It was always going to be the match of the competition for the Tokyo Gaijin RFC. Superman had not had a hard match in several years of competition as they made their way back to the higher divisions after indiscretions several years earlier. The final scoreline of 48 - 10 flattered Superman, but at the end of the day their bodies told the story of a team that knew they had been challenged.
After 6 years of trying, the Tokyo Gaijin finally won some silverware at the Manila 10`s. The team won the finals of the Bowl Division 19 v 5 after winning all the 5 lead-up matches. The Tokyo Gaijin RFC's name now goes on a big perpetual Cup and the team received a trophy - a running Carabao (Water buffalo) with a rugby ball under his arm - as well as medals for each player. They also won bragging rights and before leaving Manila the next day the legend had already grown and players were boasting of their heroics and had a little extra swagger to their step. Free drinks were even provided at a few bars in town as the news filtered back before our arrival.
The first game of the Tokyo Cup in 2010, held on April the 4th, pitted the Gaijin against Doronco RFC, a team we had beaten comfortably in a friendly game a month or so earlier. Given our propensity to start the Tokyo Cup with a whimper rather than a bang, and the fact that Doronco had only 15 players on board when we had beaten them recently, the senior members of the team had endevoured to expel any complacency that might have existed prior to the game. Sure enough, Doronco looked like a different unit during the dress check, with a number of muscular specimens in attendance that hadn't been there for the game earlier in the season.
Sunday the 7th of March dawned frigid and wet, and with no sign of improvement forecast, the Gaijin realized that later in the day, they would not only be battling one of their toughest rivals in YCAC, but in all likelihood, be battling the elements as well.
Given all the rain of the previous 24 hours, any grass field would surely have been submerged and been cause for a cancellation, but arriving at the ground around 12pm, we found YCAC's astro turf surface to be still in good nick despite the persistent precipitation.
The battle commenced at 1:45pm, with 30 minute halves being announced at the toss by the YCAC captain just prior to kickoff. What ensued was a hard-fought, fair fight, which was ultimately won by the might of the YCAC forward pack. Playing perfect 10 man, wet weather rugby, the YCAC forwards ground down the Gaijin and made good use of the booming boot of their number 10. The YCAC, with the wind at their backs, took an early lead converting two of their three early penalties for ruck infringements. Although the Gaijin took the lead briefly after scoring a converted try to make the score 7-6, chances to attack were as rare as hen's teeth, and most of the game was spent trying to halt the YCAC forward rumbles. YCAC crashed over from a forward rumble to take the lead back before halftime (11-7).