By Chris O’Sullivan

On the third Sunday of the lovely month of May, Crusaders made the pilgrimage to Toda to face TodaOverTheTop RFC. After some poor communication by recently ‘retired’ player, Brett, who after sending some of us to the wrong pitch, proceeded to say “sure it’s only about a kilometer down the road” when in actual fact it was at least 3 miles away! Thanks for that mate! On the walk to the game, somebody was heard saying “Jesus! I’m working harder to get to the game than I actually will during it.”

At the pitch, the team was made up of some old reliables sprinkled in with some new recruits. Our Manager for the day, Brett (does he even play anymore), named the team, with some surprises. The main one being when Matt Sparrow, who was a lovely shade of red after his day at the beach, was named at standoff. Sparrow then put the game into motion with a superb drop kick that sailed into
touch on the full. GREAT START!!!!

The game itself was a scrappy affair. Crusaders where guilty of trying to play the game in the wrong parts of the pitch, and it didn’t help that Chris threw an intercept pass in his own 22 only for debutant Cillian to save his blushes with a brilliant tackle into touch. TodaOverTheTop were exceptionally aggressive at the breakdown and because of this we struggled to build more than 4/5 phases at time.

After good initial defense by Crusaders, Toda still managed to sneak under attempted tackles to score a well-worked try. 5 minutes later, Crusaders where back behind their own posts after conceding a turnover. In truth Crusaders, looked like a team that might have enjoyed one too many beers the night before. With the heat starting to take effect as the game neared the half time interval, Toda scored
another try to make it 19-0 at halftime. There were some positives from the first half with Seth and Paddy, the not so Irish Irishman, making some dominating hits, as well as the actual Irishmen center partnership of Chris and Cillian doing well with a number of line-breaks.

From the first kick in the second half, there was a renewed sense of urgency as Chris broke the line in our 22 after some big carries from Gen and Seth. As Chris scampered down the field with just the fullback to beat, he pinned down his ears and charged towards the corner. Unfortunately, it appears that he may have consumed one too many pies the night before and was caught just short of the line. With selection for the big game next week on some players minds, some lads really stepped up. In particular, the front five the engine room of J, Shota, Hiro, and Josh who transformed the scrum into a place of dominance.

With the game swinging back and forth, it was Crusaders who struck next with some huge carries from the pack. Particularly, Frank “the tank”, who, in one such carry, sucked the soul from the defender with a handoff to the face. It was later reported that the handoff had sent the defender 18 meters into the air; this was later found to be 18 cm. However, the feat remains impressive. Off the back of this storming carry, Kazuma, the 9, sent a bullet of a pass to Chris who had luckily moved in to 10. After some quick feet, he floated a perfect pass that luckily skipped Sparrow and fell into the waiting hands of Benji, who was typically late – honestly that man would be late for his own funeral – but I digress. Benji caught the ball, and beat the last defender to score in the corner. Chris narrowly missed the conversion. The Crusaders tails were up but even after more sustained pressure on the opposition, could not find the key to unlocking a rigid defense. What happened next can only be described as unlucky… After a great steal at the breakdown by Paddy, the ball was then fly-hacked down the field where the opposition fullback gathered and raced into the corner. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Sparrow kicked off again. It went out on the full AGAIN!!!!! The final whistle blew shortly after to finish a very entertaining match of rugby.

All eyes move to next week’s game against Dasewa RFC where we will be helped with some returnees and CAN SOMEONE MAKE SURE THAT BENJI IS ON TIME PLEASE, PLEASE. The winner of this battle will take one step closer to being “King of Tokyo Cup 2 nd Div.”…

Some memorable mentions :

Seth at the tender age of 127 still making huge hits throughout the game and still having the energy to break off the back of the scrum in the final minutes.

Cillian, whose great work rate around the park will be a welcome addition to Tokyo Crusaders.

Sparrow, not for anything he did on the field, only for the fact that it was his birthday the day before.

Frank, a willing carrier all day even with some hospital passes from both 10s and who always broke the initial tackle.

Chris, for good work with ball in hand, but let’s hope that he stays off the pies during the week so he might be able to finish some tries.

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