The Twilighters RFC, an over 40s team from Burnaby in Canada’s BC, have had close sporting relations with Fuwaku rugby teams in Japan for many years. They say that they have hosted Japanese teams 60 times over the years and made not a few tours to Japan themselves.
The Twilighters spent two years planning their 2011 Tour of Japan set to last from March 28th to April 13th and had assembled a group of 46 when suddenly the disaster of March 11 struck Japan and their group started reading the foreign media about how grim things were in Japan and debating whether they should cancel their tour and/or postpone it to 2012.
Officially the club decided to cancel the tour but some of the senior players, who had toured Japan previously and had hosted Japanese Fuwaku teams in Canada decided that Japan and their rugby friends in Japan needed a show of support. They also wanted to fundraise for children who were victims in the disaster-stricken areas.
Four of them decided to come over to Japan in March and play with local ringers so that the original game schedule was maintained. Jack Beardmore arrived in Tokyo March 26th and the others followed on March 30th. This means that the Twilighters, although depleted, were the first foreign sports team to tour Japan after the March 11 disaster.
Below are extracts from their accounts:
“Both our hosting groups kept us extremely busy with sightseeing, fantastic meals (it seemed that we never stopped eating or drinking), golfing and relaxing trips to various hot springs and Japanese baths. “
“Our first game was with the Nagoya Towaku who had contract arrangements for the Nagoya Mizuho Rugby Stadium that they could not get out of. They had arranged for the Gifu Wak Wak RFC and other Japanese clubs to form a barbarian side to play them with over 40, 50 , 60 and 65 + games to be played on Saturday April 2nd. It was decided that the Twilighter RFC Mini Tour would play with the Gifu Wak Wak / Barbarian combined side against the Towaku on this day. Steve Baron and Jack Beardmore played in all the over 60s games.”
“The second game was to support the Osaka Gentlemen RFC at their special 30th Anniversary weekend celebrations that they had been preparing for approximately two years. It was originally scheduled to been a three rugby club games day on Saturday April 9th. Now it would be the Twilighter RFC Mini Tour playing along with the Taipei Giants and other Japanese rugby friends against the Osaka Gentlemen. … The turn out of players was great and everyone had had lots of game time at all levels.”
“Everywhere we went our friends in the Japanese rugby community treated us fantastically and they expressed their happiness that we made the effort to visit them during these trying times. All we can say is the Japanese people deeply appreciated the “kizuna” (bonds of friendship) that has been shown to them by their friends from around the world. If you get the chance we recommend that you try to visit the Japanese rugby community some time soon to experience the joy of “kizuna” I know this feeling will stay with you forever.”