Author Archives: James Hinkin

For The Love Of Rugby

HAIL PELICUS!

 

For The Love Of Rugby

The previous editor of this fine organ gave me some advice when I took over. He said that he always thought of Hail Pelicus as a love letter to the game of rugby.   I have always taken those words to heart and while our styles are different and the tenor of the HP has changed, at its core it is and always will be about the love of the game.     Why we do what we do, whether one is a player sweating through a preseason fitness session knowing that the reward for this work won’t show until 6 months later or one is a referee doing fitness work all by one’s self knowing that likely nobody will notice because that extra burst got you to a breakdown on time to manage it and no whistle was necessary.    Whether one is a coach putting extra time in to find new training techniques and game strategies or one is a parent watching a child learning how to test themselves and push their limits.   We all do this for the love of the game.  The love of the game comes in its purest form rarely for someone as rich in experience as I am and so, because of this rarity, I grab any chance I have for lo, a few weeks back, I played rugby.

I didn’t play all that well compared to my club days, but I played.   The brain still works but the body doesn’t so what was once possible, even routine, is now a fading memory, reinvigorated by the retelling (embellishing?) of past exploits.   And yet, there was joy.   Pure, unadulterated joy.   Joy mixed with pain and frustration, but joy, nonetheless. I was surrounded by familiar teammates and opponents doing what I loved.  I even set up a try (woo hoo!) with a couple of sidesteps and a sweet offload while holding off a would-be tackler.  The orgasmic burst of energy that followed goes a long way towards answering the question of why the game is played and why I, my teammates and my opponents put on our boots and took the field.   The fact that I caught a cleat to the face at the end of the day leaving me with a minor yet impressive looking battle scar after a full day of rugby is the icing on the cake and the cherry on the sundae all in one.

Happy happy. Joy joy.

One of the great clichés of our time is that a person doesn’t truly appreciate something until it is taken from them. Strange as it may seem, one of the things I miss most from my playing days was being sore on a Sunday.    Getting up Sunday morning with a few aches and some bruising was a source of pride: I did something awesome on Saturday.   Another cliché that comes to mind is that youth is wasted on the young.   “If I knew then what I know now” rattles around many an old boy’s head as he spots an opportunity but then realizes that he no longer has the speed or power to exploit it.   This, of course, is the entire basis for coaching as this knowledge is (hopefully) transferred to one able to use it, but that is cold comfort as one bursts through a gap untouched only to find they are most definitely touched and what used to be a gap you could drive a truck through has filled with defenders.

Just because these are clichés does not mean that they should be dismissed – sayings like these became clichés because they are true.

And so, for a day, I put aside my whistle and took up my mouthguard.   For the joy of competition.  For the thrill of contact.   For the memory of well-earned pain.   For the love of the game.

Gold Medal Worthy Analysis

Rugby’s return to the Olympics must be rated as a resounding success. The Olympics are a time when people are open to watching sports they don’t normally watch – even silly non-sports like water dancing and race walking – and as a result rugby gained quite a few fans.   The notable presence of Matthew “Alright, alright, alright” McConaughey on the sidelines of the women’s tournament was enough to attract more mainstream viewers and news outlets and the on field action got them to stay.   The US Women lost a tough first game against Fiji 12-7 and rebounded nicely by smashing Colombia.  They then played hard and showed their class with a hard fought draw against eventual gold medal winners Australia followed by a narrow 5-0 loss to New Zealand in the quarterfinals.   They finished out of the medals with a respectable 5th.

 

The US Men lost a golden opportunity in the first match against Argentina when referee Craig Joubert practically handed them the match with a pair of dubious yellow cards but they still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and gave up a try at full time.   They rebounded well by thrashing Brazil but results had put them behind the 8 ball needing a result against Fiji.   The Japanese upset of New Zealand (what is with it with Japan and major tournaments these days?) threw the race to qualify as a 3rd place finisher up in the air and it ended up coming down to USA or New Zealand.   The Eagles needed to win, tie or lose by 3 or less to advance.    A thrilling back and forth match saw Fiji pull away and hit a difficult conversion from the sideline to grab a 9 point lead with seconds remaining.   The US responded like champions and worked the ball out to Nate Ebner who streaked down the right sideline to score a crucial try.  Fiji, much to the Kiwi’s relief, forced Ebner out wide so the conversion from captain Madison Hughes was a tough one.  Unfortunately Hughes missed the drop kick and Fiji hung on for a 4 point victory sending the US out of the knockout round by just 1 point.   The Eagles then went on to win the rest of their games and will have to spend the next 4 years thinking about that first game against Argentina, which is unfortunate because aside from that first match they played some very good rugby.  This team can hold their heads up high.

 

Just The Tri Tip

Meteorologists and other “fact based” experts will tell you that the last day of summer is September 21st but all of us here in Pelicanland know that the Tri Tip 7s in San Luis Obispo is the true end of summer because it marks the end of the 7s season.   Yes, I know that colleges will start playing some 7s in the next month or so but that is a fall season and has nothing to do with summer.   This is it, the marker, the boundary, the YOU SHALL NOT PASS moment for the Summer 7s season.   What better way to celebrate the end of a season than some 7s on the central coast?

This is consistently on of the best run tournaments of the year, although, to be fair, it wasn’t always like that. I recall more than one year coming off the field after the finals to accept the trophy but to find all the tri tip and beer had gone.   To their great credit, SLO has learned from the growing pains of the 90s and early 2000s how to efficiently run a large tourney.  Case in point:  There were 119 matches played and no field was more than 3 minutes behind at any time.  Most matches were in fact started exactly on time.  That, my friends, is organization.   I don’t want to hear about “rugby time” or “island time” because this (and many other well organized tournaments) proves the fallacy of those generalizations.

Congratulations to EPA for winning the tournament for the second year in a row, although they have a way to go before matching the legendary Los Gatos sides, winners of 5 in a row and 8 of 9.   On the women’s side Chico State took home the hardware and celebrated appropriately, I am sure.    This tournament started as a north v south end of the year summer 7s blowout and the competition has gotten better from year to year.   They added a women’s division a few years back and now have an old boys division.   The referee societies also combine for this event as Southern California and Northern California split these Central Californian duties.   A good time for cross pollination of ideas and keeping abreast of our fellow whistleblowers.

I also managed to see something I have never seen before in rugby.   In one of my games a team scored their first 2 tries without actually possessing the ball and the first 3 without even attempting a pass.   Here is the scene:   Team A kicks off, team B catches it and is immediately tackled but the ball comes loose.   Team A kicks the loose ball ahead and falls on it in the try zone.   Team A then kicks off again to team B.   Team B has 2 players try to catch the ball and, naturally, neither of them succeeded.   Ball is again loose on the ground so Team A kicks it ahead and falls on it in the try zone – 2 tries without actually possessing the ball.   Team A kicks off again and this time team B catches it cleanly and gets into their offense.  They move the ball and try to get around the outside but are tackled into touch.   Team A grabs the ball and executes a quick throw in and the receiver goes through the defense to score.   Try #3 without a pass even being attempted – 2 fly hacks and a lineout.

I love this game. There is always something interesting or surprising waiting to happen.

 

Northern California Rugby Referee Society Annual General Meeting

Yes, fellow flockers, it is time for the AGM.   From our esteemed leader:

Please save the date for our AGM.  October 15.  We’ll start at 9:00 AM.

Agenda will consist of the AGM followed by referee training.  We’ll break for lunch and then we’ll meet with the team coaches to discuss producing the game that we all want to see.

We are in the process of confirming location.

 

Ask A Pelican

Was hunted in turn by mosquitos in Rio and now has malaria in his blood and a mosquito bite on his ass.   (Thank you, Joseph Heller)

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 Scott Wood has 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

This Week’s Photo

For the love of the game.

hinkin-blood-face

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A Latesummer’s Evening Olympic Dream

HAIL PELICUS!

 

A Latesummer’s Evening Olympic Dream

 

There is a lot of rugby related fun going on these days so Hail Pelicus has come out with another summertime issue.   We do, after all, have much to discuss.   The competitive portion of the Northern California 7s season is over and, finally, thankfully, we are on the eve of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the long awaited return of rugby to the Olympic stage.

 

Not to mention the sweet vacation I had in San Diego, so I won’t mention it.

 

Overheard At The ACR1 7s On Treasure Island

 

“Seattle Saracens look solid.   They are coached by some Fijian guy.”

 

ARC1 7s Championships

 

The Northern California 7s Series ended at Treasure Island last week with Seattle Saracens and Olympic Club advancing to the USA Nationals.   EPA looked dangerous early as did unknown (at least to me) Ronin from Seattle but both sides lost steam as the day wore on and early upsets were not translated into late wins.   Life West came in as the Nor Cal #1 seed and played their usual structured game but, unusually for them, committed far too many unforced errors on the weekend.   Seattle Saracens took them apart and looked like they were on a different level but the real shocker came when the Olympic Club beat them in the pool round.  That was the only time O Club beat them at all this year and it sealed their fate.

 

The Saracens looked to be the class of the tournament all day, taking teams apart with clinical 7s… until they met one Mr Colin Hawley.   Always a strong performer, Colin took his game to another level for this game.   The O Club game plan seemed to be to swing the ball back and forth from sideline until Colin broke some tackles and created a gap.  Simple, but it worked.   Defensively they organized and tackled like demons and came away with a tight 14-12 victory.    The team that showed up for that game needs to show up to Nationals if they are to have any hope, but if it does they can beat anyone.    The final seeding match was a bit anticlimactic as the O Club threw their sub bench at the Saracens.  The O Club played well but the lack of imagination, creativity and inability to take a chance shows how much they rely on their talisman.

 

The women also crowned the Saracens as the top 7s program in the region as their women were dominant all day.   In fact, the Pacific Northwest took the top 2 seeds with Oregon Sports Union taking 2nd, leaving the All Blues and Life West to fight it out for the remaining seed.   With another surprise result, the All Blues beat heavy favorite Life West to book their place.  This meant that Life West, after dominating the 7s Series all summer, were shut out of nationals.

 

The Northern California 7s Series Recap

 

When we here at Hail Pelicus want another’s thoughts, we say “a penny for your thoughts.”   When we offer up our own, we say we are “putting our two cents in.”   From this is seems obvious that the opinions of the editorial board here are twice as valuable as the opinions of our readers, so you are going to get some opinionated pontificating here.    Be warned.

 

What about the overall series?   The series as a whole was a success and produced a lot of fine rugby.   The commitment and effort of the players on the pitch was unquestionable.   The series is a great improvement over the system used back when I was playing where each LAU within the Pacific Coast Territory would designate one tournament as their qualifier and you had to win that tournament.   That led to the occasional upset as a weaker team would catch fire on one Saturday and get the coveted qualifying slot but then revert to form at the Nationals, thus losing top seeds and eventually a regional slot.  This is the reason the women played for 3 slots yet the men played for only 2.   A “season” like this is much better at identifying the top teams as each team will need to keep up their level of play over several weeks.   It also prepares teams better as they are playing more competitive games and refining their own style.

 

That isn’t to say there weren’t some problems and I will talk about two of them that disappointed me greatly.   Seriously disappointing.  Disappointing like finding out that Barry Manilow didn’t write the song that makes the whole world sing.

 

The first was jokingly referred to in the last HP as the “GREXIT” when SFGG men and women dropped out of the competition on the second leg.   The women returned for the third leg but were essentially disqualified due to the fact they couldn’t make up the points lost.   This was followed in rapid succession by Santa Rosa and Sacramento Lions both dropping out of the third leg of the men’s competition for reasons unknown.   Sacramento may have seen that they had no realistic chance to go to the ARC1 playoff so declined to travel while rumor has it that Santa Rosa shockingly couldn’t get the number to commit.  This is especially baffling because based on their previous performances all Rosa needed to do was show up to the third leg in San Jose to guarantee them a spot at the ACR1 playoff and then get a team together to make the short drive to Treasure Island for their shot at Nationals.   Whatever the reasons for these withdrawals it showed a disturbing lack of respect for the competition and their opposition.   Creating extra work for organizers as schedules needed to be redrawn, referees reassigned and tables recalculated is bad enough but the lack of commitment sends a message to the rest of the league and, yes, the rest of the nation.

 

We here at Hail Pelicus often sing the praises of our rugby culture as Pelicanland produces more champions, more Eagles and more top referees than any other Local Area Union.   It isn’t even close.  Because of this Northern California is watched closely by other unions and used as a measuring stick and this kind of mass club exodus from our top 7s competition means we did not measure up.   I look forward to seeing if the NCRFU will consider any punitive action against the clubs that failed in their commitments.

 

The second disappointment to me was the lack of structural organization of some of the events.   In Sacramento for the second leg, with temperatures over 100 degrees, no tent was provided for the referees and the trainers – fortunately one of the referees brought their own and we shared.   No water was provided until I pointedly asked for some.  No bathrooms or facilities were provided – players, referees and fans were expected to use the porta-potties left there by school construction and one can only guess what that was like in the afternoon heat.   Fortunately, again, the local little league started playing around 10:00 or so and opened their restrooms as well as their snack shack, but then closed up shop when they finished around 2:00 leaving the ruggers struggling again.    The fields were lined correctly, but not professionally with easily seen 4 inch wide lines but with a thin spray can line.    I could not see any Capitol officials around to organize and run the event and only the Sac Capitol players seemed to be in attendance, trying to play as well as deal with these petty annoyances of running a tournament.    Each hosting venue was given a $2500 stipend to host – where did the money go?

 

The lack of organization was also apparent at the ACR1 final on Treasure Island.    This was an event run by the NCRFU directly but, again, nobody seemed to be in charge.    SFGG was not playing in this tournament and there were a few SFGG volunteers running around doing things, including their new coach and director of rugby, who were trying to do too much with not enough help.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  SFGG’s new kiwi coach – to his great credit – took the concept of “sweeping the sheds” to the extreme as I saw him twice with a mop and bucket slopping out the restrooms – once after some disgusting individual missed the toilet with their excrement yet didn’t even bother to try and clean it.   That man is truly an angel in heavy disguise.  

 

The NCRFU philosophy seemed to be “SFGG has a field so all we need to do is show up”.    This worked to a point as the field was professionally lined and the posts, flags, ect were all in place.   The clubhouse provided food, beverages and facilities.   And yet, technical area and sin bin chairs were not provided until the SFGG clubhouse was raided for them.   There was no central scoreboard with results – teams were constantly coming to the ref tent to ask what the standings were.   The only posted schedule seemed to be the sheet of paper taped to the ref tent that we used to assign referees so again, teams and fans would come to us to see when and who would be playing.    Finally, embarrassingly, nobody seemed to think it was necessary to have ball boys or ball girls running after kicks that inevitably left the enclosure.   Later in the day several matches had to stop because we had run out of balls.    A 60 year old man was forced to hop a razor wire fence to retrieve a couple of them.   The is our regional championship .    Teams flew in from Seattle to be here.   It deserves better.

 

Rugby has often been shoved aside as an unserious pastime for beer guzzling reprobates.    ESPN shows highlights for lacrosse and ultimate frizbee, yet ignores rugby.    Why?   One answer can be seen in the above paragraphs.    Looking professional is half the battle.   One reason everyone is excited for things like the CRC isn’t the quality of rugby but the packaging that makes it fit for TV.    People see that and say to themselves, “Self, that is a proper sport with great athletes and one that has its act together.  I think I will start to pay attention.”    Put mediocre rugby in a nice setting and you will get respect and attention.   Put great rugby in a poor setting and you get dismissed.   I played in matches with 6 current Eagles on the field and nobody noticed or cared because it was played in a small park where the locals had to be kicked off the grass so the lines could be hand painted and rudimentary posts could be put up.  The only people on the sideline were B and C side players and a few WAGs.

 

These are easy changes to make and if Pelicanland rides the expected crest of popularity that the Olympics should provide we need to be ready to show the country that we can put on a show as well as play top rugby.

 

Olympic Teams Announced

 

The men’s and women’s teams were announced a while back and by now should be setting up camp in the Olympic Village dormitories.    When I say “setting up camp” I may be being more literal than intended as the reports coming back regarding the readiness of the accommodations are disturbing.   They may actually have to live in tents by the end of this.    Regardless, this promises to be the greatest experience in their athletic lives and the jealousy I feel is palpable.

 

The women’s team had no surprises that I noticed and as expected Pelicanland is represented well with Joanne Fa’avesi and Kelly Griffin .  Here is the team:

 

Bui Baravilala
Ryan Carlyle
Lauren Doyle
Joanne Fa’avesi
Carmen Farmer
Victoria Folayan
Kelly Griffin
Jessica Javelet
Kathryn Johnson
Alev Kelter
Jillion Potter
Richelle Stephens

 

The men’s team had a few surprises that I will discuss below.   The amount of Northern California representation is never an issue with the men’s team: Barrett, Test and Niua all made the cut.  Here they all are:

 

Perry Baker
Danny Barrett
Garrett Bender
Andrew Durutalo
Nate Ebner
Madison Hughes
Carlin Isles
Folau Niua
Ben Pinkelman
Zack Test
Maka Unufe
Chris Wyles

 

There were 7 easy choices in this list.  Hughes, Test, Baker, Barrett, Bender, Niua and Unufe.   They have been rock solid for the US in the World 7s Series and are part of a very good core.    Carlin Isles was not much of a surprise one it was determined he was healthy, but remains the #2 option behind Perry Baker who had a phenomenal year.   It was very nice to see Durutalo back in the fold as he was very important in the 2015 season before signing his pro 15s contract.  His strength and experience are key.

 

That leaves Pinkleman, Wyles and Ebner.   Ben Pinkleman is the least experienced member of the squad as he is still matriculating through Colorado St University.   He was brought in to the squad early in this year’s series to replace injured players and made a strong impression.   The inclusion of Wyles has me scratching my head, however.   While he has an outstanding pedigree he has not played much 7s at all in the last several years.   The failure of Quade Cooper and Bryan Habana to transition to 7s shows this to be a roll of the dice by coach Mike Friday.

 

The final spot goes to Nate Ebner.   The editors here at Hail Pelicus have been watching and reporting on his progress as he switched codes to rugby and we initially gave him a slim chance to make the team.    Nate didn’t bother listening to our sage predictions and worked his butt off and made the team on merit.   Well done, sir – I salute you.

 

Congratulations to all of our Olympians – even those from other parts of the country.     USA! USA! USA!

 

Olympic Predictions

 

While our women finished 6th overall I believe they are near certain medal contenders because, you know, ‘Merica.    To do this we need to reverse a recent trend of consistently falling to the top teams in the world.   Women’s rugby is fragmented in to the Very Good and All Others and while we are in the Very Good camp, we are near the bottom of that group.    They should beat Columbia and will have to play perfectly to beat Australia.   The Fiji game is key as they Fijians can be erratic and are beatable.    After that, things start to get tough but nobody said a gold medal was easy.   Official prediction:  Bronze.

