Author Archives: James Hinkin

Weathering The Storms Of Love

HAIL PELICUS!

 

Weathering The Storms Of Love

 

If you ask the better poets about love they will say you should compare your lover to a summer’s day.   Unfortunately, while that may work in rather drab places like England, out here in California we have so many perfect summer days that they can’t all be contained in the summer and spill out into spring and fall, with the occasional outlier in winter.    So, in essence, in Pelicanland you would be comparing your lover to an average day and that doesn’t get you all that far:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art also as those in autumn until late,
Spring too as April is often much like May,
But the weather is nice so shall we go on a date?

It is the price we pay for having more than 5 perfect days a year.   Not at the moment, however, as rain lashes the coast and snow dusts the foothills and buries the mountains of that we call home.   Weather cancellations are starting to become common as fields get waterlogged and rumors of the famed Atmospheric River ascending up from the Pacific via our friends in Southern California promise even more rain and nastiness.

The Weather Priestess is in a mood, apparently.   More sacrifices are in order – I suggest a nice roasted chicken breast on a bed of rice and vegetables with a pesto cream sauce and a glass bottle of chardonnay.  This is one of her favorites.   Remember that she does these things out of love and we need to respond with love in order to weather such storms of love.

Until then we will have to deal with the rain as best we can and think back fondly to the recent days of drought where the existential dread of dying of thirst was tempered by the excellent tanning weather.

Of course, you could always have a peaceful moment by celebrating the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true and will hold true when we gather in Vegas, and revel in the fact that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Annual Vegas Begging Notice

 

The Las Vegas Invitational is coming up in early March and they are desperate, again, to have substantial representation from The Greatest Referee Society On The Planet.   Here is their official pitch:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. The most all-inclusive tournament in Rugby has filled out their divisions again this year, and it can’t be done without you! Come ref by day with old friends, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! California brought a great number of refs last year, and the LVI would love to have you back!

All Referees receive:

–      Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific models)

–      Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event

–      Access to the Westgate Resort LVI room block – massive benefits available on room rates (only $70 weekdays, $95 Fri/Sat for a 2 bed room), $12 breakfast buffet deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH FEBRUARY 10TH!!, $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields, and FREE PARKING!

–      A Thursday night “REFS ONLY STRATEGY MEETING (wink wink)” with complimentary carbonated adult beverage provided (while supplies last) at the Westgate.

–       A Lunch Voucher for Sam Boyd Stadium for all participating referees!

–      the chance to referee teams from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, the UK, France, Australia, and more!

Westgate Hotel link:  https://book.passkey.com/event/49745916/owner/3453/home  – again, with waiving resort fees, you get the cheapest rates and get to stay at an incredible resort and the hub of the LVI.

To register to ref at the LVI 2018, contact Head Referee Autumn Arvidson at :  mnrugbyref@gmail.com

Any questions about the event?: https://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/

 

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

 

Looking for guidance on how to manage a game?   Well, USA Rugby has your back.  You can find the 2019 USA Rugby GMGs here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XXcRfsVtLLqUawEHUI47ei0dt_65fDM.

If you do not have access to the google drive linked above you can also view them as well as other pertinent documents here:   http://www.usarugby.org/referee-resources/

 

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/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

  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!

Date: 02/09/2019

Santa Clara 29 – Cal Poly Men 27 

Referee: Phil Akroyd

A close game throughout by two well-matched teams.  SCU had a slow start but really started to power up in the second half when they finally directed all of their energy on trying to beat the opposition.  The Mustangs took advantage of some ill-discipline but were overpowered toward the end and were out scored by 21-5 in the second half.

Date: 02/09/2019

BA Baracus 26 – SFGG D2 59 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

A late weather switch moved this game from Boxer Field to a community center. D3 played before and the weather held out for that game. We were not so lucky for the D2 match. Just as the second half started, the rain came down in sheets. It was a cold wet game that despite best intentions had a lot of scrums.

SFGG controlled the game the entire time and led 52-5 at halftime. The second half was all Baracus as they scored 21 points and SFGG only notched one try. 

Date: 02/09/2019

San Jose Seahawks 25 – Sacramento Capitals 5 

Referee: Andrew Houghton

In a closely fought match between San Jose and Sacramento, it was the tighter-knit Seahawks that came away with the victory. But the reforming Capitols squad had a lot of positives to take out of this tight mid-table clash.

Kick-off was later than scheduled on a changeable day in San Jose due to the previous matches on the pitch, and the ball-handling skills of both sides was going to be tested as the rain came and went in waves. The Seahawks were the first on the scorecard, capitalizing on a penalty for a high tackle to take a 3-0 lead. San Jose kept up the pressure, and it wasn’t long before a second score was added to the tally, and the conversion was good into the wind. 10-0 to the Seahawks.

In this early stage, there were several tackles coming in too high from both sides, and after a warning to both teams, it was San Jose that was the next to infringe and received a yellow card. Shortly after, during a passage of strong attack from Sacramento, the San Jose center was cited by the referee for deliberately knocking on the ball and stopping a potential scoring play. Another yellow card was shown.

Amazingly, in this period of being 2 men down, San Jose really turned up the pressure and managed to come away with a second try, but the conversion was wide of the mark. 15-0 to San Jose.

Sacramento struck back, scoring a great supporting try from a series of pick-and-go runs from the pack. Unfortunately, the kick was unsuccessful, and both sides went into the second half with their eyes on winning. 15-5 to San Jose.

The second half saw more rain pressing in, and play became slower and messier. San Jose were able to capitalize on a penalty for Sacramento being offside, taking them up to 18-5. As time ran on and neither side was capitalizing on their opportunities, tensions rode high. They came to a head as 2 players stood out of the ruck and attempted to swing a punch at one another. Neither connected, and the play was brought to a brief stop to calm the teams down. Both players were given 10 minutes in the sin bin, and in the intervening time, San Jose ran another try in through the midfield of Sacramento. The score now stood at 25-5.

In the last few minutes, San Jose were pushing hard for the 4th try, but after a turn-over play on the far side of the field, the referee deemed that the San Jose winger had dangerously tackled the attacking Sacramento player, leaving them 1 man down to finish the match. San Jose managed to recover possession and pushed hard for the line, but the clock and the touchline were against them, leaving the final score at 25-5.

A very close and well-contested game!

Date: 02/09/2019

Olde Gaels 22 – Life West D2 39 

Referee: John Lane

On a day and field that matched my Ireland and Munster rugby heritage rather than Northern California I arrived to the front field at St Mary’s to two teams already enjoying their warmup routines in very heavy rain (or a soft day in my language). 

The humor was good throughout the boot inspections, front rows chats and coin toss with two teams looking forward to a game in the rain and mud.

As there was some areas of standing water I met with the coaches and captains to confirm we were all happy that the areas were still solid underfoot to play and that any necessary repositioning of scrums etc would be dealt with under my direction for safety. This was confirmed by all and despite the rain continuing through most of the game the field stood up to a very positive game throughout. 

Life looked to be the stronger team and had the upper hand in the scrum from early on. Despite this the opening 10 minutes was very even with play moving back and forth with good ball retention in difficult conditions. Life got the score board moving with unconverted tries on 11 and 16 minutes but Gaels replied with 5 points of their own from multiphased play from the restart. 5-10 on 18 mins. In the second 20 mins Life continued to have the upper hand with their strong scrum winning a few against the head. They turned this into a half time lead of 5-22 with a five pointer on 22 mins and a 29 minute converted try. In the final few minutes Gaels built some pressure but got nothing on the score board. 

The second half produced another 34 points evenly split.  Life scored a converted try on 45 mins for 5-29 with 5 more points on 51 mins for 5-34 and the game seemed won. Gaels to their credit never let up and kept playing positive rugby.  Players were tiring and subs were now entering the game frequently.  Gaels closed to 10-34 on 56 mins only to concede again on 61 for 10-39.

A converted try on 74 mins brought the score to 17-39 and while Life dominated the next few minutes deep in the Gaels half, a knock-on gave Gaels a scrum just outside their 22.  A quick recycle in midfield and fast hands followed by a burst through an attempted tackle and 50 yards through the muddy field gave the closing score of the game, unconverted and the final whistle left the score at 22-39 and a deserved losing bonus point for Gaels.

Date: 02/09/2019

BA Baracus B 29 – SFGG D3B 38 

Referee: Nome Tiatia

No Report Received.

Date: 02/09/2019

San Jose Seahawks B 36 – Marin 29 

Referee: James Hinkin

A series of storms had left Pelicanland rather soggy but the fields at Independence High School were in surprisingly good shape for a clash of the San Jose Seahawks D3 and the Marin Reds.    There was a full day of rugby planned with the Seahawk women playing SFGG in the previous match and the Seahawk D2 side playing Sacramento following.   With everyone ready to go I took charge of the meat of the rugby sandwich, as it were.   And a meaty sandwich it was.

Both teams were eager and ready to play.   San Jose started with most of the possession that resulted in a penalty kick and then a try.  This cushion was short lived as Marin fired back with a try of their own and after 20 minutes I am thinking “game on”.    My anticipation of the tenor of the match was accurate as each side exchanged tries with each other in a thrilling 10 minute patch of rugby that would rival anything in Nor Cal this year.   The scored being at 13-12 to the home side was an accurate reflection of the match as each side had periods of dominance only to have the other side respond.   The last laugh went to the Seahawks, however as they scored another converted try and a penalty kick before the halftime whistle to go into the figurative dressing rooms leading 23-12.  

The second half started out similar to the first half with San Jose getting on board with a penalty.   Marin hit right back with a try to bring the score to 26-17.  The home team responded with two tries of their own to put the game (seemingly out of reach) but then the game started to get a little sloppy.   Substitutions were made and legs started to tire and the game devolved into a series of penalties.  A quick word with the captains sorted that out and the discipline returned.  With just over 5 minutes left the home side were cruising with a 36-17 lead.   “Cruising” is the operative word here because all of the sudden their tackling and organization disappeared and Marin roared back with a try, then retook possession off the kickoff and pressured the Seahawk line again.   The defense tightened up a little at this point but the Reds were able to get across the line again and made a difficult conversion to bring the score to 36-29.  Unfortunately for them, time had run out so that was the final score of a thrilling match.

Date: 02/09/2019

UC Santa Cruz 57 – San Jose State 3 

Referee: Neil MacDonald

UCSC dominated SJSU, who appear to be really struggling for numbers this season, throughout the match, and retained the McBeath-Porter Cup.  Kudos to the Spartans for hanging in there, and getting on the scoreboard with a late penalty.

Date: 02/09/2019

SFGG HS Varsity 41 – C K McClatchy High School 12 

Referee: Peter Sandhill

The Treasure Island grass field is SFGG home base. This day it was super cold, windy with sheets of rain on a sloshy, muddy field. It reminded me of winters playing in Australia as a kid. There were around thirty scrums and the forwards worked hard all day, on both sides. SFGG had dominance in the forwards, especially in the set pieces. In the second half they also changed tactics and kicked a lot more, to their advantage. McClatchy, had a positive attitude and kept at it. Good team spirit on both sides. Seven tries to two. 

