After waking up at about 8:30 Tokyo time, the first hour is set aside to determine exactly how we are going to get to the game. Happy we now have a solid attack strategy; I venture over to the fridge and pop the top on a Suntory. The Gnome reminds me it is 9:30, but I provide the rationale that it is 10:30 Brisbane time. About another hour is taken just lazing around looking out towards the concrete jungle that is Tokyo, and then I suggest we hit the Jack Daniels. The Gnome nods with approval.
Its 1400 and in our Wallabies jerseys, we stride towards the station. The train system is amazingly complex, but we find our platform and wait some moments for our train. As we board a young Japanese couple with their child go past, and I strike up conversation. Through broken Japanese and English, I establish they are going t the game but are alas AB supporters. We follow them in case our strategy isn’t able to be effectively executed, like a Wallaby backline. We change trains, and find ourselves in a sea of black with smatterings of gold. We are grossly outnumbered.
The stadium itself is unimpressive. It doesn’t look like it has a huge capacity, but whatever it is, every corner is occupied. Our seats are fairly close to the field and we observe the Wallabies and All Blacks going through their warm up. I compare the activities of the two teams, and each exercise looks exactly the same. I struggle to therefore realize what the “point of difference” is. Its game time and the first thing that strikes me is how lateral and uncreative the Wallabies attack is. A close second is the intensity with which the All Blacks are attacking the breakdown, resulting in much turnover ball or at least disrupted service from the ruck.
Although the Wallabies take a lead into half time, we are not optimistic about their chances, yet we live in hope. Sure enough, the second half delivers like yesterdays leftovers, and we slowly see the Wallabies get strangled out of the game. The 80 minute consistency of the All Blacks is amazing to observe. I glance across the crowd, and see Joe Roff chilling with what looks like a tour group. A guy dressed in green latex, kind of resembling a power ranger gets taken from his seat by security, and he ends up being an Aussie who lives in Tokyo. Outside the stadium, every second kiwi supporter makes some comment on how terrible the Wallabies are, at which I suggest we can wait until 2011 to beat them again.
Roppongi is the destination of choice, and outside the stadium we spot Dan Crowley, we have a brief chat and he expresses his discontent with “it’s not a good day today boys.” In the train station, packed with people, I spot Dan Heenan. After a chat, Heeno confirms that Roppongi is the place to be, and we find the correct train and board. Roppongi is bustling, lights, people and buildings everywhere, and observing the place, it is deserving of its tag as Gai-jin central. The Gnome and I spot some chick in a Wallaby jersey, ask where she is going, and we get told to follow. We are headed to Legends bar, a sports bar with a good reputation.
On the way we pass Heenan again, and we say g’day to Tots Kefu who stands out like dogs balls amongst 5’0” locals. We approach Legends bar and people are spilling out into the street. After getting the equivalent of $60 worth of booze for the first round (yes a bottle of Asahi was about 1000 Yen), we work the crowd and strike up conversations with Poms, Aussies, Kiwis and locals, all enjoying the atmosphere post-game.
We relocate to another bar, that also has its patrons spilling into the street, and the Halloween theme is prevalent amongst locals. I get some photos with some locals dressed as witches, characters from the Wizard of Oz, Minnie Mouse, and even French maids. The bar is a nightmare to get to, so in my infinite wisdom, I run across the road to the 7-Eleven, pick up some Sapporo Biru, and sneak back to my spot on the pavement outside the Wolfgang Puck Restaurant. A great time is had by all, we meet some fellow Queenslanders who lament the game, and in Tokyo of all places, I run into an old mate from my uni days who was my tight head prop when I was hooker.
It’s into the early hours of the morning, and the “Pong” is getting busier by the minute. The Gnome and I head to a McDonalds to get some last minute eats, and then jump into a cab for the trek back to Shinagawa. One last stop at 7-Eleven before we go up to the room enables me to get a few more beers to round out the night, and some sushi for breakfast, but it doesn’t last until then.