Thursday 17 October 2019

Gareth Morgan in Japan: 'Somehow I found myself on the treadmill mere hours after finishing my last beer'

Fans will be hoping Japan doesn't run our of beer!
Fans will be hoping Japan doesn't run our of beer!

Gareth Morgan On the Shinkansen

It can get lonely in a megacity of 38.14 million people, but you can always find friends where the rugby is showed. At last orders there was an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman all sat at the bar. It was like a bad joke, without any punchline.

We swapped stories of our weekend in Tokyo and the fact that Japan is starting to seriously worry that it could run out of beer due to thirsty rugby fans. A special "all you can drink" beer train actually ran dry on Sunday. So with the Great Asahi and Sapporo Shortage of 2019 about to hit at any minute, we felt obliged to have a drink while we still could. (There's always cider I guess.)

We all eventually retired to our respective hotels, where the delayed punchline hit in the form of jetlag that decided that 5am was a really, really good time to be awake.

The only thing open at that time was the hotel gym so somehow I found myself on the treadmill mere hours after finishing my last beer. It beat pacing the hotel corridors.

All of this was good training for the endurance test that was dragging my bags (including the large black ones under my eyes) through the Tokyo subway. The city is so organised it is difficult to get stressed, but I came damn close. Catching the Shinkansen was the perfect cure.

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My colleagues Ruaidhri O'Connor and Cian Tracey took the bullet train yesterday and were happily extolling its virtues on The Left Wing daily podcast (plug!) so I was keenly anticipating this trip.

The Shinkansen will transport thousands of rugby fans over the next six weeks, whizzing them from match venue to match venue at speeds of up to 320kmph. Which is not quite as fast as a bullet in reality... but it is twice as fast as the luas and dart put together.

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There's enough leg room to fit Devin Toner's entire body between rows of seats (if only he were here, sob!), the carriages are air-conditioned, and they give you a wet towel and everything. It's like Ryanair's business model never happened - Michael O'Leary would have conniptions at such displays of largesse.

Our man Gareth Morgan on the Shinkansen

Japanese generosity seems to know no bounds but they will hope to be miserly when Saturday comes around.

Ireland are everybody's second favourite team in this tournament but the local fans are dreaming of toppling the "world number one" - and are demanding a better display from the brave blossoms than Friday night's nervy opener.

As I write I can see Japan speedily flying past before my eyes, an experience that Jacob Stockdale and co won't want to have on Saturday evening.

Japan are sure to be as fast and efficient as the Shinkansen in sticky Shizuoka... sadly without the added bonus of air con or a wet towel.

Sit back, and enjoy the ride.

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