Saturday the 11th of July was the day we had all been waiting for, and a meeting time of 6:45am had been laid down clearly in correspondence leading up to the day. Due once again to the sensational organisational skills of Alaister Nimmo, a large contingent of around 45 players, supporters, parents, and offspring had been put together to make the annual pilgrimage to Rugby Mecca Sugadaira. The group - bristling with anticipation and anxious to get on the road - was forced to wait even longer thanks to newly crowned Harlequin model Andy "Mr. Cool" Ballard. In scenes reminiscent of a Sugadaira departure some years previous, when former Gaijin player and fellow model Romeo Devlin strolled up to the bus 40 minutes late with Starbuck's coffee in hand, Mr. Cool and Czech mate Lucie showed similar distain for the arrangements in turning up considerably later than our planned departure time. We couldn't stay angry at them for long though, and once on the road our high spirits returned. Making good time in the luxury coach that Nimmo had hired for the trip, conversations on the journey up ranged from the validity of Al Gore's global warming crusade to the benefits of hedging currency when doing business with overseas companies. We were also treated to Blake Walker's full repertoire of Michael Jackson jokes.
The trip flew by, and after a quick stop in the Sugadaira township to pick up some supplies, we pulled into Hotel Davos around 11:30. Kitted up and back on the bus by 12 noon, we made our way to the location of Saturday's 10's tournament. As with last year, it seemed that the so-called "organisers" of the 10's would have difficulty arranging a Nomikai at the Suntory factory. With five teams present, some kind of round-robin tournament would surely have been the best approach, but it was a knock-out tournament that eventuated.
Last Sunday the Tokyo Gaijin were out at the Shuto League 10's Tournament, held every year in Shin-Urayasu, round the corner from Tokyo Disneyland. The Gaijin entered two teams this year with enough room for just a few on the bench for each team, though due to specialized skillsets, several players actually went out on behalf of both teams. The below is a mail from TGRFC Manager, Joffa Harris, to the boys on Monday that includes a big thanks to Jesse Takahashi, our organizer without whom we would be in the wilderness.
It was a wet messy mud bog. Waseda were trying to knock us out of the First Division and we were trying to prevent that from happening. All looked solid for us through the first half with the Gaijin controlling possession well. Despite the game plan of smashing our way up with the forwards, the ball was shifted all too often away from the big boys, where the Waseda backs were up and in our faces all day making life tough.
Field conditions like the PGA. Warm and still. Wet. Same two teams as the year before in similar conditions – though much warmer, no doubt. The Tokyo Gaijin had a full panel at the game and all those one-eyes from both the British and New Zealand Isles added up to a lot of shaky input.