Category Archives: News

Pelican House

HAIL PELICUS!

Pelican House

The eye of the camera settles on a solemn scene.   The Board of Directors of the Finest Rugby Referee Society in the land were staring morosely into their beer, looks of dejection on their faces the order of the day.   Heavy sighing and sad looks were all the rage.   Things were bad, indeed.  

But the entire board hadn’t assembled yet.   Preston Gordon (as played by Jon Belushi) sauntered in to the boardroom fresh off a plane from England sporting strange and outlandish kit and a nat – the opposite of a tan.   (What do you expect from someone who just spent 6 months in England?)

Preston:  What’s going on?   

Lee Bryant (as played by Bruce McGill):  Season’s over, man.  They played the big one.

Preston:  Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Cal won the National Championship? Hell no!

Paul Bretz (as played by Tim Matheson):  Cal?

Pete Smith (as played by Peter Riegert):  Forget it, he’s rolling.

Preston:  And it ain’t over now. ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough… the tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go!

Preston charged from the room yelling the Pelican War Cry.   The rest of the Board looked at each other but never moved, except to take another sad swig of beer.   Eventually, Preston stalked back into the room.

Preston:  What the family newsletter happened to the Pelicans I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you Preston, we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this.  The Amazons?   Still playing!  Olympic Club?   Still playing!   The crew for Marin 7s…

Paul Bretz:  Refereeing! Preston’s right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta support these bastards. Now we could do it with a conventional banquet that could take days and cost thousands of dollars. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.

Preston:  We’re just the people to do it.

Lee Bryant:  Let’s do it.

Preston:  LET’S DO IT!

Paul Bretz:  You guys up for a toga party?

Preston:  Toga!  Toga!

Paul Bretz:  Ah, I think they like the idea, Neil.

Neil MacDonald (playing himself):  It’s not gonna be an orgy! It’s a toga party.

Thus, with a plan to save Pelicanland and honor the efforts of the finest flock ever to blow a whistle, the Board of Directors returned to their (now) well-earned beer, drinking the night away and slowly leaving one by one, reminiscent of the final scene in Ocean’s 11, until only two of these mighty heroes were left.

Lee Bryant: Why am I wearing a mustache?

Neil MacDonald:  What are you complaining about?  I only got one line, and not even as a character.

Banquet Details

The Annual NCRFURS Banquet will be held Saturday, June 8  at the Up and Under Pub, 2 West Richmond Ave. Point Richmond, CA 94801. As always, NCRRS will cover the tab for officials. You are responsible for covering the cost of your guests, $50.00, and drinks. The society is also looking to find discounts for those wishing to stay the evening in Point Richmond. More information on that will be forthcoming from our noble leader, Pelicus Iudex Pennipes.

Please fill out the below google doc to let us know if you are coming and your choice of dinner.  There will be a no host bar and appetizers starting at 6:30 with dinner to commence at 7:15 and our awards presentation starting around 8:00 PM.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1KhY063gTN66l1wFoEmDWGIHEAub_HQ4mSsA0OITJjFo/viewform?edit_requested=true

As detailed (accurately, I am sure) in the previous section, the board agreed to change up the format and the dress code this year is formal Roman. That’s right. It’s a toga party!  Guests are highly encouraged, but not required, to don their finest togas.

A Chance At History

For as long as rugby has been played the USA has been a second class citizen in the rugby community.   Women’s World Cup?   It’s only women and the rest of the world wasn’t taking it seriously yet.   The Olympic golds in the 1920s?   Didn’t count.  We weren’t playing rugby the way gentlemen do, we were just a bunch of backwards colonists mindlessly bashing about, not playing with style and elegance as a man from Eton would.  Since those long ago lofty heights we have rarely made any splash on the international rugby stage, only securing a win over a “top tier” nation for the first time ever last year.    The rugby elites looked down their noses at us and tolerated us in the hope of getting into the vast American

But no longer.

Our 7s team has spent the majority of the World Sevens Series at the top of the table, as gleefully reported here, and only a semifinal loss to Fiji allowed the Pacific Islanders to pip us at the top of the table by 2 points.   Nobody else is in the hunt so now, with one final tournament this weekend in Paris, it comes down to who does better, USA or Fiji?   Everyone is hoping for a USA-Fiji  final that will not only determine the Paris champion, but the Series champion, but I would settle for a semifinal place if Fiji gets knocked out in the quarters.   It wasn’t too long ago when we were struggling to stay in the series and then “Magic” Mike Friday took over and molded a championship program.  It just goes to show what people have always said, we have the athletes here in America, we just need to learn the game.

I advise everyone to tune in on ESPN+ to watch the games.   If you don’t have it set up a free 7 day trial then cancel it on Monday.   Find a friend who has an account.   Find a bar that will show it and is open at 5:00am. (Good luck with that, but I can tell you from past experience with soccer World Cups it is possible.  Just not legal.)    Fortunately, you don’t have to watch live – ESPN+ offers replays.   Just stay off social media until you have seen the matches.

As a 7s bonus you can also watch the Collegiate Rugby Championship, whose motto is  We Are Not The USA Rugby National Championship But An Invitational Tournament Designed To Maximize TV Revenue.   (It sounds better in Latin.)    This event will also be going on all weekend and you can check out the 7s stars of the future.   Do you doubt me?  Ask Madison Hughes where he first shot to prominence.

And if you want live 7s, there is always the first tournament of the season going on up in Marin.

A full weekend of 7s… heaven.

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data.  To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition.  The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

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

On To The Game Reports!

I got nothing.

This Week’s Photo

Live schedule of this weekend’s 7s rugby on ESPN+.   Personally, I am watching the replays.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

A Story Of Kit

HAIL PELICUS!

A Story Of Kit

Summer is here so you know what that means: Sun’s Out Guns Out!   Time to pick up all your summer Pelican Gear.    Yes, this also includes tracksuits and everything else for summer or winter and it will delivered in time for the 7s season. 

But time is running out!

The store will close Friday May 10 so get your order in now because that is the end of the Story of Kit.   Purchases will be delivered by May 31.   Go to https://norcalreferee2019.itemorder.com/ to check it out or click on the banner below.

Playoffs!

This past weekend saw a number of Nor Cal teams in the playoffs and the teams done did us proud.  

In the D3 Men’s Western Regional Napa absolutely crushed Budd Bay 183-0 (all scores are approximate because USA Rugby doesn’t have results on their website and, in fact, still lists the 2018 brackets.    At least they have the 2018 results posted.   Well done, USA Rugby!).

In the D2 Women’s Western Regional the Sacramento Amazons, for the second year running, stomped the Emerald City Mudhens 55-10 (still approximated).

In the PRP final Life West outlasted Belmont Shore 1-0 (a difficult score to pull off in rugby, but there are no scores on the USA Rugby website).

In the D2 Men’s Western Regional Olympic Club did something, but nobody knows what it is or who they played because the game isn’t even mentioned by USA Rugby.

Great stuff, everyone!

Unfortunately it isn’t all sugar and spice and everything nice as in D1AA action the Chico St Men, after scrambling to raise funds to travel to North Carolina to use an inappropriate bathroom, dropped a heartbreaker to Dartmouth 46-5.  (I have a score AND there is a map of the facility linked.  Hooray!)

So finally we get to the game that was played in our backyard.   Cal v Life in the D1A final at Santa Clara University.   Unfortunately for Pelicanland, Cal dropped a nailbiter 29-26 with Cal taking the lead for the first time late in the match and Life responding with 2 minutes left to retake the top position.   A cracker of a game.   I watched this game from the stands and I must say I was impressed with Life’s size and athleticism.   My biggest takeaway, however, was total and complete astonishment at the tactics that Cal employed.    Cal was dominant in the scrums yet constantly chose to kick for touch from penalties despite the fact that they only secured about 50% of their own lineout ball.   Why?   Call for a scrum, destroy it, get the penalty, call for a scrum, rinse and repeat until Life starts to lose players to the bin.   That seemed obvious from the stands.  

Another rather puzzling decision was the robotic insistence on playing a forwards pick and go game when close to the goal line.   While they did score doing that, by my count Cal butchered at least 2 golden try scoring opportunities by failing to give the ball to the backline.  Life was committing everything to stop the pick and go and with their size it was  meat and drink to them.   Cal would end up with a 4 or 5 on 2 in the backs but never passed it out.   The wing or center would have walked in untouched, yet the pick and go was done ad infinitum until a try was scored (twice, I think) or a turnover (3 times, at least).  Even when Life had a man in the sin bin (twice) Cal refused to exploit the man advantage.   To put the cherry on top, these tactics would grind out the time of the sin bin, something that Life was more than happy to help with.   An astonishing lack of rugby nous was displayed in these situations.

The last puzzler was a bit more subtle.   Life quite obviously had a defensive game plan of flying off the line and rushing up to deny Cal ball carriers space, yet Cal never adjusted.   Several  possible overlaps and attacking chances were squandered because a Cal back got the ball flat footed with a defender in his face.   Nobody thought to stand a few paces deeper, or to punch a little kick right in behind to slow down the defense and it cost Cal.

Credit to Life who developed and executed a masterful game plan and won the National Championship.  Shame to Cal for not playing with a rugby brain and squandering opportunities.

A Life Worth Remembering, Celebrating And Emulating

Norman Lawrence Oates Oakenfull passed away last week. 

 I am sure that that name doesn’t mean much to most of the readers of this newsletter, but some few more may know him as Larry Bang Bang. 

Larry Bang Bang was a rugby supporter.   In fact, he was the rugby supporter that every club should have, and many do.   His chosen club was also my chosen club as a player, the San Jose Seahawks, but don’t let that fool you – he was a rugby supporter.   San Jose St, College Park, men or women, it didn’t matter, he was going to be on the sideline banging his drum for the local side.   The sight and, naturally, the sound, of Larry Bang Bang pacing the sidelines banging his drum and shouting “LET’S GET ANOTHER FIVE POINTER!!!” always lifted me and my teammates.

Of course, I am sure the opposition hated it, but that was the point, wasn’t it?

No matter the outcome you would find Larry at the post match social holding court with a beer, a wink, a few dirty stories and a grin that was so wide the top of his head threatened to fall off.   He loved rugby and he loved his Seahawks.   That statement didn’t just apply to the rugby pitch, either.   If you played for the club, dated or was married to someone in the club, was related to one of the above or was just a supporter you were a Seahawk and he would support anything you did.  He would go to children’s recitals, birthday parties, fundraisers and off season events.   He famously played in my 40th birthday slosh ball game because, hey, I was a Seahawk. He had almost no idea what baseball was, much less slosh ball, but he was there and had the time of his life.

He never asked for anything in return.  He just wanted to be part of the club.  To belong to this wonderful fraternity and sorority of people who love rugby.   We were his family.  Yes, he had family of his own back in New Zealand but none locally so he gave all his love to the rugby community.

Rugby was not his entire life, though.  He was heavily involved in the local Scottish society and would never miss a Robert Burns Dinner and was on the board of his local homeowners association.   He just loved people and giving back.   But rugby was king, as it were.   The fortunes of the All Blacks, San Jose St and Seahawks (men and women both), were never far from his mind and he would tell you all about it every chance he would get.  

