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2016 Sugadaira Tour

Dateline: 9th & 10th of July, 2016

The Sugadaira tour 2016 was a great success, only losing 1 game over the whole weekend.  
Day 1
The tour started from Shinjuku in typical Japanese rugby fashion with a meeting time of 07:30 in the morning with showers, which persisted throughout the day.  Gorka decided to get lost amongst the commuters rush and was late by 20 minutes (the fine is still due I believe).  
The Sugadaira tour consisted of two parts: the 7's tournament on the Saturday and a 15's match on the Sunday.  
It comes as no surprise, but our team consisted of mainly forwards – not ideal for 7's but that is Tokyo Gaijin!
This year's 7's tournament only consisted of a total of 4 teams in a simple league style.  Our first game wasn't so great, with our one and only loss.  That being said, it was a fairly close game with the difference of only 5 points between us.  It was as close as you would get to a tic-tac-toe game of rugby with them striking first blood, straight from a kick-off after leaving Gorka in the dust.  After, readjusting our mentality from the standard 15's to 7's though, we managed to get back to our winning ways by winning the rest of our games on Saturday.  Unfortunately, that was not enough as the team that beat us earlier went on to top the tournament.  
Also we were able to get a first glimpse of a new player and a visiting player; Ben Kramer and Gift Egbelu.  Both of whom had smashing debut matches during the 7's tournament, scoring several tries between them through-out.
1st game: v RaccoonDogs (Gumma)
Scores: TGRFC 19 (3T – Gorka 1, Kenta 2 / 2G) – RaccoonDogs 28 (4T / 4G)
2nd game: v All Jin Jan (Tokyo)
Scores: TGRFC 35 (5T – Nick 2, Jeremy 1, Gift 1, Paul 1 / 5G) – AJJ 5 (1T / 0G)
3rd game: v Tamagawa Junkies (Kanagawa)
Scores: TGRFC 22 (4T – Nick 1, Ben 1, Jeremy 1, Yusuke 1 / 1G) –  19 (3T / 2G) 
Saturday 7's Players:
  • Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan) [Manager]
  • Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
  • Kosuke Yamamoto (Japan)
  • Tomofumi 'Tommy' Nasuno (Japan)
  • Gorka Gerdiaga (Basque Country)
  • John Simpson (USA)
  • Paul Bertier (France)
  • Gift Egbelu (USA)
  • Kenta Karino (Japan)
  • Nikola Pavesic (Croatia)
  • Yusuke Hahsimoto (Japan)
  • Jeremy Burns (USA)
  • Chris Musgrave (Scotland)
  • Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
  • Ben Kramer (USA)
After the games, the team attended the Opening Ceremony Party for the teams playing on Sunday.  The ceremony, as per usual, offered All-you-can-eat & drink and also various raffle prizes.
Unlike last year, our luck was down and we only had 1 winner in the raffle, Donny.  The majority of the prizes were a box of lettuces which is the prominent crop in Sugadaira and they are delicious. After stuffing ourselves with steaks, curry and other dishes, and quenching our thirst with alcohol, we returned to the hotel where we indulged ourselves with more alcohol till the wee-hours of night.
Day 2
On Sunday, everyone got up from whatever sleep we could get and left our hotel like zombies from a horror movie.  The weather was perfect for rugby with the sun shining through-out the valley and a light breeze sweeping through.  
Our opponents were a team from Nagoya, Moriyama Rugby Football Club Rainbow, MRFC Rainbow for short.  The match-up was highly in our favor with the opposing team's average age within the high 30's to our high 20's.  However, they fought bravely and tried to keep up and though the score line does not reflect it, they fought bravely and put up a fight. Obviously, we were nowhere near peak condition with our heavy drinking the previous night and being very out of position (Nik at Fly-half is far from ideal).  
There were many amazing plays throughout.  Gift scored 2 tries on his debut for TGRFC with one of them coming off a great sequence of offloads from both the forwards and the backs and with Gift dipping and dodging though from 15 meters out to score.  Jeremy, finished off his hat-trick with a brilliant rip from close to our 22 and plowing through till he eventually cleared a path for a dash to the finish.  Finally, the impossible happened over the weekend as Nik our makeshift fly-half managed to keep a 100% record in conversions the whole game, on top of that all of which were drop-kicks.  May he be the miracle kicker we have been looking for?
Getting back to the point, the victory was great but what's important was that we had heaps of fun and the bonds between us grew stronger.  Also, making new bonds with the likes of Gift and Ben who we hope we will see more of in the near future.  
We would like to thank the support team as always who were on the sideline cheering and bringing on the water, a massive thanks to the tour organizers, Tomo and Sato-san.  Also, a massive thanks to Yuji and Kenta for providing extra booze on Saturday night.  And of course, the players who joined us for the tour – it wouldn't have been the way it was without you guys.
Scores: TGRFC 77 – 26  (first half: 35 – 14)
TGRFC – Tries:Chris Muasgrave, Hiroshi Fukuzawa 3, Gift Egbelu 2, Jeremy Burns 3, John Simpson 2, Consversions: Nik Pavesic 11
MRFC Rainbow: Tries: 4 Cons: 3
Sunday's Squad:
  1. Kosuke Yamamoto (Japan)
  2. Tomo Setoguchi (c) (Japan)
  3. Tsuanki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
  4. Gorka Gerdiaga (Basque)
  5. John Simpson (USA)
  6. Paul Bertier (France)
  7. Gift Egbelu (USA)
  8. Hiroshi Fukazawa (Japan)
  9. Kenta Karino (Japan)
  10. Nikola Pavesic (Croatia)
  11. Yusuke Hashimoto (Japan)
  12. Jeremy Burns (USA)
  13. Chris Musgrave (Scotland)
  14. Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
  15. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
  16. Natsuhiko Kunitomo (Japan)
  17. Ben Kramer (USA)
  18. Tomofumi 'Tommy' Nasuno (Japan)

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