_1160006 _1160032 by Eric Wilkinson A beautiful day for rugby (at least until the sun burned through the clouds), the Cru took on the All Jinjan RFC, in our second Shuto league match of the year. Omiya Kempo was a nice ground, with none of the surprise divots, bare patches, or random metal objects so frequently located on a typical Japanese grass pitch. It was also the apparent hiding spot of all the meters of try zone (goal zone?) which are missing from every other pitch in Japan, with what seemed like 20 meter goal zones on either side of the pitch. It was a good turnout for the Cru, with 23 players taking the field while still having one or two in reserve. This turned out to be rather fortuitous as the day suddenly became quite muggy which sapped the energy from many players, and clearly had nothing to do with a lack of endurance on the part of many of us… Lack of training aside, the game also marked the Cru debut (a deCru, if you will) for both for both Benjamin and Shunsuke, who both had solid outings. All Jinjan, as with basically every other team in Japan, were a disciplined, and fit team. And as with most every Japanese team their only real downfall was the lack of size, as evidenced by beautiful scrums from our side which gained us turnovers, and set up some awesome runs from our backs. Sebastian (Who I will now refer to as Seabass) scored on two occasions with nice bits of running, which I as a Prop can only perform in video games. Seabass also managed to receive a yellow card at around the 23 minute mark in the first half for a ‘minor’ retaliation against a player who punched one of our own, by grabbing him by the throat. Pat Wheen also got into the mix by bulldozing through half of the population of Japan to pick up a a try in the first half as well. However, for all the good we did in the first half, we also managed to turn the ball over a number of times, and the gap in conditioning was starting to show, leaving the game close with a score of 12-14, Jinjan on top. The second half brought with it a number of changes to the line-up, as well as a change to the Jinjan props which, along with the much mentioned conditioning, made the second half much more difficult in the trenches. That said, Seabass still managed his 2nd try of the game within the first 5 minutes of the second half with some nice breakaway speed to help give us a more comfortable cushion of a lead. After some strong defense from the Jinjan, Cocksy drove his way in for a score at around the 58 minute mark for our final ‘offical’ score of the day; Atsu also managed a great bit effort for a clear try which was called back by our other opponent of the day, the Ref. Jinjan managed one more score on the day, but it was not to be for the feisty team with the final score in favor of the Cru 26(31)-19. A hard fought victory against a team we will look forward to playing in the future, our vote for the MVP of the Jinjan went to their No.2, Mr. Hirofumi Kuroya, who played an outstanding match, making the lives of our forwards that much harder. The All Jinjan voted Atsu our MVP, which was well deserved as he set up many of our scoring drives, and was all over the field making key tackles, and runs. After the match, the team retired to the on-site clubhouse for some good food [lots of pork cutlet curry] and refreshments [beer]. The 321s for the match went to Atsu, for all the reasons I stated above. Seabass, for his pair of tries, and for not receiving a red card. Rob Galbrath, for the same solid play he always gives the team. Pat, for being Pat. And Neil Howard, for some more solid play. All-in-all, a great day, with some new faces both on the field and off. Special thanks for Andy Burton for running as line judge for both half’s. And to myself, for some solid waterboy action.

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