Well, two down and two to go. We are still on the long road to Top League promotion, by beating Chugoku Electric 80-5 in Hiroshima on Saturday.
The game was scrappy, not helped by the steady and increasingly heavy rain. We started well and never really let CE in with a chance of winning the game, using patient buildup to put on three quick tries. The first especially was well-worked, we got the ball for the opening kickoff and CE didn’t touch it again until after we crossed their try line four minutes later. However we slackened off after about 25 minutes and let in a soft try as the game ambled to halftime.
After half time we put on a few more tries but then let our discipline crumble, not helped by some ludicrous refereeing. As we attacked the CE line, rucking it up until we were about five metres out, the ref penalised and sin-binned our veteran lock for rough play… the guy concerned is the least likely player to get sinbinned for rough play, and it wasn’t for a punch, rather for throwing an opposition player out of the way. This is BTW par for the course when he’s hanging around the wrong wide of the ruck. In any case, the ref’s heavy-handedness didn’t help matters, as there was another dust-up a few minutes later, and the rest of the game turned into a wet, cold mess.
The good news was that the game was in Hiroshima, one of the more pleasant places to go for an away trip… once you get there. The problem is that while Hiroshima Airport is only an hour and 15 minutes from Tokyo by plane, the airport is an hour from town. It makes Narita Airport look handily located (anyone who has the misfortune of flying into or out of Narita will know exactly what that means!) and adds an unnecessary time lag to travel. Anyone who has suffered being on a plane with me knows how much I hate airports… the trip back especially was very annoying, as our plane was delayed by 15 minutes due to snow, which meant more time aimlessly waiting around an airport (my idea of transport hell). Though having said that, the snowstorm itself was great, very pretty. I took a couple of pics with my phone, none of which were very good, but this pics of a car outside the terminal building gives you an idea.
So, Hiroshima. The team management picked the right hotel for this trip, the Tokyu Inn Hiroshima, which apart from having a great food spread is right near the city’s main tourist attraction, the Peace Park and A-Bomb dome. Not much shuts up loudmouth rugby players, but a walk around the dome, lit up at night and eerily stark against a steel-grey sky, does. Very imposing and moving. Oh, and the hotel us also right by the main shopping street in town, the covered arcade, which has scored of great Hiroshima yaki restaurants. The foreign players and staff had yet to experience the Hiroshima style, so we hit the four-storey Hiroshima yaki restaurant tower, hard. About half an hour after we confidently walked in, we were stuffed to the gunwhales, and walked home much slower than we walked there. The seafood maniacs ripped into the local oysters, the meat lovers the beef and pork versions, and me the negi (spring onion) special. Although my darling hates negi, I was safe to eat lots of it last night J With luck the pics I took will show up… and would you believe there was a pic of one of our players on the wall of the restaurant, from the last time we played in Hiroshima several years ago? Amazing coincidence.
So, tummies full and with the right result on board, we come home… big game next week against World, the first of the two hard games left to get promoted. Will let you know how it goes…