Date: 02/09/2019

San Jose State Women 62 – CSU Monterey Bay Women 21 

Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Got to ref a relatively evenly played highly skilled  match for 3/4’s followed by 2 backs from

State annihilating their opposition backs leading to their 15 scoring 7 tries while their 13 rumpled for 3. Both scrums were pretty evenly matched keeping MB in the match for most of it. Match played under sunny skies by halftime in Spartan Stadium with nice fake turf & a smattering of fans in the stands. Thanks for giving me a great match Pete! Dude

Date: 02/09/2019

Santa Clara Women 24 – Cal Poly Women 29 

Referee: Larry Freitas

     Saturday started for me with a drive over Highway 17 from the Santa Cruz side to that of Santa Clara Valley, and the campus of Santa Clara University.  It had rained, again, overnight, and the day promised to be chilly.  Indeed, a 44F temperature at the Summit registered on my auto’s dash.  When arriving at the school via The Alameda, it was 51F, and I saw that the women’s team was on Bellomy Field’s artificial turf, setting things up.  This match, and the men’s following, were originally scheduled to be played on the grass of the former Buck Shaw Stadium, now Steven’s Stadium.  Men’s team Coach Paul Keeler was later in the day to tell me why the change of venue, and it had something to do with their game not being televised for some cable TV network.  At least the rugby teams weren’t kicked off because of the weather!  The weather also cooperated, as any rain, though the clouds were aplenty in the sky, held off until the men’s match started, and at that time it was just a shower or two that passed by. 

     Cal Poly made the drive up from San Luis Obispo with sixteen players.  Santa Clara had fourteen available for this match, as injuries continue to plague their team, and at least eight were in street clothes, or sweats, behind the touchline.  I would have to say that being one player down had a lot to do with Bronco women not winning, for that overlap was found on occasion, as well as some other breakdowns in Santa Clara’s defense.

     Cal Poly won the toss and elected to defend the west end, which meant they would have the wind, which was blowing somewhat strongly, at their backs.  The scoring started at the 11th minute, after a period of time in which Cal Poly had most of the possession, as they launched an attack that took up a number of phases as they penetrated deep into Santa Clara’s half.  Then number 8 Sidney Swney (not a typo!) scored from a penalty that was run from the 5 meter line.  Swney missed her own conversion.  At 18 minutes, hooker Angelle Marshall took off for a long run and scored for the Mustangs.  Santa Clara would answer, producing one by flyhalf Margaret Avery, from an offside penalty that was given when the backline defense for Cal Poly was up beyond the rearmost player on their side of a ruck.  Avery, who is very good at goal kicking, converted her own try.  The flyhalf for Cal Poly got a warning, after a second high tackle, neither blatant nor dangerously causing injury, but warranting that another would mean ten minutes off the pitch.  At 32 minutes second row Kendall Eastland scored another try for the visiting side.  The half ended with Cal Poly’s Mustangs leading the Broncos of Santa Clara with 19 points to the home side’s 7.  

     Cal Poly put the first points on the board in the second half when prop Angel De Los Santos dotted down after a five meter scrum was awarded to the attacking side, as a Santa Clara defender had gotten her hands under the ball when a Cal Poly player had gotten over the goal line.  Swney had picked up the ball at the base of the scrum and darted forward, only to be stopped, but De Los Santos was there to carry on and dive over for the score.  Swney missed the conversion that had to be kicked into the wind from halfway to touch and to the right of the posts.  At 58 minutes of play Santa Clara would score again, as fullback Sydney Lenoch filled into the backline as the ball was spun left deep in Cal Poly’s half.  Again Avery converted.  Santa Clara seemed to be building some momentum, with the intent of making a comeback after being down by a considerable margin of points.  Cal Poly would then score the last and 29th of its points, when Swney once again scored from a scrum well inside Santa Clara’s 22.  As the game approached its last quarter, Cal Poly had no subs left, having used one already in the first half.  Santa Clara hung tough with its fourteen players.  Center Carly Fowler scored a try near the corner as Santa Clara once again launched an attack at Cal Poly’s goal line, breaking tackles and swerving past defenders along the way.  She’s the best threat to score that Santa Clara has when they have the ball.  The second best threat would score the next try for Santa Clara with only just six minutes left in the game.  By this time another Cal Poly player had left the field injured, Swney, so both teams were even with fourteen on the pitch.  Santa Clara once again got close to the opposition goal.  Jessica Lew-Munoz, Santa Clara’s number 8, had the ball as a maul formed as Santa Clara was just meters away from the left goal post of Cal Poly, with her teammates pushing her forward nearly into the post.  The maul stopped, and I was about to blow the whistle to award a scrum to Cal Poly when Munoz-Lew went to ground, with a maul now a ruck just inches from the goal line.  Unfortunately, I blew the whistle and didn’t allow that ruck to develop, which was my mistake, as Santa Clara should have been able to recycle the ball, barring a counter ruck.  I awarded a five meter scrum to the home team.  Santa Clara won the hook and the ball was niftily heeled to its base, with Lew-Munoz picking up, running to her left and scoring, but Avery’s conversion attempt failed.  It was now 29-25 in favor of Cal Poly, with just minutes left in the match.  There had been two stoppages of play in the half that required several minutes to attend to injured players, and in the first the score board keeper did not stop the clock as I had asked for time off.  The clock was stopped the second time.  I told each team at a stoppage of play that I was going to add two minutes to the game after the eighty minutes were up on the scoreboard.  Santa Clara was desperate to score again, to at least come away with a tie.  A Cal Poly player was tackled into touch into the second injury time minute, and I told each team that the next time the ball went dead, except for a penalty, the game would end.  Santa Clara had the throw in at the lineout and won possession, and an attack ensued.  The ball was spun to the left and eventually a ruck formed near Cal Poly’s 22 when a tackle was made.  Carly Fowler was passed the ball, but it wasn’t the best of passes, and the ball went off her hands as she attempted to catch it low, the ball then bouncing off one of her feet ahead.  I blew the whistle for full time, and Cal Poly came out winners, 29-25. 

     This game had a lot of entertainment value for those on the touchlines watching, as it was exciting and had much drama.  I can’t say enough about the endeavor of each team in their hard tackling on defense.  Santa Clara made a game of it when it seemed in the first quarter of play that Cal Poly could run away with a win.  The penalty count was even, more of less, and the infringement that got most of my attention was tackled players not releasing when a defender on her feet was attempting to steal the ball away.  Both teams were guilty of having players lining up offside in defensive line arrangements, so as the game wore on I made sure to take those glances on either side of a breakdown.  One suggestion that Bruce Carter made to me was that the offside line could be set by the referee in placing oneself at that offside point.  I did on a number of occasions early on, but then attempted to judge matters from the offensive side of the ball, only switching back to the defensive side when I thought necessary, to avoid having to blow the whistle, to manage as opposed to punish.  I have to thank years in the classroom as a teacher for that sort of awareness.  I also want to thank Santa Clara’s trainer for working on a sore left calf I have had since the Fresno State game the previous Saturday.  I got through the match with no problem from that calf muscle, which over the years has been a bother at times.  

     I was scheduled to AR the men’s match, and had about fifteen minutes to sign paper work regarding the women’s match and catch my breath.  I got to know some of the Santa Clara men’s players from touring with them last year at the end of March in France, and was talking to a few of the second team before the men’s game.  Several commented that they liked my old-style rugby shirt I wore, a “real rugby shirt” as was said by one of them.  Another commented that he doesn’t like the polyester shirts now worn, and wished the old-style shirts were still worn.  I would agree, but I think that ship already sailed, but there’s no reason these polyester shirts can’t be made to look like the old-style ones.  Cambridge V Oxford: both teams wearing old-style looking shirts! It was too bad that half way through the first half of the men’s match, I was bowled over touch judging when a Cal Poly player was tackled into touch and his body when flying right into my left leg.  I felt that calf muscle get stretched, but things could have been worse, as my knee might have been hyper-extended instead.  I had to go off then, and have a second team player of Santa Clara take my place, as I went back to the training table to get some ice put on that calf. 

     I drove back over Highway 17, with rain past Los Gatos, and what looked like sleet falling at the Summit, as it was in the low 40’s up there.  At least people drove sanely over the mountain, and getting back to my home in Aptos, I got my ice bag out of the freezer, arranged myself on the couch after popping open an amber ale, and chilled out for a while.  It had been a long day of of rugby, only to end with more on the TV as I watched San Diego host Houston in Major League Rugby!     

Date: 02/09/2019

East London II 14-17 Eton Manor II

Location: East London RFC, West Ham, London (https://goo.gl/maps/qZfq8k6RN7L2)

Competition: Essex Merit League 1, maybe

Referee: Preston Gordon

This match raised a few questions to ponder on the drive home. Why is West Ham in eastern London? Which sides were playing for each club, exactly? How could we have gotten so lucky with the English weather?

When will rugby stop surprising me?

This was supposed to be an Essex Merit Lague fixture for East London’s seconds against Thurrock’s seconds. For whatever reason, Thurrock didn’t show up, and the home team had arranged a game against an Eton Manor side. I discovered this about 45 minutes before kickoff while I was looking for the Thurrock captain. Obviously, my prematch research went out the window and we all got on with the game, but I didn’t get the 100-0 track meet I was expecting. Instead, I got a great local derby, with two mixed teams of players from their respective clubs’

first through third sides running all over the pitch and keeping things interesting right until the last whistle. Technically I think this was a friendly, though I’m calling it the seconds and I’d put this at level 9. Weather-wise, the polar vortex that hit England while I was in San Francisco had departed, so it was only slightly cold with a ~20mph wind blowing down the club’s main pitch.

Eton Manor, containing a few familiar faces from their match I reffed on January 12th, was playing into the wind in the first half. They scored the only try of the half in the 21st minute, converting it to take a 7-point lead. The East London defense was strong, and they came close to scoring a couple of times themselves. Both sides were keen to smash each other and were doing so frequently, in a fair and safe manner. Aside from one late tackle, they didn’t require much management in that regard other than sending one player to the sideline for some medical attention to his split eyebrow (he returned shortly after, and ended up with a black eye to go with his stitches – good man).

In the second half, East London capitalized on the stiff breeze and got an unconverted try in the 44th minute to come within two points.

They took a 12-7 lead at 58′ with a converted try, adding one more unconverted try just three minutes later to sit ten points clear at 17-7. The last 20 minutes of the match were ferociously competitive, keeping me on my horse (frequently) or on my toes when not. Eton Manor scored in the 79th minute and made the tricky conversion (into the

wind) to pull within one score at 17-14. The game certainly wasn’t over at that point, and when Eton Manor took the resulting restart kick, they worked their way from their own 22 into the home team’s half over the course of a few minutes. They made a really nice break at roughly 83′ and came within half a meter of scoring the winning try. Unfortunately for their hooker, who was trying to finish off the game, he was tackled short of the line and made two extra movements while on the ground – and I was standing three feet away. Ultimately my verbal encouragement to release the ball didn’t work, and I had to penalize him. From the East London reaction, one would have guessed this was a cup final.

The Eton Manor hooker felt a bit hard done by, but for me the double movement was clear and obvious, and I was clearly and obviously in the right place at the right time despite being well tested over the preceding twenty minutes. Ultimately, good spirits prevailed, we all shook hands, and I enjoyed the hot shower, one pint, and fifteen minutes of the Six Nations match before I had to depart due to another engagement. What a game!

Date: 02/10/2019

Royal Veterinary College 0-73 Royal Holloway (Ladies)

Location: Royal Veterinary College, Brookmans Park, Hatfield (https://goo.gl/maps/iq3i9cgGf4w)

Competition: London North Friendly

Referee: Preston Gordon

In this women’s university match, played on a boggy and muddy pitch, Royal Holloway took two minutes to score their first try. They added more tries at 7′, 11′, 15′, 17′, 20′, 26′, 30′, 33′, and 35′ to lead

56-0 at halftime (including the three conversions). Due to a number of new players, more so for the home than the visiting team, the game began with uncontested scrums. There weren’t too many of those, but the forwards appreciated having an occasional cuddle to keep them a little warm. The 40-degree temperature, wind, and constant slanting rain had a surprisingly limited impact on proceedings.

The London Universities Sport Leagues (LUSL) to which these teams belong apparently has a rule about blowouts, so to keep things within reason, the second half was limited to 20 minutes. The captains told me about this just before we kicked off the half, right as the rain stopped and the clouds parted (although the wind didn’t let up). My reply, in jest: “What, you want to stop now?”

Royal Holloway scored three more tries at 50′, 55′, and 60′

(converted) to finish with 73 points. One of their players came over after the handshakes to tell me she loved hearing a California accent

– she was from the San Diego area. Given the distances involved, I think that counts as another “small world” moment.

The other memorable thing was the men’s soccer teams that monopolized the changing rooms and refused to let me or any of the ladies into the building before the match. That, and the referee abuse I could hear from 100 yards away, was really classy. The majority of their players chain-smoking after their match was just lame. To finish on a high note, the early end to my match allowed me to get back home in time to watch the England-France game.

 

This Week’s Photo

How could you not love a face like this?   Happy Valentine’s Day.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Poetry In Motion

HAIL PELICUS!

Poetry In Motion            

My flights are all cancelled
Can’t deal with the cold
These sub-freezing days
Are getting pretty old

Chicago’s an option
But a 4 hour drive
Travelling for 12 hours
I’m barely alive

I shout to the heavens , “Have you heard the news?”
I’ve got the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport blues.

California’s been raining
But I feel no pity
My body’s in San Jose
My bag in Salt Lake City

I slipped on the ice
Got a cut on my head
I got to keep coming back
But I may end up dead

I shout to the heavens , “Have you heard the news?”
I’ve got the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport blues.

Ringo was right
I got blisters on my fingers
Working so hard
The cold still lingers

When is spring coming?
It’s so far away
In this winter hell
Forever I’ll stay

I shout to the heavens , “Have you heard the news?”
I’ve got the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport blues.

No time for clever
Rugby banter and insight
I just want to finally
Catch a plane flight

Back to the nest
The Pelican’s home
But for next week’s job
Again I will roam

I shout to the heavens , “Have you heard the news?”
I’ve got the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport blues.

7s Reminder

Again, according to the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true and will hold true when we gather in Vegas, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Annual Vegas Begging Notice

The Las Vegas Invitational is coming up in early March and they are desperate, again, to have substantial representation from The Greatest Referee Society On The Planet.   Here is their official pitch:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. The most all-inclusive tournament in Rugby has filled out their divisions again this year, and it can’t be done without you! Come ref by day with old friends, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! California brought a great number of refs last year, and the LVI would love to have you back!

All Referees receive:

–      Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific models)

–      Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event

–      Access to the Westgate Resort LVI room block – massive benefits available on room rates (only $70 weekdays, $95 Fri/Sat for a 2 bed room), $12 breakfast buffet deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH FEBRUARY 10TH!!, $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields, and FREE PARKING!

–      A Thursday night “REFS ONLY STRATEGY MEETING (wink wink)” with complimentary carbonated adult beverage provided (while supplies last) at the Westgate.

–       A Lunch Voucher for Sam Boyd Stadium for all participating referees!

–      the chance to referee teams from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, the UK, France, Australia, and more!

Westgate Hotel link:  https://book.passkey.com/event/49745916/owner/3453/home  – again, with waiving resort fees, you get the cheapest rates and get to stay at an incredible resort and the hub of the LVI.

To register to ref at the LVI 2018, contact Head Referee Autumn Arvidson at :  mnrugbyref@gmail.com

Any questions about the event?: https://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/

 2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

Looking for guidance on how to manage a game?   Well, USA Rugby has your back.  You can find the 2019 USA Rugby GMGs here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XXcRfsVtLLqUawEHUI47ei0dt_65fDM.

If you do not have access to the google drive linked above you can also view them as well as other pertinent documents here:   http://www.usarugby.org/referee-resources/

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/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

  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!

Date: 02/03/2019

UC Davis Women B 10 – Chico State Women B 39 

Referee: Peter Gray

This game took place in the Davis Aggies’ stadium. A great venue: although the pitch had football markings, we made do. We were also very lucky to have the game between downpours.

The schedule had been changed from Saturday to Superbowl Sunday, which is fine by this referee. Doesn’t seem like we missed out on much, anyway.

This was my 1st official assignment as a Pelican and both team were aware and made me feel more than welcome and at ease. Several of the players were playing in their first game. It was a well fought fight with Chico taking the lead early. Davis made use of their deep bench and had some second half replacements that helped even the field. Ultimately, though, Chico prevailed with a convincing victory.

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  Outstanding work Peter!)

Date: 02/03/2019

UC Davis Women 34 – Chico State Women 21 

Referee: Allen Gray 

It was a great game in the Davis Aggies’ stadium. It was quite breathtaking to walk into a 10,000 seater stadium, even if it wasn’t full. The drive to the game was fraught with some atrocious weather, but we got a lucky break and enjoyed some sunshine for the game with only a few sprinkles. I’m sure the teams were happy to have a dry ball to play with and there were very few handling errors throughout the game. 

We had a schedule change moving the game from Saturday to Sunday: Superbowl Sunday, good thing I’m not a huge (American) football fan. More importantly, the teams decided to forego the halftime show and play some rugby.

The first half ended with Chico having two tries and Davis with one. Coming into the second half Davis had to pull out the stops and they did. Both teams battled and we had some great defense on both sides; there were 4 try attempts that were held up in goal. There was pressure, pressure, pressure at both ends of the field. Davis were able to widen a narrow gap with a very late try to put the game out of Chico’s reach.

Date: 02/02/2019

UC Davis 31 – Santa Clara 24 

Referee: Lee Bryant

No Report Received.

Date: 02/02/2019

St Marys College B 31 – Utah Valley University Men’s Rugby 7 

Referee: Peter Sandhill

The mid-winter rain abated for about 2hrs, just before and during the game. The St Mary’s stadium grass field was wet, slushy in many spots and heavy under foot. This made handling a challenge at times, the grass easier to slide upon and the running harder work.

A fit and ready Utah Valley University (UVU) had come a long way for this game to play a well prepared St Mary’s B-side for a College Men’s D1A match-up.  

UVU had a physical pack and for the first fifteen minutes, it was very even. After finally crossing for a try around the 15′ mark, St Mary’s gradually began to wear UVU down. Both teams kicked a lot, trying to gain field position in the moist conditions. The handling was surprisingly good given the conditions. St Mary’s scored four unanswered tries in the first half (converting three). The 26-0 half time score did not adequately show the strength of the UVU team which at times dominated.

The second half saw a very tight contest with little in it; both teams defended well and played it tight, taking it up with many pick-and-drives off the ruck. Both teams scored a try in the last quarter with UVU converting theirs. Both teams made several replacements to freshen up tiring legs. UVU “won” the second half 7-5.

Final score 31-7 to St Mary’s. 

Thanks to Tim O’Brien SMU coach for hosting, always a gentleman. Hats off to UVU for a competitive game and for driving 8+ hours to play a hard game of rugby. Impressive.

Date: 02/02/2019

Silicon Valley 21 – Chico Mighty Oaks 31 

Referee: Paul Bretz

Chico traveled to Silicon Valley on a wet Saturday afternoon and were graciously hosted by for their efforts.  Chico opened the scoring first and remained in the lead for the duration of the match however at one point during the second half Silicon Valley looked like they might take the lead being only down by 3 with plenty of momentum and knocking on the guest’s tri-line.  Had it not been for an opportunistic picked-pass and 90 meter foot race by Chico’s number 10 the game’s scoreline would be much different.  

Date: 02/02/2019

Shasta Highlanders 24 – Jesters Rugby FC 29 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

Fortunately, the rain held off throughout the game and while the field was soft, conditions were good. Very evenly matched, but distinctly different teams. Shasta has a set of tough forwards and sure tackling. The Jesters able to bring speed on the outside with their backs. The first half ended tied at 12-12. As the second half wore on, Shasta was running out of gas. The Jesters exploited the edges to put themselves ahead by 12 with about 3 minutes left. Shasta made a furious comeback attempt, able to field their next kickoff and take it down just outside the Jesters goal. At a penalty mark, a repeat infringement for reckless tackle by the Jesters resulted in a penalty try being awarded. Now down only 5, Shasta attacked again, until a turnover and kick to touch gave the Jesters the match.

Date: 02/02/2019

SFGG PRP 14 – Santa Monica PRP 16 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

SFGG hosted Santa Monica in Round 2 of PRP. The game was headed to be a wet contest with standing water all over the field. Santa Monica traveled up to San Francisco. SFGG scored first and Santa Monica Replied with a try and two penalty kicks. At halftime the score was 7-13. 

SFGG would score another try and Santa Monica would notch another penalty kick. 

Date: 02/02/2019

Santa Rosa 31 – Sacramento Capitals 5 

Referee: James Hinkin

With soggy weather in the past and the future I arrived at For Pete’s Sake Field in Santa Rosa with some apprehension.  The field was in quite good shape however, and we only had one reset scrum all day due to slippage.   The field, as always, was well marked with massive try zones (more on that later) so let’s play some rugby.

The rain mostly held off except for some little spitting sprinkles that produced less moisture than the sweat coming off the players, so the sheer number of handling errors and dropped balls could not be blamed on the weather.   There was plenty of scrum practice to be had as it seemed every other phase ended with a knock on.   As the game progressed Santa Rosa more or less cleaned up their handling but it was the bane of Sacramento.  They really should have had more points on the board but every time they had a promising break it would end with a sloppy pass or a dropped ball letting the Roses out of jail.   Santa Rosa had better luck with their line breaks and was able to put 3 unconverted tries across in the first half.

The second half was much the same as Rosa kept the pressure on with a penalty followed by a couple of more tries.  One try of note was a 50 meter kick and chase that Sacramento was a little casual about covering because the ball was quite obviously going to go out through the back of the try zone.   The wet conditions and the nearly 20 meter try zone begged to differ, however, and Sac was made to pay when the Rosa winger (and, naturally, yours truly) didn’t give up on the play and won the race to the ball just before it went past the dead ball line.   A quick consultation with the TJ to make sure the bouncing ball never went into touch and the try was awarded.  One more penalty rounded out the scoring for the home side until the visitors finally got on the board with a deserved try just before the final whistle.   This final try was the result of some serious sloppiness after sustained Sacramento pressure as a tackle was followed by the ball squirting out the side, then a couple of players trying to secure it but failing and finally a fly hack from a Rosa defender went straight into the arms of the Sacramento wing who gladly took the gift to the try zone.   Final score 31-5.

Date: 02/02/2019

San Jose State Women 24 – UC Santa Cruz Women 14 

Referee: Giles Wilson

Played on the turf field of Spartan Stadium following the men’s gave against Chico State on a wet day. Most of the rain held off but for a couple of brief showers.

San Jose St won the toss and chose to play into the wind. They started strongly and had a number of players who ran hard and direct, as well as tackling hard. UCSC took a little while to get into the game and after going behind pulled back to a half time lead of 14 – 12, the difference being a missed conversion.

In the second half there were several injuries to both teams; SJS ran in two more tries (one converted) to no reply from UCSC.

Final score a deserved win 24 – 12 for the home team.

Date: 02/02/2019

San Jose State 0 – Chico State 91 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

The score tells much of what this match was about. It was a cold rainy day, but most everyone was in good spirits. SJSU players had no subs so they’re first 15 played valiantly throughout the the entire 80 minutes. Chico State played with power, speed and cohesion. Chico State players were quick to adjust to how the game was being called, adapting their strategies to fit the referee’s expectations. Kudos especially to the SJSU captain and winger who kept smiling and trying to rally his team.

