17 Nov 2007 – YCAC vs Crusaders – Gareth MacFadyen Cup

YCAC Gents 22, Crusaders 7 (HT 0-7), YCAC 1sts 32, Tokyo Crusaders 33 (HT 12-7)
Gents Match Report – Steve Lewis, 1sts Match Report – Joe Fisher
Photographer – Kyoko Obayashi

YCAC Gents
Tries: Go Ito, Rhino, Sandy
Per: Fraser
Cons: Fraser (2)

Anyone who has ever had the temerity to label New Zealand a country of chockers has never witnessed Simon “Dictatore” Ryan making his once a season appearance against the Crusaders. No matter that he is 86 years old. No matter that he last had a hair cut in 1958. This Kiwi personifies the spirit, guts and essence of leadership that has become the hallmark of YCAC Captains over the 100 + years of the Club’s existence.

As the avid reader will learn from the First Team Match Report, the YCAC Firsts lost in the last minute to a tenacious Crusaders side. No less than 10 of the Crusaders First Team played in the match against the Gents (with fresh legs and eager hearts). The rumour circulating in the bars after the game was that the Crusaders believed they had no chance of winning the GM Cup and had loaded the Second Team in the hope of coming away with a token victory. The tactic had gone to plan for the first half when the Cru led the noble Gents by 0-7 at half time. But they had not reckoned on the tactical knowledge and sheer bloody-mindedness of the Legend of Yamate. A couple of tactical switches and the re-emergence of the biggest set of buttocks ever to have graced the Land of the Rising Sun literally swung the game in the Gents’ favour. A scintillating try by Go Ito was the catalyst for the fight back. Some have asked why Go was not picked for the First Team but those in the know are aware that you cannot indicate your availability to the First Team Captain by email these days: you have to send a carrier pigeon. And, of course, the try that proved to be the match winner was scored by the octogenarian himself: unbeatable fighting spirit showing through when it really mattered. Fraser’s curvaceous buttocks added a penalty and two conversions and Sandy Rose scored the last try to make the victory comprehensive. Oh, how those Crusaders First Team players were left flummoxed and bemused in the face of true grit.

Special mentions go to Nike who tackled everything within half a yard of him … Gavin and Liaghn Moolman who flattened every Crusader who dared to come anywhere near the gain-line like a pair of teenage dervishes (rather than the father/son combo that has brought a smile to the face of many a Roppongi Mama-san). Caviar Ken and Grandmere Terrien played superlatively in the backs and Mattheiu Vinaud let up from laughing at his Kiwi team-mates to win every line out ball on offer. And finally, Gordon “Mucho” Robertson, who was a man mountain on the field only to become a mouse in the beer drinking race-off after the game.

The Vicar

Gareth MacFadyen Cup
YCAC 1sts
Tries: Ben Duncan (2), Michael Griffith, Kieran Walsh (2)
Cons: Ben Duncan (2)
Drop-goal: Ben Duncan

For a neutral bystander, this match would have probably been one of the most exciting games of amateur rugby you could hope to see. For those with a more vested interest, it will surely go down as either one of the best or one of the worst afternoons of rugby ever experienced …

Despite a rousing performance from the Gents to keep their unbeaten streak alive, the Firsts build-up was messy with timeliness again an issue for a couple of players. However, reinforcements from the Gents were ready to hand to ensure that the requisite fifteen players took the field at 2.45 pm. After a sobering minute of silence before kick-off, the match started in physical fashion. It was heartening to see the YCAC pack push the Crusaders back from the opening scrum, but it was actually the Cru who got first points on the board with an early try.

YCAC soon hit back though with Ben ‘Silver Fox’ Duncan selling a couple of nice dummies from close range and going over untouched. Another try from the Silver Fox before the break ensured YCAC went into half-time with the lead.

The second half started in much the same fashion as the first, with the Cru getting an early try and YCAC bouncing back with a couple of scores of their own – a try to Michael ‘Griffo’ Griffith and a drop-goal to the in-form Silver Fox. YCAC then seemed to put the result beyond doubt with two scores to Kieran ‘You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’ Walsh – the first a pushover try from a five-meter scrum and the second from an overlap on the wing. At 32 – 14 with twenty minutes to play you could be forgiven for thinking that the match was effectively over as a contest. Unfortunately, somebody forgot to tell the Crusaders that.

Momentum is a funny thing in rugby and once it goes against you it is very hard to get back. The All Blacks have learned this fact all too well through a couple of RWC matches against the French in recent years. The YCAC players now know it also. With time running down on the clock the Crusaders somehow suddenly found another gear – where earlier YCAC attackers had been running against one defender, they were now running against four and where earlier tackles had halted Cru attacking movements there were now two support players on the shoulder of every Cru runner. With nineteen unanswered points to finish the game the Crusaders took the match, the cup, and the bragging rights until next time.

If Jean-Luc Sadourney’s 1994 score against the All Blacks was the try from the end of the world, then the Crusaders effort in scoring three tries against YCAC in the last twenty minutes of the 2007 GM Cup match deserves to be labelled the come-back from the end of the world. It is a win that is likely to have ramifications beyond the immediate winning and losing of the match. The Crusaders, by their own admission, have had a terrible season to date, facing problems with the Japanese rugby authorities and with getting numbers to matches. This win will galvanize them. In contrast, YCAC had made a very promising start to the season. Hopefully this loss will stamp out the bad habits that can easily creep in when success comes a little too easily. One thing is for sure, the next match between these two sides promises to be a cracker …

Joe Fisher

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