Category Archives: News

Is The Cup Half Empty Or Half Full?

HAIL PELICUS!

 

Is The Cup Half Empty Or Half Full?

“There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty.

The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What’s up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don’t think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass! Who’s been pinching my beer?

And at the other end of the bar the world is full of the other type of person, who has a broken glass, or a glass that has been carelessly knocked over (usually by one of the people calling for a larger glass) or who had no glass at all, because he was at the back of the crowd and had failed to catch the barman’s eye.

– Terry Pratchett, The Truth

Yes it is finally here. The World Cup, that quadrennial tournament that determines, once and for all, why the All Blacks are not the best team in the world.   The mighty All Blacks come swaggering into the tournament every 4 years after pounding the rest of the world for the previous 3 ½ years and everyone fully expects them to win.

 

Except they don’t.   Not if they have to get on an airplane, that is.   The only Webb Ellis Trophies that reside in their cabinet were earned on home soil.   If they win in a month’s time then I will change my tune and sing their praises to the mountains, but until then, my money’s on the Irish.

 

Who knew that Cherry Blossoms were lethal to Springboks?

 

This has to be the best thing to ever happen in rugby.  A couple of years ago I wrote in Hail Pelicus that the St Mary’s win over Cal was the most significant game of the year and implied it was the most significant game in US collegiate rugby.   My reasons were simple – the unbeatable champion was beaten and it wasn’t just a one-off game of their lives fluke, but a systematic deconstruction of the champions that had been building for years. It proved that solid coaching and backing could raise the fortunes of all programs and that nobody was unbeatable.

 

South Africa v Japan was the most significant game of rugby played anywhere at any level this year, and possibly ever. I see only two other contenders; the first true international that was played between England and Scotland in 1871, by virtue of being the first (and coincidentally, the first international of any kind for any version of football – take that, soccer!); and the Invincibles tour from 1924 which established the power of Southern Hemisphere rugby.   But why is this such a significant game?   Because Japan are minnows and are only at the World Cup for geographic diversity. Because South Africa are past winners and perennial contenders and are expected to cruise into the knockout stages. Because Japan is supposed to lose games like this by a minimum of 50 points and possibly 100.

 

But, glory be, none of these things happened. Japan was smart, physical and daring. The Springboks were sluggish and predictable, quite obviously relying on individual skill and reputation to carry the day.   Japan has spent the last decade importing international rugby stars to play in their leagues and have studied and learned from them. Japan, a team that just recently lost to the USA, did not look outmatched and took the game to the ‘Boks and came out deserving winners.   It wasn’t a case of the bounce of the ball going their way or an untimely injury to key SA players, this was a well-planned and well-executed game plan.   The fact that the Cherry Blossoms opted for a scrum with no time left rather than kick a very honorable, game tying penalty says a lot about the belief of that team.   I am sure that Japan will come back to earth and that South Africa will regroup, but now there is a chink in the armor, a vulnerable spot in Smaug’s underbelly that teams can see and exploit.   The gap is closing and the days of not needing to pay attention until the quarter finals are over.

 

The Eagles’ Cup Run

 

But what about the Eagles?   Everyone in America was giddy this past summer as the USA started flexing those metaphorical long slumbering muscles. We won the London 7s going away and qualified for the Olympics a few weeks later!   We beat Canada twice in a month for our first ever 3 match winning streak in the series with our closest rival. GO USA! We have a very manageable pool and hopeful eyes were cast on the quarterfinals.

 

Then we lost to Samoa in San Jose. Not a tragedy, we had some good passages of play but learned a valuable lesson: don’t try to take on the physically strongest side in the world up front, but use speed and fitness to find gaps and capitalize on the inevitable turnovers.

 

We rebounded with a win over Japan which must have made the coaching staff happy and then followed with a predictable, yet spirited defeat to Australia in Chicago.   We were playing well (at times) and had the most complete run up and preparation that a USA side has ever had.   Onward to glory!

 

Unfortunately the rest of the world looked at us and decided that we are what they thought we were.   We lost to Samoa playing essentially the exact same game plan that failed in San Jose with the exact same result.   We lost to Scotland after playing 40 minutes of solid rugby and 40 minutes of schoolboy rugby.   I am waiting for one of the forwards to pull our halfbacks aside to tell them that if they ever box kick again, they will have their legs broken.

 

There are many who look at our performances and see the positive phases of play and see improvement and claim our cup is half full.   There are also many who watch these games and see the unforced errors and mistakes that really shouldn’t be made at the international level and claim our cup is half empty.

 

Referencing the quote at the beginning of this newsletter, I long for the day that American rugby demands a bigger cup and that cup be filled all the way up.   Only then we will take our place amongst the rugby nations and not just be there to fill out the pools.   Right now we are at the back of the bar with a broken glass watching the Tier 1 nations drink all the beer.

 

Professional Rugby Is No Longer An Option But A Requirement

 

Looking back on our first two matches and comparing them to the Japanese stunner over South Africa one thing has really been highlighted: the value of a professional league.   This is not a new idea or a new observation but never has it been more apparent.   We seemed ill-prepared against Samoa and resorted to the same unworkable tactics that beat us in July.   We looked the better side against Scotland for 40 minutes and had a deserved lead at half time, only for our lack of depth and fitness get exposed in the second half.   We have better athletes than the Scots do, but they are all fully professional from 1-23, and can even bring on a completely different side of fully professional players and the result would be the same. Have we ever beaten Scotland A? Not that I can recall.

 

The Eagles can not seem to get the ball into the hands of the impact players we have. Samu Manoa is one of the best players in the world yet was nearly invisible in these two games. We kept feeding the ball to knock on machines while he was relegated to rucking and support duties. Give him the ball and let him crush – it is that simple.   For the backs we have the same issue.   Z Ngwenya has been a standout in the French Top 14 and Heineken Cup for years scoring numerous outstanding tries, yet can’t seem to get his hands on the ball for the USA. These are our impact players and we should be feeding them as much as possible.

 

We can not continue to field a team filled with amateurs.   I don’t care how good you are, if you have to get up at 5:00AM to work out, then spend 8 hours at your real job before going to the gym/track/training in the evening you will always be behind the fully professional athlete. It is merely a matter of time and resources.  When your job is to work out, you get fitter, faster and stronger.   When your job is rugby, you spend more time studying, learning and practicing.   This is never more apparent than in the scrum where we are constantly under pressure.

 

If USA Rugby is at all serious about moving forward, we need a pro league.   Here is a suggestion: get on the phone with Don Garber and ask him how he made MLS a viable pro league.  Yes, they lost money initially (predictable) but are now on very sound financial footing and even draw better than most European leagues.   Most MLS teams by now even have their own soccer specific stadiums. There may be something in what he did that we can learn from.

 

Quis docet ipsos doctores?

 

Our Referee Development Officer Vicky Hudson created a survey regarding last year’s referee development.

 

Please take a moment and help up develop our development and learning processes as this is a major tool in improving the Society.   You can find the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Pelican_Development

 

Ask A Pelican

 

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

 

“I keep getting these emails from membership@usarugby.org telling me my membership has expired even though our leagues don’t start until January.   Do I still need to renew now?   Why are people bothering me with this in September?”

 

Hi Abby and thanks for writing. Well yes, you do have to renew your membership if you plan to referee during the upcoming year and yes, you should do this as soon as possible. You see, the rest of the country does many silly things and one of them is they start their 15s season in September, if not August. I know, right?   For that reason USA Rugby decided that September 1 was a good day to start their calendar year as a natural break from 7s to 15s and all annual registrations start on that date.

 

Personally, I think they are mistaken and they should use September 4 as the start of the calendar year as it is a more obvious and natural annual transition but when I mentioned this I got a letter back saying “your comments have been noted” and have heard nothing since.

 

In any case, you can renew for the 2015-2016 USA Rugby competitive season, by going to www.usarugby.org and clicking on the red “Register/Login” button. On the next page click on “Login.”   If you have registered before you should have a login ID already.

 

Keep sending in your questions to us here at hailpelicus@pelicanrefs.com!

 

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process for reporting incidents

 

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

  1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone.  If you have an Iphone add the link to your home screen.
  2. When needed fill it out and click submit.  The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
  3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.

 

 

On To The Game Reports!

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: As more Pelicans fly off to other societies they still manage to send in reports.   This is a tradition that started last year with Tom Zanarini and is now being upheld by Stephen Valerio.   Keep up the good work!

