The formal dinner was a roaring success, held on the 7th June at the ANA Intercontinental Hotel. Here are is the opening speech and some of the images from the evening. “Welcome Esteemed Guests, Ladies, Gentlemen,…and players. Welcome to the end-of-season Awards Dinner for the 24th season of the Tokyo Crusaders Rugby Football Club. First, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce three special guests. Mr Hiroyoshi Asanoumi, the Chairman of the Shuto League, Mr. Shunsuke Kaneda, Chief Referee for the Shuto League, and Mr. Douglas Stokes, without whose help we would not have been able to secure the Edogawa grounds. Thank you for coming tonight. I would like to propose a toast, would you please charge your glasses. ….”To the Club, and future success.” Enjoy your evening, dinner is served. Team Manager’s Speech I would like to thank the committee for the tremendous amount of work they have done again this year. A lot of work they do is not noticed in general. Gareth, for his work behind the scenes. And Jonas, for his work with our first class website, which regularly attracts semiprofessional players from around the world. Roy, for his work with sponsorship and the kit, through whose efforts we have something new happening next season. Aiko, for her support, and work as our all important Safety Assistant. Also, I’d like to thank you all for coming out, week in and week out, to play and win for the Cru. Last but not at all least, I’d like to thank Evan for being the heart and soul…and mouth of the team. Stand up. We all love ya, mate I have spent the year trying to build on our relationships with teams from last season, and form some new ones. Once again, we have met some great teams who are keen to play us again next year. As I said last year, we play two types of games: a tournament game, and a friendly game. A tournament game is where we need to win; we play hard and physical rugby. A friendly game is where want to win, but we train up new players, we try new things, and we build a relationship with the opposition. Sportsmanship and treating the opposition with respect, even after massacring them on the scoreboard, is paramount to keeping these good relations. This year, I feel we have succeeded in doing this. We have become well-known for little things like tunneling up for the opposition after the game, and giving out t-shirts to our choice of their MVP. These little things that we do have been well-received, testament to which is my most satisfying moment of the season : being voted Best Team by the other managers of the Shuto League. Another thing we seem to have done well this year is maintain our excellent team spirit. On the field, that is done by encouraging each other, and giving a pat on the back when it is deserved. Teaching when necessary, coaxing and cajoling but never abusing. We cannot all be good at everything. Each player has his faults. But we all come together, we work together, we form a team, we form a club. Where possible, the after-match Izakaya at the nearest station has been continued and I feel that this is one of the major factors in keeping our team spirit so good. Gamewise, we have done so much more than we had expected. We have a record of 21 games; 5 lossess, and 16 wins, with one more ‘win’ to go. According to our website we have scored 909 points for, and conceeded only 393. We have become a team that knows how to win. Satisfyingly, in 2 of those wins, we held the opposition to 0. One of those games gave us the Shuto Trophy. We also had our first ‘double header’; a game on Saturday night and one to follow on Sunday morning, both of which we won. Achievement-wise, when we look back at the year, we were crowned Shuto League 1st Division Champions, Travis was awarded player of the year for the League, the Club was awarded Best Team of the League by the other team managers, and I was awarded for my work on the Shuto committee. We were 5th in the Champions’ Cup. And last but perhaps more importantly, we have finished equal 1st in the 2nd Division of the Tokyo Cup, and we have put ourselves in the position to win our promotion/relegation game in 2 weeks to get us into the 1st Division for next year. I say “perhaps more importantly” because this signifies that we are once again an ‘official’ team in the Tokyo rugby community and well on our way to being respected as a force to be reckoned with. We will start next season as Shuto League 1st Division Champions and as a 1st Division Tokyo Cup team. Gentleman, stand up and take a bow. My goals for next season are to once again win the Shuto League, and put on a good show in the Tokyo Cup. We have won most of our games this season, but next season we will be taking an even bigger step up. This means stronger opposition, as stronger teams are now contacting us for games next year. Speaking of which, it looks like I have once again been ‘railroaded’ into dragging you guys through another season. God help you. Before I throw myself off the stage and start planning for next year, I have a duty to perform. It is an honour to give this award. It is for the player who has most consistently turned up for the team regardless of whether it was a game, a practice, a meeting, or a social. A player who some teams call a stalwart. We call him the CRU IRONMAN ! Come on up Mr. Roy Yorke.” Over the evening other awards went to Travis Dixon as Player of the Year Chris Ekstrom as Rookie of the Year Eric Wilkinson as Most Improved Player Gen Hirano taking the Captain’s Award Jonas Hult taking the Club Man of the Year Of course we had some classy entertainment, in the form of this beautiful samba dancer.