played a big part in helping the Gaijin go through the Shuto League as undefeated champions. He also did a great job as fill-in captain when both the team's Captain and Vice-captain were struck down with injury mid-year. What's more he topped the try scoring list for 2014. Congratulations for a super standout season Bati !
Most Valuable Player Runner-up: Awarded to Takashi Tanikawa by his team mates for an exceptional season on the rugby field. Takashi was a consistent, industrious performer for the TGRFC from No.8. He made lots of ground every time he ran from the back of the scrum and ended the seasson as one of the team's top tryscorers.
Manager's Award: Awarded to Yoshihiro Sato, by Managers Phillip Ferreira and Ryo Takahashi, for his tireless hard work for the TGRFC. Always dependable, willing and accommodating. Also very tolerant of some of the riff raff around him. Much appreciated by the managers and fellow players for all the little 'odd jobs' he does. Non-Gaijin players (wannabe Gaijins?) Kosuke Yamamoto & Yuji Takaku were also thanked for filling in for the team on the odd occassion the team was short).
Captain's Award: Awarded to Tomohiro Setoguchi, by captain Lachlan Ainley, for his passion and commitment to the team. Tomo loves rugby and this benefits his team mates big time. At every team event and game Tomo is there. Being a front rower, every team would love to have someone like Tomo.
Top Tryscorer: Among the top tryscorers for the Tokyo Gaijin over the past few years have been a string of Fijians and Apisai Bati continued this tradition when he became TGRFC's top tryscorer for 2014. His haul of 18 tries does not include 10's and 7's where he scored more. During the season he also broke a club record with 6 tries in a game (the only other Gaijin try in the game was scored by his 19 year old son Junior).
The top 5 awards are coveted awards but the following five awards were awarded tongue in cheek, with the bottom four being judged undesirable by most and lack any prestige at all.
Pretty Boy of the Year: Awarded to Frenchman Paul Bertier for being prettier than his fellow forwards. His magnetic smile is supposed to attract the ladies too.
Dirtiest Player: Jointly awarded to Sovita Tui and Liam Ramshaw. Sovita was awarded a handful of yellow cards this year for dangerous tackles - high tackles, scrag tackles and not using the shoulders. He spent many minutes on the sideline in the naughty boy's chair. Liam was the only Gaijin player to get a Red Card this year after throwing a handbag at an opposition player during the Tokyo Cup and then doing a tap dance over his body.
Punctuality Award: Awarded to the Nation of Fiji in 2014, they were in the running again but pipped by Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka. Don rarely shows up on time and has been known to be an hour late. He just can't get out of bed on Sunday mornings. How does he keep a job? I'm sure he'll be late to his own funeral. There is some hope though, as towards the end of the season he actually turned up on time for once - shock of the year.
Limp Dick Tackler Of the Year: Awarded to Akira Yamagen for the second year in a row. Yamagen sometimes looks like a bullfighter as he directs his opponents towards his try line. Good at tackling a beer though.
Referee's Best Friend: Awarded to Joffa Harris for the second year in a row in recognition of the great relationship he has with referees. Whether on the field or off it, he can constantly be heard giving the referee "colourful" advice. He was even seen shaking a referee's hand earlier this year - unbelievable!
Special Award for services to Team: Akira Yamagen was given a special award as a token of appreciation for the special service he provides the team. No, it's not what you are thinking! Yamagen attends all the Shuto League meetings and a lot of the Tokyo Cup meetings and is also responsible for arranging fields and referees for the Shuto League. Without him we may not have been able to play the game we love.
*Finally, the team farewelled long time member and treasurer Blake Walker and also Yohann Peyroche who stayed here for a short 6 months. We wish Blake all the best back in New Zealand and hope he can handle going back to school. Yohan is also going back to study, but in his native France. Bon Voyage boys. All the best!
Apisa Bati accepts his MVP Award (Pewter mug and jersey) and completes the traditional beer skull.
Takashi Tanikawa. MVP Runner-up, wearing his award and skulling (from a jug?).
A portion of the attendees, including Paul Bertier (Pretty Boy of the Yaer Award) wearing his prize, a tiara.
Bon Voyage Blake!
Bon Voyage Yohan.
Comparing tall tales?