The funny thing is he never played.  As he declined I was privileged to spend a fair amount of time with him and he told me of his youth with his brother where he wasn’t allowed to play the rough game of rugby but excelled at athletics.   He was a sprinter, a shock to many who only knew him as a bent old man.  He always loved the game, though, as he told me, and jumped at the chance to get involved in rugby once he found out that we had it here in America.   That was back in 1973, just two years after the founding of the San Jose Seahawks and he was the greatest supporter the club has had in its entire history.   He saw the club grow into a national power and then fall into a social side with memories of glory and dreams of regaining it.   One of the greatest things to happen in the last few years was the resurgence of the San Jose Seahawks and when they won the trophy as Norther California D2 Champions last year the first thing they did was go to the rest home he was living in and give him the cup.   That wide smile got even wider and his eyes shone as brightly as I have ever seen them.

Most eulogies like this I like to put a bit of poetry at the top to sort of set the tone knowing that the past masters are finer practitioners of the English language than I can hope to be and poetry in particular has the ability to write its message in lines of white hot fire across the soul.   I chose not to this time for several reasons, but mainly because Larry Bang Bang just wasn’t a poetry kind of guy.  Instead, I’m going to go raise a beer to my friend and maybe tell myself a dirty joke or two.

I miss you already, my friend.  

Time To Strap On The Ol’ Nosebag

Yup, the season has come and (mostly) gone so it is time to start thinking about putting on your #1s and gathering with the flock so that we can tell everyone how good we are.   After some goading by last week’s Hail Pelicus the Board put out the following statement:

Good evening everyone,

Please save the date of June 8 as the societies’ annual banquet.  We are changing things up this year and will be hosting the event at the Up and Under Pub.  The board agreed that we’ve spent too much money at Scott’s and wanted to try something new.  in that spirt we are also changing the dress code to formal Roman Attire.  That right!! we want you dressed to impress in your best roman garb.  We are in the process of securing a reduced hotel rate.  More information will be forthcoming.

I’m personally looking forwarding to seeing everyone as we celebrate our accomplishments this past year.  

I’ll be sending out more information related to dress, food choices, and hotel accommodations in the next few days.

So it looks like we are having a toga party.    Woo hoo!

As If Anyone Needed Reminding

The USA is ranked #1 in 7s and can clinch an Olympic spot in London May 26th.

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data.  To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition.  The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

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

On To The Game Reports!

(We have run out of games here in Pelicanland, but our good friend Pelicus is still chugging away in England.)

Date: 04/28/2019

Westcliff 13-24 Eton Manor U18

Location: The Gables, Aviation Way, Southend-on-Sea

Referee: Preston Gordon

This was the capstone of a fairly busy weekend of rugby here in England. After work on Friday, I took a short train ride up the Lea Valley to Cheshunt RFC and had the opportunity to stretch my legs at an old boys memorial tournament  to honor one of their recently-departed members. That involved reffing one surprisingly fast 15-minute game (Cheshunt-Hertford; won by Hertford 5 tries to 0) and ARing two more, before checking out their nice new clubhouse. On Saturday, I was AR2 for a ladies match at Fullerians RFC in Watford:

Hertfordshire 20-7 Eastern Counties in the Gill Burns County Championship.

After those two outings, and a Saturday evening black tie cèilidh to benefit a Herts breast cancer organization, plus the hour’s drive to Southend, I was ready to referee a full game of rugby. That’s exactly what I got – with these two teams on top of the Essex U18 table jointly with Brentwood RFC, this match effectively had the league title on the line. Both teams were clearly well motivated during their warmup routines, and the 150+ crowd added a good atmosphere.

With prematch briefings out of the way in good time, Eton Manor kicked off at 1230. They got the first try just four minutes later, converting it and looking comfortable. Westcliff got on the scoreboard at 10′ with an unconverted try of their own that kept things close.

Eton Manor scored again at 17′ but were unable to add the extras. The 7-point lead was cut to 4 in the 20th minute, when Westcliff opted to take a shot at goal from in front of the posts (8-12). Manor had the last word in the half when they scored a third try at 27′ to go into halftime ahead by 9 points at 8-17.

After a short break, we got back to business. Westcliff obviously had had a sterner talking-to, and immediately put Eton Manor under pressure. In the 4th minute, Westcliff’s multi-phased attack took them within a few meters of the goal line. The retiring Manor #9, who was never close to being onside, cynically killed the opportunity for a quick recycled ball and subsequently departed for the touchline and a 10-minute rest. While he was away, Westcliff scored their second try in the 7th minute, and although they couldn’t convert it, they were now within 4 points at 13-17. Emotions and intensity remained high on both sides for the remainder of the match, and aside from two minor incidents away from play that necessitated a word from me to both captains, everything was going smoothly. As the clock wound down to the end of the match at 70′, Westcliff increased pressure, and I was thinking we were about to see a potential 18-17 photo finish. Both sides were very conscious of the time remaining and the score, asking me to confirm it several times. Ultimately, one minute after time had expired, Eton Manor intercepted a pass and scored under the posts to seal their win and league title. Their captain rushed to take the meaningless drop-kicked conversion so he could join his teammates’

raucous celebration, while Westcliff looked on, knowing it could have been theirs had things turned out just a little bit differently. An 11-point win definitely flattered Eton Manor on the day.

Despite there being a storm warning for the weekend, there were only a few sprinkles in the second half, and we had a firm pitch to use.

Westcliff’s hospitality and clubhouse were great, and I felt a bit lucky to learn that I may have had one of the last matches at this site, which is on the opposite side of Southend airport from Southend RFC, where I AR’d Westcliff’s Essex U18 Cup final in early March.  Apparently the airport is expanding, and Westcliff RFC is relocating to a larger site somewhere else in the area.

This was probably my last 15s match of the season. After 30+ matches in less than half of an English season (having 7 evaluations, with 3 at level 8), I’m pretty happy with how things have gone here. I’ve gotten some really great reactions from people in the rugby clubhouses here. Having attired myself properly, I don’t get a second glance until I open my mouth. Then I typically get asked if I’m Canadian (although I’ve gotten Australian and Kiwi as well, and occasionally even an accurate guess at American). One of these days, I won’t be able to explain that yes, we do have rugby in the United States, and by the way, USA is ranked #1 at sevens!

This Week’s Photo

Larry Bang Bang leading the San Jose Seahawks out circa 1985.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

A Few Good Satires

HAIL PELICUS!

A Few Good Satires

It has been some time since the last Hail Pelicus was released to my adoring public and I know some of you are jonesing hard right now, so let’s apply the tourniquet of rugby news to our arms and pop up the veins of pseudo-classical satirical comedy, to insert the needle of insight and depress the plunger of truthiness and let that sweet, sweet Hail Pelicus flow into our consciousness.   That’s it, just relax and let the metaphors take you away to your happy place, for it is Playoff Rugby time.

Yes the reasons for the gap in publishing are many and varied, but stem from two main sources.  The first is that for work these days I am traveling to Iowa every week and that limits the time I have to wax poetic on rugby themes and other musings.   To be honest, I really don’t have time to wax anything at all these days – things are a nasty mess in certain places; just plain dirty.   I hardly even like looking at it and it is mine.

One of these days soon I am just going to bite the bullet and wax my car to get it back to its original luster.   My snow skis could use a coat of wax as well for the Spring skiing season.

The other reason is the lawsuit I filed against the NCRFURS over several grievances, including missing back pay and the obvious obstruction from the society president (which he calls a Witch Hunt).  It was an emotional and dramatic scene when Pelicus Iudex Pennipes was on the witness stand and I hammered him with questions that he either refused to answer or answered with a conciliatory sneer.   The tension was palpable when the final exchange took place:

Paul Bretz (as played by Jack Nicholson): You want answers?   

Hail Pelicus (as played by Tom Cruise): I think I’m entitled to them.   

Paul Bretz: You want answers?   

Hail Pelicus: I want the truth! 

Paul Bretz: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Son, we referee a game that has laws. And those laws have to be guarded by men with whistles. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Pelicus Pedem Referre? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse Northern California Rugby Referees. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s red card, while tragic, probably saved penalties. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves penalties.  I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who plays rugby under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said ‘thank you’ and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a whistle and do a match. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to! 

Hail Pelicus: Did you give the Red Card? 
Paul Bretz:  I did the job that —    
Hail Pelicus: Did you give the Red Card? 
Paul Bretz: You’re goddamn right I did!

And then the judge (played by Matt Eason) threw the case out reasoning this is a volunteer position so I don’t get paid, plus I retired from playing rugby to referee 10 years ago so the scene made no sense.

Personally, I think Chris Hemsworth would have been a much better choice to play the role of Hail Pelicus, but nobody asked me.

The Evolution of USA 7s and Carlin Isles

Hong Kong and Singapore exposed the USA 7s team for what we are: a very talented team that is badly missing their superstars.  We finished 3rd and 4th continuing the unprecedented run of making the semifinals in every tournament and thus gaining valuable points, but we lack that killer finish to get by the top teams at the end.   One can not overstate the loss of Perry Baker and Danny Barrett but the squad has proved its depth.   Pinkleman has been a rock star and should be in the World Player of the Year conversation.  Tomasin has been a revelation and Leuta, while backsliding in a couple of games with concentration issues, has stepped up to be the player he can be.   Niua we all know runs the team and is playing nearly every minute so I worry about his health, but some of the pressure should be taken off if, as expected, PB and DB are back in the squad for London and Paris.

So what about Carlin Isles?   I have criticized him and praised him as he has filled the gap left behind by the loss of Baker, but the last few tournaments have not only shown his improvement but highlighted his weaknesses.    There is nobody in world rugby that is better at running fast in a straight line than Isles and he has added, not a sidestep, but a very effective swerve.   He is creating tries in places when in the past he would be bottled up or shepherded into touch and he is doing it against world class opponents.  That is hugely impressive and his tour leading try total is a just reward.

And yet… he is a rag doll on defense.   He is targeted by the opposition and is a liability.   So what do you do?   You can not take the greatest offensive threat we have off the field, so you have to overcompensate on defense with other players covering for him and that has led to tries being given up and is in many ways the difference between winning a semi or a final and losing. 

He has earned his place and deserves all the accolades he is being given, but forgive me if I can not wait until Perry Baker returns.

What Of The Ladies?

So what of the ladies?  Well unfortunately the women of rugby don’t get the same amount of coverage as the men.  I only knew that we beat the New Zealand Black Ferns in 7s from Facebook – and it was a prop who told me!    There was a Women’s 7s tournament going on in Japan!   I had to go back and search for myself to learn that we destroyed England in the first match 43-7.   That is a fun one to watch, I highly recommend it.   We then took it to Fiji 31-5 and then squeaked by Ireland 15-12.   That set up a quarterfinal with the reigning World Cup champions, New Zealand.   We proved ourselves in San Francisco that even without Alev Kelter we could push the Kiwis to the edge and it turns out that with her we can push them off the edge.  It was a thrilling match that I also, highly recommend watching.   After dispatching the world champions with nary an effort 26 – 19 (just kidding – it was a great back and forth game) we finally faltered at the feet of our neighbors to the north, Canada, eh?   Canada went on to win the whole shebang so we had to console ourselves with a fine 3rd place and showing the French how it is done.   Good times.


What the real tragedy of USA Women’s rugby is really the 15s program.   We are really, really good but there is literally no support.   Last weekend we had a famous match against the Barbarians – always a great matchup because of the whole Barbarian culture of picking all star teams that just go out and have fun.  Anything can happen at these affairs.    But… but… in order to get to the selection and training camps the LADIES HAD TO PAY THEIR OWN WAY!   I saw numerous gofundme and other fundraising campaigns just to get our best players together to train.   