 

The men also finished 6th but I believe have a more realistic chance at medaling and even golding.    In London last year they proved that they can put everything together and beat all comers.   We are the team that the rest of the world doesn’t want to see.   You know what you will get with New Zealand or Fiji, but the USA can beat teams with so many different weapons we are extremely unpredictable.   With our pool we have to beat host Brazil and will need a special game to beat Fiji.   This is entirely possible as Fiji are notoriously slow starters and are much easier to beat in pool play as opposed to knockout rounds.   Argentina is our swing game and we should prevail over the South Americans.   That game will most likely determine if we see New Zealand in the quarterfinals or later in the tournament.    Mike Friday has put a team together to win it all and the USA takes the Olympics very seriously.   I see us gaining confidence as we progress and, much like London, winning it all going away.   Official prediction:  Gold… for the 3rd straight time.

 

Ask A Pelican

 

Is hunting mosquitos in Rio.

 

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 Scott Wood has 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!

 

Yes, there were other games and tournaments going on.   It is rugby season, after all.   It is always rugby season.

 

Date: 07/09/2016

Carlsberg Cup

Referee: Pohlman, John

 

Lots of 7’s rugby at the Silicon Valley Tournament At Boynton High School this past weekend.

Three tournaments were played on four fields.  The Qualifiers for Men’s and Woman’s and the Carlsberg open division.

 

Twenty plus years ago the Seahawks played on this field when I first moved up to the Bay area.  Those games and recently losing a good rugby friend Bret McDonald, who passed away last week, brought back a lot of memories.  Rugby brings so many together, creating friendships for life.

 

I did four of the Carlsberg Cup games.  All played in good spirit and no issues.

 

Date: 07/09/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Referee: Simko, Paul

 

Great day.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:   Great report.

 

Date: 07/23/2016

Shasta 7s

Referee: Hosley, David

 

Spectacular setting at the foot of Mount Shasta for a sevens tournament.  15 matches refereed by David Hosley, Tim Mulholland and Phil Ulibarri.

 

Date: 07/23/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Referee: MacDonald, Neil

 

Great day of sevens at the final day of this year’s Carlsberg Cup.  Silicon Valley took the win in the final.

 

Date: 07/23/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s  0 – TBD 0

Referee: Bernstein, Bruce

 

Great tourny.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:   Another great report.

 

Date: 07/23/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s   – TBD

Referee: Simko, Paul

 

Great hot day.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:   Great hot report

 

Date: 07/23/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Referee: Pohlman, John

 

Final day of the Carlsberg sevens.  Nice venue and well organized.  Lots of games.  I think all six of the referees did five games each.

 

This Week’s Photo

The Pelican Referee Tent proudly showed off its mascot at the ARC1 7s on Treasure Island.   Dr Bruce Carter would approve.

Pelican In Flight

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Midsummer Classic

HAIL PELICUS!

Midsummer Classic

Here we are at the summer season’s midpoint and the Hail Pelicus has roused itself after a sleepy few weeks.    It gets harder and harder to crank up the juices and put out a HP after an extended break like this because writing is much like working out: the longer you take a break the harder it is to get started again.   The late, great Terry Pratchett put it best when he said “The first thing I do when I finish writing a book is start a new one.   This was a course of action suggested, I believe, by the late Douglas Adams, although regrettably he famously failed to follow his own advice.”    In any case, it is time to knock the rust off all those metaphors and ancient Roman references and get to work.   Let’s check in and see what is happening in the world of Pelican Rugby.    Tally-ho!

 

Pelican Champions

There have been more champions from the land that breeds them best since our last report.  Congratulations to Life West Women who won the D2 National Championship.   Congratulations also to the brand new Napa RRC who made a deep run in the D3 championships, losing out in the semis.    Well done, you!

The Collegiate Rugby Championship – America’s premier collegiate invitational 7s tournament – was also contested and once again victorious were the Golden Bears of California.   Cal swept to victory past a gutsy UCLA side 31-7 to claim their 4th straight CRC title.   Congratulations to Cal!   I will not recap my issue with calling this a national championship – see the last Hail Pelicus for that – except to remind everyone that the CRC is a quaestuary enterprise and to hope that soon a proper national championship will emerge.  Until then I will happily watch US Collegiate 7s rugby on TV – a concept that was unheard of in my playing days.

 

Not Only Championship Teams But Championship Players

It is well known to those who know it well that the best rugby in the US is played here in Northern California.   This, naturally, leads to the best referees and, even more naturally, the best players.   This summer the USA Eagles played Italy in San Jose and Russia in Sacramento and in the Sacramento game San Jose’s favorite son Todd Clever became the most capped Eagle of all time.   The fact that he overtook another Pelican legend in Mike MacDonald was not lost on the astute editors of Hail Pelicus.   Congratulations to Todd on his remarkable achievement.

The games themselves were a bit underwhelming to me.   It is clear that new coach John Mitchell has yet to stamp his personality and style on this group.  The Italy game was very pedestrian on both sides with limited attacking endeavor and we lost a narrow 24-20 decision.    This was a goal kicking and forwards contest as both teams were very well organized and gave up very few line breaks.   The next week the US dominated Russia in Sacramento 25-0 with more space to attack in but a lack of finishing by the Eagles.   Russia was limited to killing the ball and AJ MacGinty happily slotted the points yet the only try of the game was scored in the 65th minute.   Too many glorious chances were left begging as we lacked the precision to finish properly.    The good news, however, is we created the chances so that is a start.   The effort is there, now we need the precision.

 

A Joke 2500 Years In The Making

For the ancient Romans the king of the gods was Jupiter and, as Mel Brooks reminded us in his excellent historical documentary History of the World (Part 1), it’s good to be the king.   Jupiter was straight to type so it would surprise nobody that he took several lovers while, technically, he was married to his wife Juno.   Jupiter, as you do, tried to conceal his goings on by covering himself in a cloud, but Juno was on to him and blew the cloud away to reveal his infidelities.

Fast forward 2000 years to the 1600s where Galileo Galilei, along with Simon Marius, were first scanning the night sky and discovering that the planet Jupiter not only had moons, but had more than one, so they started naming the moons after Jupiter’s mythological paramours.

Fast Forward again to today where NASA has sent a probe to examine Jupiter and its moons and that probe arrived successfully on July 4th – a probe they named Juno.   Jupiter is, of course, a gas giant and is covered in clouds so that we have very little idea about what goes on further in the atmosphere so Juno was specifically designed to be able to pierce those clouds.

In essence, NASA sent Juno, Jupiter’s wife, to check on him and his mistresses and specifically gave Juno the ability to see through clouds.   Now THAT is a joke a long time in the making.   Hey, it cracked me up.

 

The Northern California 7s Series – GREXIT edition

This year’s Nor Cal 7s Series has successfully completed the first two legs in Modesto and Sacramento and have been filled with pace, speed, explosive rugby and, of course, drama.  Along with a men’s and women’s qualifier brackets there is a social bracket for teams not in the qualifier and some qualifier club’s B sides as well.  All in all there is plenty of rugby going on at these events… just the way we like it.

At the top of the men’s table is Life West with 15 points, followed by Olympic Club and Santa Rosa with 13 and 12 points, respectively.   East Palo Alto (9), San Jose Seahawks (8) and Sac Lions (6) are in the hunt for the coveted 4th position and East Bay 7s is sitting in 7th with 3 points.   Life West also leads the women’s bracket with 10 points followed by All Blues (8), San Jose Seahawks (5) and SFGG (3).

Astute readers will notice now SFGG’s men’s side is not listed in the qualifier points table and that is of course due to their shocking Gate Rugby Exit, or GREXIT, vote after the first leg in which both the SFGG’s men and women pulled out of the qualifier.  Combine that with a sudden leadership change at the club and nobody know what will happen next.

This in and of itself was less expected than the Spanish Inquisition so it naturally caused panic and uncertainty as we went from an 8 team men’s bracket and a 4 team women’s bracket to 7 and 3 team brackets.   This unbalancing of the schedule was problematic for Pelicus Fistulator but he was able to get a revised schedule out that satisfied all parties.   Of course, the SFGG women immediately regretted the GEXIT vote saying “it was a protest vote” and “they didn’t think their vote would count” so have petitioned to be reinstated in the qualifier so that is why they are listed in the points table and they will be playing in the 3rd leg in San Jose this weekend.

Fortunately this is just a local rugby union and the effects are minimal.  I can’t imagine anything like this happening somewhere more important where it could affect millions of lives.  That would be beyond stupid.

Schwag

As many of you know I, Pelicus Pedem Referre, took over distribution of our jerseys, shorts and socks.   Yes, I am your official Kit Cat.   After speaking with the NCRRS Executive Committee we decided it was past time to update some of our kit so this year we will not be ordering just the standard jerseys, socks and shorts but plan to order kit bags, track suits, polos and ties.   Some of these items will need to be individually ordered so please check this space for Information on what is available for pre-order and when.   Suggestions for color combinations are welcome with red being a current front runner.   As they are one of the more high profile clubs in Pelicanland, not to mention the entire country, and their games are often televised on the Pac 12 Network, it is always important that the teams of 3 that we send up to Cal wear matching uniforms.  I will personally make sure that the new red jerseys are available at these occasions.

I am also taking bribes from various kit and clothing representatives to supply the Greatest Referee Society In The World with the best kit available so if you see pictures of me from a tropical island you will know that I am working hard getting the kit order done.   The fruity rum drink just helps me think.

 

Word Of The Day: Quaestuary

Quaestuary:  adj

  1. doing business solely for the sake of profit.

Just in case anyone was wondering.

 

Ask A Pelican

Is on vacation.

 

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 Scott Wood has 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 the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uz0_gTaOnY

On To The Game Reports!

Pelicans in flight – part 1.  Stephen Fenaroli sends this report in from the USA Rugby Collegiate National 7s Championships

This past weekend (May 28-29) I was able to participate in something special. Cary, North Carolina was host to the Collegiate Sevens Championships at the Wake Med Sports Complex. This USA Assignment, my third, was something special. My first rugby season refereeing was coming to a close and I was excited at the idea of traveling across the country to referee 7s at such a high level.

Coming off a great 15s season, I didn’t have much time to reset for 7s. This means quicker gameplay, quicker penalties, lower tolerance for yellow cards- because slow ball, is no ball.

Arriving Friday morning at midnight meant a trip to my first Waffle House was in order. The hospitality at 2am at an airport Waffle House in Cary is top notch. Friday afternoon took us to Costco to grab a number of cases of water and a variety of snacks. Games started at 4pm Friday and by then most of the other referees had arrived. 7s is great because of the group comradery that we get. Often with 15s games, we don’t get to see other refs and get feedback. It was great to see other refs that I don’t run into much, but that we live vicariously through Facebook.

Friday afternoon proved brutally warm and had a number of good games. Teams came out with a bang knowing they couldn’t sacrifice a single win if they wanted to win the cup. That evening, dinner was at the Texas Roadhouse, which is somewhat ironic; eating chain BBQ named after a different state, while in North Carolina.

Saturday began even earlier with a pre meeting at 8am. A quick reminder about yellow cards and resetting ourselves led to a much more bountiful day full of yellow cards. The heat and humidity made the day long and full of breaks trying to sleep in the corner and grab whatever kind of food we could find. I came away from the trip a believer in pickles and pickle juice to recoup salt levels and electrolytes.

By the time the last game finished at 9:30pm, everyone was exhausted and ready to go to bed. Timing meant dinner options were limited which left us to order 20 pizzas and eat them as a group in the lobby. Mike Obrien, out of Potomac, was assigned the cup final and Emily Hsieh, out of New England, got the Women’s cup final. Mike got one of the Cobb whistles and Emily started a tradition with another. If you have a big game, I urge you to reach out to whomever has one of the whistles at the time. Each comes with a tradition and a journal to accompany it along it’s journey until it is returned to the Cobb family; a pretty great way to honor Mike.

Because of the impending Tropical Storm Bonnie, games were shuffled long into the evening and we went to bed that night not knowing much about the schedule the next day. Wakeup in order to be to the field by 7am meant an early morning. I landed an 8am cup semi which poured rain for the entire match. Having a change of clothes was nice and meant the next few hours were a little dryer and warmer. Games finished early and had a cracker of a finish with St. Mary’s College winning it all in a nail biter. A solid finish to a great tournament.

A giant thanks to the ARs from local clubs who came out and made our jobs a lot easier. They were running more games than a lot of us in the middle. These groups of folks made us look good and the tournament would have much more difficult without their help. Additionally, thanks to those at PelicanLand who helped me get to the College Seven’s.

Pelicans in flight – part 2.  Marc Carney was our representative on the annual Calgary Exchange.  Here is his report.

 

I left Sacramento on Friday June 27th hoping for a great experience and the opportunity to meet some great people in the Great White North. Flights weren’t too bad, but I landed in Calgary to a deluge of rain. We were forced to sit on the tarmac for 30 minutes short of the gate due to lightning strikes.

 

After finally getting through customs and getting my rental, I headed to my first billet, Aaron Huntly, who was to put me up for the first two nights. Aaron is around 30 and had played at quite a high level in Canada, and had started reffing a couple of years ago. I learned from some people later that night to call him by his nickname, “Bunny”, for reasons I shall describe in detail later.

 

After getting settled in and having a good bite to eat, I headed down to a local club called the Irish. They are affiliated with the local Gaelic Association and have their own clubhouse and two fields, which supports soccer, Gaelic football, rugby and another sport or two. I reffed a Men’s D3 match between the Hornets and Knights; the knights were a police/sheriffs team. I was fortunate to have a ref coach in Andrew Petti for this match, who later provided some great feedback and pointers, which I utilized for the rest of the trip.

 

The match itself wasn’t particularly competitive and was a blowout in favor of the knights. One minor fracas which ended in a yellow card for a Hornets player was the only blemish on an otherwise clean and enjoyable match to referee.

The following day it was down to the Calgary Rugby Union (CRU), a five field facility with large clubhouse that includes I think 6-8 locker rooms, ref room, separate women’s locker rooms, bar and restaurant. All in all, a fantastic place to spend a weekend. I reffed another Men’s D3 match, this time between Red Deer and the Saracens, another local Calgary team. This match was also very one sided in favor of Red Deer and ended up 68-5. I was able to utilize some of the coaching I received on the first day to make this match better. We enjoyed a nice cold beverage or two on the referees tab at the bar afterwards, and then Bunny decided he wanted to show some hospitality and take me up to Red Deer with some of his friends. He had played there a while back and still had a lot of friends who were playing in the match I refereed.

 

After about an hour and a half drive we end up at the Red Deer clubhouse, which is similar to the Irish, with two fields, bar, locker rooms, etc. They were just closing, so we moved straight from there to a bar downtown. Needless to say, Bunny got his name because he is like the energizer bunny and never stops. We end up out until very late, get to someone’s house and pass out on the couch. Next morning, feeling a little worse for wear, Bunny wakes me up at 6.30am with his really thick Canadian accent saying, “We gotta go, eh!” I got to sample Tim Hortons for the first time, which was actually pretty decent, and then drive back to Calgary. From there, I headed down to stay with Paul Howe in Medicine Hat, about 3 hours south east of Calgary. I got down there fairly late, but was treated to a great BBQ dinner and then headed to bed early.

 

The following morning, we were up early for a two hour drive from Medicine Hat to Lethbridge where I was to referee the Division 1 Boys section championship match between Medicine Hat and LCI, a local Lethbridge team. I spend a good deal of the day up in the commentary box, avoiding the whipping winds and cold weather while watching some good rugby and chatting to former Women’s National Team Head Coach, Ric Suggit, who is now the head coach of the Lethbridge University Women’s rugby program. Soon it came time for me to warm up and get ready for my match. Right after kick off, literally 30 seconds into the game, a player from LCI broke his leg. It was fairly cold and the wind was howling, so I sent the teams back to the locker room until the player had been transported. 45 minutes later, we resumed the match. It was a well contested game, but extremely scrappy. The skill level was not particularly high, and the players were unsure about a lot of the rules surrounding the breakdown. At half it was 0-0. The second half yielded yet more penalties and eventually two yellow cards for repeat infringements. Medicine Hat took control at this point, and with the 30mph wind at their backs, scored four great tries to win 24-0.

 

We drove back to Medicine Hat after making a stop at a local brew pub where we would be having dinner on Friday night after the first round of the Alberta High School Championships, or ASAA’s. We had a great meal and got back very late. The next morning, I was up early and headed back towards Calgary. I stopped in downtown and met up with David Robinson for lunch, who is the President of the Alberta Rugby Referee Society. After that I headed out to the Canmore/Banff area, which is up in the mountains west of Calgary for a few days off. I stayed at a local hotel in Canmore called the Georgetown Inn – stay there if you have a chance, and eat in their pub – amazing food, and a great little place!. After checking in, I went on a hike up to some local lakes on the Grassi Lakes Trail, which was just amazing. I enjoyed the aforementioned dinner, a traditional stuffed Yorkshire Pudding with all the fixings and a couple of pints of the local Bitter!

 

Fully relaxed, I got to the car and hightailed it back to the CRU where I was to referee a higher level men’s match between the Saracens D1 squad vs. a touring team from Wales, Glyeneath (I think that is how it is spelled…). I had another ref coach for this match, which was nice, because I could put all the things to practice that I had been working on up until this point from previous coaching sessions, and get some additional feedback.

 

The match was very competitive going back and forth for most of the game. I was concerned fairly near the end of that match as it was tied up 19-19 and the large gallery up in the bar watching on were constantly reminding me that beer would be on me. Thankfully, on the last kick off after Saracens had just scored, Glyeneath went up and regained possession storming down the field and barreling over the line to score the game winning try. The conversion was something special too…the wind was blowing at about 20mph straight into the kickers face who was taking the kick from 5 meters in the left touchline. He kicked it almost straight and the wind carried it about 40m the with just enough curve to sneak it in the inside post, just over the crossbar.

 

Once again, the hospitality at the CRU was great, and I enjoyed a few good beers and a chat before heading back to David Robinson’s house where I would stay the next two nights. Thursday was another day of rest getting ready to ref at the ASAA’s down in Lethbridge the next morning, so I just went into downtown Calgary to explore a bit and see what it was like. I spent most of the day touring the area and visiting some local breweries, which were great.

 

The following day we were up at the crack of dawn to drive 2 hours south to Lethbridge for ASAA’s. I gave a ride to another local referee and enjoyed some political banter on the way down. Once there it was straight into it for most, I on the other hand had about a three hour wait for my first game, so I ref coached an early game and then AR’d a second. Finally I was up, reffing a Tier 1 Girls match between Archbishop Glendon and Bev Facey HS. Facey, who ended up winning the Girls Tier 1 bracket were a very well drilled side that had some fantastic athletes and some of the best passing skills I have seen out of a Girls HS team in some time. At the beginning of the second half, I felt something go in my left calf. I struggled along to finish the match, but managed ok. I was incidentally being coached during this game also, and he commented afterwards that he had not noticed any dip in performance from first to second half, so that was a positive for me. The diagnosis from the onsite AT and Doctor was a pretty good calf strain/pull, and that I should keep off of it if at all possible.

