Continuing on with our interviews of people that have made the Tokyo Gaijin what it is today we come to Fijian Apisai Bati. Bati, from the small island of Moturiki in Fiji, is a member of a small select group of people that have played for the Gaijin for more than 10 years. Apart from a 2 year hiatus, where he played for the Blue Sox in the Kanagawa League, he has been a regular member of the Gaijin since late 1994.
This year he has missed a lot of games as he has become coach of his son’s team and this has kept him quite busy. All three of his children Bati Junior (15), Rachael (14) & Athela (12) are accomplished rugby players. Bati Junior is the Captain of his school team and the two girls are already in the Japan 7’s Academy team despite not yet being 15.
Bati has been instrumental in getting quite a few Fijians to join the team over the years and held court as head Kava server at quite a few parties over the years. His place of employment, the Beer Station in Ebisu, is also the team’s regular Christmas Party venue and through Bati, they always give the team an excellent deal.
TG: When did you join the Tokyo Gaijin?
Bati: I joined in November, 1994, just after Joffa.
TG: Why did you join the Tokyo Gaijin?
Bati: I was drinking at Shin-Hi-no-Moto in Yurakucho after work and met the owner Andy Lunt. He was captain of the team at the time and encouraged me to come along.
TG: How long have you played rugby?
Bati: Since when I was a kid. Since I was about 5 years old.
TG: What positions do you play?
Bati: Centre, wing, flanker and number 8. I prefer the backrow.
TG: What are your fondest memories in your time with the Gaijin?
Bati: The China Tour. I think it was ’95 or ’96. We played in the inaugural Beijing 10’s.
TG: Who is your funniest or craziest team mate?
Bati: Joffa! We had to lock him in the toilet on the plane to Hong Kong! (Tour rules deny an explanation!)
TG: Why have you played rugby for the Gaijin for so long?
Bati: Because it is the best club team in Japan. If you play with a Japanese team it is not so interesting. You can do what you wnat to do. Japanese clubs are very strict.
TG: How do you prepare for games?
Bati: No sex the night before games. In the morning I clean up my boots and set up my stuff the night before. Focus on the game and have a good warm-up and stretch.
Bati’s Dream 22
1. Takayuki Kitajima (Japan)
2. Yukio Suyama (Japan)
3. Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan)
4. Murray Clarke (NZ)
5. Richard O’Shea (Wales)
6. Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
7. Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji)
8. Joffa Harris (Australia)
9. Matt Carruthers (Australia)
10. Brendon Doherty (Australia)
11. Apisai Bati (Fiji)
12. Matt Downer (NZ)
13. Damien Wallis (Asutralia)
14. Jamie Myers (Australia)
15. Garna Dowling (Australia)
16. Toru Kanamori (Japan)
17. Kiel O’Connell (USA)
18. Nik Pavesic (Croatia)
19. Rich Ward (USA)
20. Alistair Nimmo (England)
21. Sefo Misky (Samoa)
22. Koroi Baba (Fiji)