Author Archives: James Hinkin

Seven And Done

HAIL PELICUS!

Seven And Done

The collegiate fall 7s season has finally come to a close and the clubs are beginning their preseason preparation. As a result this edition of Hail Pelicus will have tournament recaps of all the collegiate action in our Game Reports section. Normal service will resume with our next edition, so if you are refereeing, get your reports in.

With that being said, there is no longer an off season for Pelicans so feel free to feed your rugby jones year round. To that end please be sure to update your availability on WhosTheRef so that our assigner Pelicus Fistulator can get referees to all the games and tournaments.

Attention All Club Administrators

It has come to our attention that some of the clubs we provide services for have games scheduled but have not yet contacted the referee society. Our website, pelicanrefs.com details the steps required to secure a referee. Please visit it and complete all steps.

As you are aware Scott Wood was our tech guru and responsible for uploading the matches into our referee allocation software. Some of you may have inadvertently sent your match fixture spreadsheet, the template is available on the website, to that Scott’s email address. If you have a completed Match Fixture Spreadsheet completed, kindly resend it to the following email address: fixtures@pelicanrefs.com. That email address is being sent to the new fixture secretary, Neil MacDaonald.

Secondly, we are embarking on a new season and clubs may be using different administrative personnel. Kindly review the following page http://pelicanrefs.com/contacts/club-contacts/ and if needed update the information to ensure your club receives timely communication from the society as needed.

NCRFURS AGM Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in our NCRRS AGM, especially our coach’s panel. The Flock gathered to run a fitness test, discuss law application and the thought behind it, and pick the winners of the 2019 NCRFU season.

Most importantly, we elected a replacement for the sadly departed Our Scott Wood. Congratulations to Lee Bryant (aka “LB2”), who couldn’t make the meeting due to her refereeing a WPL match, but when she received the endorsement of the NCRFU President all pretenders faded away. We look forward to Lee filling her role on the board with the thoughtfulness and passion that she brings to everything in her life.

The NCRRS Kit Store

It isn’t too late – there is still time to get your order in. The NCRRS Fall Collection is available online. To access the store you can click on the banner below or go directly to https://norcalrefereewinter18.itemorder.com/

Please note that you can get your entire kit plus accessories EXCEPT for a jersey. Those are still handed out by the society’s Kit Cat because we don’t sell them but give them away in appreciation of refereeing 5 assigned matches.

The store is currently open and will be available until midnight, Sunday November 11, so any purchases made should arrive in time for the holidays. Try to remember that date as all orders need to be in by then to be processed. If only there was some way to ensure remembrance of that date. Oh well, as a veteran of many online stores I am sure I will come up with something.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data. To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition. The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1mmUNg11uVOSkIsUtHifSqQzalhWbwohk_J6AmPyrucQ/viewform

1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
2. When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
4. If you have any questions as to how to use the app please refer to the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uz0_gTaOnY

On To The Game Reports! – Collegiate 7s Edition

Event: West Coast 7s
Date: 10/06/2018 (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), 10/20/2018 (Ray Sheeran Field, Treasure Island)
Referee Reporter: Steven Fenaroli

While the rest of our great 49 states are fully engaged in 15s rugby, Norcal continues its trend of being special and hosting the final weekend of the annual West Coast 7s on The Treasure Island at the famed San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club.

This two day tournament was officiated by four southern California brethern, and three locals. The first of many partnerships proved fruitful as I were introduced to Matt “Uncle” Rico and Alexis the opera singer. It was well attended by schools. The usual suspects entered the tournament, from powerhouses like Cal, Arizona, UCLA, we saw some newcomers like Cuesta College make a strong showing.

As usual, SFGG is a great host, and Pete Smith thoroughly enjoyed himself on the microphone. Full of quips like Fenaroli wearing small powerlifting shirts, to putting on a great playlist both days- the guy was on fire!

Newly minted FLORUGBY carried the video of the matches and they did a great job of covering the action from start to finish.

Uncle Rico loved his sweet red matching tracksuit so much that he wore it all weekend just so he would have the strength to throw a football over the mountains. There was some superb coaching provided by none other than Paul Bretz. We thank you for the feedback and constructive criticism to help the game grow.

Day one had a host of injuries with one referee complete decimating University of San Diego’s roster and leaving bodies along a trail leading to Oakland hospitals.

Semi Finals featured Cal v Arizona, & UCLA v Cal Poly

Once Cal got by Arizona, and UCLA did the same versus Cal Poly, it was an all California final, featuring THE university of California and The one from South of the Grapevine.

Cal worked hard to distribute the ball and ultimately came out on top

The weekend was capped off with what was meant to be a BBQ competition featuring the likes of USA Eagle Todd Clever, but due to copyright issues, Clever was told he would have to take his pulled pork elsewhere. The San Jose Rugby Foundation had a monopoly on the weekend and even had a respectable 50/50 raffle that awarded more than chicken bones.

So we will get 15s, until then we enjoy counting down from 7, and doing less math when it comes to numbering players on the field.

Event: NSCRO 7s West Coast Qualifier
Date: 10/13/2018 (Cal St Monterey Bay)
Referee Reporter: James Hinkin

CSUMB hosted the West Coast Qualifier for the right to represent at the NSCRO National Championship. The field was in great shape and clearly marked and the teams were all ready to compete for the title. A special thank you to CSUMB for providing water and snacks to the teams and the referees all day – a fantastically organized event. Teams included Humboldt St, CSUMB and a couple of motley sides. Of course, the participants from last year’s epic final, Cal Maritime and Claremont Colleges, were present with a wary eye on each other.

