The majority of the guys going to the Philippines to play in the 2009 Manila 10`s boarded their flight to Manila on the evening of Thursday 19th March, and they were a resplendent looking bunch in their tour uniforms of Yukatas (summer kimono), chonmage (samurai hairstyle), and hachimaki (head bands). They were to be joined in Manila by an overseas contingent of TGRFC Old Boys and a couple of guys that had left earlier to enjoy the sights that the Philippines had to offer.
Being the Tokyo Gaijin RFC’s fifth visit to the Manila 10`s the team was once again looking forward to returning home with many special memories. Winners of three ‘Most Festive Team’ awards the TGRFC promised to adhere to the finest traditions of the tournament and TGRFC rugby as stipulated by the “Manila Tour Rules” and the “Narita Convention”. The team was also looking forward to sinking a few San Miguels with the other teams, adding to the carnival atmosphere, and enjoying the local nightlife.
The squad (below; with tour nicknames in brackets) was a mixture of old and new tourists with Manager Joffa Harris back for his 5th Manila tour and Apisai Bati a veteran of the Asian tour circuit with participation in the Hong Kong 10`s, the Beijing 10`s and Manila `08. The Tokyoites were thankful to the overseas contingent of Gaijin old boys Crispian Short, flying in from Australia, and Mike Parks coming across from England to bolster the squad. Crispian dragged along Brisbane Easts teammates John Condon (who played for the TGRFC in Manila 2008) and Graeme Priddy. Peter Harris also flew in from England to join brother Joffa for his fourth edition of the Manila 10`s. And flying in from Sydney, Australia, was American Ian Miller – an ex-YCAC player. After showing true pace in the first game Ian’s links with YCAC were soon forgotten!!
On the field the team was relying on the explosive power of 2008 MVP Kevin Rebay, the guile and cunning of Bati and the grunt provided by the bookends Mauro, Crispian, Centipede and JC. Toru, Hitoshi and Takeshi were to provide the divine wind. With regular Captain Murray Clarke & Vice Captain Matt Downer back in Tokyo Bati was named Captain for the weekend.
The team management, thirsty for silverware (amongst other things), were hoping that the squad drank responsibly and left all Makati establishments (souvenir shops, ice cream parlors etc) at a sensible hour and didn`t follow captain Bati’s lead of partying all night……allegedly……of course no-one knows for sure, as it can’t be confirmed, as everyone is sworn to secrecy due to the Narita Convention. The management had given up on trying to establish a curfew.
After a day of relaxation and recovery poolside at the lovely Shangri La Hotel (we were actually staying at the much cheaper Makati Citadel Inn) and a team dinner at a Brazilian BBQ restaurant, where the team discussed tactics and other things (but mostly other things), the team was ready to put their best foot forward and leave their mark on the 2009 Manila 10`s.
DAY 1 – GAME 1 – versus Hong Kong Scorpions 2
The Scorpions started the game at a cracking pace and with a series of penalties in their favor; they soon had the Gaijin defending on their line for a few minutes. Solid defense from the Gaijin held their opposition out and forced a spilled ball over the line. Kevin Rebay picked up the ball from inside his own goal line and charged up field breaking tackles as he went. He was finally brought down but managed to kick ahead as he was falling. Ian Miller outpaced the defense to win the race to the ball and score for the Gaijin. Crispian Short, showing great tenacity, was able to break through the defense to score the next one to the right of the posts to bring the final score to 10 v 0 to the Gaijin. Chris Lucas, in his burning desire for a rest, kicked the ball out on the full at the sound of the siren. The guys on the sideline were jumping up and down as their desire was to get more game time!
GAME 2 – versus Wagga Wagga Waratahs (Australia)
The Gaijin again showed great defense in this one to keep the Waratahs scoreless. Ian Miller scored the first by simply outpacing the defense. Bati scored the second through his typical jink followed by pure power. Then Kevin Rebay put the icing on the cake with a well-deserved try. Bati managed to convert the one of the tries to make the final score 17 v 0.
GAME 3 – versus Nomads Carabos
It was to be Ian Miller who scored the first try in this one against the local team. Kevin Rebay scored the second try. Some thought he may have erred by not passing to the unmarked Peter Harris outside him but he went under the posts with a man grappling his waist …. like a spanish bull looking to get one last (attempted) hit at the matador. Bati kicked the conversion. Mauro had 2 memorable bullocking runs with the ball. Joffa Harris got on for the final 30 seconds despite coming to Manila with knee ligament damage. Later he said “ I did it to avoid a hammering at the Kangaroo Court”.
