Every year our neighboring prefecture of Tokushima hosts a large touch rugby tournament that draws teams from all over Japan. My prefecture entered a team a couple years back and a few of us decided to throw down once more. A number of my friends banded together for some fun, however worthless, practice at Takamatsu Central Park a few times a week. These practices consisted of playing spindisk and occasionally pitching around some oblong ball. Dubbed the Sanuki Gamecocks, we finished our preparations and sought a good night of sleep.
We rose on Saturday at an uncomfortably early time and then I drove into town to collect my team from the McDonald’s, where we ate the breakfast of champions. We drove for about another hour and a half to get down to the center of Tokushima. In a rare sense of responsibility, I feared showing up late but overcompensated and got us there far too early. Of course better safe than sorry, but when caution comes at the cost of sleep perhaps not.
When we arrived, there were already a lot of people who had stayed the night before, but our early hour meant that they were just rousing from slumber. We hit the spindisk to warm up the legs and pass the time.
Nabbed this from their website. Looks nice, right?
A couple hours later, we had walked down to the field and sat under our tent to get ready for the main event. As a team we decided that it would be easiest if we just recycled the blue shirts we got for running the Manno Relay Marathon, which would work great just so long as no one looked at what they actually said. The weather was fast becoming intensely hot and it wasn’t long before pale people were crisping. I made no effort to protect myself, but I escaped with little more than a gentle pinking.
When the time came to actually play the game, we had no idea what was going on. We tried reading the rules beforehand, but it took roughly the first 10 minutes to figure out why the refs were shouting at us. Offsides was an especially tricky rule, especially when a primary offensive tactic is to put us in violation of it. We went on to lose that first match, as expected, but by such a margin that we had hope for the next one.
This proved to be a bit of overhope, since we went on to lose all 5 games that day. We had a great time and weren’t at all bothered by it since trying hard at something as a team, and hoping for a those occasionally decent plays kept spirits high. Because we had almost no one to make substitutions with, we were all dead by the end of the day. I was able to earn a try on a dramatic lateral run past the goal line for the team and also contribute some defensively. Our ‘success’ on that first day meant that we were going to be put into the Fun Tier for the second day of competition.
We returned to our campsite, but only to collect our towels. This camp complex was equipped with an onsen, which mean we could soak ourselves in the hot water and let the fatigue melt away from our weary limbs. It was worth every yen to clean and revitalize my filthy self. After dual-wielding some blow dryers to rid my locks of moisture, we left to get ready for the BBQ.
We had head rumors about how much was spent on the meat and were salivating at the thought of it. When we arrived we saw mountains of brats, burgers, chicken, and also yakisoba. Face-stuffing commenced immediately. Gary and I noticed that our brats were a bit cool and pink on the inside, because clearly the Japanese do not know how to grill American sized meat. One of the more amusing bits was how the children were assigned the task of dolling out the alcoholic beverages. I would make sure to ask them for a recommendation each time, which always sent them foraging down into the massive cooler.
They generally had good taste
We ate and made merry with all the others that were there. We knew a number of the people from past interactions, so it was good to catch up and see them for perhaps the last time. At one of the cabins, they had set up a slack line for people to try and balance on. I managed to stand up and take a few steps, but such agility has never been one of my strong points. It was a lot of fun to try it though. The kids there discovered this fun as well, though they just wanted us to hold their hands so they could bounce on it. I humored those desires, knowing how awesome I was to be working off the clock.
I was however really feeling the early morning start and went back to my car for a good nap. I woke at about 10pm to a party that was in full swing. I reluctantly went over but found myself without much desire to engage with anyone. There was one particularly chatty kiwi that I spent some time with, but I mostly felt like a wallflower and decided to return to my car for some sleep, which was fantastic.
One of the cabins, where the main party was being held
I awoke about 8 hours later, along with the others and started to sort out the day. The scorching sun was replaced by some foreboding clouds, so we packed up the campsite to save us the headache later. The rain started and never stopped. We were only scheduled for a single game that day, but it somehow became two. Several of the teams pulled out early and went home, but the Gamecocks have a certain standard of excellence. While groaning loudly, we took the field only to lose two more games, bringing our record for the weekend to 0-7.
My disaster swept car
As soon as our rain soaked misery came to an end, we changed and began our return home. We were all sore and exhausted and cramming five of us back into my clown car elicited pain and sadness from our bodies. It was a great weekend where we could try something new, and since we never actually expected to be good at the sport our final record was irrelevant. I can only hope that next year’s team is able to make the practices leading up to it a bit more meaningful and perhaps fare better than we did in competition.