2006 marked the 15th anniversary of the Tokyo Gaijin Rugby Football Club. The first game was held in October or November 2001. The exact date needs to be clarified with someone who was sober that day as according to most reports it seems that most of the guys were hungover.
The teams` fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the years with some excellent players and ‘colourful’ characters having pulled on the TGRFC Jersey. The teams colours have changed a little but one constant has been the maroon. Another constant through the years has been club stalwart Jerry Brady.
Though he hasn`t played for a couple of years following a rough patch with the tragic passing of his wife, followed by a broken leg courtesy of being hit by a taxi while riding a motorbike, and of course the march of old Father Time he still comes and helps out at games, attends our BBQs, and is a co-owner of the teams` spiritual home, The Clubhouse Sports Bar in Shinjuku. He even believes he has one more tour left in the legs!
We caught up with Jerry to get his opinions on Rugby and playing with the TGRFC all of these years…..after all, nobody has been with the team as long as he has.
INTERVIEWER: When did you come to Japan and what brought you here?
JERRY: I came to Japan in November, 1986 after spending three shitty years working for a Japanese restaurant company. I was buying fish and vegetables for sushi bars, working in the restaurant as a prep chef on weekends, later becoming the bartender after the head chef had had enough of me. Low pay and long hours, I quit and moved to Tokyo.
I: Where are you from?
J: Born and raised in Rockaway Beach, New York. Several of my classmates' younger brothers are capped US Eagles players, but I never played in the states.
I: What sports had you played before playing rugby?
J: Swimming, wrestling, shot put, basketball (badly) and American football, only slightly better than my basketball. One of my cousins played pro basketball for the Lakers and the Bucks.
I: When did you start playing for the TGRFC?
J: Last game of the first season, March of 1992. We played one of the teams from Honda Motorcar and beat them 55-0, but not because of me. I was like tits on a nun.
I: Why did you start playing rugby and why for the TGRFC?
J: I never had an interest in rugby…..had never seen a game, but the guys who were hanging around Andy's Bar (Shin Hi no Moto) in Yurakucho who started the team kept asking me to give it a try because of my size. I finally gave in.
I: At what age did you start?
J: I was 33, the flower of youth. Still a virgin, too.
I: Were you an original member?
J: I wasn't there when the team was first conceived, so no. There was Sean Brophy, Jamie Philips, Andy Lunt, Terada, Umino, and others I have forgotten, but I believe they are still listed on the Gaijin website.
I: What did you think of the game when you started?
J: I was totally confused, the proverbial "Chicken Without a Head", but I knew I was going to like it once I learned how to play. At my first game there were two new locks, my co-worker Rod and myself. We tossed a coin and I lost, so I played the first half while he got to watch me running around like an arse.
I: What did you think of the team/your team-mates?
J: All interesting guys, huge difference in backgrounds, etc, but great guys. Not too many wankers, thankfully.
I: What are some of the memorable moments of your TGRFC career as a player?
J: My seventh game of rugby was played at the Hong Kong Football Club in September, 1992, when we were invited over for a weekend tour/piss-up. I remember standing on the pitch and thinking, "What the hell am I doing here?"
The next big one would be playing in the Hong Kong Tens in 1994 and having roughly the same thought, with the extra burden of having thousands of spectators watching me screw-up.
I: What are some of the memorable moments of your career as a tourist?
J: Same as the above, really, with the addition of leading the Tokyo Gaijin in the Strong Position pre-game bollock show, wearing only a Sumo Top-Knot and a Mawashi. The video of that is still on the Hong Kong Tens site. Best if you don't eat before viewing it.
I: Any other memorable incidents?
J: The Narita Airport rules still apply so no specifics but one of our players opened a brand new bottle of cheap sparkling wine on the bus, handed it to another member who proceeded to take a mouthful while using his right hand. This was a Buffalo Club violation, so he had to finish the whole bottle.
Also, one of my teammates getting a good tongue lashing in the elevator at the hotel at 3:00 AM. Many patrons chose to use the stairs instead.
Gavin Hastings , chickens, nude dancers, swimming in fish tanks, Table surfing, etc. Machine gun toting police meeting us at the airport?
I: Who are some of the characters you`ve played with over the years?
J: Fair to say that they were all characters, just different kinds. I have played with and against players who were WAY above my level, but I have always been impressed by the camaraderie of the game. Once off the pitch, let the fun begin, and leave the attitude at home.
I: What do you think of Japanese rugby?
J: They should fix it because it's broken.
I: How has the team changed over the years?
J: We were a very loose team in the beginning. I can remember getting dressed at the pitch in Misato with ten players just two minutes to Kick-Off and seeing my other teammates scrambling toward the pitch just in time. Scrums that reeked of alcohol so badly that you felt drunk and nauseous at the same time. Jamie Myers changed that when he took over as Captain to get us ready for the HK Tens. He laid the foundation for the TGRFC of today. We started having real practices with drills and everything. Some guys even told me a few rules. Kaz Naito helped me and encouraged me by telling me that my passing was shite.
I: Do you still keep in contact with some of the guys from the early days?
J: Infrequently, unfortunately. When they are in town they stop by the Clubhouse, sometimes send e-mail.
I: What do you see/ hope to see for the TGRFC down the track?
J: I hope the team stays together and continues to improve. Because we are based on gaijin players, we have a much higher turnover rate than the Japanese clubs. Considering this, I would say that we have achieved more than most clubs would expect to accomplish in thirty years. I am proud and fortunate to have discovered rugby and joined this team all in one go. I hope to play in Borneo in 2007, so I have to get the Mawashi dry-cleaned.
I: Lastly Jerry, could you name your best team of the past 15 years?
J: Very hard for me to do, and unfair to the present team because I have very little experience playing with them. Certainly Jamie Myers, Damian Wallis, The Youngster (Glen Delaney), Kaz Naito, Dave Portus, Garna Dowling, Stevie Mains, Mick Gant, and apologies