If the beautiful playing surface set in the leafy surroundings of semi-rural Ibaraki wasn't enough to tip us off that our opposition was going to be a bit good, then two tries in the first seven minutes from our nemesis the rolling maul should have driven the point home. Such was the story of the first 40 minutes. Impeccably controlled line-outs and mauls, resulting in tries as boring to watch as they were excellent in their efficiency.
There's something unnerving about a trip to the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club. It has little to do with their having a strong side (they do), or with the distance of the journey to get there (it's quite far for most of us); rather it's an unmistakeably musty whiff of conceit. Whether that conceit is real or imagined is, of course, something that we can leave to the multi-million-earning clinical pyschologists but seeing as bugger-all clinical pyschologists play footie - and the ones who do probably play for YCAC - it's by the by.
The day was glorious, the pitch was in its customary good nick (there have to be some benefits to immersing oneself in imperiousness, and listening to plummy accents whilst trying to spot the Raj-era safari suits doesn't qualify), and a healthy squad of 15 was primed.
On October 1st the Tokyo Gaijin RFC gathered out at Akigase Field for their Shuto League 4th round match against Beers Rugby Club. The name seems to be a strange one for a Rugby Team but reminds me of something I read on a shirt once: Rugby – a pastime of delirious enjoyment, much story-telling, plentiful drinking and occasional singing disturbed only by 80 minutes of often pointless endeavour. I`m sure both teams were aiming to make their endeavours fruitful so that they could enjoy their plentiful drinking of beer. The Gaijin were 1 from 3 so far in the Shuto 1st division and needed a win to keep their season promising.
The afternoon match against the Gentle Giants always promised to be an epic event. The Gaijin needed a win if they wanted any chance of a respectable finishing position in the Shuto Div. 1 League. And with the departure of Rob Reinebach from the back row for a few months, we knew that the Gaijin would have to have a combined team effort in order to win.