Rugby World Cup 2019: The quiet before the storm

Rugby World Cup 2019: The quiet before the storm

By Jack Johnson
18 October
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But which storm - Hagibis or the Cherry Blossoms?

The touring party were too pre-occupied by the frenzied debate as to whether the weekend games were on to think about whether it made sense to fly from our island haven into the likely eye of the storm in Tokyo. The Falcon would normally rise above such frivolous matters, but for once raised the question as to its wisdom. Completely ignored, we arrived at our Tokyo Bay Hotel on Friday and were completely put at our ease by the absolute nonchalance of the citizens of Tokyo who went about their business without it seems a care. Our nerves were a little rattled however, when they showed us to our rooms and told us not to worry when the hotel starts swaying. If this hotel collapsed the whole of Tokyo would proceed it they said - not really comforting that.

It was therefore somewhat irksome for World Rugby to announce the cancellation of the England game on the Friday - it all looked fine to us. Saturday morning brought grey skies and drizzle. We were told not to leave the hotel as there would be no point as everywhere would be shut. The rain and winds started slowly mid-morning and again we became alarmed when everyone’s phones received an emergency alert telling us - when we google translated it - that we should move to at least a third storey to avoid the flood water. Again, none of the locals batted an eyelid or moved.

There was surprise, however, when at about 5pm the hotel swayed backwards and forwards several times as the wind wasn’t that strong and we worried what it would be like when it really got going. It turned out that was a 5.7 on the Richter scale earthquake with its epicentre 20 miles from Tokyo. The winds they did blow and reached their peak at about 8pm for about two hours - nothing that we would have experienced in good ole Blighty.

The Ireland-Samoa game was watched over supper and we consoled ourselves that we had tickets the next day to the match of the tournament so far - Japan v Scotland - if it was on.

And with that thought, the Falcon retired to tune in to the Chinnor match day Twitter. It really isn’t fair that every Saturday night at 11pm till 1am after a hard days enjoyment - or in this case earthquake and typhoon - that the old bird has to face up for the second week in a row to another pillow biting, bottom squeaker of a game which was not decided again until almost the last play. Still another fine result in the Forest of Dean against our old foes and friends Cindy.

Sure enough we woke to blue skies and the Falcon started to rev up at the game in prospect. However, the authorities had not met their self-imposed deadline for a decision. What we didn’t appreciate was the amount of rain that had fallen at Yokohama nor the desolation it had caused in nearby parts of the country.

The bullet train is about seven minutes from Shingawa Station in Tokyo - a journey that would take some 30 minutes on a normal train. You see them everywhere and they are still building new tracks.

The walk to the stadium revealed a few shy Scottish - nowhere near the numbers of their hosts. Funnily enough quite a few English were wearing Cherry Blossom shirts.

A magnificent stadium which had a few spare seats, but from when the sides came out you knew the atmosphere would be electric. It is though the crowd clap in perfect synchronicity with their own rapid beat, which is how the Blossoms proceeded to play - with a beat that was off the Richter scale of rugby and one that the Falcon has never witnessed live before. However it might have seemed on the TV at home, amplify it ten times.

Let us hope that we see a lot more of this team at the World Cup and thereafter on the world stage and they inspire not only their own country but elevate the whole of our beloved game to new heights.

Anyway, back to Chinnor who are endeavouring to enthuse the counties of Oxon and Bucks to National League 1 rugby. It seems their fame is spreading already. In conversation with a new arrival to the touring party who asked the Falcon where he lived, he said: “So that isn’t far from Chinnor is it?” The Falcon responded: “No, not far”, to which he responded: “They have a good rugby side and are 4th in Nat 1”, to which the Falcon said: “So I gather”, before donning his cap.

So, a bit of samurai sightseeing in Kanazawa before heading to Fukuoka for QF1 and QF3. Nowhere to hide now.


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