The TGRFC earned their place in the Semi Finals of the Tokyo Cup 2nd Division, courtesy of their superior points differential. As 4th place qualifiers we would be drawn against the team with the most points and arguably the best team in the competition – All Jin Jyan (A.J.J). (NOTE: The winner of each of the three pools and the best second place finisher went through to the semi-finals. The TGRFC had a For & Against of +74 which allowed them to sneak into 4th position ahead of Dasewa Club which had a points differential of +70.) Whilst the Gaijin had only qualified fourth, they had shown through the previous two weeks 50+ points games, that they were a team that had unfinished business.
Throughout the week there was a lot of talk based around what little we knew about the opposition and what we could do to combat their strengths. As time progressed we established ways to negate their strengths and began to concentrate on ours.
What a headliner and what a game. In scoring 55 points the Gaijin not only beat but completely smashed a Donkey’s side that we club had never beaten (despite the close scores over the past 4 years, that include the nil-nil draw in the mud last year). The Donkey’s sneaked in a lone 5 pointer in the final 15 minutes when the game was well lost and the Gaijin took a breather for a brief period. A massive effort was put in from the get-go by the whole team who ran themselves hard, putting their opponents under immense pressure and winning turnovers from the resulting errors. That pressure, coupled with Captain Matt Downer’s clever kicking game saw the Gaijin gain considerable territory and when the ball was in hand they were able to run in some excellent tries.
Yes, indeed. A great day for rebuilding confidence. A great day to enjoy rugby and a great day weather-wise. This was exactly what the Gaijin required to get their competition back on the tracks. Needing a large victory margin and 4 try bonus point so we can hope to end the Pool Stage with a chance to progress.
An early start to the day saw a large group of Gaijin arrive at Kizoochi with the rain dissipating and the morning sun finally breaking out. A good long build up had the team go through forward and back moves, gather together for some stretching, passing drills and then a quick game of 4-handed touch with the focus on defensive positioning, creating and using gaps in the defense. A solid team run had the squad warmed up and raring to go; minds sharp and focused on the moves and game before them.
Dateline: Sunday April 13th, 2008. Thirteen is often an auspicious number and on the weekend it proved to be once again for an overconfidence, dare I say, apathetic Gaijin team.
Fresh from a five week layoff from our last game, the Tokyo Gaijin arrived in Saitama for our first game of Tokyo Cup 2008. The Gaijin were scheduled to play the Fuji Club at noon. Having won our previous two meetings with the Fuji Club, the first victory in last year’s Tokyo Cup, and most recently a comprehensive victory by the Gaijin back in October, the Gaijin went into Saitama confident of another victory. The Gaijin had in previous weeks focused on playing forwards rugby, much attention being put to rucking and mauling, the key being ball retention. Our game plan therefore was to keep possession through forwards breaking the advantage line, some good rucking, and eventually shipping it to the backs to expose gaps in the opposition’s defence. As noon approached, the Gaijin ran on to a muddy field in Saitama in great anticipation.