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

Off To Watch Hamilton!

HAIL PELICUS!

Off To Watch Hamilton!

Well, not the Broadway musical, or at least not this week – I have tickets for later in February and will give a review once I have processed it.  Why?  Because my readers demand it.  At least that is what the voices in my head say.

No, I am going to watch the Hamilton 7s, the New Zealand leg of the World Sevens Series and the first USA match against Tonga will start in a couple of hours from this writing.   This brings us back to the USA 7s team who has sprinted (ha!) off to their best start in history.   The USA has traditionally started slow and then built momentum as the Series moved on but this year they shocked the world and started fast.  There are many questions that will be asked and some may even be answered – here are three of them:  

Question the First:  Can they keep the momentum going?   I’ll have to let you know next week.   As legendary 7s coach Tory Golino said, a top 3 placing will keep us in the top spot but we will eventually need to win a Cup Final – probably 3 or 4 to win the overall title.   As a side note, I am just tickled pink that this is an actual, legitimate conversation to have.

Question the Second:   Are we finally starting to produce depth?   There are a number of unfamiliar faces in the squad posted.   We have traditionally relied on the same 9 world class players as our core and left the rest of the squad to play out in blowout situations or against weak opponents.   This core is aging and at some point Coach Friday needs to trust the next generation and said generation needs to step up.  This may be the time that it happens.

Question the Third:  Why is Carlin Isles still in the squad?   It is time to fully admit it: Carlin Isles is not a good rugby player.  Yes, he is very fast but, really, that is it.  He is a liability any time he is asked to tackle, pass, off load – do anything besides run in a straight line and the opposition knows this.   He is instantly targeted as soon as he steps on the field.  He will score tries – especially in mop up work against overmatched teams – but should not be on the field against the top half of the table.   He will get a few tries in those games as his teammates create an overlap or a crack appears, but those tries no longer balance out the knock ons, poor passes, inefficient rucking and lack of tackling that he brings to the rest of the game.

So there it is, your Hamilton pre-tournament notes.    Let the sevens begin.

Finally, 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.

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: 01/19/2019

Mill Hill 19-20 Watford

Location: Mill Hill RFC, Hendon, London (https://goo.gl/maps/fri3BFBRbkL2)

Competition: Herts/Middlesex 2 Shield

Referee: Preston Gordon

I was appointed as AR1 for this knockout game, which I found out was a semi-final. For those unfamiliar with the various cup competitions in England, they are basically playoff brackets that run the length of the season. Certain weekends are designated as cup weekends, where no league matches are played, and this was one of them. A winning team moves on to the next stage, and a losing team either drops down into a lower cup bracket or (towards the end of the season) is eliminated.

It’s a great system because it gives clubs something extra to play for, and lets them play opponents they otherwise would not play within their league.

The cold weather continues to make itself noticeable here, and I have to admit that this was the first match in which I have ever worn gloves. Apparently that isn’t unusual here, and after a couple of recent games trying to write in my score book with very stiff fingers, I have decided to get myself a suitable pair for refereeing. The North Face ones I used to AR were fine for holding a flag, but they would be too bulky for a whistle. I was very happy that my LSRFUR all-weather tracksuit arrived earlier in the week, especially in the second half during the 20-minute period of freezing drizzle.

As an AR, I’ll keep the match summary brief: Watford led 13-7 at half, with 2 penalties and a converted try, vs one converted try for Mill Hill. In the second half, Watford scored another converted try, while Mill Hill fought back with two tries, the second one after time had expired. That conversion, taken about 15m in from touch, would have won them the game, but I watched their kick sail wide of my post. The

4 yellow cards in the match for ill discipline didn’t actually seem to affect the contest too much.

Mill Hill’s clubhouse is about as far from Saracens’ ground at Allianz Park as Hendon’s clubhouse is (400m) but it’s west instead of south.

Saracens kicked off against Glasgow in the last round of the European Champions Cup about an hour before my match did, and at times it seemed like our audience of ~50 was making the noise of 5,000. A stream of spectators leaving the Sarries game appeared out of the bushes soon after halftime, with many sticking around to watch the action for a few minutes before heading into the Mill Hill clubhouse in search of warmth and further refreshment. By the time our team of three made it to the clubhouse, several of the beer taps were hors de combat and the room was packed with supporters from both sides, including several Scotsmen in kilts. I can definitely recommend the food and beverage selection at Mill Hill’s clubhouse – it’s very good, and they’re clearly happy to have (and know how to handle) the extra custom from people coming or going to Allianz Park.

Date: 01/20/2019

Harlow 20-27 Blackheath 2

Location: Harlow RFC, which is in… Harlow (https://goo.gl/maps/nnzCRVDXT4A2)

Competition: The Women’s Junior Cup

Referee: Preston Gordon

After ARing for a men’s cup matchup the day before, I was keen to get a full match in on Sunday, which seems to be the usual time for women’s rugby here. This was my first women’s game in England and the level of physicality didn’t disappoint, with both teams running into contact and hitting the rucks hard and almost always legally.

Unfortunately, this level of commitment to the physical side of the game resulted in one likely separated shoulder, one likely broken rib, a few bloody noses, and assorted stoppages for heavy taping of ankles and knees. Each half took about 46 minutes to complete. I also got flipped upside down with a twisted ankle in the 77th minute after one of the players stepped on my foot just as I pivoted to run towards a change of direction in play. The resulting involuntary somersault would have looked great on video. I nearly blew my whistle to stop play, but luckily I was able to get to the next breakdown in time to whistle for an unplayable ball. I shook it off and finished the match, and as I write this one day later, everything feels fine.

The Harlow facilities would be the envy of all but the top sides in the country. The clubhouse is about two years old and features a bevy of changing rooms on the ground floor and a couple of large bar and dining spaces above, and there are 3 perfect pitches outside. The previous day’s gray skies and freezing drizzle I encountered in Mill Hill (north London) had turned into a lovely calm winter day, with bright but low sunshine. It was in the low 40s at KO, and by halftime, it was back to freezing again. Then it got colder.

On to the game itself: Blackheath only brought 14 players, so per the RFU rules for this competition, Harlow had to start with the same number even though they had several replacements. Both sides decided to drop the #8 and play with a full backline, which seemed to suit their strengths. The game was very even, although Harlow were chasing Blackheath for the majority of it. At halftime, the score was 22-10 and the margin of four tries to two and the general trends in the game seemed to indicate that an easy victory for the visitors was in the cards.

However, due to the aforementioned rib injury, we had to play the last ~25 minutes with uncontested scrums. This clearly favored the Harlow ladies and they took full advantage, scoring two further tries to Blackheath’s one to close the gap to seven points with 6 minutes remaining. Ultimately nobody was able to score any further points, and Blackheath progressed to the next stage of this knockout competition.

Despite the 2 yellow cards I had to issue in the 38th minute for a ball carrier charging into her opponent with an elbow to the face, and the ensuing retaliation (which reversed that penalty) spirits were good for the post-match function in the clubhouse bar. The Harlow ladies were last seen heading to a public house in town in order to take over the Sunday evening Karaoke. I declined their kind invitation to join them: having once been the doorman/bouncer at a weekly karaoke night in Tucson, I know all too well what kind of acoustical abuse the staff has to suffer!

Date: 01/18/2019

Cal Maritime 21 – UC Davis 43 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Friday night lights at Maritime was filled with early season rugby. There was some confusion about how long each half was going to be.   Maritime even notched a drop goal. 

