Well finally the day of the last touch competition for the year has come and gone, and it was an awesome and satisfying day thats fore sure! So just to paint the picture, this year there has been 5 touch tournaments, consistently having around 10 teams entering into each tournament, with varying levels of skill. The first tournament I was playing for the Exiles, the team I first hooked up with when I moved to Korea, however I had been growing steadily disillusioned playing for them, and almost jumped ship for the first tourney to take up an offer to play for the Island Styles team, which eventually I did do for the second tournament and was instantly relieved with my decision.
Anyways, to date, we had won 3 out of the 4 tournaments for the year, having some tough games (and not so tough games) but not always having our full strength team to draw on, that and also still learning how each other plays on the touch field kept us from being a completely dominant force on the field. Once the 4th tournament came around, we barely had half our squad, and subsequently had to bring in alot of new players who really didn’t know what they were doing or had the commitment to play, suffice to say we didn’t even make the finals, and our core players left with a sour taste in our mouths at how bad we had performed as a team. This also set the tone for the next tournament, that firstly we want all our top players here to play, and secondly, not only do we want to win, but win with authority! While it might seem a little conceited and arrogant to say that, its more of a dig at ourselves, knowing that we can do better than we have been.
So with all that said, lets review tournament day. Now even thou we came to play and play hard, we still have fun, thats what touch is about and the Island Stylez team is more of an extended family than just a team, and we do like to have fun together, but also know when to knuckle down and take things seriously. So our first game was against touch luck, a relatively new team, mostly Japanese (I think). These guys have a lot of speed but unfortunately very new to the game. While we started out with our initial game plan, we quickly realized we didn’t need to stick to that and instead started playing expansive free flowing touch. The type of touch that is usually played with teams who know each other well, who run lines and moves knowing that the other players will be in the right spot at the right time. While we weren’t always perfect with this, we did managed to string together some well worked tries! Final score 9-0 against Touch Luck, the second game was against Exiles 2, once again we went to work, while they managed to get a try (thou we are sure he was dummy half) again we took them down with ease, 10-1. It was at this time that other teams realized we were here for business, and even thou we scored 10 points, we still dropped alot of scoring opportunities as well, plus our defensive was becoming extremely aggressive holding both teams out of our half for the majority of each game.
The third game was against a team from Hwsaeo Uni, unfortunately they had never played before, and even thou we did beat them 10-0, we did go easy on them as this game could have easily been a huge blowout. The final 4 teams were Exiles 1, TCIS, Ruamoko and Is Stylez. We had TCIS in the semi, now these kids were young but they were developing well, if they had a few more years together and a couple of extra players they could have really given us a run for our money, and still managed to hold us back, only winning 2-0, once again thou we dropped alot of scoring opportunities but got to give credit to them as they were prob our hardest team of the day to play.
Just before the final we got to witness an epic drop off against the 2 new university teams from Hwsaeo, A vs B, in the end it was still a draw, watching these guys just keep going and going was awesome, it was a pitty they didn’t have the skills to be able to shut each other out, but both were in exactly the same position and never gave up.
So, the final was between us and Exiles, and to start with was pretty intense, while exiles don’t offer much up in the way of attack on the line, they do drive very effectively, however our aggressive defense held them at bay most of the first half without them even seeing our line. On the flip side we made it down to their line often but again, couldn’t quite string together that last pass, until we finally broke the line before half time going up 1-0. The second half was much the same, but this time we were looking even more threatening and produced one of the tries of the day after some good yards and some simple but well executed play (here is the video https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151171574901740) While exiles managed to get down to our line once, their attack was easily snuffed out and the game was in the bag, Island Stylez just to dominant on the day and playing at a whole other level compared to the other teams. However still have to give these guys props, touch is slowly developing and if it wasn’t for the other teams competing then there would be no touch here. It is good to see many new faces coming down to play and give it a go, its also good for them as well to see the better teams play so they know what to aspire to. Big ups to the awesome job the KTA has done this year, and big ups to our team for winning and doing the damage! As we like to say, winning is fun!