Overall, it had been an excellent day for the Gaijin. Their defense had proved impenetrable. Their bigger forwards had done well in close and the more mobile Crispian Short and Toru Kanamori had been a good link with the backs, and Ian Miller had shown express pace to leave the opposition chewing dust on occasions. `Cracker’ Priddy was a steady, solid influence at first receiver and Bati & Kevin had played out of their skins.
DAY 2 – GAME 4 – PLATE QUARTER FINALS – versus Taipei Baboons
The Gaijin turned up to the field full of hope after a relatively early night.
Despite Crispian Short joining the injured list due to a knee complaint all the Gaijin had to do was play like yesterday and they were a good chance to beat anyone. The opposition was the Taipei Baboons, a team that has been a regular contender in the Plate Final for many years, and Rory Brown’s ex-team in Taiwan. Unfortunately, it is alleged, two Gaijin players were out drinking until 6 am with the opposition. It was a good ploy by the Taiwan club as it didn’t seem to affect them but it did affect the Gaijin. The Gaijins’ play was full of schoolboy errors where simple catching and passing seemed to be beyond them. It was ‘chalk & cheese’ from the previous day.
In the first half the Baboons went blind from a scrum 15 metres out. The Gaijin halfback failed to read the play (Was that planned with your old mates Yarpy??) and left Peter Harris on the wing, the impossible task of trying to stop two players. He had no hope and the easy two on one led to the first try of the game. The Gaijin defense held solid for the rest of the game but unfortunately everything they tried to do to peg back the result came to nothing because of bad handling. The Baboons had obviously done their homework as they shut down Bati & Kevin very quickly. This also hampered the ball getting out to the fastest back on the field in Ian Miller. On the last play of the game Hitoshi Chihara kicked ahead. There were some groans from those on the sideline, thinking that he should have kept the ball in hand. But then Ian Miller appeared from nowhere to overtake everyone and it seemed that the Gaijin might take the game on the buzzer. Unfortunately the ball took a right turn and just beat Miller into touch before he could get there and save the day. Final result: 5 v 0 to the Baboons. So near yet so far! I guess the Trophy Cabinet will have to wait until the 2010 edition.
The Gaijin players knew that they had not turned up to play. There was something missing from the previous day but no one could put a finger on it (burnout from three late nights & too much beer was a suggestion.). The Taipei Baboons went onto the Plate Finals where they were beaten by the Pot Bellied Pigs 19 v 14. The Gaijin went on to the bar where they were eventually beaten by the beer (Well, that’s what the poolside garden at the Makati Citadel Inn thinks!).
In the Cup Final the CS Larrikins, with Jeremy Paul, the most capped Wallabies hooker, and Frank Bunce, the most capped All Black center, on the team sheet, beat the Singapore Barbarians 17 v 10 to the delight of the crowd.
Overall, the team had done the club proud, both on and off the field. Every tourist had played well and partied hard.
The players would also like to express their thanks to our supporters on the tour. Long time supporter and sponsor Peter Lucas, formerly manager of the Oakwood Roppongi T-Cube, and now directing operations for Oakwood from Singapore, supported the team from the sidelines and kept the beer wenches busy. Also lending valuable support were Bev Harris, mother of Joffa & Pete, and Brenda, Mike`s “bitch” (they were her words upon introduction).
Once again, thanks to the boys who traveled from further afield than the Motherland. Thanks JC, Che, Cracker, Blister, Handcuff and G-nuts.
Apisai Bati © (Coconut)
Rory Brown (Yarpy)
Hitoshi Chihara (Samurai)
Lonnie Childress (Hands)
John Condon (Nipple Twister)
Gaz Dalrymple (Fat Bastard)
Joffa Harris (Popeye)
Peter Harris (Blister)
Toru Kanamori (The Body)
Chris Lucas (Centipede)
Ian Miller (G-nuts)
Takeshi Ochiai (Hello)
Mike Parks (Handcuff)
Graeme Priddy (Cracker)
Kevin Rebay (I`m Sorry)
Mauro Sauco (Pork)
Crispian Short (Che)
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