Tokyo Crusaders vs. US Navy (38-14, W) and Airforce (24-12, W)
by Stewart “Tooley” Henwoood

What a cracker day…..

Due to the threat of inclement weather, The Meat Cup had been cancelled, and rightly so. However as Misawa Snow Devils RFC had already organised leave and were coming down in their vans from Aomori, and the ground had been booked, we decided to go ahead with the day anyway and play a 3-team 15s fixture, rain, wind or shine. Smart decision…the day was a great success, especially for the Cru.

The meeting point was Jinmuji Station, way out in the sticks. Uncharacteristically, the Cru arrived in two batches, pretty much on time. We were signed through the base gate with no arrests or body cavity searches, and walked on down to the ground, and it was ….GRASS. It was a beautiful morning with narry a hint of what was to come later.

The format of the afternoon was to have 3 teams playing 3 games, consisting of 20 minute halves. A plays B, B plays C, C plays A. It was decided, quite sneakily by the bulk of the Cru, to forgo the democratic route and make the decisions with regard to what teams play when. Naturally we decided to play as A team; later to rue the decision, as we all started to ‘freeze up’ on the sidelines waiting for our second game!

Game 1

A 12:30ish kickoff saw the Tokyo Crusaders RFC play George Washington RFC. We only had 13 players so we had to borrow 2 wings from Misawa ( a very handy pair in Mike and Ronnie). The opposition were willing, but we prevailed in the first half, scoring tries by Tom (2nd five), Mike (wing-Misawa), and Travis (1st five). Or should I say, the first 2 quarters, as the ref thought we were playing two 10 minute halves and called half time at the 10 minute mark. We all thought it a bit of a hoot, in the spirit of the day. The second half saw the Navy boys with a bit more shape, coming back and scoring 2 tries to our 3. Yuuki (hooker) scored his first on his first outing for the Cru and so did Joe (lock). Our third try going to Takushi (No 8), scoring his first for us on just his second outing.

Final score – Tokyo Crusaders RFC 38, George Washington RFC 14

Game 2

At 13:36, George Washington RFC kicked off against Misawa Snow Devils RFC. Three of our boys played for the Navy, with Paul at No 8, Takushi at centre, and Travis having a rest out on the wing. The first half was a bit of a seesaw and rather evenly matched, ending at 2 tries to 1, 12-5 to Misawa. However, the second half was all Navy, as they put in 4 unanswered tries. The highlight of the game from the sideline was the discovery of a twin to our own Evan Hitchman in Navy boy, Sean Whaley, who could be heard from all parts of the base berating his wing for running “out of bounds”. ‘Fired up’ would have been an understatement!

Final score – George Washington RFC 29, Misawa Snow Devils RFC 12

Game 3

By the kickoff time of 14:35, the rain had started falling lightly….at first. We had spent the previous 10 minutes trying to get our muscles moving again, with Tooley carrying some sort of knee strain incurred in the 1st game that would see him leave the field in the first half.

Joel had turned up in the interim and now took the field. With 14 players, we had only Beau from Navy on the field as an import, and Luke (to replace an injured Stewart) and Jordan (to replace an injured Takushi) from Navy on the sideline. The Snow Devils were a fairly physical side with some big guys doing some damage with rampaging runs against us. However our forwards got a sniff of superiority and targeted their scrums, winning tightheads to keep us on the front foot. Our support play and rucks were also good. So, with a ball that was starting to resemble a cake of wet soap, there were a lot of knock-ons, and therefore a lot of scrums, which made us even happier.

The first half saw Kiyoshi (lock) score his first try for the Cru and Tom (2nd five) bag his second for the day. With Misawa also scoring, the half ended at 12-7. The second half was pretty much a repeat of the first, as our forward pack kept it’s ascendancy. Travis (1st five) also picked up a second try and Beau (fullback-Navy) scored our last try of the day. Misawa never gave up though, and came back with a well deserved try to their 1st five whose reaction after scoring looked like he’d just scored for USA in the World Cup final. Great stuff!

Final Score – Misawa Snow Devils RFC 12, Tokyo Crusaders RFC 24

Mention must be made of 4 guys who made their debut for the Cru,… Yuuki, Eric, Joe, and Joel.
Yuuki will be an asset as an experienced player, Joe and Joel hadn’t played in years and Eric played his first ever game of rugby, coming from American football. Welcome, and thanks!

Also a big thanks to Paul Skurr who came out of semi-retirement to create the usual mayhem for the oppoisition. The only real negative from the day was a pretty serious-looking injury to Takushi’s elbow. We all hope it’s not too serious. With the rain coming down steadily now, the teams retired to the Bar Kameya just inside the base gate for a raucus evening of drinking, eating and the odd song or two.

Players of the day wen to:
Travis Dixon for Tokyo Crusaders RFC
Sean Whaley for George Washington RFC
Matt Duggan for Misawa Snow Devils RFC

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