by Rob Galbraith

Following the Cru`s default win against the Blue Lions in the previous match, the game against Fuji RFC, who finished second in Division 2 of the Tokyo Cup, would decide who would be plying their trade in Division 1 next season.
The Cru turned up in good numbers for the finale of their season; also the final game for Galdric and Philippe who would be returning to France after a short spell in Japan. As we turned up for the Tokyo Cup pre-match meeting, there were audible gasps from the opposition at the size of Van and his crop top. Credit must go to our shirt manufacturers for making shirts that are able to expand so much!

The pre-match talk centred around possession and retaining as much of it as possible given the searing heat. Sadly this seemed to fall on deaf ears and on top of giving away significant territory in the opening quarter we seemed to lack composure when in possession leading to some uncharacteristic errors. Despite dominating territory, Fuji rarely looked like scoring and the Cru defence held out. Shutting Fuji out did come at a cost however as Cocksy was carted off to hospital with a lacerated finger after twelve minutes. The first significant foray into the opposition half led to the first try of the match. Tsuyoshi slicing through the Fuji defence and then several phases later Evan was on hand to score and convert. The Cru were starting to exert themselves and their second try followed five minutes later; Philippe spotted an overlap and made a sniping run around the ruck before offloading to Van to score under the posts. The Cru probably shaded the lineouts in the first half but were completely dominant in the scrum pushing the opposition back at will.

A couple of substitutions were made at half time and the Cru started the second half as they finished the first. Trav scored following some quick ball to make it 19-0. At this point Fuji had a mountain to climb. However, as the Cru set pieces began to fade, so too did their dominance in open play. Fuji were starting to find gaps and they had lots of pace out wide to take advantage. They scored their first try. The Cru seemed stunned and from the proceeding kick off a staggered Cru defensive line led to a break from Fuji and although Van was able to bring down their attack Fuji scored a few phases later. It was now a 5-point game.

The Cru that chased the next kick off were akin to a wounded beast. Trav drove back their attack (to cries of “sugoi na” from the opposition) and Galdric joined in a strong defensive effort. The Cru won possession and from a ruck close to the touch line Philippe spotted another overlap on the blind side and Rob was on-hand to score with Evan converting.
The last 15 minutes were no easy ride with Fuji running in a try against a tired looking Cru defence. This was followed by the sin-binning of Philippe and the Cru were hanging on. Despite the best efforts of Fuji, the Cru held out to claim a valuable victory.
Final score 26-19.
A big thank you, as always, to all the staff and supporters who turn out week in week out for being Cru`s “16th man”. It was great to see old boys Jonas, Ashley, Derek and Mo coming out and also a special mention to Mike Galbraith for taking Cocksy over to the local hospital.
21 Cru members headed for the post-match entertainment which took the shape of a nomihoudai and some nibbles at the local izakaya and a French themed sing-a-long led by Mike Galbraith.

And Finally…
As mentioned at the outset, this game was Galdric and Philippe`s last competitive game for the Cru. Both have been a valuable asset to the team on and off the pitch. We will miss their skills and tenacity on the pitch as well as their friendliness off it. Bon voyage boys and we wish you all the best.

It was also Ev Kerr`s last turn out for the club. Ev always seemed to effortlessly juggle all night Roppongi sessions with Aussie Rules and the Cru and has been a great servant to the club. We`ll miss his efforts on the pitch, his jovial nature, his mammoth Movember efforts and his help in getting the walking wounded back in shape. I have a feeling he may be back on the streets of Roppongi before too long…

Finally, the game was also Tooley`s last competitive game as Team Manager. I`m sure I won`t do him justice in this short piece but he certainly deserves a mention. Tooley has been fundamental in taking this club forward over the past few years and the club would certainly be in a much worse place if it wasn`t for all the time and effort he has invested. For me, he is the face of the club and his attitude embodies much about the club- its friendliness, competitiveness as well as its emphasis on inclusiveness and good sportsmanship. He must have the most patient and understanding of wives and I`m sure he has a lot of brownie points to make up over the coming years! Tooley will continue to help the Cru next season but will step down from his current role.

3,2,1s

5- Philippe. Created two tries single handedly- his awareness and speed of thought always has the opposition on the back foot and his quick delivery out to the backs is exceptional. As mentioned, he`s been tremendous for us and we wish you well.

4- Travis. Good ball out from the scrum half is no good unless the fly half makes the right decisions. Travis really ran the game using the wind well to kick for territory as well as breaking the gain-line where there were gaps. His defence was colossal and I have no doubt that his defence when chasing our kick-offs towards the end of the second half was a huge contributor in winning the game.

3- Galdric. An absolute colossus in the back row. Together with Travis, Galdric really shut down any Fuji attack towards the end of the second half. Defensively he is a rock; always driving back the opposition where they came from. Offensively he is always aware of the spaces around him and creates overlaps just through the number of players it takes to bring him down! All the best mate and I`m sure we`ll see you soon.

2- Rob. Managed to bag a meat pie courtesy of some slick play by Philippe down the blind side! Got myself a nice farmer`s tan out of the game but was grateful when the final whistle went!

1- Kyal. Really great to see him back again- one reason why we were so dominant in the scrums. Really puts in the yards around the park and really effective with the ball in hand. A pretty slick front-peel lineout almost came off!


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