The tournament started for me on Wednesday night when I arrived at the Oxford Suites Hotel and met up with Team Manager Chris Lucas, who was good enough to make sure that I was all checked in and well looked after.
I then went downstairs to the hotel lobby where the waiting started...
The one thing I've noticed about rugby tours is that you spend ages waiting for everyone to arrive. Usually most people are on time, it is just the last 2 or 3 that result in everyone hanging around for an average of about half an hour while the dozy few take their time getting there - on one occasion that was me after closing my eyes for "5 minutes" after taking a shower! :-(
The weekend of the 17th and 18th of March, 2012, was one of the biggest on record in the 20+ year history of the Tokyo Gaijin. Not only was it the first time that the Tokyo Gaijin had earned the right to play in the final of the Cup Winners Cup, but they had earned the right to do so by beating two of the strongest teams in the compeitition in qualification. Added to this was the unfortunate timing of the final, as it clashed with the long planned tour of the Tokyo Gaijin to the Manila Tens as they have done every year for the past six years.
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC turned up at Hino Motors Rugby Ground out in western Tokyo for a date with Supermen RFC, hoping to emulate their history-making win over Mandara Club two weeks prior. After two heavy defeats to the tune of over 30 points last year to the Supermen RFC, the Tokyo Gaijin RFC were keen on making amends and turning the tables on the caped crusaders. They were lucky to have Tsukasa Takasugi back from Kyushu to replace Takayuki Kitajima at tight-head prop and also big Samoan forward, Maoula Sega, guesting for them during a one month stay in Tokyo. A win would bring the TGRFC into the Final of the Champion's League (a.k.a the Cup Winner's Cup) which the Gaijin Club had never managed before in their 21 year history, being knocked out in the second round on each occassion they had made the Champion's League.