Date: 01/19/2019

Berkeley RFC 17 – Olympic Club B 24 

Referee: Roberto Santiago

It was a great day for rugby at Tom Bates fields in Berkley. The Rhinos had just finished a scrimmage against Napa and Santa Rosa that had seen some hard nosed rugby and smiles all around. The U19 coaching staffs were models of leadership in how they worked with players and the referee. Afterward, the three teams got together for a snack and some camaraderie. It would have been a nice thing for some of the senior men’s coaches and players to see and maybe use as a model. Both Berkeley and Olympic Club B came in short handed. O-Club was a touch younger, a little faster and a hair more athletic. They had the advantage in each phase of the game. The visiting team went ahead 12-0 at 12:00 minutes into the game. It looked as though they might cruise to an easy win on the scoreboard, even if it was hard won on the field, but for one issue. O-Club couldn’t clean up play at the breakdown, specifically in regard to the tackler and tackle assist players releasing the ball and ball carrier. A variety of management techniques were attempted, to no avail. Penalties, discussion, warnings, a professional foul and yellow card later, we were all tied up going into half time. The second half was played to a higher standard to the first, as players began to comply with both law and the referee’s instructions during play. With less attention needing to be paid to the breakdown, the rest of the game opened up. To their credit, Olympic Club had one tendency that ran counter to expectations and which benefitted them greatly in the second half. When Berkeley had them under pressure inside the 22, Olympic Club were able to avoid the usual penalties that are often committed by teams with their backs near their own in-goal. O-Club was able to hold fast until the attackers, forced to play multiple phases, eventually turned the ball over. As a result, the men from SF went back ahead by 12 points in the second half. Berkeley scored another try at 30:00 to make it done score game, but O-Club continued to play hard and keep an edge in time of possession before kicking the ball to touch after time had expired.  

Date: 01/19/2019

Central Coast RFC 0 – Marin 38 

Referee: William Nelson

The field was located in the middle of a naval base and with the cool ocean breeze blowing it was a great day for rugby. The game first half was very evenly matched with minimal scoring. At half time the score was 10-0. In the second half Marin took control of the game and scored 28 more points. 

Date: 01/19/2019

Fresno 22 – Google  27 

Referee: James Hinkin

No Report Received.

Date: 01/19/2019

Life West D2 53 – Vacaville 0 

Referee: Andrew Houghton

No Report Received.

Date: 01/19/2019

San Joaquin-Stanislaus RFC 29 – Chico Mighty Oaks 28 

Referee: Chris Tucker

Over the past 10 years, I have reffed more games than I can count.  And on a couple of occasions (yes, looking at you, JC) I’ve been called upon to step into a match mid-way through.  This is never an easy experience, either for me, or for the teams.  The game is simmering away nicely, and then there’s a break while the replacement ref gets ready, and then inevitably the replacement has a slightly different view of things than his predecessor.  But importantly, rugby gets played.  

Now, I have never failed to finish a game.  Even when I blew my back out, I finished the game.  Well, it didn’t hurt, did it? At least not until the next day…  However, Saturday marked a new watershed.  With the Harlots 5 points up, and the game poised for a raucous last 20 minutes, something in my calf popped.  I sat down and blew my whistle, and that was that. 

Leading up to this point, both teams were enjoying their rugby, playing well and, on occasion, learning a thing or two.  Like not to shout at the kicker on a conversion (the Chico kicker was gifted a rekick after he missed.  He nailed the second one).  And that all front row players can strike for the ball (after the Harlots took one against the head by the tight-head.  Yeah, I probably missed some shenanigans on that one…)

Anyway, I was done, and Beau McSwain from Chico bravely stepped up, borrowed my whistle and watch, and a jersey 2 sizes too small, and gamely finished up the match.  The hosts kindly got me a chair and a beer, and I put my feet up and swore profusely as the game restarted with a scrum.

Now, the game was real even, and the two teams traded a try each, before Chico scored a try at the death.  Beau called over “Try at 38’45” (I was keeping score still), which given you have 90 seconds to kick, and you’re directly under the sticks, and the score is tied pending the conversion, means you’re going to win.  You wait 76 seconds just to be sure, and kick, then go drink.

But the kicker was in a hurry, so they restarted.  And surely Chico would just punt it and again go drink.  But they ran it up, committed an infraction, and the Harlots had a penalty on the 10m.  They kicked for lineout, got the ball inside the 22, won the throw, and span it out to the backs.  And then Brian, the captain and #10 dropped a goal from 30m out.  Split the uprights, deep into the forest behind the posts.  Fantastic stuff, taking the game by a point!

Date: 01/19/2019

Santa Rosa 34 – San Jose Seahawks 27 

Referee: Lee Bryant

Highly contested match with lead changes and close score at half. Strong scrums and runners from both sides. Beautiful mauls from Santa Rosa, one of which was a driving maul from a lineout for a try. The difference was a few missed throws in the San Jose lineouts and Santa Rosa had more gas in the last 20 minutes. Field was not as muddy as I had feared with only two reset scrums. 

This Week’s Photo

Pelicans represent!   Pelicus Caeruleus Ursa steps up at the mascot check at the National Development Summit.

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Let’s Get It On

HAIL PELICUS!

Let’s Get It On

I've been really tryin', baby 
Tryin' to hold back these feeling for so long
And if you feel, like I feel baby
Then come on, oh come on

Let's get it on

-Marvin Gaye

When Pelicus Scriptoris was in charge of Hail Pelicus he described the publication as a weekly love letter to rugby.   While I may have pushed the metaphor a bit here the feelings that Marvin Gaye evokes of wanting, needing and impending release echoes with how I feel at the start of a new rugby season.   The preseason is over, the holiday break is complete, the friendlies are finished; it is time for the unfriendlies as leagues kick into action.   The start of a season is always intoxicating as the slate is wiped clean and everyone has that most special of feelings: hope.    Anything is possible at the start of a season.

Rugby gives me all the feels.   Let’s get it on!

This, of course, means that referees need to be in full swing as well.  Please update your availability on WhosTheRef to let Pelicus Fistulator know who he can assign.  If you don’t update your availability, don’t be shocked if you get an assignment anyway in the hope that you may become available.   We have a full slate of games across all competitions and need all hands on deck.   As you can tell from This Week’s Photo, the Referee Signal has been lit.

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

Shakeup in the Men’s Club Divisions

The sudden and tragic loss of Ben Parker had a larger effect on the Northern California rugby community than initially suspected.  The team that he had founded, coached and led, the Sacramento Blackhawks, notified the NCRFU on Thursday, January 10th, that they would be unable to field a team in either D2 or D3 and that the club was essentially folding completely.   To add to the disruption the previous week Colusa RFC, perennial D3 power, notified the NCRFU that they were folding due to low numbers .   Stunned with the loss of two D3 sides and a D2 side the NCRDU had to adjust as best they could to the new reality.   Per Andrew King (NCRFU Scheduling Secretary, backup vocals, drums), the leagues will now look as such:

D1 (PRP and includes CR1, CR2, and CR3)

  • SFGG
  • Life West
  • Santa Monica
  • OMBAC
  • Belmont Shore
  • Glendale Merlins

D2 (Round robin top 4 make Semis)

  • Olympic Club
  • San Jose Seahawks
  • Vacaville
  • BA Baracus
  • Old Gaels
  • Life West D2
  • SFGG D2
  • Santa Rosa
  • Sacramento Capitols

D3A (Top 3 make semis)

