Continuing on with our 20th Year Anniversary interviews of people who have made the Tokyo Gaijin RFC what it is today we come to Jeff "Joffa" Harris.
Joffa, of Newcastle, Australia, is the longest serving player in the history of the club with over 15 years of service. He is also the oldest current player at 43. He has held the position of Captain in the past and has been manager for the past 8 years.
TG: Joffa, how did you get your nickname?
Joffa: I'm not entirely sure. I believe that Garna Dowling and perhaps Kaz Naito came up with it in the early days. Still don't know why. Before that it was the 'Black Swamp'. I think that was something to do with me on the drink. I was told I resembled the creature from the Black Swamp.
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.
70+ members, WAGS, friends and kiddies gathered at the Beer Station in Ebisu for the annual awards dinner of the Tokyo Gaijin Rugby Football Club. The night went off without a hitch and all were in festive spirits after a very memorable year; both good and bad, and people even filed outside between 10:30 and 11:40 to witness a lunar eclipse that was pre-organised for the event.
This year the Tokyo Gaijin are celebrating 20 years since the club was established. This is quite an achievement when one considers the transient nature of the 'Gaijin' in Japan. Along the way many people have worked hard to make this club what it is. In celebration of 20 years of existence in Tokyo we take a look at some of those people who have made playing for the club a fond memory for Gaijin passing through Japan, the long term Gaijin resident and our Japanese members alike. In many cases their tireless work off the field or long-term commitment on the field has made this club stronger and we would be all the poorer without them.
We kick off the series with Jo & Shino Iwasaki who joined the team in 2002. Jo has played various positions during that time and is considered the most senior backline player. He has also filled in in the second row and flanker and will also tell you about the time he filled in at prop when one of the big men went down with an injury.