This is intolerable and if it isn’t at the forefront of the agenda of USA Rugby BoD and Congress, then they should all be sacked immediately.   It is almost better to have no governing body than to have one that doesn’t support the rugby populace.   You can argue about where money should be spent but this is the National Team’s basic expenses of getting to training camp!   I don’t see this happening to the mens’ team.

Pelican Rugby Kit Store Is Back

Summer is here so you know what that means: Sun’s Out Guns Out!   Time to pick up all your summer Pelican Gear.    Yes, this also includes tracksuits and everything else for winter but it will delivered in time for the 7s season.  The store opens April 26 and runs through May 10 so get your order in now.   Purchases will be delivered by May 31.   Go to https://norcalreferee2019.itemorder.com/ to check it out.

Time To Strap On The Ol’ Nosebag

Yup, the season has come and (mostly) gone so it is time to start thinking about putting on your #1s and gathering with the flock so that we can tell everyone how good we are.   I am sure the Board of Directors will soon make an announcement as to the details, but to get ahead of the game I am starting my pre-banquet fasting routine now.

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data.  To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition.  The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

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

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 03/23/2019

Olympic Club 27 – SFGG D2 0 

Referee: John Lane

With the two clubs “Old Boys” game played beforehand there was a good atmosphere developed before the game on what was an excellent day on Treasure Island – the sun was out and with the noon kickoff time the wind was not significant throughout the game.

Olympic were definitely more organized in their warm-up routines with SFGG getting progressively more structured as kickoff approached.  SFGG started well and put some pressure on in the opening 5 minutes assisted by some errors from Olympic.  On 8 minutes, Olympic forced a turnover and some quick phased play brought them into the SFGG 22.  From there a few more phases of pressure lead to a try on the left which went unconverted – 5-0.  Olympic continued to be the more dominant team but SFGG’s defense held them up and the SFGG 12 made a number of strong runs to alleviate the pressure.  On 25 mins the pressure did tell with another unconverted try wide on the left.  10-0.

SFGG dominated the last 10 mins of the half aided by a number of kick outs on the full by the Olympic 10 and a scrum that was getting the upper hand but failed to make a score.  The second half started well for Gate but Olympic’s overall better fitness levels started to influence the scoreline – when opportunities came they were able to keep the pressure on.  This lead to a try on 54 mins – again unconverted from the left. 15-0.

Around this stage I had a quick chat with the captains on both sides starting to slow down ball at the breakdown – this brought the right reaction from both sides for the remainder of the game.

On 60 mins Olympic opted for a kick at goal from a penalty in front of the posts but the kick was pulled badly wide.  On 65 mins the pressure brought the bonus point try, again wide on the left and unconverted – 20-0.

From the restart, Olympic broke through and despite some good defense from SFGG the ball was recycled and they crossed for a 5th try by the posts which was converted – 27-0.

Olympic then started to empty their bench progressively and SFGG had the better of the last 10 minutes.   With a few minutes to go they crossed the line but the 9 was held up and the subsequent scrum was poor and Olympic turned over and exited.   The game finished in midfield with both sides warmly clapping each other off the field after a competitive game physically which was not fully reflected on the scoreline.

Date: 03/23/2019

Vacaville 41 – BA Baracus 21 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

Both teams were wrapping up difficult seasons, so only pride was on the line. Vacaville came through, more organized at the breakdown and able to put together some nice backfield attacks. Still, Baracus stayed with it and scored as time expired to end on a high note.

Date: 03/23/2019

Marin 48 – BA Baracus B 0 

Referee: Cary Bertolone

A rare, nice, sunny Saturday, kickoff was at 12:20. Marin took a 7 minute lead at the 7 minute mark. 10 minutes later, some good passing lead to another try. 6 minutes later, Marin added 3 more and took a 24-0 lead into half time. More of the same in the second half, Marin won going away with a final score of 48-0.

Date: 03/23/2019

Olympic Club Old Boys 84 – SFGG Senors 12 

Referee: Chris Tucker

First old boys game in a while, and long overdue. Two fine teams of guys remembering how the game works, and having laughs while thumping each other as hard as the ageing bodies would allow. One rather young player stood out in this crowd, out on the wing for OC, sneaking in under the father-son exemption. He did try to score at one point, before finding out that 18 years old is insufficiently aged to have a try allowed in an old-boys game.  22 drop out to restart…  Fortunately he was smart enough to find a team mate to pass to next time he found himself in goal.  The team mate in question?  His father.  Nice moment.  As for the game, OC thumped Gate, but was anybody really keeping score?  Well, aside from me…

Thanks to both teams for playing in fine spirit and for the beers after.  I got to watch Pelicus Guinness Consumptus run around after players half his age, which I found vaguely fitting given the game I had just done.  Slainte!

Date: 03/23/2019

Pacific 52 – Santa Rosa JC 24 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

Rugby just keeps getting better. Top to bottom the game is being played with more skill and grace than it when I started playing, or even when I stopped playing. It’s fun to see. On campus at the University of the Pacific the state of the game was on display between UoP and the visitors from Santa Rosa Junior College. Overall the game was quick, hard hitting and at times beautiful to watch. The teams traded scores in a first half that saw the home team up 24-17 at the break. In the second half, UoP got going and never looked back. A penalty try 10:00 into the second period had the Tigers fired up. Though they ended up playing a man down for much of the half, they found some gaps in the Santa Rosa back line and pulled away with a couple of break away tries. UoP nearly pitched a shut out in the second half. SRJC added a cosmetic score off a brilliant and frenetic few minutes of play, ending the game with a brilliant run from their captain that went for a try. Good game by both sides on a perfect Stockton afternoon.

Date: 03/23/2019

Danville Oaks RFC 22 – Jesuit High School Rugby Club 24 

Referee: Pete Smith

No offence to any other team, player, coach or ref, but I easily had the match of the day in California. Jesuit traveled to Danville under perfect skies and 65* temps. Danville controlled the game early going up 5-0 then 10-0 only to have Jesuit come back to tie it at halftime with two tries of their own. Only 5 penalties in the first half. The kids were there to play, not talk or whine, but PLAY! Second half 17-10, then 17-17 then Jesuit pulls ahead 24-17 with 8 minutes remaining. With no time left, Danville chips ahead to the Jesuit #8 who smartly marks the ball inside his 22. I tell the #8 time has expired and a free kick is just like a kick in open play (can’t coach). He taps the ball and then kicks for distance and touch directly to the Danville winger in play (If he had turned around and kicked the ball out the back of the try zone game would have been over) several phases later try to Danville in ‘extra’ time. Conversion wide right game over 24-22. 5 penalties in the second half! Easily 10 HS All-Americans on the field, probably 5-6 future collegiate AA’s and likely 2-3 future Eagles (there are 5 Eagles between the two coaching staff’s!!) EPIC Game!!!!!! 

This is why refs ref. That game was a slice of heaven to a ref. It’s like a hole one one to weekend golfer…it is the Holy Grail. Players that want to play, shut up and trust the ref, open it up and go, fans were great (several hundred of them), weather perfect, pitch fast, ref amped, Game ON!!! Thank you players, coaches and fans for letting me be a part of your game. Wow…just WOW!

Date: 03/23/2019

De La Salle 43 – Pleasanton Cavaliers HS Varsity 7 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

A hard fought game by both sides

Date: 03/30/2019

Cal 29 – St Marys College 19 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Strawberry Canyon on a sun filled day drew a large crowd for a great day of rugby.

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  Seriously?   That is all you have to say about Cal v St Marys?)

Date: 03/30/2019

San Jose Seahawks B 24 – Marin 22 

Referee: Giles Wilson

A very competitive “play in” game on a beautiful Saturday in San Jose between Marin Reds and San Jose Seahawks.  Both teams had the ability to make line breaks, although both also had defensive structure. At the end of the first half, there was nothing between the teams at 12-all both teams having two tries and one conversion.

More of the same in the second half, both teams scored unconverted tries to move to 17-all. Marin then scored again but could not convert for a 22-17 lead. San Jose worked their way back for a final score and the winning conversion for a 24 – 22 final.

Date: 04/06/2019

Sacramento Amazons 51 – SFGG Women 0 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

Amazons established dominance early. They found easy overlaps in the backfield, and wings were able to take an outside line around the defenders. The inside running by the Amazons was punishing with big forwards testing the Golden Gate tackling. It was no different in the scrums with the Amazons in control, forcing Golden Gate to move backwards even when they won the scrum.

Date: 04/06/2019

Reno Zephyrs 31 – Mendocino Steam Donkeys 58 

Referee: Sam Reagle

This was looking to be an exciting game between 2 teams that were playing for nothing but pride.  This being a factor, both teams were short on subs.  The Mendocino Steam Donkeys got on the board first with an unconverted try just 2 minutes into the game.  It took about 10 minutes for the Zephyrs to respond with a converted try to take the lead 7-5.  Then the Zephyrs got their groove with 2 more tries (one converted) to storm out to a 19-5 lead when disaster struck.  Two Zephyrs banged heads making a tackle drawing blood from both.  Both subbed out, one later returned.  During their absence, the Steam Donkeys ran off 4 tries to retake the lead 29-19.  After one bleeder returned, Mendocino managed another unconverted try before halftime to lead 34-19.

The Steam Donkeys continued to press in the second half with tries at 2, 7, 12 and 30 minutes.  The Zephyrs closed out the scoring with a penalty try at 33 minutes due to a collapsed scrum at the goal line and a well-earned try in the corner at full time.  Final 58-31.

The social was well-attended by both teams at the Red Rock Bar in downtown Reno.  It’s run by a very friendly Kiwi whose name I knocked on.

Date: 04/06/2019

Granite Bay Grizzlies 22 – Jesuit High School Rugby Club 31 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

A big local match saw Jesuit over Granite Bay rugby

Date: 04/06/2019

Marin Highlanders Rugby Club 50 – Mother Lode Rugby Football Club 12 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

Motherlode was a bit behind the eight ball due to numbers and had to pull some players up from JV for depth. Despite the adversity Motherlode played with enthusiasm and resolve. The scoreboard doesn’t reflect the possession they had inside Marin’s 22. On the other side, Marin played very well. They were able to move the ball through multiple players on most possessions and played a distinctly unselfish brand of rugby. Kudos to both teams and their coaches, who have clearly been instilling a positive culture within their clubs.

Date: 04/06/2019

De La Salle 70 – C K McClatchy High School 12 

Referee: Chris Tucker

Bit one-sided, but much fun had by all anyway.  Thanks to Ed and Bryant on the sideline for their invaluable assistance.

Date: 04/06/2019

Navy 74 VCU 0

Location: Annapolis, MD

Referee: Stephen Valerio

VCU showed up with 17 players to take on a primarily plebe side of Midshipmen. Navy had a full complement of subs and being Navy, fitness wasn’t an issue.

VCU was incredibly well-coached, it took Navy a yellow card before they were able to keep the tackle zone clear, while VCU was able to keep to their pattern without repeated infringments. While the first half yellow slowed the Navy attack, Navy were still able to get 4 first half tries to go up 22-0. The half was closer than that as VCU was able to penetrate deep into the Navy half a couple of times, but was never able to punch it across.

The second half was another story as fitness and numbers took a toll on VCU, who continued to play hard, but couldn’t get any reward for their efforts.

