Category Archives: News

The Pelican Days Of Summer



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!


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

  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


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 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 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

  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

Pelicus Pedem Referre


Changing Of The Guard



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:   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:


For more information visit the Facebook Event page:


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   Both fields of the NACRA Championships can be viewed live online worldwide – at


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 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:


July 24th, Sacramento, CA:


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

  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

Pelicus Laureate



Pelicus Laureate


(with apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)


The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Eagle seven that day:
History had shown for the Cup they wouldn’t play.
But when France died first and Portugal did the same,
A hushed silence fell for the South Africa game.
A straggling few got up to pace nervously about. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Perry could get on the outside of the Boks,
We’d put up even money, now, with Unufe stepping out of his socks.
So the US took the lead, to the wonderment of all,
And the Eagles, much despise-ed, held on to the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
South Africa scored twice, but the States had added a third.
From 50,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and surged further up,
For the Sleeping Giant awoke and was battling for the Cup.
There was ease in Hughes’s manner as he led them to their place;
There was pride in Bender’s bearing and a smile on Carlin’s face.
Tries for the captain and Baker, lightly stepping and then gone,
With a score of 29 to 10, the Eagles were moving on.
Thousands of eyes were on them as the home team hit the dirt,
Thousands of tongues applauded the rose upon their shirt,
And then while writhing players ground the ball into their hip,
Defiance gleamed in Leuta’s eyes, a sneer curled Niua’s lip.
And now the leather-covered ovoid came hurtling through the air,
And the English stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy AR, Perry Baker unheeded sped-
“He moves too fast,” said England. “Try awarded,” the referee said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Beat them! Beat the Yanks!” shouted someone on the stand;
It seemed likely when Mitchell scored and the ref raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Isles’ visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; racing in the English home;
He sprinted down the left, and once more the ovoid flew;
To the speedster on the right, ref said, “You’ve scored two.”
“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one mournful look from England and the audience was awed.
They saw their face grow stern and cold, they saw their muscles strain,
And they knew that they could not catch the mighty Eagles again.
The sneer is gone from the Aussie’s lip as they looked upon their fate;
Who are these Finals upstarts? They should be in the Plate.
And now Barret runs the ball, and now he lets it go,
The last defender is shattered by the force of Danny’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere the shout goes up;
It is all joy in America – the Mighty Yanks have won the Cup!

EDITOR’S NOTE: When Pelicus Scriptoris demands the plume from one’s hand it is best just to smile, nod and try to learn.






Those in the rugby world who do not know me as Scriptoris know me as Dr. Sevens. My first love had a more attractive younger sister: three years after I first had a crush on rugby I met my real love, Rugby Sevens.


It was the Pleistocene Era of American rugby. Neither Rugby Magazine nor USA Rugby had yet been founded when I started playing; there were no rugby media whatsoever. You could go to a library and pull out weeks-old issues of the Sunday Times to see which international teams were any good if you were keen like me.


Now you can watch many if not most games yourself. In particular, the Sevens World Series is not only web-casted to anyone with a phone, the games are archived for your pleasure. Well, it’s a pleasure if you are not yet ready to admit that it’s an addiction.


What else has happened these forty years, since Rugby Magazine and USA Rugby were founded, and since the velocity of rugby information availability has continuously accelerated?


Some of us have followed the (fifteens) Eagles from venue to venue, trailing along after the colors, the decades proving our dedication. Some of us have been privileged to have been involved with the games, especially when our boys used to play regularly in San Francisco at Boxer Stadium.

Some of us have read about their wins and loses over the years, envying the generations of players coming and going, commenting on the coaching changes and always hopeful when a new direction was announced. Some of us have been optimistic when a few victories came together, but watched with the consternation that leads to resignation as the rest of the world ratcheted up their games after professionalism was admitted (to), and yet we continued to trail the field.


And all of us have been reading about the sleeping giant of world rugby these forty years as well. It was probably the subject of the first editorial in Rugby Magazine. The metaphor might well have been our mascot. There he lay. There he snoozed.


No offense is intended to all of those, many of whom read and write for this fine publication, who have striven mightily and given endlessly of themselves to stir this giant, but he’d been asleep at least twice as long as Rip Van Winkle. It proved very difficult indeed to arouse this fellow.


It was announced in October of 2009 that rugby would be again contested by the family of nations at the Olympic Games in 2016. Americans might not know English prep-school sports played for fun and honor, but they know and can be persuaded to care about anything contested within the confines of those five interlocking rings.


An increased focus on Sevens was the result, not the least by the players who think sure, it’d be great to represent the USA at a Test match somewhere, but it would be better to play on NBC TV in front of everyone you’ve ever known, some of whom didn’t think much of your rugby jones.


Some of the seed of the sower falls on fertile ground. Sevens has proven to be that ground for USA Rugby.


This past weekend your USA Eagles went undefeated in the London iteration of the Sevens World Series, winning their first-ever event and in the process beating two of the teams who have already qualified by merit for the 2016 Olympics.


There were no fluke-victory, lucky-hop, or rub-o’-the-green wins among them. They kicked people’s asses and they got better as they went along.


To wit:

Pool play

24 – 19 over France

28 – 12 over Portugal

21-12 over South Africa (Olympic qualifier)


29 – 10 over Canada (whom we need to beat next month to qualify our own selves)


43 – 12 over England (Olympic qualifier playing at home in front of a world-record Sevens crowd)


45-22 over Australia


There is, of course, a Pelican angle on all that proves to be great in American rugby. You, dear reader, may well have refereed several of these immortal Eagles.


Let us count the ways:


Zack Test, the team’s best player over the past five years, did not play in this tournament due to injury, but he played his high school rugby on the peninsula and made an appearance at the Palo Alto Sevens three years ago.


Danny Barrett, who made the all-tournament Dream Team, played for Cal and Golden Gate.


Folau Niua played for East Palo Alto and Golden Gate.


Thretton Palomo, brought in as an injury replacement for Test, played his high school rugby in Davis. His try in the final is not to be missed. Ask yourself: would you really like to try to tackle anything that weighs 275 pounds and can outrun you?


Matai Leuta. This guy gets more than a thumbnail.


If you have refereed Cal State – Monterey Bay in the last few years, or the Seahawks last summer in the NorCal Sevens series, you might have noticed the tall #10 with the I-fro who had more skills than the rest of the people on the pitch. CSUMB Coach Marc Ferguson supported (support in the off-the-field rugby sense of dollars) Matai in his dream to play at a higher level than even the might Otters or ‘Hawks.


Sevens Coach Mike Friday, an Englishman who bought into the Sleeping Giant rubric, thought one way to awaken this beast was to have an open call for players. I can only speculate as to the reaction to the applicant from CSUMB. What? Where? They should have realized that NorCal is known for producing champions at every level, in every division, and that many teams in Pelicanland can boast of a USA championship in one or another division and of having produced multiple Eagle players, with Monterey proud among their ranks.


Matai made the team. He played for the Eagles shadow side in the Las Vegas Invitational. He’s had some minutes here and there in the tournaments since, with some famous tries already to his credit, but he STARTED the biggest game our boys have ever known. (He’s also lost the -fro, which probably slows you down.)


And, as a matter of fact, your faithful scribe, who is 61 years old and has definitely refereed his last competitive match, refereed this World Series Champion in this very season.


How lucky we are.


Now, you can wallow in the luck:


Set aside an hour. This was forty years in the making Click Sports and pick Rugby Find and click on 2015 World Rugby HSBC Seven World Series, London, England, Day #2 Lay in a supply your favorite cold malted beverage, Scroll to:

2:22 for the Canada quarter

5:52 for the England semi

8:37 for the culmination of all of many thousands of peoples’ hard work over two-score anni, the players of course first and foremost.


Play on!


– For the Senate

Pelicus Scriptoris


Strapping On The Ol’ Nosebag – Save The Date


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 at the Sonoma Chicken Coop on Skyport Drive – right by Avaya Stadium where the internationals will be held. Please RSVP via email to Jim Crenshaw at 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.


Pacific Nations Cup – International Rugby in Pelicanland


Several people have inquired about bulk purchasing tickets for the Pacific Nations Cup on July 18 in San Jose.  If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, sit with your fellow referees and watch the matches  please provide us with your desire to do so by clicking on the following link:  Register for ticket purchase.

You have until May 23rd to order your tickets.  After May 23rd you’ll have to purchase the tickets on your own.


May Society Meeting


There still hasn’t been one.   If you faithfully read the Ask A Pelican segment like you’re supposed to then you would know why.   And apropos of nothing…


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 Patricia Bishop, host of Wednesday Trivia Night at O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub in San Jose, CA, who asks:


“What is the greatest sports related trivia question of all time?”


Wow, Patricia, that is a difficult one and no mistake.   No wonder you run the most fun, yet difficult Trivia Night in Pelicanland.   Well it is tough to say but tthere really are only 2 contenders, the first being “Who was the last switch hitter to win MVP in the American League?” and the second being “What country currently holds the Olympic Gold Medal for rugby?”.   You have to keep an eye on these questions, though, because the American League gives out an MVP award every year and rugby will be reintroduced to the Olympics in 2016 for the Rio games.


EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want to know the answers send me an email.


Summer Referee Exchanges


We have two opportunities for referee visits to Canada.  The first opportunity is June 5th and 6th for the high school championships held in Edmonton.  The coordinator for this is our good friend Paul Cassidy.  Let me know your availability ASAP(by May 18) by emailing me.

The second opportunity is Late June/Early July in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede.  Let Bjorn Stumer know your availability for that week’s exchange.

As always, the society will pay for your transportation there and back.  Hosting will be provided by our gracious hosts.
Paul Bretz, Pelicus Iudex Pennipes


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

  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: Apparently there were no local games, but our East Coast Pelican is still hard at work.


Date: 05/16/2015

Boston Barbarians 7 – British Police Rugby Club   55

Referee: Zanarini, Tom

Location: Irish Cultural Center, Canton, MA

Matches like this are what makes rugby a special sport.  Two senior level select side clubs from different continents getting together for the love of the game.  The Boston Barbarians are made up of the best players in New England available on the day.  This team comprised players from Boston Irish Wolfhounds, Boston RC, Brown U., Providence RC and South Shore RC.  The Empire GU playoffs were also scheduled for the weekend, so a great many other D1 and D2 players were unavailable.  The British Police Rugby Club comprises, obviously, the best ruggers on police forces from Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Boston wore all white while the British Police styled their kit after the B&I Lions: red shirts, white shorts and blue/green striped socks.  They did not come here just to sightsee.  They are a well drilled club with very good rugby players.  They consistently play 5 times a year and tour out of country every other year.  This was their second tour to the USA.  They will be playing the Empire GU Select Side on Randall’s Island in NYC on May 23.


The match was held at the Irish Cultural Center, home of the Boston Irish Wolfhounds.  I’ve previously written about the facilities, it is top stuff.


Boston came out first with a great try spun wide to the wing.  Great platform from the ruck and excellent speed on the wing.  Unfortunately their brightest play started and ended 5 minutes into the match.  The rest was a resistance against a far superior side.  To their credit, the Babas had 3 tries held up in-goal.  I couldn’t, after long deliberation and searching for the ball against any blade of grass, justify awarding any of them.  The Police got legs and bodies under each one.  Despite the score, the match flowed well.  Both teams listened to my pre-match instructions that I was here to call the clear and obvious and let them get on with playing the game.


The Babas hosted a formal dinner after, where I received the standard tie from the tourists.


This Week’s Photo

Is there any doubt that this should be the Photo of the Week?

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 17:  The USA team lift the Cup as they celebrate winning the Cup Final match between Australia and USA in the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium on May 17, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 17: The USA team lift the Cup as they celebrate winning the Cup Final match between Australia and USA in the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium on May 17, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre