by Tooley
Today, the boys were on a mission, but not the usual mission. We were on a mission to introduce the game of rugby to some of the most important people in the world to rugby…. kids. We had been invited to ‘do something rugby’ for disadvantaged kids, so we put our heads together and came up with a plan; a rugby clinic. We were going to show these kids what the game of rugby was all about, and maybe even kick-start the career of a future Japan representative, or at least make them understand what they were looking at on the telly.

The atmosphere at the 12:30pm meet at the station nearest to the Home was a little different to the usual shenanigins. We all seemed to feel that we were about to do something ‘constructive’ for a change, instead of the usual ‘destruction’. We had a quick meeting, were introduced to our liaison, Makiko, and her daughter, Jenny, and decided our roles for the afternoon. We checked our gear and, unusually, had everything we needed! We headed off, with a couple of wags and Evan’s Dad in tow, to what was going to be a very rewarding afternoon, picking up some ( a lot of ) ice-creams on the way.

On arrival, nobody at the Home was really sure of what we were going to do, only that we needed to corral 26 kids ranging in ages between 5(?) and 15 into the play area. The matron, Sister ‘Theresa ‘, called the kids out through the in-house PA system, telling them that “the rugby players” were here. This resulted in kids ‘coming out of the woodwork’ as one of our group observed. After a quick introduction, and noticing that the kids seemed to be ready for something exciting without seeming to be sure what it was, we got changed and got organised.

The main part of the afternoon was our ‘clinic’. We split our group into 5 pods, and split the kids into 5 groups. Every 15 minutes or so, the groups rotated around until all the kids had experienced each pod. This is what we had going on…. Pod 1 – Passing /Catching – Dominic Sumner and Gareth Lim, Pod 2 – Scrum/Lineouts – Derek Simmons and William Germann, Pod 3 – Tackling – Hiromi Yamawaki and John Akiba, Pod 4 – Kicking – Chris O’Sullivan, Pod 5 – Rucks/ Mauls – Evan Hitchman and Stewart Henwood.

When the balls came out, the kids quickly figured out that this was going to be a fun afternoon, and we never looked back. Kids were rucking and mauling, kicking balls, tackling, running around trying to pass and catch, and even getting thrown up into the air to catch the ball in a ‘lineout’ (probably the most popular ‘thing’ of the afternoon). It… was… bedlam! But everyone was having a really good time, us included.

We took a quick drinks-break – mostly for us, I think – and then got into some tag games (enjoyable chaos) and a little tag rugby. At the end of it all, the ice-creams came out, and everyone took a well-deserved breather. This was followed by the final formality of thanking the kids, and handing out 3 kids balls, and one of our Cru Balls. We will also send them all a Cru Supporters Pin each.

It was a little hard to say goodbye to our new-found friends, but we walked away knowing that we had planted some seeds of future supporters and players, and feeling that we had perhaps done some good.

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