The Oku Memorial Trophy, played in honour of Ambassador Katsuhiko Oku the first Japanese national to play for the Blues and become a member of Vincent’s, was contested for the eighth time on Saturday 8th December 2012 and for the third consecutive year it was hosted by OURFC at Iffley Road. ‘Katsu’ as he was known to all was tragically assassinated whilst on diplomat duty in Iraq in later 2003 whilst helping the post-war reconstruction programme in that country. As usual the tournament included the Kew Occasionals RFC, a London based team featuring many former OURFC players, and London Japanese RFC, both of which sides have played in the event since it was started in 2005. This year due to timing in relation to the University term, Ambassador Oku’s alma mater Hertford College and Vincent’s fielded a joint XV. On a cold but sunny day a strong Kew Occasionals side registered two victories to win the trophy which was presented afterwards to captain Tom Clark by Melville Guest, Chairman of the Vincent’s Club 150th anniversary appeal, who spoke warmly of Ambassador Oku from his time as a British diplomat dealing with Japanese affairs. Over 80 players and supporters celebrated afterwards in the Iffley Road Pavilion, and then were hosted to drinks in Vincent’s Club. Outstanding London Japanese player Kazushi Tomita was voted Player of the Tournament for the second consecutive year following another impressive all round display of attack and particularly strong defence. Before the games Mr Kazuya Mori, Deputy Director of the Japan Information and Cultural Centre at the Japanese Embassy in London, addressed the teams, and thanked all participants for continuing to honour Ambassador Oku’s memory through this annual event. Event organisers Reg Clark and Saburo Takahashi warmly thanked Tim Stevens and OURFC for hosting the event and congratulated Marcus Alexander-Neil of Vincent’s and Hertford captain Richard Foord for raising a side out of University term time and playing very much in the spirit of the occasion.
Kew Occasionals 35 – 12 London Japanese
Vincent’s Club/Hertford College 29 – 24 London Japanese
Kew Occasionals 31 – 7 Vincent’s Club/Hertford College