I have many skills in life; I write pretty well, I can do cartwheels, I can juggle and I make really good crepes.
Then there are the things which I thoroughly enjoy, but probably shouldn’t be allowed to do in public, like dancing, singing Mariah Carey, and winking. I think rugby falls into this category*.
A few months ago people started talking about the annual Eishinsha-Sanko Cup, a touch rugby tournament organised by Tokushima AJET.
Kagawa didn’t manage to get a team together last year, but this year, with some in-your-face enthusiasm and a bit of name-calling from John, we managed to rope in a few people dumb enough to commit to a weekend of pain and embarrassment.
Sorry, I mean a weekend of rugby.
In the lead up to the tournament, we practiced every week, and we got very good at standing in a circle tossing the ball to each other and talking about our weekends.
My personal big achievement was learning not to scream and fling the ball wildly over my shoulder every time it got passed to me.
We also got a lot of spin disk* practice in, which possibly didn’t help our rugby skills, but is always a lot of fun.
Anyway, the weekend of the tournament snuck up on us, and with a last minute drop-out, we were down to six people, just barely enough for a team. Luckily some Tokushimans defected to the Sanuki Gamecocks (a name chosen by John because it made him snigger) and we had enough for a couple of subs.
Saturday morning was hot and sunny, and we piled into Justin’s car and headed for the venue in the boonies of Tokushima, where we set up some tents and played some spin disk before the games kicked off a little after ten.
We were first up, and we played a very exciting match against Shiga.
It was exciting mostly because we learnt the rules, but also we didn’t get thrashed, which we were surprised happy about.
The rest of the day went in much the same way; us losing every game, but celebrating anyway because no one cried or broke anything. I even caught the ball a few times without screaming, which I was thoroughly chuffed with.
By the end of Saturday we all had heat stroke and aching muscles but we were feeling pretty pleased with our efforts for the day. And when all the matches were done for the day, we had a big BBQ party, which was the real reason I was there fun.
Sunday dawned hungover cloudy and cold, and by the time matches started again it was raining hard. I was reminded of going to watch boy’s Saturday morning rugby games; sitting in the rain, covered in wet grass, wondering about the point of this weird-shaped ball game.
We had two more matches on Sunday, just to firmly cement our position at the bottom of the table, and I confess that we pretty much jumped in the car as soon as we came off our last game.
Overall I would call the weekend a success. Not in the conventional way in which you actually win games, but in the sense that I had a lot of fun with friends from around Japan, met some cool new people, and didn’t scream once.
*Sometimes called Frisbee.