by Tom Cocks

So the CRU gathered for the first game back after a limp performance against All France, faced with a stern test against PSI Supersonics. Last year we had lost a relatively close battle against a mix of Tokyo Bay and PSI – with no bench – and a few players having played on the Saturday as well. This year, it was a straight PSI team, undiluted by Tokyo Bay. PSI are a 7s outfit that feeds the Japan national 7s team, and are typically armed with terrifying amounts of gas. We knew that if we were to offer them any kind of resistance, then we would need to play an intelligent 15-man game. Keep hold of the ball, make yards with a bigger pack, keep them on the back foot and basically play some horrible rugby!

We rocked up to Shin-Shibamata station with a solid squad of 20 players on what looked to be a nice day for a game. Spirits were high and Corey’s usual eclectic mix of 80s battle anthems got the juices flowing during the brief stroll to the pitch. However, we arrived at a lumpy, farking cold, dry dust-bowl with no lines marked and a savage cross wind. Also, the PSI squad seemed to be there in force, with practically all of the ‘ringers’ that frequent the Tokyo amateur rugby circuit, including Japan 7s international Jamie Henry (the Crusaders’ nemesis and No. 1 target for a drive-by shooting) plus two monstrous Tongans to boot. They also sported the wee ma,n James Corbyn, and the Roppongi ladies’ (and not to mention Tokyo tanning salon’s) favorite, Dylan Nakamunemile-something-or-other…I’ll refer to him as Dyldo from here on in, as it’s more fitting.

…and lastly, Jackie rocked up and got stuck into his usual solo warm-up, although this time with a baby’s dummy in his mouth. If anyone has an explanation for this, I’d be very interested to hear it…

So – those high spirits I mentioned earlier were royally shat on. Thankfully, under further investigation, it appeared that the two monstrous Tongans were drunk and on the back end of a rough night in Roppongi’s Seventh Heaven, so had little appetite to play. Dyldo put a Cru shirt on for the first half, and Corey dutifully put on a PSI shirt as they were a man down. Due to the lack of a full front row from PSI, we were forced to accept non-competitive scrums to our disadvantage.

Anyway, play got underway and – as suspected – the conditions were horrible. The ground was cold and hard, people’s boots were filled with stones and the cross wind made for a very messy game, as well as blowing dust into everyone’s eyes. Nonetheless, we stuck to our game plan, tucked the ball under our jerseys and made some hard yards off our usual phase play, which worked well. It’s been too long to remember exactly what happened, but we went over the line in muscular fashion 4 times in the first half – scored by Foster, Reece, Sparrow and Brett in that order. Sparrow slotted 1 from 4 conversions, blaming the conditions for his wayward boot (because as we know he’s normally like a laser guided missile…!). One kick from under the posts incredibly managed to stay under the posts!

However, whenever PSI did manage to get their hands on the ball, the danger lurking in their back line was released and our scores were countered by 3 rapid tries which were, to be honest, far easier on the eye. We took a 22-17 lead into the break and could be relatively happy with our work. I would love to end this match report there and not mention the second half but unfortunately it did actually happen…

So, I’ll keep it short: basically, through a series of careless penalties, knock-ons and turnovers, we enjoyed far less possession in the second half (in fact it was about 5%). Consequently, PSI unloaded all over us like Peter North in his pomp during the 1990’s. Keita and Jamie Henry literally skipped their way through our back line, running off Dyldo at pace (shamelessly wearing a PSI shirt now). While it was galling to play against, some of the speed, lines and criminal side steps on display were very impressive (not from Dyldo, obviously). Notably, both players have now signed top league contracts and so shouldn’t be able to inflict any more pain on us.

We shipped 7 tries without reply and to add insult to injury, Corbyn slotted 6 out of 7 conversions!…..I guess the wind must’ve died down in the second half, eh Sparrow??

Game over, 64-22. Let’s not mention it again. Time for the pub.

A few talking points over our ringo-his and katsu curries were as follows:

– Brett’s clothesline tackle and numerous other misdemeanors

– Jackie having a torrid 80 minutes, including a dump tackle from Dyldo, a slap from Reece, a near boot to the face from me and then a glorious charge down the wing, only to be hauled back for stepping into touch…by a grinning Reece!

– Foster doing his usual ‘Mate, I’ve got to go off, my knee f*cking wrecks’ speech at 50 minutes because he can’t be arsed to play anymore

321’s were as follows:

5 points – Reece (nice debut in the back row, but tight head for you from now on)

4 points – Foster (good acting but 80 mins for you next time)

3 points – Brett (wrestling moves)

2 points – Cocks (terrible white line fever)

1 point – Sparrow (NOT for your kicking)

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