November 15, 2008

Undefeated Shuto League Champions

      The Tokyo Gaijin RFC (TGRFC) turned up at Akigase Koen in Omiya knowing that victory would ensure that they had won the Shuto League competition for the 2nd year running. A loss would mean that the Gentle Giants, who the Gaijin had beaten the 24 v 7 the week before, would win the competition on points for and against. Despite winning the Shuto League last year the Gaijin had lost the last game, which didn’t bring the desired closure to the season. So there was a lot to play for. Their opposition, Baku & Clover (B&C), had beaten a couple of ‘tough’ teams and were out to rain on their parade. 

Both sides showed that they meant business in the early exchanges with good tackling and excellent rucking forcing some early turnovers. After the early ‘sorting each other out’ period it was the Gaijin who were first to post some points on the scoreboard. They were awarded a penalty just inside the B&C 22 metre line. In a piece of quick thinking, Apisai Bati quickly tapped the ball and went down the blind. This obviously surprised B&C as Bati did a quick ‘in and out’ step and bounced off a few feeble tackles to dot the ball down right next to the corner flag to give the Gaijin a promising start. Matt Downer missed the conversion from out wide to leave the score at 5 v 0. 

Soon after, from a penalty for offside, Matt Downer posted a penalty goal to enhance the margin to 8 v 0 in favour of the Gaijin. His booming kicks in general play were also relieving the Gaijin from some sustained pressure by the B&C club. Soon after Downer was again in the thick of the action as he cut through the B&C back line on the edge of the ruck and raced up field. As he came to the cover defense he passed to Joffa Harris who was backing up on the inside. Harris beat the fullback but soon realized that he didn’t have the pace to get away from him or the covering winger. His left-side winger was nowhere to be seen so Harris turned the ball back inside to the flying Yoichi Ohira. Unfortunately a B&C cover defender got his hand in the road to knock the ball on. The referee didn’t see it that way and awarded a scrum to B&C for a Gaijin knock on. Another chance gone begging!
November 3, 2008


CoinOn October 26th the Tokyo Gaijin RFC (TGRFC) had a date with the Microsoft Sharks. A non-Shuto League match played under Shuto League rules allowed the club to get non-regular members more field time. With regular captain Murray Clarke resting a broken nose and Will Thompson also out, this allowed Takeshi Ochiai and Erin Hughes to get maximum time in the second row. Former hooker Mike Tokue, making a comeback (at prop) to rugby after 10 years out of the game, was starting at loose-head and Sou Nagashima got a rare run on the blind-side flank, his favorite position (he’s a bit of a handyman and plays wing and hooker with equal aplomb). The Microsoft Sharks dressed nicely and looked the part. Apparently they used to be a company team and were on trial by the Shuto League as possible new entrants to the league next year, and they were also trialing to see if the standard of the league suited them. I think the TGRFC were the Guinea pigs! Maybe they want Mr. Gates or someone to give them money for playing. That would be nice but they have a fair way to go before that happens and first up was the Tokyo Gaijin.

The Gaijin were led by long-serving dynamo Apisai Bati and ever-steady Yoichi Ohira at first-five, while the regular skipper and VC watched from the sidelines. Microsoft kicked off into the waiting arms of Kevin Rebay who smashed it up along the right wing and formed a ruck. Quick ball saw Apisai Bati make a nice 40 metre break with direct running but the last pass to his supports on the inside was almost intercepted but luckily for the Gaijin it was knocked on. From the following scrum big Fijian Joe Nawaqavanua, at outside centre, smashed through several tacklers to make another 30 metres. The ball was recycled quickly to Adam Shockley, who chipped ahead, but the ball ended up going too deep and out of play over the dead ball line before any of the chasers could retrieve it. It was a very strong start from the Gaijin with Yoichi Ohira, rarely spotted at standoff for the TGRFC, dishing out great ball for his outside backs and both Fijian centres making easy yards out wide.
November 3, 2008

Tokyo Gaijin Vs Koganei Green

CoinOn the 19th October the Tokyo Gaijin RFC (TGRFC) were up against Koganei Green RFC in the 4th round of the Shuto League. The Koganei Club was the only team to beat the TGRFC in the previous season’s Shuto League (Season 2007). Koganei had played hard rugby and employed some "dirty" tactics to infuriate the TGRFC forwards the last time the two teams met with the Gaijin giving away penalty after penalty and ultimately the match. This game began with the intention to go in positive, and rise above the taunting actions and illegal plays, to play a positive game and not lose the referee.

Even from the outset it was clear the referee was intimidated when he spoke to the sides. He apparently did not have much experience at this level and no experience refereeing a “Gaijin” side, which put him automatically on the other teams` side, or at least gave them a good chance to get in his ear. Koganei for their part did not back down and once again seemed to be employing tactics to frustrate the Gaijin - taunting us into a meltdown, which very nearly worked late in the second half.
October 28, 2008

Tokyo Gaijin Vs Fuji Club


Yanokuchi mumblings  Vol: 9/21

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.