FT: Crusaders 140 – Zenkai Beers 17 (Final match score registered as 35-0 per Tokyo Cup play-forfeit rules).

by Matt Sparrow

This Sunday was our chance to right some wrongs from previous Tokyo Cup campaigns. Past seasons have seen our Tokyo Cup fizzle out; two years on the trot we had our final deciding game with just 2 or 3 players on the bench. This year was looking to be very different. We were turning up to the game with a healthy subs bench (and then some!), many of whom would easily be starting members on any given weekend. As such, spirits were high when we arrived at the park: ready to do a job and prove that we were the worthy 1 st place team in the second division; fully deserving of our promotion.This meant that the disappointment was palpable when we learned that the Zenkai Beers had forfeited – What did this mean for our campaign? Did we have a big enough try difference to secure automatic promotion? As it turns out we did (an automatic win of 35-0), but I think we were keen to prove a point to the other teams in the division.

The Beers put together a Bar-Bars squad using players from other teams also playing that day to face off against the Cru. We took to the pitch after a solid warm-up, and at least two or three team talks. The weather was quite the departure from our previous Tokyo Cup outing, overcast and mild. In a word, perfect.
(Frank would have loved it).

The whistle went at 14:26, and the first try was scored at 14:29. This would set the pace of the game for the afternoon. I really would love to recount all the tries that were scored that day, but the fact is with a try scored approximately every 4 minutes (the longest we went without scoring was 8 minutes, the shortest time between tries being 2 minutes), it is pretty tricky to cover all the highlights. That being said, the forwards were really doing the business in the engine room –
absolutely dominating the scrum and the set-pieces (so much so that 68kg man mountain Benji fancied a go at second row for the last 10 of the game!), and the backs were consistently breaking the line bringing some champagne rugby to the park. The score-line came from the fantastic supporting lines that players ran, always giving the breakaway player options for the pass or a cheeky grubber through.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that rookie of the year 2017/18 Takaaki picked up a hat-trick on the day, and Alex Young nearly did too. However, someone cruelly stole one off him when he dived for the wrong line. In other news an unnamed Irish wanderer also picked up a few points… but we don’t like to talk about that, and I am quite sure he’s already told you a couple of times himself.

One of the best things about the day is that, as it was now a friendly, we were able to do rolling subs. This meant that all the players who had made the effort to turn up, not knowing if they would be selected to play, had their chance to have a run out for our final game of the season. I have to give full credit to Zenkai Beers, who, continued to put a spirited performance in and not let their heads go down despite the score-line. I was absolutely delighted to finish my tenure as the Crusaders Vice Captain leading the team out to our largest victory on record. Everyone gave a fantastic account of themselves, and I am immensely proud to have had this position with the club over the past few years.

The Zenkai Beers nominated Yon Park as their man of the match, as always his physicality on the pitch is awesome to watch, and I am always very happy that he plays for us. The Crusaders nominated the following players for their 3-2-1s:

Matt Sparrow – 5
Takaaki Onuma – 4
Chris O’Sullivan – 3
Alex Young – 2
Suguru Matsumoto – 1

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