The day proved to be perfect for rugby as Monterey showed off why it is a world class destination. The teams were playing hard and fair – I do not recall any cards for foul play – and the games were fast. As the day progressed it became increasingly obvious that a finals rematch was on the cards as Cal Maritime and Claremont Colleges separated themselves from the pack. Last year Cal Maritime prevailed in a thriller with a try at full time to Claremont and a simple conversion to tie and send the match into overtime, but the conversion was missed. That is why we play the game – nothing can be taken for granted.

Claremont clearly wanted revenge for their loss last year and came out on fire in the final. As good as Coach Steve Hyatt’s Keelhaulers were, they had no answer to the relentless attack and stifling defense of the southerners and the final ended up with a lob-sided score of 31-0. That did not tell how evenly matched these teams were, but was an indication of how lethal Claremont was once they sniffed the try line. Good luck to Claremont Colleges as they seek to add to their 15s national championship earned back in June. This is a solid program that has put together quite a run.

A great job was done by the refereeing crew of Neil MacDonald, Jordan Bruno and James Hinkin with congratulations going to Roberto Santiago for earning the whistle for the final. Also of note was the tireless efforts of young Gregor MacDonald who ran touch all day without in the least looking like he was tired. Ah, to be young again.

Event: Pac West 7s
Date: 11/03/2018 (Kinesiology Field, Fresno St)
Referee Reporter: Dan Wilson

The Pac West 7’s were held on campus of Fresno State on their Kinesiology field. It was true regulation with well-defined lines and phenomenal grass. Pac West Commissioner James Fonda and his liaison at Fresno State, Mike Darling, definitely set up a great arena for rugby. The Pac West teams included UC Santa Barbara in the tournament, and as with the teams, our referee group was a combination of NorCal and SoCal referees. Austin Reed and Alexis Alfaro joined Rod Tuisavalalo, Andrew Arballo and Dan Wilson for what Austin described as the most stress free tournament he had been to all season. Additionally, 7 ARs from the local area joined to run the lines. Yep, it was set to be a good rugby day, but then again, isn’t every day?

The competition on the pitch could be described as competitive, with only one pool-play game being lopsided. In the two brackets, Stanford clearly was dominant on one side and both Fresno State and UN Reno were the lead teams on the other. That side’s final pool play game was against each other with Fresno State coming out on top at the end, but it could have gone the other way easily. Most of the other games were more evenly matched even with certain teams not winning their games yet still being in each game until the end.

Overall, the games were played with great sport. It was rare that a card was pulled demonstrating both fair play and effective referee control and management. The one stoppage for injury was even not due to foul play. From the referee aspect, the scheduled rotation worked well and the collaboration between NorCal and SoCal went on to include sharing of concepts being taught. We all enjoyed the day.

The final game demonstrated Stanford was above the rest of the teams in both talent and strategy. Stanford focused on Fresno State’s one weapon, Isiah and was able to dominate the game by not allowing him to shine. Meanwhile, Stanford’s teamwork and athleticism was on display with emphasis. Fresno State star, Kruse, was able to dot down a try in the final minute to ensure it they were not shut out, but the game was really decided in the first two minutes. Congrats Stanford.

Thank you, also, to the Fresno Men’s Club for hosting a family social at a park on Fresno State’s campus which allowed both Austin and Alexis to have a social and meal before getting back on the road to the land down south.

Event: Pac 12 7s
Date: 11/03/2018, 11/04/2018 (Witter Field, Berkeley)
Referee Reporter: Pete Smith

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone at the University of California from Coaches Clark and Billups to the non-rugby Cal students working the concessions stands for putting on the first-class event you would expect from one of the finest Universities in the world. Special shout out to Mike MacDonald for running the operational aspects of the event. Clearly a huge job that Coach MacDonald made look easy.

Congratulations to Cal for winning the tournament. Consider that at the coin toss the options are to kick or pick an end (which means receive as well). The thought behind that is kicking off has the same benefit as putting the ball in the scum or throwing at a lineout. You should retain 80-90% of your kickoffs and Cal was absolutely dominant in this area. They put on a clinic on why you choose to kickoff. In a typical 7’s match, you will have 2-3 scrums (with short advantages) and 1-2 lineouts (almost no kicking and teams work to stay inbounds) so the set piece that occurs by far the most is kickoffs. Moreover, kickoffs are momentum opportunities. You are either starting a game/half or you have either just scored or been scored on, so the kickoffs are critical. Cal performed well in all aspects but excelled at kickoffs and major point of separation between them and the competition.

Stanford deserves recognition for this event as well. It wasn’t that long ago that they were being criticized for cancelling their game against Cal. Stanford showed up with their B side because their top team was in Fresno winning the Pac Western 7’s (the league they actually compete in). They played hard, competed in every game, took their lumps, didn’t complain and showed that their program is on the rise again.

Oregon St likewise deserves some recognition for making the long trip and being competitive. They were 2-2 heading into the 5th place game against USC. USC has Michael Cesar and he is a scoring machine that is hard for anyone to stop and he was the difference in USC taking 5th. I can’t believe I just typed that either- USC 5th (and not last)…it shows how far has that program come in the past few years.

