Dateline: Sunday April 13th, 2008. Thirteen is often an auspicious number and on the weekend it proved to be once again for an overconfidence, dare I say, apathetic Gaijin team.
Fresh from a five week layoff from our last game, the Tokyo Gaijin arrived in Saitama for our first game of Tokyo Cup 2008. The Gaijin were scheduled to play the Fuji Club at noon. Having won our previous two meetings with the Fuji Club, the first victory in last year’s Tokyo Cup, and most recently a comprehensive victory by the Gaijin back in October, the Gaijin went into Saitama confident of another victory. The Gaijin had in previous weeks focused on playing forwards rugby, much attention being put to rucking and mauling, the key being ball retention. Our game plan therefore was to keep possession through forwards breaking the advantage line, some good rucking, and eventually shipping it to the backs to expose gaps in the opposition’s defence. As noon approached, the Gaijin ran on to a muddy field in Saitama in great anticipation.
A month has passed since the TGRFC returned from their 4th consecutive Manila 10s tournament, and it was met with success both on and off the pitch. The line-up for the Gaijin was unusually strong, both in breadth and depth. A total of 15 players met in Manila representing a total of 7 countries (8 if you include Liverpool). Ex-TGRFC's regular hooker Crispian Short made a guest appearance from Australia, bringing with him a friend with whom he plays club rugby, John Condon. Team manager Joffa didn't need to talk Pete Harris, his younger brother into making his third flight out to the Philippines from Newcastle in the UK. And with Pete came Nick Rudd, a Scouser who was in the Singapore Barbarians 2006 Manila 10s Tournament Cup-winning squad – albeit briefly. Tour veterans from Japan include Alaister Nimmo, Joffa Harris and Toru Kanamori, which left room for plenty of fresh faces… Bati, Semi, Rob Poulton Erin Hughes, Will Thompson, Lonnie Childress, Hitoshi Chihara, and Matt Downer who was given the position of Tour Captain in the absence of Murray Clarke.
Sunday March 9 saw the TGRFC squad head to the National Japan Rugby team’s training quarters in Tatsumi for an anniversary game to celebrate 10 years of Deaf Rugby in Japan. Normally the Tatsumi ground is off limits to anyone for matches, but the Deaf Rugby crew had scored a win and gained access to the hard dry turf that made for a great running rugby spectacle.
Saturday March 8th, 2008, saw a small band of Gaijin head to Shibuya for the Shuto League closing ceremonies for the Close 2007 season (prolonged because of rained out games). There they were awarded the Shuto League Champions Cup and were privileged to have one their own named as Tournament MVP for 2007: APISAI BATI.. This comes on top of winning the Tokyo Gaijin`s MVP award for the 2007 season.
Apisai Bati, a Rishkul College product from Suva, Fiji, joined the Tokyo Gaijin club back in