The TGRFC has traditionally played in the Tama League but due to that League`s poor organization in recent years we decided to change to the Shuto League this year. As a pre-cursor to the season we were invited to play in the Shuto League Sevens alongside 16 other teams.
The TGRFC met out at Shin Urayasu at 8:45am (too early for some) armed with their new team tent and tarp. On arrival we noticed that there were two fields, a grass one and a dirt/gravel one. We shacked up next to the dirt field as that is what we are used to. Actually that position was allocated to us, but we felt at home anyway.
We were confident that the pool games wouldn`t trouble us as we were up against All France, Fuji Club, and Zenkai Beers ? teams that we had beaten quite easily in 15`s.
First Pool Game : TGRFC v All France (27v0)
The Gaijin started the day well with a 27v0 crushing of All France. Tryscorers were Dave Kelver, Ian ?Shadow? Roy, Blair Parkin, Heats Devlin and Mauro Sauco. We didn`t exactly gel so to win so easy augured well for the rest of the day.
Second Pool Game : TGRFC v Fuji Club (14v0)
This game was a little tighter but our straight line defence kept the other team out and we managed to score two tries ? perfectly respectable in 7`s where time flies. Shadow Roy got his second for the day and Shaun Hughes got the other and from memory, kicked both of the drop goal conversions. Not bad for a forward!
Third Pool Game : TGRFC v Zenkai Beers (10v7)
This was our first game on the grass field and it was to be the first time our flat line defense, which had been so tough to break, was to be breached. After getting out to a 10v0 lead through two tries the Gaijin line was under fire. About 10 meters out from our line Takeshi Takada, parading as a centre, did his little shimmy, fooled no-one, panicked and attempted to throw the ball to his winger. The ball popped out of his hands and dribbled about half-way to his winger but was quickly scooped up by the Zenkai Beers winger who strode under the posts for the easiest of tries. Takeshi earned ?Goat of the Day? for his troubles. This made it a close finish but the Gaijin were able to hang on for a 10v7 victory
So TGRFC had survived the Pool Rounds without a loss and were to go through to the Trophy part of the Competition where we could expect much better competition.
First Round of Trophy : TGRFC v Urayasu Club (26v0)
The TGRFC straight line defence was once again impenetrable with Shaunne Hughes and Dave Kelver hunting around the edges of the ruck. The backs also quickly shut down any hint of an attack and the Gaijin managed to race in 4 tries for a 26v0 victory.
This game also marked Tomohiro Nakayama`s first try for the TGRFC, where he went down the blind sold his opposite number the dummy and raced fifty metres to score.
Quarter Final : TGRFC v Daen Club (19v0)
Once again the Gaijin held their opposition scoreless and managed to get three tries.
Dave Kelver was very prominent in defense and Mauro Sauco was making some strong runs until he hammered someone after the whistle, of which he swears he did not hear,
and almost caused an all-in-brawl. He was quickly taken off the field to cool his heals and not to stop the TGRFC rhythm. Blair Parkin and Shadow were causing the opposition headaches with their elusive running and Takashi Mutou and Toru Kanamori were often the first to the breakdown. The Gaijin ended up scoring three tries and getting a 19v0 result which put them into the semi-finals.
Semi- Final : TGRFC v Tentou Mushi Club (7v0)
Tentou Mushi (Lady Bird in English) were the winners of the Shuto League (15`s) last year and had looked like the team to beat all day as they ran up some big scores against their opposition. They looked cocky as they took the field and played with a certain arrogance that showed that they thought they were going to take out this competition. The TGRFC had other ideas though and were hell-bent on keeping their line in tact and defended stoutly with Mauro, Dave Kelver, and Takashi Mutou defending brilliantly around the ruck and Blair Parkin and Heats Devlin troubling them with the ball in hand. The opposition seemed to be toying with the TGRFC and were seemingly playing touch footy but the Gaijin were equal to the task and forced them into mistakes and turnover ball with the terrier-like Mutou fighting for every inch. The TGRFC stunned the Tentou Mushi when Blair Parkin went through a hole just inside their half and raced away to score under the black dot just before half-time. In the second half Tentou Mushi Club pounded away at our line and actually got over once but were held up with little Takashi Mutou prominent underneath. The bench had their hearts in their mouths as the Tentou Mushi Club camped in our quarter but the excellent defense kept
them out and the Gaijin held on til` the final whistle to take the semis 7 v0. This unexpected result out them in the Final with The Crusaders, another ?Foreigners? based team.
Final : TGRFC v The Crusaders
This game started badly for the Gaijin with the Cru causing havoc across the field and the Gaijin flat line defense, which had been like the Berlin Wall all day (bar Takeshi`s faux pas), falling apart. The Cru were able to cross our line quite early and things were not looking good with the defense in tatters. The Gaijin were able to get back in the game when Ian ?Shadow? Roy made an elusive run through and around the Cru defensive line to score under the posts. This evened the scores at 7v7. The Cru were next to score and take their lead out to 14v7. This created a showdown in the second half with the Gaijin needing to play catch-up football. After keeping out The Cru which were camped in our half, Joffa Harris, standing in the backline within his own quarter
Received the ball, realised no-one was outside him so reluctantly stormed up field. He hadn`t gone far when Shin Okazaki ( a sometime TGRFC player) came across in cover. Realising he was never going to outrun him Joffa cut back inside and gave him a fend that sent him sprawling to the earth and continued on his way. The tryline still looked
quite distant though and with little Takashi Mutou almost overtaking him he decided to pass the ball onto someone speedier. Takashi went on to plant the ball under the black dot but unbelievably missed the drop goal from in front, to Shaun`s chagrin as he had been having great success all day. This left the Gaijin 2 points behind. The tension was getting unbearable for the Gaijin bench and fan squad as the clock ticked down. The Gaijin had one last throw of the dice but Captain Blake Walker unbelievably took a
quick tap about 10 out to the groans of the the TGRFC guys on the sideline and used his ample size to try to bash through the opposition forwards. The groans quickly turned to cheers of jubilation as he managed to plant the ball on the white line. Walker initially thought that he was short but the referee disagreed and awarded the try. After an unsuccessful conversion, which left the score at TGRFC 17 v 14 for the Cru, the Referee blew time over and the Gaijin had defeated all before them to take out their first Shuto League event at their first attempt. CHAMPIONS!! Captain Walker graciously accepted the Champions Award and a prize of 20,000 voucher for drinks at the Clubhouse Sports Bar in Shinjuku ? useful for some.
The only disappointment of the day was when our front row of Mauro Sauco, Chris Lucas and Jesse Cutler let us down in the first round of the scrum push competition when they were soundly beaten.
Heroes of the day for the Gaijin were Blair Parkin, ?Shadow? Roy, and Heats Devlin with their elusive running and speed to burn. Dave Kelver was very useful in the forwards with his speed to the breakdown and his customary big hits. Shaunne Hughes had an all-round fine performance and was successful with quite a few drop goals (and he`ll tell you about it!). New boy Toru Kanamori was everywhere and well and truly made up for his small stature with a big performance. All agreed however that Takashi Mutou with some darting runs and fiery ball-strips (he owned the edge of the ruck!!) was our Man of the Tournament. Watch out Shuto League!