YCAC Japan Sevens


Match reports by Joe Fisher and photos by Kyoko Obayashi
PHOTOS: Training • Round of 16 (Takushoku University) • Quarter-Final (Kurita) • Semi-Final (Ricoh) • Final (Tokai University) • Celebration

Round of 16
YCAC 26, Takushoku University 19 (HT 19-0)
Tries: Alfred Pelenise, Noah Pflaum, Kane Hancy, Waisale Serevi
Conversions: Alan Bunting, Kane Hancy, Waisale Serevi

Takushoku University were not expected to be one of the stronger teams in the tournament (YCAC beat them 57-0 in our opening match in 2008) so initially this seemed like a poor performance where the only positive was that we won the game. However, the fact that YCAC played very well for the rest of the tournament and Takushoku went on to the finals of the plate (beating Waseda University in the process) indicates that a fairer view of this game is that it was just the YCAC team shaking off some rust against a determined opponent. It was great to see YCAC regular Noah Pflaum dot down in this match and our play-makers Waisale Serevi and Kane Hancy showed right from the start that they had lost none of their skills over the past year. Unfortunately this match proved to be the end of the day for Alfred Pelenise and Dave Kelaher though who each sustained tournament-ending injuries in the first half.



Cup Quarter-final
YCAC 35, Kurita 5 (HT 14-0)
Tries: Jimmy Maher (2), Waisale Serevi, Noah Pflaum, Charlie Wylie
Conversions: Waisale Serevi (2), Noah Pflaum, Kane Hancy, Jimmy Maher

This was our best performance of the day and was a virtual master class on how to play sevens rugby. Kurita are a good side, they are a corporate team playing in the Big East competition and feature ex-All Black Paul Miller among their ranks, but they were powerless against a YCAC side who controlled the ball for virtually the whole match. Noah Pflaum touched down for another try and YCAC tourist Jimmy Maher broke a three year try drought in this match in fine style by scoring a double. Charlie Wylie also played extremely well coming off the bench in the second half, scoring one try and making several big runs.



Cup Semi-final
YCAC 24, Ricoh Black Rams 21 (HT 14-7)
Tries: Hendrik Meyer, Waisale Serevi, Noah Pflaum
Conversions: Waisale Serevi (3)
Penalty: Waisale Serevi

I have been with the YCAC team for the last four years of this tournament and without a doubt this was the most exciting game I have been involved with. The Ricoh Black Rams are a fully professional side, playing in Japan’s Top League, so we always knew this was going to be a tough game. However, the team played an excellent first half and with tries to Hendrik Meyer and Waisale Serevi took a 14-7 lead into the half-time break. However, Ricoh fought back and were actually ahead 21-14 when the bell rang for full time. With only one play available to score a try and give YCAC a chance to go to extra time, Hendrik Meyer conjured up a storybook ending by breaking a couple of tackles and then feeding the ball to Noah Pflaum to finish off. Waisale Serevi then proceeded to show why he is the most famous sevens player of all time by nervelessly knocking over a conversion from close to the sideline and then kicking a 30-meter drop-goal penalty in the first minute of sudden death injury time to break Ricoh hearts and see the host club through to the cup final for the third year in a row.



Cup Final
YCAC 21, Tokai University 14 (HT 7-all)
Tries: Mike Griffin, Charlie Wylie, Jimmy Maher
Conversions: Waisale Serevi, Jimmy Maher

Tokai University were losing finalists in the universities championship a couple of months ago and waltzed through their earlier games in this tournament with their scores being 24-7, 28-0 and 31-0. As such, YCAC knew that we had to take them seriously and that the chances of a repeat of the 2008 final (where we beat them 57-14) were slim. So it proved and with injuries ruling out YCAC speedsters Alfred Pelenise and Noah Pflaum the home side had to rely on strength rather than speed to get them through this match. YCAC regular Mike Griffin opened the scoring in the final but Tokai hit back and the scores were tied going into half-time. With both teams scoring one converted try in the second half the scores remained tied when the bell rang for full time. However, thanks to a clever Serevi kick-off YCAC were close to the Tokai line and a Tokai mistake from a line-out saw YCAC gather the ball and eventually put Jimmy Maher over for the tournament winning score.



Tournament Summary

After 48 years of frustration at the tournament we host, YCAC are currently going through a golden period: 2007 Plate Winners, 2008 Cup Winners, 2009 Cup Winners, 2010 Cup Winners. In the 52 year history of this tournament, only two other sides – Nippon Steel in the mid-60′s and Toshiba in the early-90′s – have managed three-peats so with victory this year YCAC have well and truly left our mark on the tournament. One of the pleasing things about the last two wins is that almost all of the players had a genuine YCAC connection – 11 out of the 14 of this year’s team had played for YCAC prior to this tournament and 9 of those 11 have played regular (i.e. non-7’s) matches for YCAC. As such, the level of support given to the team by club members was excellent. It was great to see Noah Pflaum cap off a fantastic season for YCAC by scoring three tries in the tournament. It was also fantastic to see Jimmy Maher’s efforts recognized by his naming as 2010 Tournament MVP. Jimmy has played in the last five tournaments for YCAC and nobody gives more effort on the field than the big Kiwi. Finally, congratulations must go to Simon Ryan for again gathering together an excellent team. No-one should bet against a YCAC four-peat if Simon decides that is worth going for next year.



Squad

Alan Bunting, Siosaia Fifita, Joe Fisher (Coach), Mike Griffin, Kane Hancy, Dave Kelaher, Willie Lapthorn, Semi Leine, Jimmy Maher, Hendrick Meyer, Kyoko Obayashi (Manager), Ben Patu, Alfred Pelenise, Noah Pflaum, Simon Ryan (Guru), Waisale Serevi (Captain), Charlie Wylie

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