YCAC vs Niigata

YCAC 48 Niigata Ibis 5 (HT: 17 – 0)
Tries: Matt Creagh (2), Dean Stallard, JM, Ryan Rogers, Mike Griffin, Maui Magele, Dougal Robertson
Conversions: Ryan Rogers, Tristan Fahy (3)

During many an after-match function at the Breezeway stories have been told of YCAC pre-season tours, memorable stories full of humor and comradeship set in exotic locations such as Seoul and, well $B!D(B Tottori. Not wanting the current generation of YCAC players to miss out on such experiences, the Committee decided to organize a tour to the mysterious city of Niigata to kick-off the 2008/09 season.

A strong squad was assembled for the tour and, somewhat surprisingly, the entire party made it to the shinkansen on time. Tour rules came into force after the departure from Tokyo station and Dean $B!F(BFish$B!G(B Stallard played his role of enforcer with such enthusiasm that there was a fair amount of compliance. Meanwhile, the non-playing contingent of Steve $B!F(BThe Vicar$B!G(B Lewis, Simon $B!F(BSupreme Splinter$B!G(B Litster and Mark $B!F(BPartyman$B!G(B Partington set the tone by getting straight onto the pi$$.

After checking into our accommodation, the very respectable Nikko Hotel, we made our way to the Toyano Baseball Stadium, the venue for the match against Niigata Ibis. The pitch was all-weather (i.e. artificial grass) and when we arrived a junior rugby training camp was in full swing with fifty or sixty kids aged between five and ten going through their paces. There was disappointment all around when YCAC$B!G(Bs duo of midgets, $B!F(BCaviar$B!G(B Ken Noguchi and Mike $B!F(BMasivo$B!G(B King, declined to join in.

After a good warm-up, the opening exchanges of the match were very tightly contested. YCAC were clearly fielding a bigger line-up than Niigata Ibis and this told right from the first scrum. However, the opposition did have an effective line-out and some speed in their backline. Their tackling was also strong but because they required two or three defenders to contain some of our stronger runners it was inevitable that gaps would appear. The first try of the match was an excellent illustration of this with Matt $B!F(BMVP$B!G(B Creagh touching down in the corner after a simple $B!F(Bhands$B!G(B move. After a huge hit by Maui $B!F(BApocolypto$B!G(B Magele on the Niigata Ibis hooker it became clear that the opposition were ra! ttled and two further scores followed for YCAC in the first half – one to Dean Stallard after a forward drive from a five meter line-out and a good individual try to JM shortly before the half-time whistle.

After a 17-0 opening half the first try after the break was always going to be crucial in determining whether Niigata Ibis were going to be able to mount a come-back. As such, when Ryan $B!F(BRising Sun$B!G(B Rogers finished off some good attacking phases a few minutes into the second half it basically spelt the end of the game as a contest. The opposition dropped their heads and YCAC took full advantage, running in another four tries (with three conversions) before Niigata Ibis finally got a consolation score in the dying moments of the match. One comical moment from the second half which is worth repeating here is Steve $B!F(BBig Cuzzy Bro$B!G(B Gray spilling two easy kick-offs in a row – especially amusing as he made! a bet with Dean Stallard after the first drop that he wouldn$B!G(Bt do it again. In fairness to Steve these were probably the only mistakes he made all afternoon and he was a deserved winner of the $B!F(BMan of the Match$B!G(B award.

When the final whistle went the customary photos were posed for (see attachment #1). There was also the slightly unusual event, for YCAC anyway, of interviews with the local press (see attachment #2 for the story printed the next day). After media obligations were fulfilled it was back to the Nikko Hotel for a quick shower and change of clothes before the start of the $B!F(Bthird half$B!G(B. For the writer this change of clothes was much more dramatic than anticipated. Some of my fellow Committee members – Simon $B!F(BEl Presidente$B!G(B Ryan, Erich $B!F(BFreezer$B!G(B Friess and Vicar – decided that it was only appropriate that I should celebrate my recent marriage by spending my night out in Niigata decked out in red fi! sh-net stockings, a swan appendage, a pink face mask, a dog collar and chain, a black wig and leather hot pants, jacket and hat.

I am willing to admit to my outfit because of the myriad of photos which have already made their way onto the World Wide Web. However, for other stories from the night it seems most sensible to list only the top three and not to provide any names:
l 3rd Place: Someone fell asleep in either a house or a restaurant (they are not sure which) and woke up without their phone and wallet.
l 2nd Place: Someone kissed a woman with a beard, which is surprising. What is more surprising is that he did it shortly after walking up to her and sa! ying $B!H(BYou$B!G(Bve got a beard!$B!I(Bl 1st Place: Someone entered a closed McDonald$B!G(Bs and cooked a burger for themselves before falling asleep in the toilets. (They later awoke surr! ounded by the local constabulary and were $B!F(Bescorted$B!G(B back to the team hotel.)

After a big Saturday night, as can be imagined, Sunday started off pretty slow for most. However, a team lunch at a restaurant which served bad curry but good beer provided the launching pad for a very lively shinkansen ride back to Tokyo.

Joe Fisher

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