The Goat sat down on Friday with Paddy Carter and Sam Reid on their return from the NZU tour of Japan. Adam Clarke also went on tour but couldn’t make our catchup.
There were some great stories to tell which I shall share with you now.
The NZU team were a bit slower out of the gate than the other teams as they were a composite made up of players from different Universities. The opposition teams were effectively club teams from their own countries competitions so had a head start with on-field togetherness.
The format was also modified, multiple games of 20-minute halves on each competition day. That meant you didn’t have much time to settle into a game. After losing the first two the team started to gel and the results came with convincing victories in the last 2 games, but unfortunately too late to prevent being in the bottom half of the eight-team tournament.
Our boys started the tournament mostly from the bench but by the end, once the coaches worked out their strengths they were promoted up to be starting players and playing full games. For the record, Sam and Adam scored for NZU while Paddy kept the fires stoked in the engine room!
The teams all struggled with the local refereeing interpretations with the best referee being a Japanese woman in the final match. The team was pleasantly surprised to have a Japanese woman refereeing as it’s not particularly common in Japan (even less so than NZ to be fair) she is a really good ref and allowed the game to run freely making for an enjoyable match.
The third half
Early in the tour spirits were high with the team all getting to know each other and working out who is the party University. Otago won that while our own paragons of virtue started to think about their on-field performance.
The South African and British Columbia teams turned out to be great company for the team and many new friendships were forged.
The team struggled at times with some of the local customs which made the efforts of the translator all the more admirable. One of the more quirky things to get used to was that it is not the done thing to talk while on the train. The translator must have earned their Yen with 25 excited rugby players on tour, and some coaching and support crew.
All of the teams stayed in the old Olympic village which is very close to the centre of Tokyo, in fact only 10 minutes by train from Shibuya which is the busy intersection they always show on the news when talking about Japan.
The accommodation was ‘petite’ you might say but really the boys just needed a place to drop their bags and get a good nights sleep after so much heavy-duty training. There were reports that some of the Oxford crew were a bit lost, presumably used to high star rated accommodation.
The food at the hostel was very Japanese which had its pluses and minuses with the boys struggling with the different styled breakfasts in particular. No matter a few minutes away was all manner of options so everything was good.
The team visited the Samurai museum and learnt the ways of the Samurai whose resilience will come in handy if we are a few points down against some of our greatest foes next season.
Next was a visit to the government buildings which brought home the magnitude of the size of Tokyo. Up on the 50th floor as far as the eye could see was multi-storeyed buildings in all directions.
All in all the boys loved the whole experience and they highly recommended taking the opportunity if it comes your way!