On a cool summer day on the first day of July, the Tokyo Gaijin took the field in Urayasu as part of the Urayasu 10s tournament. While most players showed up and were ready to play on time, as per usual there were a few who were late or debilitated due to long nights of helping old ladies across the street and other gentlemanly pursuits.
Captain Al Nimmo and Vice Captain Jesse Takahashi busied themselves with the paperwork to find out which field was A and which field was B, which teams were in our pool and when exactly we were to play our opposition. They then set about organizing the large squad of Gaijin players that had gathered. A quick team warm up and run through was performed as stomach's churned in anticipation of the upcoming battle.
First up - Tokyo Gaijin vs. Urayasu Beers (Win). While the squad that played in the first game is a haze in the back of my memory bank I do remember that it was a fine try by Apisai Bati that sealed the Gaijin`s fate in the first few minutes of the tournament. This drive helped to ignite the Gaijin. With a win under the belt the team took advantage of the rest time to practice their kicking and prepare for their next confrontation.
Crusaders put to the sword. (Sunday 2nd September – Shuto League ,Yanokouchi, Tokyo, Japan )
Much like the their forefathers, this group of mortal men would not live up to the reputation set them by their predecessors.
The teams gathered at the beautiful setting of the Yanokouchi ground for the 2 pm kickoff for the first game of the summer/autumn competition, the Shuto League. The ground, which is a couple of yards short, would test the capacities of the two foreign- based player teams in this competition. As we would find at the end of the match, the Crusaders would also be short of a couple of yards.
This was a game that would become punctuated by calls for support (or screams of intolerable pain still to be deciphered), short bursts of bad language and the most unfortunate but always necessary blowing of a whistle.
The game started positively for the TGRFC with the forwards getting to the ball and over it early to string some early phase work together. Nice ball was set up and with the ball moving along the back-line early from a good platform, the Gaijin supporters found themselves all licking their lips with the idea of a good game ahead. Then in stepped the man with the whistle. He blew up the game for some small indiscretion and awarded a penalty for the TGRFC. Whilst we are never ones to complain when we receive calls in our favour, it was an ominous precursor of the way the game would be policed.
The game ebbed and flowed in the early stanza with most of the ground being gained from penalty clearances.
The intensity of summer is subsiding, the season is beginning, motivation to perform is high. These are the reasons that I am writing this series of articles aimed at assisting and persuading our players to increase fitness through running this autumn and winter.
Reasons I think the non-rugby reasons for running are well known. A couple of rugby reasons are: If you are out of position at any point in the match, and cannot run to get back in position, your lack of fitness is harming the team! Tired players are lazy and clumsy. How many times have you seen a team that sparkles for 50 minutes, then starts to commit handling errors and choose dull options? Good fitness can get you through the 80. Leg speed (backs) and strength (forwards) can increase with run training.