Date: 04/14/2019

Gonzaga 43 Raleigh 14

Location: Derwood, MD

Referee: Stephen Valerio

The North Bay and MD Exiles Girls High School teams are the class of Maryland Girls rugby and closed out the regular season to claim top seeding going into the playoffs. The Exiles hosted and feature a powerful, forward driven attack, with a strong counter ruck. North Bay has a dangerous backline and does a lot of damage through the wide channels. North Bay were able to strike first and grabbed the early 7-0 lead. However, the game played to the Exiles strengths with lots of in tight pick and goes, and heated rucks. A key edge for North Bay was their captain and fly-half Alex Pipkin who slotted a penalty late in the first half (off of 3 posts) to go in 10-0.

The Exiles hit back hard in the second half and put North Bay under extreme pressure. After North Bay lost a player to a  yellow for repeated team offsides the Exiles were able to punch a try across after a multiple phases at the the North Bay try line to cut the lead to  10-5. Late in the half North Bay pushed the ball down into the Exiles half with a lineout on the Exiles 5-meter line. The Exiles won the line out and tried to run it out from the shadow of their posts, but the ball carrier got isolated and North Bay slotted another penalty to go up 13-5.

The Exiles got a penalty at the North Bay 22 in the waning minutes and stuck to their pattern of play, eschewing the kick and of crashing the balls with their forwards. They were able to get to a camp out in the North Bay end, but never were able to crack the line.

Date: 04/14/2019

Mavericks 7-12 Old Albanians U18

Location: Warley Playing Fields, Brentwood

Referee: Preston Gordon

This youth friendly featured two very well-matched teams that nearly fought out a draw on the same pitch where I reffed the Mavericks senior men’s side on January 26th. The lines on the pitch appeared to have last been painted that same day too – it seems the local council (government) has been putting its taxpayers’ hard-earned pounds to work elsewhere. I insisted on having cones along the two goal lines, but was happy to judge the rest of it using the sideline and in-goal flags.

The halftime score was 7-7, and other than a Mavericks player clearly running out the back of the in-goal in the second half, it appeared that I was going to have a second drawn result on this pitch within three months. The Old Albanian pack, however, had another plan, and in the 39th minute (running time) of the second half had a lineout about 15m from the Mavericks goal line. They recovered their own throw, formed a driving maul, and the player at the back broke off about 5m short and beat the cover defense to the corner flag to score the winning try.

Earlier in the game, there were a couple of players giving me unsolicited feedback on what I should be calling, but this was more due to teenage over-enthusiasm than anything else, and a couple of words with the captains sorted this out quickly and quietly. There was basically no foul play, which reflects the great quality of coaching that these two sides have. Getting a solid workout on this sloped pitch on a Sunday afternoon – right as the sun burned off the drizzle – was a great way to end a weekend full of rugby.

I spent the preceding day at Allianz Park, yet again, as #4 and reserve AR for the Saracens-Wasps FC Tyrrells Premier 15s women’s semi-final. Saracens won 31-13 (see

https://www.saracens.com/news-article/match-report-saracens-women-31-wasps-fc-ladies-13)

and the ref for that one was Sara Cox, the world’s first professional lady rugby referee. I definitely picked up a few things at her pre-match briefing!

The gentleman who was there to evaluate/coach one of the ARs was named Clive Nicholas (I’m fairly sure that was his last name, but not certain) and he was from the East Midlands. While doing the usual who-do-we-know-in-common routine, we figured out that two of those people were none other than Bruce Carter and Murray Felstead! Clive says hello – I really hope I got his last name right – and rugby really is a small world.

Date: 04/20/2019

NorCal TBA 21 – NorCal TBA 7 

Referee: Chris Tucker

Not often when 2 good sides compete do you look down at your watch when the first points of the game are scored and realize that we were scoreless for 28 minutes.  The intensity of this game was fantastic.  Not to say that it was the best rugby spectacle, or that it was the most skillfully played, but you could feel the passion from both sides for this game.  Scores were level again early in the second half, then finally Chico’s home-field advantage began to show.  Both the squad size and the freshness that comes from sleeping in their own beds and having their own match-day rhythm began to show, and they pulled out a lead midway through the second half, and was never relinquished.

Date: 04/21/2019

Chico St 24 – Cal State Long Beach 22 

Referee: Chris Tucker

This was a game where 2 wonderful rolling mauls propelled Chico into the finals.  The first happened 2 minutes into the game, and was pulled down by Long Beach at the 5m, resulting in a yellow card.  The second, also resulting in a yellow card, happened early in the second half.  After 50 minutes, it was Chico all the way, and their 19 point lead looked sure to take them on.  Long Beach had other ideas, and finally shook off their slumber and started to apply pressure.  As they ratcheted up the intensity, so Chico began to look vulnerable, and ultimately began to break down.  They lost 2 players of their own to the bin as a result of the increased pressure Long Beach put them under.  Their goal line was repeatedly crossed with intent.  And, but for a missed conversion, this game would have gone to overtime.  This referee’s wallet is glad this did not happen, but the soul did wonder what would have happened given another 10 minutes that a kicker’s boot could have provided.  As it was, Chico move on to Charlotte.

Thanks to James, Paul and Patrick for their invaluable help all weekend.

Date: 04/27/2019

Marin Highlanders Rugby Club 36 – Lamorinda Rugby Football Club 17 

Referee: Giles Wilson

Marin Highlanders hosted Lamorinda in a playoff game, on a real grass field in Corta Madera. The field had a noticeable slope and there was a fairly strong breeze from one end.  Marin had a strong first half while Lamorinda played in fits and starts without much continuity. The first half ended 31-0 in favour of the hosts.

In the second half Marin introduced some younger players while Lamo played with more intent and continuity, resulting in a 17 – 5 second half. Final score 36 – 17, Marin.

Date: 04/27/2019

Danville Oaks RFC 24 – Lamorinda Rugby Football Club 14 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

It was a beautiful day at California High School. Danville played host to Lamorinda in this Junior Varsity playoff match featuring the present and future of this ongoing series between two of the Bay Area’s best U19 clubs. Lamorinda took the opening kick off and played several successful and disciplined phases down well inside the Danville 22. But a turnover soon turned into momentum for the boys in black, who ran their own series of phases back into Lamo territory. Danville scored their first try at 7:30 but just barely missed on the conversion. Danville put in another try at 23:30 and looked to be firmly in control, until Lamo, playing with just 13 managed to take possession inside Danville’s 22 and finally put one over. Still playing down a man, Lamo nearly took the lead on the last play of the first half, but the near score was lost forward in goal with no time left. The second half saw both teams play well, with possession rarely entering the 22 for either side. Danville was able to put on a burst in the middle of the period, scoring tries at 48:00 and 52:00. Lamo never quit and was able to get one back on a brilliant attack that ended in try with six-minutes left in the game. The visiting team seemed determined to continue scoring and there was the energy in the air that comes with a building sense of momentum. It was not to be, as Danville was able to gain possession and hold it for most of the remaining time. As always, it was a great day because it was a rugby. Many thanks to the players on both sides as well as to the coaches and volunteers. 

This Week’s Photo

Team of Three on a picture perfect day at Stanford for the Collegiate Women’s playoffs.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

4th Yourself To Like It

HAIL PELICUS!

4th Yourself To Like It

So we are back in circulation and there is plenty of rugby to cover.   To start, the USA finished a disappointing 4th in Vancouver.

Let me repeat that: the USA finished a disappointing 4th in Vancouver.

Why am I making such a big deal about this?   Because not too long ago a 4th place finish would have been celebrated as an accomplishment of note.   Just making the Cup round regularly would have had American rugby fans singing and dancing in the streets.   Happy happy, joy joy!   We are hanging with the Big Boys!

That all changed this year.

Our Mighty Eagles have made EVERY Cup Final of the series this year, finally breaking through for a win in Las Vegas, all the while doing most of this without the 2 time defending World Player Of The Year Perry Baker and, most recently, without Danny Barrett in the final stages of Vegas.   The loss of these two players can not be underestimated but to the surprise of many, including this reporter, the depth of the Eagles has finally stepped up and absorbed these losses without missing a beat.  All of this had to come to an end and this “crash” happened in Vancouver as the USA looked tired and made uncharacteristic mistakes.   We got through our pool beating Wales and Chile on talent but were exposed badly against South Africa.  We beat England in the quarterfinals mainly because England didn’t want to win the game, but looked flat against the surprising French and, as per usual, disinterested in the consolation match against Fiji.   

To misquote Shakespeare, I do not come here to bury the Eagles, but to praise them.   The toll that international 7s takes on the body can not be overstated and being in so many high pressure matches eventually had to catch up.  The boys are playing their hearts out and Mike Friday has them as ready as any team on the circuit. We are the most complete team on the circuit with a balance of size, speed and skill that is the envy of the rest of the world.   We do not need to be in every final to win the World Sevens Series title, although that would help, but just to have more points than everyone else at the end.   My back of the napkin calculations tell me that if we make the semis of every tournament going forward we will raise the trophy in Paris so I am advising everyone to pump the brakes on the Panicmobile.  

Don’t forget that even though we placed 4th, we still extended our points lead over 2nd place New Zealand.   Life is still good and it is still with great pleasure and no humility whatsoever that, in accordance with the longstanding tradition, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Pinky Swear

How are the Eagles doing all of this wonderful work?   One answer is Ben Pinkleman.   I have watched the Series with a critical eye and fully believe that Pinkie should be an early front runner for World Player of the Year honors.   This award often goes to the top try scorers and killer finishers (see Baker, Perry) but Pinkleman has been an absolute stud doing everything for the team.  He is in the mode of Kiwi captain Tim Mikkleson, the kind of player who does all the dirty work to gain and secure possession, draw in defenders and create space for the likes of Carlin Isles to run very fast in a straight line.   His defense is ferocious and he is one of the best poachers in the world.    Offensively he cleans up so much sloppiness that is often gets overlooked and we would not be anywhere near where we are in the standings without him.    He is a deserving front runner right now and has my vote.

Davey’s Kids

The Williamson Scholarship committee is pleased to once again provide the opportunity to send a qualified individual to Canada for 6 weeks of intensive referee development training.  The selected referee will have the opportunity to officiate more than 30 games during their stay.

Eligible candidates must be able to meet the following criteria:

1.  Level 1 referee certified with an active USA Rugby membership as either a referee or player

2.  Actively engaged in refereeing within Northern California and taking assignments from Rugby NorCal and/or the Northern California Rugby Football Union Referees Society (NCRFURS)

3.  Between the ages of 18-23

4.  A demonstrated desire to enhance refereeing skills

5.  A desire to continue to officiate in Northern California after the trip has ended

6.  Ability to stay in Canada from early June through mid-July

7.  Have or be able to acquire a passport by June 1.

The link to the application form is here:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1aVp8RsFSpn0HFi7MRJZz9-_ggSZwQjBIl1xpLXzLiPE

The window to apply opens today, March 20 and will close April 19.  The Scholarship committee will identify and announce the selected candidate no later than May 5.

Previous recipients include Andrew Stockton and Matt Mulholland.  Their stories and the impact that the trip has had on them can be found here:  

Matthew Mullholland, 2017/18 recipient:  

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rgBOu7YX4NhLhoZ7D2wWnFlxAd3y32Qqu7KbbEhcMd4

Andrew Stockton, 2016/17 recipient:  

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qV8RooaPIMJFFSvPU5yhC2I_G7_f9pi0iXbP0Qdaq2E

Please also see the following document which summarizes David Williamson’s impact on referee development and the reason why the Scholarship exists:  

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5vxlc6Mi03oMHExUTd4TXpTdVJxd0RPak1Xc1IxOS1jTzhJ

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data.  To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition.  The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

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

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 03/09/2019

Gonzaga 43 Raleigh 14

Location: Gonzaga HS, Washington DC

Referee: Stephen Valerio

According to the Goff Rugby Report, this match featured the #1 Boys High School Single School team vs the #20 Club team. Raleigh made the drive up to play on the first warm day in these parts in awhile. Both teams were well structured, but Gonzaga was stronger in the rucks and was able to push the ball down the field. Their kicks weren’t as successful as Raleigh features several explosive backs, that frequently made up the territory. The first half ended with Gonzaga leading 19-0 with a try right at the end of the half. However, a Raleigh forward high tackled the try scorer leading to a yellow. This was a troubling sign as in the second half 2 Raleigh players each committed 2 carded dangerous tackles, leaving them down in numbers throughout the half and eventually with only 13 players.  Gonzaga is too good of a squad not to take advantage with it and kept up even pressure throughout the half. However, even the deficit in players, the Raleigh backs struck twice from far out with explosive tries to get on the board.

Date: 03/09/2019

Sacramento Amazons 60 – Berkeley All Blues B 17 

Referee: David Hosley

The host Amazons lost their field to flooding, but their president hustled to secure an all-weather pitch in Elk Grove by moving the match to mid-afternoon, which coincided precisely with a break in Saturday’s rain.  Playing rugby on a soccer pitch has its shortcomings, but the hosts used cones to help everyone know where they were on the pitch.

These teams wanted to run, and did so with straight ahead power as well as getting the ball out to their wings.  In fact, the first kick in open play didn’t occur until mid-way through the second half.  Although they ended up on the short side of the score, the All Blues tackled in twos and threes and kept at it all the way to 80 minutes.

Date: 03/09/2019

Life West D2 27 – Santa Rosa 50 

Referee: James Hinkin

A top of the table clash between Life West (3rd) and Santa Rosa (1st) looked to be enticing rugby and it didn’t disappoint.  The match was played at Cal Maritime on the turf so in spite of some early rain the footing was no issue.  The props complained about it anyway, of course, but I am almost certain that they were joking. 

The match started out fast with Life West on the board early with an unconverted try.  Santa Rosa responded almost immediately with one of their own but managed to squeeze the ovoid between the uprights for a 7-5 lead.   It looked like I had a barn burner on my hands but then Life West fell asleep for 30 minutes.   Missed passes, missed tackles, missed assignments and just generally sloppy play allowed Santa Rosa to dominate the rest of the half running in 4 tries with no response from the Gladiators.   Not to take anything away from the Rosans, they were composed and clinical with the ball and organized on defense, but they benefitted from a Life West side that didn’t seem interested.

The second half was, as it often is, a different story.   The team talk in the LW huddle lit a fire in their belly and they came out with all the passion and aggression that was missing in the first half.  An immediate try was the result, but Santa Rosa counter-punched right back with one of their own.   That set the standard for the half as both sides ran themselves and the referee ragged with end to end, scintillating and crowd pleasing rugby.   The exchange of tries was frequent as every time Life West scored Santa Rosa replied.   Because of this the Gladiators were not able to really close the deficit much and the match ended with a very entertaining 50-27 scoreline.   Had Life West played in the first half the way they did in the second half we could very easily have seen a 50-50 tie.    Great rugby all around and a pleasure to referee.

Date: 03/09/2019

Redwood Empire RFC 36 – Chico Mighty Oaks 31 

Referee: Giles Wilson

Saturday is certainly a rugby day, but Friday night lights brings rugby too with a reduced Berkeley Rhinos traveling to the Oakland Warthogs. Due to injuries, Berkeley only had 10 players facing a strong Oakland squad. 10 a side with uncontested scrums for 25 minute halves was arranged. Officially this was a forfeit in favour of Oakland but rugby was to be played. 

Oakland have a mix of powerful and talented players along with some others who blend toughness with footwork and agility. Facing them were a group of Berkeley players who also showed talent and toughness against the odds.

Oakland scored three first half tries to a single converted Berkeley try for a 15 – 7 half time score. In the second half Berkeley (who had suffered other injuries and were supplemented by some Oakland players) went in for three tries against two converted tries (a pair of very nice drop kicks).

Final score Oakland 29 – Berkeley 22

On to Saturday, definitely a rugby day

Elsie Allen hosted three games on their soon to be replaced field. The high school played first, with an extra period for the B team. Then SRJC played Humboldt state and finally Redwood hosted Chico – my thanks to Alan Petty and his crew for staying around to work the clock and score board.

Redwood won the coin toss and elected to kick, Chico decided to play into the wind first. The first half brought 5 tries including two conversions and a penalty try for a first half Chico lead of 19 – 12.Chico have some players who are able to exploit small spaces, while Redwood have some talented players but rely on more of a power game.

Redwood had a larger bench (both numbers and size of player) and several more strong players were brought on in the second half. Chico had fewer resources which they managed as well as possible in the circumstances.

Redwood wore down Chico in the second half for 4 tries (2 conversions) against 2 tries (one converted) for Chico. Final Score Chico 31 – Redwood 36.

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  Giles gave everyone a bonus report this week!  Nice!)

Date: 03/09/2019

Silicon Valley 17 – Google  62 

Referee: John Pohlman

Silicon Valley hosted Google at Leland High school’s turf football field.  It was rainy and a bit cold but both teams had come to play rugby, so play on.  Google got on the board first, four minutes in with a try from their #7.  He later played in the backs and was my player of the game.  SV had fast outside backs and scored at 15 minutes and 29 minutes.  But the big forwards from Google just broke down the defense and scored four more first half try’s to lead at Half time 29 to 10.

Although Google controlled most of the ball, SV were dangerous with numerous big runs.

The hard hits and all turf field wore on both teams, but the players never got testy.  I think both teams finished the game with only 14 players.   Google continued to wear down SV scoring five more try’s.

The game finished with SV scoring a well deserved try.

Final Google 62 Silicon Valley 17.

Date: 03/09/2019

SFGG D3B 20 – San Jose Seahawks B 23 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

The game was every bit as fun and close contested as the score indicates. Both sides played well considering the damp, sloppy conditions. There were the knock ons and lost footing that you expect, but the teams were often able to play through multiple phases without incident. The teams traded tries in the first half with SFGG scoring first and last. San Jose was able to find an answer each time, though their last try would have to wait until 21:00 minutes into the second frame. At that point the score stood tied at 17. San Jose finally broke the deadlock with a penalty kick at 71:00. SFGG found the pace and urgency they had played with in the first half and kicked a penalty of their own to even the score just two minutes later. San Jose then marched down the field, earning another shot at goal, which they converted with four minutes left in the match. The visitors were able to maintain possession for most of the waning moments, kicking the ball into touch after time expired. Special mention to Kevin, captain for SFGG in the match. He did a great job leading his team and keeping everyone focused on positive play. It was a great example of how to lead a team through adversity and of keeping up good communication with players and the referee. Thanks for a fun day, Kevin.

Date: 03/09/2019

Central Coast RFC 31 – SF Fog 15 

Referee: William Nelson

Home match for Sea Dogs was moved to Treasure Island because of field availability. The match was played on a Gaelic field so the field was hastily constructed minutes before the match. The game itself was a scrum fest where the Sea Dogs dominated. 

Date: 03/09/2019

Santa Rosa JC 12 – Humboldt State 29 

Referee: Cary Bertolone

A little rainy, drizzly, very windy. The game was moved to Elsie Allen’s all weather turf, in South Santa Rosa, so field conditions were great. There was a game before and a game afterwards, it felt like it was rugby central. The first half was very evenly played with SRJC scoring, Humboldt tying, SRJC scoring and Humboldt tying, both teams playing hard in the forwards with bursts from speedy backs. On the 35th minute, Humboldt took the lead and went up 7 with a corner kick converted by Humboldt. In the second half, the game was again evenly played, but Humboldt scored unconverted tries in the 5th minute and in the 33rd minute to ice the game, 29-12. Good sportsmanshipship throughout and the Humboldt State team was honored with the Pat Culley Annual Trophy for the second year in a row.

Date: 03/09/2019

Pacific 36 – Cal Poly Men C 17 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

Friendly match between a rebuilding UOP side and freshmen from Cal Poly. Cal Poly left 4 tries on the table: a back mis-read the lines and grounded it 5 m short, another leapt over a ruck to attempt to score, a third decided to make a second placement of the ball after being tackled 1/2 meter short, and a fourth knocked on before grounding it in-goal. A learning experience, as they say.

Date: 03/09/2019

Univ Nevada Reno 70 – Sacramento State 0 

Referee: Sam Reagle

Though UNR was dominant, Sac State had multiple chances to score.

Halftime:  41-0 UNR

Date: 03/09/2019

Granite Bay Grizzlies 34 – Danville Oaks RFC 31 

Referee: Chris Tucker

No Report Received.

Date: 03/09/2019

St Marys College Women 24 – Fresno State Women 19 

Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Started out raining with Fresno State going up 12-0, followed by St. Mary’s coming from behind twice as the sun came out, going ahead with less than 10 minutes to go, while Fresno State was driving with no time on the clock. #8 for St. Mary’s gained over 100 yards rushing which seemed to get her teammates playing better. Considering the mud, rain and field conditions both teams played extremely well.

Date: 03/09/2019

Santa Clara Women  – Univ San Francisco Women  

Referee: Ed Barfels

Well, the Univ. of San Francisco squad had only ten players. So, officially they had to forfeit.  However, the coaches decided to play a tens game and I was happy to ref the game.  They played three 20 minute periods.  In the first two periods, Satna Clara’s women were technically more proficient than USF and were leading 29 to 17 at the end of the second period.  The third period was a tale of conditioning. USF had three players in good condition and they out ran the defense.  The final score USF 32 and Santa Clara 29.

Date: 03/09/2019

UC Santa Cruz Women 26 – CSU Monterey Bay Women 14 

Referee: Gregor MacDonald

Good match in the rain almost suspended the match due to standing water, but play remained away from it so the game continued

Date: 03/10/2019

London Schools Premier Sevens

Location: Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet, North London

Referee: Preston Gordon

Before this tournament, when I thought of sevens, it brought to mind warm sunny days and hard, fast pitches. This was a very different experience. At the tail end of a passing winter storm, I spent most of the day in near-freezing temperatures, strong winds with gusts up to 50mph, and occasional sideways rain/sleet stinging any exposed skin with cold. Most of the 8 pitches used for this tournament were mud bogs as well, with the clay soil building up on my boots (and clothes) almost faster than I could knock it off. Trying to accelerate to catch a breakaway is a whole different kind of effort when your first couple of steps seem to be going straight down instead of backwards.

The tournament had two brackets: one U14 and one U16. The levels of skill shown by the 20+ schools in attendance were surprisingly high, both individually and through team tactics. I refereed two U14 pool games, two U16 pool games, one U16 quarter-final, and one U14 semi-final. I also AR’d for one semi-final and one final, although to be honest, the bigger challenge was dodging all the parents standing on the touchline.

Six+ games of youth sevens may not sound like much, but given the weather conditions, the amount of mud, and the speed of some of these kids, it was a solid workout.  After a drive home through a major squall, I spent some quality time with a scrub brush getting the mud out of my clothes so they wouldn’t clog the washing machine!

I will never think of sevens quite the same way again.

Date: 03/10/2019

Santa Clara Women 24 – Univ Nevada Reno Women 34 

Referee: Allen Gray 

SFGG were kind enough to make their pitch available for this match. And, after the rain on Saturday, the pitch was like the ones I used to play on in Scotland: muddy. To be fair, most of the pitch was in great shape, but there were pockets of saturated ground. 

Both teams had similar styles: pop it the back of a ruck the their pod for a couple of phases then spin it out the back line. This allowed for a lot of open play that went more sideline to sideline than end to end.

The first half saw very few stopages as the women held the ball well, which made for an exiting half. 

When 40 minutes were gone Reno were up 17-12, this was an accurate representation of the game: very close indeed.

The second half saw strategies that were tweaked slightly, both sides saving their energy with more pod play and sparingly getting the ball out wide. There were more penalties in the second half, I think mostly due to fatigue. We had a few high tackles as traipsing through the mud had taken its toll on few thighs. One Reno runner chasing a big kick was noteworthy- she was about 10m in front of the kicker before she set off. I tried talking her into stopping and retreating, the coach emptied his lungs at her too. But she was on a mission and would only stop for the whistle. 

It was just about neck and neck in the second half, then it happened, Reno had a breakaway down the right wing. Great support and good hands for a couple of offloads kept the momentum and ended in a great try. 

The second half could’ve gone either way, but the scoreline ended with Reno up 17-12.

Final score 34-24. Both teams were a pleasure to ref. I thoroughly enjoyed the match. 

Date: 03/15/2019

Santa Clara 16 – CAL Golden Bears 76 

Referee: Pete Smith

No Report Received.

Date: 03/15/2019

University College London 15-10 King’s College

Location: London Allianz Park, Hendon, North London

Referee: Preston Gordon

I refereed at Allianz Park two and a half weeks previously, for a pretty tough men’s universities match. This one was not as fast, or quite as hard-hitting, but it was a whole lot more fun. I was originally appointed to AR for the men’s version of this match, but it seems that the UCL men’s rugby has been suspended for some recent naughtiness. So the corresponding women’s fixture was moved into its place, and I was moved to the center of the pitch. There were about 500 fans in attendance, instead of the usual 5000, but the meaning of the game was clear to everyone and there was a major trophy on the line. Allianz Park has hosted this match for the past few years, and the weather generally cooperated. The synthetic pitch and the lights, combined with both sides’ cheerleaders and the support from the main stand, created an outstanding atmosphere for Friday evening rugby.

The contest was ferocious, and I was happy to have James Goksaran and Pat Venning as the two ARs. James got ahold of a really good set of radios too. UCL was the stronger side, taking a 10-0 lead over King’s into the break with two tries. In the second half, things heated up a bit, with King’s getting two tries of their own (despite a yellow card to their #13 for a high tackle) and UCL adding the decisive one to win 15-10. None of the conversion kicks came close to going over. For the last ten minutes of the match, it looked like King’s would score again and force the contest into overtime, but UCL prevailed.

When I blew the final whistle, the reactions were the same ones I saw nearly ten years ago, when I was AR for Dana Teagarden as Penn State defeated Stanford to win the USA national championship. This was a really big deal to these players, and I was happy to have the honor to play a minor part in their night. It was certainly a memorable experience for me!

King’s has a YouTube channel, and the entire match is available here:

(I don’t know who those commentators are, but they clearly don’t seem to know much about rugby.)

Date: 03/16/2019

Cal Poly Men 0 – St Marys College 128 

Referee: Peter Sandhill

Cal Poly hosted St Mary’s for four games on a sunny mid-March Saturday, surrounded by verdant green hills on two adjacent pitches. No rain, bright blue skies. The A sides squared off after the completion of the women’s game and the men’s B & C-side matches. 

St Mary’s scored 64 points in each half with some impressive backline play, often innovative, and solid forward dominance. To Cal Poly’s credit, they never gave up – jogging back for every kick-off and keeping up the tackling until the end. They say you can see the quality of a person in the manner of their victory or loss. Both teams were humble and gracious. 

Thanks to James Tesoiero, Cal Poly coach, for hosting us. Well worth the drive south.

Date: 03/16/2019

UC Davis 12 – GCU College Men – Varsity 62 

Referee: Lee Bryant

Game was 12-12 at half time. Then Grand Canyon began to better organize their attack with quick ball handling and continuous support. Scrums were tough with both sides stealing a ball or two. Highly contested breakdowns with Grand Canyon always on the lookout for the poach.

Date: 03/16/2019

Cal 118 – Utah 0 

Referee: Pete Smith

No Report Received.

Date: 03/16/2019

Sacramento Amazons 91 – SFGG Women 7 

Referee: Bruce Bernstein

SFGG made a long trip all the way to Elk Grove for a 4:30 PM 72 degree start time & got going right away with a nice team score, and held on for most of the 1st half before the Amazons blew by them scoring only 6 tries the 1st half while almost doubling that in the 2nd half playing an inspired team game lead by their local #8, and twin Kiwi flyhalf & inside center both the biggest players with great ball skills on the field who controlled the play most of the match.

Date: 03/16/2019

Santa Rosa 31 – Olympic Club 33 

Referee: Chris Tucker

There is a certain low rumble in the back of my throat that I make when I get HP in the inbox, and I realize I forgot to submit the score from the weekend.  So hopefully I’m on time here.  Last weekend, for reference, was a very tight game between Granite Bay and Danville Varsity teams.  Both are well-drilled and positive, and it was fitting that the only difference between them was a late penalty, well taken from 30m out.  Suspect these teams will meet again in the playoffs…

THIS weekend, I had a beautiful day for a game over at FPS in Santa Rosa.  Pitch was soft, the sky was blue and the goalposts there never get old.  Although Simon, a guest ref from England who had the second match, did observe that near him in Derbyshire are the tallest posts in the world, at Wednesbury RFC:

https://formativethinking.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/10-acher-wood-kings-hill-park-tuesday-23rd-september-2014-2.jpg

Truly amazing.

Anyway, the game itself was everything you would expect from the two top teams in D2.  The hosts came out hard, blew OC off the ball at the breakdown, and for the first 15 minutes of the game made camp inside OC’s 22, taking time among the usual camp activities of fire building and song singing, to score a couple of tries.  Both conversions missed.  

After that, the game became more balanced, support players started to emerge for the visitors, and we settled into a ding-dong game of try traded for try, traded for try.  The pattern began to emerge in the 2nd quarter of a vastly dominant scrum from OC, with Rosa being far more nimble around the breakdown.  With 10 points still the difference right before the half, OC had a penalty on the 5 and took a scrum.  A penalty or two later they got the drive on, the defensive 2nd row folded under, and a penalty try took the score to 17-14 at the half, Santa Rosa just in front.

The second half was more of the same.  OC drove the scrum forward, but Santa Rosa made more of the ball they got.  The game was poised going into the final 20 at 31-28.  At this point, the visitors began to make this a war of attrition.  The game slowed, they scrummaged.  They scrummaged some more.  And as the hosts tired, so the last vital score went over, taking it to 31-33.  The last 15 minutes of the game went scoreless as some tight defending kept the visitors out, but they had the lead and just needed to keep the ball, which they did.

Fine game, thanks to Simon for his help on the sideline, much appreciated.

Date: 03/16/2019

BA Baracus 14 – San Jose Seahawks 49  

Referee: Paul Bretz

Was pleased to officiate at Boxer Stadium in San Francisco.  Going back to Boxer was a “welcome home” of sorts as it brought back many fond memories both as a player and upwardly-bound referee.  

Baracus hosted the Seahawks and the game played in great spirts.  Both teams were provided the opportunity to play to strengths; Seahawks looked to use the width of the field while Baracus chose to utilize their big forwards.  In the end Seahawks proved to be the better team on the day, racking up 31 points in the second half compared to Baracus 7.  Final score was 14 to 49.

Date: 03/16/2019

Olde Gaels 53 – Vacaville 33 

Referee: James Hinkin

A high scoring affair at Pat Vincent Field at St Mary’s College was the order of the day between the Olde Gaels and Vacaville in a spirited D2 clash.   This nearly completes my Season Set for NCRFU Division 2 – the only teams I have not reffed this year are San Jose and SFGG.   Pity they played already.   Oh well, there is always next year.

The game was a fun, open affair with both sides committed to playing rugby.   This was evident from the number of tap penalties from both sides in kickable positions.   We had a solid 9 minutes of back and forth play before the first scrum was set and everyone was enjoying themselves, especially the fans.   Diablo proved too much on the day for Vacaville as they made just that many fewer mistakes.  The post match meal of beer and cookies was a first for me but hey, I’ll try anything twice.

Date: 03/16/2019

San Joaquin-Stanislaus RFC 47 – Fresno 17 

Referee: Giles Wilson

The Harlots home field in Manteca is well marked, although perhaps a little narrow. When I arrived, both teams were present and warming up. We went through the formalities with the home team winning the coin toss and electing to kick off.

Both teams have some strong runners and strong tacklers; Fresno are adding more new players and the difference between the teams was this experience.

Harlots ran in four first half tries (3 conversions) against a single try in reply from Fresno. Some big hots from both sides with some particularly strong runs and tackles from Tui in the Fresno front row.

Rodney, as a referee on sabbatical, made his appearance for Fresno in the second half making some runs and tackles but eventually leaving injured. Both sides made various changes of players with some inexperience arriving. The Harlots kicker was reliable in the second half, converting all three tries while Fresno converted one of their two tries for a final of 47 – 17 in favour of the home side.

Date: 03/16/2019

Jesters Rugby FC 101 – SFGG D3B 7 

Referee: Allen Gray 

Not much to say beyond the scoreline. It was a great day out in the sunshine, and very much one-sided. Even though the Jesters had a more than comfortable lead, they managed to acquire 3 yellow cards when they began to become complacent and lose their discipline. Throughout the game I continued to hear SFGG players provide optimistic support to one another, which was refreshing since other teams down by such a deficit would have the opposite mentality.

Date: 03/16/2019

SF Fog 15 – Reno Zephyrs 23 

Referee: Nome Tiatia

No Report Received.

Date: 03/16/2019

Cal Maritime 90 – Sonoma St 0 

Referee: Cary Bertolone

Cal-Maritime’s second try at the 8 minute mark was a taken kickoff, an up and under and a speedy wing catching it on the full for a sweet looking try. This was a blowout with Cal-Maritime scoring 48 in the first half and 42 in the second. Sonoma State kept their heads up and kept on playing, good on them!!

Date: 03/16/2019

Univ Nevada Reno 45 – UC Santa Cruz 23 

Referee: Sam Reagle

Great game!  For the first 30 minutes, this game was up for grabs.  UNR got on the board first with a converted try 3 minutes in with UCSC responding with an unconverted try about 5 minutes later.  UNR looked to take control with a couple of tries, but UCSC answered back with a try to go into halftime down 19-10.

10 minutes into the second half we had UNR up 26-20, less than a try separating the 2 teams vying for the remaining playoff spot.  The Wolf Pack sealed their win outscoring the Banana Slugs three tries to one to earn them a spot in the playoffs.

Since UCSC chartered a bus, the entire team attended the social at the Pub-n-Sub.  Several of the UNR Women’s team who played earlier also attended.

Date: 03/16/2019

San Francisco State 10 – Chico State 57 

Referee: Nome Tiatia

No Report Received.

Date: 03/16/2019

Cal Poly Women 5 – St Marys College Women 76 

Referee: Gregor MacDonald

One sided 

This Week’s Photo

Visiting Referee Coach Steve Salton puts his whistle where his mouth is at Cal Maritime.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Back To Back

HAIL PELICUS!

Back To Back

Drained.   Ecstatic.   Awed.   Befuddled.  Joyful.   All of these emotions and more were present at this year’s installment of the USA 7s in Las Vegas.   The USA came in tied for #1 with New Zealand by being the most consistent team on the circuit.  Not the best, just the most consistent.   They had made it to 4 successive finals losing all of them, so that #1 was a bit bittersweet.   Not that I was complaining – regular readers will know that I celebrated that #1 slot every week that it was maintained – but there was something a bit off-putting about getting to every final but then falling short.   What we needed was a win and a tournament on home soil seemed the ideal place to do it.   Well, the boys delivered and now we can claim to be #1 with no reservations.    Yes, we stumbled a bit on Day 1 losing to Argentina but we got a little help from Kenya on Day 2 when they overturned the Pumas setting up a win-and-you’re-in game against France, and win we did.   That set up a quarterfinal against South Africa, a team that delights in beating us in knock out games.   I was a bit worried but it was soon apparent our team was not.   The result was total domination of a team that used to own us.   

There are no easy games at this point and in that fine tradition we had the mighty Kiwis in the semis.  New Zealand was the team that we were tied with on points and with the other contenders already out of the tournament (the other semi was Argentina and Samoa) the winner of this match would take sole possession of first place no matter what happened after.   The All Blacks stormed out to an early lead and then added to it and we looked in serious trouble as historically there is no team better at finishing out a match than New Zealand.   But then again, historically the USA has never been this good at rugby.  Something had to give and it was the All Blacks and we stormed back into the match.  With the game tied in the dying minutes discipline left the New Zealand side (yes, you read that correctly) and they gave up a series of penalties, including a yellow card, as they tried to absorb the unrelenting Eagle pressure.   With a tap penalty just 5 meters out we tried to bull our way through and were stopped, but enough men in black had to commit to the tackles that Carlin Isles was able to pick up the ball and waltz around the weak side for the winning score.  Magic!   We are #1 – now the only thing left was to win the final.

Now I didn’t get to see the final live as tragically I had to get on an airplane to get to a client site on Monday morning.   The timing couldn’t have been worse as the final kicked off at 4:30 while the placne was scheduled to take off at 4:50.  I was thrown a lifeline as the United flight had those little screens in the back of the seat in front of you and you could watch live TV.  Fantastic!   ESPN here we come.   So I am sitting in my seat while everyone is boarding watching some rugby.  I watched the intros.  I watched the anthems.  I watched as we got possession of the ball, swung it wide left and then back right where Ben Pinkleman dashed through a gap to score.   Woo Hoo!   I am doing little punches in the air and wriggling around in my seat with joy, much to the great admiration of the others in my row.  (At least I assume the look they gave me was admiration.)

And then…

$#*&^%*ing United Airlines – I will never fly you again.

This is the moment that United Airlines – They Whom I Will Never Fly Again – decide to run a video explaining how to use a seat belt, followed by a series of ads for United.   More than 10 minutes worth of this crap and I was swearing profusely and shocking my previously admiring neighbors the whole time.   I eventually turned it off knowing that I had essentially missed the game and by the time I landed in Iowa the match would be long over and I hoped I could catch the final on replay.   Sadly that was not the case as it wasn’t posted yet and since I would never be able to avoid seeing the results I looked for it and caught some highlights.  

AND WE WON!

Not only did we win but we dominated.   THIS is how you win on home soil.   THIS is how you represent the best that is America.  THIS is your #1 ranked USA Eagle 7s team!  

Danny Barrett

Everyone knows about Boom Boom Barrett, he of the beast mode bump off and crunching tackles.   He is a key member of our squad and, along with Pinkleman, Tomasin and Leuta do the hard work to get the ball out to the likes of Niua to work his magic and put people away.   Yes they get their share of tries but their value is in turning over and securing possession while putting the Fear of Pelicanland in their opponents.   Why the Fear of Pelicanland?  Because all of the aforementioned hard men, aside from Pinkie, are local lads done good.   We are Pelicans!   Hear us squawk!   (OK, so that slogan needs work, but you get the idea.)

Danny Barrett deserves special attention, however.   He put on a 20 second display of the toughest rugby I had ever witnessed.  In the quarterfinal against South Africa he was playing as good as he ever has.  An early try, a classic Barret power move from a penalty was immediately followed by a turnover at a tackle.   Shortly after that he went in hard on a tackle and broke his arm.  Of course, play moved on so he didn’t stop but got back to his feet and MADE ANOTHER TACKLE with one arm.   At this point the Springboks (foolishly) kicked ahead and the training staff came on to tend to him, but a breakout from Isles brought play back towards him and he got back into play so at the tackle HE CLEARED OUT THE RUCK.   WITH A BROKEN ARM!   This freed up the ball to go to Martin Iosefo who strolled in for our third try effectively ending the contest in the first half.

Unreal.  Of course that meant that the USA had to play the semis and the final without their enforcer and the 2 time World Player of the Year, but hey.  No problem.

Carlin Isles

A couple of weeks ago I called out Carlin Isles and questioned whether he should be in the squad at all.   He had been the great hope and the faster player in world rugby for almost a decade.  He was exposed to a full time, professional training environment and world class coaching and yet he never progressed.  He always was the really fast guy who could do nothing else and was routinely on the bench in crunch time against better teams because he could not be trusted.  The emergence of Perry Baker limited his playing time even more to the point where he was a Saturday player – great against the lesser pool teams where his pace could overwhelm but an afterthought in the knockout rounds where the teams would target his matador defense and contain his speed.

But then Perry Baker broke his jaw and he was thrust back into the spotlight.   The Eagles were playing well but his deficiencies were on display for all to see prompting my comments.  

But then something magical happened: he got better.   He played well in Sydney with some critical tries but was still a rag doll on defense and useless at breakdowns so I stood by my claim.   As we followed the World Sevens Series graphic and hopped across the globe to Las Vegas I still had my doubts so imagine my surprise as watching the first few games I noticed something different about him.   He was engaged in defense.   He was not shying away from tackles or ineffectively leaning on rucks.   The speed was still there so he was scorching players, but he was reading situations with a better understanding as to WHEN to put the pedal down and when to pull back.

In short, he was becoming an international class rugby player.

You’re welcome.

Was anyone seriously expecting a mea culpa?   Of course not, and in fact I am patiently waiting for the outpourings of gratias tibi ago.    As stated before he had 10 years of world class coaching that achieved nothing.  Nothing, that is, until I lit a fire in his belly.  In retrospect it seems obvious that he (and probably Mike Friday as well) read the Hail Pelicus comments and, in a moment of epiphany tailor made for Hollywood, complete with a stirring training montage and looks of steely determination, he rededicated himself to world class rugby.   (In the inevitable blockbuster release I see Job Oliver as Mike Friday, Chris Rock as Carlin Isles, and of course Brad Pitt playing myself.)   In keeping with our theme, Friday adopts the motto of Semper Paratus and makes the critical technical adjustment of putting Isles into the middle of the defense instead on the edges.  Anyone else notice this?   It seems counter intuitive to put your weakest defender in the middle of the pitch where he would get the most action but the benefit is that he now had help on either side when making tackles where as he was far too often isolated and exposed on the wing.   Carlin then adopted his motto of Audentes Fortuna Iuvat and took this opportunity with both hands.  He showed steel in defense and actively engaged in rucks, even contributing to some turnovers.   It was a joy to watch and was as important a development as any other in not only our victory in Vegas but our sole possession of the #1 ranking.  Well done, indeed.

(EDITOR’s NOTE:  So that people don’t have to bust out their Latin to English dictionaries:

Mea culpa:   My apology

Gratias Tibi Ago:   Thanks to you I give

Semper Paratus:    Always prepared

Audentes Fortuna Iuvat:    Fortune favors the bold )

Just In Case

In the event that you, dear reader, has skipped all the wonderful prose above to get to this point, it is with great pleasure and no humility whatsoever that,  according to the longstanding tradition I made up a few weeks ago, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s and in fact stand 5 points clear of their nearest challenger.

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data.  To help we have developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition.  The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc42vbdqnFVH0u1BGTLhjOivDO2hNsmV4NXvvnC4FyAka7sKQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

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

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 02/22/2019

Pacific 12 – Cal Maritime 48 

Referee: Allen Gray 

Cal Maritime had some transportation issues – their bus never showed up. So, we delayed the start of the game until 19:15, to allow for proper warm ups. And it was difficult to get warm when it was such a cold night. I was thankful be running around instead of freezing on the sidelines. The pitch was grass, nice and wide, and well marked. There was one section that was kinda swampy underfoot, thankfully play never went over there too much.

Before the first kick of the ball, both teams were in agreement as to the expected outcome of a Cal Maritime victory. The 1st half seemed to follow with the expectations, 31-0 in favor of Maritime. But this was not representative of UoP’s performance. They were a younger team, with less experience, but they were tenacious, challenging at every chance. UoP also struggled in the scrums, with several newer players and their need to improve the front row form. Maritime were well prepared for the scrums and were dominant.

The second half was a different story, the teams agreed to allow free subs if the point difference was over 28. With that, Maritime brought in some of their replacements. This move disrupted their flow and UoP found a groove. Maritime were held to only three tries in the second half while UoP got two on the board. At the final whistle, UoP seemed happy with their second half performance and optimistic for future games. Cal Maritime also looked pleased with the result and being able to get many players into the game from their bench. 

All in all, an excellent display. Few infractions and both teams very much played within the spirit of the game.

A footnote for our youngest Pelican, Peter Gray, who was on the sideline and offered up some commentary and explanations to spectators who were attending their first rugby match.

Date: 02/23/2019

Vienna 33 Gonzaga Black 0

Location: Somewhere on the East Coast

Referee: Stephen Valerio

A high school friendly to kick-off the season between Gonzaga Black, their second Varsity side vs Vienna Boys, a high-quality side from Virginia. It was the fourth match at the end of a long day of rugby for the various Gonzaga sides.

It had been rainy off and on throughout the day and by kick-off it was cold but dry and Gonzaga’s artificial surface drains well. The first half was very tight, Vienna was aggressive but more disciplined at the breakdowns and while both sides tried kicking for territory the back three were able to handle the ball and no real benefit was gained. Unfortunately the game was marred when a Gonzaga player got concussed, and while they were responsive and had mobility, an ambulance was called halting action with 12 minutes left in the first half. By the time we hit the half-time break, which was abbreviated Vienna held a 5-0 lead. The rain returned in the second half and Vienna began challenging at every ruck and putting Gonzaga under extreme pressure. Several rucks that looked like were clean Gonzaga ball were turned over when Vienna hit the rucks hard and were able to push back Gonzaga. Plus Vienna controlled the scrums, stealing several balls against the head. With Gonzaga starved of consistent possession Vienna cruised to a 33-0 win.

Date: 02/23/2019

Chico State 97 – Univ Nevada Reno 7 

Referee: Chris Tucker

Finally!  A game in the sun on a flat grass pitch!  Welcome back to Chico, where I did my first ever game (the B side, behind the ever-present RSW), and where it’s always fun to come back.  Beautiful day, with sunny-ish skies, cold temps and open mountain passes allowing UNR to make it safely in and back.

My delight at the grass surface was tempered somewhat at the first couple of whistles, by the discovery of a LFRP from the previous game, stuck in the jamb of the whistle.  After the first try which Chico scored after 7 minutes, I was able to dislodge it, cursing under my breath about artificial surfaces and the evils that they represent.

The game itself was one-way traffic.  57-0 at the half, and nothing much slowing down Chico except for a host of subs after about 10 minutes of the 2nd chukka. One prop did manage to make it to the sideline, sit down, get the ice-pack on, only to come back on less than 3 minutes later as a blood sub.  Only other item of note was a fine consolation try created by the #15 of UNR who ran forward with purpose, broke the line for maybe the first time that day, offloaded to the #8 who crashed over carrying 3 defenders with him.  And then promptly went off injured. 

As time expired, I noted with satisfaction that Chico had not, in fact, managed to break the scoreboard, and were still in double digits.  97-7.

Date: 02/23/2019

Olde Gaels B 27 – Jesters Rugby FC 43 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

This was a crackerjack of a game. Both backlines had strong hard runners, which led to more than the usual number of big hits. Both teams played with fire. The Gaels scored first, securing a pop kick in goal just 90 seconds into the match. The rest of the half belonged to the Jesters. The visitors first score came on a bruising run through a seam by their captain #8. After ten scoreless minutes the Jesters broke through and like a BART train at rush hour, and then again ten minutes after that and again ten minutes after that. Down 24-5 after the first half, the Gaels could have folded. When the Jesters scored just 76 seconds in, frustration was evident in the home team and boiled over with as self inflicted wound that left them playing with just 14. At times during the second half, the men in blue were down to 13 due to injuries. But they showed their resolve by winning the second half 22-19. Then we had sandwiches. It was good day.

Date: 02/23/2019

Sacramento Capitals 15 – BA Baracus 25 

Referee: James Hinkin

A tale of two halves with tackling, running and tries, but no kicking.   BA Baracus took the trip up to Sacramento to take on the Capitals before the Vegas break and get their first win of the season and to that end they came out hot.   The field was in good shape considering the recent rains and footing was not much of an issue.   The visitors looked to be the dominant side as they raced out to a 3 try to 1 lead by halftime.   Notice how I didn’t mention conversions.

The second half was an entirely different story as the home side did a little soul searching and started their comeback.  In an complete reversal the Capitals started being the aggressor and dominating the contact.   The response was more than enough to overwhelm the tiring BA Baracus side as 4 tries were run in to secure the points on the day.    Notice how I still haven’t mentioned conversions.

With all of the fine rugby being played the only blemish on the game was neither team’s ability to kick points.   Granted, none of the tries were right in front but several were very makeable.   The footing was not always perfect inducing one slip on a plant foot but if both sides want to progress they can’t leave points off the board like that.   All in all, it was a good rugby day and both captains were a pleasure to work with.   

Date: 02/23/2019

San Joaquin-Stanislaus RFC 31 – Redwood Empire RFC 34 

Referee: Giles Wilson

Harlots had the field ready and clearly marked in plenty of time, Redwood started to arrive by 12.15 but logistics (a key player oversleeping) meant that they didn’t start with their best team on the field.

Both teams had good numbers, with Redwood having a group of particularly large props. Both teams could play with structure but both struggled with conditioning which allowed the other opportunities.

Redwood started well but were unable to score in the first half. Harlots absorbed the early pressure and had a good first half with four tries for a 24 – 0 half time score.

The delayed Redwood players were introduced at half time, a powerful #8 along with his passenger, a half back with organizational skills. Redwood worked their way back to an even score before going ahead to 29 – 24. The Harlots were spurred back into activity and went ahead with their 5th try with 10 minutes to play and a 31-29 point lead.

Redwood took about 6 minutes to score again and a 34 – 31 lead with 4 minutes to play. Harlots tried but were unable to overcome the 3 point deficit. 

Date: 02/23/2019

Santa Clara 33 – UC Santa Barbara 13 

Referee: Paul Bretz

AR: Bruce Bernstein

AR: Will Nelson

A well-played match by two teams choosing vastly different styles of attack; Santa Clara chose a more expansive open game and UCBS opted to look to maintain possession using a more conservative, pick-and-drive attack.  As the game progressed into the second half of play Santa Clara’s pace provided the opportunity to get on the front foot and they were able to pull away from their opponents late in the game.  Thanks to Bruce Bernstein and Will Nelson for ARing the match.

Date: 02/23/2019

Santa Clara B 17 – UCSB B 0 

Referee: William Nelson

UCSB was short players so they borrowed some from SCU. Not the highest caliber rugby…

Date: 02/23/2019

Santa Clara Women 83 – CSU Monterey Bay Women 31 

Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Santa Clara Univ. Women scored 5 tries in 1st half, let CSUMB women back in game to begin 2nd half when they closed the gap in scoring before breaking away later in 2nd half. Another great game to ref as both teams played with spirit of the game!

Date: 02/23/2019

Silicon Valley 34 – Fresno 29 

Referee: Stephen Moore

An excellent match played hard and competitively by both sides. Score sea-sawed a little in the second half with Fresno closing a 12 point deficit. Second half was exciting, with Silicon Valley, finally coming out on top. Players were respectful and very manageable. There was a discipline issue in the second half with a professional foul by SV resulting in a yellow card for slowing ball at a ruck. Other than that match was well played, enjoyable, along with a good spectator spirit.  

Date: 02/23/2019

St Marys College 116 – SDSU 0 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

SDSU traveled to SMC for a D1a competition. The game was pretty lopsided, with SDSU putting some good phase ball together. When they were able to swing the ball out wide they made good progress.

Date: 02/23/2019

UC Davis 26 – Cal Poly Men 11 

Referee: David Pescetti

Cal Poly made the trip up to Davis for the yearly battle of the Mustangs.   Unfortunately this year Musty got corralled by Gunrock and wasn’t able to bring home the win this year. But there’s always next year Davis. Next year…

Date: 02/23/2019

De La Salle 39 – Marin Highlanders Rugby Club 29 

Referee: Peter Sandhill

The venue for this High School Varsity Premiere League match was St Mary’s College soccer field, under light on a frigid Saturday evening. (Aside, this has been the coldest winter in the 23 yr that I’ve lived here.) De La Salle hosted Marin and both teams came out firing on all cylinders with hard hits and speedy runs. Marin scored in the first five minutes to go up 5-0. The forwards fought it out with slight initial dominance to De La Salle. In the scrums, however, they completely dominated with well executed shoves timed perfectly with put-ins. Both teams had solid back lines with passing all the way out to the wings (impressive). The game was fast and hard. De La Salle score several tries in the first half, bit by bit, to take a lead at half time.

The second half was more evenly matched. Marin slowly gained momentum and mounted a solid comeback and for about 20minutes forced De La Salle off of their game plan. For a while, Marin were throwing it around like the Fijian Sevens team, with flick passes, wild and changeable. De La Salle could feel the match slipping as the scoreboard gradually kept ticking up. Their captain spoke to them and settled them down. They began to play it tight to the ruck, pick and drive again and again, maintaining possession as best they could, to hold on for the win  

Like most High School matches, the teams circled up after full time for the usual player awards and coaches warm wishes. The De La Salle coach said that the momentum was on Marin’s side and he suspect if the game went for another five minutes, the game may have gone the other way.

Congratulations to both teams for a good game. Clean, hard and fast rugby by two skilled sides. A joy to referee.

Date: 02/24/2019

UC Santa Cruz 26 – Fresno State 28 

Referee: William Nelson

Very competitive match that came down the wire. 

Date: 02/27/2019

Middlesex University 12-26 London School of Economics

Location: Allianz Park, Hendon, North London

Competition: BUCS South Eastern 3A

Referee: Preston Gordon

I visited the home of Saracens for a game that featured two well-matched London university teams. Middlesex plays some of their home games at Allianz Park, which is also a public athletics facility, and home to a local running club. There were a lot more people along the touchline than the handful I occasionally noticed in the stands, but getting to ref in this stadium was a very cool experience. The last time I was there was to watch the England-USA women’s test match on November 9th of last year.

As for the two teams in my game, they had last played each other 3 weeks previously, and LSE won at home 57-7. Perhaps it was Middlesex playing this return fixture at home, the synthetic pitch, or temperatures approaching 70F on a perfect afternoon, but both sides shot out of the gates at full speed. They were both obviously well drilled, and wasted no time moving the ball wide and laying into each other with full intensity tackles and rucks. It was a good reminder that any rugby match can “go to 11” right from the start – and any ref had better be ready for that.

LSE got the first try 10 minutes in, which they converted. Middlesex responded at 20′ with their own converted try to tie the scores at 7 apiece. At 29′ LSE took the lead again with a converted try that came off a poorly-thrown pass. Instead of trying to gather the ball at his feet, one of the centers fly-kicked it from near the 22m line towards the in-goal. I got close enough just in time to see it grounded by a teammate right before it went dead. Eleven more minutes of play took us to halftime, with the score remaining 7-14.

The second half saw a similar pattern, but each team’s defense had the upper hand for most of it. Aside from a couple of stoppages for injury replacements, and a 55′ yellow card to one of the LSE props for being the 3rd man running in to a handbags situation after a high tackle I’d already penalized, the continuity of the game was excellent. LSE scored the next try at 68′ and added the extras to lead 7-21. The Middlesex reply came just five minutes later, with an unconverted try at 73′ that brought them within 9 points at 12-21. They had possession for much of the final 6 minutes as they were hunting for the defensive bonus point. Ultimately, at 82′, a Middlesex speculative wide pass was intercepted and returned for a try by one of the LSE wingers. The conversion didn’t go over, leaving the final score at 12-26, but that did earn LSE an attacking bonus point in the competition.

If I’m understanding the British universities rugby system correctly – no guarantee of that – it’s somewhere between impressive/scary to realize that this was the 6th level from the top, nationally, and 3rd from the top in the South East region. A team like Cal or SMC would have a tough time beating either of these sides. Regardless, I was happy to be given the opportunity to handle this match, and as I said, it’s difficult to think of a better place than Allianz Park to referee on a Wednesday afternoon.

Date: 03/01/2019

UC Davis Women 24 – Stanford Women 17 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

Davis’ ability to get the ball outside to a couple of fast backs made the difference. Stanford had excellent control of possession, able to generate 10+ consecutive phases of attack at a time. However, Davis sustained a solid defense, with sure tackling, keeping Stanford at bay. Both teams showed good discipline and ability to adjust, incurring fewer than 5 penalties in the second half compared with twice that in the first.

Date: 03/02/2019

Fresno State 64 – San Jose State 10 

Referee: Giles Wilson

SJSU have a small squad which has been hit by illness, putting this game in doubt until the night before. In the end 11 travelled and borrowed players from Fresno State who really wanted some game time before their game with Chico.

Some heavy showers on the way down gave way to nice weather in Fresno. The off campus field was well marked and while definitely soft, it held up well during the game.

Not a great surprise that San Jose, who started with 14, took a while to gel with the borrowed players and with a gap out on the wing. Fresno took advantage with 5 first half tries (4 conversions) – delivery of the tee was very efficient with a young supporter doing the honours. The 15th player arrived during the half, which helped San Jose somewhat.

In the second half, SJSU were able to put together more time on the ball and some more consistency. This allowed them to score two tries but Fresno  were still able to score 5 more through better understanding with each other on the ball and a lack of defensive understanding, inevitable with the scratch nature of the San Jose team.

Final score 64 – 10 in favour of Fresno. 

Date: 03/02/2019

Humboldt State 73 – Sonoma St 22 

Referee: Pete Smith

No Report Received.

This Week’s Photo

Another local lad done good, San Jose native Todd Clever scoring as he led his team to the First Annual Noodle Babz 7s Championship.   When asked for comment, Las Vegas 7s Tournament Director Jon Hinkin said “We never have any fun”.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre