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HAIL PELICUS!

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

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

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

And then…

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

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

AND WE WON!

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

Danny Barrett

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

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

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

Carlin Isles

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

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

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

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

You’re welcome.

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

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

Mea culpa:   My apology

Gratias Tibi Ago:   Thanks to you I give

Semper Paratus:    Always prepared

Audentes Fortuna Iuvat:    Fortune favors the bold )

Just In Case

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

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 02/22/2019

Pacific 12 – Cal Maritime 48 

Referee: Allen Gray 

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

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

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

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

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

Date: 02/23/2019

Vienna 33 Gonzaga Black 0

Location: Somewhere on the East Coast

Referee: Stephen Valerio

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

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

Date: 02/23/2019

Chico State 97 – Univ Nevada Reno 7 

Referee: Chris Tucker

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

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

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

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

Date: 02/23/2019

Olde Gaels B 27 – Jesters Rugby FC 43 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

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

Date: 02/23/2019

Sacramento Capitals 15 – BA Baracus 25 

Referee: James Hinkin

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

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

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

Date: 02/23/2019

San Joaquin-Stanislaus RFC 31 – Redwood Empire RFC 34 

Referee: Giles Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

Date: 02/23/2019

Santa Clara 33 – UC Santa Barbara 13 

Referee: Paul Bretz

AR: Bruce Bernstein

AR: Will Nelson

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

Date: 02/23/2019

Santa Clara B 17 – UCSB B 0 

Referee: William Nelson

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

Date: 02/23/2019

Santa Clara Women 83 – CSU Monterey Bay Women 31 

Referee: Bruce Bernstein

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

Date: 02/23/2019

Silicon Valley 34 – Fresno 29 

Referee: Stephen Moore

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

Date: 02/23/2019

St Marys College 116 – SDSU 0 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

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

Date: 02/23/2019

UC Davis 26 – Cal Poly Men 11 

Referee: David Pescetti

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

Date: 02/23/2019

De La Salle 39 – Marin Highlanders Rugby Club 29 

Referee: Peter Sandhill

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

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

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

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

Date: 02/24/2019

UC Santa Cruz 26 – Fresno State 28 

Referee: William Nelson

Very competitive match that came down the wire. 

Date: 02/27/2019

Middlesex University 12-26 London School of Economics

Location: Allianz Park, Hendon, North London

Competition: BUCS South Eastern 3A

Referee: Preston Gordon

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

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

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

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

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

Date: 03/01/2019

UC Davis Women 24 – Stanford Women 17 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

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

Date: 03/02/2019

Fresno State 64 – San Jose State 10 

Referee: Giles Wilson

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

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

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

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

Final score 64 – 10 in favour of Fresno. 

Date: 03/02/2019

Humboldt State 73 – Sonoma St 22 

Referee: Pete Smith

No Report Received.

This Week’s Photo

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

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Chi Delta?

HAIL PELICUS!

Chi Delta?

This week’s Hail Pelicus is, as in the last few weeks, on the tardy side as I have been doing a lot of travelling for business and haven’t settled on a routine yet.   The slog to the airports and cab rides and strange hotels and abysmal weather and expense reports and all that goes with business travel, well, it doesn’t leave much time for thoughts on rugby.   Of course, it doesn’t leave much time for work either, but that is neither here nor there, although I have to travel from here to there again next week.    There is one side benefit, however: I lost 2 pounds in the last 3 weeks.   Who knew that drinking on airplanes was a valid diet?

While I have not had too much time for composing this eagerly anticipated missive I have had some time to think while sitting in airports and on airplanes.   One word kept banging on my consciousness like an elderly downstairs neighbor in old sitcoms complaining that the young, attractive and fun stars of the show are making too much racket.  What word was that?  Travel.   And that led me to think about the travel that the Finest Referee Society In The World has been doing.   We see the likes of Pelicus Tempus Procurator, Pelicus Saltus and Pelicus Parvus Scurra flying around the country doing national appointments but that seems to be about it.  There has long been a discrepancy about the number of referees that USA Rugby brings in to Northern California during the winter vs the number of Pelicans that get assigned east of the Rockies in the fall, but our noble leadership has addressed this issue and the balance should be restored provided certain parties live up to their side of the bargain.   Should that not occur there will be more said on that.

No, USA Rugby appointments were not what I was thinking about.  I was thinking about good old, Chi Delta.   No, that is not a fraternal organization, it is Greek for “exchange”.   (Think about it.)

The fact of the matter is there have been very little if any exchanges arranged by the society recently and that is a tragic situation that needs to be addressed soon.   I am not talking about wandering refs who pick up games while in town – that happens occasionally and I will probably do something similar while posted in Iowa.  I am talking about us hosting a ref from far away and then having them return the favor when we send a referee to them.    I was on several exchanges when I was starting as a referee and there are few better opportunities to make friends and grow as a referee than via an exchange.    The exposure to different teams, styles and coaches is worth it to referees who want to grow their game.  The same is true for hosting, of course.   When you invite someone into your home you create a bond with them and you often end up watching, reffing and talking rugby all weekend so that is never a bad thing.

In fact, those two used to go hand in hand.  The referees considered first for exchange were the ones who had made the effort to host visiting refs.   Going on exchange was the reward.

That being said the jewel of the exchange crown was long the East Midlands exchange.   Every other year we would send a delegation to England where they would spend eight to ten days being treated like rugby royalty, getting to referee on some of the most amazing pitches with clubhouses, showers, 100 year histories, and all the other accoutrements that we are, with very few exceptions, still striving for here in the United States.   

Oh, and you were expected to drink some beer as well with the locals.  It would have been rude not to.

Several years ago I refereed the First XV of Tonbridge School at Beford School and it was possibly the most skillful and fastest game I have done.   The playing fields had about 6 rugby pitches set up and they were examples of those perfectly manicured lawns you either get with highly dedicated greenkeepers or 500 years of grazing sheep.   Afterwards I went for tea with the Masters of the School in a room that had one massive wall that had carved into it the names of all the School’s alumni who died in WWI and opposite that was another massive wall dedicated to the dead of WWII.   It was a place with an overwhelming sense of history and you understand how whole generations were lost to these conflicts – and you just refereed the same game they played on the same fields that they played on.

You can’t just get that kind of thing anywhere you go.

By my unsure, scratch my head and think reckoning, it has been at least 5 years since we lasted hosted the East Midlands, with the traditional trip up to Yosemite.   The last time we send someone to the East Midlands that person paid for it themselves and took his kids on a family vacation, so that may not count.   This exchange is dying if not already dead and that is a tragedy the younger members of the society can not comprehend.   I have not heard much of anything about other, domestic exchanges – possibly one in the last year?   This is also a tragic scenario as these exchanges are, as mentioned above, great tools to improve not only refereeing but relations with other societies.  Our “Ambassador of the Year” award used to always be given to the best exchange host because that is exactly what you are: an ambassador of the society.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope there are several exchanges brewing that I haven’t been told about yet and will soon be published in these hallowed pages.  I hope that I head a familiar accent from overseas in the next few months.   I hope, but I don’t have a lot of hope.

I call on the Board of Directors to refocus our efforts on this issue.   To bring back the East Midlands Exchange and even supplement it with a London Exchange that I am sure Pelicus Miratus Velocitas can help with that.   This status quo shall not be borne any more!

The Three R’s: Readin’, Writin’ and Refereein’

There were approximately 60 games assigned last weekend.  There are exactly 8 match reports in this week’s edition, and one of them is from England.   The whole point of this newsletter is the match reports – all else is fluff.   Teams will read this to see how their opponents did and what the ref thought of them.  Very few people come here for the commentary, as much as I would like to pretend otherwise.

If you don’t write reports then we don’t have a newsletter.  It is that simple.

Annual Vegas Buggering Off Notice

The Las Vegas 7s are coming up after next week so, per usual, the Editorial Staff here at Hail Pelicus will be busy studying card counting techniques and will not be publishing an edition.   Normal service will return after the 7s weekend.   As a final sign off, according to the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true and will hold true when we gather in Vegas, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 02/16/2019

Datchworth 44-29 Royston

Location: Datchworth RFC, Hertfordshire (https://goo.gl/maps/jpW8hQBRvG72)

Competition: London 3 North West

Referee: Preston Gordon

Everything I’ve heard in the last few months about English players being bigger, faster, fitter, and smarter than they used to be is true. Refereeing this match was a very different experience than the Midlands 3 match I handled in November 2011, which I believe was also a level 8 game. This was also my first above-grade assignment for LSRFUR, an exchange appointment from London North to Herts, and I was also being evaluated again.

Having looked at the league table and each club’s previous results, I was expecting this match to be a lot more one-sided than it was.  Datchworth was #2 and in the running for promotion to London 2, while Royston appeared safe from relegation in the #9 slot. So they had nothing to lose, and the 39-0 shutout they suffered at home (just 20 miles away) last October must have had an effect – Royston threw the kitchen sink at Datchworth, gave a great account of themselves, and came close to winning. Yet another surprise in rugby!

When I saw a few players wearing county representative gear soon after I arrived, I knew my best efforts would be needed. Then I learned from the assessor about some ugly moments in the previous match between these two teams. At the coin toss, I made sure to remind both captains about the RFU core values. I think this helped defuse any lingering tensions while also offering them both a clean slate.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but spring seems right around the corner here and it was in the low 50s and cloudy, with little wind and no rain. Datchworth kicked off going downhill and started off at a fast pace, scoring their first try in the 4th minute. The conversion was missed. Royston’s reply came just 4 minutes later, with a converted try that took a 5-7 lead. Datchworth’s next try was at 15′, and although their kicker couldn’t add the extras, they got their noses back in front at 10-7 (lead change #4). They backed this up with another try in the 19th minute (15-7), and it became apparent that their kicker was having a bad day at the office. The game was really moving fast and flowing well, and Royston struck back with another unconverted try at 24′ (15-12). Their tails were up, and they scored another try at 27′ (converted) to go ahead 15-19 after the game’s fifth lead change. This last try really set off some alarm bells for Datchworth, who had a meeting of the minds under the posts. Their response came three minutes later, at 30′, with another unconverted try that changed the lead yet again (20-19). 43 minutes after the half started, the Datchworth #7 was pinged for hands in the ruck, and Royston slotted a penalty goal that put them ahead 20-22. With seven lead changes and just seven penalties, it was a great half and the two sides were about as closely matched as I’ve seen.

After a short break, Royston kicked off the second half and were now running downhill. Datchworth continued to use their scrum dominance well, though they drove one up near the Royston goal line in an unsafe manner and were penalized. The subsequent unsolicited feedback from their forwards moved the mark 10m further and allowed Royston to clear their lines. But Datchworth, to their credit, got on with the game, and went ahead 27-22 at 48′ with their first converted try of the afternoon. Some more great rugby entertained the 100+ spectators, with the next try coming from Datchworth at 61′ (again with a missed conversion) for a 10-point lead at 32-22. Royston had the next word, scoring a converted try at 66′ to come within three points at 32-29.

They came close to scoring a couple more times, but Datchworth’s defense held firm and they picked off a loose pass to score at 74′, and although their kicker was still in poor form, that gave them an 8-point lead at 37-29. The last try came in the 77th minute, and the second successful conversion sealed the 44-29 win for the home side.  The penalty count was 11 in the second half, a little higher than I would have hoped, but still reasonable.

This game wasn’t easy to handle by any means, but it was a lot of fun to be on the same pitch with players of this caliber. I tried to find the right mix of game management, law knowledge, humor, authoritativeness, whistle tone/signals, body language, and being in the right place at the right time to develop trust and rapport with the captains and other players. The post-match smiles from both teams (and the assessor’s evaluation) confirmed that things had gone very well indeed. Obviously luck played a part in this – the players had a good attitude on the day and focused on playing rugby.

I think a couple of my recent games really helped put me in a good position for this one. Mavericks-Dagenham (Jan 26) and the East London 2-Eton Manor 2 friendly (Feb 9) were both very competitive derby matches that were decided in the last few minutes. The Olympic Club-Diablo Olde Gaels match (Feb 2) was also a good challenge. I won’t be reffing on the weekend of 2/23, due to the dearth of fixtures on a Six Nations weekend, but I’m looking forward to whatever comes my way next.

Date: 02/16/2019

SFGG D2 36 – Olde Gaels 33 

Referee: Lee Bryant

Hard fought match, was just glad the weather held off. SFGG started off with a couple of quick trys. The home team fought back for the remainder of the match and won off a penalty kick 30-35 meters out. 

Date: 02/16/2019

Google  29 – Chico Mighty Oaks 17 

Referee: Giles Wilson

Two evening games this weekend; Friday saw a Girls HS round robin at Freedom HS between the hosts, Lamorinda Girls and the new Northgate program. Three half games (some played as 10s to accommodate limited playing numbers) saw the following results Freedom 14 Lamorinda 52, Northgate 10 Lamorinda 70 and Freedom 24 Northgate 31. Happily the weather had blown through so the games were played in dry conditions.

Saturday saw Google host Chico at the Rich May Memorial field in EPA at 4pm. By 3.15pm both teams were beginning their warm ups showing some moves with dummy runners and miss passes. The weather had again dried up and there was even a little sun but a brisk breeze down the field would affect the game.

Google won the coin toss and elected to kick, Chico chose to play into the sun and wind. Google started off strongly and missed a long range penalty kick in the first minute but went on to score from the resulting 22m restart. This was their last score of the half, playing with the wind led to a variety of mistakes including a couple of long kicks going dead. Chico responded with two tries that they couldn’t convert. Both sides demonstrated good defensive patterns and strong tackles as well as good running lines and angles that created line breaks.

Chico had the wind and sun in the second half but neither team had a good kicking game to take advantage of the wind and space behind. Google started the half well, picking up two tries to go into a 17-10 lead. Chico fought back with a converted try to tie things up but had limited bench numbers which caused reshuffling when they had a couple of injuries.

Getting pulled back to a tie with 20 minutes to play woke up Google who manufactured one good multiphase try and then a long interception try to finish 29-17 winners.

Overall a good standard of play with good spirit and discipline from both teams.

Date: 02/16/2019

BA Baracus B 72 – Shasta Highlanders 28 

Referee: Allen Gray 

After a change of venue from San Francisco to Santa Rosa, and a change back to San Francisco, then a change of Kick off time. A field was secured and time confirmed.  We had fantastic sunshine with a chilling breeze at kick off. The weather held until 20 minutes into the second half when we had a downpour and double rainbow.

Many thanks to Shasta for making the long drive down for the game.  BA took an early lead while Shasta started the game while waiting for players to arrive. Shasta battled but Baracus were a more organized and disciplined side. Fitness played a part in the second half as Shasta lost their shape and Baracus found holes in the defense; widening their lead.   Shasta kept their heads up and finished the match with the last try in the last seconds of the game.

Date: 02/16/2019

St Marys College C 57 – Humboldt State 5 

Referee: Brady Stigall

Nothing to report.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: So there were no points scored?  No flow to the match?  No well worked/unbelievably lucky tries?  No amusing anecdotes?)

Date: 02/16/2019

San Jose State 5 – Univ Nevada Reno 66 

Referee: Stephen Moore

Clearly a one-sided affair, but a nice game to referee following HS matches only for the last 12 months, nice to come across players who understood and respected the laws. Also, great to run into a Reno player “Bobby” that I introduced to rugby at Seahawks Youth, as a kid aged 12. He’d come along way and put on a great performance. San Jose State, unfortunately, was only able to field 13 players. So it was always going to be a difficult contest for them. They had a 14th player arrive in the second half. Surprisingly there were no injuries so they played it out with 14. All in all, they did well under their circumstances. I really enjoyed this match and thought both teams put in a very good effort to play good clean rugby. 

Date: 02/16/2019

Mother Lode Rugby Football Club 13 – SFGG HS Varsity 50 

Referee: Sam Reagle

This was a 10am game and there was snow predicted for the Sierra Nevada’s Friday night so I decided to make the drive from Reno to Shingle Springs Friday afternoon and spend the night on the “warm” side of the hill.  The snow arrived ahead of schedule so my normally 2 hour drive took 5.  Motherlode had but 17 players so they knew they were in for a long day.  The SF/GG Varsity players arrived around 9am with a busload of JV players arriving shortly thereafter.  The icy wind kept most non-combatants away.

The game was great.  Both teams played smart, focused rugby the entire game without a hint of malice toward each other.  On this day, SF/GG had the bigger horses and earned the win.  Afterward, each team selected men of the match from the other team and we feasted.

I got to Colfax before the State Police closed the highway and turned everyone around.  Made it home Sunday afternoon.

Date: 02/16/2019

Lamorinda Rugby Football Club 36 – Danville Oaks RFC 29 

Referee: James Hinkin

One of the games of the year saw two nationally top 10 ranked teams go at it as #6 Lamorinda hosted #1 Danville.   The rain was on and off with some rather heavy bursts all morning but by the time we were ready to kick off the sun was peeking through for a fine day of rugby.   Both sides were as advertised and I must say this was the best game I have done in a long while.  The teams were fast, skilled, hard hitting and respectful €“ everything you want in a rugby match. 

Lamorinda were obviously not intimidated by the gaudy #1 ranking that Danville brought to the field and within the first 5 minutes they took advantage of some strong running and suspect tackling to score the opening try.   Danville showed their class by immediately responding with a try of their own and I had the tiger by the tail at 5-5 after 7 minutes.   After that the game took an unexpected turn and Danville would put together some solid phase play only to make an egregious error that the opportunistic home side would pounce on.  Lamo scored 3 more tries in the first half with 2 coming off of interceptions to go into the break with a 24-5 lead.   This is not to say that the game was one way traffic until an opportunistic break.  Both sides were playing solid defense, using tactical kicks well, running hard, intelligent lines and playing generally good rugby.  The difference were those little slips that led to points the other way.

The second half started much the same as the first with an early exchange of tries.   Lamo got on the board again by intercepting an ill advised and poorly executed kick pass to put the game out of reach at 36-5.   Allegedly.   In theory.   Danville did not get to where they were by giving in and they started a furious comeback.  With 10 minutes left they got on the board again with a converted try and then almost immediately scored again, duly converted.   The Lamo defense stiffened up a little bit at this point but there were some tired bodies out on the field and Danville was soon pressuring the goal line again.   The goal line stand eventually broke to concede a try but the home side did just enough €“ the try was scored after time ran out so after the final conversion was missed I below the final whistle setting of delirious celebrations from the home crowd and the players themselves.   Final score: 36-29.  Had the game been 5 minutes longer I don€™t know what would have happened, but boy howdy, that was some fun rugby.

This Week’s Photo

The sacred grounds of Bedford School in Bedford, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Weathering The Storms Of Love

HAIL PELICUS!

 

Weathering The Storms Of Love

 

If you ask the better poets about love they will say you should compare your lover to a summer’s day.   Unfortunately, while that may work in rather drab places like England, out here in California we have so many perfect summer days that they can’t all be contained in the summer and spill out into spring and fall, with the occasional outlier in winter.    So, in essence, in Pelicanland you would be comparing your lover to an average day and that doesn’t get you all that far:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art also as those in autumn until late,
Spring too as April is often much like May,
But the weather is nice so shall we go on a date?

It is the price we pay for having more than 5 perfect days a year.   Not at the moment, however, as rain lashes the coast and snow dusts the foothills and buries the mountains of that we call home.   Weather cancellations are starting to become common as fields get waterlogged and rumors of the famed Atmospheric River ascending up from the Pacific via our friends in Southern California promise even more rain and nastiness.

The Weather Priestess is in a mood, apparently.   More sacrifices are in order – I suggest a nice roasted chicken breast on a bed of rice and vegetables with a pesto cream sauce and a glass bottle of chardonnay.  This is one of her favorites.   Remember that she does these things out of love and we need to respond with love in order to weather such storms of love.

Until then we will have to deal with the rain as best we can and think back fondly to the recent days of drought where the existential dread of dying of thirst was tempered by the excellent tanning weather.

Of course, you could always have a peaceful moment by celebrating the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true and will hold true when we gather in Vegas, and revel in the fact that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Annual Vegas Begging Notice

 

The Las Vegas Invitational is coming up in early March and they are desperate, again, to have substantial representation from The Greatest Referee Society On The Planet.   Here is their official pitch:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. The most all-inclusive tournament in Rugby has filled out their divisions again this year, and it can’t be done without you! Come ref by day with old friends, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! California brought a great number of refs last year, and the LVI would love to have you back!

All Referees receive:

–      Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific models)

–      Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event

–      Access to the Westgate Resort LVI room block – massive benefits available on room rates (only $70 weekdays, $95 Fri/Sat for a 2 bed room), $12 breakfast buffet deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH FEBRUARY 10TH!!, $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields, and FREE PARKING!

–      A Thursday night “REFS ONLY STRATEGY MEETING (wink wink)” with complimentary carbonated adult beverage provided (while supplies last) at the Westgate.

–       A Lunch Voucher for Sam Boyd Stadium for all participating referees!

–      the chance to referee teams from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, the UK, France, Australia, and more!

Westgate Hotel link:  https://book.passkey.com/event/49745916/owner/3453/home  – again, with waiving resort fees, you get the cheapest rates and get to stay at an incredible resort and the hub of the LVI.

To register to ref at the LVI 2018, contact Head Referee Autumn Arvidson at :  mnrugbyref@gmail.com

Any questions about the event?: https://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/

 

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

 

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

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

 

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

 

 

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 02/09/2019

Santa Clara 29 – Cal Poly Men 27 

Referee: Phil Akroyd

A close game throughout by two well-matched teams.  SCU had a slow start but really started to power up in the second half when they finally directed all of their energy on trying to beat the opposition.  The Mustangs took advantage of some ill-discipline but were overpowered toward the end and were out scored by 21-5 in the second half.

Date: 02/09/2019

BA Baracus 26 – SFGG D2 59 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

A late weather switch moved this game from Boxer Field to a community center. D3 played before and the weather held out for that game. We were not so lucky for the D2 match. Just as the second half started, the rain came down in sheets. It was a cold wet game that despite best intentions had a lot of scrums.

SFGG controlled the game the entire time and led 52-5 at halftime. The second half was all Baracus as they scored 21 points and SFGG only notched one try. 

Date: 02/09/2019

San Jose Seahawks 25 – Sacramento Capitals 5 

Referee: Andrew Houghton

In a closely fought match between San Jose and Sacramento, it was the tighter-knit Seahawks that came away with the victory. But the reforming Capitols squad had a lot of positives to take out of this tight mid-table clash.

Kick-off was later than scheduled on a changeable day in San Jose due to the previous matches on the pitch, and the ball-handling skills of both sides was going to be tested as the rain came and went in waves. The Seahawks were the first on the scorecard, capitalizing on a penalty for a high tackle to take a 3-0 lead. San Jose kept up the pressure, and it wasn’t long before a second score was added to the tally, and the conversion was good into the wind. 10-0 to the Seahawks.

In this early stage, there were several tackles coming in too high from both sides, and after a warning to both teams, it was San Jose that was the next to infringe and received a yellow card. Shortly after, during a passage of strong attack from Sacramento, the San Jose center was cited by the referee for deliberately knocking on the ball and stopping a potential scoring play. Another yellow card was shown.

Amazingly, in this period of being 2 men down, San Jose really turned up the pressure and managed to come away with a second try, but the conversion was wide of the mark. 15-0 to San Jose.

Sacramento struck back, scoring a great supporting try from a series of pick-and-go runs from the pack. Unfortunately, the kick was unsuccessful, and both sides went into the second half with their eyes on winning. 15-5 to San Jose.

The second half saw more rain pressing in, and play became slower and messier. San Jose were able to capitalize on a penalty for Sacramento being offside, taking them up to 18-5. As time ran on and neither side was capitalizing on their opportunities, tensions rode high. They came to a head as 2 players stood out of the ruck and attempted to swing a punch at one another. Neither connected, and the play was brought to a brief stop to calm the teams down. Both players were given 10 minutes in the sin bin, and in the intervening time, San Jose ran another try in through the midfield of Sacramento. The score now stood at 25-5.

In the last few minutes, San Jose were pushing hard for the 4th try, but after a turn-over play on the far side of the field, the referee deemed that the San Jose winger had dangerously tackled the attacking Sacramento player, leaving them 1 man down to finish the match. San Jose managed to recover possession and pushed hard for the line, but the clock and the touchline were against them, leaving the final score at 25-5.

A very close and well-contested game!

Date: 02/09/2019

Olde Gaels 22 – Life West D2 39 

Referee: John Lane

On a day and field that matched my Ireland and Munster rugby heritage rather than Northern California I arrived to the front field at St Mary’s to two teams already enjoying their warmup routines in very heavy rain (or a soft day in my language). 

The humor was good throughout the boot inspections, front rows chats and coin toss with two teams looking forward to a game in the rain and mud.

As there was some areas of standing water I met with the coaches and captains to confirm we were all happy that the areas were still solid underfoot to play and that any necessary repositioning of scrums etc would be dealt with under my direction for safety. This was confirmed by all and despite the rain continuing through most of the game the field stood up to a very positive game throughout. 

Life looked to be the stronger team and had the upper hand in the scrum from early on. Despite this the opening 10 minutes was very even with play moving back and forth with good ball retention in difficult conditions. Life got the score board moving with unconverted tries on 11 and 16 minutes but Gaels replied with 5 points of their own from multiphased play from the restart. 5-10 on 18 mins. In the second 20 mins Life continued to have the upper hand with their strong scrum winning a few against the head. They turned this into a half time lead of 5-22 with a five pointer on 22 mins and a 29 minute converted try. In the final few minutes Gaels built some pressure but got nothing on the score board. 

The second half produced another 34 points evenly split.  Life scored a converted try on 45 mins for 5-29 with 5 more points on 51 mins for 5-34 and the game seemed won. Gaels to their credit never let up and kept playing positive rugby.  Players were tiring and subs were now entering the game frequently.  Gaels closed to 10-34 on 56 mins only to concede again on 61 for 10-39.

A converted try on 74 mins brought the score to 17-39 and while Life dominated the next few minutes deep in the Gaels half, a knock-on gave Gaels a scrum just outside their 22.  A quick recycle in midfield and fast hands followed by a burst through an attempted tackle and 50 yards through the muddy field gave the closing score of the game, unconverted and the final whistle left the score at 22-39 and a deserved losing bonus point for Gaels.

Date: 02/09/2019

BA Baracus B 29 – SFGG D3B 38 

Referee: Nome Tiatia

No Report Received.

Date: 02/09/2019

San Jose Seahawks B 36 – Marin 29 

Referee: James Hinkin

A series of storms had left Pelicanland rather soggy but the fields at Independence High School were in surprisingly good shape for a clash of the San Jose Seahawks D3 and the Marin Reds.    There was a full day of rugby planned with the Seahawk women playing SFGG in the previous match and the Seahawk D2 side playing Sacramento following.   With everyone ready to go I took charge of the meat of the rugby sandwich, as it were.   And a meaty sandwich it was.

Both teams were eager and ready to play.   San Jose started with most of the possession that resulted in a penalty kick and then a try.  This cushion was short lived as Marin fired back with a try of their own and after 20 minutes I am thinking “game on”.    My anticipation of the tenor of the match was accurate as each side exchanged tries with each other in a thrilling 10 minute patch of rugby that would rival anything in Nor Cal this year.   The scored being at 13-12 to the home side was an accurate reflection of the match as each side had periods of dominance only to have the other side respond.   The last laugh went to the Seahawks, however as they scored another converted try and a penalty kick before the halftime whistle to go into the figurative dressing rooms leading 23-12.  

The second half started out similar to the first half with San Jose getting on board with a penalty.   Marin hit right back with a try to bring the score to 26-17.  The home team responded with two tries of their own to put the game (seemingly out of reach) but then the game started to get a little sloppy.   Substitutions were made and legs started to tire and the game devolved into a series of penalties.  A quick word with the captains sorted that out and the discipline returned.  With just over 5 minutes left the home side were cruising with a 36-17 lead.   “Cruising” is the operative word here because all of the sudden their tackling and organization disappeared and Marin roared back with a try, then retook possession off the kickoff and pressured the Seahawk line again.   The defense tightened up a little at this point but the Reds were able to get across the line again and made a difficult conversion to bring the score to 36-29.  Unfortunately for them, time had run out so that was the final score of a thrilling match.

Date: 02/09/2019

UC Santa Cruz 57 – San Jose State 3 

Referee: Neil MacDonald

UCSC dominated SJSU, who appear to be really struggling for numbers this season, throughout the match, and retained the McBeath-Porter Cup.  Kudos to the Spartans for hanging in there, and getting on the scoreboard with a late penalty.

Date: 02/09/2019

SFGG HS Varsity 41 – C K McClatchy High School 12 

Referee: Peter Sandhill

The Treasure Island grass field is SFGG home base. This day it was super cold, windy with sheets of rain on a sloshy, muddy field. It reminded me of winters playing in Australia as a kid. There were around thirty scrums and the forwards worked hard all day, on both sides. SFGG had dominance in the forwards, especially in the set pieces. In the second half they also changed tactics and kicked a lot more, to their advantage. McClatchy, had a positive attitude and kept at it. Good team spirit on both sides. Seven tries to two. 

Date: 02/09/2019

San Jose State Women 62 – CSU Monterey Bay Women 21 

Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Got to ref a relatively evenly played highly skilled  match for 3/4’s followed by 2 backs from

State annihilating their opposition backs leading to their 15 scoring 7 tries while their 13 rumpled for 3. Both scrums were pretty evenly matched keeping MB in the match for most of it. Match played under sunny skies by halftime in Spartan Stadium with nice fake turf & a smattering of fans in the stands. Thanks for giving me a great match Pete! Dude

Date: 02/09/2019

Santa Clara Women 24 – Cal Poly Women 29 

Referee: Larry Freitas

     Saturday started for me with a drive over Highway 17 from the Santa Cruz side to that of Santa Clara Valley, and the campus of Santa Clara University.  It had rained, again, overnight, and the day promised to be chilly.  Indeed, a 44F temperature at the Summit registered on my auto’s dash.  When arriving at the school via The Alameda, it was 51F, and I saw that the women’s team was on Bellomy Field’s artificial turf, setting things up.  This match, and the men’s following, were originally scheduled to be played on the grass of the former Buck Shaw Stadium, now Steven’s Stadium.  Men’s team Coach Paul Keeler was later in the day to tell me why the change of venue, and it had something to do with their game not being televised for some cable TV network.  At least the rugby teams weren’t kicked off because of the weather!  The weather also cooperated, as any rain, though the clouds were aplenty in the sky, held off until the men’s match started, and at that time it was just a shower or two that passed by. 

     Cal Poly made the drive up from San Luis Obispo with sixteen players.  Santa Clara had fourteen available for this match, as injuries continue to plague their team, and at least eight were in street clothes, or sweats, behind the touchline.  I would have to say that being one player down had a lot to do with Bronco women not winning, for that overlap was found on occasion, as well as some other breakdowns in Santa Clara’s defense.

     Cal Poly won the toss and elected to defend the west end, which meant they would have the wind, which was blowing somewhat strongly, at their backs.  The scoring started at the 11th minute, after a period of time in which Cal Poly had most of the possession, as they launched an attack that took up a number of phases as they penetrated deep into Santa Clara’s half.  Then number 8 Sidney Swney (not a typo!) scored from a penalty that was run from the 5 meter line.  Swney missed her own conversion.  At 18 minutes, hooker Angelle Marshall took off for a long run and scored for the Mustangs.  Santa Clara would answer, producing one by flyhalf Margaret Avery, from an offside penalty that was given when the backline defense for Cal Poly was up beyond the rearmost player on their side of a ruck.  Avery, who is very good at goal kicking, converted her own try.  The flyhalf for Cal Poly got a warning, after a second high tackle, neither blatant nor dangerously causing injury, but warranting that another would mean ten minutes off the pitch.  At 32 minutes second row Kendall Eastland scored another try for the visiting side.  The half ended with Cal Poly’s Mustangs leading the Broncos of Santa Clara with 19 points to the home side’s 7.  

     Cal Poly put the first points on the board in the second half when prop Angel De Los Santos dotted down after a five meter scrum was awarded to the attacking side, as a Santa Clara defender had gotten her hands under the ball when a Cal Poly player had gotten over the goal line.  Swney had picked up the ball at the base of the scrum and darted forward, only to be stopped, but De Los Santos was there to carry on and dive over for the score.  Swney missed the conversion that had to be kicked into the wind from halfway to touch and to the right of the posts.  At 58 minutes of play Santa Clara would score again, as fullback Sydney Lenoch filled into the backline as the ball was spun left deep in Cal Poly’s half.  Again Avery converted.  Santa Clara seemed to be building some momentum, with the intent of making a comeback after being down by a considerable margin of points.  Cal Poly would then score the last and 29th of its points, when Swney once again scored from a scrum well inside Santa Clara’s 22.  As the game approached its last quarter, Cal Poly had no subs left, having used one already in the first half.  Santa Clara hung tough with its fourteen players.  Center Carly Fowler scored a try near the corner as Santa Clara once again launched an attack at Cal Poly’s goal line, breaking tackles and swerving past defenders along the way.  She’s the best threat to score that Santa Clara has when they have the ball.  The second best threat would score the next try for Santa Clara with only just six minutes left in the game.  By this time another Cal Poly player had left the field injured, Swney, so both teams were even with fourteen on the pitch.  Santa Clara once again got close to the opposition goal.  Jessica Lew-Munoz, Santa Clara’s number 8, had the ball as a maul formed as Santa Clara was just meters away from the left goal post of Cal Poly, with her teammates pushing her forward nearly into the post.  The maul stopped, and I was about to blow the whistle to award a scrum to Cal Poly when Munoz-Lew went to ground, with a maul now a ruck just inches from the goal line.  Unfortunately, I blew the whistle and didn’t allow that ruck to develop, which was my mistake, as Santa Clara should have been able to recycle the ball, barring a counter ruck.  I awarded a five meter scrum to the home team.  Santa Clara won the hook and the ball was niftily heeled to its base, with Lew-Munoz picking up, running to her left and scoring, but Avery’s conversion attempt failed.  It was now 29-25 in favor of Cal Poly, with just minutes left in the match.  There had been two stoppages of play in the half that required several minutes to attend to injured players, and in the first the score board keeper did not stop the clock as I had asked for time off.  The clock was stopped the second time.  I told each team at a stoppage of play that I was going to add two minutes to the game after the eighty minutes were up on the scoreboard.  Santa Clara was desperate to score again, to at least come away with a tie.  A Cal Poly player was tackled into touch into the second injury time minute, and I told each team that the next time the ball went dead, except for a penalty, the game would end.  Santa Clara had the throw in at the lineout and won possession, and an attack ensued.  The ball was spun to the left and eventually a ruck formed near Cal Poly’s 22 when a tackle was made.  Carly Fowler was passed the ball, but it wasn’t the best of passes, and the ball went off her hands as she attempted to catch it low, the ball then bouncing off one of her feet ahead.  I blew the whistle for full time, and Cal Poly came out winners, 29-25. 

     This game had a lot of entertainment value for those on the touchlines watching, as it was exciting and had much drama.  I can’t say enough about the endeavor of each team in their hard tackling on defense.  Santa Clara made a game of it when it seemed in the first quarter of play that Cal Poly could run away with a win.  The penalty count was even, more of less, and the infringement that got most of my attention was tackled players not releasing when a defender on her feet was attempting to steal the ball away.  Both teams were guilty of having players lining up offside in defensive line arrangements, so as the game wore on I made sure to take those glances on either side of a breakdown.  One suggestion that Bruce Carter made to me was that the offside line could be set by the referee in placing oneself at that offside point.  I did on a number of occasions early on, but then attempted to judge matters from the offensive side of the ball, only switching back to the defensive side when I thought necessary, to avoid having to blow the whistle, to manage as opposed to punish.  I have to thank years in the classroom as a teacher for that sort of awareness.  I also want to thank Santa Clara’s trainer for working on a sore left calf I have had since the Fresno State game the previous Saturday.  I got through the match with no problem from that calf muscle, which over the years has been a bother at times.  

     I was scheduled to AR the men’s match, and had about fifteen minutes to sign paper work regarding the women’s match and catch my breath.  I got to know some of the Santa Clara men’s players from touring with them last year at the end of March in France, and was talking to a few of the second team before the men’s game.  Several commented that they liked my old-style rugby shirt I wore, a “real rugby shirt” as was said by one of them.  Another commented that he doesn’t like the polyester shirts now worn, and wished the old-style shirts were still worn.  I would agree, but I think that ship already sailed, but there’s no reason these polyester shirts can’t be made to look like the old-style ones.  Cambridge V Oxford: both teams wearing old-style looking shirts! It was too bad that half way through the first half of the men’s match, I was bowled over touch judging when a Cal Poly player was tackled into touch and his body when flying right into my left leg.  I felt that calf muscle get stretched, but things could have been worse, as my knee might have been hyper-extended instead.  I had to go off then, and have a second team player of Santa Clara take my place, as I went back to the training table to get some ice put on that calf. 

     I drove back over Highway 17, with rain past Los Gatos, and what looked like sleet falling at the Summit, as it was in the low 40’s up there.  At least people drove sanely over the mountain, and getting back to my home in Aptos, I got my ice bag out of the freezer, arranged myself on the couch after popping open an amber ale, and chilled out for a while.  It had been a long day of of rugby, only to end with more on the TV as I watched San Diego host Houston in Major League Rugby!     

Date: 02/09/2019

East London II 14-17 Eton Manor II

Location: East London RFC, West Ham, London (https://goo.gl/maps/qZfq8k6RN7L2)

Competition: Essex Merit League 1, maybe

Referee: Preston Gordon

This match raised a few questions to ponder on the drive home. Why is West Ham in eastern London? Which sides were playing for each club, exactly? How could we have gotten so lucky with the English weather?

When will rugby stop surprising me?

This was supposed to be an Essex Merit Lague fixture for East London’s seconds against Thurrock’s seconds. For whatever reason, Thurrock didn’t show up, and the home team had arranged a game against an Eton Manor side. I discovered this about 45 minutes before kickoff while I was looking for the Thurrock captain. Obviously, my prematch research went out the window and we all got on with the game, but I didn’t get the 100-0 track meet I was expecting. Instead, I got a great local derby, with two mixed teams of players from their respective clubs’

first through third sides running all over the pitch and keeping things interesting right until the last whistle. Technically I think this was a friendly, though I’m calling it the seconds and I’d put this at level 9. Weather-wise, the polar vortex that hit England while I was in San Francisco had departed, so it was only slightly cold with a ~20mph wind blowing down the club’s main pitch.

Eton Manor, containing a few familiar faces from their match I reffed on January 12th, was playing into the wind in the first half. They scored the only try of the half in the 21st minute, converting it to take a 7-point lead. The East London defense was strong, and they came close to scoring a couple of times themselves. Both sides were keen to smash each other and were doing so frequently, in a fair and safe manner. Aside from one late tackle, they didn’t require much management in that regard other than sending one player to the sideline for some medical attention to his split eyebrow (he returned shortly after, and ended up with a black eye to go with his stitches – good man).

In the second half, East London capitalized on the stiff breeze and got an unconverted try in the 44th minute to come within two points.

They took a 12-7 lead at 58′ with a converted try, adding one more unconverted try just three minutes later to sit ten points clear at 17-7. The last 20 minutes of the match were ferociously competitive, keeping me on my horse (frequently) or on my toes when not. Eton Manor scored in the 79th minute and made the tricky conversion (into the

wind) to pull within one score at 17-14. The game certainly wasn’t over at that point, and when Eton Manor took the resulting restart kick, they worked their way from their own 22 into the home team’s half over the course of a few minutes. They made a really nice break at roughly 83′ and came within half a meter of scoring the winning try. Unfortunately for their hooker, who was trying to finish off the game, he was tackled short of the line and made two extra movements while on the ground – and I was standing three feet away. Ultimately my verbal encouragement to release the ball didn’t work, and I had to penalize him. From the East London reaction, one would have guessed this was a cup final.

The Eton Manor hooker felt a bit hard done by, but for me the double movement was clear and obvious, and I was clearly and obviously in the right place at the right time despite being well tested over the preceding twenty minutes. Ultimately, good spirits prevailed, we all shook hands, and I enjoyed the hot shower, one pint, and fifteen minutes of the Six Nations match before I had to depart due to another engagement. What a game!

Date: 02/10/2019

Royal Veterinary College 0-73 Royal Holloway (Ladies)

Location: Royal Veterinary College, Brookmans Park, Hatfield (https://goo.gl/maps/iq3i9cgGf4w)

Competition: London North Friendly

Referee: Preston Gordon

In this women’s university match, played on a boggy and muddy pitch, Royal Holloway took two minutes to score their first try. They added more tries at 7′, 11′, 15′, 17′, 20′, 26′, 30′, 33′, and 35′ to lead

56-0 at halftime (including the three conversions). Due to a number of new players, more so for the home than the visiting team, the game began with uncontested scrums. There weren’t too many of those, but the forwards appreciated having an occasional cuddle to keep them a little warm. The 40-degree temperature, wind, and constant slanting rain had a surprisingly limited impact on proceedings.

The London Universities Sport Leagues (LUSL) to which these teams belong apparently has a rule about blowouts, so to keep things within reason, the second half was limited to 20 minutes. The captains told me about this just before we kicked off the half, right as the rain stopped and the clouds parted (although the wind didn’t let up). My reply, in jest: “What, you want to stop now?”

Royal Holloway scored three more tries at 50′, 55′, and 60′

(converted) to finish with 73 points. One of their players came over after the handshakes to tell me she loved hearing a California accent

– she was from the San Diego area. Given the distances involved, I think that counts as another “small world” moment.

The other memorable thing was the men’s soccer teams that monopolized the changing rooms and refused to let me or any of the ladies into the building before the match. That, and the referee abuse I could hear from 100 yards away, was really classy. The majority of their players chain-smoking after their match was just lame. To finish on a high note, the early end to my match allowed me to get back home in time to watch the England-France game.

 

This Week’s Photo

How could you not love a face like this?   Happy Valentine’s Day.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Poetry In Motion

HAIL PELICUS!

Poetry In Motion            

My flights are all cancelled
Can’t deal with the cold
These sub-freezing days
Are getting pretty old

Chicago’s an option
But a 4 hour drive
Travelling for 12 hours
I’m barely alive

I shout to the heavens , “Have you heard the news?”
I’ve got the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport blues.

California’s been raining
But I feel no pity
My body’s in San Jose
My bag in Salt Lake City

I slipped on the ice
Got a cut on my head
I got to keep coming back
But I may end up dead

I shout to the heavens , “Have you heard the news?”
I’ve got the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport blues.

Ringo was right
I got blisters on my fingers
Working so hard
The cold still lingers

When is spring coming?
It’s so far away
In this winter hell
Forever I’ll stay

I shout to the heavens , “Have you heard the news?”
I’ve got the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport blues.

No time for clever
Rugby banter and insight
I just want to finally
Catch a plane flight

Back to the nest
The Pelican’s home
But for next week’s job
Again I will roam

I shout to the heavens , “Have you heard the news?”
I’ve got the Cedar Rapids Eastern Iowa Airport blues.

7s Reminder

Again, according to the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true and will hold true when we gather in Vegas, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Annual Vegas Begging Notice

The Las Vegas Invitational is coming up in early March and they are desperate, again, to have substantial representation from The Greatest Referee Society On The Planet.   Here is their official pitch:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. The most all-inclusive tournament in Rugby has filled out their divisions again this year, and it can’t be done without you! Come ref by day with old friends, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! California brought a great number of refs last year, and the LVI would love to have you back!

All Referees receive:

–      Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific models)

–      Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event

–      Access to the Westgate Resort LVI room block – massive benefits available on room rates (only $70 weekdays, $95 Fri/Sat for a 2 bed room), $12 breakfast buffet deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH FEBRUARY 10TH!!, $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields, and FREE PARKING!

–      A Thursday night “REFS ONLY STRATEGY MEETING (wink wink)” with complimentary carbonated adult beverage provided (while supplies last) at the Westgate.

–       A Lunch Voucher for Sam Boyd Stadium for all participating referees!

–      the chance to referee teams from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, the UK, France, Australia, and more!

Westgate Hotel link:  https://book.passkey.com/event/49745916/owner/3453/home  – again, with waiving resort fees, you get the cheapest rates and get to stay at an incredible resort and the hub of the LVI.

To register to ref at the LVI 2018, contact Head Referee Autumn Arvidson at :  mnrugbyref@gmail.com

Any questions about the event?: https://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/

 2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 02/03/2019

UC Davis Women B 10 – Chico State Women B 39 

Referee: Peter Gray

This game took place in the Davis Aggies’ stadium. A great venue: although the pitch had football markings, we made do. We were also very lucky to have the game between downpours.

The schedule had been changed from Saturday to Superbowl Sunday, which is fine by this referee. Doesn’t seem like we missed out on much, anyway.

This was my 1st official assignment as a Pelican and both team were aware and made me feel more than welcome and at ease. Several of the players were playing in their first game. It was a well fought fight with Chico taking the lead early. Davis made use of their deep bench and had some second half replacements that helped even the field. Ultimately, though, Chico prevailed with a convincing victory.

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  Outstanding work Peter!)

Date: 02/03/2019

UC Davis Women 34 – Chico State Women 21 

Referee: Allen Gray 

It was a great game in the Davis Aggies’ stadium. It was quite breathtaking to walk into a 10,000 seater stadium, even if it wasn’t full. The drive to the game was fraught with some atrocious weather, but we got a lucky break and enjoyed some sunshine for the game with only a few sprinkles. I’m sure the teams were happy to have a dry ball to play with and there were very few handling errors throughout the game. 

We had a schedule change moving the game from Saturday to Sunday: Superbowl Sunday, good thing I’m not a huge (American) football fan. More importantly, the teams decided to forego the halftime show and play some rugby.

The first half ended with Chico having two tries and Davis with one. Coming into the second half Davis had to pull out the stops and they did. Both teams battled and we had some great defense on both sides; there were 4 try attempts that were held up in goal. There was pressure, pressure, pressure at both ends of the field. Davis were able to widen a narrow gap with a very late try to put the game out of Chico’s reach.

Date: 02/02/2019

UC Davis 31 – Santa Clara 24 

Referee: Lee Bryant

No Report Received.

Date: 02/02/2019

St Marys College B 31 – Utah Valley University Men’s Rugby 7 

Referee: Peter Sandhill

The mid-winter rain abated for about 2hrs, just before and during the game. The St Mary’s stadium grass field was wet, slushy in many spots and heavy under foot. This made handling a challenge at times, the grass easier to slide upon and the running harder work.

A fit and ready Utah Valley University (UVU) had come a long way for this game to play a well prepared St Mary’s B-side for a College Men’s D1A match-up.  

UVU had a physical pack and for the first fifteen minutes, it was very even. After finally crossing for a try around the 15′ mark, St Mary’s gradually began to wear UVU down. Both teams kicked a lot, trying to gain field position in the moist conditions. The handling was surprisingly good given the conditions. St Mary’s scored four unanswered tries in the first half (converting three). The 26-0 half time score did not adequately show the strength of the UVU team which at times dominated.

The second half saw a very tight contest with little in it; both teams defended well and played it tight, taking it up with many pick-and-drives off the ruck. Both teams scored a try in the last quarter with UVU converting theirs. Both teams made several replacements to freshen up tiring legs. UVU “won” the second half 7-5.

Final score 31-7 to St Mary’s. 

Thanks to Tim O’Brien SMU coach for hosting, always a gentleman. Hats off to UVU for a competitive game and for driving 8+ hours to play a hard game of rugby. Impressive.

Date: 02/02/2019

Silicon Valley 21 – Chico Mighty Oaks 31 

Referee: Paul Bretz

Chico traveled to Silicon Valley on a wet Saturday afternoon and were graciously hosted by for their efforts.  Chico opened the scoring first and remained in the lead for the duration of the match however at one point during the second half Silicon Valley looked like they might take the lead being only down by 3 with plenty of momentum and knocking on the guest’s tri-line.  Had it not been for an opportunistic picked-pass and 90 meter foot race by Chico’s number 10 the game’s scoreline would be much different.  

Date: 02/02/2019

Shasta Highlanders 24 – Jesters Rugby FC 29 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

Fortunately, the rain held off throughout the game and while the field was soft, conditions were good. Very evenly matched, but distinctly different teams. Shasta has a set of tough forwards and sure tackling. The Jesters able to bring speed on the outside with their backs. The first half ended tied at 12-12. As the second half wore on, Shasta was running out of gas. The Jesters exploited the edges to put themselves ahead by 12 with about 3 minutes left. Shasta made a furious comeback attempt, able to field their next kickoff and take it down just outside the Jesters goal. At a penalty mark, a repeat infringement for reckless tackle by the Jesters resulted in a penalty try being awarded. Now down only 5, Shasta attacked again, until a turnover and kick to touch gave the Jesters the match.

Date: 02/02/2019

SFGG PRP 14 – Santa Monica PRP 16 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

SFGG hosted Santa Monica in Round 2 of PRP. The game was headed to be a wet contest with standing water all over the field. Santa Monica traveled up to San Francisco. SFGG scored first and Santa Monica Replied with a try and two penalty kicks. At halftime the score was 7-13. 

SFGG would score another try and Santa Monica would notch another penalty kick. 

Date: 02/02/2019

Santa Rosa 31 – Sacramento Capitals 5 

Referee: James Hinkin

With soggy weather in the past and the future I arrived at For Pete’s Sake Field in Santa Rosa with some apprehension.  The field was in quite good shape however, and we only had one reset scrum all day due to slippage.   The field, as always, was well marked with massive try zones (more on that later) so let’s play some rugby.

The rain mostly held off except for some little spitting sprinkles that produced less moisture than the sweat coming off the players, so the sheer number of handling errors and dropped balls could not be blamed on the weather.   There was plenty of scrum practice to be had as it seemed every other phase ended with a knock on.   As the game progressed Santa Rosa more or less cleaned up their handling but it was the bane of Sacramento.  They really should have had more points on the board but every time they had a promising break it would end with a sloppy pass or a dropped ball letting the Roses out of jail.   Santa Rosa had better luck with their line breaks and was able to put 3 unconverted tries across in the first half.

The second half was much the same as Rosa kept the pressure on with a penalty followed by a couple of more tries.  One try of note was a 50 meter kick and chase that Sacramento was a little casual about covering because the ball was quite obviously going to go out through the back of the try zone.   The wet conditions and the nearly 20 meter try zone begged to differ, however, and Sac was made to pay when the Rosa winger (and, naturally, yours truly) didn’t give up on the play and won the race to the ball just before it went past the dead ball line.   A quick consultation with the TJ to make sure the bouncing ball never went into touch and the try was awarded.  One more penalty rounded out the scoring for the home side until the visitors finally got on the board with a deserved try just before the final whistle.   This final try was the result of some serious sloppiness after sustained Sacramento pressure as a tackle was followed by the ball squirting out the side, then a couple of players trying to secure it but failing and finally a fly hack from a Rosa defender went straight into the arms of the Sacramento wing who gladly took the gift to the try zone.   Final score 31-5.

Date: 02/02/2019

San Jose State Women 24 – UC Santa Cruz Women 14 

Referee: Giles Wilson

Played on the turf field of Spartan Stadium following the men’s gave against Chico State on a wet day. Most of the rain held off but for a couple of brief showers.

San Jose St won the toss and chose to play into the wind. They started strongly and had a number of players who ran hard and direct, as well as tackling hard. UCSC took a little while to get into the game and after going behind pulled back to a half time lead of 14 – 12, the difference being a missed conversion.

In the second half there were several injuries to both teams; SJS ran in two more tries (one converted) to no reply from UCSC.

Final score a deserved win 24 – 12 for the home team.

Date: 02/02/2019

San Jose State 0 – Chico State 91 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

The score tells much of what this match was about. It was a cold rainy day, but most everyone was in good spirits. SJSU players had no subs so they’re first 15 played valiantly throughout the the entire 80 minutes. Chico State played with power, speed and cohesion. Chico State players were quick to adjust to how the game was being called, adapting their strategies to fit the referee’s expectations. Kudos especially to the SJSU captain and winger who kept smiling and trying to rally his team.

Date: 02/02/2019

Sacramento State 15 – Stanford 47 

Referee: Chris Tucker

A stormy weekend means many things in Northern California.  Firstly, avalanche conditions go through the roof, making skiing dangerous.  However in a couple of days when it consolidates, it makes for great fun in the backcountry.  Secondly, and perhaps more pertinent to this report, groundskeepers get scared that their grass might have to prove its mettle and show they’re not as good at their jobs as they like to think.  Corollary: once again rugby was played on a football field, width 60m (too narrow), length 90m (too short), goalposts in a silly place, goal lines not extending all the way, old school 25yd marks for the 22, etc. etc.  Corollary #2: rugby was played.

When the visiting team shows up, kicks off, wins the ball back and scores in the space of a minute, you might want to go and put your running shoes on.  When the visiting team responds 2 minutes later, you know it’s going to be a fun day!  And so it was, with both teams playing in good humour, with fast, positive rugby to the fore.  Admittedly it was a wet day, so we scrummaged more than usual, and this gave me a good opportunity to note that I have become somewhat too forgiving of early engagement.  Front rows have taken to leaning in, or jamming their heads against the other’s shoulders to support the weight, which in turn makes the engagement uneven in one or more directions.  Next game objective…

Anyway, the game itself was mostly dominated by Stanford, who had a comfortable lead at the half, which they never looked like surrendering even once the bench came on to play. 

Date: 02/02/2019

Olympic Club 31 – Olde Gaels 10 

Referee: Preston Gordon

Location: Definitely not London

Despite the winter storm that passed through the Bay Area Friday night and Saturday morning, the GAA pitch on Treasure Island was in great shape – just a bit muddier than usual. Nearing halftime, I thought I saw a flash of lightning in the distance, but that was the only threat from the weather. The little bit of rain didn’t dampen spirits whatsoever.

Olympic Club was dominant in the first half, scoring 3 tries (at 7′, 21′, and 39′), only leaving their second one unconverted. This gave them a 19-0 lead going into halftime. In the 49th minute, O Club added to this lead with a penalty try after Diablo’s scrum, near their own goal line, came apart repeatedly. After a 55th-minute yellow card to a Diablo player for a high tackle, O Club scored another unconverted try two minutes later to bring them to 31-0. The Olde Gaels scored the rest of the points with two unconverted tries, at 60′ and again at 74′, while O Club had a man in the bin for cynical defensive play.

The scoreline may favor Olympic Club a little bit, given the fairly even contest. Both sides used 6 replacements and were looking to attack whenever possible, and defended ferociously. For me, it was great to be reffing in San Francisco again, and especially to see a whole lot of familiar faces (including several fellow pelicans). Thanks and good luck to both teams for the rest of the season!

Date: 02/02/2019

Fresno State Women 57 – Santa Clara Women 12 

Referee: Larry Freitas

     The Saturday of February 3, 2019 started with rain pelting the Santa Cruz area as I readied myself for a drive down California Highway 1, then on to California 129, then up US 101 to Gilroy, to meet Kyle Domingue and his Santa Clara women’s rugby Broncos (Broncoettes?) to carpool over the Pacheco Pass on California 152 and on down what was formerly US 99, now California 99, to Wawona Middle School in Fresno, for a match against the powerful and Division 2 National Champion Fresno State Bulldog Women.  So, all that said, there was a huge patch of blue sky on the western fringe of the Central Valley, but upon arriving in Fresno it was gray, cold, low 50’s F, and windy, with a few rain showers.  Fresno State did a great job of lining this middle school pitch the day before, and as it was past 11 AM, the young women and coaches set up the flags and goal posts.  Perfect job that gets an A+.  The field was decent enough, and most importantly, had no dips or gopher holes that can wreck an ankle, so it was almost perfectly flat, though there were plenty of muddy spots and some bits under a few inches of water, and there was as much oxcalis weed as grass, and some dormant brown patches.  

     Both teams went through their warmups while I was trying to keep my feet from getting wet and having trench foot set in.  I got out of my LL Bean rain coat, Land’s End vest, sweatshirt and sweatpants, got on the Adidas Copa Mundials, and was set to whistle out the captains to get the match going as 1 PM approached.  Fresno won the toss and elected to defend the south end, so they had the wind at their backs for the first half.  Within two minutes of the kick off, having received the ball, they worked their way down field with a few phases, and with the ball in outside center Laura Seeger’s hands, she took a gap that opened in the defense and scampered her way to the in goal for the first of nine Bulldog tries.  The conversion, taken by flyhalf Regan Garner, though out from near dead-center of the posts, sailed wide to the right.  Another home team try followed ten minutes later, as the Bronco defense stiffened in the interim minutes of play. At twelve minutes, Seeger once again scored from a tap penalty.  This time the conversion was good and Fresno were up 12-0.  The scoring was just getting going.  Not long afterwards, scrum half Raquel Macias, who is the captain of the team, saw a gap as she gathered the ball from a ruck near the half way line and darted forward, dodged at least one attempted tackle, and scampered the rest of the way to the goal line to dot down right under the posts.  The conversion was good and Fresno State had a handy lead at the end of the game’s first quarter.  A turnover ball lead to the next converted try by right wing Meaghan Gallagher.  Then, at thirty-two minutes, Chetna Kumar, the smallest and fastest player on the pitch, would receive a pass and round her defender to score the first of three tries she would have on the day.  Fresno State managed one more first half try at thirty-eight minutes by inside center Averi Peterson.  Santa Clara got possesion of the ball immediately after they kicked off from the re-start, as Macias knocked on attempting to catch the kick, the ball travelling nearly five meters forward, and one of her teammates played the ball by kicking it downfield from an offside position.  Santa Clara took a tap penalty from the spot of the penalty, near the ten meter line in Fresno’s half, and in that final minute of play, working the ball down field, and with inside center Carly Fowler taking a gap, breaking a tackle, and carrying defenders on her back, they penetrated to Fresno’s goal line.  The Broncos won ruck ball that was stopped short of the line.  Another ruck was set up, and Carly Fowler scored by picking up the ball and diving over at the fortieth minute of play, the ball partly placed down on the grass and an opponent’s boot just over the goal line .  Margaret Avery, as she did against UC Santa Cruz a few weeks earlier, kicking just a few meters from the touchline and well within the 22 then, made the conversion from just less than fifteen meters in from touch, and again well within the 22 meter line.  I blew the whistle as the touch judges’ flags went up, and blew it again three times to end the half.

     Fresno State took three minutes to score in the second half, with Kumar getting her second try from a scrum, with the backs spinning the ball out wide to her on the left flank.  At fifty-two minutes Kumar would score once again, as her speed left defenders behind.  As the second half wore on, and with the wet ball and some fatigue setting in, there were quite a few scrums awarded to either side from handling errors, but then Fresno won more than a few against the head.  Santa Clara scored a try from a tap penalty taken well inside Fresno’s 22, by captain and number 8 Jessica Lew-Munoz, at sixty-seven minutes, who took the pass from her scrum half and broke a few tackles on her way to the goal line; Avery’s attempt at another difficult conversion near the touchline was short and off the mark.  Finally, Leclaire Franco, a flanker, scored the last try of the match for Fresno State.  Santa Clara had one last attempt at scoring in the last minute of play, but failed as Fresno tackled the ball carrier, who mis-took a five meter line stripe as the goal line and placed the ball down, thinking she had scored a try.  I realized that there was no score but actually a knock-on, as Raquel Macias was quick to point out to me, and then blew for no side.  

     Generally speaking the match went well, from my view as a referee.  Both teams listened to my directions to have tacklers roll away, so there were few problems at the breakdown and tackle.  With the muddy conditions, only one scrum collapsed.  One of the Santa Clara flankers was penalized a few times for not releasing as she was on the ground and the ball was grasped by a Fresno player trying to steal it away.  Both teams attempted counter rucks a few times during the match, and Fresno was guilty of handling in rucks on a few occasions, and Santa Clara at least once, though I made a point to yell out “ruck, no hands!”   

     Fresno State seems to be the team to beat again this season.  They have very athletic young women on their side.  They have a great back line, and the wing, Kumar, is a danger if she is given space with the ball.  Macias has to be one of the best scrum half players I’ve seen.  Garner handles fly half well, and in this game she was quick to boot the ball deep downfield when she saw that all of Santa Clara’s backs were up in defense and no one home at full back, with one of those kicks leading to a try as the ball was chased down and re-gathered.  It will be interesting to see how they match up against Nevada Reno.  As far as Santa Clara University is concerned, injuries have had an impact on their season, as they are missing two of their starting back line from last season, out with ACLs from a game in December against San Jose State.  Their starting flyhalf, injured near the end of the UCSC match, should be back next week, as Avery filled in at that position, though she’s been at full back in most other games.  I’m sure their season would be going better if they had all their players with which they started the season.   

This Week’s Photo

Peter Gray, aged for only 12 years, taking charge of Chico and UC Davis B side match.   The Society’s goal of getting younger looks to be progressing nicely.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

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Isles Of Perception

HAIL PELICUS!

Isles Of Perception        

So last week when discussing the upcoming Hamilton 7s I asked the question “Why is Carlin Isles still in the squad?”.   That one question generated quite a few responses in the form of texts, emails and angry mobs.   I still stand by my comments – his speed will overwhelm lesser teams but his lack of skill and defense makes him a target against the better sides.   Most people seemed rather smug when Isles made the Dream Team and pointed to that as proof that I engaged in a rectal-cranial inversion, but, while I am always happy to see US players recognized, in particular Folau Niua who has been the conductor of our rise to prominence, if you look at the tournament as a whole I believe the selection was a mistake.   Pinkleman was a giant every single game.  Niua’s skillset is unmatched on the tour and his bi-pedal restart ability gives us dozens of extra possessions.    Isles, however, after running by Tonga and Samoa was relatively innocuous against an underperforming England.  On day 2 he was directly targeted and responsible for the only Scotland try and was an obvious point of attack for New Zealand and Fiji.  The rest of the squad are essentially playing 6 on 7 defensively and that takes a toll.  One brilliant sneak up the short side against the Kiwis was a bright moment, but he was not even on the field for the second half of the final against Fiji.  That is not what you expect from a Dream Teamer.

The USA made their 3rd consecutive final in impressive fashion, beating England on day 1 and New Zealand on day 2, two teams they need to match or better to stay in the top 4 for automatic Olympic qualification.   This must be the goal of the series as you don’t want to end up in a playoff tournament where anything can happen.  Coach Mike Friday has us playing disciplined, entertaining and lethal rugby.  We trail only Fiji in the number of tries scored and, even in light of the previous paragraph, it was no mistake that the Dream Team consisted entirely of players from these two sides.   If there is one area of management that Friday does not excel in it is his substitution pattern.   In the past he has overused our core players and wore them out for the end of tournaments – especially the 2nd leg of the back to back tournaments.    Imagine my delight when in our opener against Tonga he played the bench and they performed very well, opening up a big lead.   I had just commented on that very thing to a friend who was watching the match with me when in comes back-to- back world player of the year Perry Baker.  Why?  We had a 20 point lead with 2 minutes left and this was just asking for trouble, and trouble didn’t need to be asked twice.    A high, straight up tackle went head to head and that is a contest Baker was never going to win.   Watching him lying on the ground and then wobbling off spitting blood confirmed the worst fears of the American rugby public.   Baker is out for the foreseeable future with a broken jaw.   The team rebounded marvelously to make the final but now the inevitable “what if?” comes into play.   It is entirely possible that even with Baker we would have lost to Fiji in the final – they are on a different level right now – but for a squad that is pushing for a top 4 series finish it is a devastating blow.   Yes, rugby is a contact sport and can not play scared or play not to get injured, but that was a needless exposure in a match that was well in hand.

Once more, according to the longstanding tradition that I made up a few weeks ago, because it still holds true even now, I must remind everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Humanity Of Decision Makers

If there is one thing every official knows is that they are not perfect.   We are humans judging humans in what is often a fast paced environment and critical, borderline decisions will often disappoint one party.   “What are you looking at?”   “How could you call/miss that?”  These are regular protestations from players, coaches and fans in every sport.  It was General MacArthur who famously said said on his return to American soil that “he was proud to protect American freedoms, like the freedom to boo the umpire”.   Rugby, while better in this area than every other sport I am aware of, is not innocent of the charges.   This is why I felt so keenly for the NLF officials who missed the blatant pass interference call at the end of the NFC Championship game.   Now I have no dog in that fight but even if I did the response from some “fans” was disgusting.  The crew was doxxed and harassed to the point where they had to be moved to a secret hotel and change their phones.   From an ESPN article, “In Washington, D.C., on the same day that a former presidential campaign manager was arrested by the FBI and a government shutdown was lifted, a Louisiana senator pleaded his case on the floor of the U.S. Capitol that his home state had been robbed by poor officiating.”   (See full article here, it is worth the read.)  

The title of the ESPN story asks a very relevant and pointed question, why would anyone want to be a referee?   The answer, unsurprising to those of us who take up the whistle, is we do it for the love of the game.   Some of us never had a chance to play; some of us had their playing career cut short by injury; some of us played as long as we could and shifted to the whistle as a way of staying involved; but all of us, no matter what the superficial reason, do this for the love of the game.

We aren’t perfect, but neither are the players.   We do our best and nobody tries to miss calls, but it happens.  Please keep this in mind the next time the need to criticize the referee bubbles up to the surface.  It isn’t really necessary: we are usually our own worst critics.

Annual Vegas Begging Notice

The Las Vegas Invitational is coming up in early March and they are desperate, again, to have substantial representation from The Greatest Referee Society On The Planet.   Here is their official pitch:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. The most all-inclusive tournament in Rugby has filled out their divisions again this year, and it can’t be done without you! Come ref by day with old friends, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! California brought a great number of refs last year, and the LVI would love to have you back!

All Referees receive:

–      Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific models)

–      Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event

–      Access to the Westgate Resort LVI room block – massive benefits available on room rates (only $70 weekdays, $95 Fri/Sat for a 2 bed room), $12 breakfast buffet deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH FEBRUARY 10TH!!, $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields, and FREE PARKING!

–      A Thursday night “REFS ONLY STRATEGY MEETING (wink wink)” with complimentary carbonated adult beverage provided (while supplies last) at the Westgate.

–       A Lunch Voucher for Sam Boyd Stadium for all participating referees!

–      the chance to referee teams from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, the UK, France, Australia, and more!

Westgate Hotel link:  https://book.passkey.com/event/49745916/owner/3453/home  – again, with waiving resort fees, you get the cheapest rates and get to stay at an incredible resort and the hub of the LVI.

To register to ref at the LVI 2018, contact Head Referee Autumn Arvidson at :  mnrugbyref@gmail.com

Any questions about the event?: https://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/

 2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

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

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 01/26/2019

Mavericks 19-19 Dagenham

Location: Warley Playing Fields, Brentwood (https://goo.gl/maps/neZSsryaHNU2)

Competition: Essex 1

Referee: Preston Gordon

There were a few things for me to consider before this match began.

Mavericks, a club founded only 7 years ago, were at the top of the table with 53 points and a record of 11-0 this season, including a 40-8 defeat of Dagenham last October 6th. Upminster were in second place with 46 points. Dagenham were sitting in third place at 44 points, having played one more game, and their record was 9-3.

Mavericks and Dagenham had each scored 497 points so far in the season, and obviously would be targeting this as a must-win fixture in their hunt for promotion to London 3 next season. In addition, there had been some historical behavior issues with one of these teams, and just the day before this match one of their coaches had received a 10-week ban for referee abuse. At least one of the Essex RFU disciplinary committee members was in attendance, and introduced himself to me as I was warming up. Also, I was being assessed at this level for the second time in 3 weeks. And finally, these two teams are only about 8 miles apart, making this a proper local derby.

Given the above, I knew the cauldron would be bubbling well before I arrived 75 minutes before kickoff. The team without the disciplinary record politely and (mostly) subtly made sure I was aware of the historical transgressions of their opponents. I waved that off with a comment that this was a new day, and everyone playing would be starting with a clean slate. In the prematch chat with each side, I was careful to stress that any conduct contrary to the RFU core values (Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline, Sportsmanship) would be dealt with by a warning, then a penalty, then a further sanction.

Aside from one penalty for dissent, everything in that respect was fine.

Dagenham kicked off on time, under cloudy skies, and with the smell of rain in the brisk 48F wind. Both teams were clearly up for the contest and wasted no time getting stuck into each other. Dagenham had both the wind and the slope of the pitch favoring them in the first half, but Mavericks were able to score first in the 25th minute to take a 5 point lead. They were unable to make the touchline conversion.

Dagenham took the resulting restart kick, smashed a few holes in the defense, and replied with an unconverted try of their own just 2 minutes later (27′). The Mavericks captain slotted a penalty goal after a high tackle at 32′, as it began to drizzle, and that was all the scoring in the half: 8-5 to the home team, which seemed appropriate.

After a quick break, the second half got underway. Mavericks were attacking on the left at 43′ and threw a speculative wide pass that was intercepted. Naturally, I was leaning the wrong direction, and by the time I had turned myself around to start catching up, the Dagenham player had kicked ahead. That put me at least 35m behind the ball, and I was running uphill. Just after I hit full speed, I saw the Dagenham

#14 wrestle a retiring opponent to the ground while easily 20m away from the ball, but just a few meters in front of me. This got me off the positioning hook, given that there was no way for Mavericks to gain an advantage, so I stopped play immediately and awarded the miscreant a yellow card for tackling a player without the ball.

Mavericks took advantage of this and scored next, at 45′, though the now-dry-again wind pushed the conversion wide. The 8-point margin at 13-5 would be the farthest apart these two teams got, because Dagenham responded with their second try at 49′, converting it to come within one point.  One minute later, Mavericks lost their #4 to the sin bin for a “seat belt” tackle. So the next few minutes were played with fourteen-a-side, and although Dagenham returned to full strength, no further points were scored until a 60th-minute penalty goal by Mavericks (score: 16-12). This was the only time dissent was involved – I had moved the mark up 10m, and the Mavericks captain then chose to take the shot instead of kicking for touch. Five minutes later, they knocked over another penalty to take a 19-12 lead.

The last fifteen minutes were played at a hectic pace over most of the pitch. At 75′ a Mavericks player gave away a cynical penalty for killing Dagenham’s attacking ball just outside their goal line, which resulted in them finishing the match with 14 men. Soon after, Dagenham had an attacking scrum 10 meters from the Mavericks goal line, at the point of the steepest gradient on the pitch. They ended up dominating this scrum, disrupting almost all the Mavericks’ bindings, and drove within a couple meters of the goal line before I went between the posts to award the penalty try at 77′ that leveled the scores. For the next three minutes Dagenham had the majority of possession, and both teams were careful not to give up any penalties even though Mavericks were defending nonstop pick-and-go’s. Despite me clarifying the tied score (and the time remaining) to each captain twice in the last couple of minutes, Dagenham either didn’t communicate this to all their players, or were happy to take the draw. Ultimately, they kicked to touch to achieve just that.

After I took off my gloves, we all shook hands, and I was happy to hear from a few players that this was the best reffing they’d seen all season. I was much happier that aside from a couple of moments of unfriendliness, nothing got out of hand. For me, the physical challenge was what I expected, but the mental challenge was tougher.  The cauldron was at a rolling boil for almost the entire match, but it never spilled over. I’d like to thank both teams for maintaining that level of control, generally listening to me, and for playing an extremely hard-fought, tough, and fast match in these conditions. Both of the club touch judges also did a great job. I think the draw was a fair result, even though it may cost me a beer or two when I’m in San Francisco next weekend doing O Club vs Diablo.

After a chat with the assessor, whose “well done” was well appreciated, we all enjoyed some of the Mavericks hospitality while talking with the coaches and players in the clubhouse. A little more hospitality was enjoyed with some referees just a few miles up the road at Old Brentwoods RFC. Before long, it was time to head back into London, after a strategic pit stop before catching my train for the 45-minute trip (there are no WCs on the commuter trains or the London underground – something I learned the hard way several years ago).

All in all, it was another great day to be refereeing rugby in England!

Date: 01/26/2019

Cal 136 – UC Davis 0 

Referee: Lee Bryant

No Report Received.    Possibly because Lee is still too tired.

Date: 01/26/2019

Berkeley All Blues B 48 – SFGG Women 12 

Referee: Giles Wilson

When I arrived, even an hour before the game, both teams were well into their warm ups and looking well organized.   The All Blues started fast getting a score in under 2 minutes with the second following by 10 minutes. The All Blues had good offensive patterns with players running hard and with good footwork to avoid tacklers. When SFGG finally had the ball, the All Blues demonstrated trust and organization in defense.   The first half ended 31-5 (5 tries to 1).

The second half saw the All Blues rotate a number of players in, SFGG had fewer replacements which meant a little more balance. The second half was 3 tries to the All Blues to a single try from SFGG and a final of 48 – 12 in favour of the All Blues.

Date: 01/26/2019

SFGG PRP 18 – Life West 45 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Round one of PRP. Life West traveled to face SFGG. The game was no different than usual with both teams coming out firing. It was an intense match with both teams trying to notch a win in the first game of the season. Life scored the first try but SFGG wouldn’t concede. At half the score was 21-6 in favor of Life. 

In the second half, there were fewer penalties from both teams as breakdowns no longer were being contested as much. SFGG would score two tries while Life would notch on a handful more.   In the end, Life overpowered and outran SFGG.

Date: 01/26/2019

Fresno State 45 – Univ Nevada Reno 30 

Referee: Rodney Tuisavalalo

The teams played a good, clean, hard game of rugby. Both sides were respectful and much props to the captains and coaches of each team for keeping that throughout. Like many collegiate games this one featured lots of open breaks and fast dudes darting in and out of rucks and scrums. I enjoyed seeing the intensity from both sides right up until the final whistle. Good luck to both teams!

Date: 01/26/2019

Chico State 35 – Stanford 26 

Referee: Phil Akroyd

The Tale of the Magic Jerseys

Stanford showed up late due to a bus navigation issue, but they were ready and set to go by the 1pm kick-off time.  However, Chico, the home team, were all ready to go at kick-off but realized that they hadn’t brought their jerseys to the field.  As the later-to-be-fined team member took off to retrieve their shirts, Chico decided to start in their all black warm-up shirts, which wasn’t a bad solution, aside from the lack of numbers.

Chico played poorly in those opening minutes as they had lots of possession but couldn’t really do anything with it.  They did manage to slot a penalty kick, but also gave up an interception try and a charge down in their own in-goal for a try.

With about 15 minutes played, the jerseys arrived and the magic happened.  The Wildcats took the lead and only relinquished it for a few minutes before half-time before going on to lead the rest of the game.

Stanford lived off Chico’s mistakes – another interception try in the second half – but Chico had the majority of possession and made that count, along with a dominant scrum that kept Stanford going backwards.

A fun game with lots of open rugby, good phase play, and surprising physicality.

Date: 01/26/2019

San Jose State 27 – San Francisco State 32 

Referee: John Lane

An excellent day for rugby at Independence High School.  Both teams were present and in early prep when I arrived at 13:30 for the 14:30 kickoff.   Squad numbers looked low so during captain and team check formalities it was confirmed that both teams would have no more than 15 players but were in a position to field correctly in all front row positions – game on!

As it transpired San Jose fielded with 14 against San Francisco’s 15.  Both sides had some experienced players with the usual few early season college new to rugby entrants needing a little more “explanation” of the laws of our fabulous game from time to time!  San Jose despite playing with 14 opened the strongest and had better team structure.  The game took a little time to settle with individual errors prominent across the teams.

After this opening period San Jose took the lead on 14 minutes with an unconverted try which was followed quickly by another on 17 to leave them 10-0 in front.   Having taken the lead San Jose appeared to de-focus a bit and San Francisco, with a stronger scrum helping, had two unconverted tries of their own on 24 and 29 minutes. 10-10.  Both sides started to show fatigue as the game was very open.  San Jose started to get the ball to their very strong running left winger (new to rugby) and he was giving his team significant go forward and field position.  This eventually led to a converted try on 37 minutes.  17-10.  San Jose had lost their No 8 to an ankle injury by this stage – down to 13.  San Francisco came back and with the last, multi-phased play of the half leveled the scores at 17-17 after which both sides sought the halftime rest.

From the restart San Francisco took the lead on 42 mins with an unconverted try (17-22) but San Jose responded on 45 mins with an unconverted try of their own to tie it up at 22-22.  The extra players were now starting to take effect with gaps appearing and despite some great last ditch defense San Francisco score another 5 pointer on 51 mins for 22-27.  Both teams were struggling for fitness at this stage with multiple players cramping up and bodies slow to get to restart scrums and lineouts.  A pattern emerged with San Francisco gaining field position, only to lose it through handling errors with the more structured San Jose backline able to use its strength out wide to regain territory.  San Francisco re-adjusted their defense putting their stronger tacklers wide out to defend the strong running winger which proved effective.

On 65 minutes, the San Jose captain chose to kick at goal from the 22m in front of the posts and pulled his kick narrowly wide left having been distracted by a San Francisco player shout. Awarded a retake he over compensated and blasted wide right…..

With 10 minutes to go San Jose lost one of their players to an accidental facial injury which balanced the numbers to 13 to 14.  San Francisco made a final effort and scored another try on 76 mins for a 10 point lead at 22-32.   With the last play of the game the San Jose No 9 crossed to close out the scores at 27-32 with both (tired) teams enthusiastically clapping each other off the field.

Date: 01/26/2019

UC Santa Cruz Women 5 – Cal Poly Women 46 

Referee: Stephen Moore

Awesome effort from both sides, despite score-line difference. UCSC suffered a setback even before KO with their flyhalf getting injured last minute. UCSC was determined not to give up despite the difference in experience; eventually breaking thru Poly’s solid defense to score their only try, late in the second half. Poly was well drilled and relentless in attack, phase after phase of very long passages of play resulting in many tries for them. It was a pleasure to be part of the experience. Player behavior first class. Great spectator spirit.

Date: 01/26/2019

CSU Monterey Bay Women 20 – Univ Nevada Reno Women 34 

Referee: James Hinkin

A crisp morning in Monterey was the setting for the ladies of UNR to take on the ladies of CSUMB.   The pitch at CSUMB was, as per usual, in great shape and well marked so without further ado let’s get to the action.   With both sides electing to wear dark blue jerseys I did the honorable thing and pulled out a dark blue jersey to referee in.  

The first half was dominated by knock-ons, not rolling penalties and UNR breakaways.   The first was to be expected; the second was managed with a word to the captains; the third looked like a long afternoon for the home side.  After putting up 4 tries in the first half UNR was feeling pretty comfortable.

The second half was a different story.  Some tactical changes from the Otters led to more dynamism in their attack while the Wolfpack seemed to lose their edge.   The penalties at the breakdown disappeared so the ball was faster and cleaner and that suited the home side just fine as they began their comeback.  Unfortunately for them it was just a little too much to ask, as while they scored 4 tries of their own the visitors added a couple of to their scorecard to put the match to bed.

This Week’s Photo

My fans providing feedback.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre