I'm going to stop posting detailed recaps of games I see where there is nothing new to report. For example, this past weekend I went to a Top League Rugby doubleheader which was completely uneventful.
I saw a couple of games in this league last year, and had found it somewhat entertaining, so was looking to make a return visit. A friend of mine had expressed interest as well, so I invited him along last weekend to attend what would be my final sporting event in Japan this year.
The league had been on a month-long respite, perhaps due to the recently completed Asian Games, and it showed. In the first match between Toyota Verblitz and Ricoh Black Rams, dropped passes and missed chances were the name of the game. It was not particularly good rugby, although the game was close at least, with Toyota pulling out a 29-26 win on a Stephen Yates try with 8 minutes to go. Despite the tight score, it was simply not that compelling as there were so many stoppages and penalties that the game never developed a good flow.
Below is Toyota's Orene Aii of New Zealand dodging several Black Rams.
Before the second game between Suntory Sungoliath and NEC Communications Shining Arcs, I checked the standings and saw that Suntory led the league in scoring while NEC had only notched 12 tries in their 7 games. I expected a blowout and that's what we got. Suntory took the kickoff and systematically marched to a try in just 90 seconds. Five minutes later they did the same and the rout was one, with the final score being 50-14. Fortunately the weather was beautiful but that was about the only positive on the afternoon. Below is Suntory in yellow, #20 is one-time Australian captain George Gregan who was a reserve on this day.
The upshot is I probably won't see too many more games in the Top League. It is a bargain at 1,500 yen but the quality isn't good enough to keep me coming back.
I'm off to Canada in two days. After a night in Toronto, I fly to Minneapolis where I'll see three games all featuring cellar dwellers. Then I fly to Cleveland where I do a LeBron James special - rent a car and drive it one way to Miami. Along the way, my sports-viewing talents will stop in Columbus, Morgantown WV, Pittsburgh, Washington, Charlotte, and Jacksonville. It should be a strange trip but a lot of fun, so check back regularly over the next couple of weeks.