 

So my tournament was done due to injury, but I made myself useful ref coaching where I could and being a general pain in the ass to some of the local refs who needed a bit of a kick in the teeth… That evening, we went to the local brewpub for a good meal, some beers, and some banter. It was great to get to know a lot of these guys from around Alberta, but it was even more fun getting to know the infamous “Gilligan”, Dan Hattrup from Denver; what a character.

 

Following day, I did some more ref coaching and ball breaking before saying farewell to many of the guys who were Lethbridge locals. Some of the others were heading back to Calgary with me and going to the CRU for a drink before going out for a meal. We all got back to the CRU around 5pm had a drink and then went out to another local Irish establishment where I was introduced to the “Don King”. For those of you who don’t know what this beverage is, it is a double rum and coke with a Guinness float served in a pint glass. Make sure to stir, and drink in copious amounts! Needless to say, that is what we all did most of the night. We (Gilligan and myself) ended up back at David Robinson’s house at about 2am, where we proceeded to drink some of the Breckenridge Bourbon that Gilligan had brought with him…a perfect end to the trip.

 

Last morning, we were treated to Eggs Benedict from David’s wife, watched a bit of Toulon vs. Toulouse and then I headed out with Gilligan to the airport, where after an hour and a half delay, finally left for home.

 

I would like to thank Tim, Paul and Pete from Pelican Refs for setting up this exchange as well as Paul, David Aaron and the Alberta Referee Society as a whole for the hospitality and ref coaching I received while I was there.

 

Stephen Valerio sends in his final report of the 15s season from the East Coast. 

 

Date: 05/272016

Alumni/Faculty 55 – The Heights School  7

Location: The Heights School, Rockville, MD

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

With the 15s season down to the playoffs, there aren’t many chances to get a run in the middle. A mid-week call went out for an alumni match at The Heights School. Being that this is my busiest time of year, it was a welcome call to take a break from work and get a run-in.

 

Alumni matches are tricky. You can get experienced veterans who are more mature, experienced players, players who hadn’t played in years, and a couple of faculty who may never have played before. Or you can get all of them at the same time. Of course, we had all of them.

 

The students started the match casually, and were punished for it with the Alumni punching across 5 first half tries. This was compounded by the fact that they chose to go for points with a couple of penalties (remember those faculty who never played before and didn’t realize you couldn’t block) in Alumni territory. The kicks went astray and the Alumni took advantage of a disorganized defense to counter with some long range tries. Down 33-0 the students organized there defense and the first 20 minutes of the second half were a much more balanced affair caught between the 22s. Late in the half the Alumni were able to strike for 4 quick tries as some fatigue was showing on the students. I told them going to into the restart that this would be it unless there was a penalty. They were able to win a ruck off of the restart and a penalty about 30 meters out gave the students a final chance. A quick tap and pass to one of their props who rumbled deep against an Alumni side that may have started paying attention to the post match barbecue a little too soon. A quick recycle and the ball made it out to the senior #9 who powered over (yes, he ran over the defending back) for a try that he then converted to close out his high school carrier. I got to watch the senior ceremonies as I started back to work, always great to see young people closing one chapter and moving onto their next phase in life. Not a bad way to spend a warm Friday evening.

 

Date: 05/28/2016

UCSC 7 – Alumni 58

Referee: Freitas, Larry

 

Beautiful day at the UC Santa Cruz campus, with plenty of alumni for both the men’s and women’s matches.  Being that this is the 10th anniversary of the Lady Slugs winning the D2 championship, some from that squad were on the pitch or watching from the touchline.  The Alumnae featured a rather strong side, made up of many SFGG and a half dozen or more from last year’s varsity seniors.  The first try came at about 10 minutes, and one might say the floodgates were opened very quickly afterwards.  The school side did manage to score early in the second half after the Alums had put up 29 unanswered first half points.  The Alumnae put on a clinic for how to run the ball ahead vertically and keep the ball alive with players ripping off the ball from stood-up tackled team mates, or being there to pick up ball left behind by tackled team mates that had been put to ground.  It’s great that so many former players were on hand for the day, and I’m sure the school sides benefitted from the T shirt and sweat shirt sales.

 

Date: 06/04/2016

Bay JV 1 15 – Sac JV 1 55

Referee: Griffin, Scott

 

Two capable sides however Sac Valley had more experience and skills. Nice crowd in attendance.

 

Date: 06/04/2016

Tournament:  Rugby Ethos 7s

 

Referee: Richmond, Jeff

 

I had the privilege of refereeing the Women’s Final, one of six matches I did that day. All Blues dominated Golden Gate, 45-0. All Blues maintained good possession and quickly worked the ball to the outside. They had a pair of fast backs who were able to find openings in the GG line and slip attempts at tackles. GG’s few attacks were stifled by the All Blues solid defense.

 

The weather cooperated with temps in the 70’s, breezy, and cloudy skies most of the day. The referee corps (Bernstein, Bruno, Gordon, Pescetti, and Hinkin) acquitted itself well and the teams present showed good sportsmanship and quality play.

 

Referee: Bernstein, Bruce

 

Did 6 matches including the consolation losers bracket & Seahawks came back against a team from east of Sacto/Reno called the Renegades after barely losing their 1st match I did against Life by missing 2 of the conversions kicks (21-17) when Life showed up with only 4 players & stole 3 of Aptos 6 players-the fastest ones.

Fun for all refs (6 this time v. last year’s 3), players & fans.  Great semi-final match when O Club barely squeaked by Life in double overtime reffed by Jordan.  O Club went on to barely beat Santa Rosa with  10 Fijian LeBron James reffed by David wearing red as both teams did.

 

 

This Week’s Photo

The Northern California 7s Qualifier Referee Crew, Sacramento edition.  L-R: Phil Akroyd, Steven Fenaroli, Neil MacDonald, USA Rugby Intern Brendon Kozman, Favor Taueva, James Hinkin, Joe Devlin

Sitting: Ben Akroyd

Sac 7s refs

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Fifteens Finales

HAIL PELICUS!

 

Fifteens Finales

 

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

-Frank Herbert

 

The sentiment above is especially true these days where rugby seems to have no off season.  The 15s portion of the year is winding down with championships and championship-like substances and, as expected, Pelicanland is well represented.   Congratulations are in order for Cal who beat BYU for the Varsity Cup and that goes double for UC Davis whose women beat Virginia to claim the D1 Spring National Championship and whose men beat Notre Dame College for the D1-AA National Championship.   Sacramento Amazons took home the Girls National High School Club Invitational Championship while Granite Bay matched them with the Boys National High School Club Invitational Championship.  Congratulations on your victories.

 

St Mary’s lost a heartbreaker to Life in the Di-A final while Life West and Sacramento Capitols lost in the national semifinals for D1 and D2 club.   SFGG also lost in the final of the PRP to ageless nemesis Mose Timoteo and the Glendale Raptors.   Great seasons for all of these clubs.

 

Yes, we do have the best rugby in the country here.   How many other unions can boast so many champions, finalists and semifinalists?

 

Annual Complaint About The Lack Of True Championships

 

After reading the previous section I am sure there will be a large contingent of angry letter-writers who will ask why I don’t recognize Cal as national champions?    Or Granite Bay?   After all, they put “national champion” on all of their press releases, Facebook posts, Twitterations, ect.   Why am I hating?

 

There will also be a group of deep thinkers who will sagely nod their heads at the accuracy of the nomenclature above and silently congratulate me on my journalistic rigor.

 

The problem is that USA Rugby, through mismanagement, arrogance and lack of resources, has lost control of many of their national championships and various clubs and organizations have stepped in to fill the gap.    This creates confusion across the landscape as Life University and Cal both are claiming the collegiate national championship.    This is, of course, nonsense – neither can claim it.   Cal has won the Varsity Cup, a 16 team invitational knockout competition that involves some of the best rugby teams in America as well as some absolute stinkers.   In the first round eventual finalists Cal beat Texas 138-0 and BYU beat ASU 113-8 and those were not the only blowouts.    The total score for round 1 was 507 to 92, averaging 65.375 to 11.5.  It didn’t get much better in round 2 where the winners of the 2 competitive games, Utah and Dartmouth got hammered 75-15 (BYU over Dartmouth) and 58-5 (Central Washington over Utah).   While there were some blowouts in the USA Rugby D1 playoffs they weren’t as large or consistent – it is obvious that these are not the 16 best teams in the country.  Varsity Cup teams are invited the same way the CRC invites teams: get a couple of rugby powerhouses, mix them in with some big name football factory schools to generate press, and then throw a bone to a small unknown with a solid program.

 

The USA Rugby D1A championship has in some ways more right to be called a national champion as it is a true play-in competition that takes conference/league winners and lets them play out.    The problem with them is that too many of the top teams opt out in order to play in the Varsity Cup.   You can’t claim a championship if you don’t play the best teams.

 

It says something about the state of your national championships when the most anticipated games of the year (Cal v St Marys, Life v Arkansas St, St Mary’s v BYU, ect) are mid-season friendlies because we know then can never play off against each other for hardware.

 

USA Rugby’s management of their national competitions was never so apparent as the awarding of a Spring National Championship to UC Davis.   This truly made no sense.   With the split season USA Rugby decided to crown a “cold weather” champion in the fall and have them play off in the spring against the “warm weather” champion.   The only problem is that U Conn, who won the fall event, declined in January to go because of conflicts with finals.   USA Rugby sat on this information until a couple of weeks before the final, and then decided to essentially award 2 championships.   So who is the Women’s D1 champion?    Neither, again, because apparently the D1 women need to be treated differently than every other collegiate championship USA Rugby operates.

