The team gathered at Yamate in the Hilly suburbs of Yokohama for what was to be a day of celebration for the members of the Tokyo Gaijin Rugby Football Club. Unfortunately this had no reason to do with us winning a tournament, it was more in relation to the fact that Team YCAC didn?t.
First up for the day was the Gentle Giants. They looked slicker in their approach to the game, mainly because they made a more concerted effort to warm up, and thus had the better of the starts and took an early 5 ? 0 lead courtesy of some loose defending after a topsy-turvey start by the TGRFC. Moments later a good Ian ?Shadow? Roy and Tomohiro Nakayama combination saw the team profit by 7 and with Tomohiro dotting down close to the sticks the team was up 7 ? 5.
It was some rather ordinary rugby played up to the break but some late luck by the Gentle Giants had them score and convert to take a 12 ? 7 lead into the break, and a boost of confidence that would last them the majority of the second half.
A try by Steve Bull after a clean break by Joffa Harris had the teams pegged level at 12 for a short moment before the gaps opened again in the curtain like TGRFC defense. The conversion and a 7 point lead were to prove crucial as TGRFC would need more that just a try to force the overtime. As the final whistle beckoned it was delivered by the ever trustworthy Ian, which saw an exchange of pleasantries with Tomohiro in a mirror-like reversal of what had happened in the first half. This time Ian dotted down and snapped up another two points with the conversion to force the overtime.
As hard as the team tried, we couldn?t throw it away. A brain explosion from Joffa, coughing up the ball like you would phlegm when you have a cold, was the precursor to a burst from Takeshi Takada up the middle that saw the following pass to Heats Devlin claim victory for the TGRFC.
This led us into the second game against a very polished looking team that we had not come across before in our extensive travels of the Kanto Plains.
Chiba Akanehama started with a fury and had gone up 14 ? 0 primarily through their own fine running and handling and not due this time to lack of heart by the TGRFC. The team made some fine covering tackles but could not scramble enough players in time to thwart the rapid attack.
Not to be outdone the TGRFC showed that we have some magic of our own. Firstly it was a solo effort by the ever impressive Tomohiro with a 50 metre kick and chase. 14 ? 7. Then after concerted team pressure from the kick-off and some tough work up front Murray Clarke dived over and Ian converted for what was a 14 all draw at halftime. The TGRFC had fought back into it and were amped at the break.
To and fro possession from the restart created a long phase of play without any scoring but Akanehama finally broke through and scored a try. This was to provide all but the nail in the coffin for The Gaijin.
Although we managed to score arguably the try of the tournament in the next phase of play, with a team try that started on our own try-line and exploded up-field reminiscent of a Mongolian upheaval, we were to be outclassed in the end. That try by Joffa, after huge efforts from Niall Conlon, Ian and Heats saw the team draw level again before Chiba Akanehama eventually won the game with another fine try and a 28 ? 21 victory.
They proved to be a fine performing team and both teams knew they had taken part in a truly great spectacle of tens rugby. Chiba Akanehama would go on to defeat the home side in the final and gain the respect of many teams on that day. We were ecstatic for them and jumped at the opportunity to celebrate with them, but maybe not as much as one of their players wanted to jump on us, if you know what I mean.
Thanks to all the supporters and helpers on the day. We couldn?t do it without you.