The annually contested Oakwood cup between the Seoul Survivors and the Tokyo Gaijin was this year hosted on Japanese soil. A larger group from Korea made the trip than the Gaijin group who made the inaugural trip last season. This permitted a full 80 minutes of 15-a-side rugby on the excellent Tatsumi soil, and the match did not dissapoint the build-up. The Gaijin fielded a team that was overall smaller than their opponents, and faced big and powerful runners from the Survivors loose forwards and centres. In Gaijin favour however was a perfectly functioning scrum and flyhalf in the form of Tatsuya (?) and Toshi who created new attacking opportunities for the whole match. The gaijin forwards were supported by a larger bench than the survivors, which enabled them to compete around the ground with the athletic visitors.
After a panicked start, both teams settled into their own gameplay. The gaijin by keeping the ball more conservatively and being penalised less at breakdowns enjoyed the majority of possession, but needed to exert continuous pressure to break the committed survivors defense for the first score. In retaliation, a tremendous lone effort by Adam broke through numerous strong gaijin tackles to score under the posts on 2 or 3 occasions.
The gaijin’s score was gained from a variety of efforts; with Hitoshi chasing Toshi’s accurately weighted kick for the first, and the ball flying out to Wataru on the wing for the second. The third try came as Tatsu and the gaijin defense pushed up quickly, squeezing a mis-timed pass from the Survivors that Tatsu seized and carried 20m for a solo score.
The match drew to an exciting conclusion within the last ten minutes. The gaijin, trailing by 2 points once again mounted an attack on the Survivors try line, only to find the way blocked at every juncture. Being awarded a penalty for their efforts in front of the posts, it was hoped that a PK would leave the survivors with too much work in the last five minutes. With 3 more points on the board, the gaijin turned to face the visitors who were clearly determined not to leave the Cup behind in Japan. From the restart the Gaijin valiantly tried to cover all the lines that the Survivors were running but it wasn’t enough to prevent a score in the corner. Following the missed conversion, both hosts and visitors listened in anticipation for the full time whistle, with precisely opposite reactions upon realising there were still literally seconds remaining on the clock. From a turnover after the restart, the gaijin, desperately aware of the damage that an infringement or mistake would cause, progressed to the Survivors 22. Successive rucks by what seemed like the whole forward pack and most of the backs brought the gaijin to within touching distance of the line. With a clear head and a couple of decades experience in those situations, Toru Kanamori drove off the back of a ruck, drawing defenders onto himself as he quickly recycled enabling Tatsu to deliver a quick ball out. The receiver was the eternal and long-standing member Sou Nagashima, who has been rarely spotted these last couple of years. Cementing his comeback with a strong weaved run, his try put the gaijin back on top at the end of play. With the whistle sounding after the conversion, the gaijin happily lifted the Oakwood Cup for the first time.
Final score: 29:24
Gaijin scores: 4 tries Hitoshi (conversion Toshi), Wataru (conversion Toshi), Tatsu, Sou (conversion Yamagen). 1 Penalty Toshi
Man of the match chosen by Survivors: Toshi