Date: 02/02/2019

Sacramento State 15 – Stanford 47 

Referee: Chris Tucker

A stormy weekend means many things in Northern California.  Firstly, avalanche conditions go through the roof, making skiing dangerous.  However in a couple of days when it consolidates, it makes for great fun in the backcountry.  Secondly, and perhaps more pertinent to this report, groundskeepers get scared that their grass might have to prove its mettle and show they’re not as good at their jobs as they like to think.  Corollary: once again rugby was played on a football field, width 60m (too narrow), length 90m (too short), goalposts in a silly place, goal lines not extending all the way, old school 25yd marks for the 22, etc. etc.  Corollary #2: rugby was played.

When the visiting team shows up, kicks off, wins the ball back and scores in the space of a minute, you might want to go and put your running shoes on.  When the visiting team responds 2 minutes later, you know it’s going to be a fun day!  And so it was, with both teams playing in good humour, with fast, positive rugby to the fore.  Admittedly it was a wet day, so we scrummaged more than usual, and this gave me a good opportunity to note that I have become somewhat too forgiving of early engagement.  Front rows have taken to leaning in, or jamming their heads against the other’s shoulders to support the weight, which in turn makes the engagement uneven in one or more directions.  Next game objective…

Anyway, the game itself was mostly dominated by Stanford, who had a comfortable lead at the half, which they never looked like surrendering even once the bench came on to play. 

Date: 02/02/2019

Olympic Club 31 – Olde Gaels 10 

Referee: Preston Gordon

Location: Definitely not London

Despite the winter storm that passed through the Bay Area Friday night and Saturday morning, the GAA pitch on Treasure Island was in great shape – just a bit muddier than usual. Nearing halftime, I thought I saw a flash of lightning in the distance, but that was the only threat from the weather. The little bit of rain didn’t dampen spirits whatsoever.

Olympic Club was dominant in the first half, scoring 3 tries (at 7′, 21′, and 39′), only leaving their second one unconverted. This gave them a 19-0 lead going into halftime. In the 49th minute, O Club added to this lead with a penalty try after Diablo’s scrum, near their own goal line, came apart repeatedly. After a 55th-minute yellow card to a Diablo player for a high tackle, O Club scored another unconverted try two minutes later to bring them to 31-0. The Olde Gaels scored the rest of the points with two unconverted tries, at 60′ and again at 74′, while O Club had a man in the bin for cynical defensive play.

The scoreline may favor Olympic Club a little bit, given the fairly even contest. Both sides used 6 replacements and were looking to attack whenever possible, and defended ferociously. For me, it was great to be reffing in San Francisco again, and especially to see a whole lot of familiar faces (including several fellow pelicans). Thanks and good luck to both teams for the rest of the season!

Date: 02/02/2019

Fresno State Women 57 – Santa Clara Women 12 

Referee: Larry Freitas

     The Saturday of February 3, 2019 started with rain pelting the Santa Cruz area as I readied myself for a drive down California Highway 1, then on to California 129, then up US 101 to Gilroy, to meet Kyle Domingue and his Santa Clara women’s rugby Broncos (Broncoettes?) to carpool over the Pacheco Pass on California 152 and on down what was formerly US 99, now California 99, to Wawona Middle School in Fresno, for a match against the powerful and Division 2 National Champion Fresno State Bulldog Women.  So, all that said, there was a huge patch of blue sky on the western fringe of the Central Valley, but upon arriving in Fresno it was gray, cold, low 50’s F, and windy, with a few rain showers.  Fresno State did a great job of lining this middle school pitch the day before, and as it was past 11 AM, the young women and coaches set up the flags and goal posts.  Perfect job that gets an A+.  The field was decent enough, and most importantly, had no dips or gopher holes that can wreck an ankle, so it was almost perfectly flat, though there were plenty of muddy spots and some bits under a few inches of water, and there was as much oxcalis weed as grass, and some dormant brown patches.  

     Both teams went through their warmups while I was trying to keep my feet from getting wet and having trench foot set in.  I got out of my LL Bean rain coat, Land’s End vest, sweatshirt and sweatpants, got on the Adidas Copa Mundials, and was set to whistle out the captains to get the match going as 1 PM approached.  Fresno won the toss and elected to defend the south end, so they had the wind at their backs for the first half.  Within two minutes of the kick off, having received the ball, they worked their way down field with a few phases, and with the ball in outside center Laura Seeger’s hands, she took a gap that opened in the defense and scampered her way to the in goal for the first of nine Bulldog tries.  The conversion, taken by flyhalf Regan Garner, though out from near dead-center of the posts, sailed wide to the right.  Another home team try followed ten minutes later, as the Bronco defense stiffened in the interim minutes of play. At twelve minutes, Seeger once again scored from a tap penalty.  This time the conversion was good and Fresno were up 12-0.  The scoring was just getting going.  Not long afterwards, scrum half Raquel Macias, who is the captain of the team, saw a gap as she gathered the ball from a ruck near the half way line and darted forward, dodged at least one attempted tackle, and scampered the rest of the way to the goal line to dot down right under the posts.  The conversion was good and Fresno State had a handy lead at the end of the game’s first quarter.  A turnover ball lead to the next converted try by right wing Meaghan Gallagher.  Then, at thirty-two minutes, Chetna Kumar, the smallest and fastest player on the pitch, would receive a pass and round her defender to score the first of three tries she would have on the day.  Fresno State managed one more first half try at thirty-eight minutes by inside center Averi Peterson.  Santa Clara got possesion of the ball immediately after they kicked off from the re-start, as Macias knocked on attempting to catch the kick, the ball travelling nearly five meters forward, and one of her teammates played the ball by kicking it downfield from an offside position.  Santa Clara took a tap penalty from the spot of the penalty, near the ten meter line in Fresno’s half, and in that final minute of play, working the ball down field, and with inside center Carly Fowler taking a gap, breaking a tackle, and carrying defenders on her back, they penetrated to Fresno’s goal line.  The Broncos won ruck ball that was stopped short of the line.  Another ruck was set up, and Carly Fowler scored by picking up the ball and diving over at the fortieth minute of play, the ball partly placed down on the grass and an opponent’s boot just over the goal line .  Margaret Avery, as she did against UC Santa Cruz a few weeks earlier, kicking just a few meters from the touchline and well within the 22 then, made the conversion from just less than fifteen meters in from touch, and again well within the 22 meter line.  I blew the whistle as the touch judges’ flags went up, and blew it again three times to end the half.

     Fresno State took three minutes to score in the second half, with Kumar getting her second try from a scrum, with the backs spinning the ball out wide to her on the left flank.  At fifty-two minutes Kumar would score once again, as her speed left defenders behind.  As the second half wore on, and with the wet ball and some fatigue setting in, there were quite a few scrums awarded to either side from handling errors, but then Fresno won more than a few against the head.  Santa Clara scored a try from a tap penalty taken well inside Fresno’s 22, by captain and number 8 Jessica Lew-Munoz, at sixty-seven minutes, who took the pass from her scrum half and broke a few tackles on her way to the goal line; Avery’s attempt at another difficult conversion near the touchline was short and off the mark.  Finally, Leclaire Franco, a flanker, scored the last try of the match for Fresno State.  Santa Clara had one last attempt at scoring in the last minute of play, but failed as Fresno tackled the ball carrier, who mis-took a five meter line stripe as the goal line and placed the ball down, thinking she had scored a try.  I realized that there was no score but actually a knock-on, as Raquel Macias was quick to point out to me, and then blew for no side.  

     Generally speaking the match went well, from my view as a referee.  Both teams listened to my directions to have tacklers roll away, so there were few problems at the breakdown and tackle.  With the muddy conditions, only one scrum collapsed.  One of the Santa Clara flankers was penalized a few times for not releasing as she was on the ground and the ball was grasped by a Fresno player trying to steal it away.  Both teams attempted counter rucks a few times during the match, and Fresno was guilty of handling in rucks on a few occasions, and Santa Clara at least once, though I made a point to yell out “ruck, no hands!”   

     Fresno State seems to be the team to beat again this season.  They have very athletic young women on their side.  They have a great back line, and the wing, Kumar, is a danger if she is given space with the ball.  Macias has to be one of the best scrum half players I’ve seen.  Garner handles fly half well, and in this game she was quick to boot the ball deep downfield when she saw that all of Santa Clara’s backs were up in defense and no one home at full back, with one of those kicks leading to a try as the ball was chased down and re-gathered.  It will be interesting to see how they match up against Nevada Reno.  As far as Santa Clara University is concerned, injuries have had an impact on their season, as they are missing two of their starting back line from last season, out with ACLs from a game in December against San Jose State.  Their starting flyhalf, injured near the end of the UCSC match, should be back next week, as Avery filled in at that position, though she’s been at full back in most other games.  I’m sure their season would be going better if they had all their players with which they started the season.   

This Week’s Photo

Peter Gray, aged for only 12 years, taking charge of Chico and UC Davis B side match.   The Society’s goal of getting younger looks to be progressing nicely.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Isles Of Perception

HAIL PELICUS!

Isles Of Perception        

So last week when discussing the upcoming Hamilton 7s I asked the question “Why is Carlin Isles still in the squad?”.   That one question generated quite a few responses in the form of texts, emails and angry mobs.   I still stand by my comments – his speed will overwhelm lesser teams but his lack of skill and defense makes him a target against the better sides.   Most people seemed rather smug when Isles made the Dream Team and pointed to that as proof that I engaged in a rectal-cranial inversion, but, while I am always happy to see US players recognized, in particular Folau Niua who has been the conductor of our rise to prominence, if you look at the tournament as a whole I believe the selection was a mistake.   Pinkleman was a giant every single game.  Niua’s skillset is unmatched on the tour and his bi-pedal restart ability gives us dozens of extra possessions.    Isles, however, after running by Tonga and Samoa was relatively innocuous against an underperforming England.  On day 2 he was directly targeted and responsible for the only Scotland try and was an obvious point of attack for New Zealand and Fiji.  The rest of the squad are essentially playing 6 on 7 defensively and that takes a toll.  One brilliant sneak up the short side against the Kiwis was a bright moment, but he was not even on the field for the second half of the final against Fiji.  That is not what you expect from a Dream Teamer.

The USA made their 3rd consecutive final in impressive fashion, beating England on day 1 and New Zealand on day 2, two teams they need to match or better to stay in the top 4 for automatic Olympic qualification.   This must be the goal of the series as you don’t want to end up in a playoff tournament where anything can happen.  Coach Mike Friday has us playing disciplined, entertaining and lethal rugby.  We trail only Fiji in the number of tries scored and, even in light of the previous paragraph, it was no mistake that the Dream Team consisted entirely of players from these two sides.   If there is one area of management that Friday does not excel in it is his substitution pattern.   In the past he has overused our core players and wore them out for the end of tournaments – especially the 2nd leg of the back to back tournaments.    Imagine my delight when in our opener against Tonga he played the bench and they performed very well, opening up a big lead.   I had just commented on that very thing to a friend who was watching the match with me when in comes back-to- back world player of the year Perry Baker.  Why?  We had a 20 point lead with 2 minutes left and this was just asking for trouble, and trouble didn’t need to be asked twice.    A high, straight up tackle went head to head and that is a contest Baker was never going to win.   Watching him lying on the ground and then wobbling off spitting blood confirmed the worst fears of the American rugby public.   Baker is out for the foreseeable future with a broken jaw.   The team rebounded marvelously to make the final but now the inevitable “what if?” comes into play.   It is entirely possible that even with Baker we would have lost to Fiji in the final – they are on a different level right now – but for a squad that is pushing for a top 4 series finish it is a devastating blow.   Yes, rugby is a contact sport and can not play scared or play not to get injured, but that was a needless exposure in a match that was well in hand.

Once more, according to the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true even now, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Humanity Of Decision Makers

If there is one thing every official knows is that they are not perfect.   We are humans judging humans in what is often a fast paced environment and critical, borderline decisions will often disappoint one party.   “What are you looking at?”   “How could you call/miss that?”  These are regular protestations from players, coaches and fans in every sport.  It was General MacArthur who famously said said on his return to American soil that “he was proud to protect American freedoms, like the freedom to boo the umpire”.   Rugby, while better in this area than every other sport I am aware of, is not innocent of the charges.   This is why I felt so keenly for the NLF officials who missed the blatant pass interference call at the end of the NFC Championship game.   Now I have no dog in that fight but even if I did the response from some “fans” was disgusting.  The crew was doxxed and harassed to the point where they had to be moved to a secret hotel and change their phones.   From an ESPN article, “In Washington, D.C., on the same day that a former presidential campaign manager was arrested by the FBI and a government shutdown was lifted, a Louisiana senator pleaded his case on the floor of the U.S. Capitol that his home state had been robbed by poor officiating.”   (See full article here, it is worth the read.)  

The title of the ESPN story asks a very relevant and pointed question, why would anyone want to be a referee?   The answer, unsurprising to those of us who take up the whistle, is we do it for the love of the game.   Some of us never had a chance to play; some of us had their playing career cut short by injury; some of us played as long as we could and shifted to the whistle as a way of staying involved; but all of us, no matter what the superficial reason, do this for the love of the game.

We aren’t perfect, but neither are the players.   We do our best and nobody tries to miss calls, but it happens.  Please keep this in mind the next time the need to criticize the referee bubbles up to the surface.  It isn’t really necessary: we are usually our own worst critics.

Annual Vegas Begging Notice

The Las Vegas Invitational is coming up in early March and they are desperate, again, to have substantial representation from The Greatest Referee Society On The Planet.   Here is their official pitch:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. The most all-inclusive tournament in Rugby has filled out their divisions again this year, and it can’t be done without you! Come ref by day with old friends, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! California brought a great number of refs last year, and the LVI would love to have you back!

All Referees receive:

–      Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific models)

–      Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event

–      Access to the Westgate Resort LVI room block – massive benefits available on room rates (only $70 weekdays, $95 Fri/Sat for a 2 bed room), $12 breakfast buffet deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH FEBRUARY 10TH!!, $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields, and FREE PARKING!

–      A Thursday night “REFS ONLY STRATEGY MEETING (wink wink)” with complimentary carbonated adult beverage provided (while supplies last) at the Westgate.

–       A Lunch Voucher for Sam Boyd Stadium for all participating referees!

–      the chance to referee teams from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, the UK, France, Australia, and more!

Westgate Hotel link:  https://book.passkey.com/event/49745916/owner/3453/home  – again, with waiving resort fees, you get the cheapest rates and get to stay at an incredible resort and the hub of the LVI.

To register to ref at the LVI 2018, contact Head Referee Autumn Arvidson at :  mnrugbyref@gmail.com

Any questions about the event?: https://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/

 2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

Looking for guidance on how to manage a game?   Well, USA Rugby has your back.  You can find the 2019 USA Rugby GMGs here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XXcRfsVtLLqUawEHUI47ei0dt_65fDM.

If you do not have access to the google drive linked above you can also view them as well as other pertinent documents here:   http://www.usarugby.org/referee-resources/

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/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

  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!

Date: 01/26/2019

Mavericks 19-19 Dagenham

Location: Warley Playing Fields, Brentwood (https://goo.gl/maps/neZSsryaHNU2)

Competition: Essex 1

Referee: Preston Gordon

There were a few things for me to consider before this match began.

Mavericks, a club founded only 7 years ago, were at the top of the table with 53 points and a record of 11-0 this season, including a 40-8 defeat of Dagenham last October 6th. Upminster were in second place with 46 points. Dagenham were sitting in third place at 44 points, having played one more game, and their record was 9-3.

Mavericks and Dagenham had each scored 497 points so far in the season, and obviously would be targeting this as a must-win fixture in their hunt for promotion to London 3 next season. In addition, there had been some historical behavior issues with one of these teams, and just the day before this match one of their coaches had received a 10-week ban for referee abuse. At least one of the Essex RFU disciplinary committee members was in attendance, and introduced himself to me as I was warming up. Also, I was being assessed at this level for the second time in 3 weeks. And finally, these two teams are only about 8 miles apart, making this a proper local derby.

Given the above, I knew the cauldron would be bubbling well before I arrived 75 minutes before kickoff. The team without the disciplinary record politely and (mostly) subtly made sure I was aware of the historical transgressions of their opponents. I waved that off with a comment that this was a new day, and everyone playing would be starting with a clean slate. In the prematch chat with each side, I was careful to stress that any conduct contrary to the RFU core values (Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline, Sportsmanship) would be dealt with by a warning, then a penalty, then a further sanction.

Aside from one penalty for dissent, everything in that respect was fine.

Dagenham kicked off on time, under cloudy skies, and with the smell of rain in the brisk 48F wind. Both teams were clearly up for the contest and wasted no time getting stuck into each other. Dagenham had both the wind and the slope of the pitch favoring them in the first half, but Mavericks were able to score first in the 25th minute to take a 5 point lead. They were unable to make the touchline conversion.

Dagenham took the resulting restart kick, smashed a few holes in the defense, and replied with an unconverted try of their own just 2 minutes later (27′). The Mavericks captain slotted a penalty goal after a high tackle at 32′, as it began to drizzle, and that was all the scoring in the half: 8-5 to the home team, which seemed appropriate.

After a quick break, the second half got underway. Mavericks were attacking on the left at 43′ and threw a speculative wide pass that was intercepted. Naturally, I was leaning the wrong direction, and by the time I had turned myself around to start catching up, the Dagenham player had kicked ahead. That put me at least 35m behind the ball, and I was running uphill. Just after I hit full speed, I saw the Dagenham

#14 wrestle a retiring opponent to the ground while easily 20m away from the ball, but just a few meters in front of me. This got me off the positioning hook, given that there was no way for Mavericks to gain an advantage, so I stopped play immediately and awarded the miscreant a yellow card for tackling a player without the ball.

Mavericks took advantage of this and scored next, at 45′, though the now-dry-again wind pushed the conversion wide. The 8-point margin at 13-5 would be the farthest apart these two teams got, because Dagenham responded with their second try at 49′, converting it to come within one point.  One minute later, Mavericks lost their #4 to the sin bin for a “seat belt” tackle. So the next few minutes were played with fourteen-a-side, and although Dagenham returned to full strength, no further points were scored until a 60th-minute penalty goal by Mavericks (score: 16-12). This was the only time dissent was involved – I had moved the mark up 10m, and the Mavericks captain then chose to take the shot instead of kicking for touch. Five minutes later, they knocked over another penalty to take a 19-12 lead.

The last fifteen minutes were played at a hectic pace over most of the pitch. At 75′ a Mavericks player gave away a cynical penalty for killing Dagenham’s attacking ball just outside their goal line, which resulted in them finishing the match with 14 men. Soon after, Dagenham had an attacking scrum 10 meters from the Mavericks goal line, at the point of the steepest gradient on the pitch. They ended up dominating this scrum, disrupting almost all the Mavericks’ bindings, and drove within a couple meters of the goal line before I went between the posts to award the penalty try at 77′ that leveled the scores. For the next three minutes Dagenham had the majority of possession, and both teams were careful not to give up any penalties even though Mavericks were defending nonstop pick-and-go’s. Despite me clarifying the tied score (and the time remaining) to each captain twice in the last couple of minutes, Dagenham either didn’t communicate this to all their players, or were happy to take the draw. Ultimately, they kicked to touch to achieve just that.

After I took off my gloves, we all shook hands, and I was happy to hear from a few players that this was the best reffing they’d seen all season. I was much happier that aside from a couple of moments of unfriendliness, nothing got out of hand. For me, the physical challenge was what I expected, but the mental challenge was tougher.  The cauldron was at a rolling boil for almost the entire match, but it never spilled over. I’d like to thank both teams for maintaining that level of control, generally listening to me, and for playing an extremely hard-fought, tough, and fast match in these conditions. Both of the club touch judges also did a great job. I think the draw was a fair result, even though it may cost me a beer or two when I’m in San Francisco next weekend doing O Club vs Diablo.

After a chat with the assessor, whose “well done” was well appreciated, we all enjoyed some of the Mavericks hospitality while talking with the coaches and players in the clubhouse. A little more hospitality was enjoyed with some referees just a few miles up the road at Old Brentwoods RFC. Before long, it was time to head back into London, after a strategic pit stop before catching my train for the 45-minute trip (there are no WCs on the commuter trains or the London underground – something I learned the hard way several years ago).

All in all, it was another great day to be refereeing rugby in England!

Date: 01/26/2019

Cal 136 – UC Davis 0 

Referee: Lee Bryant

No Report Received.    Possibly because Lee is still too tired.

Date: 01/26/2019

Berkeley All Blues B 48 – SFGG Women 12 

Referee: Giles Wilson

When I arrived, even an hour before the game, both teams were well into their warm ups and looking well organized.   The All Blues started fast getting a score in under 2 minutes with the second following by 10 minutes. The All Blues had good offensive patterns with players running hard and with good footwork to avoid tacklers. When SFGG finally had the ball, the All Blues demonstrated trust and organization in defense.   The first half ended 31-5 (5 tries to 1).

The second half saw the All Blues rotate a number of players in, SFGG had fewer replacements which meant a little more balance. The second half was 3 tries to the All Blues to a single try from SFGG and a final of 48 – 12 in favour of the All Blues.

Date: 01/26/2019

SFGG PRP 18 – Life West 45 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Round one of PRP. Life West traveled to face SFGG. The game was no different than usual with both teams coming out firing. It was an intense match with both teams trying to notch a win in the first game of the season. Life scored the first try but SFGG wouldn’t concede. At half the score was 21-6 in favor of Life. 

In the second half, there were fewer penalties from both teams as breakdowns no longer were being contested as much. SFGG would score two tries while Life would notch on a handful more.   In the end, Life overpowered and outran SFGG.

Date: 01/26/2019

Fresno State 45 – Univ Nevada Reno 30 

Referee: Rodney Tuisavalalo

The teams played a good, clean, hard game of rugby. Both sides were respectful and much props to the captains and coaches of each team for keeping that throughout. Like many collegiate games this one featured lots of open breaks and fast dudes darting in and out of rucks and scrums. I enjoyed seeing the intensity from both sides right up until the final whistle. Good luck to both teams!

Date: 01/26/2019

Chico State 35 – Stanford 26 

Referee: Phil Akroyd

The Tale of the Magic Jerseys

Stanford showed up late due to a bus navigation issue, but they were ready and set to go by the 1pm kick-off time.  However, Chico, the home team, were all ready to go at kick-off but realized that they hadn’t brought their jerseys to the field.  As the later-to-be-fined team member took off to retrieve their shirts, Chico decided to start in their all black warm-up shirts, which wasn’t a bad solution, aside from the lack of numbers.

Chico played poorly in those opening minutes as they had lots of possession but couldn’t really do anything with it.  They did manage to slot a penalty kick, but also gave up an interception try and a charge down in their own in-goal for a try.

With about 15 minutes played, the jerseys arrived and the magic happened.  The Wildcats took the lead and only relinquished it for a few minutes before half-time before going on to lead the rest of the game.

Stanford lived off Chico’s mistakes – another interception try in the second half – but Chico had the majority of possession and made that count, along with a dominant scrum that kept Stanford going backwards.

A fun game with lots of open rugby, good phase play, and surprising physicality.

Date: 01/26/2019

San Jose State 27 – San Francisco State 32 

Referee: John Lane

An excellent day for rugby at Independence High School.  Both teams were present and in early prep when I arrived at 13:30 for the 14:30 kickoff.   Squad numbers looked low so during captain and team check formalities it was confirmed that both teams would have no more than 15 players but were in a position to field correctly in all front row positions – game on!

As it transpired San Jose fielded with 14 against San Francisco’s 15.  Both sides had some experienced players with the usual few early season college new to rugby entrants needing a little more “explanation” of the laws of our fabulous game from time to time!  San Jose despite playing with 14 opened the strongest and had better team structure.  The game took a little time to settle with individual errors prominent across the teams.

After this opening period San Jose took the lead on 14 minutes with an unconverted try which was followed quickly by another on 17 to leave them 10-0 in front.   Having taken the lead San Jose appeared to de-focus a bit and San Francisco, with a stronger scrum helping, had two unconverted tries of their own on 24 and 29 minutes. 10-10.  Both sides started to show fatigue as the game was very open.  San Jose started to get the ball to their very strong running left winger (new to rugby) and he was giving his team significant go forward and field position.  This eventually led to a converted try on 37 minutes.  17-10.  San Jose had lost their No 8 to an ankle injury by this stage – down to 13.  San Francisco came back and with the last, multi-phased play of the half leveled the scores at 17-17 after which both sides sought the halftime rest.

From the restart San Francisco took the lead on 42 mins with an unconverted try (17-22) but San Jose responded on 45 mins with an unconverted try of their own to tie it up at 22-22.  The extra players were now starting to take effect with gaps appearing and despite some great last ditch defense San Francisco score another 5 pointer on 51 mins for 22-27.  Both teams were struggling for fitness at this stage with multiple players cramping up and bodies slow to get to restart scrums and lineouts.  A pattern emerged with San Francisco gaining field position, only to lose it through handling errors with the more structured San Jose backline able to use its strength out wide to regain territory.  San Francisco re-adjusted their defense putting their stronger tacklers wide out to defend the strong running winger which proved effective.

On 65 minutes, the San Jose captain chose to kick at goal from the 22m in front of the posts and pulled his kick narrowly wide left having been distracted by a San Francisco player shout. Awarded a retake he over compensated and blasted wide right…..

With 10 minutes to go San Jose lost one of their players to an accidental facial injury which balanced the numbers to 13 to 14.  San Francisco made a final effort and scored another try on 76 mins for a 10 point lead at 22-32.   With the last play of the game the San Jose No 9 crossed to close out the scores at 27-32 with both (tired) teams enthusiastically clapping each other off the field.

Date: 01/26/2019

UC Santa Cruz Women 5 – Cal Poly Women 46 

Referee: Stephen Moore

Awesome effort from both sides, despite score-line difference. UCSC suffered a setback even before KO with their flyhalf getting injured last minute. UCSC was determined not to give up despite the difference in experience; eventually breaking thru Poly’s solid defense to score their only try, late in the second half. Poly was well drilled and relentless in attack, phase after phase of very long passages of play resulting in many tries for them. It was a pleasure to be part of the experience. Player behavior first class. Great spectator spirit.

Date: 01/26/2019

CSU Monterey Bay Women 20 – Univ Nevada Reno Women 34 

Referee: James Hinkin

A crisp morning in Monterey was the setting for the ladies of UNR to take on the ladies of CSUMB.   The pitch at CSUMB was, as per usual, in great shape and well marked so without further ado let’s get to the action.   With both sides electing to wear dark blue jerseys I did the honorable thing and pulled out a dark blue jersey to referee in.  

The first half was dominated by knock-ons, not rolling penalties and UNR breakaways.   The first was to be expected; the second was managed with a word to the captains; the third looked like a long afternoon for the home side.  After putting up 4 tries in the first half UNR was feeling pretty comfortable.

The second half was a different story.  Some tactical changes from the Otters led to more dynamism in their attack while the Wolfpack seemed to lose their edge.   The penalties at the breakdown disappeared so the ball was faster and cleaner and that suited the home side just fine as they began their comeback.  Unfortunately for them it was just a little too much to ask, as while they scored 4 tries of their own the visitors added a couple of to their scorecard to put the match to bed.

This Week’s Photo

My fans providing feedback.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Off To Watch Hamilton!

HAIL PELICUS!

Off To Watch Hamilton!

Well, not the Broadway musical, or at least not this week – I have tickets for later in February and will give a review once I have processed it.  Why?  Because my readers demand it.  At least that is what the voices in my head say.

No, I am going to watch the Hamilton 7s, the New Zealand leg of the World Sevens Series and the first USA match against Tonga will start in a couple of hours from this writing.   This brings us back to the USA 7s team who has sprinted (ha!) off to their best start in history.   The USA has traditionally started slow and then built momentum as the Series moved on but this year they shocked the world and started fast.  There are many questions that will be asked and some may even be answered – here are three of them:  

Question the First:  Can they keep the momentum going?   I’ll have to let you know next week.   As legendary 7s coach Tory Golino said, a top 3 placing will keep us in the top spot but we will eventually need to win a Cup Final – probably 3 or 4 to win the overall title.   As a side note, I am just tickled pink that this is an actual, legitimate conversation to have.

Question the Second:   Are we finally starting to produce depth?   There are a number of unfamiliar faces in the squad posted.   We have traditionally relied on the same 9 world class players as our core and left the rest of the squad to play out in blowout situations or against weak opponents.   This core is aging and at some point Coach Friday needs to trust the next generation and said generation needs to step up.  This may be the time that it happens.

Question the Third:  Why is Carlin Isles still in the squad?   It is time to fully admit it: Carlin Isles is not a good rugby player.  Yes, he is very fast but, really, that is it.  He is a liability any time he is asked to tackle, pass, off load – do anything besides run in a straight line and the opposition knows this.   He is instantly targeted as soon as he steps on the field.  He will score tries – especially in mop up work against overmatched teams – but should not be on the field against the top half of the table.   He will get a few tries in those games as his teammates create an overlap or a crack appears, but those tries no longer balance out the knock ons, poor passes, inefficient rucking and lack of tackling that he brings to the rest of the game.

So there it is, your Hamilton pre-tournament notes.    Let the sevens begin.

Finally, according to the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true even now, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Annual Vegas Begging Notice

The Las Vegas Invitational is coming up in early March and they are desperate, again, to have substantial representation from The Greatest Referee Society On The Planet.   Here is their official pitch:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. The most all-inclusive tournament in Rugby has filled out their divisions again this year, and it can’t be done without you! Come ref by day with old friends, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! California brought a great number of refs last year, and the LVI would love to have you back!

All Referees receive:

–          Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific models)

–          Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event

–       Access to the Westgate Resort LVI room block – massive benefits available on room rates (only $70 weekdays, $95 Fri/Sat for a 2 bed room), $12 breakfast buffet deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH FEBRUARY 10TH!!, $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields, and FREE PARKING!

–      A Thursday night “REFS ONLY STRATEGY MEETING (wink wink)” with complimentary carbonated adult beverage provided (while supplies last) at the Westgate.

–       A Lunch Voucher for Sam Boyd Stadium for all participating referees!

–      the chance to referee teams from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, the UK, France, Australia, and more!

Westgate Hotel link:  https://book.passkey.com/event/49745916/owner/3453/home  – again, with waiving resort fees, you get the cheapest rates and get to stay at an incredible resort and the hub of the LVI.

To register to ref at the LVI 2018, contact Head Referee Autumn Arvidson at :  mnrugbyref@gmail.com

Any questions about the event?: https://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

Looking for guidance on how to manage a game?   Well, USA Rugby has your back.  You can find the 2019 USA Rugby GMGs here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XXcRfsVtLLqUawEHUI47ei0dt_65fDM.

If you do not have access to the google drive linked above you can also view them as well as other pertinent documents here:   http://www.usarugby.org/referee-resources/

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/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

  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!

Date: 01/19/2019

Mill Hill 19-20 Watford

Location: Mill Hill RFC, Hendon, London (https://goo.gl/maps/fri3BFBRbkL2)

Competition: Herts/Middlesex 2 Shield

Referee: Preston Gordon

I was appointed as AR1 for this knockout game, which I found out was a semi-final. For those unfamiliar with the various cup competitions in England, they are basically playoff brackets that run the length of the season. Certain weekends are designated as cup weekends, where no league matches are played, and this was one of them. A winning team moves on to the next stage, and a losing team either drops down into a lower cup bracket or (towards the end of the season) is eliminated.

It’s a great system because it gives clubs something extra to play for, and lets them play opponents they otherwise would not play within their league.

The cold weather continues to make itself noticeable here, and I have to admit that this was the first match in which I have ever worn gloves. Apparently that isn’t unusual here, and after a couple of recent games trying to write in my score book with very stiff fingers, I have decided to get myself a suitable pair for refereeing. The North Face ones I used to AR were fine for holding a flag, but they would be too bulky for a whistle. I was very happy that my LSRFUR all-weather tracksuit arrived earlier in the week, especially in the second half during the 20-minute period of freezing drizzle.

As an AR, I’ll keep the match summary brief: Watford led 13-7 at half, with 2 penalties and a converted try, vs one converted try for Mill Hill. In the second half, Watford scored another converted try, while Mill Hill fought back with two tries, the second one after time had expired. That conversion, taken about 15m in from touch, would have won them the game, but I watched their kick sail wide of my post. The

4 yellow cards in the match for ill discipline didn’t actually seem to affect the contest too much.

Mill Hill’s clubhouse is about as far from Saracens’ ground at Allianz Park as Hendon’s clubhouse is (400m) but it’s west instead of south.

Saracens kicked off against Glasgow in the last round of the European Champions Cup about an hour before my match did, and at times it seemed like our audience of ~50 was making the noise of 5,000. A stream of spectators leaving the Sarries game appeared out of the bushes soon after halftime, with many sticking around to watch the action for a few minutes before heading into the Mill Hill clubhouse in search of warmth and further refreshment. By the time our team of three made it to the clubhouse, several of the beer taps were hors de combat and the room was packed with supporters from both sides, including several Scotsmen in kilts. I can definitely recommend the food and beverage selection at Mill Hill’s clubhouse – it’s very good, and they’re clearly happy to have (and know how to handle) the extra custom from people coming or going to Allianz Park.

Date: 01/20/2019

Harlow 20-27 Blackheath 2

Location: Harlow RFC, which is in… Harlow (https://goo.gl/maps/nnzCRVDXT4A2)

Competition: The Women’s Junior Cup

Referee: Preston Gordon

After ARing for a men’s cup matchup the day before, I was keen to get a full match in on Sunday, which seems to be the usual time for women’s rugby here. This was my first women’s game in England and the level of physicality didn’t disappoint, with both teams running into contact and hitting the rucks hard and almost always legally.

Unfortunately, this level of commitment to the physical side of the game resulted in one likely separated shoulder, one likely broken rib, a few bloody noses, and assorted stoppages for heavy taping of ankles and knees. Each half took about 46 minutes to complete. I also got flipped upside down with a twisted ankle in the 77th minute after one of the players stepped on my foot just as I pivoted to run towards a change of direction in play. The resulting involuntary somersault would have looked great on video. I nearly blew my whistle to stop play, but luckily I was able to get to the next breakdown in time to whistle for an unplayable ball. I shook it off and finished the match, and as I write this one day later, everything feels fine.

