by Sean “Take that Alabama” Gibson. Anticipation ran high, as it always does, leading up to the Crusaders’ match with the Tokyo Gaijin on 2017 November 19th. Despite an early-season Shuto loss the players and management still had faith that we had what it takes to put a tick in the ‘W’ column on this particular day. A fairly static 10 minutes followed the kickoff, with possession going back and forth amidst some very physical rugby. Shortly after, however, the skill and pace of the Tokyo Gaijin back line began to show, with one back in particular regularly dancing his way through numerous would-be tacklers before finally being brought down. Something had to give and, well, what gave was a series of tries by the opposition. The Cru were down at halftime 24-0 but still optimistic and full of fight, thanks in part to an outstanding bit of kick coverage down the wing by Jerry, just before the halftime whistle. The tables seemed to be turned in the second half, with Captain Brett putting the ball over the line in the opening minute, followed by a successful conversion by Susumu. A hard-fought twenty minutes later, Susumu followed suit, as well as converting his own try. After conceding a pushover try off the back of a (questionably legal) line out, the Cru struck back yet again with some great running by Dom and another successful conversion by Susumu adding seven more points to the tally. Unfortunately, time expired before the mighty Crusaders could overcome lost ground, ending with a score of 21-29 the wrong way. Despite the loss, the boys in blue put up an admiral effort in an entertaining day of rugby. Newcomer Gus showed some great promise and should be a great addition to the club. Yuuta’s friend Kenzo was also a huge help providing front row coverage. Also special mention to Lesster, who came all the way up from Mie, only to get lost and turn up in the last 5 minutes. The great facilities at Tatsumi no Mori, beautiful weather, hard but fair play from the opposition and the toilet game at the nearby izakaya helped to alleviate the disappointment of the loss. Also notable was the fact that we outscored the opposition 21-5 in the second half, and Susumu was 100% on his conversions for the day. We’ll all be looking forward to the next encounter, I’m sure.