11 Oct 2010 – YCAC vs Kurumi
(East Japan Club Championships)

YCAC Gents vs Kurumi
Match report by Michael Hunt and photos by Kyoko Obayashi

YCAC 92 – Kurumi 33
Tries: Joe Naulu(3), Aran Delaney(2), Kane Hancy(2), Willie Lapthorn(1), Ben Bacon(1), Ben Patu(1), Tim Lenevez(1), Mike Griffin(1), Simon Ryan(1), David Dix(1)
Conversions: Tim Lenevez(11)

Reporters Note

I was honoured when our esteemed President approached me to write this report. In my relatively short time with the Club, I have come to regard it as a diverse yet harmonious family – in many ways, my family. There is huge variety among our number – little, big, skinny, fat, old, young, quick, lazy, verbose, reticent – but the way I see it, you’re all Hunts; one big pack of Hunts. And none bigger than El Presidente, who I now reverentially refer to as a….no….THE Supreme Hunt. So I dedicate this, my first (and last?) report, to all you YCAC Hunts out there.

Michael Hunt

“BE GREAT!”

Thus exhorted Aran “Big Del” Delany-Hunt as the YCAC squad completed its warm-up for the match against the well regarded Kurumi side. A few sniggers were heard from those few players less familiar with the American style of gee-up, but no observer could doubt the force of the feeling nor the determination that lay behind the sentiment. It was evident in the warm-up (which, on this sweltering Saitama morning, was more of a “bringing to the boil”) that the boys had turned up in the right frame of mind. Now it was just a matter of putting it on the pitch.

The event itself could be summarized in a single vignette involving our big, fired up Seppo. Kurumi shifted the ball quickly across field on their 10 yard line after regathering a clearing kick. Midfield; broken play; slightly disjointed defence; the gaijin tiring; this looked dangerous for Team Hunt. But up pops Big Del. Leaping like a salmon, he intercepts a floated (but not egregious) pass and gallops (do salmon gallop? whatever) in to score under the posts.

That our extrovert American was having his best game so far in the YC&AC shirt was, by this point, already clear. But that moment – a potentially well constructed and swift counter-attack foiled by a determined and skilled man in blue – was emblematic of a wider theme in this Sports Day national holiday fixture.

An observer might be tempted to think of the Curate and his egg. (Ask the Vicar if you are unfamiliar with this story). There were many moments worthy of praise. Ten through to twelve were lethal in attack and displayed metaphorical steel in defence. Joe “Mal Meninga” Naulu-Hunt, however, appeared to use the actual steel in his leg to brush off hapless defenders in several great finishing efforts in the first half. In the forwards, Theo “Air miles” Bacon-Hunt was ubiquitous with Brimman “The Quiet American” Fraser-Hunt almost always in his pocket. The tight five used their size and strength to more or less crush Kurumi whenever they started to get some momentum. But to single out individuals is to imply that others did not play well, and this would be unfair. It was an excellent team effort.

And yet…

If the more or less unceasing torrent of abuse and profanities issued in a thick kiwi accent (and, therefore, mercifully incomprehensible to at least 75% of those present) for the first 20 minutes by coach / mentor / talisman “Night” Maher-Hunt (aka “Gobby Hunt”) was any guide, then there would seem room for improvement.

To be dissatisfied with a win where you have scored more than 90 points against a respectable opponent – and Kurumi were certainly that – seems faintly ridiculous. But after the full time whistle, your reporter sensed a current of “could do better” mixed in with the natural pleasure of such a comprehensive win. Surely some of this feeling sprung from the fact that Kurumi scored 33 points, many of which were easily taken.

It was noteworthy that new skipper Dean “Mumbles” Stallard-Hunt stepped so effortlessly into the leadership role. His demand that his team avoid any possible suggestion of foul play must have grated for such a fine exponent of the dark arts. But he led by example and showed discipline that will be crucial in games to come. Doubtless it helped that our former leader Joe “The Boss (Suntory Boss that is)” Fisher-Hunt has moved (permanently?) into that place from which all great thought emanates – the front row. Cuddling the new skipper whenever the ref would allow, Joe’s calming bon mots must have been a great comfort to the boy from Rocky. (The only cloud on the new skipper’s horizon – other than a dickie knee – is the rumour of a request from the JRFA that post match speeches be delivered in one of the world’s top 5 recognised languages….or at the very least one that an educated bi-lingual Japanese is able to interpret, even loosely).

And so, to the victors, the spoils. Green Car luxury on the return journey, Mickey Ds and under-the-tracks yakatori – food of choice for finely tuned athletes. Even a few beers were had. As the night became cloudy, there were suggestions that the altitude sickness induced by a day scaling such athletic, ergonomic and gastronomic heights might be cured by a consultation with a Doctor from that flattest of places, Brittany. But this is pure conjecture.

Finally, a return to the real niku in this tonkatsu – the rugby. YC&AC dominated this game, played some excellent rugby, won easily (celebrated well) and will have doubtless laid down a big marker for all remaining teams in the East Japan Cup. But most pleasing of all must be the sense that so much improvement is possible.

After having been very good on Monday, the next time Big Del calls for the team to “Be Great”, there should be no sniggers – it will be achievable.

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