by Aaron Pokluda The circumstances felt oddly familiar as Cru assembled at Wakabadai Station. Leaves were falling, the breeze was crisp, and Frank was sporting his Crusader’s Sweater Vest: Fall was in full swing. The day was looking to be a great one for rugby, with both the pitch and players moist due to rains the night before. As the gang approached Inagi Sogo, they noticed something was a bit different about this Phoenix RFC team. The players looked younger, a bit more stout, and sporting various Komaba plus Hokkaido jerseys.To make matters even more interesting, we were informed the JRFU would be using this match as a referee training seminar. 3 different match officials across 3 20 minute sections. Alas, the gentleman geared up ready to take on Phoenix. Forwards: Reece Morgan Frank Saffery Aaron Pokluda Rintaro Fujino Ryuji Junki Wada Arthur DeGruchy Nic Tanner Josh King Will German Matt Sparrow Sean Gibson Kei Itabashi Tyler Hansen Backs: Tom Johnson Taro Hasumi Andy Brown Takaaki Onuma Andrew Matyas Ken Kurihara Brett Reid Tamiana Konrote Simon Newby Tomo Arakwa Adam Malowiecki As the whistle sounded for the first interval, it became apparent this was not going to be a walk in the park. Within three phases by Phoenix, a quick tap outside put the red jerseyed menace over for their first try. Angered by this development Ken decided to destroy the inbound fly-half, although his turnover was for naught as a quick knock on dropped the Cru onto the backfoot. It was time for the first scrum. Virgin hooker Nic was excited and terrified for his first scrum. “Gimme a nudge if I’m off ya?” Crouch, bind set. Nic accordioned upwards as the Cru scrum dropped backwards, penalty to Phoenix. Scratching their heads and breathing heavily, the Cru marched back 10. The match continued much the same with occasional breaks by Tami, Ken, and Matyas. The breakdown was a heavy point of contention. With each referee change during the intervals, the officiating seemed to change. Even to the point where a converted kick was deemed “Ok!”. As the Cru came to the sideline for the final interval, it was made very clear that although the scoreline was beyond our reach, we could still make an attempt and do the club proud. Ken, once again, took this as a personal challenge. After battling offside penalties, turnovers, and a few errant prop charges, Ken broke the line for the Crusader’s opening try. He easily converted the score without issue. A few minutes later, it was second verse same as the first. Matyas broke a few tackles and headed straight up the middle. A quick pass outside to Ken had the Cru on the scoreboard again, try converted thereafter. As the final whistle blew, the boys were battered but not broken. During the aftermath, beers were had in Inagi Koen. As the sun set on the chaotic day, the boys were pretty happy that there had been some good rugby to enjoy. MVP Crusaders Ken Kurihara 3-2-1s Player Points Ken Kurihara 5 Tomo Arakawa 4 Aaron Pokluda 4 Fumihiko Isozaki 3 Tamiana Konrote 3 Frank Saffery 2 Sean Gibson 2 Matt Sparrow 2 Adam Malowiecki 1 Reece Morgan 1

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