28 Oct 2007 – YCAC Gents vs Itochu | YCAC 1sts vs French Barbarians

YCAC Gents 36, Itochu 12 (HT 10-0), YCAC 1sts 52, French Barbarians 19 (HT 45-7)
Match Reports – Steve Lewis

YCAC Gents
Tries: Ken Noguchi, Tim Miller, Janco Lubbe (2), Joe Fisher, Go Kawai
Cons: Willy Lapthorn (3)

Last week YCAC’s 60 stone front row destroyed the oppo by half time. This week, the return of 25 stone Gordon “Mucho” Robertson resulted in the psychological destruction of Itochu before a ball was kicked. Quaking in his boots, the Itochu captain called a meeting of both front rows and the referee to set out a number of conditions before agreeing to scrummage against the mountain range that is Robertson, Brooke, Sizemore and Nike. You should have seen those boys smile cynically at the thought of the pain and squealing that they were about to cause…

With the exception of their front row (who were flattened), Itochu were competitive throughout the first half. The last time the two teams played, Itochu scored 40 points against the Gents and so we knew we were in for a tough match. Fortunately, Caviar Ken was in Champagne form and scored a super long-range try after a break-out from the Gents 22. Glorious stuff, although it has to be noted that with five YCAC Gents breaking away unimpeded from their own 22, four younger men desperately sought to avoid the long sprint to the line by passing and passing and passing until Caviar Ken accepted the final pass and sprinted half the length of the field to score under the posts. Itochu rose to the challenge and attacked ferociously, but playing the first full game of rugby of his life, Tim Miller pulled off some superb tackles and then took a scissor pass to cut open the Itochu defence and score under the posts. Now the educated reader would think that the half-time score line of 10-0 was a typo. Surely, two tries under the posts would yield a 14-0 haul? But no, two atrocious kicks by an unnamed South African and an unnamed Japanese meant that the kicking duties had to be handed over to a native of that country renouned for its ability to kick the rugby ball and little else: no – not a dynamic Englishman but a try-shy Kiwi.

As the second half commenced, the YCAC Gents suffered a mortal blow when Big Boy Brookey was forced to retire with a damaged finger. The unsympathetic amongst the team wondered whether this was a knock suffered during the match or a repetitive strain injury picked up the day before whilst trying on wedding rings with his JAL stewardess girlfriend. Momentarily phased by Brookey’s absence, the Gents conceded a score to bring it back to a one-try game. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going and it took a South African (which other nationality?) to score the two tries that effectively won the match for YCAC. Janco “I Look Like Francois Steyn, Run Like Francois Steyn But Certainly Can’t Kick Like Francois Steyn” Lubbe scored two super tries from the wing (one from a wonderful chip through by our own pocket battleship Masa “It May Be Winter But I’m Still Going To Wear My Hawaiian Shirt” Nozaki. The icing was put on the cake with tries from Go Kawai and Kiwi Joe topped off by three conversions from Kiwi Willy. What is it about these Kiwis that they only score points when it doesn’t matter?

Special mentions for Man of the Match Chris Mann who was tremendous in the line out, always broke the first tackle and according to our props, had soft hands for a big man. Other special mentions for the Aussies Sam Heinrich and Dominic Townsend who live together, sleep together and tackle together: woe betide any Itochu player who was unfortunate enough to find himself in the middle of that Aussie sandwich.

YCAC 1sts
Tries: Jim Brooks, Matt Creagh, Dougal Robertson (2), Joe Fisher (2), Sias, Michael Griffith
Cons: Ben Duncan (5), Matt Creagh (1)

For the second weekend in a row, the Firsts got off to a cracking start. Who knows why – Perhaps it was the sight of another great performance from the Gents that motivated the team. Perhaps it was the return of the inspirational skipper, Terry ‘The Hairy Fairy’ Dixon. Perhaps it was the extra vitriol that comes from facing off against French opposition. Perhaps it was all three.

Regardless, it all looked very smooth for the first 30 minutes with YCAC dominating the first half seven tries to one. Jim ‘Daddy Long Legs’ Brooks kicked it all off when he was put into some space by his inside men. Matt ‘Matty’ Creagh then got himself on the board, finishing off after breaking the line. Dougal Robertson then scored a great individual try, chipping over the top of the opposition and beating everyone in the race to the ball. At this point the forwards decided the backs were having far too much fun and it is no coincidence that the next three tries, two to Joe Fisher and one to Sias Potgieter, came from forward drives close to the line. Michael ‘Griffo’ Griffith (these Aussies love to keep nicknames simple) ensured the backs did not feel completely left out by grabbing the final try for the half.

With a cricket score looming, the Vicar decided mix things up for the second half by ‘loaning’ the services of Erich ‘The Freezer’ Freiss, Go Kawai, Joe Fisher, and Griffo to the French Barbarians for the second half. Given a mandate to make things a bit tougher for the boys in blue, YCAC’s ‘traitors’ threw themselves into the task and the second half was a lot tougher. Indeed, one or two of the ring-ins got a bit over zealous in pursuing their mission with Joe Fisher stamping on Ben Duncan at one point and Griffo scoring a great try against his team-mates. Indeed, the only real bright spot for YCAC in the second half was another great chip and chase try from Dougal Robertson.

Still, when the final whistle blew, the result was another easy victory for the Firsts. Given that our scheduled opponents, Chiba Akanehama Fellows, had pulled out at short notice, the Firsts were lucky to get a hit-out at all. In that regard, thanks must go to the Vicar for organizing the oppo and the All France, Gaijin, and Crusaders players who turned up on the day. With a fired up Tokyo Gaijin team champing at the bit to have a crack against YCAC next weekend, a mix and match game was definitely better than no game at all.

To finish, a special mention must to Scott ‘Black Ships’ Sizemore. A true legend of YCAC: 54 years old (exactly half of those in Japan) and one of only two current squad members who, when asked how they enjoyed the club’s South American tour, can reply: “Which one? 1989 or 2006”. (Simon ‘El Presidente’ Ryan being the other.) Two full matches on the weekend and a deserved winner of the Firsts ‘Player of the Day’ award.

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