by Stewart Henwood

By Saturday lunchtime, we had an awesome lineup of just 2 guys. Pulling the pin was not an option. The panicked e-mails went out and we managed to scrape together 11 guys, including a visitor from Italy. The weather was great; not too hot and not too cold.
In true Cru tradition, we arrived a little ‘fashionably’ late, but our 1st game was the 4th of the day, so no worries there. But, how about the table of dignitaries wearing ties and blazers? How about the teams fielding line-ups of 25 players or so? Oh dear, lucky we didn’t cancel our attendance that morning, it would not have reflected well on the club.

We quickly got organised but started to worry about what we had got ourselves into. Young, fit, and fast players were everywhere.
We had 5 university Club teams : Takushoku U, Keio U, Soka U, Waseda U, and ICU. We were one of three Club teams : the Cru, Acorn RFC, and Kurumi RFC. The draw would be split according to winners and losers of the first 4 games. We did not want to go into the losers’ group; we needed to win our first game against Acorn.
8 minute halves, with a 1 minute break. Our first game was tight, but we won 24 – 19 with 4 tries (2 converted) to Brandon, Van (2), and Steven. This game saw a welcome return to the pitch for Eric W, who had been out for a season with a now-healed shoulder injury. Our Italian friend, Andrea D was on the bench.

The losers’ group played their semifinals, followed by the first winners’ semi. And then it was our turn again. Could we play, nay, did we want to play another game (Final ) after our semi….. Well, we were up against Keio. They looked sharp. In the morning they all turned up with ties and blazers, even their managers were wearing ties and blazers, albeit with skirts, which made them look…. well, very prim and proper ( just my type. :) The general consensus of the team was to dump Tooley, and get stylish looking young university ladies as managers for next season.
It was great tussle, one I thought we could have won….. but we didn’t. We lost 5 – 10, with our try coming from our rampaging centre, Van, who created probably one of the most memorable moments of the tournament by carrying a ‘tackler’ on his back for a dozen yards or so! The spectators also loved our powerfull runs, and get-out-of-my-way hand-offs and fends that have become a very powerful weapon in our arsenal of late. Andrea made his debut for the Cru, coming on for the second half.
All in all, I think we made a good account of ourselves and seemed to impress everyone with our style of rugby and good clean play, except perhaps Travis, who got penalised for blatantly pushing a player out of his way in the contest for the ball. Travis’s defense was “Well, he pushed me first!” Yes, Travis, but he was a little more discreet. It caused quite a laugh on the sidelines. :)

I reckon we actually could have won the tournament if we had had 3 or 4 more of our regular players…. Nevermind, there’s always next year. I hope we get invited back.
The aftermatch function was held on the 13th Fl. of a Soka University building. There was food and beer, and the requisite speeches. We certainly felt underdressed as everyone was in their No. 1s but us. We also found out that the day’s dignitaries included the Vice President of the Japan Rugby Union, and the Chairman of the Top League ! Not to worry, we were still the last to leave and were handed a couple of ‘travellers’ for the train on the way out.
A great day, capped by Tooley and Trav being left alone by everyone to quietly get smashed in an Izakaya over the remainder of the evening.

321s went to : 5 points : Macer ‘Van’ Allen, 4: Galdric Porta, 3: Steve Howden, 2=: Travis Dixon and Rob Galbraith

The eventual winner of the tournament was Takushoku U, beating Keio U by 12 – 7



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