I’d like to recognize 16year old Cole Wallin for doing a great job as an AR all weekend. He performed at a level of maturity well beyond his years and is primed to follow in Andrew Stockton’s path to success. He was given the whistle for the 7th/8th place game between Utah and Stanford and to quote Hall of Fame Coach Billups who went well out of his way to let Cole know “he outperformed the players”. I let Cole know of the assignment only 20 minutes before kickoff as I didn’t want him to have time to be nervous doing his first (and definitely not his last) match on National Television. There was a play late in the second half of Cole’s game where there was a clear not releasing penalty, Cole let it breath to see if the non-offending team could gain advantage once the ball was released and that decision resulted in a try. High level stuff from a ref of any age. Well done Cole!!

Continuing the youth topic, I would like to thank Allen Gray and his 12-year-old son Peter for coming out on Sunday to complete the team of 5 for the final round. Allen and Peter both performed at the high level we expect from our AR’s here in Pelican Land. Peter has no fear and the moment never seemed too big for him. In fact, he was chomping at the bit the take a whistle on the field…already Cole has to look over his shoulder at who is coming up behind him! I look forward to Allen’s contribution to the Society and watching Peter develop.

A referee issue occurred in the first semi-final match that bears some discussion. Once we realized that the delays caused by television allowed us the time to use radios, we put them to use on Sunday. There was a play late in the game with the score 17-12 where the UCLA player dropped a pass and the ref was slightly unsighted, but the pass appeared to go backwards. The AR radioed in that a knock on had occurred, the ref asked if he was certain and the response was ‘yes’. The referee blew the whistle-game over. Needless to say, the ball went backwards. First off, you can’t un-blow the whistle. It only took a few moments to realize the AR made a mistake, unfortunately the law doesn’t allow for correcting that mistake. When questioned by the media the referee correctly stated that we are a team and he needed to trust his team. They let him down in this instance, but the thought process was correct. Like players, a team of refs need to operate as a team and we need to trust each other. Like players, we make mistakes that cost the team. Both the referee and myself apologized to the UCLA coach for the mistake. Nothing more we could do. Lessons learned.

This Week’s Photo

The Pac 12 Sunday Referee Crew. (Matt Hetterman not pictured as he was only available Saturday).
L-R (Back Row): Marquise Goodwin, Allen Gray, Pete Smith, Steven Fenaroli, David Pescetti, Jordan Bruno. L-R (Front Row): Peter Gray, Cole Wallin

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Do You Mind? We Are Meeting

HAIL PELICUS!

Do You Mind? We Are Meeting

This week you, our loyal readers, will be getting Hail Pelicus Light, the same great taste of a regular Hail Pelicus but with only half the calories.

The reason for this promotion of Diet HP is that there isn’t all that much rugby going on at the moment and reminders need to go our regarding requesting referees, our AGM and the Kit Store. We here at HP would also like to post the first write up from our newest international correspondent Pelicus Miratus Velocitas. Exciting times here at HP.

So, with that being said.

Attention All Club Administrators

It has come to our attention that some of the clubs we provide services for have games scheduled but have not yet contacted the referee society. Our website, pelicanrefs.com details the steps required to secure a referee. Please visit it and complete all steps.

As you are aware Scott Wood was our tech guru and responsible for uploading the matches into our referee allocation software. Some of you may have inadvertently sent your match fixture spreadsheet, the template is available on the website, to that Scott’s email address. If you have a completed Match Fixture Spreadsheet completed, kindly resend it to the following email address: fixtures@pelicanrefs.com. That email address is being sent to the new fixture secretary, Neil MacDaonald.

Secondly, we are embarking on a new season and clubs may be using different administrative personnel. Kindly review the following page http://pelicanrefs.com/contacts/club-contacts/ and if needed update the information to ensure your club receives timely communication from the society as needed.

NCRFURS AGM Details

Time:
9:00 AM-2:00PM

Location:
Newark Memorial High School
39375 Cedar Blvd. Newark CA 94560

Agenda:
8:30 am: arrival and warm up for the Yo-yo fitness test at 9:00 AM.
fitness testing will be conducted on the football field (grass surface so bring cleats)
10:00-10:30 AM: AGM begins in the NMHS Library
society to provide light breakfast and refreshments

AGM: Reports
All reports to be submitted electronically
Reports will be in the Google environment and all referees society members will have the ability to pose questions. Report committee authors will answer the questions that are posed.
Reports to be produced and submitted to me by Thursday 10/25/18
Report to detail last year’s history
President’s report (Bretz)
Recruiting report: (Fenarolli)
Exchange report (Hetterman)
Financial report (Wilson)
Kit/Uniform (Hinkin)
Wilson Scholarship (Hosley)
Website and WTR (Macdonald)

Officer selection
Vote to replace Scott Wood. James Hinkin was appointed by the board to replace Scott until the AGM. If you have an interest in serving the referee community by becoming a member of the board please email me. We will have an election based on those members who wish to serve on the board.
If you will not be present at the AGM but wish to cast a vote, provide a member of the society with your proxy by emailing the member in attendance and give them right to vote on your behalf and include Pete Smith in the email. Pete will keep track of who is voting by Proxy.
Dan Wilson and another member of the society, to be determined at the meeting, will be responsible for counting the votes.
All those voting should be CIPPed and have paid referee dues. To pay society dues go to the following Paypal link

10:30-12:00 Coaches Forum (facilitated by Bretz)
12:00-12:30 Lunch with coaches (please complete the form noted above so we can get an accurate count (https://goo.gl/forms/HuEgKXbq745qcMzk1)
12:30-1:00 Lee Bryant and Steve Fenaroli to present “Pathways to National assignments”.
Location: NMHS Library
1-1:30 Weight and Conditioning review (JT)
Location: NMHS Weight Room
1:30-2:00 Training Run
NMHS Football Field
2:00-3:00 LMS training (if interested)
Location NMHS Library

Don’t forget your mascot.

