Touring with the Cru – Mike Mayrseidl
I first landed in Japan in early 1998 as a callow youth with no idea of where I was going in life and yet thanks to the camaraderie and support of the Cru, when left Japan in 2000 it was as a callow youth with no idea of where I was going in life and a drinking problem.
Jobs, possessions and personal achievements all come and go over the years but deep down in the masculine soul I think we all recognize that the misplaced sense of accomplishment that comes from drunken antics and petty group hooliganism stays with us forever.
So whenever I am need of a bit of a cheer up I cast my mind back to the glory days of 98/99/00 and picture a younger, stupider, fitter me and highpoints like scoring my first hat trick in match, or lowpoints like the time I drank in Roppongi for 18 hours straight, turned up to our game out at Hachijoji on the first train, knocked on the kick off reception 3 times in the first 8 minutes and then promptly threw up under the goal posts before retiring to the bench.
I think of the various bars that we have drunk dry as a team and any of multiple nights out on the pull at Paddys, Mogambos, Castillos and Propaganda. The Hotel New Sanno all you can drink bar would invariably run dry every year we held our end of season bash there. The Rock and Roll Diner out at Shimo-Kitazawa almost went out of business once we found out about and started exploiting their Sunday afternoon half price happy hour and started turning up after matches to order 80+ jugs of frozen margeritas every weekend. Or there’s the time 100 or more of us turned up at the Steinlager bar near Chichibu Stadium immediately after the Tokyo 7’s one year and tried to order beers only to be told that we had to buy “beer tokens” first. So we ordered 200 beer tokens only to be told that they only had 80 beer tokens in the entire bar. Aaah Japan hey?
I recall the time that the Cru got disqualified by the powers that be after winning the Tokyo Cup for the heinously disrepectful crime of having mismatched socks.
I remember the Cru playing skirmish against the marines out at Tama Hills base and in true Cru spirit resorting to cheating after we figured out we weren’t going to do too well against well trained marines in ghilly suits with laser sighted fully auto paintball guns. We played the rest of the day playing under new rules that all Cru players were invulnerable to paint balls and that we could and should continue shooting the opposition long after they stood up from being hit. We weren’t that popular with the range sergeant.
Perhaps most of all I remember the tours. For those of you who have never partaken – please do it at least once in your life, you won’t regret it. Those who have been will confirm that tours are worth more than your job security or the continued respect of wives and girlfriends.
Thailand 10’s saw us take the field as naked Mexican Bandits. It didn’t take much to get completely out of hand and I know that I will have the image of Timmy O’s wobbly bits spilling out of a stolen pink g-string as he gyrated on a mechanical bull in a seedy Thai bar seared into my memory forever.
Sapporo was good too. The 13 man lineout call springs to mind as does repeated rounds of the taxi conga line and standing in the middle of busy intersections singing Delilah. I think the stage where half the team disappeared to buy floor length fur coats was where I began to suspect it might start to go rapidly downhill. Someone taking a leak into Suazo’s fur coat pocket while we queued to get into the Sapporo beer hall just confirmed this. But where it really started to degenerate was when we got to the stage where someone it decided that the drinks were coming too slowly and that it made sense to buy the nightclub’s entire bar fridge and trundle it out from the bar.
Anyway, I could bore you all forever with my store of precious old rugby stories. Those who where there will already share them with me but those who weren’t, I encourage you all to stay involved with Cru life and create some legends of your own to tell your kids someday.
- Nationality: Kiwi-Aussie
- Cru Player: 1998-2000
Handling the heat of Manilla – Stewart Henwood
It was in the Summer of ’92. We were on our first annual ‘End-of-year Tour’ to Manilla. We had arrived the night before, and needless to say, we were a motley lot that morning, outside the hotel wondering how ‘n the hell we were going to get to the ground. Some bright spark disappeared and came back with a jeepney and a smiling driver. We all piled in the back with our gear and headed off in the hot sweaty traffic. After a spell, we got pulled over by a mufty cop car and two scary looking dudes with big guns! (not unusual for Manilla) The driver gets hauled out and some kind of drama starts to unfold on the curb. Of course we have no idea what’s going on. One of our hard-case Aussie players, Arron Wood, gets out and says, confidently, – “I’ll handle this.” After a few minutes’ intense discussion (read ‘negotiation’), Arron comes back and says, – “Right, have a whip-round. We need some cash!” As it turned out, the jeepney drivers have a specified route written on their doors and we were way off our driver’s route. He had been happy to do it because he was getting ‘big bucks’ from us, but the cops, well… they needed gasoline for the car, I guess. Arron disappears again and when he returns he says to me (why me?!) “Right, you’re with me in the car!”. So picture this,…Arron and Stewart, with the two scary guys (turned out to be quite friendly, actually), in the cop car in the front with its lights flashing and siren going, the whole touring team stuffed in the back of the jeepney, with an undoubtedly relieved driver, and the traffic parting for us – like the sea before Moses. On the way we actually stopped to fill up the car, passed through the centre of a military base of some sort (the cops said it was a short cut), and got to the ground well ahead of time. That was one of the things I remember being good about the Crusaders… no matter what the situation we got ourselves into, there was always at least one player who knew how to get us out of it.
- Nationality: New Zealand
- Occupation: Teacher
- Cru Player: 1990-94, 2012-
Scoring the game winning try – Bevan Colless
In the 2007 Gareth MacFadyen Cup v The Yokohama Country and Athletic Club we were getting smashed – down by about 32-12, with only 15 minutes to go. The YCAC were even going for field goals to “Twist the Knife” – those were their words. We got two quick tries and then with about 2 minutes to go Brendan Doherty drew three defenders and put me in a gap about 20m out, and I crossed the line out wide. I heard someone shouting at me to improve the position but I had guys on my tail – I didn’t know the score but kept running around in the in-goal and got tackled next to the posts, but got the ball down – damn it felt good feeling that ball touch the turf! We got the conversion and won 33-32. Definitely a highlight in my sporting career. I have now more or less retired from rugby but still play for the Cru in the Sapporo game each year.
- Nationality: Australia
- Occupation: Founder Tokyo Physio
- Cru Player: 2002-2012