Last weekend (2nd December) in Rugby, The Tokyo Gaijin (TGRFC) met a fierce Keiyo Liners team(a combination of Chiba Barbarians - who have always been hard, and Akanegahama)in Chiba. Despite the long journey the Gaijin talked and kept hopes alive about remaining unbeaten since the Summer break in League Games, even with out almost 10 of their usual starters. 7 men were lost to the Shuto Select Side in their annual game against the Tama Select Side for the New Zealand Embassy Cup. A few more were out taking the Japanese Proficiency test. Then there was the usual few out with work commitments or injuries. Still the mood was upbeat.
Warm ups commenced followed by some quick line out practices for the forwards, and intricately worked backs' moves. It could not be helped to note that something was not quite right.
# The Tokyo Gaijin RFC played two quarters against the ‘Bets of the Rest’ from the Shuto League. Six players from the squad were chosen to go to the next selection game: Tyler Rumsey, Will Thompson, Garret Washington, Apisai Bati, Tucker McEwen and Riki Pitter. Congratulations to these players.
# While the TGRFC were outplayed in the game and the forwards received a shellacking from captain Al Nimmo there were 5 regular forwards missing. Rob ‘10 minute’Poulton was the only front rower available so Gaz Dalrymple and Erin Hughes bravely stepped up to fill the void. Good job fellas!
# Dave Kelver , who was restricted to sideline duties during the game due to a back complaint, was very critical of the forwards efforts and can`t wait to get back on the field next week to show how it`s done.
Low, dark clouds, a hint of rain, a steady and cold breeze; think Scotland on a good day. Further, heavy rain throughout Saturday and overnight meant a muddy pitch with large pools of water so the conditions set the tone for the Sunday`s match.
Baku & Clover (B & C) made a ferocious start and hammered away at the TGRFC line but solid defense kept them at bay. This was truly character-building stuff for had the Gaijin conceded early points it might have been difficult for them to chase the game. The Gaijin task became more difficult after Chris Fearon had to leave the pitch with a suspected dislocated shoulder but Takayuki Kitajima stepped in manfully and the scrum held firm.
“I never played in a team which beat them and Ive never wanted to beat a team so badly!”-Shaunne Hughes celebrates the twice-yearly YCAC fixture with his twice-yearly sensible comment.
Sundays match was, for those who hold historical fixtures more important than league battles, one of the most important matches of the year. An enthusiastic squad turned out to Yamate station, holding hope that the unbeaten run would continue to include a victory against old rivals of the Yokohama Cricket and Athletic Club. Arriving well in time, there was plenty of time to practice drills whilst watching the All France play the YCAC Gents. As the Gaijin lumbered up, there was motivation boiling up through everyone, and confidence as well that this would finally be the team to topple the Yokohama side. At the kickoff, a sturdy catch and drive forward was rapidly halted by the large YCAC pack, indications of the forwards clashes to come. Eventually, after shipping out and being tackled only 10m out from our line a scrum was given to the YCAC. This went easily their way, and led to a good cross-discipline play, as their wide receiver played intercept for the quarterback, enabling to score a touchdown after only 3 minutes on the clock. In reality, the ref was so wrapped up in the American Football that he refused to recognise that blocking is not strictly legal, and awarded a try.