by Reece Morgan

Despite an incredible lack of planning on Cocks’s part, the time had finally come for the Crusaders to abandon Japan for foreign shores. With gumguards, beer money, and tour stash in hand, eighteen intrepid souls made their way to the somewhat less-than-upmarket side of Itaewon, before a glass of warm milk and an early bedtime. After all, there were several games of 10s to play the next day, and the Cru didn’t want to tarnish its hard-earned reputation for decorum and propriety.

Match 1: Stars and Stripes

The first game of the day saw the Cru take to the field against the military, in a clash between the two most terrifyingly ginger captains that Asia had to offer. Less than a minute into the match, a lapse in fringe defence allowed Reece to slip down the wing and under the posts for the first try of the day. Matt Sparrow then began his reign of terror over the uprights, slotting the first of his perfect sheet. The rest of the first half went by without much action: the typically military style of the S&S was enough to shut down many Cru attacks, and they were rewarded for their efforts with a try right on the whistle.

The S&S boys took advantage of the brutal hangovers now assailing the Cru and scored soon into the second half. The Crusaders, succumbing to their usual issue of giving away every penalty under the sun, turned to BoJo himself for the killing blow – after a hard few minutes of work and lovely hands to the wing, the furious man-child rocketed over the line, with John Gorman neatly slotting the ball to claim the first head of the day.

Score: Cru 14 – 10 Stars and Stripes (MVP: Pedro de los Santos)

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Match 2: Kera Select

As the scent of pizza and chicken roused a comatose Ed Downer, the Crusaders flipped their jerseys inside-out and faced off against Kera Select. From the very start, new boy Hamish proved up to the challenge, catching the kick and bullying the opposition back several metres. However, the lack of fitness, talent, and motivation afflicting the rest of the team allowed Kera’s already-notorious centre the space to thunder through the defence…before doing it again within two minutes. Realising that they needed to put on a show for Japanese pride, Joe unfurled the man-bun, and Skurry Bill Williams gave him the space to zip past the opposition winger and full-back. A few minutes later, after big pushes by Gibbo and Basi, Reece rolled over the defence for his second try of the day. Needless to say, Sparrow slotted them both before the first-half whistle blew.

With Frank ‘Changed Man’ Saffery bringing his highly vocal style of play to the pitch, the Crusaders immediately went on the offensive: new boys Sean and Andy, along with renowned no-show Ben Vickery, put in some sterling runs to draw close to the Kera line, before Foster snatched another for himself with his traditional lightning-fast plod. Elated by their success, the Cru let their attention wander, and the Kera centre came flying in again to score one more for team pride.

Score: Cru 21 – 17 Kera Select (MVP: Austin Taylor)

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Match 3: Seoul Survivors, Round 1

Realising that the final would be a Cru vs. Survivors fixture anyway, the Cru put out a token defence led by the old shogun himself, Tooley, to weather the pre-final storm. Despite great play from Seth and Paul in the forwards, nothing could stop the force of nature that was Dieter, slicing up the Cru wings with phenomenal speed. Little of note happened, aside from Tooley almost scoring a try – if only the gas had been there – and Foster’s physics-breaking kick that went absolutely nowhere and didn’t even bounce. Although the Cru didn’t net a point, it was worth the pain to see the Survivors captain yellow-carded for…kicking the ball?

Score: Survivors 33 – 0 Cru

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Match 4: Final (Seoul Survivors)

With the big guns well-rested(ish) and the jerseys flipped round for the last time, the final of the Tokseo Cup began in true gaijin conditions – cold and wet. As expected, it was a physical affair from the beginning, with missed tackles letting the Survivors slip around the wing and into the Cru try area. With some mighty pushes forward from Cocks and Hamish, the game slipped back into the Survivors half, allowing walking-wounded Joe to end his Korea career with a charge into the try area. Sparrow then made the conversion from a truly remarkable angle, a display of ability that saw him fined later for showmanship.

Despite Seth and John doing their absolute best to get yellow cards early in the second half, they somehow evaded punishment, and what followed was almost ten minutes’ worth of scrums. Exhaustion setting in on both sides, the game wavered between the two teams, until the Survivors managed to step in once again. The Cru came back strongly, taking scrums against the head and getting the ball into the hands of Ed Downer…who proceeded to knock them on, every time. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the Survivors came back for one last try just before the final whistle, and the Tokseo Cup was over.

Score: Survivors 19 – 7 Cru (MVP: Dieter)

After a solid sing-song on the bus and the intake of ‘fluids’, the party moved over to the Survivors’ clubhouse, where the Cru were treated with mind-blowing hospitality and thirty whole chickens.

Unfortunately, what happens on tour stays on tour, and so those tall tales must never be told (until we next hit the chippy). However, what must be said is a massive thank-you to the Seoul Survivors, who organised everything and were fantastic hosts from the first hours until the end. We look forward to their return tour to Japan: not only because we’ll give them a kicking at 15s, but also because we’re desperate for a return-return tour, to see if we can get trending on Twitter again!

The Cru also mourns the loss of two of its best: Paul ‘From Paris With Love’ Martingell and the incomparable Basi. Both will return in future, but until then, gents – have a cracker, and we’ll miss you. We also hope to see Hamish, Sean and Andy come back for another run out in Crusader blue.
Thank you also to the boys on tour who resisted the urge to ride the plastic horse, and finally, to those gods amongst men who first developed the idea of that perfect game…
The Danger Chop.

The Cru MVP points for the Tokseo Cup were as follows:

5 – Matt Foster
4 – Hamish
3 – Joe
2 – Reece
1 – Tom Cocks; Skurry

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