 

The high school championships are also in much the same boat as the Varsity Cup in that it is an invitational tournament rather than a play in championship.  The organizers do try to get the best teams there but rugby ability is not always the first priority.   The organization and strength of the club are also taken into consideration as well as ability to travel.  Apparently there have been some very late cancellations and no-shows in the past so they are trying to cover their bases and insure a full tournament.   This isn’t a bad thing and from all accounts it was forced on the organizers when the previous iteration of the tournament threatened to collapse, but it does mean this isn’t a true national championship.

 

So where does all of that lead us?   I used to be all up in arms about this incredible injustice – especially when I was still playing and this idea of a competition not controlled by USA Rugby first started with the Super League.    I knew from results both nationally and locally – both head to head and via common opponents – that my club was better than half the clubs in the Super League and yet they were considered a higher level, elite competition?   #@&%$ them!

 

Nowadays I am a bit more sanguine about it.  Rugby is being played now more than ever and it is even on TV.   I limit myself to this annual rant and maybe a smaller one for the CRC and after that?  I’ll take my cue from Jeff Lebowski and realize that well, you know, it’s just my opinion, man.  The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope more Pelican teams make the finals.

 

Ask A Pelican

 

Yes, it’s time for this week’s installment of “Ask A Pelican”, the widely loved Q and A session with Hail Pelicus.   This week’s question will be the final one of the year and is a special one as it comes from Trolly McTrollface of Underbridge, CA who gets this honor by virtue of being the 1,000,000th commenter on the Hail Pelicus youtube channel, “Hailing Pelicus and the Risible Rants”.   Let’s see what Trolly wants to ask:

 

“Thank you for the honor – I never knew sitting at my computer all day and night would lead to such a moment as this.   As a longtime follower of HP I am always impressed with the new and exciting innovations that you have brought in, such as the user poll to rename Performance Reviewers and, of course, the Ask A Pelican section.   My question is, are you planning anything for next year and, if so, can you give us a sneak peek?”

 

Thank you for your dedication Mr McTrollface – it is fans like you that make this all worthwhile.  The answer to your question is a resounding YES.    The editors here at Hail Pelicus are always looking to improve the product we produce and, by extension, the experience of the readers.   One thing we are particularly excited about is our upcoming series for Epic Rap Battles Of History.   If you aren’t familiar with these look them up on youtube.   Our first Epic Rap Battle will feature Bruce Carter against Ed Todd.   We are also looking to set up other great battles such as Pete Smith vs Ben Parker.   I just can’t wait to hear their sick rhymes.

 

Well, that’s it for this season, and Ask A Pelican will be back with the next 15s season.   Until then, keep those questions coming even throughout the summer!   After all, if we get a particularly good one we may just put a bonus item in.

 

NCRRS Awards Banquet

 

This Saturday May 28 we are gorging ourselves and honoring our own.  This feast is one of the highlights of the year so I hope everyone has already signed up.    Attire is formal – dress to impress.  Mascot checks will be enforced.   Please see banquet details below.

 

Where:  Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek

Address: 1333 N. California Blvd. Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Telephone Number: (925) 934-0598

 

Doors open at 6:30 with lite hors d’oeuvres being served until 7:15. We’ll have a bar set up to order your own drinks and an extra one for the Hail Pelicus staff.  Dinner will commence at approximately 7:15.

 

The coveted Pelican Awards (aka The Pellies) will be handed out once the meal is finished and we are noshing on our desserts.

 

Menu:

Here’s the link needed to order your entree and dessert choices for you and your guests:

https://docs.google.com/a/pelicanrefs.com/forms/d/1F5Gfz7K_89-XEky_E2o3qNbrb4aMCBoYR94UXs7RmzA/viewform

Please complete your food choices no later than Wednesday, May 25

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This was mostly transcribed directly from Pelicus Iudex Pennipes’ group email.   You will have noticed that I got rid of the “1830 hrs” nonsense and translated the times into proper format.   You’re welcome.   Not all of us were in the military, Paul.

 

Sevens And the NFL

 

WE have been chronicling the journey of Nate Ebner as he attempted to make the transition from the NFL to 7s rugby.  Apparently one of our followers here in Pelicanland read about Nate in Hail Pelicus and decided that he, too, could transition to the 7s circuit from the NFL.  Yes, Jarrod Hayne decided to leave the 49ers and bring the Hayne Train to Fiji and try to make the Olympic team.   It always makes us at Hail Pelicus feel all warm and gooey inside when someone gets inspired by our writings.   It makes it all worthwhile.

 

The Great Ebner Experiment Continues

 

So London came and went and the World Sevens Series has finished.   The big question now is did Nate Ebner do enough to make the Olympic team?   I know that NBC sure hopes so as well as the formless void currently in charge of USA Rugby.   Ebner’s story  is tailor made for one of NBC’s patented Olympic Athlete Fluff Piece and you just can’t buy that kind of publicity.   The only opinion that matters, however, belongs to Mike Friday.   It is telling that last week Nate was dropped from the squad to give other players a look and that the US played much better in London, finishing 3rd after beating both New Zealand and Fiji, than in any other tournament Nate was in.   Is that entirely on him?   Of course not – there were other changes and a myriad of different circumstances.    Personally I think that Nate did very well but my feeling is that he will not make the squad.  We shall all find out when Friday makes his announcement this summer.

 

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 Scott Wood has 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 the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uz0_gTaOnY

On To The Game Reports!

 

Date: 05/05/2016

Danville 72 – McClatchy 10

Referee: Gordon, Preston

 

Both teams were clearly well motivated for this playoff game, which was the first round of a 3-day tournament for the Pacific Coast area. As you saw from the score, it was somewhat one-sided, but there was still lots going on. Danville wasted little time getting on the board, scoring a converted try in just the 2nd minute. Their good runners, interplay, and propensity to break tackles resulted in 3 more tries in the first half, at 6′, 10′, and 17′ (all converted). McClatchy did fairly well when they were able to get possession of the ball, which was not as often as they would have liked, and they got a well-deserved but unconverted try at 22′. The following 8 minutes of the (30-minute) half were full of ball movement and more good running, but no further scoring. Then, just before halftime, Danville’s #5 performed a dangerous tackle on an opponent, tipping him past horizontal so he landed on his upper back/shoulder area. He was sent off, and the half ended at 28-5 shortly thereafter.

 

The second half started much the same way as the first, with Danville scoring a converted try in the 2nd minute. This time, McClatchy got the next one in the 7th minute, though they couldn’t convert it. At 35-10, I was wondering if McClatchy could take advantage of their 14-man opponents and score a couple more tries to make things really interesting. It was not to be – Danville scored again at 10′ and 12′ (converted) to restore their healthy lead, before adding 2 more tries at 19′ and 21′. Their replacement kicker couldn’t convert those two, but it didn’t seem to matter because it was hard to notice that Danville was missing a player (except at the scrums, of course). They went on to score again at 28′ (unconverted) and at 29′, which the kicker finally converted, to leave things at 72-10.

 

Danville clearly has something good going and I later heard that they’re ranked #1 in the nation. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but they ought to do well in the rest of this tournament. Thanks to the 3 different people that helped as ARs throughout the game.

 

The pace of this high school game reminded me a little bit of the one I reffed in April 2010 when Napier HS (from NZ) played a combined EPA/San Mateo/Hayward side at Stanford. I was surprised to see that I had covered nearly 3 miles in a 60-minute game, which (if extrapolated) is more than most men’s games produce. If we ignore the infrequent sideways running, this is a really good sign for the future.

 

Date: 05/05/2016

Red Mountain 27 – SD Mustangs 12

Referee: Carney, Mark

 

No report received

 

Date: 05/05/2016

Union HS 11 – Kahuku HS  29

Referee: Devlin, Joe

 

No report received

 

Date: 05/06/2016

San Francisco Tech Bros 28 – Marsupial Pouch Maggots 12

Referee: Lew, Tim

 

Bay barbarians vs Union from Vancouver BC. Bay Barbarians showed up 15 minutes before kickoff which is normally a bad sign. But the Barbarians ended up scoring the first 12 points. The barbarians athletism showed with a handful of individual tries.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Great report, Tim, and I’m glad to know that one team scored the first 12 points.   Pity both teams scored more than 12 so we have no idea who won the game.  See Bryant’s report below.

 

Date: 05/06/2016

McClatchy 22 – Mustangs 17

Referee: Byrnes, Bryant

 

This was a second day game of the three day Pacific Cup, an invitational tournament on TI of the best boy’s high school teams in the West. It was also wet.

 

My match was McClatchy of Sacto and The Mustangs from San Diego. It was skilled rugby, hotly contested-won in overtime. McClatchy played a gunslinger style, slashing and relying on its backs. The Mustangs had a more deliberate approach, keeping the ball more in a nice sized and skilled pack.

 

McClatchy scored first and at half was up 12-5 (I think; my card is too soggy to read). But the Mustangs persevered and tied it at 17-17 at the end of regulation time. With a minute left in OT, McClatchy utilized a penalty to dot it in the corner for a 22-17 win.

 

Great thanks to Tim and Matthew, the Magnificent Mulhollands- both are referees who are associated with the Danville Oaks. They did about as fine a job of ARing as I have seen; lucky to have them. And another of the sons was the 4th official.

 

Date: 05/07/2016

UC Davis Women 30 – Virginia Women 25

Referee: Bryant, Lee

 

No report received

 

Date: 05/07/2016

Notre Dame College 34 – UC Davis 38

Referee: Akroyd, Phil

AR: MacDonald, Neil

AR: Fenaroli, Steven

 

What a great game to end my college season.  Two very evenly matched teams, as you would hope, went at it in the stadium at SMC.

