Sunday mornings beckon lonely
without our teammate and our friend;
but if we wait a while then we’ll play
once more when our seasons start again.
These words, emblazoned across the base of the MacFadyen Memorial Cup, could speak of expatriate rugby as a whole: long-time friends head to fresh shores, only to return for a holiday and slot in exactly where they left off; new members join at an ex-player’s behest, years after their own run, and add to the legacy; at its best, newcomers to the country find a fresh home with former team-mates, wearing an as yet-unfamiliar crest. The sadness of losing friends within a tightly-knit community is real, but such is the nature of the beast, and it is no less real than the joy felt on seeing each other again.
The Crusaders were blessed to see the return of so many old faces during the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and the only thing more notable than the attendances were the chairs left empty by those who could not be present. Gareth MacFadyen is one such friend: a formidable player, doing double duty for the Crusaders and the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club, Gareth lost his life in tragic circumstances shortly before a potential return to the clubs he loved so much. His passing left its mark on the rugby community here, and the two mourning sides joined hands in creating a memorial trophy: the Mac Cup.
The most important fixture in both clubs’ calendars, the Mac Cup has come to mean something beyond its silver, deepening Gareth’s memory into a core truth of rugby: it is a physical representation of the fraternity and good sportsmanship that one man can forge between rival teams, and the generational impact that they can cause. Even now, players with no memory of Gareth — who have never even seen his picture — take to the field in his name, champion his cause, and share a pint between the clubs that he held dear. The post-match bar is always alight with camaraderie that crosses the barriers between teams, and the Tokyo rugby sphere is all the richer as a result.
This Saturday, December the 2nd, the MacFadyen Memorial Cup fixture will be charged with an even greater degree of poignancy, as members of the MacFadyen family will be in attendance. All are welcome to join this celebration of life, and to raise a glass in honour of Gareth MacFadyen; the Tokyo Crusaders; the YCAC, and rugby in all its fraternal glory.