7 Mar 2010 – YCAC Gents vs Koganei | YCAC 1sts vs Tokyo Gaijin

1sts match report by Hunter Hemingway
Gents match report by Gatherer Hemingway & “Joe the Vicar”
Photos by Kyoko Obayashi
Gents photos
1sts photos
YCAC Gents 40, Koganei 14 (HT: 14-7)
YCAC 1sts 18, Tokyo Gaijin 7 (HT: 13-7)

YCAC Gents

Avid readers will have noted the wheeling out by my older brother (Hunter Hemingway) of the classic literary device of “a single incident occurs on a rugby field that is so momentous that all other events of the day fade into insignificance + dedicatory poem”. This cunning technique has been deployed by my big bro’ on no less than two occasions in the last few months to avoid having to report the dreary details of what actually occurred. And yet, since my recollection of what actually transpired during the latest game on Sunday was dulled by an unfortunate blow to the head, sadly I must continue my brother’s trend of journalistic dereliction of duty. I should note that bro’ Hunter has the glory of a much more fashionable Christian name than me, bless our mother’s soul – but I shall try not to live forever in his quite considerable shadow.

You will recall that it was Nike who provided inspiration for last week’s write-up of the 1sts (and the aforementioned poem)… fittingly Nike also stimulated this week’s write-up of the Gents by reminding me that the oppo Koganei were in fact a kind of “amalgam” of Gentle Giants and Koganei. I will therefore resort to reaching back into the annals (well, last year at least) to the most recent previous YCAC fixtures against GG and Koganei (Gents wins of 27-22 and 50-14, respectively – played in similar weather and conveniently not too different from Sunday’s result) to see if a “random text merger” (using some new Hemingway family word-processing software) of those two previous match reports might provide a few meaningful insights. The wonders of modern technology! As a result of you will see 13 different names on the scoresheet and a melange of literary styles and some mildly satisfying gibberish.

Oh, and for those that are interested in what actually happened in this year’s match vs GG/Koganei, it was as follows… basically the well-worn story of the unprepared unwarmed up Gents supplemented by 1s on powerboosters falling behind 0-14 in the first half, facing not only a fast keen young all-Japanese side but also the unseasonably freezing wind and rain in our faces, before we woke up and cruised to victory with a 40 point unanswered reversion largely up the jumper with some great battering runs and forward drives and a variety of YCAC powerhouses slamming the ball down over the line at full stretch and the occasional back-line break-through with some metronomic Silver Almost Grant-like Fox conversions. Very satisfactory, in the end, as often.

(Report by Gatherer Hemingway).

On a cold and wet first day of Spring in Japan, the Gents were going to be anything but gentle but knew that the Gentle Giants were facing a side that had not only beaten the Crusaders but also contrived to put together an entertaining display of dry-weather rugby in a match which probably would have been cancelled if we still had the old grass pitch. YCAC’s artificial pitch showed one of its merits by allowing the home side to throw them out of the Shuto League.

Pre-match preparations were disrupted with Tristan failing to turn up due to the previous evening’s drinking session with Kyoko in Roppongi. Although the presence of Spring was not apparent in the weather, there were other tell-tale signs. Before any of you conjure up a mental image of Kyoko breast-feeding The Vicar’s infant son at the bar in Paddy Foley’s, it showed on the scoreboard with fullback Chris “The Voice” Mander (23), flanker Will “Crowbar” Whetstone (21), and replacement flanker Callum “The Caucasian” Snowball (16) all touching down during the match, before unselfishly feeding inside to Snowball to finish the movement off. We are in fact talking about Tristan “I Can’t Make Up My Mind Whether To Play For YCAC Or Crusaders Next Week: Can’t I Play For Both At The Same Time?” Fahy. Within 60 seconds of kick-off, the Gentle Giants lived up to their reputation. For example, YCAC’s young charges all had a noticeable spring in their step. Okada, our ex-Ireland Schoolboys fly half, then took the ball to within 10 meters of the opposition try line and decided it was a wise idea to give both his own captain and the referee stick during the course of the match. It is not like Dougal to miss tackles so how can it be explained?

Snowball’s try was particularly spectacular – replacement No. 8 Matt “Magpie” Head started the movement by catching a ball on his own 40 meter line from a kick a Koganei back had skewed off the side of his foot. Head drew a defender and passed to prop Daisuke “Silent Assassin” Okada, unmarked on the wing and left shaking his head at such lack of restraint…. Even Ben “Angry Fox” Duncan scored a pacey try in the corner notwithstanding a despairing dive by Dougal Robertson. Or was he simply adjusting his stylish new head gear? Was it Agrophobia from all those wide open spaces at full back?

However, inevitably, some of this youthful excitement boiled over and there were tears before bedtime (as we know the wee man prefers to be hemmed in by those big hairy forwards). Was he pondering how to spend all those billions of dollars that his froggie derivatives trader fiancé had creamed off from SocGen? And the referee is the managing partner of the same firm! In this particular case it was Whetstone who got a little too big for his boots and secured a 12-10 half-time lead for the Gents. Whatever the reason, the Big Names weren’t performing. Although such behaviour is never a wise course of action, it is particularly unwise when your captain is a lawyer at the firm where you are a vacation student. But if you want a Big Player to fill the void, they don’t come bigger than Fraser “Buffalo Bum” Jamieson.

In fact, this proved to be a rather difficult match for referee Steve “The Vicar” Lewis – winning the toss, kicking for touch, distributing to his backs, making breaks and topping it off with a magnificent solo try (followed, of course, by the inevitable “hammy” injury). Taking over the mantle of Gents’ skipper, Fraser put in a tremendous performance – the large proportion of 1st team members playing in this fixture gave him considerably more stick than he usually gets from his mild-mannered Gents. A key example of this was when Vicar politely suggested that Fraser’s try and Joe Fisher’s earlier barn-storming effort were perfect in all respects. The YCAC front row of Okada, Rafi “Crusader” Khan and Erich “Freezer” Friess was warming up on the sideline in preparation for a three minute try-scoring and match-winning cameo for the Firsts. Fortunately for the Gents, Simon “The Legend of Yamate” Ryan started taking it a bit easier on the (obviously weaker) Koganei pack. The response of a push-over try by the world’s biggest touch-judge – Tokyo Gas star Jimmy “Night” Maher, by shear strength of character and oodles of talent, in the next scrum probably wasn’t exactly what Vicar had in mind! Simon darted over the line to put the Gents in the driving seat, keeping in constant communication with Vicar and schooling the YCAC players on the finer points of the laws during breaks in play. Luckily for Vicar, these Gentle Giants were not to be dwarfed and NightMaher proved to be a surprisingly calm and erudite (Jimmy – that means well-educated) touch-judge. For a man well known for his own occasional volleys at referees when in playing kit, Steve Gray blasted over from a 5 metre penalty and Matt Dimond was keeping up his poor run of form on JR line platforms during the trip back into Tokyo.

It was only after the final whistle was blown that Aaron soared in the line-out and Nike was as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. With three minutes remaining, the true NightMaher came to the fore again – sculling beer and arm-wrestling against bewildered Koganei players prior to next week’s show-down with the Crusaders – before he popped over a 40 metre penalty to put the result beyond doubt. Special mentions also to six of the First Team who demonstrated fantastic Club Spirit in playing for the Gents before the First Team game to ensure that the 100% winning record remains intact.

By “Joe the Vicar”

YCAC 1st Team
If the 2008 and 2009 matches between these two clubs could aptly be described as “heated” then the 2010 encounter would be better termed “frigid”. Not because of any lack of intensity from either side but simply because this game was played on one of the coldest days for rugby that this writer has ever been involved in.

After a 45 minute period leading up to the game which could figuratively (but not literally) be described as a ‘warm-up’ YCAC managed to open the scoring with a couple of penalties to fly-half Ben “Billy Elliot” Patu (who was probably temporarily wanting back the 10 kg ‘insulation’ he has lost in recent months). However, the Tokyo Gaijin hit back with a converted try when they were able to get the ball away from frozen fullback Noah “Pass-a-lot” Pflaum behind the YCAC line. As a guy who has been living in tropical Singapore for the last few years and who has no extra insulation at all it is fair to say that this match was not Noah’s happiest outing. Reports that he still hasn’t emerged from the YCAC sauna are yet to be confirmed but this writer is confident that once he gets himself a decent pair of thermals he will be back to his best and able to burn up the opposition even in the coldest of conditions.

At 7-6 the Gaijin had their tails up but a cunning ploy from lock Stephen “Hang Time” Marcon neutralized the Gaijin’s fervour and ultimately turned the balance of the match in YCAC’s favour. Marcon started passing the word around the YCAC team that one’s testicles give off a greater amount of heat than the rest of one’s body and therefore would be the ideal area for us to place our hands to warm them up during breaks in play. The team duly responded to the wily veteran’s suggestion and soon our opposition and spectators were treated to the sight of the entire YCAC side with their hands down their pants at every available opportunity! (Please see attached photo for evidence.) Although my hands didn’t feel any warmer as a result of this action a Tokyo Gaijin player later admitted to me that he was slightly unnerved by the thought that the hands of the YCAC players gripping him in a tackle or maul had only seconds before been firmly clamped to those players’ private parts.

Unused to such extreme psychological warfare the Gaijin were clearly rattled and did not to score a point for the remainder of the match. In contrast, lock Siosaia “The Graduate” Fifita and captain “Slow” Joe Fisher, two of the most earnest employers of Marcon’s strategy, were able to waltz through for easy tries. It was almost like the Gaijin didn’t even want to touch these “horny handed sons of toil” (to quote Lord Salisbury).

Hunter Hemingway

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