  • Napa
  • Olympic Club D3
  • Redwood
  • Fresno
  • Chico Mighty Oaks
  • Google
  • Berkeley
  • San Joaquin
  • Silicon Valley

D3B (Top 2 play for the 4th spot in the D3 Semis)

  • San Jose Seahawks D3
  • SFGG D3
  • Old Gaels D3
  • San Francisco Fog
  • Central Coast Beach Dogs
  • Mendocino Steam Donkeys
  • Reno Zephyrs
  • Shasta
  • BA Baracus D3
  • Marin
  • Pleasanton Jesters

Women’s D2 (all 4 make semis after double round robin)

  • San Jose Seahawks
  • All Blues D2
  • Sacramento Amazons
  • SFGG

Pacific Referee Premiership

After several years of using Nor Cal B Panel referees  (aka USA Rugby National Panel) for their competition the PRP has decided to forego the honor of paying USA Rugby $600/match + expenses.   The local societies of Northern California, Southern California and the Rocky Mountains also declined the honor of providing ARs for these B Panel luminaries without the chance to advance their own referees.   The three societies presented a plan to the PRP to provide an arguably better product that was also cheaper and the PRP, in their infinite wisdom, accepted the offer.

But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.   A more informed opinion comes from NCRFURS President Pelicus Iudex Pennipes:

I’m happy to announce that NCRRS, in conjunction with SCRRS and RMRRS are partnering to provide officiating services for the PRP competition this year.  We collectively feel that we can provide a superior product for our local teams at a much reduced price to what USAR was providing.  The PRP leadership feels the same.

What this means is that our local officials will once again be referring all of our local Division 1 games and the assignments will also be locally controlled. 

Lee Johnson will be the referee manager for the competition and Lee will be reaching out to selected NCRRS referees and referee coaches to officiate the competition.  For those participating in the competition it will mean an increased workload:  Mandatory weekly conference calls, timely video review and self-analysis through the Advantage video system will all be part of the PRP group. 

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=1XXcRfsVtLL-qUawEHUI47ei0dt_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/1mmUNg11uVOSkIsUtHifSqQzalhWbwohk_J6AmPyrucQ/viewform

  1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone.  If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
  2. When needed fill it out and click submit.  The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
  3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
  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: 01/11/2019

UC Davis 3 – St Marys College 78 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Friday night lights had a new meaning in Davis. Both teams were working towards a strong showing in an early season contest and both teams had played Central Washington the week before. 

The rain was holding off as long as possible but as the game started, the rain started to fall. It didn’t last long, but it was enough to create slick conditions for the first 10 minutes. 

The game was a high energy match filled with UCD stopping SMC line breaks and making each breakdown a contest. Scrums were also evenly matched with both teams working well in the early season contest. 

Tensions got high at one point during the game but they remained contained and at a peak boiling point. 

SMC had the conditioning and game knowledge to take advantage of UCD mistakes and mishaps. 

The 78-3 game was a great Friday night event under the lights and in front of a respectable crowd. 

Date: 01/11/2019

UC Davis B 5 – St Marys College B 50 

Referee: Chris Tucker

I arrived 15 minutes after the A-sides kicked off, and watched most of the 1st half.  Davis were dogged in defense, and Mr Fenaroli was having a good game.  It was cold, dark and wet, and with NorCal’s lamentable predictability, that meant playing on a gridiron pitch with dubious lines and little rubber pellets for days afterwards.  Small price to pay for getting the first game of the season in, however!

As just about everybody thought, St. Mary’s was on the front foot most of the game.  Davis tackled hard, contesting well at the breakdown, but were a level below their opponents.  I will say this for them, they had heart, and none of the tries were long breaks.  The visitors fought for every yard (this being an Imperial-measurement pitch, they found it easier to do that than fight for every metre as required by the lawbook) but were unable to make ground with the ball in hand, and frequently kicked away or lost the ball at the breakdown.

The game was played in good spirit throughout, with only one minor incident of half-hearted handbags that was more of a miscommunication than any real offence.  End result seemed about fair, with the home team scoring a consolation try in the last quarter of the game.

Date: 01/12/2019

Chico Mighty Oaks 36 – Berkeley RFC 32 

Referee: Chris Tucker

The second game in 2 days, also played on crappy gridiron field thanks to the weather and the intransigence of those in control of public playing fields.  The home town Mighty Oaks probably regretted this most of all, as they were unable to use their speed and fast hands owing to the narrow field.  But rugby was played, as is always the most important thing.

Berkeley showed up with 16, so we had 2 TJs from Chico, including the indomitable John Fox, who it was great to see in fine fettle.  The small numbers didn’t make for a dull contest, however, and the visitors took the lead in the 10th minute with a penalty, after 2 quick tries (one apiece) had opened the contest.  From there it was back and forth, cagey stuff for the rest of the half.  

It occurred to me midway through the 2nd half that we were seeing the best that rugby has to offer.  Not only were 30 guys getting stuck into each other with big grins, but even after Berkeley used its only sub, with an injured player unable to walk, the Chico team carried water to their visiting opponents under the posts after scores.  Chapeau.

It similarly occurred to me in the last 5 minutes of the game that we were also going to see the worst that rugby has to offer.  The other TJ (who shall remain nameless) chose to voice his opinion of a penalty decision against his team in a loud and insulting fashion.  (He later admitted not to know the tackle law, which begs the question why he needed to announce his ignorance quite so loudly.  But I digress).  Summarily ejected from the enclosure, he refused to leave and so we had a short delay until the coaching staff encouraged him on his way.

As time expired, and Berkeley scored a try to get them within 7 and earn their bonus, one Chico player took exception and also started up complaining about the try.  Quite why was beyond the rest of his team, who told him to pipe down.  As the kicker was setting up for the conversion, a fight started under the posts, which is the first time I’ve seen the WINNING team fight among themselves.  I did ponder while this was going on that the only thing that could stop them from winning (time had expired) was if I awarded a penalty against them for a 9.27.  According to 5.7.b we would then restart with a penalty (at the halfway mark) and Berkeley would have another chance.  But this was clearly a time to let the team enforce their own discipline, and so we ended it there, the Berkeley stand-off and I having a laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

In summary: bad discipline failed to ruin a fine game, and at least 29 players left the field happy to have played for the first time in 2019.

Date: 01/12/2019

SF Fog 37 – Central Coast RFC 26 

Referee: Grant Mcdougall

The Fog came ready to play. They played with real spirit and passion on a lovely sunny day in San Francisco. 

Date: 01/12/2019

Vacaville 7 – Olympic Club 58 

Referee: James Hinkin

We’re back!   League play kicked off with the Olympic Club testing the waters in their new division against Vacaville, who finished 3td last year in D2.   The weather was perfect for rugby: sunny with slight chill (60 degrees maybe?) and the field – the all weather football field at Vacaville Christian High School – was fast.   Both teams were playing a little short on the bench with O Club only bringing 17 as the rest of their club was off playing their D3 opponent.   Numbers may be an issue going forward if they can’t get more bodies out on the field. 

In any case, the lack of subs didn’t seem to bother the Flying O as they powered over for a converted try after just 5 minutes.    A deft kick to space a few minutes later by the impressive Vacaville captain and #10 Matt Hensley saw the O Club winger isolated and he made a poor decision, trying a hero pass while being tackled.  The pass went straight to a Vacaville player who gratefully sprang forward to his goal line and 2 passes later the home side had crossed the line.    A difficult conversion was successful and the game was tied.   Unfortunately that was the last time Vacaville was able to get points on the board as O Club’s skill and experience took over.   The visitors were dominant in the scrum – recording a pushover try to retake the lead – and had playmakers across their backline.   The home side seemed to only have one player able to create with ball in hand (the aforementioned 10) and once the ball got past their flyhalf it was just straight running.   This can be effective but the O Club defense was up to the task.