 

Date: October 14, 1066

Severn River Women 81 – Harrisburg 10

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

 

The rugby season is kicking into gear in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. While some teams saw regular season action start this past weekend, a few teams squeezed in one last friendly. Severn River Women, who got as far as the National Division 2 Quarterfinals last year and have moved up to Division 1, took on their former Division 2 rivals Harrisburg.

 

It rained the entire drive out but it let up a bit before play started with just some intermittent showers. I had to remember the preparations for rugby in the rain since it has been so long since I had to referee in it. Of course right now, I believe the rain would be more welcome back in NorCal.

 

Severn River has a great pitch, tucked behind an American Legion Post. It is flat, covered in grass that held up even in the wet conditions, and proper posts. While the weather led to some ball-handling issues, the pitch wasn’t held up well. The teams agreed to 3 periods, 2 30-minute sessions and a 20-minute window to give the new players a run.

 

Severn River showed their class immediately scoring a try in the first minute. Their fly-half, center axis carved up their Harrisburg counterparts. They mixed set plays; with kicks downfield to keep the Harrisburg back three under pressure. Harrisburg’s tackling was too inconsistent for the quality of the opposition who were operating with training ground ease. Severn River’s forwards also pounded some runs with their #4 putting in some long runs after punching threw Harrisburg’s defense.

 

The one concern for Severn River would be in their scrums. The best they could hope for was parity, with Harrisburg keeping them under pressure all day and frequently pushing them around. Even with that, Severn River dominated the first 2 sessions. The third period was closer, as the structure in the game broke down with several rookies taking the pitch. That being said Severn Park owned the day and seems ready to start their season.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: It has come to our attention that October 14, 1066 was actually the Battle of Hastings and not the date of the above rugby match. Unfortunately no date was specified and we had to use carbon dating to determine when it occurred. We regret this error.

 

 

Date: Unknown. Possibly in the Pleistocene Epoch

Mount St Mary’s 100 – Frostburg St University 0

Referee: Valerio, Stephen

 

Mount St Mary’s lost in the NSCRO National Championship Final last spring to New England College. While small college programs can be susceptible to turnover if there is a large graduating class, Mount St Mary’s has the numbers to boast of 2 solid sides. They have a strong infrastructure with multiple coaches and support of the administration. The benefits of this were clear with the professional set up with a tent, plenty of food and drink for hospitality and a healthy number of fans sitting on the hill alongside the pitch.

 

Frostburg State is undergoing one of those transition years with graduation and injury, including one of their props getting hit by a car earlier in the week (in true front row fashion he still played) taking their toll.  This meant that several players getting their first run ever in a rugby game as starters against the Mount St Mary’s squad. The results were predictable. Mount St Mary’s backs were explosive and ran a variety of angles at the Frostburg backline. Both the forwards and backs showed great skill in the offload game, and only periodic handling errors seemed to blunt their attack. Unfortunately for Frostburg, they weren’t able to consistently win their own ball, allowing Mount St Mary’s to avoid any sustained pressure. Frostburg played hard throughout, without letting their frustration boil over. Though some players need to work on their rugby tackles versus their gridiron technique. Mount St Mary’s put 10 tries across in the first half for a 62-0 lead. They built on that in 2nd half with their scoring rate only slowed as they made their substitutions in the final quarter.

 

 

Date: 09/12/2015

Event: Tri Tip 7’s

Referee: Bernstein, Bruce

 

Did 6 matches Saturday starting with a strong USD alumni side which made it into the top 4 beating UCSB Grunions/Old Boys; with a Fresno-Super Hero contrast in costumes & play; highlighted by 2 undefeated (3-0) sides playing the last match of their bracket by the beer/band tent when SLO barely beat LA only because the LA kicker missed a kick under the posts which could have knotted the score. I also did the women’s semi b/w Belmont Shore & San Fernando but forgot who won–didn’t matter also a great game by the beer tent. (Also was AR for the women’s final–also don’t know who played or won–but NorCal had 2 out of 4 the top 4 teams there with EPA Razorbacks winning in dominating fashion & the Seahawks making it to the semis.

 

The tri tip was outstanding, awesome weather, hospitality by SLO & SoCal refs who organized the wives & girly friends to spend most of Saturday wine tasting & female bonding; then being delivered in good spirits back to their refs; and the bar hop wasn’t bad either.

 

 

Date: 09/26/2015

Event: NorCal NSCRO 7’s

Referee: Bryant, Lee

 

Great weather on a great pitch. There were a lot of new players on all teams so it was a good day to work with next generation of rugby. Fun little group of four officials who made the day full of laughs. Good day for rugby all around.

 

 

Date: 09/26/2015

Event: NorCal NSCRO 7’s

Referee: Richmond, Jeff

 

Well played matches. Good to see schools such as Menlo helping grow the sport.

 

Date: 09/26/2015

Event: NorCal NSCRO 7’s

Referee: Hinkin, James

 

With a strong referee crew of myself, Lee Bryant, Jeff Richmond and Steve Fenaroli we were well prepared for the Nor Cal NSCRO 7s.   Teams included Cal Maritime A & B, Menlo College, San Francisco St, Sonoma St A & B (hosts), Sierra JC and a motley side to fill out the 8th spot.

 

The tournament was held at For Pete’s Sake field which was shockingly lush, even swampy at times. How could this be in the midst of a massive drought? I have no idea but I personally believe it involves black magic. I have never fully trusted Alan Petty and the Santa Rosa Brain Trust – things happen in the Santa Rosa scrum that I have no other explanation for.

 

The tournament itself was well organized and stayed on time.   I raced out of the gate and nearly awarded a red card 1 minute into the tournament as a tackler picked up the ball carrier (“NO! PUT HIM DOWN!) but then set him safely back on his feet and continued the tackle. Phew!   Well, if I wasn’t going to give a red then I had to settle for 2 yellows, one in each of my first two games.   Lee Bryant, being the top referee that she is, saw that and immediately responded with a double barrel yellowing of two players who were exchanging post tackle pleasantries to tie up the card count. Apparently, Steve Fenaroli and Jeff Richmond need more experience because they didn’t respond to the example set by Lee and I and didn’t issue any cards at all. We in the Society have high hopes that they will learn from this.

 

As for the teams, there was a mix of new players and experienced players. Some of the youngsters who were playing for the first time saw marked improvement and you could see rugby setting its hook and landing them for life. San Francisco St won the final with a runaway 33-17 victory that showed off their fitness as the game was tied 12-12 at half time.   Yes, fitness was a definite factor as I am positive this is the first time these players have played in a final with 10 minute halves.   It makes a difference.

 

This Week’s Photo

This week’s photo is from our Annual Banquet where we were honored by a visit from the Centurion.   Pelicus Pedem Referre is also shown holding the microphone so the Centurian’s wise words could be heard across the senate.

Centurian

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

The Pelican Days Of Summer

HAIL PELICUS!

 

The Pelican Days Of Summer

 

Yes, here we are at the end of the Pelican days of summer, when the long, hot, lazy summer days seem to stretch into forever and 7s rules the land.   Obscene orange and pink sunsets cast an eerie light on groups of ruggers as they gather to discuss the day’s events and start formulating the lies about how fast/good they were while quaffing their beverage of choice and watching their shadows extend into the evening, getting longer as the tales get taller.   The last to leave the field of battle are often the noble members of our Society as age and wisdom – usually personified in the person of Pelicus Scriptoris – provides the foresight to bring a few beverages to ease tired muscles and aid in the retelling of stories from long ago.    We also take the time to review the day’s events and analyze the good, the bad and the ugly, but from a slightly different perspective.   The appreciation of the big hit or the mazy run is still there – trust me on this – but also the appreciation of a game well managed. Of Preston Gordon’s perfect red card.   Of the call that didn’t happen and allowed the game to flow into a try. Of the perfect positioning and assistance of an AR on a difficult decision. Appreciation of rugby as a spectacle will never leave our feathered bosoms and that is merely enhanced by the appreciation of the more technical and often overlooked aspects of making sure this game happens.

 

Preston Gordon Awarded a Perfect Red Card?

 

How can awarding a red card – the harshest individual sanction a referee can give – be perfect?   By the timing and tone of the whistle to let everyone know that something serious has happened and you are dealing with it.   By the correct application of procedure, getting the player number and name correct, calling the player and the captain over for the explanation and then awarding the card.   By deciding that the action warranted a straight red and having the courage to follow through.   By exuding calmness to relieve the tension of the moment. By managing the situation so that all parties are confident that clean, safe rugby will be played.

 

This is noteworthy because it is so often overlooked.   When handled correctly the referee is almost invisible, but when handled incorrectly chaos can ensue and the referee becomes the center of the match, overshadowing the players and even the score. Straight red cards are often the result of dangerous foul play and bring a tremendous amount of emotion to the fore. Poor handling of the situation can lead to retribution, fights and more cards down the line.   There is a reason some games have cards coming in bunches while the same two teams can meet in 3 weeks time with no issues.

 

What’s Been Happening?

 

It has been a busy summer and no mistake this year.   The 7s calendar seems to be filling up more and more with the excitement over the Olympics and the USA’s successes in the World Sevens Series inspiring more and more clubs to put on tournaments.   Add to that the Pacific Nations Cup matches held in San Jose and Sacramento, respectively and all of the World Cup preparation (3 wins in a row over Canada!! Amazing!!) and you have a full schedule indeed.   As I write this there is one more 7s event left, the tradition end of the 7s season at the Tri Tip 7s in San Luis Obispo, and then we are rolling right into the World Cup.   This year is a tad bittersweet as Pelicanland will be, as usual, heavily represented at the grandest stage but it appears that long time captain and San Jose’s favorite son Todd Clever will not be participating.   There really hasn’t been a convincing reason given for this decision but just the generic “violating team rules” line and neither side has bothered to offer and more details.   As it is Todd may not have held on to his position on form alone as there are a quality crop of young flankers coming up through the ranks, but I do feel the team is poorer for his absence and leadership.   He is and was a beast on the field and always led from the front.   As I don’t know the details I don’t know who is to blame or if blame should be shared, but this is an ignominious end to a stellar career and should have been handled better on both sides.

 

Good luck to the USA Eagles.   I will be in my face paint and wearing my jersey and cheering as hard as I can. I just wish that an accommodation could have been reached and hope that Mike Tolken will not have cause to regret this decision.

 

Ask A Pelican

 

Yes, it’s time for this week’s installment of “Ask A Pelican”, the widely loved Q and A session with Hail Pelicus.   This week’s question comes from Jon Stewart of New Jersey, NY, who asks:

 

“I have a lot of time on my hands these days so I was just wondering what have you been up to this summer?”

 

Well, thanks for asking Jon and I have been keeping busy, and not just with rugby. In between refereeing and even running a tournament I found time to expand my cultural horizons. If you get the chance I highly recommend going to see Puddles Pity Party, The Clown With The Golden Voice, who I saw in San Francisco. He puts on an amazing show and is well worth the money.   I also managed a week in France and had a chance to explore Paris for a few days, but that wasn’t the primary reason I was there.   You see, a few years ago my younger brother (no, not that one) married a lovely French lady and this summer we went back to France for the French wedding so her parents could be involved.   The setting was stunning, a 800 year old cathedral in my sister-in-law’s home village officiated by the local Catholic priest. It was a lovely ceremony and reception with all the silliness and mishaps that characterize a great wedding.   My favorite was during the most critical part of the ceremony the French priest got the participant’s names confused so now as far as everyone can tell, in the eyes of the French church, my younger brother’s wife is married to his best friend Bryan, something that amused the audience and came as a bit of a shock to Bryan’s wife as well, who naturally, was also in attendance.    You just can’t make this stuff up.

 

Keep sending in your questions to us here at hailpelicus@pelicanrefs.com!

 

Pelicans Soaring Ever Higher

 

Congratulations to our National Panel Referees that continue to represent NCRRS at the National Panel.  Phil Akroyd has been appointed to the USA Elite Panel, George O’neil has been appointed, once again, to be on the National Panel.  Congratulations also goes out to Lee Bryant on her appointment to the Seven Referee Development Workshop in Dubai hosted by World Rugby in early December.

 

2015 Pelican Award Winners

 

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Pelican Awards, which were handed out at our Annual Banquet in July.   The winner are:

 

Rookie of the Year – Andrew Bailey

Most Improved – Peter Sandhill

Ambassador or the Society – Phil Akroyd

Pelicus Scriptoris – James Hinkin

Bryan Porter Award – Scott Wood

Assistant Referee of the Year – Preston Gordon

Pelican of the Year – Neil MacDonald

 

Upcoming Referee Development Courses

 

NCRRS trainers are busy this time of year hosting courses.  There are two courses in particular that you may be interested in participating in.   On the weekend of September 19th and 20th Matt Eason will be conducting the Level 2 Officiating course.  This is a two day course and is a prerequisite for advancement past the rank of C1.  This course is only completed once a year so you are encouraged to take the course now.  If you are interested in signing up for the course email Matt Eason.
On October 3rd  NCRRS will also be hosting the Coaching of Match Officials course at the Maritime Academy.  We have 6 NCRRS participants already confirmed but there is space for more.  If you are interested contact Mike Malone.
Upcoming Referee Exchanges

Norfolk Exchange

We need to send a C1 referee to Virginia to referee a Division 1 playoff match September 19th.  Please provide your availability to travel to Norfolk by August 22nd.  Contact Bjorn.

 

East Midlands Exchange

It’s our turn to travel to Midlands for our annual Exchange with our Brothers and Sisters from England.  We’ll be sending referees Mid-November, looking to arrive November 12 and depart November 22nd/23rd.  Send your desire to participate to Bjorn via the following link
As an aside allow me to say that I went on this exchange 2 years ago with Rich Boyer and Jordan Bruno and it was the most amazing experience.   The fact that this time there will be this thing called the Rugby World Cup going on in England at the same time just adds to the awesomeness of this exchange.   If at all possible try to go.

 

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process for reporting incidents

 

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

  1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone.  If you have an Iphone add the link to your home screen.
  2. When needed fill it out and click submit.  The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
  3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.

 

 

On To The Game Reports!

 

Yes, there are actual game reports. As this is a summer’s worth and tournament reporting isn’t quite as rigorous as league reporting, it is a bit of a mish-mash. Oh well…

 

Event: Sharkapalooza Old Boys Tourney

Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Date: No clue – he didn’t say. It was on a Saturday, though.

 

Reffed this past Saturday in Newport Beach’s awesome field by the beach & Strand & Fun Zone on the Balboa Peninsula. Reffed the 2nd match & Fresno dominated North County (San Diego) 24-5. They went on the barely squeaked by a strong Misfit team & again spanked Vegas in the Finals. I also reffed a loser bracket where Huntington Beach got by Old Southwest 7-0. Great party place Cruisers crawling distance to the field as was a dip in the ocean& awesome 80 weather with light breezes.

 

Event: Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Date: 07/11/2015

Referee: Bertolone, Cary

 

Great support from Silicon Valley, providing food and drinks and a tent for the refs. Plenty of refs made it easy, so we all took turns as AR’s as well. Good rugby, good refs, great weather. I reffed Google twice, both wins! A lot of good teams, good sportsmanship by all.

 

Event: Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Date: 07/11/2015

Referee: Rauscher, Eric

 

This is a three weekend series, with the cup given away at the end of the third Saturday. It is played at Calabazas Park in San Jose.

A full sized grass field with rope barriers and correctly flagged. Over all the organizers (Silicon Valley Rugby Club) are doing an admirable job of running this affair. As refs, we get our assignments via pre-made match cards indicating time and the two teams. The card is used to record scores ( and cards if required) and then handed back to the organizers. Lunch and drinks are provided, and there is a social afterwards.

The refs to show up this week were Paul Simko ( a new but promising ref), Bruce Bernstein, Jeff Richmond, Jeff Jury, Cary Bertolone and Eric Rauscher.

We each got two/three games. Six teams played round robin for a total of 15 games.

All in all a very enjoyable event.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: I saw the field.   If that was a full sized field then I am the Queen of England.

 

Event: NorCal 7s Series

Date: 07/11/2015

Referee: Fenaroli, Steven

 

I had San Jose/ East Bay to get the day started. The game went off fairly well. I felt confident and had control over the match.

Life West and East Bay was a quick game and by the second half, I found myself out of control. I did not like the feeling of being out of my element and after the game, I realized that it had gotten away from me. My fitness was not the problem, but the players were arguing back with every call and with the game being played at such a high level by both teams, I found myself with tunnel vision and not able to manage the game properly.

The third game was SFGG and Santa Rosa. SFGG had control of the game the whole time. After my hiccup in game two, i found myself right back in the drivers seat for this game. SFGG ran away with this one.

Finally in the 3/4 Mens B, the game was much more relaxed, but still played at a high level. Both teams were having fun and not worrying about making the game go any further than the play at hand.

 

I had a good day and learned lots in terms of positioning, advantage, scoring after I get back to the midway line, and general game management between the teams, Phil, Joh, Pete and Neil were fantastic and had lots to offer in terms of advice and help when I came asking. I hope to continue more with Pelicans

 

Date: 07/18/2015

Classic Eagles 67 – Classic Canadians 24

Referee: Wood, Scott

 

Referee: Scott “It’s my story and I’m sticking to it” Wood

ARs: Preston “I don’t do Facebook” Gordon & Bruce “The Dude” Bernstein

Referee Support Crew: Cary “Back in the hunt” Bertolone

 

Venue: PAL Stadium, San Jose

Estimated attendance: 1,500

 

What a weekend! On Friday, I received a Certificate of Merit from Rugby Norcal, then surprisingly bestowed the Bryon Porter Award. All this leading up to my first assignment of an international rugby match featuring the Classic Eagles versus the Canadian Classics. To top that off, it was the curtain raiser for the Pacific Nations Cup. Of course, there were the doubters trying to fill my head with how bad this derby has been for other referees but I brushed them aside and slept like a champ.

 

“Life is made of choices. Every morning you start with the choice to get out of bed. Do you choose to be happy or just a pain in the ass to everyone else?” I chose to be different and be happy (good coffee helps).

 

Both teams arrived over an hour before kickoff, having entered the parking lot and passing the sign “REMINDER: THIS IS A POLICE FACILITY”. San Jose Seahawks did a fine job setting up the pitch with line appropriately marked, football uprights padded, and storm grates covered. Introductions were made, ground rules established (uncontested scrums, 2×40-minute halves–much to the chagrin of Canada, rolling subs), and coin tossed.

 

The game was fast paced with USA controlling much of the possession. The score was 17-0 before Canada answered with two tries. Passing was tight and decisive by both teams. The half closed with the hosts leading 24-10. USA was undeterred and scored in the first minute of the second half. And the fifth. And many other times after that. Canada was able to slip in two tries of its own during the USA’s rout. Breakdowns were relatively well organized with the occasional hand-in, sealing off/not rolling away penalty. Tempers never rose (admittedly questions occasionally arose regarding the referee’s “interpretations”) and the game functioned better than many D1 Club matches. This was by far the EASIEST “old boys” match I have ever encountered.

 

Event : San Jose Elite 7’s

Date: 07/18/2015

Referee: Fenaroli, Steven

 

I had mostly women’s games with one or two mens games. I felt more in control and less susceptible to the chatter coming from the teams. I felt comfortable managinging the situation and able to tell the players I didn’t want to hear from them unless they were one of the captains. That quieted the talking but the groans and moans continued. The women’s games were low key and without a lot of competition. Both were pretty lopsided and without much contest. The SFGGB/LifeB was much closer but ended well.

 

 

Event: Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Date: 07/25/2015

Referee: Bertolone, Cary

 

Another beautiful rugby day with a breeze that kept the weather tolerable. 5 refs plus Bruce Carter and James Hinkin to watch, evaluate and to offer unsolicited commentary. John Pohlman brought a tent for the refs, thank you John. I reffed Google, Reno, the Fog and Aptos during the day and finished with the championship game between Modesto and College Park. It was 7-7 at the half, but College Park ran away with the title game in the second half, winning 31-7. Fun reffing with Bruce Bernstein, John Pohlman, Jeff Richmond and Paul Simko and it was great to have James and Bruce there too. Awards and beer after the tourney, sponsored by Carlsbad!

 

Event: Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Date: 07/25/2015

Referee: Bernstein, Bruce

 

Reffed 3 matches starting with College Park beating Modesto who would meet in the Championship plus the 3rd place match where Google ran past Aptos.

 

 

Event: Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Date: 07/25/2015

Referee: Richmond, Jeff

 

Good final day of the Carlsberg series. Enjoyed the fellowship and support of the other refs in attendance.

 

Event: Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Date: 07/25/2015

Referee: Pohlman, John

 

Paul Simko, Jeff Richmond, Bruce Bernstein, Cary Bertolone and myself refereed the final week of the Carlsberg Cup. Each of us got three games.   Cary did the finals. Well run and organized event. Had a nice after party with trophies and team recognition.

All in all, a fun event. Nice to have visits from Pelican clan Bruce Carter and James Hinkin.

 

 

Event: NorCal 7s Series

Date: 07/25/2015

Referee: Bretz, Paul

 

Rich Boyer, Favor Taueva, and your truly each officiated 4 games in this final series of NorCal’s 7’s. The event was rather low-keyed and played in good spirits. Life West’s B side demonstrated its dominance against the hosts Sacramento winning 5 tries to 2.

 

Event: Palo Alto 7’s

Date: 08/08/2015

Referee: Bertolone, Cary

 

Another 7’s tourney. Could it be the last Palo Alto 7’s tourney ever, after 40 something consecutive years? Not sure, but we had a nice day to ref this year. I reffed Mission, Aptos, Silicon Valley, Seahawks, the Fog, Modesto and a few other teams. Good camaraderie, pretty good rugby and another visit from Bruce Carter all made for a great day.

 

Event: Tight Five 7’s

Date: 08/22/2015

Referee: Bertolone, Cary

 

Hilarious watching the players walking in, many in costumes and several with beer in their hands. A lot of fun with all of the camaraderie. Highlanders had their own BBQ and kitchen, Golden Gate was selling beer, food truck was doing a lot of business. Weather was perfect. Womens’ high school rugby in the am. Kicked off the tourney at 12:00 PM, my first game was Golden Gate vs the Highwaymen (put together touring team lead by Sean Peters, mostly Colusa and Santa Rosa) and Golden Gate prevailed with a second half comeback. My best and last game was Life West vs Highwaymen. Tied at half, Highwaymen won 35-14. With one minute to go, I turned sharply and heard and felt a pop in my knee. Trainer and I think medial collateral, I have a bad feeling I will need surgery as I’ve been there before (but not as a ref). I did finish the game, but not the tourney. I was done by 4:00 and the tourney probably went till 7:00. Funniest thing I’ve ever seen on a pitch, Highwaymen kick off to Marin after scoring a try and while the ball was in the air, all 7 went to their backs and put their feet and arms in the air and waived them around; called the dying ants. Marin hesitates and then, think they can score, so the player goes for the sprint and one of the dead ants jumped up and took the ball carrier out of bounds with a great tackle, right into the crowds on the sidelines. All caught on film. Lot of fun, except the knee.

 

 

Event: Tight Five 7’s

Date: 08/22/2015

Referee: Richmond, Jeff

 

A long day with a 9:00 am scheduled start actually being noon. Then a scheduled 5:30 pm finish turning into 7:00 pm. Very much enjoyed the company of Bryant, Paul, Cary (until his knee gave out), and “Mongo” from Seattle. Also enjoyed the fun atmosphere of the tournament.

 

Event: Tight Five 7’s

Date: 08/22/2015

Referee: Bryant Byrnes

 

A wild and wooly day on TI. It was much of the running of the bulls as it was rugby. But it went well and ended well. And this was due in large part because Jeff Richmond assumed the role of Ref In Charge, scheduled the matches and molded a piecemeal and somewhat rag tag of refs into a hard working efficient group of officials.

The group included a guest PNW  ref who went by the name of Mongo (big fella), a high school senior, a couple of sliver backs, and Nome.

No real fights, no injuries, no tears. Considering what it was, a very successful event. Hats off to Jeff.

Event: Tight Five 7’s

Date: 08/22/2015

Referee: Simko, Paul

 

Good day, except the kickoff time was wrong. So was up at 6:30 am and was at the pitch at 8am for a 9am kickoff 45 minutes away from my house. Found out that kickoff was at noon so drove all of the way home and back.

 

This Week’s Photo

A group shot of the shenannegans at the Tight 5 7s on Treasure Island.   Trust me, you did not want me to use the other photo that was sent in.

Tight 5 7s

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Summertime And The Livin’s Easy

HAIL PELICUS!

Summertime And The Livin’s Easy

Yes, summer is here. It has been a few weeks since our last Hail Pelicus and yours truly has spent the time herding llamas in the Andes. That, and working on my repertoire of “yo mama” jokes.  Have you ever tried to “yo mama” a llama?   Those long necked Andean freaks are brutal.

The rugby world didn’t stop, however, and momentous things have been happening.   Championships were won and lost and the seasons turned, as they often do, from 15s to 7s.   It is a sacred duty to delight and inform the Pelicani about such things and thus do I fulfill my obligations.

Show Me Your O Face

Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand!”
-Duran Duran

Yes, I know the song above refers to a different Rio but I have it on good authority that Rio de Janeiro has sand and the women do a fair amount of dancing there.   Why should we care about the terpsichorean tendencies of our South American friends?   That is simple: the US Men’s and Women’s 7s teams BOTH qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.   These dedicated men and women worked hard to realize their dream and now get to show the world their on their O(lympic) face.   The women are starting off fresh – the men have a pair of dusty old gold medals to defend. Based on recent results we could very well see both teams take top honors.

Both the men and the women cruised through the NACRA Qualifying tournament with impressive wins over unimpressive sides. Politics, culture and geography dictate that the North American and Caribbean countries duke it out amongst themselves to see who gets the automatic bid to the Olympics and who has to try again with the repechage tournament, officially known as the “Final 2016 Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament” while unofficially known as the Last Chance Saloon.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An accident of geography has made our region a difficult one to name in any sport.   NACRA barely rolls off the tongue as “North American Caribbean Rugby Association” and is probably as good as it is going to get. I believe the powers that be looked at the mess soccer made with CONCACAF, the “Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football” and wanted no part of it.

The US Women are one of the best teams in the world and faced no significant challenges – the other regional power Canada had already qualified via their place in the World 7s Series. The US was able to qualify with ease as the class of the US women was not to be denied.   The US women were impressive in all phases and more than up for the task.

The US Men are staking their claim as one of the best in the world and were able to cruise through pool play with some ridiculous scores while the Great Rival did the same in the opposite pool.   This set up the expected clash in the final: USA v Canada.   Canada has always been our greatest rival and matches against them were always tough. Up through the 2013-2014 7s Series Canada had dominated the Americans but after the hiring of Mike Friday for the 2014-2015 7s Series the pendulum swung back to the US.   Or did it?   A humiliating, record breaking, shutout loss in the Glasgow 7s proved that Canada could beat the stuffing out of us if we weren’t on top of our game.   Once the game started all doubt was erased as the US took control early and never let go. Canada made some breaks and put pressure on the US but a lost penalty in a great attacking position at the end of the first half followed by a try given up at the start of the second half ended the final realistic chance the Canadians had and the US was victorious.

Cool as the other side of a cucumber.

I do wish the Canadians luck in their final qualifying tournament as it would be wonderful for NACRA rugby to have both powers represented for both the men and the women.

Northern California flavor to the Olympics

The numerous connections of the current USA teams to Pelicanland has been detailed before so we won’t go into it again here except to say that our influence is so great that even the latecomer to the squad, Chris Wyles, has a Nor Cal connection. When I last saw him I showed him a map of the US and he immediately, almost instinctively was able to point out California.   Well done, indeed.

We must look to the past then, to really appreciate the depth of the Pelican contribution to Olympic rugby.   For the gold medal teams of 1920 and 1924 ALL of the players came from Northern California. Every. Single. One. For a more complete history than I can provide here I suggest going to http://www.agiantawakens.com/ and buying the movie. It is worth it.

Stars Upon Thars

I have one final note before tabling the topic of Olympic Rugby.   If there is anyone from USA Rugby – I’m looking at you Pelicus Editorem Minimus, Ex Dux – or the USOC who reads this missive and has a say in the design of the USA jerseys, please take moment to consider the more subtle aspects of the team jerseys.   It is customary in some sports to put a star above the crest to indicate a world championship or an Olympic gold medal.  Some of the more astute readers who followed the USA Women’s Soccer team to their recent World Cup championship may have noticed this. A couple of stars above the USA crest would remind the world that we are – at least on the men’s team – the 2 time defending Olympic Champions.

Northern California – Home of Champions

The roll call of USA National Champions out of Pelicanland just keeps getting longer.   Congratulations to Life West Gladiators for the Men’s D2 National Championship with a 43-24 win over Wisconsin. Well done!

Spring Chicken

Loyal readers will recall how this publication reported on the chicken uprising touched off by the announcement that the NCRRS will be holding their annual banquet at the Sonoma Chicken Coop, what is being dubbed by the media as the Chicken Spring.   For the last several weeks our humble correspondent has been embedded with the troops led by Colonel Sanders, whose experience in chicken warfare goes back decades.   I can barely count the number of times my assigned monitor Pfc Herb and I travelled the Spice Road together. Well it was 11 times, so I guess I can count it.   “11 Herb; Spice” read the report we sent to Colonel Sander.

In any case the chicken revolt continued. Propaganda and statements were hurled back and forth by each side.   “I don’t want to be a pie. I don’t like gravy” said a spokeschicken.   This epic contest came to its conclusion in the decisive Battle of the Barnyard when finally the chicken’s sweet, slightly spicy leader General Tso surrendered.

Final Banquet Details

Now that the feathers have settled the Pelican Elders will be holding our Annual Awards Banquet in San Jose on Friday, July 17 at the Sonoma Chicken Coop on Skyport Drive – right by Avaya Stadium where the internationals will be held. There is rumored to be a special guest speaker so mark this event on your calendar. Please RSVP via email to Jim Crenshaw at crenshaw@cal.net with how many guests you are bringing.

Banquet details:

Date:                  Friday, July 17
Time:                  Drinks start at 7:00, Dinner served at 8:00
Location:              Sonoma Chicken Coop, Skyport
90 Skyport Drive Suite 100
San Jose, CA 95110
Cost:                  All NCRRS members receive a free meal – guests cost $50.00.

Ask A Pelican

Yes, it’s time for this week’s installment of “Ask A Pelican”, the widely loved Q and A session with Hail Pelicus.   This week’s question comes via Lazy von Slowpoke from Germantown, CA, who asks:

“When is the ball out?”

Hi Lazy, and thanks for the question.   The best answer we here at Hail Pelicus have ever heard comes from Bert Moeller of the Southern California Rugby Referee Society: “When the ball is comfortable with its own sexuality and is in a safe, nurturing environment the ball can come out. It can’t be forced, though. You can not out the ball, the ball must be out on its own.”

Pelicans On Tour – The Calgary Exchange

Below we have Steven Fenaroli’s report from the Calgary exchange.

Flying out of Sacramento, I never realized how close Calgary was. After a two short flights I had arrived. Anyone who billets in a different city knows about the lack of details/plan and suffice to say I was nervous about any questions the customs officers would have for me regarding my accommodations. I found David Robinson no problem, and he and I left the airport for his third time that night. He gave me a lay of the land on the way to the hotel where I would meet up with Tom Franzoia. My goal going into the Stampede was to enjoy the city and take in as much information as possible to improve my refereeing.

Saturday, Tom and I had the morning to ourselves so we walked the 3km to the Calgary Rugby Union to get a look at the pitch during the day. There are 5 pitches, with field 1 which has a grandstand and a clubhouse overlooking. The fields were in top shape and it left me with water envy from our drought. We would later learn that the water bill for the Calgary Rugby was sizeable.

David picked us up later that morning and we split up. Some went to the Stampede for the afternoon, however David, visiting referee Toby Mustill from Vancouver, BC, and I all went to Banff for the afternoon. The weather was fantastic in the mid 80s (the conversion from metric to imperial the whole weekend left my brain sore).

Banff is a small tourist town set among the Rockies in the Banff National Park. Anyone who has seen a picture of Lake Louise’s blue glacier runoff water knows the picturesque views. After lunch, we went to the local rugby pitch which is set in the valley and runs along the river with towering mountains on all side. It truly is one of the most scenic rugby pitches I have been fortunate to see.

Friday night we were slated for 10 games in the Mens and Womens Premiere division. We were running teams of 5 with ARs and In-Goals. Everyone got their turn in the center the Friday proved to be a good warmup for a long Saturday with 95 games going on all five fields. The matches ended just before 9pm and the even later 10pm sunset made for a gorgeous view to end the day.

There was a men’s premiere, women’s premiere, men’s semi competitive, men’s social, women’s social division in this tournament. Everyone came for a good time, but like always, the social players had a bit more flare. My favorites were the guys in cut denim shirts and jackets and one guy who cut his only pair of jeans 5 minutes before a game so he could have denim shorts as well.

Saturday brought a wealth of games and being that it was Independence Day, it was only fitting for me to wear some Red, White and Blue flag socks to go with our outstanding Stampede 7s kit. I started my morning off with a U18 game and a men’s social back to back. With the number of refs we all had a good break in between our games. The rest of the day I would be doing men’s and women’s premiere. A total of 7 matches capped off with being given the men’s premiere final. I was a bit nervous at the challenge, but all of the folks had confidence in me. Their tips during the tournament helped me drastically improve my game in a matter of days. During the men’s semi competitive final the sky opened up and the looming storm gave way to marble sized hail and a torrential downpour. With the game on hold, all sought shelter until the lightning had passed.

The final consisted of Irish and Batus a bit later; both whom I had refereed. Irish was a strong team but couldn’t make the tackles they needed and Batus broke away. Irish kept it close going into the second half and even looked poised to make a comeback, but they couldn’t put the pieces together for the win. Batus won the men’s premiere and were drinking out of the Cup for the rest of the night and into the bar.

The friendliness and welcoming nature of Calgarians was amazing. Maybe not as much when we think about the nature of rugby and the ability to transcend borders, languages and traditions. At the end of the day, we have the shared experience and the common goal of trying preserve the legacy of those who laid the groundwork and to give back to those who come after.

I was flying out Sunday the 5th and come to find out that David’s birthday was that day. Fortunately for him, he would be going to Edmonton for the double header. David and his wife Lisa were incredibly gracious for hosting us. The Calgary Rugby Union put on a great tournament, and Rugby Alberta has amazing match officials who were always willing to give tips to improve. In the end, my time in Calgary was memorable and the friends made plentiful.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process for reporting incidents

 

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

  1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone.  If you have an Iphone add the link to your home screen.
  2. When needed fill it out and click submit.  The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
  3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.

 

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 06/13/2015

NorCal Pelicans Development 19 – Durham University B 27

Referee: MacDonald, Neil

AR: Kevin Donnelly

AR: Nome Tiatia

 

I made my first visit to the fabled Kezar stadium on a Saturday night in June, resplendent in San Francisco summer: overcast with a chill wind whipping down the field from the west. The grass pitch was in immaculate condition, and a crowd of several hundred had gathered for the return of representative rugby to this storied venue.

 

With Nome and Kevin on the sidelines, the visiting Durham University RFC second XV – in their white strip with purple hoops – kicked off into the wind to begin our festivities. The Pelicans Development XV scored first, 6 minutes in, before Durham equalized a few minutes later, and a long stalemate ensued, punctuated by a litany of injuries. Nor Cal physicality and direct running jousted with savvy breakdown play and ball carrying from Durham, whose structure and pace in the backs persistently threatened. Durham were finally rewarded with the go ahead try and conversion in the 35th minute. 5-12 the score at half time, along with a dislocated shoulder and a torn ACL.

 

Durham added a penalty goal early in the second half to extend their lead to ten points, only for the Pelicans to pull back to within three with a converted try a few minutes later. Three point game in the 55th minute, with the Pelicans trailing their guests 12-15. The Pelicans then went under the cosh in an extended goal-line siege during which the Pelican scrum went down while retreating over the line twice. Durham got their third try under advantage on the next one, and the Pelicans avoided conceding the penalty try. Roaring (or do Pelicans squawk?) back into the match, the Pelicans grabbed another converted try in the 75th minute to cut Durham’s lead once again. 19-22 Durham with 4 minutes left. Game on! A flowing move from Durham put them in in the corner (with Nome beautifully positioned right there) to put the game out of the Pelicans’ reach.

 

This game had more injuries in one match than I’ve had in all my other matches this season. All the best to the players for speedy and full recoveries. Thanks to both teams for a cracking match. Many thanks also to Kevin Donnelly and Nome Tiatia for their valuable assistance as ARs, and most of all thanks to Pete Smith for his tireless work putting on this event and reinvigorating representative rugby in Nor Cal.

 

It was a pleasure meeting the Durham University RFC players and touring party. I will long remember the purple blazers with white trim. In Northern California we rarely have the opportunity to referee teams with such sartorial elegance, which was matched only by the grace of their generous remarks when we repaired across the road to the other Kezar. Thanks for making the trip, Durham. I hope you had a great finish to the tour.

 

For those illustrious readers of Hail Pelicus who weren’t at Kezar, you missed out. Next time the Pelicans are playing, come on out and enjoy some great rugby.

 

Date: 06/20/2015 – 6/21/2015

South West Regional Cup

Bakersfield, CA

Referee: Smith, Pete

 

I got the first match of the day/event in the Boy Varsity in a matchup between the SoCal Griffins and PNW Loggers. Kick off was at 8 am and only 88 degrees at the opening whistle. It was good to see that the captains knew each other considering the geographic distance between them. It was a very good game with end to end action. Both teams came very close to scoring tries if not for desperate defense and minor handling errors. SoCal started the scoring with a PK followed by an unconverted try by PNW to make it 5-3; SoCal slotted another PK to go into halftime up 6-5. The score was not indicative of the quality of play, my first scum was 9 minutes in and I didn’t have a penalty before the first water break at 15 minutes…touch, knock-ons, loose passes and solid defense by both teams kept them from blowing up the scoreboard. More of the same in the second half with SoCal adding another PK about 20 minutes in making it 9-5 SoCal. With the temp clearly cresting 90 degrees the boys from PNW started feeling the heat, they let a try slip past to bump the score to 14-5. SoCal added a final try at full time that was well earned, but a PNW player attempted to trip the Griffin while centering the try so Penalty Try officially with a yellow card to the offending player…Final tally 21-5 in favor of SoCal Griffins.

 

Date: 06/20/2015 – 6/21/2015

South West Regional Cup

Bakersfield, CA

Kern County 0 – NorCal/SoCal 0

Referee: Donnelly, Kevin

AR: Bretz, Paul

AR: Taueva, Favor

#4: Smith, Pete

 

Very competitive mid-day match between the NorCal and SCal Boys JV Select sides. Despite the heat and the fact that this was the second match of the day for these players, the game was fast and aggressive. The final score doesnt reflect how close this game was, with the game ending on a try by SoCal as part of their tremendous late-second-half effort to over-take NorCal.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: “The final score doesnt reflect how close this game was” – Well, that seems odd since you reported a 0-0 score. How much closer do you want it to be?

 

 

Date: 06/20/2015

Rugby Ethos 7s 100 – TBD 0

Referee: Bernstein, Bruce

 

Life won but a few other men’s teams impressed; Sacramento Caps, Vacaville, Modesto & Aptos.

We could have used a few more refs (only 2 out of the 10 assigned refs showed up) but local captain/coach Ahmed showed he could be a great ref–somebody get him certified & he could be doing Division 1 games within a year.

 

 

Date: 06/20/2015

Rugby Ethos 7s 21 – TBD 0

Referee: Bertolone, Cary

 

10:00 am came around with only one ref (me) and two games kicking off. I talked a Marin player, Hamed Beytollah, into starting one field as a ref and I took the other. We just stood on the field , one team after another, reffing games one after another. Bruce Bernstein showed up by my 5th game and gave me a break for 15 minutes. Evie traded jerseys from playing and reffed two games, otherwise, I reffed 14 games, Hamed had 15 games and Bruce reffed 8-10 games, some of them really good games. Standout teams were East Bay Blues, Modesto, Life West, Aptos, Marin and Sacramento Capitals. Championship mens’ game was Life beating Sacramento Capitals, good game. In womens, the championship was Life West against Berkeley Blues with Life West prevailing. Clean play by almost everyone. The tournament worked, but would have been better with more refs.

 

 

Date: 06/27/2015

Newport 7s Tournament

Fort Adams State Park, Newport, RI

Referee: Zanarini, Tom

 

Summer feels like it finally arrives once the sevens season kicks off.  Summer was thus a little late for me as I missed the Worcester 7s tournament on June 20.  But I can’t think of a better place to kick off summer in New England than Newport.  There were four divisions at the tournament: women, men’s open, men’s NERFU and men’s Northeast Championships.  Six matches were on tap for me, starting at 9:20 and last match starting at 4:20.

 

Match 1

Boston 0 v Darkside 31

 

Darkside is a summer sevens team, newly formed this year with some great athletes.  They should seriously consider going up a bracket next year.

 

Match 2

Old Blue1 24 v Mystic2 7

 

Old Blue owned this one.  It was a fun fast match, not a lot of stoppages for anything.  Ball in hand, good movement and little penalties.

 

Match 3

Saratoga 7 v Univ. of Rhode Island 32

 

URI were a combo student/alumni team.  Youth and speed won this one.  Once the URI runners broke a tackle, it was try time.  Generally the ball stayed in the middle of the field.  Lots of 15s style rucking and mauling.  A good match to have right after lunch.  Not a great amount of running.

 

Match 4

WASPS 10 v New Haven 31

 

WASPS are a Boston area 7s side.  Seemed mostly semi-competitive side made of Old Gold, Charles River and other assortment of players not on Boston, BIW or Mystic River.  They were no match for a solid New Haven side.

 

Match 5 Plate Semi-Final

Old Blue3 12 v New Haven 29

 

The legs were getting a little heavy by this time.  New Haven had the talent, speed and force.  Old Blue, being the 3rd side were made up of new ruggers and college kids.  Mostly a Old Blue D3 side.  Score was 0-17 at the half, so kudos to Old Blue for matching tries with New Haven in the second half.

 

Match 6 Cup Semi-Final

NYAC v Old Blue

 

The pace was miles faster than any of the other matches.  NYAC had the advantage early on, setting good attacking platforms against a bumbling Old Blue side.  Half-time score was 10-7 NYAC.  The second have was totally different.  Old Blue corrected their issues shut out NYAC in the second half scoring 3 tries to Old Blue’s 0 tries.  Old Blue then went on to win the Cup Final against Mystic River.

Highlights of the final are here: 2015 NRU 7’s Series: Newport Championship Final- Mystic River vs. Old Blue

 

 

Date: 06/27/2015

Carlsberg Cup 7’s   – hosted by Silicon Valley RFC

Referee: Pohlman, John

 

Eric Rauscher, Nome Tiatia, Jeff Jury, Bruce Bernstien and I refereed to first leg of the new Carlsberg 7s Tournament this past Saturday. Well run day with no major injuries. Look forward to the next two.

 

 

Date: 06/27/2015

Carlsberg Cup 7’s 10 – hosted by Silicon Valley RFC 5

Referee: Bernstein, Bruce

 

Mission 33 – College Park 19

 

 

Date: 06/27/2015

Carlsberg Cup 7’s   – hosted by Silicon Valley RFC

Referee: Jury, Jeff

 

Silicon Valley 19-19 Barracus

Barracus 17-12 Reno

Fog 15-19 Aptos

 

 

Date: 06/27/2015

NorCal 7’s Series

Referee: Hinkin, James

 

Olympic Club B 7 – SFGG B 19

 

A solid game to break me into the 7s mode. Both teams were eager to play – well, they were once SFGG got on the field as apparently they didn’t look at the schedule. The game was fast and tight with a slight edge to SFGG for finishing skills.   Both teams played well and will be pushing their respective A sides at training.

 

San Jose Seahawk Women 0 – Life West Women 47

 

Not as one sided as the score appears but Life West were dominant.   San Jose had their chances but it always seemed as if the breakaway was thwarted by a last second dive to just hook the ball carrier’s jersey.   Life West truly showed their dominance at the breakdown where they were able to poach several balls from the Seahawks.

 

 

Date: 06/27/2015

NorCal 7’s Series 26 – TBD 12

Referee: Bertolone, Cary

 

At For Pete’s Sake field in Santa Rosa, my home turf, we had a great day of Rugby including the weather, which was about between 70 degrees in the morning to about 75 degrees with a breeze the rest of the day. I had a first game at 9:00 with Berkeley Blues women beating the Seahawk Women s 29-5 and one Seahawk Woman getting a yellow and penalty try assessed. My next game was Seahawk Women beating Golden Gate women 25-17. My third game was Men’s Golden Gate beating San Jose Seahawks 31-0 and my last game was Men’s Life West beating San Jose Seahawks 26-12, in a pretty good game; San Jose received one yellow for a no wrap. Good, clean rugby for the most part; it seemed like everyone had a good time. It was great for me to work with and watch so many top refs!

This Week’s Photo

The USA Men and Women celebrate their Olympic berth. Photo credit Cody Schmelter.

USA Olympians

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

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Changing Of The Guard

HAIL PELICUS!

 

Changing Of The Guard

 

With the USA National Championship Western Regionals at Treasure Island on May 30th and 31st (more on that below) , Northern California had the chance to show at least the western half of the country why Pelicanland is considered the hotbed of American rugby.   EPA Razorbacks had stormed through the season and into the playoffs, Colusa had met every challenge and was raring to go. The Amazons had held off all opposition with power and flair. Life West had nary a close match all year. It was a foregone conclusion that all of the Nor Cal teams would advance.

 

Oops.   Apparently the rest of the country no longer sees us as the invincible, all conquering champions. In the D1 quarterfinal, in particular, EPA were thoroughly outclassed and outplayed by a solid, well drilled Dallas Reds side.   Colusa fought well but were downed by Wichita. Only the Amazons and Life West won on the first day and the second day was even harder.   Life West needed an epic comeback in the final 5 minutes just to force overtime and the Amazons were pushed to the limit.   They both did manage to go through and will be playing for a national championship so good luck to both squads.

 

The changing of the guard was never more evident, however, than in the Men’s D1 final: Dallas vs Austin.   Has the country’s rugby epicenter moved to Texas?   For this year it may seem so, but I see Northern California reasserting itself next year as harsh lessons were learned.

 

The Miserable Ones

 

On that note, on Sunday after finishing my AR duties at the National West Regionals your humble scribe was asked to be the PA announcer for the final two matches.  As always, I tried to have a little fun. The final match of the day (National D1 semifinal) was Dallas Reds v Austin Blacks. Red v Black.

 

I couldn’t resist.

 

At halftime and every injury stoppage I started playing over the PA the classic Les Miserables anthem “Red and Black”.  I mean, really, for this rugby match what could be more appropriate than deep, powerful operatic voices singing “RED!! BLACK!! RED!! BLACK!!”?  You know, I really do crack myself up.

 

In case anyone wants to know exactly what I was playing, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3MAwJTRNwo&feature=youtu.be&t=138.   That link should take you to the first clip, but for reference I used the bits starting at 2:18, 3:15 and 3:42.

 

 

Pelican Durham

 

It may come as a shock to many of the loyal reader of Hail Pelicus but the referees are not always the stars of the games and, in fact, are even not necessarily the reason for rugby in Northern California. I’ll pause a moment for you, dear reader, to digest this truth.

 

I hope that wasn’t too big of a shock. As a matter of fact, Pelicanland is teeming with excellent practitioners of the Game That Is Played In Heaven and who gracefully submit to the decisions of the flock when they are caught being naughty.   Pelicus Fistulator has worked long and hard behind the scenes along with the NCRFU to resurrect our Northern California Select Side – The Pelicans.   A number of players and coaches from all divisions have worked long and hard to produce a representative side that played their first game of the 21st century at the LVI in February (beating the Texas All Stars) and are now poised to take on Durham University (England) at historic Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on Saturday, June 13th. The development side will kick off at 5:00 and the select side will kick off at 6:30.   Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/norcal-pelican-selects-vs-durham-university-tickets-15248806591

 

For more information visit the Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/551598868315875/

 

What’s a NACRA?

 

The USA will be playing in the NACRA 7s Olympic qualifier in North Carolina this Saturday as well.   Details can be found on usarugby.org.   Both fields of the NACRA Championships can be viewed live online worldwide – at USARugbyTV.com.

 

The men are riding high from the Cup victory at the London 7s and need to keep the momentum going. The women also are coming in strongly after upending Fiji and New Zealand in their last tournament in Amsterdam.   Go Eagles!

 

The Summer Pelicus

 

With the 15s season staggering to an end the summer 7s season sits beckoning us all forward for more rugby fun. During the long, languid months of the summer and fall Hail Pelicus will be published, but less frequently.   Probably about once a month when a roundup of all the local 7s tournaments will be published. In essence, they will come out when I feel like doing it. Regular weekly service will start again in January at the latest.

 

Chicken Running

 

Once again the flock will be coordinating our banquet around the USA National team schedule as the United States Eagles take on Samoa and Canada takes on Japan in San Jose.   The Pelican Elders will be holding our Annual Awards Banquet in San Jose on Friday, July 17 HOWEVER the location is now a closely guarded secret.

 

Once word leaked out about the planned venue being the Sonoma Chicken Coop there was a massive chicken uprising. It was horrible. You have not known fear until you have had a maddened chicken coming at you at groin height, feathers flying and a look of pure desperation in its beady eyes.

 

The event will take place, however, so if you haven’t already please RSVP via email to Jim Crenshaw at crenshaw@cal.net with how many guests you are bringing.  

 

Banquet details:

Date:                    Friday, July 17

Time:                     Drinks start at 7:00, Dinner served at 8:00

Location:              Cluck cluck, SQUAAWK!! Noooooo!!! Not the groin!

Cost:                      All NCRRS members receive a free meal – guests cost $50.00.

 

Pacific Nations Cup – International Rugby in Pelicanland

 

As I am sure you are all aware, July 18th will see the first of many rugby internationals at San Jose’s Avaya stadium when Canada takes on Japan followed by the USA taking on Samoa.   What has been less rigorously promoted is that that is only the first weekend of Pelican Internationals as on July 24th Sacramento’s Bonney Field, host of last year’s dramatic US win over Canada, will feature Fiji taking on Samoa and the USA manhandling Japan.   Event detail can be found here:

 

July 18th, San Jose, CA: usarugby.org/usavsam

 

July 24th, Sacramento, CA: usarugby.org/usavjpn

 

Ask A Pelican

 

Yes, it’s time for this week’s installment of “Ask A Pelican”, the widely loved Q and A session with Hail Pelicus.   This week’s question comes via Lazy von Slowpoke from Germantown, CA, who asks:

 

“I plan to referee sevens this summer because I thought to myself, “Self, with only 7 minute halves, how hard can it be?”   Then someone told me that you actually need to be in better shape for sevens.     This makes no sense to me – is it true?”

 

Hi Lazy, and thanks for the question.   In spite of what your mates in the forward pack think, your friend is actually correct.   You need to be in better shape to both play and referee sevens. Yes, the games are only 15 minutes long with 7 minute halves but it is played on a full sized pitch and you spend a considerable amount of that time sprinting.   Now is the time to start your sevens training regimen if you haven’t already as Pelicanland is experiencing a glut of sevens tournaments and we will need every available whistle blower.

 

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process for reporting incidents

 

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

  1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone.  If you have an Iphone add the link to your home screen.
  2. When needed fill it out and click submit.  The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
  3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.

 

On To The Game Reports!

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The weekend of May 30 and 31 saw the USA Rugby National Championships Western Region compete at the SFGG fields on Treasure Island.   While Nor Cal was richly represented in the refereeing and assistant refereeing corps, not to mention the sterling #4s, these were national appointments and there were several referees flown in who were either USA A Panel or promising B Panel referees. These referees are collectively known as the Northern California B Panel.  

 

Several of them even consented to send me reports of their matches which makes them, at least temporarily, Honorary Pelicans. HAIL PELICUS HONORIUM!

 

Of course, Josh Pendegrass, George O’Neil, Phil Akroyd and Marquise Goodwin all know better and should feel great shame for not contributing a report.  

 

Date: 05/30/2015

Tempe Old Devils 67 – Dallas Rugby (D2) 21

Referee: Cole, Brad (Tennessee)

 

It was the Division II national Quarterfinal, and both teams attacked the game with fervor for a full 80 min.  Tempe were superb at maintaining possession and seemed to be running downhill.  They recycled the ball at lightning speed, and despite a stalwart defense by Dallas Rugby, consistently put points on the board.  Dallas showed great poise to maintain intensity and focus on the match for a full 80 min. and fought hard to put some points on the board late in the match.  Both teams played with excellent spirit. Thanks to the NorCal referees for their hospitality and tradition of impressive rugby.

 

Date: 05/30/2015

Dallas Reds 35 – East Palo Alto Razorbacks 0

Referee: Houston, Josh (New England)

 

A fairly lopsided match that saw EPA commit a wide variety of errors, with the Reds capitalizing on almost every one of them. The match kicked off at 5 PM on Saturday and by that time, the sun had receded behind the clouds and the chilly wind picked up, mirroring the early morning conditions. The pitch was in great shape despite the four matches played on it prior to this match. Both teams were evenly matched in size and physicality, and both seemed to possess similar skills in what on paper appeared to be a very competitive match. This was not the case as EPA found it difficult to maintain any consistent possession, discipline and cohesion among themselves. Frequent handling errors plagued EPA, which was caused by both sloppy, 50/50 passes and poor handling. The Reds scored their first try of the match as a result of EPA knocking on 5 meters from their own goal, with a Reds player in close proximity to gather the loose ball and score with ease.

 

Dallas were up for the challenge in regards to meeting the big, strong Razorbacks at each gain line, making one tackle after another and missing none. Despite three tries and one penalty goal in the first half, the Razorbacks were only down 18-0 due to a poor display of kicking from the Reds that included three missed conversions and one missed penalty, that if made, would have left EPA down 27-0 and probably out of contention for coming back.

 

The second half wasn’t any kinder to EPA though, as the mistakes kept piling on and with Dallas reluctant to take their foot off of the gas. Frustration and arguing began to set it among the Razorbacks, only furthering their problems. Throughout the match, EPA consistently made their way into Dallas territory, stringing some well developed phases together, but only to squander the opportunity to make it a game. The final score ended up being 35-0 with EPA feeling disappointed and dejected from the poor effort. Dallas clearly had a game plan going into the match and were able to stick to it for 80 minutes. They committed very few errors, were patient to wait for their opportunities and for the most part, maintained their composure throughout. Unfortunately for EPA, they did the exact opposite and paid the price.

 

Date: 05/30/2015

Life West Gladiators 79 – St. Louis Bombers 17

Referee: Ranaweera, Aruna

 

Men’s D2 National Quarterfinal

 

Lots of breakaway running at Treasure Island as Life West rampaged all over the field.  St. Louis had the edge in scrums and mauls, but could not keep up in open play.  Much thanks to Dan Wilson and John (Buffalo/San Diego) for their help as AR’s.

 

Date: 05/31/2015

East Palo Alto Razorbacks 38 – Belmont Shore (D1) 35

Referee: Cole, Brad (Tennessee)

 

It was the D1 consolation match on Sunday following the Division I national quarterfinals.  Both teams had lost hard matches the day before and would be looking for a win against their local rivals. It was certainly expected that this match would be hard-hitting and contentious.  The result was a spectacular match with both teams trading the lead through the first half.  EPA extended the lead to 15pts at the start of the second half, then lost a player upon a send-off.  Belmont Shore methodically chipped away at the lead, yet the EPA Razorbacks were just out of reach for the Belmont shore second side even up to full time, when the Belmont wing was forced into touch in the corner while attacking for the win.

Date: 05/31/2015

Wichita Barbarians149 – Dallas Athletic Rugby Club 10

Referee: Ranaweera, Aruna

 

Men’s D3 National Semifinal

 

This was a tightly contested, back-and-forth game in which the outcome could have easily gone either way.  Wichita (Kansas) was a bit more structured, which enabled them to punch their ticket to the national final in Glendale (Colorado) in two weeks.  Much thanks to Brad Cole (Tennessee) and Preston Gordon for their help as AR’s.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t all USA Playoffs that weekend. We had a high school all star event as well.

 

Date: 05/30/2015

Sac Valley All Stars 41 – Bay Area All Stars 17

Referee: Lew, Tim

 

In a selection game for the NorCal allstar team, Bay Area vs Sacramento. While it was only a JV game, both teams had some great athletes and solid rugby skills. Both teams played well but Sac was able to capitalize on a few missed tackles for breakaway tries.

 

 

Date: 05/30/2015

Sac Valley All Stars 0 – Bay Area All Stars 44

Referee: Asonye, Elvy

 

No report received

 

 

Date: 05/30/2015

Sac Valley All Stars 12 – Bay Area All Stars 70

Referee: Tetler, Jen

 

This game was a selection camp for the NorCal girls high school all stars team that will head down to play against SoCal later on this month. The Bay Area team dominated the first half, with several breakthroughs of tackles, quick support, and speedy runs around the edges to rack their score up to 43 points before half, without letting the Sac Valley get a try in. The Bay Area girls did not get brought down easily, and they had quick backs, particularly their #13. The second half was a bit more even, with Sac Valley scoring a pair of tries themselves and staying in the game. On both sides, there was smart rugby, quick thinking, and strong rucking. The NorCal high school program is going strong!

 

 

Date: 05/30/2015

Sac Valley All Stars 26 – Bay Area All Stars 23

Referee: Carney, Mark

 

No report received

 

This Week’s Photo

Pelicus Editorem Minimus, Ex Dux and Pelicus Ex Selan enjoying the rugby action at Treasure Island.

Ed and Aruna

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre