On Saturday 14th September the Men’s Blues played their first match of the 2019/20 season and in a game of two halves emerged victorious 66 points to 19, please see the match report for further details. Following a wonderful post-match reception including the obligatory ‘Boat Race’, which Oxford also won, and the first performance by the Tour Singers and Dancers, the players headed off to spend an evening with their hosts, whilst management adjourned to their hotel. Rumours of the latter enjoying a riotous evening with the opposition coaches hosted by Mitsubishi Management, have perhaps been exaggerated, what can be of no doubt though there were some sore heads on Sunday morning.
The players enjoyed various cultural activities as their host families took them to various sights in and around Tokyo, including mountains, beaches, exotic gardens and monuments. Shared photos also showed that various RWC teams were also out and about enjoying the local sights & culture, including the Irish and Tongans who were only too happy to have selfies with various OURFC players.
At 5pm on the Sunday afternoon, everyone gathered at the accommodation for the remainder of the tour, the Olympic Memorial Village – the athlete’s village from the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics refurbished and now used as conference and events centre. Once settled in the he stories from the weekend continued over dinner in the Fujitsu Restaurant followed by the Tour Roles meeting where due punishment was dished out to some deserving candidates. An early night followed as Monday will be a busy day with some light training, the WURIT Opening Ceremony and Party followed by an event hosted by one of the tour sponsors in the evening.
The party awoke on Monday morning to heavy rain, but this did not stop them from having a light training session followed by an early lunch before boarding a bus for the short trip to Waseda University for the WURIT Opening Ceremony and Party. Thankfully the rain had gone by mid-afternoon, however the humidity had increased making for an uncomfortable walk from the bus to the campus in No 1’s. The Opening Ceremony included a symposium on University Sport and the benefits of combining academic studies with high level sport, in this case rugby. Captain Ed David, with just 24 hours, notice was invited to be a panel member, but as expected he was an eloquent, intelligent and articulate panel member, despite some gentle heckling from the audience! There was nearly a diplomatic incident as ‘veteran’ party member George Messum conducted a ‘freeze’ in the interval – 50% of the room were enthralled while 50% were, shall we say a little surprised! Following the Opening Ceremony, all the eight participating teams plus guests moved to the Opening Party, where they enjoyed canapés and liquid refreshment, some of the teams enjoying the beer and Saki more than others! At the party, the teams exchanged stories of their experience of Japan so far and looked ahead to the rugby which will kick off on Wednesday, the jovial atmosphere here will be I am sure be very different come once the whistle blows! Just as the party were leaving for the sponsors event, George Warr arrived to complete the tour party and was warmly welcomed by the others into the group.
A short walk and the party were at the impressive Rhiga Royal Hotel, where they would be presenting to Japanese High School students interested in an Oxbridge education at an event hosted by sponsors Benesse. Charlie Pozniak had connected with 2003 Cambridge Blues Captain St Eru to create the link and he along with Seb Haddock, Louis Jackson, Sam Miller, Jasper Dix and Tom Stileman shared their journey to Oxford and their experiences thus far with the students. A lively discussion between the two parties ensued followed by the traditional exchanging of gifts and photos before the high school students headed home. The guys were by now very hungry so headed to a ‘Fusion’ Restaurant where Stu Eru hosted them to a sumptuous feast as a thank you for their commitment to the evening. Leaving the restaurant at 10.15pm the group split into two for a race home on the Tokyo rail/metro system, approx. 60 minutes later all the party had made it home, although there were several unconfirmed reports of taxis and Uber being involved! I am sure the truth will come out in the next ‘fines’ session.