This was an excellent game played in great spirits and both sides were committed, energetic and well coached.   The scoreline does not reflect on the play of Vacaville as much as the lethal finishing of the Olympic Club, epitomized late in the second half when good hands produced an overlap on the right but the last pass was very low.   The O Club wing dove to the ground and caught the ball cleanly and was quick enough to get back to his feet, sidestep a defender and dive across for the score.   A comprehensive win for O Club who look to rebuild from D2 and have announced their presence with authority.   I fully expect Coach Chris Motes to have Vacaville in much better form next week.

Date: 01/12/2019

Cal Maritime 32 – St Marys College C 20 

Referee: Jeff Richmond

St. Mary’s C was a late add to Cal Maritime’s plan for the weekend, following another team dropping off their schedule. The St. Mary’s front pitch was a bit soggy from the recent rain but in pretty nice shape. Cal Maritime got off to a good start. The first 10 minutes (3 periods of play that day 30 min, 30 min, 20 min) were spent mostly in St. Mary’s half of the pitch and Cal Maritime notched a penalty goal for the first score. However, St Mary’s found their form with quick ball off of the loose and well-developed attacks to lead 15-10 at the first break. Substitutions were plentiful and Cal Maritime had a better looking second period. One of their centers poached a St. Mary’s pass taking it 60 m the other way for a try. The lead switched to Cal Maritime at the second break, 20-15. The third period was all St. Mary’s as they scored 17 unanswered points. Though Cal Maritime had a player out for a red card, St. Mary’s was sporting enough to allow Cal Maritime to play a full 15 to give everyone some game time.

Date: 01/12/2019

Fresno 30 – Olympic Club B 17 

Referee: Neil MacDonald

Fresno, named for the ash trees along the San Joaquin river, was founded in 1872.  Fresno RFC was founded 99 years later, and on Saturday began their 48th season with a home D3 fixture against Olympic Club.

Unseasonably glorious weather awaited us in Fresno on the far side of the dense fog on the eastern side of the Pacheco Pass coming down into Los Banos, and the sun erased some of the mark the week’s rains – and the preceding high school match – had left on Holman Park.

O Club travelled with a squad of just 16, coached by the irrepressible Bubba Jones.  Their hosts, coached by the evergreen, place-kicking lock Roger Skinner, had numbers to burn and a strong turnout of supporters.  

Fresno took an early lead from a penalty kick after O Club didn’t roll away at a tackle.  The visitors struck back quickly, crossing in the left corner, but were prevented from grounding by a phase.  Unfazed, O Club’s center scored from the resulting 5m scrum, successfully converted by their captain and scrum half David.  3-7 with 10 minutes played. O Club extended their lead nine minutes later with another try: 3-12 with 20 minutes gone.  Sometime Pelican Rodney Tuisavalo, playing at center for Fresno, showed that he still has the moves to break defenders’ ankles, and failing that the strength to go through them.  After a sublime line break, he put his captain Mark in with a beautiful ball given and received at full pace, and Fresno were back in the match at 8-12.

Fresno came out hard in the second half, clearly fired up from the half time chat.  Rodney and Mark combined again to pull Fresno ahead 15-12 in the opening minutes of the half, and Fresno crossed again from close range minutes later to pull eight points ahead.  O Club weathered the rest of the storm, used their only sub, and worked their way up the pitch with sustained passages of phase play and some ball retention, with some territorial help from Fresno indiscipline. After a ball was lost forward in the attempt to ground from a rolling maul, and a number of 5m lineouts didn’t result in tries, O Club’s reward came in the 21st minute when their #8 scored from a pushover try.  

Entering the last quarter the match, Fresno still had their noses in front 20-17 lead, but the match was wide open.  Tuisavalo attempted a penalty kick from the half way line to extend the hosts’ lead, but it fell short. In the 72nd minute, his teammate, Guernsey’s man in Fresno, succeeded from closer range, 23-17.  With the match in the balance, Fresno pushed for the decisive score, and O Club strove for the game winner in exciting back and forth play. Finally, in the last play of the match, after a series of close range pick and go phases, a Fresno arm managed to reach the ball over the line and somehow get past an O Club defender’s limbs to ground it, right in front of the (for once beautifully positioned, if I do say so myself) referee.

I left the field to be presented with a completed running score and player movement forms – kudos to Chris of Fresno for his work and professionalism on the sideline and thanks to Mike and Greg for running touch.  

If the rest of our D3 season produces matches as fun and competitive as this, it’s going to be a great year for rugby in NorCal.

Date: 01/12/2019

Sacramento Capitals 31 – Life West D2 31 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Life West D2 traveled to Sacramento for this Saturday contest. Caps came out firing scoring 13 unanswered points. But Life West was not going to let them have the game as easily. Life West replied with 2 tries and Caps matched them with a penalty kick. 

The game had both sides with issues to work on at the breakdown in order to create time and space. Once we dealt with the repeat infringements, the game flowed a lot better. 

Both teams were equally as physical and looking for the contest at the breakdown. Set pieces were a little more wild; scrums were solid and went well when the setup was controlled. And once the throw-in at the lineout was situated a little more, the lineouts saw good ball out. 

The game ended in a tie in a very hard-fought equal battle. 

(EDITORS NOTE:  Nice to see Fenny produce the first tie of the season.   Payment will, I am sure, be extracted as soon as I, and any other Pelican, see him.)

Date: 01/12/2019

Silicon Valley 38 – San Joaquin-Stanislaus RFC 31 

Referee: William Nelson

Great match from two evenly matched teams. San Joaquin dominated the first half but Silicon Valley dominated the second half. San Joaquin had trouble submitting their roster into CMS but they verified to me before the game that all of their players had a CIPP. I was given a roster at the end of the game with the teams roster and CIPP. 

 (EDITORS NOTE:  There are times when the inevitable flow of history reach such a critical juncture where a choice must be made.  The choice is between the red pill and the blue pill, disappointment and joy, a mundane existence and one that reaches for the stars.    Reflecting on the choice in front of me I would like to welcome to the society William Nelson and submit to the Senate that he be now and forever more known as Pelicus Cannabis Raeda.)  

This Week’s Photo

Holy Referee Signal, Batman!

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

Year of the Constipated Sloth

HAIL PELICUS!

 

Year of the Constipated Sloth

As we leave 2018 and venture into 2019 the rugby calendar turns over from the Year of the Insulted Goat to the Year of the Constipated Sloth.   There were many highs and lows in the past year for both club and country and we here at Hail Pelicus look forward to watching this Constipated Sloth reveal what is in store.   Slowly, of course, and with a slightly uncomfortable look on its face.

I am also starting a new tradition this year that, for as long as it holds true, I will end the first segment with a reminder to everyone that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Ben Parker, 1970-2018

Northern California and the rugby community lost a big figure suddenly as former NCRFU President and Head Coach of the Sacramento Blackhawks Ben Parker passed in his sleep on Christmas Eve.   Almost immediately after hearing the news tributes sprang up on Facebook and other social media and eulogies were sent in to me for inclusion in Hail Pelicus.    It is fitting that a man who carried so much influence in the rugby community elicit a massive response so I can not publish them all but, as always, when Pelicus Scriptoris feels the need to comment I cede the floor to him.

From Dr Bruce Carter, Pelicus Scriptoris,

Ben Parker blazed like a meteorite across the NorCal rugby firmament, creating a bright trail that dazzled but didn’t last as long as we might have hoped.

I knew Ben mostly through the intersection of our interests, he as chair of the NCRFU and I as the chair of the NCRRS. In a rugby community that has been blessed with a lot of strong personalities and hard workers, Ben stood out for the depth of his commitment and his willingness to work the politics of people to get things done.

His preferred method of business was the open-ended phone call. Why wait for the next meeting?

I also knew Ben, of course, as a referee for teams that he coached. His teams were trained and disciplined, always winning the warmup while the other team often just stood in a circle and threw a ball around.

It was in this capacity that Ben’s persistence was to turn to my own advantage, much like a judoka turns an opponent’s strength around.

It was the occasion of my annual game in the central coast area, this time in Paso Robles, on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012. Northern California was getting hosed down by epic storms that week, but the Paso club assured us that they had an all-weather pitch. So my wife and I took Friday off and went down a day early, staying at the Madonna Inn, happy to have a rugby getaway weekend in a lovely corner of Pelicanland.

An early call Saturday morning brought the news that the all-weather pitch was fine, but that the sole access road to it was flooded and closed. Game off. Disappointment loomed. Killing a rugby buzz should be a capital offense.

But what could I do other than despair?

As luck would have it, the opponents were the Sacramento Blackhawks, coached by Ben, already embarked upon their four-hour-plus drive and keen to compete.

Chairmen of unions must have more persuasive ability than those of societies. Perhaps Ben reminded them of some double-secret provisions for disciplining teams who pull out of matches at the last minute. This dog was not going to give up that bone.

One of those open-ended phone calls must have ensued, and it worked in my (and the players’) favor. A flat patch of ground materialized, turned into a pitch by the placement of kit bags where normal field markings would have intersected. We had a fine match in the muck that was tied when my watch started beeping, the Blackhawks winning by taking that last scrum against the head and forcing it across the line with a series of desperate phases, the circumstances allowing no tolerance for error.

Ben’s persistence and pertinacity led to this game happening at all, and it is probably no coincidence that his team won my demonstrating some of the same characteristics as its coach.

Strong personalities engender strong opinions. Those who do the most work attract the most flack. Among the pillars supporting Northern California rugby over the decades, Ben stands tall and bears a large share of accomplishment.

Our game is the weaker for losing the involvement of someone with the experience, expertise and commitment of Ben Parker, and we will miss him and his passion.

– Bruce Carter

From Matt Eshoo, friend and former player of Ben Parker’s

As many of you have heard it is with great sadness that I share the news that former NCRFU President Ben Parker unexpectedly passed away.  Ben is survived by his beautiful wife Andrea, parents and four siblings.

Ben’s life began on April 28, 1970 in New Zealand.  Like most children in New Zealand Ben loved rugby and played often.  Some might say that Ben was ahead of time in that he was the biggest flyhalf most people had ever seen.  He was literally a second row playing first five.  He had an extremely strong kicking leg, hard shoulders and a total and complete understanding of the game supported by his super-intelligent family who often debated rugby, politics, economics and just about anything at the dinner table.  Ben would say that if you didn’t have a sound argument you would be destroyed and left fighting for scraps.  However, because of several injuries his dream of becoming an All Black fell short.  During his early 20’s, Ben also began working as a rancher and owned a successful sheep ranch before selling the ranch and becoming a world traveler.  It was during his travels that he landed in America.  In late 90’s he was hired by the New York Athletic Club and led them to a national championship and later coached Belmont Shores Rugby Club and again led them to a national championship before coming to Santa Rosa becoming our head coach.  Ben lived with me during this time and I trained him to become an appraiser and like all things he quickly figured it out and excelled at it.  This would later become his primary occupation for many years, finally evolving into selling real estate and flipping houses.

In 2001 Ben married the love of his life Andrea and in 2004 the couple moved to Sacramento where he started his own real estate appraisal practice.  It wasn’t long before the happy couple bought a beautiful home and were living the American dream.  Ben continued to spent time in rugby and eventually started his own club – the Sacramento Blackhawks.  Sacramento had two others teams searching for talent and the Blackhawks recruited many unknown or new players.  Ben’s love and kindness turned those young players in men and women.  Some of them coming from disadvantaged families where Ben would find ways to help them always treating them as equals and with kindness.  Ben’s saw these young, first generation men and women as the future and his heart reached out not with just words but with actions.  One day he noticed a foreclosed home near his community park rugby field and set about buying the property and transforming it into a club house with rooms for player to live in while they got on their feet.  He then acquired three more vacant lots next to the city park and made them his practice field.  Many players came through the Blackhawks club house and were transformed.  Not content with just making his local community better, Ben set about making Northern California rugby better with intelligent and straight forward ideas and plans.  In 2014 he was elected President of the NCRFU and held the position for four years.  Ben’s home flipping business was also thriving and he had several properties in the works before his untimely passing on Christmas Day during his sleep from heart failure.  He will be sorely missed and the rugby community is at a huge loss.

There aren’t many people who have the will and energy to do what Ben did.  His dry wit and quick tongue could put the best lawyer into mental gymnastics especially for those who didn’t understand his giant heart that was always full of compassion.  He sure was fun to watch.  Be well Ben Parker – I’ll see you on the greatest pitch ever someday to chase down one of your legendary cork screw, up and under kicks and later hoist a pint with you as you teach me more about the game we all love.

There is a celebration of Ben’s life on January 16, 2019 at 1:30pm at Officer’ Club located at Depot Park, Sacramento.  A place Ben loved.

– Matt Eshoo

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=1XXcRfsVtLL-qUawEHUI47ei0dt_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/1mmUNg11uVOSkIsUtHifSqQzalhWbwohk_J6AmPyrucQ/viewform

  1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone.  If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
  2. When needed fill it out and click submit.  The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
  3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
  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: 12/29/2018

St Mary’s College B 48 – Santa Rosa 19

Referee: James Hinkin

AR: Allen Gray

AR: Peter Gray

A late appointment over the holiday period filled a need for St Mary’s, Santa Rosa and myself to get out and run off some of that Christmas Dinner.   This promised to be a fast game on the perfect pitch of St Mary’s with plenty of open, running rugby and the promise was fulfilled.   St Mary’s had a full slate of matches with their C side doing battle with Google, their B side tilting against Santa Rosa, and their A side (insert another metaphor for a contest) against Diablo Gaels.

St Mary’s, as expected when competing against a men’s club, was undersized but that bothered them not at all as their speed and fitness proved to be more than adequate for the task at hand.   They came out of the gate with speed, precision and passion and Santa Rosa gave up the initiative almost from the kickoff as St Mary’s put points on the board within 5 minutes.   That is not to say that Santa Rosa rolled over or were not committed, because they regrouped and held their own for long stretches.   Unfortunately, turnovers were deadly as the St Mary’s counterattack looked to be in mid season form.

Not all was sweetness and light, though.   The first 20 minutes was marred by far too many penalties as tackles were high and the breakdown lacked discipline.   After a word to the captains the discipline improved until a high tackle from the Santa Rosa 15 resulted in a yellow card.  Unlucky for him as it was his first penalty but too many team penalties made the decision inevitable.