The NCRRS Kit Store

The NCRRS Fall Collection is available online. To access the store you can click on the banner below or go directly to https://norcalrefereewinter18.itemorder.com/

Please note that you can get your entire kit plus accessories EXCEPT for a jersey. Those are still handed out by the society’s Kit Cat because we don’t sell them but give them away in appreciation of refereeing 5 assigned matches.

The store is currently open and will be available until midnight, Sunday November 11, so any purchases made should arrive in time for the holidays. Try to remember that date as all orders need to be in by then to be processed. If only there was some way to ensure remembrance of that date. Oh well, as a veteran of many online stores I am sure I will come up with something.

A Pelican Lands in London – Preston Gordon

While rumors of my demise in San Francisco are greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Mark Twain, it is true that I am now a legal resident of the United Kingdom: it’s official. I’m writing this from a Hertfordshire (“Herts”) town that’s about an hour north of London, and the five days I’ve been in this country as a guest, vs. many previous times as a frequent visitor, have been jam-packed with UK immigration administrivia, family time, shaking the work bushes, and house-hunting. They have also been productive from a rugby standpoint.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been in touch with the ladies & gentlemen of the London Society of Rugby Football Referees (“LSRFUR”), who kindly accepted my application to join their society, and promised they would put me to work refereeing once I arrived here. Because I expect to be spending the majority of my UK time in Herts or central London, they allocated me to their North Region, which is one of 4 semi-autonomous regions of the oldest (1889) and largest (500+) referee societies in the world – for more info, take a look at www.londonrugby.com.

I’m here for less than a week on this trip, before I fly back to California to attend our AGM and take care of some other business.

Given the quick turnaround and my full schedule, I wasn’t expecting to be able to referee in London until I had a 3-week block of time in the UK between Halloween and Thanksgiving. In this case, fortune favors the flexible, and on Tuesday evening I picked up a late assignment for a universities match on Wednesday afternoon. London being a fairly dense city with lots of open space, I left a meeting with a recruiter in the City of London at 1130, stopped at my flat so I could quick-change from my banker suit into suitable pre-match rugby attire, jumped back on the tube for a few more stops, and was at the pitch just 90 minutes later having never set foot in a car. Having spent plenty of time in London, this should not prove to be unusual in the future.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data. To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition. The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1mmUNg11uVOSkIsUtHifSqQzalhWbwohk_J6AmPyrucQ/viewform

1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
2. When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
4. If you have any questions as to how to use the app please refer to the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uz0_gTaOnY

On To The Game Reports!

(As reported above, we would like to welcome our newest Senior International Correspondent Pelicus Miratus Velocitas, vulgarly known as Preston Gordon, to Hail Pelicus. Many of you may remember Preston as a Senior Local Correspondent but he has since relocated to Foreign Places. We wish him the best and still expect weekly reports.)

Date: 10/23/2018
SOAS 68-7 LSBU
Location: The Hub, Regent’s Park, London
Referee: Preston Gordon

First, here’s an explanation of these FLAs (four-letter acronyms):
SOAS is the School of Oriental & African Studies, LSBU is London South Bank University, and BUCS is the British Universities & Colleges Sport organization, under which high school & university rugby is played in the UK.

At the coin toss, I surprised the skippers by telling them they would be playing for my NCRRS necktie to commemorate my first match assigned by LSRFUR. We kicked off at 1400, on a day that couldn’t have been more perfect for rugby. It was in the low 60s with a slight breeze, the pitch was firm and fast, and the leaves were just starting to fall off the trees. We had perhaps 50 spectators, plus passerby enjoying a bit of rugby during their walks in the park.

SOAS wasted no time opening their account with a quick try after catching the defense napping, followed by another one scored around the outside. Soon after, SOAS took a quick-tap penalty ~15m out from the defending team’s posts, only to see the player taken out by a LSBU defender who made no effort to retire 10m. Being an English league fixture, a yellow card was appropriate without prior warning. I keep my yellow card loose in my pocket for occasions like this – players seem to take heed when it’s drawn quickly in situations like this. The card didn’t have any effect on the outcome of the game, because SOAS went on to score 4 more tries in the half (converting only one) to finish ahead at 32-0.

The second half was more of the same, except that we had to go to uncontested scrums due to LSBU losing one of their three qualified front-row players in the team. This was unfortunate for them, because the scrum was one of the areas where they had parity with SOAS, having stolen a couple of tighthead hooks. Ultimately, SOAS steadily added to their lead by scoring another 6 tries, but converting only three. This pitch, like many English pitches, is a full 100x70m with 10m in-goal areas, so I worked hard to be at the tackles, on the spot for the scoring, and to make most of the touchline calls myself. Each side supplied TJs, who were willing (when not completely absent), if unsure how to do their job, so it was up to me to make the close calls while working with somewhat faded markings.

I hadn’t refereed a 15’s match since May 5th, and I was happy that I was in the right places at the right times. The 7s tournaments over the summer definitely helped with this. One major difference I’ve seen in the English game is the players’ instinctual desire to look for the offload in the tackle. Another is the higher amount of communication between players. LSBU was missing several first-team players, which didn’t help their cause, but they did not stop fighting even though another one of their players was sin binned for a careless high tackle around the 60′ mark. LSBU finally got on the scoreboard by finishing the match with a great breakaway try from midfield, with the result firmly in SOAS’ favor at 68-7.

