On the 21st of September a good squad was summoned to Yanokuchi Field, near the Tamagawa riverside of west Tokyo, to play out the second Shuto League game of the season against Fuji Club, a team that are quickly gaining status as a valued club to base our seasons performances on. The previous match had seen the Gaijin go down; so many were keen to exact revenge.
A good squad meant that we could play the game at an increased tempo, and team regulars could take some time out so that more youthful (or ‘greener’) members could get some valuable playing time. Regular captain Murray Clarke was sidelined for the day at his kids` sports festival so captaincy for this match would be handed to regular vice, Matt Downer. Will Thompson’s status would be elevated to forwards leader and vice captain, and this proved to be too much for the man to handle as he succumbed to a dubious neck strain early in the match and was taken away by ambulance so that he could meet some local nurses. Our ability to make untrue comments about Will is supported by the fact that Will is doing fine and is expected to make a full recovery! The doctors did some scans on his skull and were a bit surprised to find it empty. Other than that, he has some ligament damage to his neck which will be painful for a while but not life-threatening. The game kicked off at 2:00pm in slightly wet conditions with a large patch of gravel at the western end that the gaijin would be playing towards in the first half.
An excellent squad gathered for our third game of the 2008 Shuto League Championship and there were high hopes that we could play some entertaining rugby to match the superb day that had dawned on Sunday the 5th of October. The weather turned to custard, and although the same can't quite be said for the Gaijin, who ended up victors on the day, it was a far from convincing performance. Within the first 5 minutes, the ever reliable Frenchman Kevin Rebay had made a break and put the usually reliable Fijian Joe Vandell in the clear with a well-timed pass. Inexplicably, Joe spilt the ball forward with the try line beckoning. This was to become the theme of the day. Errors at crucial times leading to a litany of missed opportunities and numerous heart palpitations for those on the side-line as the game drew to a close.
Watching the first half from the side-line, the thing that stood out was the complete dominance of the Gaijin scrum. With the front row in particular working extremely hard, we were able to win our ball easily and also push the Mushi back on their own feeds, leading to a number of tightheads. The problem perhaps was over dominance - at times the Gaijin pack was moving forward so fast
The first match for the Tokyo Gaijins Shuto Leage season came to pass this past weekend and in many ways it went exactly as expected. The week leading up to the match showed that people were excited and eager to get back on the pitch and prove that the Gaijin were the team to beat. Emails were flying about who would start, who deserved what and who had been training and who was truly ready to play. A lot of talk had been made - especially by the Captain - about the potential effects of the ELV's and how they may change the tactics of our play. In particular, the added emphasis on fitness was a focal point. The forecast was hot and humid with a 35% chance of showers. All proved to be correct as weather had been stormy with a lot of thunder and lightening through the latter half of summer. As the Gaijin warmed up on a scorching and humid (post-rain) day, the need for water during warm-up breaks showed how the humidity would play early on. From the start of the match the Gaijin seemed to not be able to find their pace. While there was no lack of desire to get hands on the ball and make plays on the field. Plays were some what disjointed and there was not really a sense that things were firing on all cylinders. Captain Murray Clarke did his best to raise the alarm, and get the Gaijin to pick up the intensity.