St Mary’s took advantage of the man advantage to put a few more tries across to end the half up 24-0.

The second half saw a much more committed Santa Rosa side against an uncharacteristically mistake prone St Mary’s side.   The undergrads looked to lose a little focus as they allowed points for the first time all day.  In fact, Santa Rosa can leave the field happy with their response after the break as they put 3 tries on the board with hard, straight running and solid support.   St Mary’s, being who they are, responded with 4 tries of their own to win handily on the scoreboard but Coach O’Brien will not be happy with the mental and physical lapses.   A late yellow card to St Mary’s for a shoulder charge off the ball is exactly the kind of thing that the Gael coaching staff will want to stamp out.

As always, it was a great day of rugby on one of the premier pitches in the country with perfect weather conditions.    Many thanks go to Allen and Peter Gray for ARing – a luxury whenever you have qualified ARs.   In spite of the 2 cards the game was played in excellent spirits and both sides, holiday depleted as they were, could take many positives away.   It was a pleasure to referee.

This Week’s Photo

Doesn’t that look pretty?

Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre

2018 Holiday Edition

HAIL PELICUS!

2018 Holiday Edition

I hope everyone is enjoying the Holiday Season, no matter which holiday you celebrate.  If you don’t celebrate anything and are just enjoying some time off I suggest you look back on the previous year and celebrate Rugby.   It has been quite a year for the good old U.S. of A.   Both our men and women have performed exceedingly well this past year as the fruits of our High Performance programs is starting to pay off.    

The women finished the year ranked 5th In the world in 15s and finished 4th in the 7s World Cup and could make a case for being #2 behind the mighty Kiwis.   Remember, they lost a close, back and forth semifinal to New Zealand 26-21 and were the ONLY team to score points on the Black ferns.  Let me rephrase that: The scoreline against the US was 26-21.  The scoreline against everyone else was 105-0 and that includes the World Cup Final.  

The men finished the year ranked 12th in the world – their highest ranking ever – and recorded their first ever win against a Tier 1 nation when they took it to Scotland.   With 2 straight ARC titles and a win over Samoa they look ready for the World Cup next year.    The 7s team lost a semifinal in over time to runners up England in the World Cup and have established themselves as a perennial Cup contender and one of the most feared teams on the circuit.  Perry Baker also had a very impressive year as he was named the World Rugby 7s Player Of The Year for the second consecutive year.   As I sit here this Christmas Eve to write the final Hail Pelicus of the year I am tickled pink to be able to say that the USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.    

Gods, but that felt good to type.  So good that I am going to do it again.  The USA is ranked #1 in the world in 7s.

Nor Cal Business

This was an off year for Northern California when it comes to championships.   The men were completely shut out but the ladies stepped up.   Chico St Women won the collegiate D1 national championship and Life West women won the second consecutive D1 club championship by oh, about 70 points.   They followed that up this fall when the WPL, after several years of stalling and hemming and hawing, finally relented and allowed Life West a play in game to join the league.   With only a few days notice the Gladiatrix took flight for Atlanta and beat the DC Furies by, oh about 90 points.  

Sevens was an especially tough season as for the first time ever there were no Northern California sides in the USA Rugby 7s National Championships.    This was truly embarrassing for a region that has won more championships than any other and currently supplies a quarter of the men’s Eagles as well as a few women’s Eagles.   I will now repeat the challenge I laid down in the summer:

So now I throw the gauntlet down.  To all NCRFU clubs who care about 7s, I challenge you.   Take back what is rightly ours.  Life West, SFGG, San Jose, O Club, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Amazons, All Blues, you may think you train hard but it isn’t hard enough.  Everyone else, this is your chance to do something special.  Push yourself.   Dedicate yourself.   Southern California will be sending 3 teams to nationals while we have none – this is intolerable.   Focus.  Start training earlier.   Play more tournaments.  Commit.   Travel outside our region to get better competition.   In the past we didn’t need to do that because the best was right here.   Not so any more.    The purest form of rugby must come home or there will be a wailing and a gnashing of teeth and other indecent carrying-on.

We Couldn’t Have Done It Without You

The Hail Pelicus isn’t a one man operation and the publication relies on all the match reports that the Pelican Society produces throughout the year.   Of special note are the Pelicans who have moved on to other pastures yet still send in reports – we love them so keep them coming.   Every time a Pelican goes on exchange we get a report.  Every time a Pelican travels just for fun and gets some rugby in we get a report.   This is the heart and soul of this publication.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the contributions of Our Noble Leader Paul Bretz, aka Pelicus Iudex Pennipes, as I often take his general announcements to the Society and copy paste them directly in and, of course, Dr Bruce Carter, aka Pelicus Scriptoris, for his guest columns which are welcome at any time.

We here at Hail Pelicus often throw in some Latin phrases and other references to classical Greco-Roman culture as well as references to books, movies, musical theater and, of course, obscure words.   We couldn’t do that without our research department headed up by Ibid, but you know him already.

Between Two Pelicans

We will finish off the year with a final Between Two Pelicans interview and for this edition we were lucky enough to get Teller of the fantastic magical duo Penn and Teller.    We covered a wide range of topics and I like to think we uncovered a few surprises.   So without further ado, Between Two Pelicans:

Hail Pelicus:  We are joined here by one half of one of the most successful magical duo of all time, Penn and Teller.   Born Raymond Joseph Teller, our guest, much like Madonna and Bono, is professionally know by the single name Teller.   Teller began performing with his friend Weir Chrisemer as The Othmar Schoeck Society for the Preservation of Weird and Disgusting Music. Teller met Penn Jillette in 1974, and they became a three-person act with Chrisemer called Asparagus Valley Cultural Society, which started at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and subsequently played in San Francisco. In 1981, they began performing exclusively together as Penn & Teller, an act that continues to this day.   Welcome, Teller

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  Quite.  I understand you have signed up for another season of your hit show Penn & Teller: Fool Us where magicians come on the show and perform tricks while you and Penn try to figure out how it is done.   Do you prefer being fooled or do you prefer it when you are able to spot the trick the magician is using?

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  You don’t say?

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  Fascinating.    Moving on, did you ever watch or play rugby when you were younger?  Perhaps in college?

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  I did not know that.

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  So what is your opinion on the state of US Rugby?

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  Some strong language there, but I can not disagree with you.  I appreciate the passion as well.

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  Indeed.

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  (laughing) Ha!  I’m dying here!  Now that is a story that you may wish doesn’t see print!

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  (more laughter) I didn’t even know that was possible!   I’m in tears!   Moving on, with the Rugby World Cup coming up, are you willing to make a few predictions?

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  Bold.   With you living in Vegas you may be tempted to put your money where your mouth is.  

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  Totally agree.   One final question, if you would be so kind.   Yanny or Laurel?

Teller:

Hail Pelicus:  My feelings exactly.   That is all the time we have so I would like to thank Teller for his time and if anyone wants to purchase that perfect gift for the rugger in their family audio recordings of this interview are available.

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/1mmUNg11uVOSkIsUtHifSqQzalhWbwohk_J6AmPyrucQ/viewform

  1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone.  If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
  2. When needed fill it out and click submit.  The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
  3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
  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: 11/03/2018

Hendon II 14 – Cuffley II 29

Referee: Preston Gordon

Location:  Greenlands Lane, Hendon, London

Competition: Hertfordshire/Middlesex Merit Table 4 NE

This was another late appointment that I was able to pick up in the London area. In this case, the Hendon seconds’ scheduled opponents (Barnet Elizabethans II) begged off at the last minute. Hendon was able to arrange a friendly match against one of their other regular opponents in this league, which meant I got to ref this past Saturday on a slightly cold, windy, but otherwise great day for rugby.

Hendon’s clubhouse is in North London, just off a major road, and somewhat hidden behind an auto repair/tire shop. Nonetheless, it was an easy tube/train/uber ride away from central London, and the normal practice here is for the home club to pay the refs’ travel expenses after the match. They still had many of their Halloween decorations up. The Saracens play at Allianz Park, which is a very short distance away – the grandstand is easily visible from Hendon’s pitch. This particular Saturday, Hendon’s first side was playing on the adjacent pitch to their second side, which was my game.

Each side had 18 players on its roster, though as a friendly, there were no limits on substitutions. There was also a lack of front row replacements, and most of the match was limited to uncontested scrums after one of the props went off injured fairly early on. There was a paucity of scoring in the first half, with Cuffley getting the only points on the board with a 7th-minute unconverted try. The remainder of the half saw some good line breaks, lots of tackling, and a lot of knock-ons with no opportunity to play much advantage. Luckily the uncontested scrums didn’t tire out the forwards. There was one moment of unfriendliness near the end of the first half, in which a few swings were taken, but none of these connected and good order was shortly restored after a few words from me and a handshake between the would-be pugilists. The half ended with Hendon attacking the Cuffley goal line repeatedly, only to knock the ball on a few meters out: 5-0 to the visitors.

Hendon started the second half strongly, with two converted tries at 45′ and 49′, to take a 14-5 lead. Cuffley regrouped and scored at 51′ (unconverted) to cut the lead to 4 points, and took a 17-14 lead five minutes later with a converted try at 56′. Hendon continued to threaten, but were not able to stop a couple of the Cuffley runners scoring one try around the outside and another through the middle (at 62′ and 77′, converting the first one). The last score sealed the

29-14 win for Cuffley, given the amount of time left in the match.

After changing, one pint, and catching up for a bit with the captains, we all caught the last 10 minutes of the England-South Africa game which was being broadcast in the clubhouse bar. The place emptied out soon after that and I took my leave, heading back to central London the way I came. Thanks to both teams for playing at short notice, to the touch judges (including the very young deputy TJ), and for the hospitality after the match.

Date: 11/14/2018

Robert Clack School 36 – Harris City Academy 10

Referee: Preston Gordon

Location:  Robert Clack Leisure Center

Competition: London Midweek Schools (U18)

This match was located in Dagenham, an eastern suburb of London that generated a pretty consistent raised-eyebrow reaction whenever I mentioned to anyone where it was. It seems that people don’t find it too nice of an area, but that kind of thing doesn’t bother me: I was there for the rugby. One explanation of that simple reason for my presence got perhaps the best reaction ever. “What’s an American doing here?” “Well, I’m just here for the rugby.” “In Dagenham?” (with the last question being one of total disbelief and incredulity. The neighborhood may be considered the London area’s equivalent of Richmond’s iron triangle, but the group of students I refereed was some of the best-behaved and well-coached high school teams I’ve had the pleasure of refereeing. Robert Clack’s mission seems to be to use rugby as a channel for adolescent energy, producing positive outcomes in the lives of its young men and women. I doubt there are too many other schools in similar neighborhoods sending their students to Cambridge. It reminded me of the Oakland Warthogs program (see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/columnists/jimwhite/2308586/How-rugby-turned-bad-boys-into-ambassadors.html for a relevant 2007 article).

Both teams had plenty of large, fast players, including a few wearing kit from some of the top men’s clubs in England, and one whose 400m dash time ought to have him in the British Olympic track squad. We kicked off at 1500, after a somewhat drawn-out wait for the visiting team to arrive while I was starting to be eaten alive by mosquitoes.

After a short bit of back-and-forth play, Robert Clack scored the first (converted) try 9 minutes in. Harris stayed strong and held the hosts scoreless until 21′, 25′, and 30′, when their defense cracked and they allowed 3 more tries, all unconverted. This was a classic case of the slightly smaller team (Robert Clack) playing better rugby as a group, vs. the larger/faster Harris players making more individual attacks. This led to me having a word to the Harris captain after the 3rd time a particularly large player had smashed through the defense, then getting pinged for not releasing the ball after being tackled, primarily because he had isolated himself. Thankfully that trend stopped, and there was only one further home team score 36′ in, with a converted try for a 29-0 halftime lead.

Given their 5 tries and blanking of Harris, I expected more of the same form Robert Clack in the second half. However, I suspect the Harris coaches’ halftime instructions included a change of tactics, because they got on the scoreboard first with a really well-worked try

5 minutes in (unconverted) that cut the gap to 24 points, with half an hour to play. More great, hard-hitting rugby followed, with both sides’ defenses doing a lot of work to prevent scores from line breaks or attacks on the wings. The only annoying thing was the increasing number of scrums, but I’ll ascribe that to the sun being just a couple of degrees above the horizon from KO onward, and setting with perhaps

20 minutes left to play. There were no lights, and more mosquitoes. At the 30th minute, Robert Clack picked up another try, converting this one, for a 36-5 lead. That secured the win, but Harris had the last word with a try 2 minutes past the end of the half that I had to work hard to see clearly, given the twilight conditions and, just before that last score, a tackler’s flying boot to the softest part of the top of my ankle that left me hopping on the other foot. Ouch.

Harris were happy to win the second half 10-7, Robert Clack was happy to pick up what I believe was just their third win of their season, and I was really happy with the way each team played and responded to my management suggestions. Both of these groups of young men were a pleasure to ref, aside from that annoying ankle stamp I couldn’t avoid, and I’d be happy to go back to Dagenham anytime I’m sent there.

Good luck to each team for the rest of the season, and thanks to the TJs and the Robert Clack coaching staff who got me set up in their well-equipped referees’ locker room.

(EDITORS NOTE:  In 1998 I lived in Dagenham while playing for Barking RUFC.   I can attest to the reputation of the area as well as the surprise of seeing a Yank there.)

Date: 10/20/2018

Stanford Women  Rookie 10s  

Referee: Giles Wilson

Two games at the Stanford Women’s rookie 10s 

Chico 10 USF 17 (2 tries to 3 plus one conversion).  This was Chico’s first game and USF’s second at this event; USF had a fairly large group of players and rotated them. Chico are well drilled but the players needed some game exposure.

Stanford white 17 vs Chico 17. Stanford scored twice in the first 10 minutes and then again after the half before Chico got their first and second score – both under the posts but they couldn’t manage to make contact on the attempted drop kicks. Then Chico scored a third time as time expired and finally sent out a tee for a harder kick. Of course this kicker was able to make the kick for the 17 all tie.

Date: 10/20/2018

Unknown

Referee: Roberto Santiago

Day 1 was a lot of fun. Some very good rugby, and a lot of corny jokes by the announcer.

Date: 10/21/2018

Unknown

Referee: Roberto Santiago

Day 2. Send help, my legs feel as like the Tin Man’s before they oil him up. Another great day, but that’s a lot of running. Wouldn’t trade it, but it was a lot. 

Date: 11/03/2018

Cal Poly Men B 21 – Chico State B 33 

Referee: Andrew Stockton

This was the first of two matches on my first weekend 15’s trip since I’ve been at UCSB. I took the train up after Friday class and stayed with a buddy for the evening and drove out to the field the next day. The match was played at Atascadero High’s football field due to a mix up with Cal Poly’s regular fields. This ended up shrinking field size which I believe worked to Chico State’s advantage in both games.

The first match was essentially a way to let new players get match time. Cal Poly had quite a few new players as did Chico (apparently they’ve converted a couple of baseball players into wings). Because of the large amount of new players, there were constant subs just to get kids minutes. In my opinion, this created a bit of chaos and there wasn’t much continuity to the match because of gaps in skill and chemistry. However, it was still a high paced and intense match.

Chico State scored first early into the first half after a few bruising runs by their forwards (who were much larger than the Cal Poly forwards) and then a quick knifing run through the middle by the Chico backline. 

Date: 11/03/2018

California Bald Eagles 35 – SF Fog 25 

Referee: Giles Wilson

I arrived at the GAA field on Treasure Island to see a locked field and a group of SF Fog players passing a couple of balls around. Chatting with Dany (the chubby unicorn) Samreth, waiting for the Bald Eagles and the lock code.

Getting into the field about 45 minutes before game time, and Bald Eagles began to drift in while the Fog warmed up enthusiastically.

Both teams agreed to no kicking in front of the 22m line, full halves with a break at 20 minutes for changes (and recharging time for the older guys).

The Fog started strongly and clearly had pace and energy on their side against a group of old guys with significant rugby intelligence but not able to do things as fast as they remembered.

Half time was 4 tries to 1 in favour of the Fog (no goal posts so no kicks at goal). The Fog then introduced more rookies and loaned one of their better players (a wing with good pace). The rookies couldn’t compete with the rugby savvy of the Bald Eagles or, more specifically, the pace of the winger loaned to the Bald Eagles.

The second half was 4 tries to 3 in favour of the Bald Eagles but at least 6 of the scores were actually by Fog players.

Full time; 7 tries to 5 for the Fog

Date: 12/01/2018

Fresno State Women 28 – CSU Monterey Bay Women 12 

Referee: Rodney Tuisavalalo

It was good game to start the season. Both teams were ready to go by the time I got to the pitch. The overnight rain and morning showers made it tough for ball handling for both sides, but that didn’t matter really. The first half started well enough, but it was Fresno that dictated the pace and play. They attacked well and often that eventually led to a nice run and try by Fresno State. Another converted try soon after indicated that there might be a runaway, but Monterey would not let that happen. They successfully denied Fresno’s attack with sheer power tackling. What they lacked in offensive possession they made up for in their defense. They were eventually rewarded when a knock-on by Fresno at the half-way point led to some pretty footwork by Monterey’s 12 which ended with a try near the posts. It was converted and cut Fresno’s lead to a try. HT score 14-7 Fresno. Fresno came out firing in the second half. The tries came easier as the ground started to firm up a little. Monterey forwards started to pick up the pace as well. One after another they charged the line and committed at least 3 defenders to the breakdown. They would eventually score in the end with a tap and go from the number 3. Fresno’s back-line became more and more confident as the game wore on. They moved the ball through the hands pretty well, and unleashed their wingers at the end. Solid effort from both teams.Good game overall! Much luck to both teams next week! Cheers, Rod

Date: 12/01/2018

San Jose State Women 27 – Santa Clara Women 24 

Referee: John Lane

6pm at Spartan Stadium is an excellent venue – great surface and excellent lights!

After a short discussion on ensuring everyone one was on the same page for the line markings on the American Football field the pre-match formalities of boot checks, captain introductions and coin toss were executed.

Santa Clara kicked off and the opening 5 minutes was dominated by San Jose although both sides took a few minutes to settle into the game.  On 10 minutes Santa Clara showed that they had settle down and following multiple phases crossed near the posts for a converted try (0-7 on10 mins).

The next 10 minutes was played mainly between the 22’s with multiple turnovers from both teams.

At this point, San Jose took a decided upper hand for the remainder of the half – in particular with some strong running from their outside center.

On 25 mins, she crossed for an unconverted try on the left and then catching a slightly long restart kick accelerated through 2 attempted tackles, swerved around the fullback and sprinted from the half way line to score under the posts.  The conversion pushed the score to 12-7 on 27 mins.

San Jose remained on top for the remainder of the half and extended their lead when being awarded a penalty on the 22m line to the right of the posts.  Their kicker indicated a shot at goal to me and rather than wait for a kicking tee just turned and split the uprights with a text book drop goal.  Half time 17-7.

Santa Clara opened the second half well and on 46 mins broke through for an uncoverted try for 17-12.  San Jose’s No 13 responded again and on 52 mins crossed for her hat-trick – converted for a 24-12 lead.

For the next 15 minutes, play moved from end to end in a very open game – control was not always accurate but the enthusiasm and commitment of both sets of players brought the supporters to life with plenty of loud encouragement.  This raised the players efforts further – the subs bench was used heavily by both sides as players tired through the committed efforts.

On 27 mins, San Jose crossed again for an unconverted try to stretch the lead to 27-12 and the game looked to be settled.

Backed by some very vocal support, Santa Clara finished with a flourish scoring 2 tries (1 converted) to close score to 27-24 with the last play of the game.

After a well fought and good humored fair contest throughout the two sets of players clapped each other off the field with the vocal supports joining them from the stands. 

Date: 12/01/2018

UC Davis 43 – UC Santa Cruz 5 

Referee: Rich Boyer

UC Santa Cruz started very strong, with multiple pick and drives from rucks.  UCD didn’t have much of a response to this strategy until their back picked off a pass and scored under the posts.  Santa Cruz were game, and responded with a try.  But from then on it was all UCD, with brilliant phase play, strong up and unders, and good defense.  Standouts for Davis included Tarik, the flyhalf, and the entire forward pack, with number 7 showing especially well.  Santa Cruz’ number 8 did well with numerous strong runs and the flyhalf exhibited great kicking skills. 

Date: 12/01/2018

UC Davis Women 17 – UCSB Women 70 

Referee: Steven Fenaroli

First 15s start in norcal due to the bad weather a couple weeks ago. The weather was poised to open up and downpour and at the start of the game, our odds didn’t look great. Within the first 10 minutes the sky cleared and the match was a sunny one. It was a close score at halftime with UCD trailing 12-10. With the large turnout that the UCD women saw on their team, they rotated in substitutes. UCSB traveled with about 17 players who toughed out the entire 80 minutes. The UCSB women ran away with it as their offloads and discipline at the breakdown kept them with overlaps and finding the gaps.

Date: 12/08/2018

Cal Poly Women 31 – CSU Monterey Bay Women 45  

Referee: Paul Bretz

This was my first run since I tore my meniscus in October.  Happy to say no issues or pain.  As for the game… Cal Poly women dominated the play early on scoring 19 points before CSU Monterey Bay go on the board.  Cal Poly played a more open style game utilizing their 3 dominate players:  6,8 and 10.  However, 6 and 8 went out with injuries and that left the door open for Monterey to come back using a more controlled pick and drive attack.  While it wasn’t particularly attractive it was effective; as the first half drew to a conclusion Cal Poly was up 31-19. 

In the second half CSU continued to use their pick-and-drive to establish quick ball then used their wing to create lots of runs.  With 21 minutes to go the game was tied @ 31.  That was it for Cal Poly as CSU pulled ahead for good scoring 2 more converted tries to make the final score 45 to the visitors and 31 for the hosts. 

This Week’s Photo

Hendon RFC in Hendon, London, England, United Kingdom.    Not too shabby.

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