Everybody was happy after the match, including LSBU. Both teams were very thankful that I could do the game, because the night before, they weren’t sure they would have a referee at all. We adjourned to the locker rooms below The Hub, where I realized that like a rookie, I had brought no shower gear with me other than sandals (they only happened to be in my bag because I’ve been juggling luggage for the last week).

I have reffed enough in Europe to know better than that, but I rinsed off the sweat, dried myself off with a spare shirt, and packed up my stuff in time to follow both teams as they walked to the post-match function at The Metropolitan Bar (a large, nicely appointed pub) next to the Baker Street station in Marylebone. The hike was a little over a mile, and as the group of ~100 players and supporters made their way through the park, I got to see some great reactions from the tourists, pensioners, and other civilians coming the other direction. It was more than enough to put a big smile on my face, and the walk was a good additional cool-down as well.

After each team had had a pint or two, they did their usual man-of-the-match awards, with the winners taking a spot in the boat race. Once that was concluded, I got up and gave my own very short speech to thank all the players for a very positive match almost completely free of foul play. I opened the speech by telling everyone that this was the first rugby game I had ever refereed… [loud applause]… as a member of the London society [heckling]. Then, I awarded my NCRRS tie to Redvers, the SOAS skipper, and asked him not to do anything dumb while wearing it. When the crowd heard I was from California, a spontaneous “USA! USA! USA!” chant broke out – ‘merica!

I said thanks again, stepped down off the bench, and left the players at the pub not long afterwards to return to Herts, happy that the match went well and that both sides were content.

I’d like to thank LSRFUR for this assignment, which I hope will be the first of many; my new friend Robert Brewer for taking the photo of me with the two skippers at the coin toss; the gentlemen looking after my stuff the referee’s locker room while I was stretching my legs on the pitch; and the various players who took their turns on the touchline with my flags. What a great way to open a new chapter in my refereeing career!

This Week’s Photo

Our very own Pelicus Procrastinorix in perfect position and showing great form when awarding a try to Chico St at the Stanford Women’s Rookie 10s. The ladies from Stanford seem less than pleased with the decision, although I am sure they admired the professional manner with which the try was awarded.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

A Meeting Of The Minds

HAIL PELICUS!

A Meeting Of The Minds

As the autumn chugs on with chronastic inevitability the landscape inhabited by The Greatest Referee Society In The World starts to change as well. Leaves are changing color and dropping from their trees (and, for some reason, about 90% of them end up on my car even when parked in an open lot with no actual trees nearby), the evening air has a decided chill in it (can you believe the temperature drops all the way into the 50s at night now?), and rugby clubs across the land start to wake from their slumber as the dawn of a new season approaches (does all this side commentary make this sentence hard to read?).

The notable exception, of course, is the colleges, who are in full 7s swing right now. The National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) has their regional championship last weekend to determine the west coast representative at nationals while the West Coast 7s warmed up in San Luis Obispo 2 weeks ago and are ready to reach their shuddering climax this weekend on Treasure Island with a 2 day Sevenspalooza. The Pac 12 7s and the Pacific Western 7s fill out the major collegiate events and other small warm up tournaments litter the calendar.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: I know it is trite and I didn’t want to, but by law all large gatherings, festivals, celebrations and parties are required to be referred to with the suffix “palooza” added. This is an addendum to the original law passed in 1974 that required all political scandals, no matter how small or batpoop crazy, be referred to with “gate” appended. Thanks, Obama.)

With all these happenings, well, happening, we add another to the list. Yes it is time for the annual meeting of the minds, where the greatest and most fashionable rugby minds and bodies gather together for some serious decision making. Yes, it is the Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society Annual General Meeting. Please free up Saturday, October 27 as this is an important date on our rugby calendar. We have a chance to come together as a group to reacquaint ourselves with fellow referees, review law changes and decide which teams we will allow to win this year. Also this year we will be having our biannual Board of Directors elections so now is the time to get your vote heard. If you don’t vote you forfeit your right to complain about anything for the next 2 years.

You know, that could be a general statement on life in America these days: If you don’t vote you forfeit your right to complain about anything for the next 2 years.

Teams have been informed that there will be no referees available that day, so should someone reach out to you for a match just remember that it will not be an assigned match and you will not be covered by our insurance. Just sayin’.

NCRFURS AGM Details

Time:
9:00 AM-2:00PM

Location:
Newark Memorial High School
39375 Cedar Blvd. Newark CA 94560

Agenda:
• AGM and Referee training
• Fitness testing for all National Panel or striving to be National Panel members

More details on the agenda to be shared by our (at the moment) Noble Leader Pelicus Iudex Pennipes.

Don’t forget your mascot.

Abbreviate This!

Recently (read: last year) it was brought to our attention that officially, according to the documents we were incorporated under, the Pelican Society is not the Northern California Rugby Referee Society but the longer and much clumsier Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society. The nice, elegant and sexy acronym NCRRS that everyone knows and loves is apparently incorrect and should actually be NCRFURS, which reads like a kiosk selling black market fur coats.

This is unfortunate, but what can we do? Well, I can tell you what we can do. At this AGM we can demand, yes DEMAND, that our corporate docs be updated to reflect the name that everyone knows us by already. We are the Northern California Rugby Referee Society and no moldy piece of parchment is gonna tell us otherwise. Make your voice heard, Pelicans!

