Tokyo Crusaders vs. Bluesocks RFC 33-22 (W)
by Travis Dixon

Once again Drill Sergeant Tooley, in his unrelenting love of sparrow fart kick-offs in the middle of nowhere, had us trekking out to somewhere near Osaka to play our final game of the season against Bluesocks RFC. Jonas “Hawking” Hult and his love of numbers informed us that the mighty Cru hadn’t lost a game in 147 days, so we were keen to keep that record going in to the Summer break.

The whispers through the grape vine that we’d have another showing of 30+ proved too good to be true, as undoubtedly the 6am wake-up call was too early for most. Regardless, we managed to field 15 with a couple of broken reserves and we witnessed debuts from Masafumi “Gaz Lim II” Miyoshi, and Fredrik “Owen Finegan” Holm, both of whom we hope to see in the start of the 2013-14 season.

With the wind at our backs, the first half was a controlled affair. The scrum was solid and Evan “affianced” Hitchman did a sterling job at the back of the scrum with well-directed kicks to the corner flags and darting runs around the sides of rucks. The Cru dominated a majority of the possession and territory by continuing to develop the basic tactics we’ve been focusing on all year; ball retention, support play, picking and going and demonstrating good pass selection. Our lineouts as well, which have historically proved to be our achilles heel, were also well-controlled and we even managed to win a few against the throw. This was thanks to great throws from Yuuki at hooker and the stellar locking partnership of Sean “Trav’s Hero” Gibson and Jonas. Despite all this however, we were still unable to cross the line until Paul “Skurvy Legs” Skurr used his power to burst over for the Cru’s first try of the game, edging us out in to the lead by 7-5.

The second-half seemed to open up a bit more as the Cru looked to play a bit more expansive rugby with the additions of Tom “I’m-in-denial-about-my-balding” Bally, Sean “the Ginger Predator” Gehrold and Travis “Greased up Deaf-Guy” Dixon in to the back line. The plan seemed to work as 2 minutes in to the first half GUDG managed to cross the line to edge out the lead to 14-5. However, the desire to spin the ball wide often led to basic handling mistakes in our own half, and coupled with poor tackling technique by trying to go too high led to the Bluesocks managing to stay in the game with easy tries. They scored two unanswered tries to bring them right back in the game as the Cru were unable to build pressure by making handling errors and not being able to get in to the opposition’s half. When we finally did manage to, Skurry made a nice run from the back of another solid scrum and threw a brilliant over the shoulder pass to Takushi “Mr Rugby” Hayashi who finished under the posts. Ev’ slotted another conversion, and ended up kicking 4/5 for the game!

It’s worth mentioning here the brilliant play of the front row in the scrum who managed to drive the opposition into the dirt on more than one occasion. Yutaka “Baggins” Yazawa, Yuuki “Mealamu” Adachi and Kiyoshi “Beer-me” Hamazumi all played outstandingly well and received a dozen or so well-deserved points in the man-of-the-match voting.

The Bluesocks were once again let in for another soft try, but with Bally’s surge over the line off a penalty tap, and GUDG managing to dot down for a second the game was put solidly in the Cru’s hands (despite some fear that there was only one point in it after some mis-information was bandied about). The Cru won a penalty at half-way with no time remaining and Hotheaded Hitchman uncharacteristically had to be the calming force as Timmy O’ Tooley, keen for another go at them, screamed “attack, attack,” Ev’ nudged the ball over the line to cement the victory; the Cru’s 12th in a row and the 16th win of the season.

Once again the Cru dominated the izakaya at the after match function with 23 players and supporters coming out to enjoy the revelries (where new addition Koki “I’ll-bring-the-women” Yamana came out with his classic quote which you’ll see on the sidebar). After this the core moved on to the Ikebukuro Hub where I’m told it ended up in raucous singing which was threatened with Police intervention, so a few carried on to karaoke where apparently the Ginger Ferret also managed to stalk a poor unsuspecting bunny into a dark burrow.

A big thanks to Aiko “That’s-not-a-bullseye-on-my-bum” Watanabe for taking pictures, running water and (amazingly)’ volunteering’ to help the team out next year. Thanks to Big Tom for being a great addition to the Cru this year. On and off the field, Tom’s been a stellar example of a true Cru rugby player and we wish him well on his future journeys.

Cheers to the leadership of the team Gaz “Robocop” Lim and Stu “Silent-Assassin’ Tooley for their tireless behind-the-scenes work. Cheers also to Ev’ for doing a sterling job as Captain this year (he’s thinking of stepping down next year, so please do your best to convince him otherwise). Not to forget Jonas “the stats man” Hult for doing our website, and Yorkie for clothing us in fancy new kit.

We’ve got a big season next year boys, looking ahead to the step-up we’ll have to make to play in Div I, so try your best to get in rugby shape over the summer and come back in fighting form to take that Division One title next year.

Player’s Men of the Match
1st – Travis (there can be only one)
2nd – The entire front row
3rd – Skurry / Evan

[flickr_highslide set=”vs Bluesocks RFC”]

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