The Harlow facilities would be the envy of all but the top sides in the country. The clubhouse is about two years old and features a bevy of changing rooms on the ground floor and a couple of large bar and dining spaces above, and there are 3 perfect pitches outside. The previous day’s gray skies and freezing drizzle I encountered in Mill Hill (north London) had turned into a lovely calm winter day, with bright but low sunshine. It was in the low 40s at KO, and by halftime, it was back to freezing again. Then it got colder.

On to the game itself: Blackheath only brought 14 players, so per the RFU rules for this competition, Harlow had to start with the same number even though they had several replacements. Both sides decided to drop the #8 and play with a full backline, which seemed to suit their strengths. The game was very even, although Harlow were chasing Blackheath for the majority of it. At halftime, the score was 22-10 and the margin of four tries to two and the general trends in the game seemed to indicate that an easy victory for the visitors was in the cards.

However, due to the aforementioned rib injury, we had to play the last ~25 minutes with uncontested scrums. This clearly favored the Harlow ladies and they took full advantage, scoring two further tries to Blackheath’s one to close the gap to seven points with 6 minutes remaining. Ultimately nobody was able to score any further points, and Blackheath progressed to the next stage of this knockout competition.

Despite the 2 yellow cards I had to issue in the 38th minute for a ball carrier charging into her opponent with an elbow to the face, and the ensuing retaliation (which reversed that penalty) spirits were good for the post-match function in the clubhouse bar. The Harlow ladies were last seen heading to a public house in town in order to take over the Sunday evening Karaoke. I declined their kind invitation to join them: having once been the doorman/bouncer at a weekly karaoke night in Tucson, I know all too well what kind of acoustical abuse the staff has to suffer!

Date: 01/18/2019

Cal Maritime 21 – UC Davis 43 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Friday night lights at Maritime was filled with early season rugby. There was some confusion about how long each half was going to be.   Maritime even notched a drop goal. 

Date: 01/19/2019

Berkeley RFC 17 – Olympic Club B 24 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

It was a great day for rugby at Tom Bates fields in Berkley. The Rhinos had just finished a scrimmage against Napa and Santa Rosa that had seen some hard nosed rugby and smiles all around. The U19 coaching staffs were models of leadership in how they worked with players and the referee. Afterward, the three teams got together for a snack and some camaraderie. It would have been a nice thing for some of the senior men’s coaches and players to see and maybe use as a model. Both Berkeley and Olympic Club B came in short handed. O-Club was a touch younger, a little faster and a hair more athletic. They had the advantage in each phase of the game. The visiting team went ahead 12-0 at 12:00 minutes into the game. It looked as though they might cruise to an easy win on the scoreboard, even if it was hard won on the field, but for one issue. O-Club couldn’t clean up play at the breakdown, specifically in regard to the tackler and tackle assist players releasing the ball and ball carrier. A variety of management techniques were attempted, to no avail. Penalties, discussion, warnings, a professional foul and yellow card later, we were all tied up going into half time. The second half was played to a higher standard to the first, as players began to comply with both law and the referee’s instructions during play. With less attention needing to be paid to the breakdown, the rest of the game opened up. To their credit, Olympic Club had one tendency that ran counter to expectations and which benefitted them greatly in the second half. When Berkeley had them under pressure inside the 22, Olympic Club were able to avoid the usual penalties that are often committed by teams with their backs near their own in-goal. O-Club was able to hold fast until the attackers, forced to play multiple phases, eventually turned the ball over. As a result, the men from SF went back ahead by 12 points in the second half. Berkeley scored another try at 30:00 to make it done score game, but O-Club continued to play hard and keep an edge in time of possession before kicking the ball to touch after time had expired.  

Date: 01/19/2019

Central Coast RFC 0 – Marin 38 

Referee: William Nelson

The field was located in the middle of a naval base and with the cool ocean breeze blowing it was a great day for rugby. The game first half was very evenly matched with minimal scoring. At half time the score was 10-0. In the second half Marin took control of the game and scored 28 more points. 

Date: 01/19/2019

Fresno 22 – Google  27 

Referee: James Hinkin

No Report Received.

Date: 01/19/2019

Life West D2 53 – Vacaville 0 

Referee: Andrew Houghton

No Report Received.

Date: 01/19/2019

San Joaquin-Stanislaus RFC 29 – Chico Mighty Oaks 28 

Referee: Chris Tucker

Over the past 10 years, I have reffed more games than I can count.  And on a couple of occasions (yes, looking at you, JC) I’ve been called upon to step into a match mid-way through.  This is never an easy experience, either for me, or for the teams.  The game is simmering away nicely, and then there’s a break while the replacement ref gets ready, and then inevitably the replacement has a slightly different view of things than his predecessor.  But importantly, rugby gets played.  

Now, I have never failed to finish a game.  Even when I blew my back out, I finished the game.  Well, it didn’t hurt, did it? At least not until the next day…  However, Saturday marked a new watershed.  With the Harlots 5 points up, and the game poised for a raucous last 20 minutes, something in my calf popped.  I sat down and blew my whistle, and that was that. 

Leading up to this point, both teams were enjoying their rugby, playing well and, on occasion, learning a thing or two.  Like not to shout at the kicker on a conversion (the Chico kicker was gifted a rekick after he missed.  He nailed the second one).  And that all front row players can strike for the ball (after the Harlots took one against the head by the tight-head.  Yeah, I probably missed some shenanigans on that one…)

Anyway, I was done, and Beau McSwain from Chico bravely stepped up, borrowed my whistle and watch, and a jersey 2 sizes too small, and gamely finished up the match.  The hosts kindly got me a chair and a beer, and I put my feet up and swore profusely as the game restarted with a scrum.

Now, the game was real even, and the two teams traded a try each, before Chico scored a try at the death.  Beau called over “Try at 38’45” (I was keeping score still), which given you have 90 seconds to kick, and you’re directly under the sticks, and the score is tied pending the conversion, means you’re going to win.  You wait 76 seconds just to be sure, and kick, then go drink.

But the kicker was in a hurry, so they restarted.  And surely Chico would just punt it and again go drink.  But they ran it up, committed an infraction, and the Harlots had a penalty on the 10m.  They kicked for lineout, got the ball inside the 22, won the throw, and span it out to the backs.  And then Brian, the captain and #10 dropped a goal from 30m out.  Split the uprights, deep into the forest behind the posts.  Fantastic stuff, taking the game by a point!

Date: 01/19/2019

Santa Rosa 34 – San Jose Seahawks 27 

Referee: Lee Bryant

Highly contested match with lead changes and close score at half. Strong scrums and runners from both sides. Beautiful mauls from Santa Rosa, one of which was a driving maul from a lineout for a try. The difference was a few missed throws in the San Jose lineouts and Santa Rosa had more gas in the last 20 minutes. Field was not as muddy as I had feared with only two reset scrums. 

This Week’s Photo

Pelicans represent!   Pelicus Caeruleus Ursa steps up at the mascot check at the National Development Summit.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Let’s Get It On

HAIL PELICUS!

Let’s Get It On

I've been really tryin', baby 
Tryin' to hold back these feeling for so long
And if you feel, like I feel baby
Then come on, oh come on

Let's get it on

-Marvin Gaye

When Pelicus Scriptoris was in charge of Hail Pelicus he described the publication as a weekly love letter to rugby.   While I may have pushed the metaphor a bit here the feelings that Marvin Gaye evokes of wanting, needing and impending release echoes with how I feel at the start of a new rugby season.   The preseason is over, the holiday break is complete, the friendlies are finished; it is time for the unfriendlies as leagues kick into action.   The start of a season is always intoxicating as the slate is wiped clean and everyone has that most special of feelings: hope.    Anything is possible at the start of a season.

Rugby gives me all the feels.   Let’s get it on!

This, of course, means that referees need to be in full swing as well.  Please update your availability on WhosTheRef to let Pelicus Fistulator know who he can assign.  If you don’t update your availability, don’t be shocked if you get an assignment anyway in the hope that you may become available.   We have a full slate of games across all competitions and need all hands on deck.   As you can tell from This Week’s Photo, the Referee Signal has been lit.

According to the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Shakeup in the Men’s Club Divisions

The sudden and tragic loss of Ben Parker had a larger effect on the Northern California rugby community than initially suspected.  The team that he had founded, coached and led, the Sacramento Blackhawks, notified the NCRFU on Thursday, January 10th, that they would be unable to field a team in either D2 or D3 and that the club was essentially folding completely.   To add to the disruption the previous week Colusa RFC, perennial D3 power, notified the NCRFU that they were folding due to low numbers .   Stunned with the loss of two D3 sides and a D2 side the NCRDU had to adjust as best they could to the new reality.   Per Andrew King (NCRFU Scheduling Secretary, backup vocals, drums), the leagues will now look as such:

D1 (PRP and includes CR1, CR2, and CR3)

  • SFGG
  • Life West
  • Santa Monica
  • OMBAC
  • Belmont Shore
  • Glendale Merlins

D2 (Round robin top 4 make Semis)

  • Olympic Club
  • San Jose Seahawks
  • Vacaville
  • BA Baracus
  • Old Gaels
  • Life West D2
  • SFGG D2
  • Santa Rosa
  • Sacramento Capitols

D3A (Top 3 make semis)

  • Napa
  • Olympic Club D3
  • Redwood
  • Fresno
  • Chico Mighty Oaks
  • Google
  • Berkeley
  • San Joaquin
  • Silicon Valley

D3B (Top 2 play for the 4th spot in the D3 Semis)

  • San Jose Seahawks D3
  • SFGG D3
  • Old Gaels D3
  • San Francisco Fog
  • Central Coast Beach Dogs
  • Mendocino Steam Donkeys
  • Reno Zephyrs
  • Shasta
  • BA Baracus D3
  • Marin
  • Pleasanton Jesters

Women’s D2 (all 4 make semis after double round robin)

  • San Jose Seahawks
  • All Blues D2
  • Sacramento Amazons
  • SFGG

Pacific Referee Premiership

After several years of using Nor Cal B Panel referees  (aka USA Rugby National Panel) for their competition the PRP has decided to forego the honor of paying USA Rugby $600/match + expenses.   The local societies of Northern California, Southern California and the Rocky Mountains also declined the honor of providing ARs for these B Panel luminaries without the chance to advance their own referees.   The three societies presented a plan to the PRP to provide an arguably better product that was also cheaper and the PRP, in their infinite wisdom, accepted the offer.

But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.   A more informed opinion comes from NCRFURS President Pelicus Iudex Pennipes:

I’m happy to announce that NCRRS, in conjunction with SCRRS and RMRRS are partnering to provide officiating services for the PRP competition this year.  We collectively feel that we can provide a superior product for our local teams at a much reduced price to what USAR was providing.  The PRP leadership feels the same.

What this means is that our local officials will once again be referring all of our local Division 1 games and the assignments will also be locally controlled. 

Lee Johnson will be the referee manager for the competition and Lee will be reaching out to selected NCRRS referees and referee coaches to officiate the competition.  For those participating in the competition it will mean an increased workload:  Mandatory weekly conference calls, timely video review and self-analysis through the Advantage video system will all be part of the PRP group. 

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

Looking for guidance on how to manage a game?   Well, USA Rugby has your back.  You can find the 2019 USA Rugby GMGs here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XXcRfsVtLL-qUawEHUI47ei0dt_65fDM.

If you do not have access to the google drive linked above you can also view them as well as other pertinent documents here:   http://www.usarugby.org/referee-resources/

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!

Date: 01/11/2019

UC Davis 3 – St Marys College 78 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Friday night lights had a new meaning in Davis. Both teams were working towards a strong showing in an early season contest and both teams had played Central Washington the week before. 

The rain was holding off as long as possible but as the game started, the rain started to fall. It didn’t last long, but it was enough to create slick conditions for the first 10 minutes. 

The game was a high energy match filled with UCD stopping SMC line breaks and making each breakdown a contest. Scrums were also evenly matched with both teams working well in the early season contest. 

Tensions got high at one point during the game but they remained contained and at a peak boiling point. 

SMC had the conditioning and game knowledge to take advantage of UCD mistakes and mishaps. 

The 78-3 game was a great Friday night event under the lights and in front of a respectable crowd. 

Date: 01/11/2019

UC Davis B 5 – St Marys College B 50 

Referee: Chris Tucker

I arrived 15 minutes after the A-sides kicked off, and watched most of the 1st half.  Davis were dogged in defense, and Mr Fenaroli was having a good game.  It was cold, dark and wet, and with NorCal’s lamentable predictability, that meant playing on a gridiron pitch with dubious lines and little rubber pellets for days afterwards.  Small price to pay for getting the first game of the season in, however!

As just about everybody thought, St. Mary’s was on the front foot most of the game.  Davis tackled hard, contesting well at the breakdown, but were a level below their opponents.  I will say this for them, they had heart, and none of the tries were long breaks.  The visitors fought for every yard (this being an Imperial-measurement pitch, they found it easier to do that than fight for every metre as required by the lawbook) but were unable to make ground with the ball in hand, and frequently kicked away or lost the ball at the breakdown.

The game was played in good spirit throughout, with only one minor incident of half-hearted handbags that was more of a miscommunication than any real offence.  End result seemed about fair, with the home team scoring a consolation try in the last quarter of the game.

Date: 01/12/2019

Chico Mighty Oaks 36 – Berkeley RFC 32 

Referee: Chris Tucker

The second game in 2 days, also played on crappy gridiron field thanks to the weather and the intransigence of those in control of public playing fields.  The home town Mighty Oaks probably regretted this most of all, as they were unable to use their speed and fast hands owing to the narrow field.  But rugby was played, as is always the most important thing.

Berkeley showed up with 16, so we had 2 TJs from Chico, including the indomitable John Fox, who it was great to see in fine fettle.  The small numbers didn’t make for a dull contest, however, and the visitors took the lead in the 10th minute with a penalty, after 2 quick tries (one apiece) had opened the contest.  From there it was back and forth, cagey stuff for the rest of the half.  

It occurred to me midway through the 2nd half that we were seeing the best that rugby has to offer.  Not only were 30 guys getting stuck into each other with big grins, but even after Berkeley used its only sub, with an injured player unable to walk, the Chico team carried water to their visiting opponents under the posts after scores.  Chapeau.

It similarly occurred to me in the last 5 minutes of the game that we were also going to see the worst that rugby has to offer.  The other TJ (who shall remain nameless) chose to voice his opinion of a penalty decision against his team in a loud and insulting fashion.  (He later admitted not to know the tackle law, which begs the question why he needed to announce his ignorance quite so loudly.  But I digress).  Summarily ejected from the enclosure, he refused to leave and so we had a short delay until the coaching staff encouraged him on his way.

As time expired, and Berkeley scored a try to get them within 7 and earn their bonus, one Chico player took exception and also started up complaining about the try.  Quite why was beyond the rest of his team, who told him to pipe down.  As the kicker was setting up for the conversion, a fight started under the posts, which is the first time I’ve seen the WINNING team fight among themselves.  I did ponder while this was going on that the only thing that could stop them from winning (time had expired) was if I awarded a penalty against them for a 9.27.  According to 5.7.b we would then restart with a penalty (at the halfway mark) and Berkeley would have another chance.  But this was clearly a time to let the team enforce their own discipline, and so we ended it there, the Berkeley stand-off and I having a laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

In summary: bad discipline failed to ruin a fine game, and at least 29 players left the field happy to have played for the first time in 2019.

Date: 01/12/2019

SF Fog 37 – Central Coast RFC 26 

Referee: Grant Mcdougall

The Fog came ready to play. They played with real spirit and passion on a lovely sunny day in San Francisco. 

Date: 01/12/2019

Vacaville 7 – Olympic Club 58 

Referee: James Hinkin

We’re back!   League play kicked off with the Olympic Club testing the waters in their new division against Vacaville, who finished 3td last year in D2.   The weather was perfect for rugby: sunny with slight chill (60 degrees maybe?) and the field – the all weather football field at Vacaville Christian High School – was fast.   Both teams were playing a little short on the bench with O Club only bringing 17 as the rest of their club was off playing their D3 opponent.   Numbers may be an issue going forward if they can’t get more bodies out on the field. 

In any case, the lack of subs didn’t seem to bother the Flying O as they powered over for a converted try after just 5 minutes.    A deft kick to space a few minutes later by the impressive Vacaville captain and #10 Matt Hensley saw the O Club winger isolated and he made a poor decision, trying a hero pass while being tackled.  The pass went straight to a Vacaville player who gratefully sprang forward to his goal line and 2 passes later the home side had crossed the line.    A difficult conversion was successful and the game was tied.   Unfortunately that was the last time Vacaville was able to get points on the board as O Club’s skill and experience took over.   The visitors were dominant in the scrum – recording a pushover try to retake the lead – and had playmakers across their backline.   The home side seemed to only have one player able to create with ball in hand (the aforementioned 10) and once the ball got past their flyhalf it was just straight running.   This can be effective but the O Club defense was up to the task.

This was an excellent game played in great spirits and both sides were committed, energetic and well coached.   The scoreline does not reflect on the play of Vacaville as much as the lethal finishing of the Olympic Club, epitomized late in the second half when good hands produced an overlap on the right but the last pass was very low.   The O Club wing dove to the ground and caught the ball cleanly and was quick enough to get back to his feet, sidestep a defender and dive across for the score.   A comprehensive win for O Club who look to rebuild from D2 and have announced their presence with authority.   I fully expect Coach Chris Motes to have Vacaville in much better form next week.

Date: 01/12/2019

Cal Maritime 32 – St Marys College C 20 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

St. Mary’s C was a late add to Cal Maritime’s plan for the weekend, following another team dropping off their schedule. The St. Mary’s front pitch was a bit soggy from the recent rain but in pretty nice shape. Cal Maritime got off to a good start. The first 10 minutes (3 periods of play that day 30 min, 30 min, 20 min) were spent mostly in St. Mary’s half of the pitch and Cal Maritime notched a penalty goal for the first score. However, St Mary’s found their form with quick ball off of the loose and well-developed attacks to lead 15-10 at the first break. Substitutions were plentiful and Cal Maritime had a better looking second period. One of their centers poached a St. Mary’s pass taking it 60 m the other way for a try. The lead switched to Cal Maritime at the second break, 20-15. The third period was all St. Mary’s as they scored 17 unanswered points. Though Cal Maritime had a player out for a red card, St. Mary’s was sporting enough to allow Cal Maritime to play a full 15 to give everyone some game time.

Date: 01/12/2019

Fresno 30 – Olympic Club B 17 

Referee: Neil MacDonald

Fresno, named for the ash trees along the San Joaquin river, was founded in 1872.  Fresno RFC was founded 99 years later, and on Saturday began their 48th season with a home D3 fixture against Olympic Club.

Unseasonably glorious weather awaited us in Fresno on the far side of the dense fog on the eastern side of the Pacheco Pass coming down into Los Banos, and the sun erased some of the mark the week’s rains – and the preceding high school match – had left on Holman Park.

O Club travelled with a squad of just 16, coached by the irrepressible Bubba Jones.  Their hosts, coached by the evergreen, place-kicking lock Roger Skinner, had numbers to burn and a strong turnout of supporters.  

Fresno took an early lead from a penalty kick after O Club didn’t roll away at a tackle.  The visitors struck back quickly, crossing in the left corner, but were prevented from grounding by a phase.  Unfazed, O Club’s center scored from the resulting 5m scrum, successfully converted by their captain and scrum half David.  3-7 with 10 minutes played. O Club extended their lead nine minutes later with another try: 3-12 with 20 minutes gone.  Sometime Pelican Rodney Tuisavalo, playing at center for Fresno, showed that he still has the moves to break defenders’ ankles, and failing that the strength to go through them.  After a sublime line break, he put his captain Mark in with a beautiful ball given and received at full pace, and Fresno were back in the match at 8-12.

Fresno came out hard in the second half, clearly fired up from the half time chat.  Rodney and Mark combined again to pull Fresno ahead 15-12 in the opening minutes of the half, and Fresno crossed again from close range minutes later to pull eight points ahead.  O Club weathered the rest of the storm, used their only sub, and worked their way up the pitch with sustained passages of phase play and some ball retention, with some territorial help from Fresno indiscipline. After a ball was lost forward in the attempt to ground from a rolling maul, and a number of 5m lineouts didn’t result in tries, O Club’s reward came in the 21st minute when their #8 scored from a pushover try.  

Entering the last quarter the match, Fresno still had their noses in front 20-17 lead, but the match was wide open.  Tuisavalo attempted a penalty kick from the half way line to extend the hosts’ lead, but it fell short. In the 72nd minute, his teammate, Guernsey’s man in Fresno, succeeded from closer range, 23-17.  With the match in the balance, Fresno pushed for the decisive score, and O Club strove for the game winner in exciting back and forth play. Finally, in the last play of the match, after a series of close range pick and go phases, a Fresno arm managed to reach the ball over the line and somehow get past an O Club defender’s limbs to ground it, right in front of the (for once beautifully positioned, if I do say so myself) referee.

I left the field to be presented with a completed running score and player movement forms – kudos to Chris of Fresno for his work and professionalism on the sideline and thanks to Mike and Greg for running touch.  

If the rest of our D3 season produces matches as fun and competitive as this, it’s going to be a great year for rugby in NorCal.

Date: 01/12/2019

Sacramento Capitals 31 – Life West D2 31 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Life West D2 traveled to Sacramento for this Saturday contest. Caps came out firing scoring 13 unanswered points. But Life West was not going to let them have the game as easily. Life West replied with 2 tries and Caps matched them with a penalty kick. 

The game had both sides with issues to work on at the breakdown in order to create time and space. Once we dealt with the repeat infringements, the game flowed a lot better. 

Both teams were equally as physical and looking for the contest at the breakdown. Set pieces were a little more wild; scrums were solid and went well when the setup was controlled. And once the throw-in at the lineout was situated a little more, the lineouts saw good ball out. 

The game ended in a tie in a very hard-fought equal battle. 

(EDITORS NOTE:  Nice to see Fenny produce the first tie of the season.   Payment will, I am sure, be extracted as soon as I, and any other Pelican, see him.)

Date: 01/12/2019

Silicon Valley 38 – San Joaquin-Stanislaus RFC 31 

Referee: William Nelson

Great match from two evenly matched teams. San Joaquin dominated the first half but Silicon Valley dominated the second half. San Joaquin had trouble submitting their roster into CMS but they verified to me before the game that all of their players had a CIPP. I was given a roster at the end of the game with the teams roster and CIPP. 

 (EDITORS NOTE:  There are times when the inevitable flow of history reach such a critical juncture where a choice must be made.  The choice is between the red pill and the blue pill, disappointment and joy, a mundane existence and one that reaches for the stars.    Reflecting on the choice in front of me I would like to welcome to the society William Nelson and submit to the Senate that he be now and forever more known as Pelicus Cannabis Raeda.)  

This Week’s Photo

Holy Referee Signal, Batman!

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre