As is customary for playing the game in this part of the world, the day began by rising early and then travelling to a picturesque setting far from Tokyo in this case - Omiya Kempo, a well-grassed paddock, that at this time of the season is ripe for running rugby. The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were to have their first game of the Shuto League First Division against Clover Club.
After a very successful day yesterday in the Sugadaira 10`s the Tokyo Gaijin RFC were due to play a game against Joso Club in the regular 15-a-side game. As only 14 players went to Sugadaira we were already scouting a few back-ups. As the players filed in to the breakfast room at the New Davos Hotel it was obvious that we were struggling for a squad and even more back-up players would need to be found.
Dana Post and Rob Reinebach limped in together. Steve Bull (sprained ankle which turned out to be an old fracture), Jonathon Dean (ankle), Mike Parks (broken finger), Jo Iwasaki (ribs), Niall Conlon (knees covered in scabs from previous game), and Richard Beard (looked like someone had stuck a pencil a few centimetres into his leg just above the knee) were also on the walking wounded list.
Sugadaira. If they say rugby is the game they play in heaven, I'd say Sugadaira is as close to heaven for any rugby player I've ever seen. Green all around, fresh air, a hot sun, cool rains and lots and lots and lots of rugby fields throughout the town. Did I mention the quality of those rugby pitches? Best in Japan outside of the international stadiums! Immaculate is a word that springs to mind. A joy to play on. So we did.
Early on Saturday morning, to Sugadaira it was for the third year running for the Tokyo Gaijin. A 4-hour car ride up into the Nagano mountains where the TGRFC were to defend their title of Grand Champions in the annual 10 a-side tournament.