15 Sep – YCAC Gents vs YM Mariners

YCAC Gents 26 YM Mariners 10 (HT: 12 – 5)
Tries: Tristan Fahy, Go Ito, Dean Stallard, James Goulstone
Conversions: Tristan Fahy (3)

In the YCAC year the month of September is normally spent enjoying (or enduring) the last days of summer, trying to credit the emotional bank account by spending plenty of time with the wife or girlfriend (or both), and contemplating the possibility of going for a jog so that we can tell ourselves (and everyone else) that we have a pre-season ‘training program’.

However, this year all this has been disrupted by the decision to switch our pitch from grass to all-weather (i.e. artificial). The theory behind this is that as an all-weather surface doesn’t require rest it will be able to generate more revenue for the club through rentals from increased usage. (The rumours that this extra revenue will be used to fund ‘pet projects’ for YCAC locals – mirrors on the ceiling of the bedroom in ‘Caviar’ Ken Noguchi’s bachelor pad & ads for ‘Men Looking for Women’ in the over-50’s section of Metropolis for Simon ‘Supreme Splinter’ Litster – have yet to be confirmed.) Regardless, the result of all of this is that we have joined the Kanagawa League to get us some pre-Christmas fixtures and the opening match of our campaign kicked off in the unfamiliar surroundings of the Hodogaya Rugby Ground.

To go along with the new venue there were a number of fresh faces as well with James Goulstone (lock), Jack Hatch (flanker), Callum Snowball (flanker) and Waisale Tuwai (halfback) all making their debuts for YCAC. Amongst all this novelty it was refreshing to find that some things haven’t changed – the only latecomer on the day was an Aussie (Dean Stallard). Luckily, the Kanagawa League cleared Stallard and the rest of us to play, although not without a few quizzical looks at the ages written down on the team sheet. It is a fair bet that with the YCAC squad containing such a mix of youth (Hatch and Snowball are both 16) and experience (Mike ‘Masivo’ King is much, much older than that) we have the biggest age spread of any side in the competition.

The match started well with Tristan Fahy dropping his kick-off into open space and Stallard recovering the ball. This set the tone and the first 10 minutes of the match was all YCAC with Fahy scoring the first try for the season by darting over the line after the YCAC forwards had done a great job to win a tighthead just five meters from the Mariners try-line. Go Ito soon added a second try, grounding the ball over the line after a strong run. After this opening onslaught the match evened up as the Mariners composed themselves and YCAC got over-excited by our early success and started trying to play too much rugby in our own half. The first half finished with a Mariners try from a counter-attack after a YCAC clearing kick failed to find touch.

The second half started in the worst possible fashion with the Mariners scoring a second try from a wayward YCAC kick. This brought the score to 12 – 10 and with the Mariners growing in confidence a YCAC victory started to look uncertain for the first time. Clearly it was time to go back to basics and they don’t get any more basic than the YCAC front row. After a series of charges nudged the ball to within five meters of the Mariners line Erich ‘Freezer’ Friess made a desperate attempt to try to avoid a golden bagel for a fourth season but was stopped just short by a committed opposition defence. Luckily, Freezer’s front-row team-mate Stallard was on hand to make one more charge at the line and this time the Mariner defence finally broke. This try, and the subsequent conversion by Fahy, gave YCAC a nine point lead and some crucial breathing space. A few minutes later the match was sealed and a bonus point was gained when new second-rower Goulstone grounded the ball over the line after some strong driving play by the forwards (including one maul which went for forty meters before being pulled down just short of the line).

In the after-match presentation the Kanagawa League President awarded the Man of the Match prize to Masivo King. Given that the match was played on Japan’s Respect for the Aged Day all agreed that it showed a Vicar-like sense of humour to award the prize to the oldest man on the field.

Joe Fisher

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