by Brendan Gallagher With the Cru set for another early match, the day began in unfortunate circumstances as management realized we’d have to scrape together a side of 15 due to last minute cancellations and no-shows. Fortunately however, two of our French comrades met us at the pitch in eager fashion ready to join us in battle against our common opponent (first time for everything). Now that we had 15 “players” our management and captains would surely earn their keep lining up a side filled with 13 forwards. While most of the Cru was playing out of position (The ‘Two Towers of London/Sheffield’ stayed at home in the 2nd row) and we formed a back line that would rival most packs in weight; our youth-rugby days were quickly drawn upon to highlight the versatility embodied by most of the Crusaders. Strategy was limited at best and to compound items, it was our first time to ever play an obviously apparent well-drilled and well-disciplined all-Japanese opponent. Otawa RFC got off to a quick start scoring in the first 10minutes on the back of a turnover and nice set-play from their backs before punching in another try soon thereafter to jump out to a 12-0 lead in the first half. Being the on-the-fly adjustment manager that he is, Tooley recognized an underutilized Rob out in the wings and he swapped his own ‘speed’ for Rob’s defensive prowess helping to limit our opponent’s dashes through the middle. The out-of-positioned Crusaders finally settled in and after some great scrummaging and ball work from Philippe at scrum half and Travis at fly, the ball ended up on our newly found speedsters in the backfield and some quick passes from Seth to Galdric to Brendan ended up with a nice easy try for the Cru just before half time. The 2nd half began in similar fashion to the 1st as the Cru found themselves on their backfoot giving up a try in the first 5 min allowing Otawa to extend their halftime lead. However, some inspiring runs by Rob and Seth quickly changed the momentum and wisely the ball was sent out to the speedsters in the centers/wings and Brendan managed to score his 2nd try of the day (maybe some of us weren’t out of position after-all). Continued scrummaging and strong defense from our forwards as well as quick balls allowed for a beauty of a try from Seth cutting right through the defense like a hot knife through butter, knotting the score at 19 a piece midway through the 2nd. The steamy day appeared to began weighing on the Cru’s overly alcohol-hydrated bodies as Otawa was able to stop the momentum and countered with an impressive try of their own. Another dazzling try from Seth late in the 2nd kept the score within a conversion but Otawa was able to string together enough phases and nice ball movements from their backs to seal the victory in the waning minutes. The game ended with Otawa RFC on top 33 points to the Cru’s 24 with a well played effort from both sides on a beautiful Sunday morning. Some Highlights: The Pitch was incredibly well-manicured and maintained for a grass rugby field. Seth and Brendan each scored 2 tries, Travis was 2/4 on conversions. Sean Gibson made his return and his durability was tested early on the opening kickoff, but put together a full game’s effort in his return. Jason Gall played his last game for the Cru before his departure from Japan. Well done Jason, and you certainly will be missed. Aftermatch function was held in the local clubhouse as well as a nijikai at an izakaya in Omiya. Many thanks and love to our support staff, including Megumi, who managed Frank’s beratement when supporting injured opponents to still hydrate the Cru in efficient fashion all day, as well as Tom Cock’s dad for help with match statistics. As always, many thanks to all supporters/family that give up part of their Sunday to enjoy a day of rugby with the Cru!!! 321’s : Rob Galbraith 5pts, Travis Dixon 4pts, Seth Robson 3pts, Jason Gall/Philippe Buzon 2pts

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