Tokyo Crusaders RFC played US Navy's rugby team George Washington II RFC in Yokohama, Japan

Tokyo Crusaders 42 – 10 George Washington

by Evan Hitchman

A hardy group of over 20 Crusaders made the journey down to Yokosuka base to play our friends from the George Washington Rugby Team. Without Seargent Tooley, we somehow managed to all arrive on time; a good 2 and a half hours before kick off!

Luckily for us, we have such an officious team manager,… as it took us about 2 hours to get onto base and onto the field! The last of us trickled on to the ground only 10 minutes or so before the game got under way, and our less than ideal warm-up seemed to fire up Yorkie who kicked the ball at Skurry’s head in frustration! That frustration seemed to continue for our star fullback who also almost got himself sent off for some less than discreet rucking, directly next to referee Steve Lewis!

The Cru were certainly asleep in the first 10 minutes or so as a fired up Navy team took it to them with some strong running and aggressive tackling, with Jordan Dill and guest player Brendan Gallagher particularly impressive. Luis, from Navy, scored the first try after some lapses in defence, and that seemed to wake up the Cru who then went on to score 3 quick tries in succession to Steve bagging a double, running good angles and showing good hands and pace, and Seth smashing over from close in with a trademark barging run. The GW were making it difficult though and certainly weren’t easy opposition, as they scored a try just before the break, with Brendan G scoring under the posts,… and who was lucky to escape unscathed after Evan Hitchman’s vicious head butt straight into Brendan’s outstretched palm!

The second half saw the Cru return to basics, winning ball at our own ruck, forwards clearing out at the ruck and not hanging out in the backs and backs running good lines and not throwing miracle passes. That formula worked a treat with the GW not scoring any further points due to some excellent defending, and us racking up some more points with Gavin and then Yuuki. The last try for Yuuki came as he made a great bust down the middle with Taku, who was playing his last game for the Crusaders on his shoulder eagerly waiting for the expected, generous pass to give him a try in his last match. That pass never happened as Yuuki feigned to pass, showed it a few times just to give Taku a sniff, before sprinting off in the other direction to score the bloody try himself! Well done Scrooge McYuuki!

Steve bagged himself a hat trick to finish it all off with an unusual try scored from within the in-goal area! Steve tackled an unsuspecting Navy novice over the try line who then very kindly gave Steve the ball in the tackle, and Steve fell down and apparently scored a try! No doubt that try will be a 90m effort, stepping through 8 players before the year is out!

Undoubtedly a highlight for many was Gaz’s storming run down the left hand side only to be stopped in his tracks by Paul Ralph’s 64 year old dad, Jazzy Jeff who looked a picture of athleticism in his blue jeans and trainers!

Tries: A hattrick to Steve, Singles to Yuuki, Gavin, and Seth. Evan 6/6 conv.

A special mention to the wonderful Taku who is going to be massively missed as he played his last game for the Crusaders. Taku has been a great Crusader and has served the team well. We are going to miss his consistently great play, his positive enthusiasm and his stubbornly high standards in taste of women! Good on ya Taku, we love you mate. See you soon in Okinawa!

Some positive points from the game in particular was seeing us bring down 21 players, without our Navy friends and arriving on time without Sgt. Tooley, which was a good showing. Steve looking like he may lock down one of our centre positions with Luke’s unfortunate injury, and that bastard, traitor Taku leaving us for Okinawa! Lastly, Tacobell – apparently it was a highlight for some – I reckon it tastes like crap! Unsurprisingly surly Yorkie was also none too impressed! Haha!

Some points for improvement. Respect and discipline.
Gentlemen, we aren’t playing soccer here. We have high standards to maintain not just as Crusaders but as rugby players. If we’re told we are off-side, we are probably bloody off-side! We don’t talk back to the referee, we get back 10 metres, we take an extra half a step back at the ruck, we shut up and do what we’re told. The referee is always right, and should be treated with respect. The captain is the only one who talks to the ref. To see what transpired, especially with an IRB test-level referee in Steve Lewis who gives up his time, travels down and officiates our games for free, is disappointing and we expect better.

We also need to respect our teammates. We are all equals, even with different ages and levels of experience. If we do speak, we speak positively and to our friends and not down to them. I’d really like to see us speak less, and lead by example. Show the less experienced players with action, not words. Let’s try to share the game time around a bit more willingly, too, for friendlies and rotate on and off, giving everyone a decent run out.

Be disciplined, play your position. Forwards hit rucks, don’t hang out in the backs. Keep a low body height, drive over the ball and use your size and weight advantage. If we do the basics well, our size, strength and skill will shine through and we can a bloody long way in the Tokyo Cup and into next season with the Shuto League.

Hope to see everyone at the ground this Sunday for a huge game in our first round Tokyo Cup fixture and afterwards at the pub a celebration and presentation of the Shuto League Division One Champions Trophy!!!

See you there,
Ev

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