by Stewart Henwood & Aaron Angelo

The Match
We were to play against the Fevers RFC, and a combined team of Mandala OBs and
Higurashi OBs, two teams against which we fought many a battle way back in the early
90s. The players were to be over 45, with a few exceptions, including a few teenaged
sons who were dead-keen to play with their Dads, with the Tokyo Crusaders RFC
having assembled a formidable team of 25, all hoping to do a very robust ‘5-minute’
stint on the pitch. Our opposition had secured the ground on our behalf, the Nagamine
Verdy Sports Ground – an artificial ‘all-weather’ pitch with showers, and had even
planned to bring in the beers for our aftermatch. They were really looking forward to
celebrating our 30 th anniversary season with us. The match was to kick-off at 11:30am
and we were to play a three-way match, with each team playing 20 minutes against
each of their two opponents.

What a wonderful day we had planned, and the Old Boys of all teams were really looking
forward to a match of fun and follies, just like the good old days.
It wasn’t to be. The typhoon of the evening before had caused all train transport in the
Kanto region to be suspended in the morning, not allowing the players to be able to
assemble at their respective meet-up points. The ground was ‘a go’, and the bus we
had organized to take everyone from the ground was also ‘a go’, but it was with a
heavy heart that the game was called off.
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Fevers RFC, Mandala OBs and
Higurashi OBs for the work they had put in to arrange the fixture for us, only to have it
slip through our fingers….. I hope we are able to do it another day.

 

The Lunch
By 11:00am, all trains were running ‘as per usual’, so there was no way in hell that the
Club Lunch was going to be called off; come ‘Hell or High Water’ we were determined
that it was going to go ahead!

And what a great afternoon it was! We all assembled in the Grace Bali room at the
Pasela Resort entertainment complex in Akihabara at 2pm, 50 in all. There had been
quite a few cancellations, as some OBs couldn’t return to Tokyo from RWC games in
Kyushu due to flight cancellations and some were still in the air from their home
countries having had their flights delayed. There were, of course the usual cases who
had told us they were coming but didn’t turn up on the day…. ouch!…. that hit the Club
in the pocket. But all in all, the group that did assemble was a wonderful mix of OBs
from the 90s, the 00s, their wives and kids, and some of the current and recent
members.

It was a casual affair with the one brief speech coming from our Club President, Mr.
Tom Cocks. After the toast, the guests spent 3 hours chatting with friends, new and
old, drinking free-flowing beer, and eating the many dishes that regularly appeared on
the tables. There was a small display table showing our two Shuto League 1 st Div. title
trophies, and a framed photograph of the original Cru team back in 1990. There was
another table selling Cru merchandise, which actually seemed quite popular with the
OBs, keen to relive some of that past glory. We also called up certain OBs who were to
receive their Cru Caps, honouring them for their service with the ‘Cru Sword shoulder
tap’.

It was at this point where things began to get interesting. With the USA versus Tonga match playing on the Pasela Resorts screens, the beer maidens arrived. Initially, the plan had been for these servers to be sporting custom dresses designed by a certain member of the Cru…however a realization dawned that the dresses fell beyond the constraints of our beer bringers contracts. Through some quick thinking and social suicide, the situation was rectified. By half-time, Akihabara beer maids were assisting guests as Cru-Americans and expats alike screamed at a certain team’s failure to deliver. With the all you could drink wrapping up plus Tonga strangling the last semblances of life from the USA Eagles RWC campaign, the gang wrapped up the carousal and headed to HUB. Reports from Sean and Evan pointed to some strong merch sales, so all seemed right with the world.

The Sports Bar
As the gang reassembled in the new venue, they found themselves joined by members of not only the Axemen (Evan Hitchman’s associates) but also the Tokyo Tyrants. It wasn’t so much a reunion as an alcoholic collision. After the initial hiccup of trying to get into the wrong bar, we found our tables at the Akihabara HUB. Of course, the big game of the evening was the Japan vs. Scotland game. The place was packed, and so was the action! An exceptional game, played in great spirit. The bar was full of screaming fans, the beer flowed – thanks to the quick and friendly service of the staff, and all those present thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

We hope everyone has a wonderful World Cup Finale! See you next time y’all!

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