INTRO-- In the first weekend of July the Tokyo Gaijin Rugby Football Club made their annual pilgrimage to the mountains of Nagano and the resort town of Sugadaira – Japan’s own ‘Rugby Heaven’.
In a country where a fully grassed sports field is a rare luxury, the tiny town of Sugadaira has over 50 brilliantly manicured pitches. They also have a number of specialist rugby shops. In my reckoning, this gives Sugadaira (population c. 1,000) more high quality rugby facilities than the Greater Tokyo Area (population c. 35 million).
A few members went up the night before and were met the following day by the rest of the Gaijin. Some time after 1 pm the team assembled for their their warm ups and practice. A sparse 11 players managed to make it to Sugadaira. With Capt. Al Nimo out injured he rallied the team with the help of the other members from the I.R. list Bully and Blake Walker from the sideline offering advice, jeers/cheers and water support.
Tokyo Cup 2nd Division – 3rd Round 2007 (Sunday 20 May) Tokyo Gaijin RFC v NSC Ruggers
On a fine but windy day at the Kizoochi Rugby Grounds, the Tokyo Gaijin were knocked out of the 2007 Tokyo Cup through a narrow loss to a highly motivated Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC) Ruggers.
The first half started with the NSC Ruggers electing to run towards the river end of the ground. This gave them a slight wind advantage, although the breeze was essentially a cross-field one. The Gaijin got off to their customary slow start, conceding two early tries to the NSC Ruggers – one a pushover from a five-meter scrum, the other a classic winger’s try in the corner.
The Gaijin did manage to hit back next with a classic winger’s try of their own though when Andy Ballard came off the blind and stormed through a gap nicely set up for him by the inside backs. Shaunne Hughes converted to cut NSC’s lead to 10 – 7.
First and foremost, we would like to say thank you to all of our supporters who came out and helped us for the game. The weather was miserable and the ground was a mess, but without you we couldn’t have played in the mud. Now, on to the story.
Fired up by their recent success in the first round of the Tokyo Cup tournament, the TGRFC once again headed to Kizoochi Rugby Grounds in hopes of putting another victory under its belt. While May 6 may have been a beautiful day in many parts of the world, with couples strolling leisurely through sunny parks and children playing in grassy knolls, this was not the case in the dreary outskirts of Tokyo.
With a grey sky, continuous rain, and soup for a field, the conditions were perfect for two things: Spartans defending Thermopylae and stressed-out working men playing Rugby. Throw a little bad blood between teams into the mixture and the stage was set for a classic TGRFC battle. The boys were also hoping for a little revenge from last year’s narrow loss to the Donkeys.
After a thorough dress check to ensure that no players had faded shorts and that their underwear was color coordinated, the Gaijin took the field ready to take on the Donkeys, the weather, and a thoroughly incompetent referee.
First point of note was the rather disappointing and tardy turnout, but we hope this is due to the active schedules that many of the Gaijins have on weekends with charity events and missionary work and so on which prevented them voicing their opinion in this forum. The attendees were as follows: