11 Oct 2010 – YCAC vs Kurumi
(East Japan Club Championships)

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(East Japan Club Championships)

YCAC Gents vs Kurumi
Match report by Michael Hunt and photos by Kyoko Obayashi

YCAC 92 – Kurumi 33
Tries: Joe Naulu(3), Aran Delaney(2), Kane Hancy(2), Willie Lapthorn(1), Ben Bacon(1), Ben Patu(1), Tim Lenevez(1), Mike Griffin(1), Simon Ryan(1), David Dix(1)
Conversions: Tim Lenevez(11)

Reporters Note

I was honoured when our esteemed President approached me to write this report. In my relatively short time with the Club, I have come to regard it as a diverse yet harmonious family – in many ways, my family. There is huge variety among our number – little, big, skinny, fat, old, young, quick, lazy, verbose, reticent – but the way I see it, you’re all Hunts; one big pack of Hunts. And none bigger than El Presidente, who I now reverentially refer to as a….no….THE Supreme Hunt. So I dedicate this, my first (and last?) report, to all you YCAC Hunts out there.

Michael Hunt

“BE GREAT!”

Thus exhorted Aran “Big Del” Delany-Hunt as the YCAC squad completed its warm-up for the match against the well regarded Kurumi side. A few sniggers were heard from those few players less familiar with the American style of gee-up, but no observer could doubt the force of the feeling nor the determination that lay behind the sentiment. It was evident in the warm-up (which, on this sweltering Saitama morning, was more of a “bringing to the boil”) that the boys had turned up in the right frame of mind. Now it was just a matter of putting it on the pitch.

The event itself could be summarized in a single vignette involving our big, fired up Seppo. Kurumi shifted the ball quickly across field on their 10 yard line after regathering a clearing kick. Midfield; broken play; slightly disjointed defence; the gaijin tiring; this looked dangerous for Team Hunt. But up pops Big Del. Leaping like a salmon, he intercepts a floated (but not egregious) pass and gallops (do salmon gallop? whatever) in to score under the posts.

That our extrovert American was having his best game so far in the YC&AC shirt was, by this point, already clear. But that moment – a potentially well constructed and swift counter-attack foiled by a determined and skilled man in blue – was emblematic of a wider theme in this Sports Day national holiday fixture.

An observer might be tempted to think of the Curate and his egg. (Ask the Vicar if you are unfamiliar with this story). There were many moments worthy of praise. Ten through to twelve were lethal in attack and displayed metaphorical steel in defence. Joe “Mal Meninga” Naulu-Hunt, however, appeared to use the actual steel in his leg to brush off hapless defenders in several great finishing efforts in the first half. In the forwards, Theo “Air miles” Bacon-Hunt was ubiquitous with Brimman “The Quiet American” Fraser-Hunt almost always in his pocket. The tight five used their size and strength to more or less crush Kurumi whenever they started to get some momentum. But to single out individuals is to imply that others did not play well, and this would be unfair. It was an excellent team effort.

And yet…

If the more or less unceasing torrent of abuse and profanities issued in a thick kiwi accent (and, therefore, mercifully incomprehensible to at least 75% of those present) for the first 20 minutes by coach / mentor / talisman “Night” Maher-Hunt (aka “Gobby Hunt”) was any guide, then there would seem room for improvement.

To be dissatisfied with a win where you have scored more than 90 points against a respectable opponent – and Kurumi were certainly that – seems faintly ridiculous. But after the full time whistle, your reporter sensed a current of “could do better” mixed in with the natural pleasure of such a comprehensive win. Surely some of this feeling sprung from the fact that Kurumi scored 33 points, many of which were easily taken.

It was noteworthy that new skipper Dean “Mumbles” Stallard-Hunt stepped so effortlessly into the leadership role. His demand that his team avoid any possible suggestion of foul play must have grated for such a fine exponent of the dark arts. But he led by example and showed discipline that will be crucial in games to come. Doubtless it helped that our former leader Joe “The Boss (Suntory Boss that is)” Fisher-Hunt has moved (permanently?) into that place from which all great thought emanates – the front row. Cuddling the new skipper whenever the ref would allow, Joe’s calming bon mots must have been a great comfort to the boy from Rocky. (The only cloud on the new skipper’s horizon – other than a dickie knee – is the rumour of a request from the JRFA that post match speeches be delivered in one of the world’s top 5 recognised languages….or at the very least one that an educated bi-lingual Japanese is able to interpret, even loosely).

And so, to the victors, the spoils. Green Car luxury on the return journey, Mickey Ds and under-the-tracks yakatori – food of choice for finely tuned athletes. Even a few beers were had. As the night became cloudy, there were suggestions that the altitude sickness induced by a day scaling such athletic, ergonomic and gastronomic heights might be cured by a consultation with a Doctor from that flattest of places, Brittany. But this is pure conjecture.

Finally, a return to the real niku in this tonkatsu – the rugby. YC&AC dominated this game, played some excellent rugby, won easily (celebrated well) and will have doubtless laid down a big marker for all remaining teams in the East Japan Cup. But most pleasing of all must be the sense that so much improvement is possible.

After having been very good on Monday, the next time Big Del calls for the team to “Be Great”, there should be no sniggers – it will be achievable.

3 Oct 2010 – YCAC Gents vs Fujisawa West

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YCAC Gents vs Fujisawa West
Match report by Jason Dunn and photos by Kyoko Obayashi

Gents 29 – Fujisawa West 19
Tries: Willie Brimman (2), Aran Delaney, Judo Joe, Sias
Conversions: Wille Lapthorn, Jason Dunn

After various formal complaints concerning lost revenues by the Japan Orthopedic Association, the Gents 2010/2011 season finally got off to a hamstring pulling, knee to the head – smashing start!

Both teams were greeted by near perfect conditions which did little to help the various casualties of Brimman’s birthday drinks the night before (yeah…thanks for the invite Mate?), not to mention a Samoan disco night that left Ben Patu looking like he had just gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson.

However, once the game kicked off, the Vicker made it clear he wouldn’t be taking the softly softly approach with his hung-over club-mates. After an uzi like machine gun spay of penalties against the home side, the Gents soon found themselves under the posts on the receiving end of 7 points. Little did they know, he was only warming up!

After some quick tries by the birthday boy Brimman “Private Party” Frazer and Aran “I’ll just plastic bag it” Delaney (plus a Willie conversion), the Gents were soon on the receiving end of a lesson in the rugby laws. Not even the bewildered puppy dog expression on the face of Kenji “what 10 meters” Yoshioka could temper the Vickers onslaught. After almost a dozen penalties concerning offside defensive play, the Vicker had no choice but to award a penalty try. The Gents quickly replied with a break out move finished off by “Judo” Joe, but their elation was short lived. After some very unevenly matched scrums the Vicker was forced to request no pushing at scum-time, which for a Gents team, is similar to deciding to castrate a horny three legged, deaf and blind dog. The Gent’s only weapon had been taken away from them and as the half drew to a close, a number of worried faces walked off the pitch (Gents 17; Fujisawa West 12).

In the second half without the power of their scrum the Gents struggled initially to retain position with a number of promising breaks ending in the ball being turned over. Panic started to show on the faces of the payers…but then came the moment we’d all been waiting for…… Is it a bird?…, is it a plane?… is it “Master Po” from that old David Carradine Kung Fu TV series??? No – it was El Presidente warming up to come on!! Within minutes of getting on the field he had already kung-fu-style man-handled two of the opposition to the ground and made a number of searing karate chop runs through the defensive lines before taking a round-house blow to the head – “hai-ya!”. Having decided he had done more in his first one and half minutes than anyone else had done in the entire game (or was likely to do) he promptly retired hurt. The oppositions spirit, however, had been crushed like a stale fortune cookie.

From there, the Gents were able to run in two well constructed tries to Sias “Man Mountain” Potgieter (converted by JD) and Brimmin “Private Party” Frazer to the Opposition’s one converted try, bringing the score to 29-19 in favor of the Gents.

With time running out and fearing Master Po may soon return, the opposition quickly resorted to their own fowl play and decided to have a crack at the Gents half-back Dougal “grasshopper” Robertson. After jumping on poor Dougie before he had even got his little hobbit hands on the ball a “small” tussle broke out and Hiro “Knobbly Knees” Iino decided to take matters into his own hands…or knees as it turned out… Not to be out done by Master Po he delivery a perfectly executed kung fu move called “Fooka Yoo” (which loosely translates to “hairy knee in face”) and was promptly yellow carded from the field by a now infuriated Vicker.

Given that the game was unlikely to get any more exciting, the Vicker did the only sensible thing and blew the full time whistle.

Thankfully, there were no major injuries other than Sam Stephen’s complaint of a torn shoulder pad. Unfortunately for Sam, he appears to be making a habit of tearing all protective equipment he uses.

20 June 2010 – YCAC vs Taisei

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Match report by Hunter Hemingway and photos by Kyoko Obayashi
Click here to view match photos
YCAC 49, Taisei 19 (HT: 24-14)
Tries: Mike Griffin, Rich Watkins (2), Willie Lapthorn, Sias Potgieter, Rafi Khan, Kats Matsuo, Noah Pflaum
Conversions: Noah Pflaum (3)
Penalty: Noah Pflaum

What is the perfect gift for Father’s Day? A ‘pass’ to play rugby it seems, at least among the YCAC crowd, with no less than thirteen Dads in our squad of twenty two (and that doesn’t even count No. 8 Steve “Big Cuzzy Bro” Gray whose first child is only days away).

And so it was that on a hot and breezy day at Hodogaya (the club’s home away from home) YCAC, temporarily renamed ‘Dad’s Army’, swept away Taisei to claim the Kanagawa League 1st Division title and send out a message that we have no intention to only be making up the numbers in the regional competition we have qualified for this autumn.

Taisei were arguably the favourites for this match, having won the competition in 2008 and 2009 and been in very good form over the last few weeks, and with a strong wind behind them they did take the early lead. However, first half tries to outside centre Mike “Hurricane” Griffin and wingers Rich “Curly” Watkins and “Wee” Willie Lapthorn plus three conversions and a penalty to fullback Noah “The Bottomless Fareweller” Pflaum saw YCAC take a 24-14 lead into the half-time break and with the benefit of a strong tail wind in the second half the match was always going to be YCAC’s to lose.

Losing, however, was something YCAC had no intention of doing and replacement lock Sias “Big Daddy Potheater” Potgieter and replacement hooker Rafi “Ghengis” Khan signalled this by fighting their way through several defenders to score two early tries in the second half. To be fair to Taisei though, they never gave up and spent most of the rest of the match camped near the YCAC line. However, YCAC were not to be denied and when replacement winger Kats “Marathon Man” Matsuo and fullback Pflaum scored length of the field intercept tries Taisei knew this wasn’t to be their day. The opposition did manage a consolation try a couple of minutes before full time but one last piece of trickery from Watkins ensured that YCAC finished with the final score of the match (and Watkins with a well-deserved double).

After such a great performance there was plenty to celebrate and no celebration was more eagerly looked forward to by the club faithful than prop Erich “Freezer” Friess’s date with a bagel. In one of life’s great ironies the man who invented the award for zero tries in a season has now become its most famous recipient and this year went on to claim the prize for a record sixth time. In honour of this momentous achievement Club President Simon “Reno” Ryan had his wife bake a special commemorative bagel for Erich and the big man went on to demolish it (along with two beers) in front of an audience that was both amused (the players) and confused (the wives and children).

Hunter Hemingway

Team Sheet
1. Erich “Freezer” Friess (USA)
2. Dean “Moe” Stallard (Australia) (cv)
3. Leopold “Oz” Visser (South Africa)
4. Stephen “Hang Time” Marcon (England)
5. Aran “Two Inches” Delaney (USA)
6. David “The Goliath” Dix (Australia)
7. “Slow” Joe Fisher (NZ) (c)
8. Steve “Big Cuzzy Bro” Gray (NZ)
9. Dougal “Big Daddy White Serevi” Robertson (NZ)
10. “Big” Ben Patu (Samoa)
11. “Wee” Willie Lapthorn (NZ)
12. Maui “Customer Service” Magele (Samoa)
13. Mike “Hurricane” Griffin (Australia)
14. Rich “Curly” Watkins (England)
15. Noah “The Bottomless Fareweller” Pflaum (Singapore)
16. Rafi “Ghengis” Khan (USA)
17. Yoshio “Nike” Naiki (Japan)
18. Sias “Big Daddy Potheater” Potgieter (South Africa)
19. Conor “Tristan’s Disciple” O’Shea (Ireland)
20. Kats “Marathon Man” Matsuo (Japan)
21. Heihachiro “Ben Affleck” Yamaguchi (Japan)
22. Charlie “Wendy” Caskey (Canada)

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