 

The rain started about 10 minutes before kick-off and ended as I blew the final whistle.  If only the weather had been dry, I think the score would have been something like 34-38.  There was so much talent on the field and a decent amount of compliance too.  UCD took a while to drop into their game plan of hoofing the ball down the field and refusing to play in their own half.  NDC often tried to run it back with their usually outstanding running back three, but would often knock it on or lose the ball somehow.

 

The scrums were well matched and the lineouts the same, so it would come down to who could break the opposition line more frequently, and in the end, Davis showed some quick opportunistic thinking by chipping over the backs with nobody at home for one try and quick tapping when the defense assumed they would kick for points for another.  Super smart play by Davis won them the game and the repeat of the D1-AA championship.

 

Credit has to go to NDC who still played some awesome rugby, despite the conditions and I genuinely thought they were going to open up the taps and run away with it in the second half.  I can see that they will be around a lot in the future and I’ll be happy to see them again.

 

Thanks to Neil MacDonald and Steven Fenaroli who made up an all NorCal national champ team of three and gave some great input, as well as RDC who was great at #4 too.

 

Date: 05/07/2016

St Mary’s 20 – Life University 24

Referee: Kelly, Mike

AR: Akroyd, Phil

AR: Kurt “Dream” Weaver

 

Reffed by Mike Kelly and A/Rd by myself and Kurt Weaver.  I’m not going to describe the game because it wouldn’t do it justice, just watch the video replay.  The fans were great, the venue was perfect, the match official crew was outstanding.  On a side note, I don’t think that a single yellow card was given over the five games.  That’s college rugby at its best.  I wish every weekend was as fun as that, even with the rain.

 

This Week’s Photo

Getting ready for the summer sevens season is our own David Pescetti.   That’s a good look you got going there.

Pescetti Tan Line

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

A Grand Farewell

HAIL PELICUS!

 

A Grand Farewell

 

Oh what an exit that’s how to go.
When they’re ringing your curtain down.
Demand to be burried like Eva Perron

– Andrew Lloyd Webber, Evita

 

No, Bruce Carter is not dead but the sentiment remains:   If you are making an exit, make sure you do it in style.   This past Friday the flock and attendant guests gathered together in San Francisco’s Marine Memorial Club to honor and pay respects to one Dr Bruce Carter, Pelicus Scriptoris, Dux Deux, who has retired and will be moving to Arizona to chase the wild iguana or something like that.   He wasn’t the first president of the Northern California Rugby Referee Society and he wasn’t the first editor of Hail Pelicus, but he embodied both so completely it is difficult to separate them.    For my entire playing career and nearly all of my officiating career he has been an omnipresent stalwart ready to dispense humor, knowledge and, quite often, diagnose an injury or pop an offending joint back into place.   He was one of those referees who, when you saw he was in charge of your game, you though “excellent, we have one of the good refs”.   As an official, higher praise is difficult to find.    You knew you were going to get a safe, fair match determined by your sweat, effort and skill rather than an errant whistle.

 

His exploits on the field as a player and a referee were not his only contribution to the game, because as the “Dux Deux” in his Pelican name will tell you, he was our second NCRRS president.    He brought a level of organization and comradery to the Society that, in the words of several well-wishers at his banquet, made us more than a society, a collection of referees, but made us a team.   There is not enough space and time to detail his accomplishments here nor to repeat the stories that were recalled during the many toasts, but let it be known that the NCRRS is considered to be the best society in the country largely due to his leadership.   His effect was not just local, however.   Dr Carter spent time (and possibly still does) on the USA Rugby Laws committee and in other national positions.  The next time you see him ask him about the Law change that he personally got passed by the IRB.   (Hint: It involves the ball in touch.)

 

Everyone dressed in their finest formal outfits, including Scott Carson who wore his finest rugby shirt.   Toasts were made, stories told, Pelicans canted, nobody recanted, and because the bar had been open since 4:00, we were all eventually decanted into the streets of San Francisco.

 

 

I Believe In Miracles.  Where You From?  You Sexy Thing.

 

“Million-to-one chances…crop up nine times out of ten.”

-Terry Pratchett

 

Let the mind’s eye look down on Pelicanland, floating up and away, gaining perspective as the coastline appears and the familiar contours of San Francisco Bay fill the senses.   Back and further away the cities and features become smaller as great bands of clouds can be seen and the Sierra Nevada’s snow topped peaks tease the eye with their dazzling brightness.    Moving east we traverse the continent, over the mighty Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains and eventually across the Atlantic Ocean to the Old World.    Zooming in now, focusing on the island that birthed our noble sport up towards our friends in the East Midland.   Focusing, focusing ever more the eye detects something strange, out of place.   Bringing the perspective in tighter on the city of Leicester the source of the strangeness is apparent.   There are no adults out on the streets, only children.    A quick scan and search soon finds the answer to our puzzle.    The streets of Leicester are empty because on Monday, May 2nd, 2016, everybody in Leicester got laid.

 

Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson as a 42-1 underdog.   Greece won the Euros in 2004 as 80-1 longshots.   Had you ventured to bet on the Miracle on Ice team winning the gold medal you would have been offered a staggering 1000-1.    Leicester City FC, who in April of 2015 were in last place and needed an improbable string of victories just to avoid relegation, have won the English Premier League.   The odds before the season started were 3-1 in favor of them being relegated this season, but to win?   5000-1.   Yes, FIVE THOUSAND TO ONE.

 

This is undoubtedly the greatest upset in sports.

 

 

Hail Pelicus  – The Engine Of Change

 

As our loyal readers here know, the editors here at Hail Pelicus have been watching the birth of Pro Rugby here in the US closely.  With two teams in our back yard there is a lot to see and comment on and the quality of rugby is as expected – good all star teams comprised of the local talent that we see week in and week out.  That, of course, will change as the league finds its feet and players get used to being full time professional rugby players.

 

There are, of course, many things to criticize in this new league and here I was preparing to point out the insanity of the ticketing and pricing for the pro games.   A $30 minimum to see players you could see for free just 3 weeks earlier, combined with $80 jerseys and $30 t shirts seemed excessive, especially considering that the business plan seems to be reliant on word of mouth from current ruggers.   They are taxing the people who already give to the game and the taxes seemed harsh.   This pricing scheme would backfire and drive people away as the novelty of a pro game wore off, I felt, so I went on social media and commented on this very thing.   These teams should be slashing prices for youth, giving family discounts.   They should be giving away tickets to any high school or youth team they can find.  If they did so they would find that they fill up the stadia, create loyalty in the youngsters and, of course, these kids will bring their parents who will buy their own tickets, concessions, shirts ect.    I was very adamant about these things.

 

Now it looks like I don’t have to write all these things, which in some ways disappoints me.  I do like a good rant.   Because modesty and humility are two of my finest traits I am not going to say that I personally, and the threat of a nasty dressing down in Hail Pelicus, caused the masters of Pro Rugby to rethink their ticket pricing but it is quite the coincidence that this week both the Sacramento Sack-o-Tomatoes and San Francisco Hipsters (I assume these are the team nicknames, but there has been no official announcement) have lowered their prices for youth and children, including all children under 5 for free.   They are also offering group discounts.   Well done to them and I am sure it will pay off as the league grows.

 

As for the rest of you, the paying customers, you’re welcome.

 

Hey, You Look Like A Rugby Player

 

Back in 2005 when I was touring New Zealand with the San Jose Seahawks I sat down for a few drinks with Todd Clever who was playing for North Harbour’s NPC team.  (At least I drank – I mean, I was on tour.   Todd may have been more restrained because of his training schedule, but I digress.)   What immediately struck me was how much he had changed physically from the skinny kid I saw in high school for College Park  and playing flanker at the University of Nevada, Reno.   He had filled out and had the lean look of expectant energy, like a coiled spring.   Reading a story in the Auckland papers a few days later his coach commented on that very thing, saying that Todd was starting to develop a professional body – the kind of body that gets sculpted when working out is your job, not just something you do after work.   This physical transformation will gradually separate the professional players from the talented amateurs as time goes by.

 

This is one of the benefits of a professional league that the US has been lacking and it showed when we went up against fully professional teams.   See the latest World Cup for examples.    It is one of the first steps towards international respectability that we here hope that Pro Rugby provides.

 

One More Bruce Carter Story

 

This story has been told to me by both Bruce himself as well as Skippy Givens , the club sports manager at UCSC.    Every year UCSC host their Slugfest tournament and because he lived relatively close by in Monterey Bruce was often assigned to referee.   One year he showed up and saw the teams warming up and goal posts in place, but that was it.   So he found Skippy and asked when he was planning to line the fields.   Skippy looked at Bruce strangely and said “what do you mean?  They are lined.”    Bruce looked around and told him that they weren’t lined properly because he can’t see any from where he was standing.    “You’re standing right on top of the sideline right now, Bruce,” came the reply.    At this point realization dawned and Bruce asked which color paint they used.    “Well, we were all out of blue and aren’t allowed to use white on the upper field so we painted the lines in red.”

 

What followed would best be described as a pregnant pause, eventually ended by Bruce.

 

“I am red/green colorblind.  I can’t see the red lines on the green grass at all.”

 

I have no idea how Bruce managed to referee that day.  It probably involved a lot of guesswork and help from the touch judges.

 

Ever since that day UCSC will not use red lines to mark their field.

 

Word Of The Day: Canted

 

Canted:  noun

  1. insincere, especially conventional expressions of enthusiasm for high ideals, goodness, or piety.

 

Just in case anyone was wondering.

 

Ask A Pelican

 

Yes, it’s time for this week’s installment of “Ask A Pelican”, the widely loved Q and A session with Hail Pelicus.   This week’s question comes from Greston Pordon of San Francisco, CA who asks:

 

“So I am starting to get AR assignments for playoff and other significant matches and afterwards assignr is asking me for a match report.    Should I send one in?   I know you have said repeatedly not to do so but I have not been paying attention for the last several years.”

