After a day of constant rain and further rain in the bitterly cold morning Tokyo Gaijin RFC players were expecting their game against the Kawagoe Fighters to be cancelled, but the call came at 9am that the game was still on and a strong squad managed to gather at Kawagoe Train Station around noon for the 30 minute bus ride to Kawagoe Stadium. The Kawagoe Fighters were something of an unknown quantity. The TGRFC had played them before and lost but it was on the Sugadaira Tour about 3 years previously after the Gaijin had been on the turps all night and performed as such. So the form guide had to be thrown out the window.
Continuing on with our 20th Year Anniversary interviews of people who have made the Tokyo Gaijin RFC what it is today we come to Jeff "Joffa" Harris.
Joffa, of Newcastle, Australia, is the longest serving player in the history of the club with over 15 years of service. He is also the oldest current player at 43. He has held the position of Captain in the past and has been manager for the past 8 years.
TG: Joffa, how did you get your nickname?
Joffa: I'm not entirely sure. I believe that Garna Dowling and perhaps Kaz Naito came up with it in the early days. Still don't know why. Before that it was the 'Black Swamp'. I think that was something to do with me on the drink. I was told I resembled the creature from the Black Swamp.
Continuing on with our interviews of people that have made the Tokyo Gaijin what it is today we come to Fijian Apisai Bati. Bati, from the small island of Moturiki in Fiji, is a member of a small select group of people that have played for the Gaijin for more than 10 years. Apart from a 2 year hiatus, where he played for the Blue Sox in the Kanagawa League, he has been a regular member of the Gaijin since late 1994.
This year he has missed a lot of games as he has become coach of his son's team and this has kept him quite busy. All three of his children Bati Junior (15), Rachael (14) & Athela (12) are accomplished rugby players. Bati Junior is the Captain of his school team and the two girls are already in the Japan 7's Academy team despite not yet being 15.
Bati has been instrumental in getting quite a few Fijians to join the team over the years and held court as head Kava server at quite a few parties over the years. His place of employment, the Beer Station in Ebisu, is also the team's regular Christmas Party venue and through Bati, they always give the team an excellent deal.
TG: When did you join the Tokyo Gaijin?
Bati: I joined in November, 1994, just after Joffa.
TG: Why did you join the Tokyo Gaijin?
Bati: I was drinking at Shin-Hi-no-Moto in Yurakucho after work and met the owner Andy Lunt. He was captain of the team at the time and encouraged me to come along.