Acorn Tens 4

Acorn Tens 2

Acorn Tens 1

Acorn Tens 3

By Frank Saffrey

It’s been six months since I donned a Crusaders shirt and although faces change, waking up at the crack of dawn with a hangover to travel out to the middle of nowhere it seems is a constant with the mighty Cru!

Soka University was going to be the location of the battlefield in which younger, fitter, faster and better drilled Japanese university teams would run rings around us at Rugby 10’s (Which is as I’m sure you know, not much like its big brother Rugby Union). This then was rather worrying when we turned up with 13 forwards and 4 backs, which is a bit like turning up to a tank battle with a butter knife, utterly bloody useless.

Now it is worth noting that this university is a lush campus embedded in the mountainous area around Hachioji, with a rich history, vaults of money, picturesque surroundings and the slight issue of it being a cult. This however did not perturb our mighty leader Sgt Tooley as he strode off towards the changing rooms with the vigour of a young stallion, ignoring calls from the team that we were not getting changed there. It later came to light that they were using the main changing rooms for the girl’s health exams. Planned?

Whilst warming up there was a slight whiff of confidence (possibly stale booze) in the Crusaders camp, we had played our opponents Acorn before and had come away victorious. This however was 10’s the different beast that favours the fit and fast and doesn’t make a great use of power and brute force. We knew if we could keep the ball in hand we had the game wrapped up. The first half was close with just 5 points in the Crusaders favour from Tsukasa, we at this moment realised that we needed to play smarter rugby as every forward was out of breath huffing and puffing so much that the three little pigs were sighted running into the distance. We regrouped and decided that no matter the reality that we would bite down and show true grit! The second half opened with a beautiful try from the returning Brendan G who we are pretty sure just turned up to show his visiting mother he did play sports on a weekend and didn’t just binge drink. The score line held till right at the dying moments when Acorn scored a much deserved consolation in the corner, finally that sweet sweet whistle!

Next came the other joy of a tens tournament waiting around for our next match (the two hours was the perfect amount of time to get our breath back). However we sprung back into action for the next warm-up session. Next up were a young, fit and keen university side who wanted to stuff the old fat fools. The first half we dominated with tries from Reece “I did warn him” Morgan and Yahye and a lovely conversion from Matt Sparrow. However the half time team talk certainly made the oppo come out fighting with three quick succession tries with no reply from the Cru, we were defeated, deflated but we still had some juice in the tank.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for it to end and a beer to arrive. However we stepped up for a final game and I think interest had been lost. We were to play Soka university in the plate game. It started badly with the spritely sods running circles around the entire team, it finished just as bad with them running more circles around the entire team. The goat they sacrificed prior to the game must have really worked them wonders as they were an unstoppable force, and by force I mean speed. The highlight of this game however was the wonderful recently wed Captain Cocks who stepped in as full back for the last 5 minutes of the game. Now all that beer in Thailand mixed with the elation of being a married man must have gotten to his grey matter just at the moment the ball was kicked over our heads and the Soka university squad chased it at warp factor 9. Where was our esteemed Captain and replacement full back? At the bottom of a ruck! Game, set and match Soka.

A very formal presentation followed with speeches and something that was almost passable as beer (where on earth did they buy that stuff?!?). Then came the drinking games with bottles of Pepsi, at which point the wife turns to me and says “You really were not lying, rugby players are all idiots no matter where they are from”. Special mention to Matt Sparrow who inhaled a bottle of Pepsi, years of drinking finally coming to some use to show up the younger fitter boys. At least we won something!

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