“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.
From the restart, we at last entered their half, and used a spell of possession to our advantage, before bring turned over. An unfortunate feature of their team was a silver haired fly half, from whose boot left balls unfailingly deep into Gaijin territory, or neatly into touch when required. This eliminated the hard-fought ground which had been won, and with a turned over line-out, their territory and possession led to another try.
Once again on the restart, the Gaijin made use of their deceptive kick off to secure possession. This led again to some strong forward play, with the two teams camped on the 22, locked in a series of forwards crunches. The referee blew his whistle for a YCAC infringement, and Ken took the chance to secure the Gaijin three points, which gave use some boost given that the YCAC missed conversions had left them with only 10 at that point. The restart heralded the beginning of broken play, as tempers boiled over on both sides, giving the referee even more difficulties. The structure of
forward play -> back play -> forward play -> fight continued for a while, until a hasty clearance from Yoichi did not quite make touch, setting the YCAC up with an overlap which they used to their advantage.
The first half continued, with tempers beginning to boil out of control, as both sides reacted to the abuse and indiscipline. Most affected was Paulo, who lost his cool and lashed out at one player late in the first, causing everyone consternation that he would be carded. The referee allowed play to continue however, with time for one more try just before more hanky-panky and half time. The restart saw the departure of Sean O'd, suffering from a knee injury, and Andy Ballard with a thigh strain.
On came Rumsey and Hitoshi, who made their respective impacts with great line-out lifting and some rapid feet when required. Still, the general tide was firmly in the favour of the home team, who had little to do to score on two occasions. Their centre picked up an intercept pass from the Gaijin flyhalf for one quick score, and after another accurate kick by the opposition, an unlucky backward bounce took the ball away from Ken and into the lap of a chasing YCAC-er. There was some spirited response from the backs, but even a cheeky chip and chase from Bati, usually the man to plough through an opposition, led to limited gain. Another overlap, another YCAC try, another outburst of temper.
The second half progressed with difficulty, as the referee, sensing that there was indiscipline all over the field, decided to let a reasonable amount go unpunished in order that the second half could finish before dark. This led to tempers fraying even more on both sides, the most dramatic being a flying headbutt into the jaw of a recumbent Paulo. This incident, right in front of the linesman, highlighted the fact that in a situation where it is difficult to assess the play, the referee should maybe make better use of his assistants.
This point of play did allow Joffa to move onto the pitch, substituting in at #8 for the pounded Basque. His influence helped to keep the defence strong until the end of the match, and should be praised for keeping about 83.5% of his temper. Final whistle blew, and both teams erupted in silent congratulations, their voices hoarse from 80 minutes of non-stop abuse.
Both teams trooped into the bar, to celebrate or commiserate the 39-3 scoreline. To ensure the old tradition of all being friends in the bar, the home team supplied a few jugs of beer, an gave a pint to their chosen persistently refusing to ever shut the f**k up. As the evening wore on, and the YCAC players got chauffeured home to beat the maid, the Gaijin stuck around, and eventually man-of-the-match. Their choice for the Gaijin MoM was Chris Fearon, apparently for came to their decision of Man and Goat of the match. Man was Garrett Washington, for strong flankering and good handling. Goat was Chris Fearon, apparently for persistently refusing to ever shut the f**k up.
Chris Fearon (NZ)
Takashi Narita (Japan)
Mauro Sauco (Argentina)
Sean O`Donoghue (Ireland)
Murray Clarke (NZ)
Garrett Washington (USA)
Dave Kelver (USA)
Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
Alaister Nimmo (England)
Yoichi Ohira (Japan)
Andy Ballard (England)
Apisai Bati (Fiji)
Tucker McEwen (USA)
14. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
Ken Kondo (Japan)
Toru Kanamori (Japan)
Joffa Harris (Australia)
Tyler Rumsey (USA)
Garren ‘Gaz’ Dalrymple (Scotland)
So Nagashima (Japan)
Riki Pitter (France)
Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)