by Evan Hitchman

French Hooker Scores with the Cru!

Tokyo Crusaders 106 – 7 Setagaya

On a cold, sunny morning we all headed out to the home of Tokyo Rugby……in the middle of Ibaraki, and the wonderful Misato-Chuo ground. Clearly the profits from the recent Rugby World Cup have yet to filter through to the local grounds on offer as the “pitch” we arrived to was poor to say the least, tractor marks, mole hills, and various hard, jagged ridges of clay that would do some damage if anyone got tackled into them. Lucky for us, there wasn’t much tackling on this day!

For an early morning March friendly, in the middle of the Corona Virus panic, the turnout was tremendous with almost 30 guys in attendance, a really great effort. The Cru were wary of the opposition, Setagaya RFC who have given us some great battles in the past and pulled our pants down last outing, beating an inexperienced scratch Cru team 74-0! Today was a chance to make amends, and the boys certainly did that.

Starting team for the day was:
Shota Horie, Tom Ass the French Hooker, and Hero in the Front Row; Frank the Tank and Young Nick in the Second Row; Sean Fritzl Gibson, Britt the Skipper and the lesser known Gallagher brother, Brendan finishing out the back-row.

In the backs we had:
Matt and Jake in the halves (unlike the days of Ev and Trav, it’s nice to have a 9 who can actually pass, and a 10 who does!), bearded Nic and Ginger Simon on the wings, the Taka twins, Young Taka and Old Taka in the centres, and Josh (nobody can pick my accent) at Fullback.

We started just like Gibbo on a Cru Tour by scoring straight away with a hooker. Thomas finish off a lovely team move, and break by the backs, with the French Hooker scoring his first try in his debut game for the Crusaders! Jake added the extras, as he would every conversion that he took for the day (unlike some!) in a nice performance with the boot, as well as in hand. Young Taka was next over the line shortly after, showing a great turn of pace, and what will hopefully the first of many tries for the Cru, as the backs sizzled with the forwards providing quick ball for Matt and Jake to distribute and carves holes all over the hapless Setagaya defence. The confidence was spreading throughout the team, with even Old Taka thinking he was a Fijian for the moment, and carrying the ball in one hand and popping passes left, right and centre.

The Cru could’ve been further ahead had skipper Brett not bombed a couple of certain tries close to the line, but he wasn’t to be denied a 3rd time and barged over from close range. Setagaya got a try back, through some sustained pressure when they were able to string a few phases together, but after this barely touched the ball as the forwards dominated, and any time the ball went through the backs, the Cru used the speed and skill to blaze through and score some brilliant tries.

Brendan bagged himself a meat pie, before Josh at fullback scored a 9 minute hat-trick, surely the fastest in Cru history to put us up at Half Time by a Shitload to 7!

After the break, we welcomed on a few subs; Tom the Giraffe Cocks, our team Albino – Benji, Tomo, Gen, Dom, Imesh, Tristan and Ev. The scoring didn’t stop though, with Benji trying his best to out-do Josh by also bagging a hat-trick, this time in 16 minutes. Tristan matched this, with a hat-trick of his own in 16 minutes, and then put the icing on the cake, grabbing a 4th the greedy bastard late on!

Brett had enough of the backs being hogs, and grabbed his second of the day late on as well, and then proceeded to spoil what had been a perfect day for the Cru so far by missing the conversion straight from in front. A miss that would go on to be crucial, denying the Cru a win by 100 points, as the end scoreline was 106-7, a mere 99 point differential!

Last, but not least Young Nick also bagged himself a try, becoming what we believe to be the youngest ever Crusader try-scorer in history! Well done Nick, top stuff!

A great game, and some wonderful bits of skill and individual performances in the backs, that was all set-up by a dominant forward pack and set-piece that gave Matt and Jake clean ball to work wonders with, and they certainly did that.

MVP, as given by the opposition went to Jake for a top notch game at #10.

Cru MVP Points went t:
1 – Young Taka, 2 – Brett, 3 – Jake, 4 – Tristan, 5 – Josh

A big piss up was had after the game at the Oji-san bar, and all in all it was a great day out.
Onwards and upwards now as we head towards the Mac Cup vs YCAC and the Tokyo Cup where we are a big chance to take home some silverware, and that’s not just the cutlery that Frank will steal from the Hard Rock Cafe!

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