by Sean Gibson

November 13th was a date that had loomed ominously in the Tokyo Crusaders’ calendar, as we were scheduled to play Komaba WMM, and knew how capable they were from their outings at the Shuto League Tens as the Watermelons. Hoping for a diminished and/or depleted Komaba squad on the day proved to be wishful thinking. Komaba arrived in full force, with a four-post tent, several supporters and at least one attractive water girl. The Cru was not outdone in this department, as we turned up in our Number Ones: several of us were wearing our flashy club blazers. And we had a tent. We may have had fewer supporters but we had a bit more class, on the face of it. However, that was not very much use on the pitch, unfortunately. Though some valiant defense kept the opposition scoreless for the first fifteen minutes, their tenacious probing proved fruitful and they began breaking the line and scoring tries – on average, one every five and a half minutes up to half-time. On our side of the ball, Mighty Joe managed to break the line and score a try with 6 minutes remaining in the half, and a Matt Sparrow conversion made the score 7-28 to Komaba at half-time.

The second half proved less rewarding for the Crusaders, unfortunately. Though Komaba’s tries came at greater intervals, they started earlier. Not only that, they converted every single one of them, as they had in the first half. A tiny bit of pride seemed to be salvaged in the last five minutes when Jackie sped down the touchline to score in the corner, but this was negated shortly afterward when Komaba struck back with its ninth and final (converted) try to make the final score 63-12.

Though the scoreline was less than ideal from our perspective, the game was not without its flashes of amusement. Tavis’s temper got the better of him in the 2nd half and he was granted 10 minutes to rest up on the sideline. This seemed to be a theme, as Reece took his ire out on Cocksy for accidentally stepping on his toe with a somewhat camp slap to the back. Along the lines of aggressiveness, Brett must have been summarily unimpressed with Komaba’s tackling ability because he flattened Frank at one point, harder than the opposition had or would for the rest of the day. Perhaps that’s what caused Frank to later have a storming forty meter run, only to end it by passing to the opposition. Having been forced to play with 14 players for ten minutes also seemed to affect our counting ability, as it took a good three minutes to sort out a couple of subs, as if we couldn’t count to 15.

After getting cleaned up at the clubhouse and having a few customary beers and curries (Hiro had a couple of bowls of ramen), it was off to the Omiya Station area for some harder drinking. The journey to the station was made all the more amusing by the bus driver’s wearing a waistcoat in stunning Cru colors. He must have known we were coming, as it was the waistcoat version of our increasingly famous Cru blazers! After the usual sing-songing and golf-balling at a cheap standing bar it was on to round three at the local Hub. Joe immediately impressed us all by showing how he could flip a pint glass in the air and then, spinning around and reaching behind his back, let it crash to the floor. Just kidding, he didn’t spin. He just kind of watched it crash to the floor. But this was the point at which Jerry shined. He gets my MVP vote for sure. It seems that volunteering to drink everyone’s golf-balled drinks as well as his own, at the first bar brought out a tremendous spirit of generosity in Jerry. Besides offering financial donations to the club before he got to the Hub, once there he extended his generosity to sharing his lunch with us. We expressed our lack of desire but Jerry was insistent. So he left it on the table for us. Then the floor. Not content with that, after he was carried outside, he shared it with everyone walking by. All that generosity must have worn him out, because he had to be carried to the station by Brett and others, which took a considerable amount of time. But he got a third wind because he then proceeded to share with everyone on the train. Well, he tried, but they scattered away and he was relegated to putting it into his gym bag for later. There must be more to the story from there but I doubt we’ll ever know.

Man of the Match Points were as follows:

5 points – Joe Flagler

4 points – Reece Morgan

3 points – Tavis Sartin

2 points – Tom Cocks

1 point – Brett Pentland-Smith

Platinum Honorable Mention – Jerry Sysourath

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