The Tokyo Gaijin RFC always look forward to their annual (and sometimes biannual) domestic tour out to the mountains of Yamanashi. The air is fresh, the greenery is stunning and hosts Daen RFC always look after us. The field, Midai Minami Koen, is luscious and soft as opposed to some of the crap we play on in Tokyo. There is also the ride on the 'party bus' back home.
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were hoping to get back on track after losing their first Shuto League game last week against the Tokyo Crusaders leaving them with a three wins and one loss record. They were up against Koryo RFC who they had beaten 59 v 15 earlier in the year. BUT, today was a very different team on paper with some quality names missing. In the end Koryo RFC proved too good for a lacklustre Tokyo Gaijin RFC winning 36 v 5.
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were shown what it feels like to be beaten by bigger men and a more powerful scrum when they battled out their 4th round Shuto League match against Crusaders RFC at Omiya Kenpo Ground way out in Saitama. The TGRFC traditionally have a strong scrum and rarely get beaten and even pushed the bigger Crusaders pack back last year but not this time. They would also have felt how many Japanese teams usually feel when they play the Gaijin as they were completely out-weighed and eclipsed in size with the Crusaders pack containing 3 forwards around the two metre mark.
To make matters worse for the Gaijin they were missing many of their own big men, mostly due to work commitments. A list containing Baz Lobendahn, Nik Pavesic, Gorka Gerediaga (all work), Stanley Henry (returned to Australia), Chris Musgrave (Flu), Jeremy Burns (work), and Alexander Auldy (concussion) is a big list of big men. Neveretheless, the Gaijin were aiming to continue their winning streak from three games to four, and their dominance over the Crusaders which goes back 8 years, and had complete faith in their squad. Another surprise came when the Gaijin players realised that the Crusaders also had a handy 'ring-in' with semi-pro player Keita Sekimoto providing them with blinding speed and 3 tries - close to the eventual difference in points between the two sides. (He has played Rugby League with the Gaijin in a 9's game).
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were aiming to keep up their winning run in the third round of the Shuto League against Kichioji Wild Turkeys at Katsushika Sogo Sports Center and send off Stanley Henry with a victory in his final game before heading back to Australia (he's actually a KIWI though). Not only did the victory follow but Henry scored two tries to add to his memories of Japan.