 

Hello Mr Pordon and thank you for your question.   As has been stated again and again and again and again and again and again and again DO NOT submit a match report if you are an AR or a PR.   Only the Referee should submit a match report.  I know that you will receive notifications asking you to but just ignore them.   The children who wrote the code for assignr apparently can’t or don’t know how to shut off notifications by category, even though it is literally one line of code:

 

if notification.category != ‘R’

                sendmail.notification = false;

 

Yes, the ‘R’ is hardcoded and that is considered poor programming but this is pseudo code – cut me some slack.   It is simple enough to have a list of categories that allow/disallow mail notifications and to check against this list.   It truly is that simple.

 

The ONLY exception to the above rule is if you are hosting a visiting referee and the visitor does not have access to assignr.   Then you should produce a report with the visiting referees name in it so proper credit is given.

 

Keep those questions coming!

 

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 Scott Wood has 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 the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uz0_gTaOnY

On To The Game Reports!

 

Pelicanland this week took a small pause before the final playoff push of the 2106 15s season thus unfortunately resulting in only a couple of match reports this week.  Fortunately our Chief Foreign Correspondent Stephen Valerio was able to step up and deliver a month’s worth of rugby.

 

Date: 04/02/2016

Cherry Blossom Rugby Tournament

Fort Washington, MD Rosecroft Stadium

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

Back when I played in the Northeast, the Cherry Blossom Tournament was a famed tournament I never played in as my club would head down to Savannah for our spring tour. The Cherry Blossom Tournament is now a university and U-19 tournament with most of the pitches in the middle of a horse-racing track, which may be the weirdest pitch location I ever experienced. The interior pitches are hard, with some having a bit of an incline, making the selection of end a critical decision. On the occasion of guest referees from Plymouth, UK, visiting the Potomac Society, we arranged for a gray, cold and rainy day, so they would feel at home.

 

Gonzaga 40 – Colonel By Secondary 0

 

Colonel By Secondary is a U-19 side that came down from Ottawa, and hadn’t started playing outside yet due to the cold weather back home. They eased into the season against #1 in the nation Gonzaga. The first half was an uneven affair, with Gonzaga’s strong scrum only providing a 5-0 lead. A couple of substitutions at the half changed everything Gonzaga striking for 5 tries. Their flyhalf was especially savvy, confirming anytime he thought he had a penalty advantage before taking a deep kick, which more often than not was collected by a speedy back and led to one of their tries.

 

I then left the infield to go to the 2 pitches outside of the stadium where the university sides were playing. The pitches had pretty good covering of grass, but the inclines were even steeper. You know the angle is steep when you are at a lineout and you look over to the defending hooker and you can only see them from the shoulders up.

 

Towson University 52 – Virginia Commonwealth University 7

 

Towson is one of the stronger local sides and they showed it with an impressive 40-0 lead at the half, even with the abbreviated halves. The match slowed down in the second half with several subs and VCU collected a try for their efforts, but it was clear Towson was the class of the pool.

 

Towson University 29 – College of NJ 10

 

Towson sent out their B-side, plus a couple of their players helped the College of NJ who was light on numbers. The match was a story of the hill. First half, going downhill, Towson 24 College of NJ 0. Second half College of NJ 10 Towson 5.

 

College of NJ 10 – VCU 0

 

VCU contributed a few players to the NJ side. VCU failed to take advantage of the hill in the first half. The College of NJ did in the 2nd with 2 unconverted tries.

 

 

Date: 04/07/2016

Calvert Hall 35 – Archbishop Spalding 0

Location: Severn, MD

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

The Junior Varsity match played before the key match-up between these rivals was delayed nearly an hour due to thunder and lightning, a problem I never had in NorCal. Archbishop Spalding has an impressive set-up with a changing room, public address system and scoreboard. For the JV match, it didn’t help with Calvert Hall in control from the beginning in an open, fast-moving match. Calvert Hall put across 3 tries in each half for a comfortable win, though the open spirit the game was played in was promising for both sides in the future.

 

 

Date: 04/09/2016

Chambersburg 93 – North Bay D4 5

Location: Chambersburg, PA

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

The snow held off, but in a match that kicked off below freezing, Chambersburg dominated a weakened North Bay side that showed up with 1 sub. The match was very consistent with Chambersburg collecting the ball, trying some attacks in tight which the North Bay forwards were able to control. Then they spun the ball out wide and invariably struck for the try. They collected 10 in the first half alone for a 62-0 lead. One penalty against Chambersburg that let North Bay collect a second half try stemmed the Chambersburg attack.

 

 

Date: 04/17/2016

Washington Women’s RFC Ruggerfest

Fort Washington, MD Rosecroft Stadium

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

I returned to Rosecroft stadium, this time starting on the outside pitch and then moving inside the track.

 

New York RFC 26 – Black Ice 0

 

Black Ice Rugby traveled from Colorado and avoided the wintery weather back home. New York was much stronger in the pack, particularly in the first half and they used this base to build a 14-0 halftime lead. While Black Ice was able to stabilize the pack in the second half, NY was able to strike twice in the second half while Black Ice wasn’t able to threaten the NY defense.

 

Severn River 15 – NOVA 12

 

A crazy match on a hard pitch. Severn River carried the early momentum, but was only able to get a try for their effort. Then late in the first half, they found the NOVA back three lacking and started kicking. Twice the back three misplayed the ball and Severn River outside center collected a ball that was allowed to land and struck for 2 long distance tries. With no conversions made Severn River held a 15-0 lead. For some reason, Severn River abandoned this attack in the second half and NOVA started a strong pick-and-go game and collected 2 tries, and importantly a conversion. While only 3 points adrift, NOVA ran out of time and Severn River held onto the win.

 

 

Date: 04/23/2016

Monmouth 45 – Montclair 31

Location: Montclair, NJ

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

I had to return to New Jersey for a family function, and the Rugby Referee Society of NY was kind enough to assign me a match. A friendly between two D2 sides who were rivals from my playing days with North Jersey Rugby (I my first men’s club match was against Montclair at the Sea Girt Tournament Monmouth organizes in August).

 

Monmouth looked the stronger side from the beginning and struck out to a 12-0 lead, but Montclair countered and the half ended with Monmouth leading 19-14. Montclair picked up an early penalty in the second half, but Monmouth’s outside center and fullback repeatedly broke through the Montclair defensive line and lead an attack that put 4 second half tries on the board. Montclair stuck with Monmouth until the final 15 minutes when Monmouth finally pulled away.

 

 

Date: 04/23/2016

Monmouth B  14 – Montclair B 5

Location: Montclair, NJ

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

The B-side match was another close affair. Montclair suffered from inexperience players who were repeatedly penalized, but the Monmouth attack wasn’t consistent enough to benefit. The sides exchanged tries in the first half, but Monmouth sealed it with a second half score.

 

 

Date: 05/01/2016

West Carroll Girls 105 – Eleanor Roosevelt HS 0

Location: Union Bridge, MD

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

West Carroll boasts a wonderful, proper pitch with permanent posts, large try zones and a lush playing surface. The match was only 26 miles away, but going through the rural roads meant a respectable 45-minute drive for me on a gray, cool day. The rain fell earlier giving us a soft pitch, but no rain fell during the match.

 

Unfortunately for Eleanor Roosevelt HS, they were outmatched from the beginning. It was Senior Day for the West Carroll Girls, and they never saw a cold ruck all day.  , Even when Eleanor Roosevelt won the ball they were under pressure. As the match wore on, Eleanor Roosevelt’s conditioning betrayed them and they started falling off their tackles, even when they were in position to stop the relentless Marauder attack.

 

 

Date: 04/30/2016

CSU Monterey Bay WR 29 – Alumni 25

Referee: Freitas, Larry

 

Another beautiful day down at the former Fort Ord near Monterey.  There weren’t enough alumni women to actually form a team, and Alena Porte and another San Jose Seahawk, as well as Betsy, one of the CSUMB coaches who long ago played at UCSC, took to the field for two sevens matches of seven minute halves.  Lots of passing the ball about and scoring, especially by Sabrina Bacuangan.  I have to wonder what her speed is in the 40 meter dash.  Bruce Carter arrived as the second match was ending, and as I missed the banquet the previous evening, it was great to see him before he leaves for Arizona.  We ended up touch judging for Neil McDonald for the men’s alumni-varsity match.

I’m looking forward to how Cal State Monterey Bay will do next year.  They have a building program, with many enthusiastic student-athletes.  Both the men and women’s sides will be looking for coaches, by the way, so anyone interested who lives in or near the Monterey Bay area might want to contact.

 

 

Date: 04/30/2016

SFGG PRP 31 – OMBAC PRP 10

Referee: Akroyd, Phil

 

This one had big implications for the PRP playoffs.  OMBAC were second, leading SFGG in the table in third and had some momentum from previous results.  SFGG previously had a big win against the Barbos, followed by a postponed fixture.

 

It looked ominous for SFGG when OMBAC scored a try in the first minute from fullback Pangelinan.  SFGG answered pretty quickly with a try from Huihui, then the game settled into a cagey battle.  SFGG were struggling immensely in the scrum but did have a powerful maul.  Gate pushed ahead just before half with a second try and OMBAC answered back with more pints from the fullback to make it 14-10 at half.

 

There was no more scoring from OMBAC in the second half but the home team opened up their attacking game with Tai Enosa repeatedly making an impact when he came into the line from 15.

 

 

This Week’s Photo

The torch was well and truly passed as Pelicus Scriptoris poses with the Centurian, also known as the Eternal Pelicus.

Carter Pelicus

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre