Giving Thanks And Giving Thought



Giving Thanks And Giving Thought

We have reached that time of year when it is customary to reflect on one’s life and appreciate what is there.    For me and I am sure many of you, our dear readers, it is Friends, Family, Community and, of course, Rugby.   Rugby often combines all of the other aspects mentioned and now is as good a time as ever to appreciate the joy the Game They Play In Heaven has brought to all of us.   Rugby is a sport that builds communities that span generations and that was never more apparent than the San Jose Seahawk Invitational preseason tournament last weekend, as evidenced by this week’s featured photo.   Three referees, several coaches and a couple of spectators all from the same club coming out to grow and watch the game.  There were even a couple of former teammates in Eric “Famous” Amos and Alatini Saulala who weren’t around when the picture was taken and I may have missed more.   The best part?  These former players represented not only referees but 3 other clubs – including youth – that have either started or grown because of the commitment of former players who love the game and want to keep it growing.  The second best part?   This is not unique to one club or one event.   This scene is repeated constantly across Pelicanland and the rest of the country as America starts to wake up to rugby.

That is what I am thankful for.


Lots To Cover

With the preseason in full flight and many other rugby events gong on this week’s HP is longer than usual – you may have to stay beyond the first flush.


December Society Meeting

We will be having our monthly society meeting at the usual location, San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club on Treasure Island (725 California Avenue, Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA).  As always food will be provided.  We ask that you to bring your choice of beverage and bring one for a friend.    Please remember that if you have refereed a tie then you are required to bring beverages for the society to enjoy while we mock your shame.

This month’s topics include the Art of Advantage presented by Tim Lew, who will then be substituted out for Mark Carney who will discuss something – I don’t know what.  Finally, Pelicus Iudex Pennipes will be presenting on means to focus referee development using trigger warnings and safe spaces.

Performance Reviewers and Referee coaches are asked to be at SFGG clubhouse at 6:00 so that we can discuss coaching assignments and performance reviews.

Please be mindful that Fitness testing will commence at our January and February meetings and not to wait to get fit.  National panel referees and perspective National Panel candidates will be required to complete the testing prior to assignments being awarded.


Hail Pelicus 2017 Calendar

Last year Hail Pelicus released the coffee table book “Hailing Pelicus” as the ideal gift for the rugger in your life, along with a step by step guide in how to give money to your assigned referee to insure a copy of the book.   Curiously, while many teams offered referees their donations they didn’t actually ask for the book so we went in another direction with this year’s stocking stuffer ideas and are proud to announce the 2017 NSFW Northern California Rugby Referee Calendar.    Each month comes with numbered days and a full page picture (as well as smaller bonus pictures) of some of your favorite referees in a more revealing and relaxed environment than they are usually seen.  Some teasers:

  • Does Neil MacDonald really wear anything under his kilt?
  • See a glimpse of John Lane’s “Irish Pride”
  • Lee Bryant exploring mountain streams with only an AR flag
  • NCRRS President Paul Bretz showing all the world what makes him a great leader
  • Rob Hendrickson slipping into something more comfortable in the “Bear’s Lair”

Just like last year, to order a calendar just approach a referee – any referee – before a match and give him or her $60, plus $20 handling fee plus $20 for shipping.     For best results donations should be in cash, be presented to the referee before the match starts and be done in full view of the opposition to show them your support for Pelican Charities.   Who knows?  You may even shame them into matching or even bettering your donation.    If you don’t have a match before the New Year don’t worry as we will continue to accept orders while supplies last.   That means you can continue to order copies at all of your matches throughout 2017 and beyond.   Do it for the kiddies.


Between Two Pelicans – Hail Pelicus’ Pulitzer Prize Winning Interview

At least we here at the editor’s desk assume that we will get a Pulitzer for this journalistic scoop.   Hail Pelicus managed to get an exclusive one-on-one interview with the new Tournament Director for USA Sevens in Las Vegas as well as the CRC, Varsity Cup and all other United World Sports’ rugby ventures, Mr John Hinkin.  One of the most respected competitors and successful businessmen in the sport, Mr Hinkin has been involved in the growth of the USA Sevens since its inception.   John has been with United World Sports (UWS) since 2006 and amongst other accomplishments, he created and built what is now the Las Vegas Invitational, which consists of over 270 teams from 25 countries and is played congruently with the USA Sevens in Las Vegas.

The former soccer All American turned to rugby and became a star at rugby powerhouse St. Mary’s College and enjoyed a brilliant playing career which saw him represent the United States from 1991 – 1998, captaining the USA Sevens team in 1997 and 1998. He played in the inaugural Rugby Sevens  World Cup in 1993 and was a reserve on the 1997 USA Rugby Sevens  World Cup team. John also had a successful amateur career where he was part of 12 National championship sides in 15’s and 7’s with OMBAC and played for the select sides Northern California Collegiate Pelicans, Southern California Griffins and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies (both collegiate and club).   He has also represented the United States five times at the World Rugby Classic in Bermuda.

Hail Pelicus:  Mr Hinkin, thank you for your time and welcome to Between Two Pelicans.   We only have a few minutes here until Mom calls everyone to dinner so let’s get started.

John Hinkin:  Thank you Mr. Hinkin, it is an honor to be on your show.  Also, I noticed you misspelled my name.  It is spelled “Jon” – with no ‘h’.

Hail Pelicus:  Really?  I apologize.   I just assume you spelled your name normally, you know.

John Hinkin:  That’s all right, Jim.

Hail Pelicus:  Touché.

Jon Hinkin:  (Smirks and says nothing)

HP: This weekend you participated in the annual Hinkin Open Thanksgiving Golf Classic.  Now that you are in a more senior position at United World Sports does UWS have any interest in investing in this wonderful charity event?   And a follow up, if I may, same question for the annual Hinkin Open Midsummer Golf Classic in San Diego?

JH:  These are both exclusive events that many PGA stars have never played, an invite is the most treasured trophy in golf. UWS will continue its exclusive, private sponsorship and rest assured, I will make sure the investment is doubled next year.

HP:   As a follow up, you claimed to have won this year’s Hinkin Open with a score of 83, but there have been reports of shenanigans on the golf course and your score has been brought into question.   There is a movement gaining steam for a recount and a highly placed source recently tweeted out about “Millions of illegals(sic) shots that were never counted”.   Do you have any response to this budding scandal?

JH:  Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! It is unbelievable that some crooks can say anything they want and the crooked media buys into it.

HP:  I would like to talk to you about plans for the USA Sevens now that you are in charge.  There is talk of bringing the Women’s USA Sevens to Vegas from Atlanta.   Is this true?   If so, how will this be accomplished logistically on one field?   Will the men and/or women need to play pool matches outside the stadium?

JH:  I have put together a very extensive schedule and all matches will be played in the stadium.  All teams will have their required rest time between matches, so you will see a bunch of Women’s matches followed by Men’s and so on.  This brings into play very full days of rugby starting early Friday morning and ending with the Men’s Cup Final at 2:00 pm on Sunday. The Women will finish up with their Cup Final on Saturday night.

HP:  Now that 7 a side rugby is an Olympic sport will you be embracing the Olympic Ideals of competition, corruption and nepotism?

JH:  We will follow the FIFA model as we have found that is the most efficient way to fill the coffers and then blame others.  If you have any follow up questions concerning this subject I can’t be reached on my private island

HP:  That is all the time we have so I would like to thank you again for appearing on Between Two Pelicans.  I wish you success in your new position and it is your turn to do the dishes.

JH:  Thank you.  It has been an honor and no it isn’t.


Election Night Fever


You can tell by the way I use my words I’m a writing man, no time to talk.   The oval ball if the day is warm is kicked around, and jerseys torn.   And now it’s all right, it’s okay, and you may look the other way.   We can try to understand a rainy day’s effect on games.


As we all recover from the interminable election season, whether you are celebrating or mourning or something in between, remember the wise and profound words of the famed Australian poet, Barry Gibb, “Whether you’re a turtle or if you wear a girdle you’re stayin’ alive.”


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 Tim Gunn of Manhattan, NY who asks, “I am always excited by new fashion and the NCRRS Kit Release Day is one of the highlights of the fashion year.   Can you give me any spoilers on this year’s look?”
Great question Tim and we here at Hail Pelicus are glad that our fashion sensibilities are appreciated across this great nation.   We really don’t want to give away any spoilers and so are playing this close to the vest but I can tell you we have re-energized a classic look with exciting new colors.   Offerings of polos, track suits and ties are also in the mix this year for a casual to formal, full time Pelican Fashion Statement.


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.
  4. If you have any questions as to how to use the app please refer to the following video:


On To The Game Reports!

Stephen Valerio continues to send in his match reports from East Coast.   The editors here at HP wonder what has happened to our other itinerant correspondent, Tom Zanarini.


Date: 11/05/2016
Loyola of Maryland  31 – Catholic University 34
Referee: Valerio, Stephen


The final week of the regular season in the Potomac Rugby Conference featured first place Loyola hosting 3rd place Catholic University. The 1st place team received a bid to the NSCRO play-offs while the 2nd and 3rd place teams would face-off on Nov 19 for a place in the play-offs. Loyola, Catholic and American Universities had all clinched one of the top 3 spots, but the crucial order had to be worked out.


Loyola had dominated the season winning every match with a bonus point win and a win differential over 47 points per match. After striking quickly for a try, Catholic shocked them with a 19 point run. However, Loyola picked up a try before the half ended to pull to within 5 points.


Loyola came out stronger in the 2nd half and pulled ahead of head of Catholic before Catholic counterpunched and collected a penalty kick to pull ahead 29-28.


Late in the match Catholic committed a penalty which Loyola calmly slotted over for a 31-29 lead. Late in the match Catholic lost the ball forward into touch. Loyola took the lineout option, which they won. However, the scrumhalf delayed his pass to the flyhalf, allowing Catholic to intercept the ball and run in the game winning score on the final play.


Date: 11/12/2016
Frederick 45 – Delmarva 5
Referee: Valerio, Stephen


In their last match before the winter break Delmarva traveled west to take on Frederick. Delmarva had recently moved up to D3 and had been struggling with the step u in competition. Earlier in the season Frederick traveled to Delmarva and won handily 45-14. The young Delmarva side wasn’t up to the task again as Frederick ran out to 38-0 lead at the half, with a strong scrum giving them a solid platform and their superior organization exploiting gaps in the Delmarva defense. Delmarva had too many isolated ball carriers which left them vulnerable to lost ball or penalties at the breakdown. However, late in the first half Frederick started to lose their focus and their attack lost its crispness. This carried over into the 2nd half where Delmarva picked up a try 13 minutes into the 2nd half because of disarray in the Frederick defense. The rest of the half was a sloppy affair, with many knock-ons and errant passes. Substitutions in the Frederick pack allowed Delmarva to seize control there, but their backs weren’t able to do anything with the benefit of stable ball. A Frederick try at 65 minutes put an end to the scoring on the day.



Date: 11/05/2016
Fresno 26 – Sacramento Blackhawks 29
Referee: Wilson, Dan


Fresno hosted a round robin, preseason tournament with the Blackhawk’s being game 2. Sacramento showed up periodically over an hour due to bad traffic problems and with a total of 10 players. With Fresno loaning Sacramento five of their newbies, the game kicked off. The Blackhawk’s opened the scoring with a converted try at the 11th minute, but Fresno controlled the scoring the rest of the first half with an unconverted try in the 19th minute and converted tries in the 32nd and 35th minute. Sacramento had better talent but lack of discipline and too much infighting seemed to take them out of the game mentally. Half-Time Score: Fresno 19 – Blackhawk’s 7 The second half started with a renewed vigor for Sacramento with at least one player deciding that he needed step up to play. The Blackhawk’s controlled the scoring with two unconverted tries and one converted try to take the lead in the 70th minute. The typical lack of fitness, not playing as a group and overall ego’s led to several “much to do about nothings” at times, but nothing to write home about. Fresno retook the lead at the 78th minute with a converted try. At the restart, “1-minute” was called, but Fresno kicked the received ball straight out resulting in one last movement. Sacramento took advantage of the line-out, spinning it wide, completing a beautiful pop-kick and scored in the corner with no time left on the clock resulting in a 3 point win. Final Score: Fresno 26 – Blackhawks 29



Date: 11/05/2016
AKM Memorial Tournament
Referee: Richmond, Jeff


This is always a nice affair with the awarding of scholarships on behalf of the AKM Memorial. Conditions were great, which helped because Mark Godfrey and I did 6 matches each – granted only 20 minute halves. The Fitbit said 9.95 miles which doesn’t sound like much for the day. I guess I should get out the slide rule and figure out watts.


Sac Capitals dominated everyone they played. Two Oregon college squads attended as well as two women’s teams. Thanks to Kevin from OIT and Andrew from the Sac State Alums for filling in as ref for a match to give Mark and I a break.



Date: 11/05/2016
AKM Memorial Tournamnet
Referee: Godfrey, Mark


chico 5       sac alumni 19

chico women 5   hsu women 86  60 min. game

sac caps 36      chico men 0

shasta 5     sac alumni 30



Date: 11/05/2016
Sacramento St B 20 – UC Davis B 31
Referee: Boyer, Rich


This match turned out to be the A side.  Davis came out strong and scored two quick tries while dominating possession for extended periods of play.  Davis’ gameplan was executed well during this period and their defense was very good.  Sac State would get close to the tryline occasionally only to knock on.  Davis looked well in control at halftime, leading 26-0, led by flanker turned flyhalf Harry “the Wizard”, and intercept try by #12, and great forward/backline interplay.  Sac State made the necessary adjustments at halftime and eventually scored an unconverted try by the wing during a penalty advantage, which was followed by a converted try shortly thereafter.  Sac State injected a sense of urgency in their play which caught Davis off guard, resulting in a higher penalty count against Davis.  This led to a penalty kick by Spencer Moreno. 26-15 and one could feel the momentum swing.  Sac State upped the tempo even more with quick tap penalties, limited forward play and quick back ball.  Davis fought back but Sac State hardened the defense, then scored off a Davis knock on a turnaround run by the wing of 50 yards.  This try went again unconverted.  26-20.  Sac State had two more probing long runs, one by lock Blake, who looked like a wing, and Isaiah, the newly inserted wing, only to have handling errors thwart their attempts near the tryline.  Davis tried to turn the tide and did so with strong phases and pressure  forcing a penalty in the dying minutes.  Instead of taking points the Wizard found touch and Davis mauled in the lineout as time expired.  A well played, good spirited match by both sides.



Date: 11/05/2016
Santa Clara B 24 – Fresno State B 27
Referee: Simko, Paul


Back and forth game.  Fresno scored the tying try and then made a penalty goal with no time on the clock for the win.



Date: 11/05/2016
UOP 29 – Pleasanton Jesters U23 59
Referee: Pohlman, John


UOP hosted the new Pleasanton Jesters Under 23,  team in Stockton this past weekend.   Early wide open rugby.  Both teams were well matched except for a couple of the Jesters backs.  Two of the backs must have scored half of the nine Jester try’s.  Unfortunately they were using practice Jerseys because the new game jerseys had not arrived, thus no numbers on the players backs.  These two were hard runners, but needed to be tackled.  So UOP missed lots of opportunities to bring them down.  UOP looked a bit better organized and with more commitment to the tackle could have won this game.

Some fun open rugby with a total of 14 try s scored.

Good luck for the rest of the season.



Date: 11/05/2016
CSU Monterey Bay WR 36 – Santa Clara Women 44
Referee: Freitas, Larry


I got down to the Cal State University Monterey Bay campus on the former Fort Ord a bit earlier than I needed to so as to check that the pitch was being lined correctly, and it was.  Hats off to Lia Cuevas for getting it done right.  The Otters were warming up as Santa Clara’s players and coaches trickled in from the long walk from the parking area.  I was asked to hold off kick off until 1:15 or so, as some were going to be a bit late.  A half hour before the game I was informed that Santa Clara only had 13 players available for the kickoff; a few players are overseas studying, and three weren’t present because of injury, ROTC commitment, and family commitment.  CSUMB had 17 players suited up, with a few out with injury.  The weather seemed perfect for rugby: 64F with sun, but as kickoff time approached, a fog bank that I had seen way off on the fringes of the Monterey Bay on the drive down from Aptos was approaching landfall.

The Bronco women were first to score just 3 minutes into the match, when tight head prop Mariela Murillo took a pass from a tap penalty, and breaking through some tackle attempts, scored a try that went unconverted.  Santa Clara, though down two players, were keeping CSUMB on the back foot for a good portion of the first quarter.  Another try would come at 18 minutes when lock Carly Fowler scored, giving Santa Clara an early 12-0 lead, with Murillo converting their second try, as the sun had disappeared with marine layer now covering the sky.  CSUMB would counter at 23 minutes when hooker Emiliana Lacandazon picked up a loose ball near the half way line and scampered to the goal line to touch down near the posts.  Flyhalf Hanna Kim converted easily to close the gap to 12-7.  It didn’t take long for Santa Clara to counter with another converted try as number 8 Rachel Schneider scored from a tap penalty when CSUMB were caught with hands in at a ruck some 10 meters out.   CSUMB got another score when Kim went on a run from a set scrum near the Santa Clara 22, setting up fullback Sakai Golden’s score near the posts.  Five minutes from half time Santa Clara once again had a chance to score, when Michelle Coleman, at times playing flyhalf, at times playing scrum half, dove in for a try from a ruck near the goal line.  At the half Santa Clara led 24-14.  Unfortunately the try came at the cost of Schneider, who had to come off the pitch with an ankle injury.   It seemed if anyone was getting hurt in this match it was a player wearing cardinal red and white hoops, not a navy blue shirt.  Regarding penalties, both teams had their various infringements, and most came from lack of experience than anything else.

The second half started with CSUMB having a 15 to 12 player advantage.  At 46 minutes CSUMB’s number 8 Janicke Stein scored from a set scrum at the halfway line toward the left side of the pitch, as Santa Clara didn’t have anyone covering the short side in the back division, cutting Santa Clara’s lead to 24-19.  Two minutes later the Otters would score again when Santa Clara knocked on and the Otters recovered, and Amanda Mast scooped up a ball that was left on the ground by a tackled player just a meter outside Santa Clara’s goal next to the left hand post, and dove over.  With the conversion CSUMB now had the lead, 26-24, and to add worry to the situation, Michelle Coleman, who should be on the division two select side, was having trouble with leg cramps and had to go off briefly.  Santa Clara got the lead back when Coleman would score a try from a tap penalty at 62 minutes, managing to dodge and sidestep her way around the opposition in her run to the goal line.  CSUMB had a chance to kick a penalty when a kick deep into Santa Clara’s half was covered by Michelle Coleman, who got back in time to cover full back, and though she had time to make a clearance kick into touch, panicked and kicked the ball off to her right and the center of the pitch, where one of her own teammates caught the ball in an offside position.  CSUMB took the kick choice some 35 meters out directly from the posts instead of the scrum inside the 22, and Kim missed the chance to add 3 points.  I had the thought that a previous leg injury earlier in the match might have had something to do with the kick that sailed to the right, as she had briefly handed over kicking duties to number 8 Stein.   CSUMB would make up for that lost opportunity on what I would say was the best try scored on the day, when Kim, taking the ball from her other half back pairing, after a scrum at mid-field, saw the Bronco backline defense up and no one covering deep, and strategically kicked toward the right hand side of the field, with the ball landing just about at Santa Clara’s 22, where right wing Cammie Smith scooped up the ball, and using a burst of her speed, scored in the corner.  At 65 minutes CSUMB were back in the lead with 36 points to Santa Clara’s 34.  Santa Clara wasn’t giving up the fight, and I would have to say that Maricela Murillo and Michelle Coleman’s leadership at this point in the game made all the difference in who was to win and lose.  These two were leaving it all out on the pitch, with both of them taking the ball in the dying stages of the game to push their team toward the goal line, and both getting injured in the process, but refusing to leave the pitch once recovered.  At 77 minutes Santa Clara scored another unconverted try from a set scrum some 30 meters out from CSUMB’s goal, when the ball was quickly transferred by the backs out to the right wing Jessica Godinez, who beat the cover to score in the right hand corner.  The last minutes of the game were hard fought by both teams as Santa Clara made their tackles and CSUMB tried to get into Santa Clara’s half to set up a score, and it had started to drizzle and really cool off on top of if all.  A penalty near full time gave Coleman a chance to quickly tap the ball and take off for the goal line, scoring near the left hand corner.  After the conversion attempt failed I blew the whistle for no side.  Santa Clara had won the game 44-36.



Date: 11/05/2016
St. Mary’s College Women 63 – Sacramento State Women 5
Referee: Coppinger, John


SMC easily ran over and around Sac State on the newly* re-sodded Pat Vincent Field.  SMC appeared experienced and were certainly well drilled; on other the hand, Sac State, while game, seemed to be mostly players new to the game with only a few players being vaguely aware of the Laws.  To their credit, Sac State played hard and seemed to enjoy themselves.  SMC featured hard running, powerful forwards, speed to kill on the wing, and one of the best 10s with a boot I have seen in Women’s College Rugby.


*Literally, as I walked on the pitch, the landscaping contractor was driving off after replacing probably 35% of the Pat Vincent turf damaged by marauding feral pigs.


EDITOR’S NOTE:  This may be the first time “marauding feral pigs” has been used in a Hail Pelicus story and it didn’t refer to the forward pack.



Date: 11/06/2016
Stanford Women 7’s Tournament
Referee: Simko, Paul


5 Teams: Stanford, Chico, Davis, Cal, Oregon State.  Davis is the favorite.  Chico beat Davis in an early match.  Stanford went undefeated until they lost to Davis.  Chico, Stanford, and Davis are all 3 wins and 1 loss.  Davis wins the first tie breaker.  Stanford wins the second tie breaker with more tries scored.  Final is Stanford and Davis.  Davis wins.  Chico and Oregon State played for third place.



Date: 11/12/2016
San Jose State B 37 – UCSC B 15
Referee: Hinkin, James


The Big Stage.   Everyone wants to play on it and the B Ballers from San Jose St and UC Santa Cruz got their chance as they took the field at Cefcu Stadium (formerly known as Spartan Stadium).   After observing the A side match it was obvious that both teams decided rather comically to ignore the chalk marked rugby lines and just use the football lines which resulted in several runners (in both matches) going wide and cutting in when they reached the football sideline or tiptoeing along it attempting to stay 6 meters in bounds.


They boys were young and fast but inexperienced with a few exceptions.  UCSC in particular had a flanker who was very good and well coached (read: immediately responded to referee commands).   The Cefcu Stadium turf was fast and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, especially San Jose St since they came out as 37-15 winners.   The one blemish was a SJSU rookie who just could not figure how to tackle properly and after penalties and warnings earned himself a yellow card and 10 minutes to think on the error of his ways and, hopefully, get some coaching.   This being a preseason B side match I brought the captains together and they agreed to my suggestion that while the carded player may not come back for 10 minutes SJSU could bring on a replacement to keep the match at 15 on 15.    Everyone was happy and rugby occurred – what could be better than that?



Date: 11/12/2016
Sonoma State 47 – SF State 50
Referee: Santiago, Roberto


This was an exciting pre-season match between two teams boasting plenty of athleticism and slightly less experience. Both squads were working with short benches, however their intensity never flagged. Sonoma jumped out to a lead and carried a 10 point advantage into half time. In the second half SFSU’s centers proved to be the difference. Sonoma’s #12 nearly made up the difference with strong running. SFSU had the dominant pack and won several defensive scrums.


Overall the game was played in good spirits and with hard hitting on defense to meet the determined running by ball carriers on both sides. I look forward to seeing each team later in the season after they’ve had a few more practices and warm up contests. They’ll both be competitive and fun to watch.


Many thanks to John Pohlman for the coaching.



Date: 11/12/2016
St. Mary’s College 107 – Chico State 3
Referee: Fenaroli, Steven
AR: Gordon, Preston
AR: Coppinger, John



Kinda lopsided game here. Coppinger and Preston gave me a lot of help on the sidelines. The game was warm and both teams came to play. It took smc 1:30 to score their first try. I had to remind them it wasn’t 7s. The trend continued and smc went up by 100. Chico had three penalties in front of the goal and opted for points all three times. They missed two and made the final kick at final time giving them their 3 points.



Date: 11/12/2016
St. Mary’s College B 97 – Chico State B 7
Referee: Bretz, Paul


A friendly between two teams of varied skill.  Saint Marys was clearly the dominant team in all facets of play and score 50+ points in both halves.  Despite the one sided affair Chico did not give up and scored a try for their efforts at the end of the game.



Date: 11/12/2016
St. Mary’s College C 24 – Santa Rosa JC 24
Referee: Gordon, Preston


First of all, good news: the pitch at Pat Vincent field is once again usable. It had apparently been dug up by wild hogs, and at the end of October there were large patches of turf missing as repairs progressed. That necessitated at least one match being canceled. While the missing sections have been replaced, and the pitch is safe for rugby, there are a few parts where some extra care should be taken to avoid twisted ankles etc.


In this game on a sunny day, St. Mary’s ran out to a 19-5 lead at halftime against Santa Rosa JC (3 tries + 2 conversions to 1 unconverted try). This was helped to some degree by a yellow card awarded to the SRJC #12 for a high tackle. In the second half, SRJC scored 19 points to SMC’s 5 (also 3 tries + 2 conversions to 1 unconverted try) before the 60th minute, and appeared to be in the ascendancy with the match tied at 24-24.


Unfortunately, at that point we had to stop and wait for the professionals to take a look at an injured player. Given that there were two games scheduled right after this, I agreed with the captains that we would shave 10 minutes off the match. That gave us another 10 minutes to settle the contest, but neither side was able to score any more points. In my defense, my professional referee opinion is that one side would have won if we had played the full 80!


EDITOR’S NOTE:  Beverages at our December meeting will be provided by Mr Gordon, thanks to this score.   The shortened playing time is irrelevant. 



Date: 11/17/2016
Cal Maritime 63 – Stanford 24
Referee: Pescetti, David


After hours spent in traffic, the Stanford team and I (traveling separately) made it the lovely Maritime facilities.


This game was a barn burner. It began with a shock. Stanford scored first within 2 minutes of the kick-off, on the back of their scrumhalf. Maritime 10 was able to poach a ball but then conceded a penalty for not releasing once he hit the ground, and the Stanford 9 quick tapped, catching all the Maritime players off guard and slipping past them for our opening Try.


Maritime’s shock lasted 90 seconds and they responded with quick hands passing and using their backs to manufacture scores. After that it was mostly Maritime controlling the pace of the game. Stanford was light on players and this contributed to the scoreline. It was a great game with high friendly spirits in this friendly match.



Date: 11/18/2016
Stanford Women 0 – Lindenwood 123
Referee: Moore, Stephen


One way traffic by a very strong Lindenwood team.



Date: 11/19/2016
NorCal Pelican Selects 18 – SoCal Griffins All Stars 28
Referee: Lew, Tim
AR: Pohlman, John
AR: Hendrickson, Rob


In an early preseason hit out between NorCal Pelican vs SoCal Griffins at Cal Maritime, SoCal came out on top. It was wet conditions with two all stars teams early in the year. As expected lots of athletic running but NorCal lacked support and retaining their own ball. SoCal ended contested in the rucks which made it harder for NorCal to get phases. In the end, SoCal had two intercept tries which ended up being the difference. Thanks to Paul for giving me feedback in the wet rain. Thanks for Robert H & John P for running the touch lines. Looking forward to 2017!



Date: 11/19/2016
Chico Holiday Classic
Referee: Richmond, Jeff


Pretty awful conditions for the Holiday classic in Chico: mid-40’s, windy, constant rain. A Chico player entertained us by recreating the scene from Forrest Gump – “… little bitty stingin’ rain and bit ol’ fat rain…”  Only managed to play 7 matches out of the 18 planned for the tournament. Still, those who participated played solid rugby. The Chico State women closed out the day with mud slides at the pit that had formed around the 22 on one of the pitches.



Date: 11/19/2016
Fresno 0 – Cal Poly SLO 40
Referee: Wilson, Dan


The top game in Fresno on Saturday with the three Cal Poly teams playing was Fresno Men’s v Cal Poly A.  it was the final of the three games for the visitors but quickly it showed the difference between the two clubs, teams and organizations. Fresno started the game kicking off and was immediate under pressure by Poly who played fundamentally sound rugby.  Cal Poly had their first converted try in the 3rd minute and then another in the 10th.  Poly scored two more converted tries in the 19th and 29th minutes. Fresno responded to the pressure by not rolling away or giving that slightly late hit.  Needless to say, penalties came mostly to Fresno.  In the 30th minute, Fresno’s captain was sin binned for an obvious late hit on the fly half just after the team was warned (10.4e). Fresno had its moments of team unity only to be pushed back by Cal Poly.   Fresno threatened several times in the second quarter including having lineouts, scrums and mauls inside the 10-meter line, but they could not cross the try line.  After their unconverted try at the 36th minute, Cal Poly put to bed a half of dominance. Even though the half was clearly one-sided, it at least flowed. Halftime Score:  Fresno Men’s 0 – Cal Poly A 33


The second was the opposite of the first.  Fresno had times of opportunities, as in the first, but their control of their tempers, attitudes and emotions brought the game down.  Unfortunately, several of the substitutes made their situation worse.   In the 56th minute, a Fresno player was sin binned for punching (10.4a). In response five minutes later, Cal Poly had a push over scrum try that was text book rugby scoring the only points slotted in the second half.  After several dust ups during the thing that loosely resembled rugby, Fresno had its next player sin binned for a late tackle in the 63rd minute (10.4e) which was a carbon copy of the play which sin binned their captain in the first half.  With the game continuing to deteriorate, and honestly, after a particular emotional outburst by one of the Fresno players to the like that I have never seen, I called the game in the 73rd minute.  Final Score: Fresno Men’s 0 – Cal Poly A 40.



Date: 11/19/2016
Fresno State B 47 – Cal Poly SLO C 10
Referee: Jury, Jeff


CSUF B showed good coordinated play with the young third side for Cal Poly is still trying to figure out their responsibilities.  The second half was more competitive with Fresno 3 to 2 try advantage.



Date: 11/19/2016
Fresno State 56 – Cal Poly SLO B 5
Referee: Tuisavalalo, Rodney


In terms of their physicality, both teams were evenly matched. They had big men the middle and faster agile guys out in the backs. The difference was Fresno’s ability to move the ball out quicker and more efficiently. While Cal Poly matched Fresno’s interior defense, they could not sustain long periods of defense in their back-line that saw Fresno running through wide open gaps. That was pretty much the story. In fact, Cal Poly’s only try of the game came through from tough hard running by their forward pack which culminated in a try near the posts. Fresno meanwhile enjoyed playing a very open game-moving the ball from one side of the field to the other, constantly keeping Cal Poly on the back foot. Fresno’s Irving Castenda made quality runs around the pitch, capitalizing on some back-line  inexperience from Cal Poly. First half saw the home team run in 4 tries. Cal Poly had many opportunities to score, but were often stalled from an untimely penalty or knock-on. Fresno would go on to tack on a few more points in the 2nd half and never let off the gas until the final whistle. It will be enjoyable to see these two  teams play in the future as they look to develop their new talents.



Date: 11/19/2016
UC Davis B 10 – Sacramento State B 19
Referee: Pescetti, David


A fun, rainy, and wet afternoon where weather was a big factor in the match. Many scrums were had due to the wetness of the ball. Despite the poor footing conditions all the forwards were in good spirits. The match all-in-all, was very close. Davis scored first within opening 10 minutes on a long breakaway, the ball carrier diving for the corner to touch the ball down, energizing his squad. Then Sac St scored in the final seconds of the first half. Heading into the break we had the teams knotted up at 5 a piece.


After the short respite, Sac State where to capitalize on the short handed Davis. Scoring under the posts to take a 12 – 5 lead. Davis, not to be outdone came back, shortly thereafter being back at full strength and scored.  Winds of change were not in their favor and still trailing 12 – 10, but only by 2. Sac was able to muscle down Davis in the last quarter to add an additional score to leaves us all walking off the muddy pitch at a Sac State win, 19 – Davis 10.



Date: 11/19/2016
UC Davis 55 – Sacramento State 5
Referee: Akroyd, Phil
AR: Hetterman, Matt


The game shifted to Sac State as the UCD field wasn’t available.  Rumors are that UCD will be building on Russell Field, so there’s huge uncertainty as to where the Aggies will play in future.  Let’s hope they find a field fitting of their excellent play because they showed that they are hitting the ground running this season.


Davis appear to have a lot of returning players from their D1-AA National Champ team from last season and their skill, accuracy and teamwork showed early.  Thirty-one points in the first half, twenty-four in the second and only five points conceded in generally pretty soggy conditions.  Sac State did play well though, but they were playing a very good team.  The Hornets will do well this year if they can just get their backs attacking a little closer to the gain line.


Post game recommendation of Sactown Union Brewing Company at 66th and Folsom Blvd for a refreshing Kolsch and a gourmet hot dog.


Thanks to Matt H for sticking around in less than ideal weather to A/R.



Date: 11/19/2016
UOP 32 – USF, SF State 35
Referee: Wood, Scott


UOP hosted their annual three-way round-robin between them, USF, and SF State. Despite the rain, the field drained well. Oddly, there were few knock-ons during while it rained. When it was not actively raining, we had a perpetual scrumfest. Rusty legs and cobwebs. Overall, very positive periods of contest and continuity.



Date: 11/19/2016
Santa Clara Women 53 – USF Women 20
Referee: Simko, Paul


On Saturday, there was a continuous light rain for the Santa Clara vs USF Women’s league match.  Santa Clara had 12 players to start.  USF asked them if they wanted to forfeit and Santa Clara said no.  At worst they wanted to get a point for a loss versus a zero for the forfeit.  Fortunately for Santa Clara, they played and won decisively.  Two former teammates now captains on different teams was the story of the match.  The two of them probably made about 30-40% of the tackles in the whole game.  Strong running by the Santa Clara front row created missed tackles that converted into tries.  There are a number of good athletes on USF, and with more experience this could have been a different game.



Date: 11/19/2016
UC Davis Women 0 – Lindenwood 38
Referee: Boyer, Rich


The Lindenwood women made the trek from San Jose to DIxon to be hosted by UC Davis.  LIndenwood started the game with double digit phases, gaining little ground, then would knock on as a result of the wet conditions.  Then repeat.  They had the lion’s share of possession the first ten minutes but Davis did not buckle.  Davis would counter with a few pick and drives, to be undone by knock ons.  Eventually Lindenwood began taking control of the match with strong running from their one off forward pods.  They were held up in goal three times.  Finally they created an overlap for captain Rochelle to score in the corner 25 minutes into the match.  Then Lindenwood scored again almost immediately, with the #4 receiving a pass and sprinting past everyone for a 60 meter try.  At halftime the score was 10-0.


Lindenwood became more focused and structured the second half.  Davis did not commit to rucks on defense so Lindenwood countered with multiple forward pick and drives.  The replacement hooker scored during one of these, then second half center substitute Macca, U-20s captain, made a scathing run for another score, which she converted.  Davis, try as they might, could not penetrate the visitor’s defense.  The Davis inside center was very prominent in breakdowns, poaching at least 5 balls and helping straighten the back line with direct runs.   LIndenwood’s forwards showed their dominance in scrums with multiple tightheads and also forcing the Davis pack on the back foot.   Their loosehead and open flanker were very prominent running the ball, and the wing got involved every time she could, contributing a try.   The game became very physical halfway through the second half, with neither side backing down.  It was all clean play, but the physicality stepped up a few notches.   In addition to the Davis 12, captain Erin at flanker worked well with the other flanker around the breakdowns, and the hooker was scrappy.  The game really seemed to swing when Macca subbed on for Lindenwood, while both locks showed good ball in hand skills.  This was a very technically sound match with few penalties awarded.



Date: 12/03/2016
Fresno 16 – Fresno State 13
Referee: Wilson, Dan


The annual game between big brother and little brother kicked off on a soft, partially muddy field with a decent crowd.  The game flowed well with neither team really taking the edge in territory even though the Fresno State side seemed to maintain ball more.  However, maintaining ball and moving ball are different things completely.  FSU kicked a penalty kick quickly in to the game at the 4 minute mark, but that was as close as either team got for most of the first half.  Both teams had their opportunities to push inside the other’s 22-meter line, but no one really could capitalize.  I actually had to look at my score card to reconfirm to myself that it was a 3 point game sometime around the 30 minute mark.  Discipline for both sides started off well, but it started to deteriorate during the second quarter.  At last movement, Fresno Men’s received a penalty outside FSU’s 22 meter line but was able to slot a kick to go into halftime tied.  Halftime score:  Fresno 3 – Fresno State 3


The second half had three major additions for the Fresno Men’s side which increased the intensity of tackling and ball running and maintaining ball possession.  Fresno Men’s were able to kick a penalty kick to take a lead, but Fresno State returned the favor to even it up.  With a man in the sin bin, Fresno Men’s was able to score a converted try, but Fresno State was able to come back and return the favor again with a converted try of their own.  Fresno State had two opportunities to take the lead with a penalty kick missed left, but a charge down was attempted by Fresno Men’s, so another opportunity was given. Unfortunately, the next kick also went left.  Emotions for both teams, especially Fresno Men’s, went ballistic at various parts of the game, one resulting in a player being sent off.  However, game management hurt Fresno State and allowed, and Fresno Men’s took the lead at the 78th minute with a third penalty kick.   Final Score: Fresno 16 – Fresno State 13.



Date: 12/03/2016
San Jose Invitational 15’s Tournament
Referee: Pohlman, John


San Jose Seahawks hosted a one day tournament this past Saturday.  Google, Diablo, Sac Capitals, San Jose, Silicon Valley, San Louis Obispo and Aptos played three games each.  The Capitals were the top team.  Lots of positive early season rugby.  Only one yellow card all day.

The San Jose Women’s Seahawks team played the San Jose State Spartians woman.  Lots of new players.

Referees for the day Paul Bretz, James Hinkin, Tim Lew, John Lane and John Pohlman.

Saw some old team mates coaching and refereeing.  Good luck for the season.



Date: 12/03/2016
San Jose Invitational 15’s Tournament
Referee: Bretz, Paul


TIm Lew, Paul Bretz, James Hinkin, John Pohlman, and John Lane joined several Division 2 teams for the San Jose Invitational.  Games were 20 minutes halves and were played in good spirits.  13 games played in total and and only 1 card was given.  Sacramento Capitals look to be the team in the best form at this stage.



Date: 12/03/2016
Cal Maritime B 14 – Pleasanton Jesters U23 48
Referee: Byrnes, Bryant


Played at Maritime’s field on a sunny afternoon-lovely. The Keelhaulers are now in their 19th season and are a class act. The Jesters are brand new this season. They are primarily Pleasanton local high school products who are not playing college, but of course wish to continue playing our lovely sport.


And, as indicated by the score, they play it pretty well. While the forwards matched up well, the Jesters had a powerful backline, including one hell of a center. While they had a certain amount of uncertainly about the moral significance of the last foot in a ruck, they had mastered the concept of support; on most breaks by the center, he had two wingmen.


Maritime had many first time players still figuring it out. But even outgunned, in the second half they scored 14 to the Jesters’ 17.



Date: 12/03/2016
Santa Clara 50 – San Jose State 20
Referee: Pescetti, David


Despite the sunny and relatively warm conditions in Santa Clara players from both hands were suffering from pre-season jitters. Ball handling errors were a frequent occurrence. The speed of the pitch played into Santa Clara’s favor with their backs and was able to muscle a first half advantage, but in the waning moments of the first half the Spartans forced their way into the corner for their first try of the match. The second half was decidedly more even. Both teams matching each other, blow for blow, try for try. Second half score was SCU 22 – 15.


Final SCU 50 – SJSU 20



Date: 12/03/2016
SFSU 14 – USF 15
Referee: Coppinger, John


Cox Stadium is the San Francisco State University soccer field and the former home of the late SFSU football program.  Since the pitch is now used by the SFSU soccer programs, the pitch is a very rugby friendly 66 meters wide.  Cox is a pretty place on the west side of campus off Lake Merced Blvd. and is set in a bowl surrounded by tall trees.  On Saturday, the SFSU Men’s rugby team was given the use of the field for the first time in the club’s history and pulled out all the stops in hosting City rivals USF.


The SFSU Gospel Gators opened the show with a nice rendition of the national anthem with the teams and a lonely referee lined up on at mid-field and the SFSU cheerleaders were in attendance to lead the crowd in support of the home Gators.  Post-match, SFSU hosted a luncheon for USF, which was attended by the SFSU president.


Both teams came out of the gate trying to play expansive rugby but handling errors on both sides ended scoring opportunities for both sides.  SFSU struggled with discipline and collected a dozen or so penalties and ultimately SFSU wound up with a man in the bin for persistent team infringements.  SFSU did take the half-time lead on an intercept try scored between the posts to give the hosts Gators a 7-0 lead at the break.


USF came out fired up in the second half to score two tries, one converted, to take 12-7 lead with about 10 minutes to play.  SFSU countered with a converted try to take a 14-12 lead with 5 minutes left with a sustained drive down the pitch featuring multiple phrases of play.


Ultimately, SFSU’s discipline, which had improved in the second half, was their undoing as a Gator went off his feet over the ball in a ruck thirty meters from the SFSU line smack in front of the posts.  The penalty kick was slotted and USF took the match 15-14.  USF captain and prop Reilly, easily my Man of the Match, was brilliant on offence and defense for the Dons.


Hopefully, SFSU will be able to secure the regular use of Cox Stadium because it was brilliant.



Date: 12/03/2016
Sonoma State 10 – Santa Rosa JC 50
Referee: Simko, Paul


Beautiful day at Sonoma State.  Pre-season friendly with rolling substitutions.  It’s always strange refereeing games with the goal posts on the dead ball line. The home team had 17 players, so the rolling subs didn’t help them much.  The hits in this game were big, and both teams struggled with high tackles that resulted in 3 yellow cards.  On Sonoma State, the 9 had a solid game along with some bigger bodies in the scrum.  Santa Rosa JC had depth in the pack with a very large #5.  They also had more talent in the backs and kept the attack.  The field was quite narrow, and my guess that was a strategy by Sonoma State to prevent high scoring from SRJC.  It didn’t matter.  To Sonoma States credit they put two ties in the second half and had one more that was held up.



Date: 12/03/2016
UC Davis 0 – St. Mary’s College 54
Referee: Fenaroli, Steven


Early season game that showed some good fall rugby.



Date: 12/03/2016
UC Davis B 14 – St. Mary’s College B 51
Referee: Tucker, Chris
AR: Franzoia, Tom


Second side proceeded much as did the first side.  Thanks to Tom Franzoia for running the line for me.



Date: 12/03/2016
Fresno St Women 80 – St. Mary’s College Women 24
Referee: Jury, Jeff


The score does not reflect the quality of play. Fresno and St. Mary’s traded pretty evenly in the first 20 minutes. A red card to Fresno at about 18 minutes in the first half, lit a fire that the Gaels couldn’t extinguish. St Mary’s were never able to exploit their number advantage, but continued the good fight all the way through. CSUF Women 80 St Mary’s 24.



Date: 12/04/2016
UCSC Women 68 – USF Women 17
Referee: Freitas, Larry


A rare Sunday afternoon game at UC Santa Cruz in which the school relented in allowing the women’s rugby team to play a game on the lower field, as soccer is now wrapping up its season, against the University of San Francisco, as this was a match originally scheduled for November 5 when not only the women’s team, but the men’s Slug Fest got cancelled at the last minute, and a soccer tournament allowed instead, with rain earlier in that week as some sort of poor excuse by the school’s Office of Physical Education and Recreation for nixing the rugby.  The Banana Slug ladies just had too much, as in size and speed in particular, on this afternoon.  Playing out of her position in the first half at half back, Lauren Roundtree commenced the scoring within five minutes of the opening kick off.  Four more first half tries would follow, two by center Teale Finkel, who displayed her speed and fancy footwork, and the half would end with the home side up 32-0.  One problem in the match was that the USF scrum was wearing down as the game progressed, to the point that the half ended with two collapsed scrums, and their captain asking for uncontested scrums for the second half.  Overall the game was being played rather loosely, with a sevens feel to it, and with lots of handling errors from both teams.  UCSC has some size to their pack. The Don ladies couldn’t get any sort of offense going in the first half, and the game was mostly played in their half.

The second half started with Finkel once again scoring a try, basically from the kick restart, as the ball was handled and eventually found its way into her hands, and she had a break for a 40 meter dash to the in-goal for the hat trick.  21 points were added to the UCSC total by 45 minutes, as two more quick tries ensued.  Finally, at 48 minutes USF had a break from a mishandled ball and put their first try of the match on the board, as one of their centers got a gap to run through on her way to the goal line.  UCSC had substituted some players in the meantime with the handy lead, giving some of their bench players some on-field experience.  Sydney Beyma of USF would score a try at 68 minutes from a set scrum deep in UCSC’s half, this one converted by herself.  Sydney was having a great game, one of the stars on the pitch with her tackling and running, and clearing kicks that took some pressure off her team when they had been pinned in their own quarter.  The game would end with UCSC scoring its last try of the match.  Final score: UCSC 68, USF 17.

With the “first” half of the season for D2 done, games will resume in late January.  Unfortunately not every team in the coastal division got in three matches.  UCSC had a league match with Cal State Monterey Bay cancelled that was to be played on November 19, as an attempt to change venues on that rainy weekend at the last minute failed to materialize, though they did play each other in late October in a practice match that did not count in the standings.  That leaves USF and Santa Clara as the only two teams of the four who played three matches, the other two only having two games.  Rain played a part in this, as well as problems in getting permission to use a pitch on the part of UCSC.  It appears the issue there between the men’s and women’s rugby teams and their Office of Physical Education and Recreation regarding field use has been sorted out.  In the second half teams from the other division will get a chance to play those on the coast: St. Mary’s Sacramento State, Fresno State, and Nevada Reno.  I heard that Nevada Reno is the team to beat, though UCSC managed to get their two wins out of two games on this weekend just ended, having beat Santa Clara in a match the previous evening.  That leaves Santa Clara at 2-1, having beaten USF and CSUMB.  CSUMB had one win against USF in early October, and lost to Santa Clara a month ago.  USF was winless in their three matches.


This Week’s Photo

Plenty of Seahawk Old Boys around for the San Jose Seahawk Invitational.


Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Deplorable Contest



Deplorable Contest

While the editorial staff here at Hail Pelicus are no strangers to controversy there are some topics that are sure to inflame a large percentage of the flock, either one way or another.   When we agree to take on such a topic it must be approached carefully and with considerable delicacy to insure that all sides of the issue are looked at with the regard that is their due.  Please note that I did not say “equally” as it is immediately apparent to all rational people that there are some positions with no basis in reality and to give them equal time in an effort to generate the illusion of balanced reporting is a disservice to not only the readers, but the writers and the entire noble profession of journalism, a profession that I would happily claim to be a part of if anyone ever paid me for this stuff.

So it is with eyes wide open that we tackle the upcoming national contest.   It really is the choice between two evils and no matter what the result I won’t be happy in the least.  Hail Pelicus does feel obligated this time to take and stand and I fully expect the slings and arrows of the opposition to come my way – a spate of vitriolic, thoughtless hate driven purely by emotion and without regard for logic, decency or even basic humanity.    While it is readily acknowledged that both sides have their faults there is a significant difference.   The rally cry of the front row dwelling Neanderthals seems to be “one is as bad as the other and it makes no difference” is a death knell on all we hold dear in America as it goes against all of the principles that this country was built on.    Our entire democracy is at stake.

Those of you who follow my Facebook page already know how I feel about this and many of you have already argued (rather hopefully, but ultimately in vain) with me about it, but now it must and will be stated publicly.    This is a decision not likely taken.  Let it be known that this is the first time in history that Hail Pelicus has made an endorsement.  Without further ado, here it is:

Hail Pelicus is rooting for the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series.

Or rather, Hail Pelicus is rooting for the Chicago Cubs to lose the World Series.

Yes, we know the Indians aren’t perfect.   Throwing aside the fact that they represent Cleveland, a hairy armpit of a city if there ever was one (motto: Our River Hasn’t Caught Fire in 47 Years!), the Cleveland Indians play in the American League and thus play “baseball” with a bastardized version of the rules and on top of that they have one of the most racist mascots in sports.   Seriously?   A cartoon caricature with red skin grinning stupidly?    Much like the Washington Redskins, the logo/mascot is defended because “the fans love it” – always a winning argument .   But for all of their faults, we are siding with Cleveland for one reason and one reason only:

They aren’t the Cubs.

The Chicago Cubs have a role in baseball and in Americana – they are the lovable losers.   They exist to cause pain because without pain how would we know pleasure?   Just like mathematics makes no sense without the number ‘0’, baseball makes no sense without the Cubs losing.    While it isn’t very glamorous or even all that much fun, everything in baseball depends on it.   Should the Cubs win then players might start running to third base when they hit the ball instead of to first.     Should the Cubs win teams might stop valuing left handed relief pitching because hey, why not?   Should the Cubs win we might as well eliminate foul territory, first and third base and let the pitcher get a good run up because it will mean that the great American Experiment has failed and we should all start playing cricket.   For those of you who think I am exaggerating then be warned that everything I have spoken of has been confirmed by top scientists who did science things and came up with these scientific scenarios.

As I write this it is 2 hours until first pitch of game 7.   A few hours after that we will know if America is still the same flawed yet great country we know and love or if we will have to take a tea break instead of a 7th inning stretch.


Early Election Results

There are many elections occurring this fall and it is often the local races that matter most to the day to day lives of the electorate.    With that in mind I regretfully have to inform you, dear reader, that the United Nations is investigating the Northern California Rugby Referee Society for voter fraud.  They believe the recent election was rigged because all 5 NCCRRS board members were not only re-elected by an unheard of 100% of the vote but they ran unopposed.   These are red flags to election watchdog agencies and are so unbelievable that even the strongest of armed dictators don’t get 100% of the vote.   The scoundrels currently under investigation for stealing the election are:

  • Pete Smith
  • Preston Gordon
  • R Scott Wood
  • James Hinkin
  • Paul Bretz


Pelicus Nomenclature

With the approval of the Senate, at the AGM 5 new Pelicans were awarded appropriate sobriquets, although one claims that he has worn it proudly for many years but it remained unrecorded.    Thanks, Obama.

The Centurion would like to salute the members of the flock who have been honored with their official Pelican Name so that it can be duly recorded.


From now on Chris Tucker shall be known as Pelicus Diversus Oculus!

From now on David Pescetti shall be known as Pelicus Spaghetticus!

From now on Steven Fenaroli shall be known as Pelicus Parvus Scurra!

From now on Roberto Santiago shall be known as Pelicus Prodigus!

From now on Mike King shall be known as Pelicus Rex!


All Hail!



How To Play A Perfect Alumni Game

Stanford’s mens side did it.   For details go to the Match Report section below.  It was truly memorable and worth a read.


Pelicans Getting High


Congratulations to Tim Lew and Lee Bryant for gaining their well deserved promotion to B Panel.   It just goes to show that you don’t have to be very tall to be an outstanding referee.


2016 NCRRS Kit And Swag

This is your last chance to order our 2016 kit.   We are not only offering the standard jersey (free if you referee more than 5 assigned matches), but also shorts (in blue and black), socks (to match), NCRRS polos, track suits and bags emblazoned with your very own Pelican Name.   We need to get the orders in ASAP to have it all ready by the January start of season so please place your order NOW.   The link to order kit is here:


Ask A Pelican

Yes we are back from our summer adventures and are ready to drop knowledge just like old times.  Our first question of the year comes from Donary Clump of Battleground State, USA.  Donary asks, “I saw your first two sections and laughed until my sides hurt and then laughed some more when I saw that people liked me more when I laughed.   I love your style, bigly.   My question is, are you planning to recommend any candidates for the presidential election?”

GREAT GOOGILY MOOGILY, NO!   Do you think we are insane?


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.
  4. If you have any questions as to how to use the app please refer to the following video:


On To The Game Reports!


Date: 10/01/2016

American University 39 – Gettysburg College 21

Referee: Valerio, Stephen


It isn’t every day when you get to referee a match in a National Park, but the Gettysburg Pitch actually is in the Gettysburg Memorial National Park. I’d like to think the tour buses going by were for us, but the sparse crowd argued otherwise.


The day was overcast and the pitch damp when the match started. The sporadic heavy showers made ball handling difficult, but the pitch held up reasonably well during the scrums.


American started quickly with a long-range try and maintained pressure on Gettysburg, collecting 2 penalty kicks. The try was a result of poor fielding of a kick by the back 3 and while American tested Gettysburg a few times during the match, they probably didn’t fully exploit this, especially considering the conditions. Rather, they tried relying on their large centers to break the Gettysburg line, but Gettysburg’s defense was up to the task. As the half wore on Gettysburg’s pick-and-go strategy paid off and they collected 2 tries and went into the break up 14-13.


The second half was a different story. An early yellow card for obstructing the runner on a penalty and not retreating gave American the space they needed, and they put across 2 tries during the bin, plus 2 others. Their fly-half was a surprisingly strong runner.   I found out afterwards he normally played flanker, so that explained that.   American did lose their focus at the end, giving away 3 consecutive penalties leading to a consolation try for Gettysburg at the whistle.


Date: 10/22/2016

North Bay 36 – Baltimore-Chesapeake 0

Referee: Valerio, Stephen


Today’s lesson, when it is very windy:

1.Try to avoid having kicking as the basis of your attack

  1. Don’t go long in the lineouts
  2. Keep your passes short.


Baltimore-Chesapeake’s D3 side hosted North Bay on a clear, cool day. However there was a stiff wind throughout the match. Strong enough that verbal communication was challenging. The pitch was firm and in good shape, except for the crooked posts at one end (luckily that wasn’t material to the results).


The first half was choppy as both sides wrestled with the conditions. Lots of kicks that went 30 meters forward and then 20 meters back in the air, but both teams were fairly insistent early on in kicking with both ball in hand and to gain ground on penalties. This and ball handling errors were made it very start-stop. North Bay was stronger in the lineouts, though both sides were plagued by not straights.
North Bay went into the half up 10 – 0 on 2 unconverted tries. B-C never offered any series attacking threat and their kicking was questionable, especially with North Bay being strong in the lineouts. The second half B-C failed to change tactics, but North Bay went to a surer ball-in hand strategy. They started picking up several long runs from their forwards and centers, with their fullback and wings popping up occasionally. Fatigue started taking its toll late in the match since B-C never adapted their tactics and playing defense is always more energy sapping. They picked up 4 tries with 3 conversions to seal the match.


Date: 09/24/2016

Berkeley All Blues 0 – Glendale 44

Referee: Bryant, Lee


Despite the score, this was a hard fought game until the end. Both teams contested at the breakdown all day which resulted in some amazing poaches and quick play. Glendale had a much more dominant scrum and maul scoring at least once from the latter. Enjoyed watching both teams finish 5-6 phases of rugby and using the whole field. Beautiful day for rugby and a big thank you to my fellow Pelican’s for helping me on the line.


Date: 10/16/2016

Stanford Women Rookie Tournament  Reports


Referee: Pohlman, John

A rainy day at Stanford brought together woman’s teams from U.C. Davis, Chico State, Cal and Stanford for some ten’s rugby.

Considering the conditions allot of opportunity for early season game situations.

Loads of very athletic players with a bit of a learning curve ahead.  But with the great coaches and practice we should see some strong woman’s teams this year.  Good luck to all.


Referee: Gordon, Preston

A great day out in the constant rain at Stanford!


Referee: Simko, Paul

7 hours, 3 matches, rain, cold, wet, soggy, rookie 10’s


Date: 10/22/2016

CSU Monterey Bay WR 7 – UCSC Women 36

Referee: Freitas, Larry


This game was for practice more than anything else, a teaching enterprise if you will.  It was decided to play 25 minute halves since both teams had been involved in combined forward and backs training prior to kick off for quite some time.  UCSC has a lot of new players, but with the combination of their handful of veterans, they were able to use their overall athletic ability to win, as after a 14-7 lead at halftime, the Banana Slugs pulled away with four more tries.  CSUMB has a veteran team for the most part, but one of their key players is now studying in Europe for the year, and work commitments might have kept a few more from playing.  UCSC was by far the better team in the backline.  Neither team had an advantage in the scrum or lineout, and I have to praise both sets of forwards for their play.  Both teams have their speedster runners, and if they get the ball, it’s off to the races, or goal line.  One last note about the match is that the Otter gals didn’t quite line the pitch correctly.  Hopefully this won’t happen again!

There is another game to report, played back on October 8 at Santa Clara University, where the Alumni XV took down a Varsity XV, depleted by their best players away for a 7’s tournament in San Luis Obispo, 41-22.  It must have been nearly 100F on the turf, and therefore 25 minute halves were played.  The turf field there is starting to look like a worn out carpet.  Time to chuck it and reinstall real grass instead.  Terry Ryan, Class of 1977, was absent from the game, as he was ill.  I believe he might have played in every alumni-varsity match since he had graduated.   The prior night the Fr. Coz Rugby Alumni Banquet was held on campus, well attended.  Nice to see Johnny Wallace, Saxon Wraith, Bill Wagner, Dave Alvarado, Mike Mitchell, Karl Winkelman, and fellow Pelican John Coppinger, and our former coach Mickey Ording in attendance.   Coppinger, having just arrived back in the country from a trip to Europe, ‘gave’ me the assignment to referee the alumni game at the dinner.  I gladly accepted.


Date: 10/22/2016

NorCal NSCRO 7’s

Referee: Richmond, Jeff


Pretty much a rerun (six of the eight teams) of the warm-up at Sonoma State two weeks ago. Sonoma State had the strongest showing early in the competition, then had a rough time against Cal Maritime, and wound up getting crushed in the final by Solano Community College. Solano now qualifies for a national competition next spring. Good time with Joe Leisek and Preston Gordon and great hosting by Steve Wren and the Santa Rosa JC crew.


Date: 10/22/2016

NorCal NSCRO 7’s

Referee: Gordon, Preston


A great day of sevens started off with overcast weather and a wet field from the overnight fog. Both the weather and the rugby warmed up as the day went on. I got a good 6.4 miles of work in personally. Solano took the title match, refereed by me, 31-10 over Sonoma State, and will progress to the next round. The scores follow – thanks to everyone for the good games and no foul play!


Pool rounds:

Santa Rosa JC 0-26 Sonoma State

Solano 12-12 UOP (beer courtesy of Jeff Richmond)

American River College 7-31 Sonoma State

Cal Maritime 22-7 UOP

American River College 0-21 Santa Rosa JC

Cal Maritime 15-28 Solano



American River College L-W Cal Maritime

UOP 14-19 Santa Rosa JC

Cal Maritime L-W Sonoma State

Santa Rosa JC 12-19 Solano


Final round for placement:

American River College (6th place) 24-26 UOP (5th place)

Cal Maritime (4th place) 19-21 Santa Rosa JC (3rd place)

Sonoma State (2nd place) 10-31 Solano (1st place)


Date: 10/22/2016

Sacramento State 30 – Sacramento State 29

Referee: Boyer, Rich


Sac St. Green v. Sac St. White.  White had preponderance of ball in first period and led 17-10 at halftime.  Green put together a better gameplan and came out strong the second half, with the winning try scored by Mattei Waqalevesi in the dying moments off a nice pass from prop Tyler.  Good strategies and execution from both teams and very few handling errors and penalties despite earl’y days.  Nick Weeder stood out as flyhalf, Spencer Moreno (Motley Alum) at scrumhalf and kicking points, Tyler at prop, Spencer at 8 man.  Sac St. has a few dangerous backs who run very well.


Date: 10/23/2016

Stanford Women 5 – Alumni Women 59

Referee: Simko, Paul


Beautiful day on the pitch.  After 15 minutes of clean up of bottle caps and glass from the Colorado Tail Gate Party that was on the pitch the day before, it was decided to do four 20 minute “halves”.  It was a tough lesson for the students in their first match with contested scrums, in which their elders rolled them over backwards a few times.  A 52 year old played well, but ended up limping off the pitch later in the match with an minor ankle injury.  The Alumni also sported Olympian Vix Folayan.   A yellow card was issued to alumnus, for proper but impractical use of the F-bomb, and was forced to run touch for 10 minutes.  The Alums were relentless and with no time on the clock, still wanted to put one more in.


Date: 10/23/2016

Stanford Men 29 – Alumni Men 31

Referee: Hinkin, James


Alumni day is always a fun event and with the women of Stanford hosting their past graduates in progress the stage was already set for a classic fall rugby day.   The torrential rains of the previous weekend were a fading memory and normal service had resumed: bright, sunny skies and mid 70s temperatures.   Perfect rugby conditions.


“Perfect” is the word of the day and not just because of the conditions and the fact that I didn’t miss any calls.   Trust me on this.


The undergrads were, naturally, more organized and enthusiastic in their warm ups and pre-match preparation as the alumni, equally naturally, spent much of the time catching up with old acquaintances.   As it should be with all alumni games the captaincy of the alumni went to the oldest player, Shawn Dahlem, who is old enough to have played against me and remember when I was fast.   Not only do the laws of rugby change over time but fashions do as well so Shawn trotted out with red shorts from his time at Stanford while all other, younger players wore white.   This prompted the university captain to ask if he was wearing special “no tackling” shorts.  This did not sit well with his opposite and the youngster was told to play rugby and not worry about hurting anyone.


This is also worth remembering.


The fully warmed up students were full of energy and life in the first half (divided into 20 minute periods) and stormed out to a lead with the speed of youth out flanking the old boys for an unconverted try.   The alumni responded with a try of their own with the beer gut of age overpowering the underweight student bodies for a duly converted try and the first lead for the alumni, 7-5.   Undaunted the students rallied and began to dominate proceedings.    A flurry of knock ons and mistakes let the universitarians off the hook time and again and their response was more tries, eventually building a 24-7 lead.   Things looked grim for the alumni but old age and treachery experience stood them in good stead as they regrouped for the final 20 minute push.    Putting the students under pressure forced errors that were then capitalized on by the alumni as they found that their size advantage was wearing down their opposition.


This was epitomized in a magical moment where the dreams of all front row players came true.    Working hard and following up a break from the back line the alumni hooker – a natural prop pressed into service at #2 – suddenly and unexpectedly found himself put into space with only the fullback to beat.  The right winger for the students was also working hard chasing the play and making up ground with every stride.   All three converged just outside the 22 when the alumni prop/hooker threw a dummy to nobody, spinning around with the ball held out in front of him.   Both players bought the dummy and ran into each other, knocking each other to the ground as the graceless pirouette completed leaving our hero untouched and manfully plugging away towards the try line.  The students desperately scrambled back and the ball carrier was caught at the try line but not soon enough to prevent the try being scored.   This tied the score at 24.  Staring a tie in the face I started to worry about the next referee society meeting but the students rallied superbly and with 5 minutes left scored yet another unconverted try to make the score 29-24.    Now the alumni got desperate and started putting the students under as much pressure as they could, competing at every breakdown and hunting for that magical turnover.   With less than 3 minutes of time left the alumni won a penalty and chose to kick for a lineout.  The kick was a good one with the line of touch the required 5m from the try line.

This is when we recall that “perfect” is the word of the day and that Shawn Dahlem was originally considered too old to be tackled properly.


The students won the lineout and tried to clear their line, but the kick was terrible, going off the side of the flyhalf’s boot and was caught about 20 meters from the line near the middle of the field.   Taking this gift in hand the alumni charged forward and were stopped and then stopped again but each time got the offload to a teammate until the ball was put into the hands of Shawn who dove across the line for a try under the posts.    The conversion was successful and the alumni led for only the second time 31-29.   The clock was at 1:00 and ticking down so all they really needed to do was hang on to the kickoff, recycle the ball and kick it out.


Naturally and of course, this didn’t happen.   The alumni panicked and started running back and forth aimlessly inside their 22.   Eventually a tackle occurred and everyone screamed to get the ball out, so a prop (why is it always a prop?) picked the ball up and threw it out of bounds.


Oh dear.  TWEET!  Penalty to the students on the 15m line 5m from the goal.   No time left.  Did the alumni just screw this up?   The ball was tapped and the charge started.  The first hit was good and the ball recycled but the alumni drove the second runner back and flooded the tackle area to create a turnover.  This time the ball was kicked out properly and the game was over.   The alumni won a nail biter with the winning try scored by the oldest man on the pitch.   You just can’t make this stuff up.


Date: 10/29/2016

Berkeley All Blues 12 – ORSU 24

Referee: Akroyd, Phil


What a mess.  The whole afternoon was a struggle for everyone involved.


The game was scheduled to take place at SMC on the Pat Vincent field.  My main concern was over the recent rainfall and how that field can pool water pretty easily, but when I arrived it looked in good shape, aside from the fact that wild pigs (no joke) had been ripping up the grass.  The pitch had clearly been undergoing repair and large areas of turf had been removed in preparation for the installation of new turf.  Problem was that they hadn’t got to the second part of that process by Saturday lunchtime.


The real issue is that SMC told the All Blues that the field was playable when it clearly wasn’t.  SMC should have known better and their lack of disclosure made the afternoon way more difficult than it should have been.


The players were incredible in their problem solving and players from both teams attempted to retrieve old turf and re-lay it, while other players made frantic calls to find another location.  ORSU were calculating travel times so that they would make their flights home.


A field came up on Treasure Island so we made the drive down the hill to start way later than we should have, but we got the game underway.


I’m not going to describe the game too much because it wasn’t great.  There were four yellow cards, too many penalties and a lot of endeavor but not much successful execution.


Date: 10/29/2016

Univ Nevada Reno WR 41 – St. Mary’s College WR 26

Referee: Bryant, Lee


Despite the fact there were 25 extra lines on the field in every color imaginable, it turned out to be a great day for a rugby match. St. Mary’s had a couple All American High School players on the roster and fought hard through the end. Both teams had solid scrums and backlines that could move the ball for long runs on the outside. Nevada ultimately had a couple more play makers on the pitch who ran up middle of the field to scores 50m+ tries on the first and second half  to keep the score up. Great match for early in the season.


Date: 10/29/2016

UOP 59 – Fresno D3 29

Referee: Richmond, Jeff


A beautiful day and great conditions in Stockton. UOP faced a young club team from Fresno. Both teams were well coached but UOP was more disciplined while Fresno relied on their energy and aggressiveness. UOP has a talented winger whose speed on the outside and cut-back moves enabled him to put up 4 or 5 tries for the Tigers. Fresno’s enthusiasm got the better of them when a tip tackle and a repeated dissent offense earned them yellow cards. Nice to see Ron DeCausemaker who stopped by.



This Week’s Photo

Pelicus Guiness Consumptus presents Lee Bryant with her B Panel Certification.   Pelicus Caledonius seems less than impressed.


Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

For The Love Of Rugby



For The Love Of Rugby

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

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

Happy happy. Joy joy.

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

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

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

Gold Medal Worthy Analysis

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


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


Just The Tri Tip

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

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

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

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

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


Northern California Rugby Referee Society Annual General Meeting

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

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

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

We are in the process of confirming location.


Ask A Pelican

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data.  To help Scott Wood has developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition.  The link to the discipline form is

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

This Week’s Photo

For the love of the game.


Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

A Latesummer’s Evening Olympic Dream



A Latesummer’s Evening Olympic Dream


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


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


Overheard At The ACR1 7s On Treasure Island


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


ARC1 7s Championships


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


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


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


The Northern California 7s Series Recap


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Olympic Teams Announced


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Olympic Predictions


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


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


Ask A Pelican


Is hunting mosquitos in Rio.


Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents


The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data.  To help Scott Wood has developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition.  The link to the discipline form is

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

On To The Game Reports!


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


Date: 07/09/2016

Carlsberg Cup

Referee: Pohlman, John


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

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


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


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


Date: 07/09/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Referee: Simko, Paul


Great day.


EDITOR’S NOTE:   Great report.


Date: 07/23/2016

Shasta 7s

Referee: Hosley, David


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


Date: 07/23/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Referee: MacDonald, Neil


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


Date: 07/23/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s  0 – TBD 0

Referee: Bernstein, Bruce


Great tourny.


EDITOR’S NOTE:   Another great report.


Date: 07/23/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s   – TBD

Referee: Simko, Paul


Great hot day.


EDITOR’S NOTE:   Great hot report


Date: 07/23/2016

Carlsberg Cup 7’s

Referee: Pohlman, John


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


This Week’s Photo

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

Pelican In Flight

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Midsummer Classic


Midsummer Classic

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


Pelican Champions

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

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


Not Only Championship Teams But Championship Players

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

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


A Joke 2500 Years In The Making

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

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

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

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


The Northern California 7s Series – GREXIT edition

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Word Of The Day: Quaestuary

Quaestuary:  adj

  1. doing business solely for the sake of profit.

Just in case anyone was wondering.


Ask A Pelican

Is on vacation.


Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data.  To help Scott Wood has developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition.  The link to the discipline form is

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

On To The Game Reports!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Date: 05/272016

Alumni/Faculty 55 – The Heights School  7

Location: The Heights School, Rockville, MD

Referee: Valerio, Stephen


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


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


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


Date: 05/28/2016

UCSC 7 – Alumni 58

Referee: Freitas, Larry


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


Date: 06/04/2016

Bay JV 1 15 – Sac JV 1 55

Referee: Griffin, Scott


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


Date: 06/04/2016

Tournament:  Rugby Ethos 7s


Referee: Richmond, Jeff


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


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


Referee: Bernstein, Bruce


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

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



This Week’s Photo

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

Sitting: Ben Akroyd

Sac 7s refs

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre