Dateline: June 12th, 2016
No, the Tokyo Gaijin RFC players were not playing out some bizarre fantasy in the bowels of Kabukicho or Roppongi! Nor was this some sadistic pre-game ritual. Girls RFC is another name in a long list of wierd and wierder rugby team names here in Japan.
This match was arranged in the middle of the Tokyo Cup season to give game time to new boys and guys who are still learning the game and regularly "ride the pine". The Tokyo Cup 1st Division is no place to blood new talent or let newbies gain experience. So the Gaijin started this game with what was essentially a 'B' team - rookies, old farts, newbies & a bunch of experienced guys waiting on the bench.
The Gaijin had two two ex-players visiting form overseas in Erin Hughes and Bryan O'Brien and first starts for Thomas Abberton, Yusuke, Hashimoto, Kenichi Muramatsu, and Tomoaki Go. Chris Musgrave also came off the bench for his first Tokyo Gaijin cap. These players were lucky to have Tatsumi Field as their first ground as it is the best we play on in Tokyo and only gets worse from there.
The Gaijin started the match poorly with the inexperience and lack of fitness of the run-on side showing. The team also struggled to gel with so many new faces. The Gaijin were down three tries a quarter of the way into the game after sloppy defense, poor ball control and one-out running had them defending in their own half for most of that time.
The Gaijin finally put a try on the board when new boy Kenichi Muramatsu made a nice break down the flank, passed inside to Joffa Harris and then received the ball back as the covering fullback closed in to shut down the play. He raced the final 20 metres to score. A nice start to his Tokyo Gaijin career.
Even before halftime, the Gaijin had made a few replacements, bringing on a few more experienced guys to provide the level heads needed.
By halftime Girls RFC had scored another try and the TGRFC had got two to make the halftime score 22 v 17 to Girls RFC.
It wasn't a great half of rugby with many of the new guys failing to put their hands up for starts in the Tokyo Cup. With a few more experienced guys around them though, they were starting to show a little more promise, however blanket changes were made at half time.
In the second half the Gaijin ran away with the game, with Girls RFC failing to score a single point, and the Gaijin adding 53 points.
Kenichi Muramatsu scored another try to give him two in his first game for the Gaijin and prop/lock Gorka Gerediaga also scored two. There were 8 other try-scorers for the Gaijin in a game that was far less punishing then the Tokyo Cup fixtures and enabled the team to give newbies and recent bench-sitters valuable game time.
Chris Musgrave, in his first match for the Gaijin, came on 10 minutes before halftime and was heavily involved in both attack and defense and earned Man of the Match honours.
SCORE : TGRFC 70 (K. MUramatsu 2, G. Gerediaga 2, T. Eguchi 1, A. Bati 1, J. Burns 1, T. Tanaka 1, Y. Hashimoto 1, N. Pavesic 1, T. Tanikawa 1, T. Ichizono 1 tries; A. Yamagen 2/3, S. Kaneko 0/1, N. Pavesic 3/5, T. Ichizono 0/3 conversions) GIRLS RFC 22 (4 tries; 1/4 conversions)
Man of the Match: Chris Musgrave
Goat f the Game: Takuya Ichizono (dropped ball over tryline)
1. Natsuhiko Kunitomo (Japan)
2. Thomas Abberton (Australia)
3. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
4. Erin Hughes (USA)
5. Dan Barnett (England)
6. Yusuke Hashimoto (Japan)
7. Yuta Oba (Japan)
8. Joffa Harris (c) (Australia)
9. Takuya Ichizono (Japan)
10. Akira Yamagen (Japan)
11. Bryan O'Brien (USA)
12. Kenichi Muramatsu (Japan)
13. Tomoaki Go (Japan)
14. Taku Eguchi (South Africa/Japan)
15. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
Reserves: Tsunaki "Don" Tanaka (Japan), Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan) , Nik Pavesic (Croatia), Chris Musgrave (Scotland), Takashi Tanikawa (Japan), Apisai Bati (Fiji), Jeremy Burns (USA), Sota Kaneko (Japan), Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)