by Matt Sparrow This week’s opponents were Nippon Steel Ruggers. The day started off with fairly reasonable weather, albeit slightly overcast – the decent weather was not going to last though, because by the end of the game, we would be playing in what I genuinely thought was a full blown (forgive the pun) tai-fun. As this was the first game of our Tokyo Cup campaign since our relegation to the second division, the Crusaders were keen to put down a marker to show that our relegation was undeserved. Despite the early start everyone managed to show up on time, and we lined up for the somewhat over-officious Tokyo Cup pre-game inspection that the senior players are now all too familiar with. Having made sure that our nails were beautifully manicured and we weren’t making the grievous offence of wearing non-navy, black or white undershorts, we were permitted to get underway. The Cru took advantage of the only positive of a ridiculously early start, which was having some space to warm-up, so we started the game ready to go. As such, it is surprising that Matthew Foster took so long to score his first try… 1 whole minute! Poor show! Matthew then managed to get his second try about ten minutes later with another storming run. This was followed with fairly evenly spaced tries from Neil, cutting through the back line on a nice angle, John Akiba with a quick tap and go, and finally Reece smashing through the defence. Neil had a solid kicking game with 4 out of 5 conversions going over, making the score at half-time 33-0 to the Cru. The second half brought more solid work from the Cru, as well as the debut of everyone’s favourite Bavarian – Jacob Basiliyos, who was to be integral in the Crusaders defense of our precious clean sheet with some head-rattling tackles. The first try of the half was scored by Tomonori, coming into the back line from full-back to put it under the posts. Tomonori obviously enjoyed being back after being unable to play for a while, as he then proceeded to be the second Cru member to pick up a brace of tries (within three minutes of each other!). Travis Dixon then broke through the defense to score two tries, although quite honestly he looked disgusted at having to run over half the length of the pitch for his second try. The highlight of the second half was seeing the giant white arse of Matthew Foster as his boxers somehow managed to disintegrate in a tackle; he then had to play boxerless (and rather carefully – lest little Matt pop out to greet everyone) for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, Genta took a knock to the head and went off with a split eyebrow, devastating his future modelling career opportunities. Two consecutive yellow cards for high tackles reared their ugly head – one for NS Ruggers and our own Reece Morgan (is he actually tall enough to high-tackle anyone?) leaving both teams with just 14 players. Not to be disheartened, Luke Bradley scored the Crusaders final try of the game. For the remainder of the match we seemed to be pinned in our half, battling a determined NS Ruggers who were desperate not to get nilled. Some solid tackling from the Cru – particularly noteworthy were Jacob and Luke Bradley – ensured that we kept a clean sheet. Neil Howard kicked a further three conversions this half, leaving the score at the final whistle a convincing win of 64-0. A great start to the Tokyo Cup campaign. Our vote for the opposition MVP went to their No. 8 – Mr. Kotaro Ueda. Their vote went to our No. 10 – Travis Dixon who was presented with a bottle of wine (I have never seen him so happy!). Many thanks to our referee, Mr. Yoshioka and to our linesmen from Kameari RFC and Swift RFC. 321s were…. 5. Travis Dixon 4. Matthew Foster 3. Reece Morgan 2. John Akiba 1. Neil Howard A special thanks to those who came out to help with the Tokyo Cup duties: The Sideline Manager was Stewart Henwood. The Safety Assistant was Gen Hirano. The Record Keeper was Yuko Henwood. The Ballboys (and girl) were Frank Saffery, Mamoru Adachi, and Incha Robson. The Water
boys girls were Kaori Omori, and Sarah Hamm.