27 Mar 2010 – YCAC vs Strug

Match report by Hunter Hemingway
YCAC 57, Strug 39 (HT 19-17)

Rugby can be quite a dangerous sport. Minor injuries (bumps, bruises, cuts) are par for the course and serious injuries (broken bones, torn muscles) are not uncommon. However, in this match we found a simple solution to minimize injuries: Nobody was allowed to tackle. The IRB has actually been trialling this idea quietly in a few Super 14 games this year (Chiefs 72, Lions 65) and we decided to give it a whirl at YCAC in this match. It ended up being quite an enjoyable game …

YCAC also adopted another tactic for this match which international rugby has introduced to the game in recent seasons: Rotation. There were a total of 16 changes from the Crusaders match the previous weekend and when the squad only has 17 people in it that is really saying something. Indeed, the only player involved in both this match and the Cru fixture was the indispensable captain “Slow” Joe Fisher (or Pro Joe as he has started calling himself after his recent elevation to coach of the 7’s squad). Anyone who has seen Pro Joe on the field knows that he is certainly not indispensable because of his playing abilities, rather it is simply that he is responsible for ordering the drinks after the match and nobody else knows the tab number!

As is often the case with rotation, this match saw a few interesting positional selections and one of YCAC’s more unusual backlines in recent times:
* A halfback and flyhalf combination who had never played in those positions before (“Caviar” Ken Noguchi and Arnaud “Mature Big Daddy” Terrien).
* An inside center who is normally a winger (Andy “Tristan’s Mate” Kennedy) and is soon to join Noah “Just a gigolo” Pflaum as a topless model at Abercrombie & Fitch (that doesn’t affect his rugby ability but couldn’t be left out of the match report).
* A back three who all normally play in the loose forwards (Jack “I’m so flexible I can give myself a …” Hatch, Callum “The Kid” Snowball and Taichi “Posh Spice Junior” Noda).

Indeed, the only player with any experience in his position was outside center Matt “Posh Spice” Dimond, who was a rock in the midfield and made several strong breaks, but he has experience in every position so that is not saying much. However, everything turned out well on the day with Ken and Arnaud instantly displaying a level of non-verbal understanding exhibited by all the great 9-10 partnerships and Arnaud making full use of his French flair to keep the opposition guessing and run in a hat-trick of tries for himself. Could this be the start of a Gregan-Larkham-like on-field relationship?
(Actually, this quick bonding between Ken and Arnaud is not that surprising really if we remember that it was this combination working together that achieved what everyone at YCAC thought was impossible – finding someone who wanted to marry Ken.*)

In front of all this razzle and dazzle from the backline was some excellent work by the forwards. The YCAC scrum was very dominant, as is normally the case when Yoshio “Nike” Naiki is in the side. In addition to his normal powerful performance in the tight, Nike also made several big runs in this match. Not to be outdone by his fellow front-rower, hooker Mike “Masivo” King made one spectacular open-field steal and then promptly subbed himself off so as to quit while he was ahead. However, the star of the forward pack was lock Sam “Tall Timber” Stephens who got through a heap of work in the tight but also managed to get wide enough to score a couple of good tries. He did go on to lose the MVP drink-off but there were extenuating circumstances – his opponent was clearly a drink-off veteran (having been selected by the opposition specially for the task) and engaged in some extreme psychological warfare by stripping off to the waist and requiring the skull to be done with the contestants arms interlinked.

Finally, this game saw a return from injury for flanker Aminiasi “Mini” Momo. It is actually amazing that he got to the game at all after emailing Simon “SS” Litster to find out the details and SS confusing him with a girl he knows called Mini. The big flanker did think it was very kind of SS to offer to buy him “a nice dinner and a bottle of wine” but was slightly confused by the offer to “head back to my place afterwards to get to know each other better”!

Hunter Hemingway

* Caviar Ken’s wife is good friends with Arnaud’s wife and she and Ken met at a party hosted by Arnaud.

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