The Tokyo Gaijin RFC had done all the hard work through the pool and knockout stages of the Tokyo Cup and reached the final for the first time in their 25 year history. They were up against Supermen RFC, who they had thumped 85 v 17 in the 1st round of the Champion's League (aka. Cup Winners Cup) in which they went on to win the final against Mandara RFC to create history. This game provided them with another potential first - Tokyo Cup 1st Divsion champions.The Gaijin team on this day was quite a different team though as they had been devastated by injuries in their backs throughout the campaign. They were also missing two young Fijian backs (Kelepi & Bati Junior) who were standouts back in March.
Supermen are a quality outfit and obviously one of the best teams in Tokyo. Depite the thumping back in March they were favorites for the game and the injury count for the Gaijin made it more so. The Gaijin stayed in the game for 60 minutes but the overwhelming penalty count against them and the lack of depth brought about by the injury toll started to become apparent as the game rolled to its conclusion.
The referee was particularly harsh on the Gaijn and quickly and heavily penalised them for any perceived infractions whereas he showed Supermen a lot more leniency. The Gaijin received three yellow cards throughout the match. This was a burden that made it difficult for them to win.
Misato Sankei Sports Area provided the arena for this Tokyo Cup 4th Round showdown, though if the venue is familiar the result was a welcome change from last year as a muscular Gaijin outfit went from a set-piece platform to the winner's podium.
No, the Tokyo Gaijin RFC players were not playing out some bizarre fantasy in the bowels of Kabukicho or Roppongi! Nor was this some sadistic pre-game ritual. Girls RFC is another name in a long list of wierd and wierder rugby team names here in Japan.
This match was arranged in the middle of the Tokyo Cup season to give game time to new boys and guys who are still learning the game and regularly "ride the pine". The Tokyo Cup 1st Division is no place to blood new talent or let newbies gain experience. So the Gaijin started this game with what was essentially a 'B' team - rookies, old farts, newbies & a bunch of experienced guys waiting on the bench.