Tokyo Crusaders vs. YCAC, 7-52 (L)

by Gareth Lim

On a perfectly still and sunny day in November and with not a gust in the air both teams took to the field for the 2013 Gareth MacFadyen Cup.

YCAC, plying their trade in Division East Three, were to take on the CRU who with some new found form were off back-to-back wins in the Shuto League Division one.

For this year’s encounter both teams were missing some key personnel, so how would they fare on the day? This year there was a decent number of supporters from both team watching on the sidelines and after a respectful minutes silence for Gareth, this much anticipated game began.

From the opening whistle it was the visitors who were giving a more solid performance in defense. The score remained at stalemate in the opening 15 minutes and the CRU defended magnificently, not missing a tackle as YCAC opted to kick for territory though their fly half, Jamie Henry (a Japan 7s national star player who would have a huge impact on the game.) It proved to be some darting runs by their centers that saw the deadlock broken on the 16th follow by tries in the 25th and 33rd minute.

The first half saw some untimely injuries with Yorkie dislocating his finger and Alex tearing a shoulder muscle. Despite this the Crusaders fought back strongly, winning some key lineouts and moving forward in attack. It was on the 38th minute when, with the CRU camped at the YCAC 22, a forward move led by a determined and rejunivated Paul Skurr, saw CRU power over the line to put points on the board. Evan duly converted and the teams went into half time at 19-7.

Now all to play for in the 2nd half YCAC opted to bring in their big guns and first team players. The opening 10 saw an increasingly physical battle ensued in the middle of park. Those on the sidelines could feel each crunching tackle being put in on both sides.

It was YCAC to strike again and enjoy their most dominant period of the match. Scoring 3 quick tries in 14 minutes with fluid rugby and their star player Henry in top form. The CRU were against a confident YCAC. To CRU credit we did not give up the chase. Brett and also new boy Cornelius Smith making some timely tackles to bring Henry down to earth and show he is after all, “only human.” In the 2nd half Brett, Cornelius and Travis were involved in carrying the ball over the chalk. Without the benefit of TV replay. Brett’s try decision was given against us (Good on the ref. for later admitting he had made a mistake tho..). Not long after this…Cornelius found some space on the right side and blazed down the line, only to be held up by Henry over the try line. Travis too was held up and unlucky to have not scored his try.

Despite some valiant play and surging runs – often led by Luke, YCAC again penetrated our line – final score: 7 – 52.

CRU boys can take heart from this game. Had some decisions gone our way the score would surely have been closer. However, it was one of the first games of rugby EVER for small handful of CRU players and considering this we can look forward to making improvements for next year.

Highlights include Cornelius’s crunching tackle on Jamie Henry, Skurry and Frank’s gritty play throughout the match and opposition man of the match Luke Bradley, playing his first game in CRU colours and having a storming game. In fact, Luke Bradley, Cornelius Smith, Hamza Ishikawa and Craig Gillet played their first games for the Cru and all players got game time. We look forward to seeing more of them in the new year.

Hats off to YCAC for providing a high standard of opposition – well done to the CRU for showing a determined spirit until the final whistle. This year was a good festival game and rugby was the winner.

In the after match speech, the YCAC President summed up the mood of the afternoon saying. “Gareth would have been proud of both teams.” Indeed he would!

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