YCAC 7’s

Match reports by Joe Fisher

Round of 16′ Match: YCAC 33  Meiji University 5 (HT 19-0)
Tries: Alan Bunting (3), Will Whetstone, Hayden Steed
Conversions: Waisale Serevi, Hayden Steed, Alan Bunting (2)
Traditionally the opening match of the YCAC 7’s is a difficult one for the host club as it inevitably takes some time for our ‘guest players’ to gel with our regulars. This year however YCAC suffered no such problems and managed a solid win over Meiji. Leading the way for YCAC with an impressive hat-trick of tries was Alan “Snowball” Bunting (who played several regular season games for YCAC this season). It was also very pleasing to see Will “Crowbar” Whetstone (2008/09 1st XV MVP) prove his ability to play at a higher level by capping off a good performance at hooker with a well-deserved try. Other YCAC regulars Maui “Apocalypto” Magele and Ryan “Shotgun” Rogers also got some game-time off the bench in this match.
 
Cup Quarter-Final: YCAC 21  Kanto Gakuin University 7 (HT 14-0)
Tries:
Kane Hancy, Alan Bunting, Jonetani Ratu
Conversions: Waisale Serevi (2), Jonetani Ratu
There were some nerves amongst the YCAC supporters before this match as Kanto Gakuin had won this tournament in 2007 and absolutely hammered corporate team Kurita (46-0) a couple of hours earlier. However, Kane “Weasel” Hancy didn’t know any of this. All he knew was that, for once, he was looking across the field at opponents the same size as him and he was damn well going to take advantage! And take advantage he did, dominating the game with the same skills that saw him score 12 tries in six matches for YCAC earlier this season. Led by the fearless Hancy (and with Bunts again prominent), the YCAC team showed their quality in this match and established themselves as the team to beat in the 2009 tournament. Indeed, it speaks volumes of the quality of the 2009 YCAC team a player like Nathan “Flash” Ashley (Australia 7’s, Oxford University, Japan 7’s Captain, IBM) was able to be brought off the bench in each match. The veteran of the YCAC 7’s side and another who has played several regular season games for YCAC in past seasons, Ashley thinks that 2009 may have been his last 7’s appearance for YCAC but has vowed to be back for the Panty Shield next year!
 
Cup Semi-Final: YCAC 17  Kubota Spears 7 (HT 5-0)
Tries:
Jonetani Ratu (2), Kane Hancy
Conversions: Jonetani Ratu
Kubota Spears are a fully professional side who compete in Japan’s Top League so it was clear that this was going to be a tough match. However, with a YCAC starting line-up which included four former New Zealand 7’s representatives and two former Fiji representatives (including the most famous 7’s player of all time) the home club had every reason to enter this match with confidence. As it panned out, Kubota provided more of a physical challenge than previous opponents Meiji and Kanto Gakuin but the individual brilliance of Jonetani “By Chance” Ratu was enough to see YCAC into a second consecutive Cup final. It was actually an amazing piece of luck that led to Ratu playing in this tournament at all. After starring for YCAC in last year’s event both Simon “El Presidente” Ryan and Waisale “The Little General” Serevi were keen to secure the services of the Hino Motors professional again but with no contact details for him it looked like this was not to be. However, by pure chance the team ran into Ratu on Friday on the street in Yoyogi and found out that he was available to play! 
 
Cup Final: YCAC 21  Coca-Cola West Red Sparks 12 (HT 7-12)
Tries:
Jonetani Ratu, Hayden Steed (2)
Conversions: Waisale Serevi (3)
In the semi-final of last year’s event Top League side Coca Cola West Red Sparks provided YCAC with their toughest match of the tournament, pushing the home side all the way in the semi-final before eventually losing 10-5. As such, YCAC knew they would be in for a tough final against a Coca-Cola side which contained four foreigners in their ranks (including Japan fly-half Shaun “Sherminator” Webb, the classmate of YCAC regular Willie “Mini Me” Lapthorn). Coca-Cola started the stronger of the two teams and went into the lead with a two tries to one lead (the first time YCAC had been behind in the tournament). However, the second half saw a massive effort from the YCAC forwards, led by Jimmy “Night” Maher. The NightMaher has been a regular presence at YCAC this season and those who know him will not be surprised that despite having played every minute of every previous game he still managed to keep going at 100% for the full 20 minutes of the final. Through the efforts of the forwards the backs got a little bit of ball to play with and in this situation The Little General stepped up and showed everyone in attendance why, even at the age of 40, he is still the face of 7’s worldwide by combining with 20 year-old Hayden “The White Islander” Steed to score a 95-meter try and give YCAC a 14-12 lead. It was then left to Steed to finish the job with a piece of individual chip-and-chase brilliance to secure the game and the tournament for YCAC. 
 
Tournament Summary
After 48 years of frustration at the tournament we host, YCAC are currently going through a golden period: 2007 Plate Winners, 2008 Cup Winners, 2009 Cup Winners. One of the things that was especially pleasing about this year’s win is that almost all of the players had a genuine YCAC connection – ten out of the thirteen had played for YCAC prior to this tournament and eight of those ten had played regular (i.e. non-7’s) matches for YCAC. As such, the level of support given to the team by club members was excellent. It was great to see Will Whetstone cap off a fantastic season for YCAC by starting in every match of the tournament. It was also fantastic to see Kane Hancy’s talents recognized by his naming as 2009 Tournament MVP. Hopefully some of the right people were watching and Hancy will be able to follow in Jimmy Maher’s shoes from last year and secure a professional contract on the back of his performance in this event. Finally, congratulations must go to Simon Ryan who basically gathers and manages the YCAC team single-handedly. No-one was happier than Rhino last year when we won the Cup for the first time and no-one would bet against a YCAC three-peat if El Presidente is again running the show next year.
 
2009 YCAC 7’s Team
Nathan “Flash” Ashley
Alan “Snowball” Bunting
“Slow” Joe Fisher (Manager)
Kane “Weasel” Hancy
Maui “Apocalypto” Magele
Jimmy “Night” Maher
Satoshi “Wendy” Nakahama
Futaro “Fu” Nishio
Jonetani “By Chance” Ratu
Ryan “Shotgun” Rogers
Simon “El Presidente” Ryan (Coach)
Waisale “The Little General” Serevi (Captain)
Hayden “The White Islander” Steed
Rich “Impossible is Nothing” Watkins
Will “Crowbar” Whetstone

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