Dateline January 18, 2009. Time for the much awaited rematch between the Tokyo Gaijin and Yokohama Country and Athletic Club First XV. In the 2008 event the Gaijin felt robbed of two tries the local referee failed to award and went down in the final 5 minutes to a well worked YCAC try in what was a bruising contest. This year, after a strong 2008 Tokyo Cup and Shuto League, the Gaijin felt they had what it takes to pull out a win against their biggest rival. In December another foreigner-based club, Tokyo Crusaders, was humbled 12-44 against YCAC as their imported ex-Rugby League professional carved them up in the centers, so word was out that we could expect a mighty challenge defensively in containing a fast stepping runner. To win this expectedly tough match, the Gaijin forwards, smaller overall, had to step up and take on the big YCAC boys up front and play in-your-face rugby while using the full width of the park so the big YCAC bruisers would struggle to keep pace.
A look at what went down through 2008.
The calendar year started with one last match to play in the Shuto League against Koganei. While we had already sewn up the 2007 Championship, we still wanted to close this one out and go undefeated if at all possible. We managed to fall asleep at that wheel on this day but it served as a great warm up for our match against cross-town rival YCAC the following week. We went down against YCAC by 8-14 but were heartened by the effort, with the referee missing two tries by the Gaijin that even - in the bar later on - our opposition admitted they were lucky to escape from.
In February and we played in the Champions League against the Championship winning teams of other Autumn season competitions around Tokyo. We won our first match (over Ichihara, Chiba League) 43-19 but lost our second 5-12 to the Blackeye's (Edogawa League) who pulled it out with a try in the dying stages.
Ending February we held the AGM where a new Captain (Murray Clarke) and Vice-Captain (Matthew Downer) were elected (Al Nimmo stepping down through work commitments), along with Co-Managers (Clarke and Erin Hughes) to assist Joffa Harris and Jesse Takahashi.
At the Shuto League Closing Ceremony Apisai Bati, our long serving Fijian center, was named MVP for the Shuto League and the following week we went up against the Japan National Deaf Representative Team known as the All-Quiet Typhoon, where we won in an enjoyable running game 48-19. Meanwhile in Manila, keeping up with tradition, we were well represented again as one of the most festive teams in the Manila 10's competition despite bowing out in the Plate Quarters as certain players had arrived to the game direct from the bar.