Not that this has anything to do with me being the one who has to type out the full name or that baby harp seal murdering atrocity of an acronym. This is about preserving our legacy for future generations. Do it for the kiddies.

The NCRRS Kit Store

The NCRRS (HA! Fight the power!) Fall Collection is available online. To access the store you can click on the banner below or go directly to https://norcalrefereewinter18.itemorder.com/

Please note that you can get your entire kit plus accessories EXCEPT for a jersey. Those are still handed out by the society’s Kit Cat because we don’t sell them but give them away in appreciation of refereeing 5 assigned matches.

The store is currently open and will be available until midnight, Sunday November 11, so any purchases made should arrive in time for the holidays. Try to remember that date as all orders need to be in by then to be processed. If only there was some way to ensure remembrance of that date. Oh well, as a veteran of many online stores I am sure I will come up with something.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data. To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition. The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1mmUNg11uVOSkIsUtHifSqQzalhWbwohk_J6AmPyrucQ/viewform

1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
2. When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
4. If you have any questions as to how to use the app please refer to the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uz0_gTaOnY

On To The Game Reports!

(As usual at this time of year, we rely on our foreign correspondents to provide match reports of their season currently in progress. Many thanks to Stephen Valerio for his report. The word on the street is that he drove to this match because he could not just walk there.)

Date: 09/15/2018
Mount St Mary’s Women 69 – Molloy 0
Location: Mordor
Referee: Stephen Valerio

After a canceled match the week before due to the pitch being closed the fall season finally started. Unfortunately, Molloy couldn’t field a full side and had to forfeit the match. The coaches agreed to 3 15-minute periods of 10s. While Molloy had a few deep excursions into Mount St Mary’s half, they were never able to close the deal. On the other hand, Mount St. Mary’s dominated the lineouts, frequently stealing Molloy’s throw-ins. Mount St Mary’s had several large forwards and while Molloy was able to stop them, they invariably broke the gain line and usually took a couple of Molloy tacklers to bring them down. From there the remaining Mount St Mary’s players were able to easily score from all over the pitch.

Date: 09/08/2018
Tri Tip 7s
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
Referee: Roberto Santiago

James. Hinkin’s. Chip.You either saw it, or you’ll feel like you did.
Good times.

Date: 09/15/2018
Life West Gladiatrix 24 – Lindenwood Women 38
Referee: Pete Smith

Great write up at Goff: https://www.therugbybreakdown.com/single-post/2018/09/15/Lindenwood-Begins-With-Big-W

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Letting someone else write your match report is frowned upon and will not win points towards the coveted Pelicus Scriptorus award.)

This Week’s Photo

Sometimes you just can’t win for trying.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Getting Board

HAIL PELICUS!

 

Getting Board

On Sunday, August 12, the Northern California Rugby Football Union held their annual AGM and elected their Board of Directors.    Congratulations to the returning and newly elected BoD members.   Looking good!

 

This Week’s Photo

The new NCRFU BoD in their first press photo.  L-R: Dan Nagle (Secretary, backup vocals, rhythm guitar, lead tambourine), Andrew King (Scheduling Secretary, backup vocals, drums), Tina Watts (Vice President, lead vocals, keyboard), Rick Humm (President, backup vocals, bass guitar), Dan Wilson (Treasurer, lead guitar)

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

 

The World Cup Runneth Over

HAIL PELICUS!

The World Cup Runneth Over

It has been a few days since the conclusion of the 7s Rugby World Cup at AT&T Park in San Francisco and by now everyone’s heart rate should be back to approaching normal. At the end of such major events I often look back and reminisce about the games, how the USA did and general impressions of the overall spectacle. This time is different, however, for 2 related reasons:

1) It was in our back yard. For the first time in history the US has hosted a Rugby World Cup and it was right here in Pelicanland; and
2) I was directly involved. Not in the planning, but as an official timekeeper, along with Pelicus Miratus Velocitas, tasked with, well, keeping the official time.

Let me say right up front that I was skeptical. I had publicly expressed doubts in these pages as to the preparation work and fitness of USA Rugby to manage such an event. I had privately expressed quite a bit more using language my mother would not be proud of as I foresaw disaster looming. After all, USA Rugby has not proven that they could manage our national events, much less international events. Some early decisions I felt were extremely ill advised, starting with not allowing United World Sports, the entity that runs the very successful USA Sevens in Las Vegas, to have anything to do with the planning and organizing of the event. USA Rugby essentially said “We got it – no need to help us” to the only domestic entity with a proven track record of putting on a major international 7s rugby tournament.

That seemed foolish and petulant to me.

This lack of experience became apparent as expenses were badly miscalculated when USA Rugby decided to put all the teams and officials in the Grand Hyatt in downtown San Francisco, a not inexpensive location to host 40 teams, plus coaches and staff, plus trainers for over 2 weeks. Then you add in the referees, both international and domestic, plus various World Rugby officials and USA Rugby officials and you have a substantial bill at the end. This isn’t taking into account transportation, food, training facilities and field rentals, stadium rental and all of the other little things that are expected of the host country. The upshot of all of this is that I don’t see how USA Rugby could turn a profit (remember, this was sold as a $5million bombshell for us). In fact, it would take a miracle to break even.

And then a miracle happened.

I have been a part of large tournaments before, notably running the world famous Santa Barbara International Rugby Tournament in 1992 and 1993, so I know that once a tournament starts it has its own momentum. Even more so when international teams, television broadcasts and massive ticket sales are involved. This was a WORLD CUP, so it was going to happen no matter what, hell or high water, damn the torpedoes, with cream and sugar please, all aboard the love train doing the loco-motion. World Rugby would not allow it to fail. And it most certainly did not fail.

The stands were brimming with fans from across the world, well over 100,000 over the three days (final totals have not been announced as of this writing). It certainly passed the eye test as the stands were full even accounting for all of the people walking around the stadium at any given time. The field looked good and held up well – I didn’t notice any excess loss of footing even on the newly placed infield turf. Everyone had a great time and, as per usual at international events, the stadium staff and police were amazed at how friendly and well behaved everyone was even when playing rivals or after a loss.
Welcome to rugby culture, folks.

I have to give credit where credit is due. From all appearances, the tournament went off without a hitch and is a massive feather in the cap of USA Rugby. It showed the world that the US can not only compete on the world stage (we already knew that) but could support a World Cup in record breaking numbers. If there were any hiccups on the weekend they were not noticeable and everyone involved should pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Even the Weather Priestess kicked in with the 3 most perfectly gorgeous days San Francisco has seen in years. You seriously could not have had better rugby weather: just warm enough to encourage shorts and shirts without being too hot and clear blue skies well into the evening darkness with Karl The Fog holding off until matches were complete.

We have yet to see the final numbers and if USA rugby made money (unlikely), lost money (a tragedy for a Union that is broke), or broke even (highly likely, from all appearances). Unfortunately, World Rugby and AT&T Park get paid first and USA Rugby only gets paid from what is left, but even with a modest financial loss this tournament has to be considered a rousing success. The only black mark I can think of is the size of the pitch (the numbers I heard were 94m in length and 60m in width with 5m in-goals areas), so it was a little short and a little narrow – not ideal for a World Cup. This was, of course, known coming in as it is impossible to fit a full sized rugby pitch in AT&T Park without some major renovation. The good news is that the casual fan and 90% of the non-casual fans probably didn’t notice. You had to be looking for something like that.

Even the format, the single elimination required to fit 2 major events on one field at the same time was barely noticeable and didn’t provide the massive upsets that people were afraid of. After all, one bad game each and both the USA men and women could have been out of the running by Friday evening. Still not ideal for a 7s tournament, but it worked.

So take a bow USA Rugby and everyone else involved in putting on a world class event. I had my doubts and you proved me wrong. This should be the first step towards hosting the 15s World Cup.

Host Monsters

So how did the host nation, USA do? Well, both the men and the women came in ranked 5th in the world and the women finished 4th while the men finished 6th, so in that regard, the met expectations. That doesn’t really tell the whole story, though. Let’s start with the ladies:

The USA women started off with a rout of an overmatched China 38-7 and followed that up with a deceptively close win of 33-17 over Russia. I say deceptively close because Russia scored 2 tries while America had a player in the sin bin to bring the score to 22-17 before the US pulled away with al 7 on the pitch. And then came the juggernaut that is New Zealand. The USA gave them all that they could handle and the Kiwis escaped, yes escaped, with a narrow 26-21 victory. Let us put that in perspective. The Black Ferns did not allow a point to anyone else, including France in the final. The scoreline against the US was 26-21. The scoreline against everyone else was 105-0 and that includes the World Cup Final. Yes, we lost to Australia in the consolation game but Americans never seem to get up for consolation games. Even with the 24-14 loss to Oz we could put our hand up to being the 2nd best team in the world. Not too shabby. You done us proud, ladies.

The men had a similar track. Given a first round BYE via their status as a top 8 team in the latest World Rankings, they drew, as expected Wales. This was not an easy match by any stretch of the imagination as Wales had beaten us several times recently and the match was the last one played on Friday, at 9:30PM. So imagine having to sit around all day with all your nervous energy and nothing to do with it, listening to the roar of the crowd and watching the excitement of all the other matches and then having to go out and perform. At least Wales had an opening round match to knock the cobwebs off. So did Mike Friday have the lads ready? And how! A 35-0 thrashing showed our class as the fans stuck around until the end to cheer the home team on. Next up was a quarterfinal against England. A fantastic, back and forth match with Perry Baker and Dan Norton matched up head to head to see who was the better finisher. That matchup turned out to be a draw as each scored a try. In fact, the entire match turned out to be a draw as both sides played great back and forth rugby but ended up tied at 19 at the end of regulation. Then, in a move that probably only 5 people in the world could have pulled off, England scored the golden points on an inch-perfect, 40 meter cross field kick. Any further upfield and Burgess doesn’t catch the ball and it bounces into touch. Any further back and Burgess has to slow down to catch it and Madison Hughes catches him before he can score.
But no, it was perfect, and 40,000 hearts were broken.

The US men rebounded strongly against Scotland with a convincing 28-0 victory, but looked flat and disinterested in the 5th/6th playoff against Argentina. The scoreline was 33-7 and could have been worse, as we scored our only points with time expiring. I said it earlier in this column, America doesn’t do consolation games well. Once we are out of a Cup competition we seem to lose focus. In any case, that ended the day for the locals who can hold their heads high for the effort, only losing to the eventual runners up via a miracle kick.

Takeaway – USA Women

The USA Women’s team finished 4th, with losses to champions New Zealand and Series winners Australia. They could argue that they are, in fact, the 3rd best team in the world and even the 2nd best, seeing as they were the only team to really push the Kiwis. Considering that they lost their best player (Alev Kelter) a week before the tournament and then lost her replacement (Kelsey Stockert) 2 hours before their first game. These are significant losses, especially considering Alev Kelter would give Portia Woodman a run for Best Player In The World. They must be disappointed to finish out of the medals, but should be immenely proud of how they played.

A random comment from a friend of mine after seeing one of the many Facebook posts about rugby: “I just watched some of the rugby on TV. I didn’t know ladies played!” Yes, I replied, they do. And they are certainly ladies, I added. The care our ladies took to meet fans, work with the community and generally comport themselves was above reproach. Not just us, but all of the ladies from all the teams. Gods, but I love rugby.

Takeaway – USA Men

We may be seeing the final laps for the “Core Four” of Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Martin Iosefo , Maka Unufe and Folau Niua. Ok, that’s 5 players but “Core Four” sounds better than “Jive Five”. Baker and Niua are in their 30s. The other three are 28. They are starting to see the end of their careers as 7s is a young man’s game. They aren’t paid enough to do this forever (note: I don’t know if the women are paid at all) and will soon move on to the next stage of their lives. This is certainly the last 7s world cup we will see them all at and they can look back on their accomplishments with great pride –they changed the game domestically by raising expectations and internationally by forcing teams to change tactics and focus.

You see, the rest of the world has caught up to our boys. 7s players have always been fast but you now see most teams will have a flat out speedster that can challenge Baker and sometimes even contain him. More importantly, the rest of the world has figured out our kickoffs. The greatest evolution the USA underwent under Mike Friday was the importance he put on restarts. Previously we would be guaranteed to mess up a kickoff and gift possession to our opposition and the better teams crucified us for it. You can not give good teams extra possessions because that leads to extra scores and losses. We became a dominant force at restarts and lapped the rest of the world with our retention percentage… until the World Cup. Teams have adjusted and we not only failed to retain our kickoffs but also failed to retain the kicks that we were receiving. This was a huge advantage that we no longer had and it showed. Looks like Mr Friday has some work to do to address this lack of imbalance to tip the scales back into our favor.

Sweeping The Shed

It isn’t just the women who were class acts, but the men as well. One of the great things about rugby is the general humility and ethos of rugby players, past and present. No other sport has this culture where the superstars and international legends so freely mix with the common fan. This has become exemplified in the concept of “sweeping the shed”. You are responsible for your surroundings and, traditionally, the captain of a side is the last one out of the locker room to make sure that no mess is left behind. 30 minutes before this photo was taken Fhatuwani “Rasta” Rasivhenge was refereeing the World Cup Final. Now he is literally sweeping the shed because, and I quote, “you never leave a messy locker room behind”.

Every other referee joined in without being asked. This is yet another reason why I love rugby so much.

Pelican Embarrassment

While all this was going on we were still playing 7s back here in Pelicanland. The national qualifier series were a series of tightly contested games with very few blowouts on the men’s side. (Unfortunately, I do not have information on the women at this time.) The end result was Olympic Club, Life West and Official Surprise Team Sacramento Capitols going up to PNW to vie for nationals.

And they all lost. Granted Life West lost in the final, but they lost. Why do I mention this so harshly? Because for the first time ever, Northern California does not have any representative at nationals. This is a fact that shook me to my core. Back in my day (insert grainy footage here, complete with Morgan Freeman voiceover… “on these hallowed fields, short shorts, baggy jerseys, windswept mullets and all, rugby was played, not just for fun, but for glory”) we regularly sent 3 teams to nationals, at the very least 2. Old Blues and San Mateo each won a few titles and we were always in the semis and finals – often with more than one side in these final matches. Northern California boasts a quarter of the current USA squad and yet we can not get a team to nationals. This is not a one time fluke but the culmination of an ongoing trend as the NCRFU underperformed and gradually had seeds stripped away until now, when we have to go through the Seattle sides, stocked with pro players and Waisale Serevi’s influence. A tall order, indeed, and too tall this year, but in the past we would have eagerly accepted the challenge.

So now I throw the gauntlet down. To all NCRFU clubs who care about 7s, I challenge you. Take back what is rightly ours. Life West, SFGG, San Jose, O Club, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, you may think you train hard but it isn’t hard enough. Everyone else, this is your chance to do something special. Push yourself. Dedicate yourself. Southern California will be sending 3 teams to nationals while we have none – this is intolerable. Focus. Start training earlier. Play more tournaments. Commit. Travel outside our region to get better competition. In the past we didn’t need to do that because the best was right here. Not so any more. The purest form of rugby must come home or there will be a wailing and a gnashing of teeth and other indecent carrying-on.

And after all of this work, next summer, go do that voodoo that you do sooooooooo well!

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data. To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition. The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1mmUNg11uVOSkIsUtHifSqQzalhWbwohk_J6AmPyrucQ/viewform

1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
2. When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
4. If you have any questions as to how to use the app please refer to the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uz0_gTaOnY

On To The Game Reports!

I got nuthin’!

This Week’s Photo

Pelican representatives at the Rugby World Cup 2018, San Francisco. Standing L-R: James Hinkin, Tim Lew, Preston Gordon, Steven Fenaroli, Phil Akroyd. Sitting: Lee Bryant. James Hinkin and Preston Gordon acted as timekeepers. Tim Lew, Steven Fenaroli, Phil Akroyd and Lee Bryant acted as In Goal Judges and Assistant Referees.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre