2 May 2010 – YCAC vs Rokugo Club

Match report by Hunter Hemingway and photos by Kyoko Obayashi
Click here to view match photos
YCAC 31, Rokugo Club 12 (HT: 14-0)
Tries: Richard King, Taichi Noda, Mike Griffin, Sam Stephens, Daisuke Okada
Conversions: Kats Matsuo (3)

It may have been a bit late coming this year but spring finally arrived in Japan in time for Golden Week. The signs were unmistakable – warmer temperatures, more sunlight hours and the YCAC youth brigade proudly displaying their new girlfriends for all to see. This week it was flanker Taichi “Posh Spice Junior” Noda (24) who brought along his lovely lady to Yamate for the very first time and showed a touching amount of naivety by leaving her with the team for 30 minutes or so while he went off to do something. With the YCAC wolves circling this pastoral scene could easily have turned from A Midsummer Night’s Dream into Othello but luckily for Taichi a white knight rode up in the form of “Caviar” Ken Noguchi who sensed the danger and promptly removed the damsel from distress by gallantly offering to show her around the grounds until her beloved returned. Some would say that this apparent show of concern may simply have been a cover for a more subtle kind of seduction but anyone who has spent more than two seconds with Caviar Ken knows that he wouldn’t recognize a subtle seduction if it came up and punched him in the face and in his last match for YCAC before becoming a father he was definitely the safest pair of hands for Taichi’s girlfriend to be left with.

In other love news – I hope no-one was actually expecting a rugby report – avid readers will be pleased to note that there has been a positive development in the ‘Sam Stephens’ girlfriend’s friend’ story that was reported on last week. After disappointingly leaving empty-handed last week, Mrs. Stephens’ friend fronted up again for this match and was last spotted in the Breezeway late Sunday night happily chatting away to winger Andy “The Topless Greeter” Kennedy (19). With club legend (and Hugh Grant look-alike) Fraser “Buffalo Butt” Jamieson on hand to guide young Kennedy through the situation this writer is hopeful that this is not the last we have heard of this matter …

I suppose I have to deal with the rugby briefly …

The pre-match referee’s meeting was probably the most interesting one I have ever witnessed with the referee (Lee-san) and the YCAC captain (“Slow” Joe Fisher) having the following exchange:
Lee-san: Joe, you are the captain today?
Slow Joe: Yes, I am.
Lee-san: What position are you playing?
Slow Joe: Prop.
Lee-san: No, seriously, what position are you playing?
Slow Joe: (slightly agitated) Prop.
Lee-san: (incredulous) Loose-head?
Slow Joe: No, tight-head.
Lee-san: Ha,ha,ha. / Rokugo Club Players: (quiet chuckles)
Lee-san: OK. But, seriously, there must be no foul play this week. Not like that punch last week.
Slow Joe: But it was our player who got punched. The opposition player got a red card for it …
Rokugo Club Captain: (ignoring Slow Joe and speaking in Japanese to Lee-san) Yes, last time we played YCAC we had a lot of troubles.
[Note: The match report shows that the last time YCAC played Rokugo Club they had three of their players yellow-carded. None of ours were. Slow Joe tells me he wishes he remembered this at the time. This match actually finished with a nearly even penalty count, no hint of foul play from either side and Slow Joe and Lee-san enjoying a pleasant conversation in the Breezeway so the above exchange can simply be written off as a humorous incident. However, it is interesting – and more than a little frustrating – the way we are obviously perceived as bully boys by the Japanese rugby community.]

The match ended up being a torrid affair. Rokugo have definitely improved a lot from the team we beat 57-0 back in November – their tackles were low and ferocious and they were very good at challenging for the ball in the ruck. However, despite the referee’s pre-match incredulity about Slow Joe playing prop, our scrum was extremely dominant and won several tight-heads. We were also able to disrupt the Rokugo Club line-out and with this set-piece dominance it was always going to be our match to lose. After an opening 20 minutes where we threatened to score several times out wide but couldn’t quite manage it the YCAC pack took an ‘up the jersey’ approach and battered away at the Rokugo line until halfback King, Richard “The Third” finally scored the opener with what he described as a “bullocking run from 50 cm”. Taichi Noda then impressed the girlfriend and made sure YCAC went into half-time with a decent lead by scoring the team’s second try from a similar distance. Shortly after the break, inside center Mike “Griffo” Griffin got himself on the scoreboard after a good piece of back play. With a few minutes to go Sam Stephens got us our bonus point (and hopefully impressed his girlfriend as well) by scoring from one of his now typical darts down the blindside. YCAC’s final score of the night saw prop Daisuke “The Silent Assassin” Okada break his bagel by catching the opposition unawares and sneaking through a ruck to dot down under the posts – Erich’s groans of anguish could be heard all the way from Seattle.

In addition to the try-scorers, outside center Tim “The Toe” Lenevez deserves a mention for an excellent debut. A corporate player with the NTT team last season Tim the Toe added a touch of class to our midfield and formed an excellent combination with Griffo. It was also great to see winger Heihachiro “Ben Affleck” Yamaguchi put together several excellent runs and a couple of his trademark big tackles in his first game back after a long injury break. Finally, Kats “Marathon Man” Matsuo deserves a plug for his excellent kicking display and intelligent running of the backline.

Hunter Hemingway

Team Sheet
1. Leopold “Oz” Visser (South Africa)
2. Daisuke “Silent Assassin” Okada (Japan)
3. “Slow” Joe Fisher (NZ) (c)
4. Stephen “Hang Time” Marcon (England)
5. David “The Goliath” Dix (Australia)
6. Sam “Tall Timber” Stephens (NZ)
7. Taichi “Posh Spice Junior” Noda (Japan)
8. Aminasi “Mini” Momo (Fiji)
9. King, Richard “The Third” (England)
10. Kats “Marathon Man” Matsuo (Japan)
11. “Caviar” Ken Noguchi (Japan)
12. Mike “Hurricane” Griffin (Australia)
13. Tim “The Toe” Lenevez (Australia)
14. Heihachiro “Ben Affleck” Yamaguchi (Japan)
15. Fraser “Buffalo Butt” Jamieson (Scotland)
16. Morihito “Wendy” Takayanagi (Japan)
17. Hiroyuki “Silent Assassin Junior” Nozaki (Japan)
18. Andy “The Topless Greeter” Kennedy (Ireland)

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