Early Days

HAIL PELICUS!

Early Days

This past weekend I was assigned a match way up in the extreme north of Pelicanland at Humboldt St University (see report below). Not only is this a 5-plus hour drive but the HSU women scheduled their match for 11:00 even though there was no other matches being played that day. Apparently they scheduled it for then because “they always play at 11:00” and by the time I asked them to change it other groups had booked the field, so that made for a VERY early morning for me.

I am not a fan of getting up early.

There are people, most notably in the military and the sports advertising world, who believe that getting up early is a sign of moral character. One should always run quickly away whenever someone says something like “Oh Five Hundred” as if it were a real thing. Be prepared during the upcoming Olympic Games for lots of feel-good stories of athletes overcoming obstacles to get to the top of their sport and the inevitable soft focus montage of these athletes getting up while it is still dark out to run the lonely streets/work out/go to training. With stirring music in the background we are reminded of the noble and moral sacrifice they are making by getting up early.

Balderdash.

Yes, there are some times when getting up early is necessary – often it is your job that requires it like, for example, the angel in heavy disguise who makes my morning donuts. I know that at times that is the only time one has for training or whatnot, but that doesn’t make it a morally superior choice – it is just time management. If you get up later and are awake for the same number of hours, doing the same activities, what matter is it the position of the sun when you do it? Farmers are well known for going to bed with the cows and getting up with the chickens. Some people consider this a sign of moral rectitude but I consider it a sign of deviant sexual practices that should be reported to the Humane Society. As a guiding philosophy I much prefer Orson Scott Card’s “early to bed and early to rise makes a man stupid and blind in the eyes.” It makes the rest of the day much easier to face.

Hail Pelicus Rewind

A few years ago when I had made a similar trip to Humboldt I wrote one of my favorite pieces. It had everything; natural splendor and a celebration of Pelicanland combined with several layers of jokes and wordplay. I always thought it exemplified the stylistic advice of E.B. White to “Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand.” Here at Hail Pelicus the goal not only is to entertain and inform, but to do so in a manner that celebrates this wonderful language of ours and the diversity of nuance available.

Also, whenever possible, I reuse old material so that I can fill a few column inches without having to do any work, so here is one of my favorite items, originally published in February of 2015:

The Roads Less Travelled – Redux

Early morning Saturday, I slowly return to consciousness at the insistence of a pesky buzz. An early start is needed to complete the 325 mile migration northwards to fulfill the promised rugby regimen. The night was still upon us and a crisp, quiet darkness ruled the neighborhood. With the kit bag already readied and the motorcar fully gassed up all that was needed to begin the journey was to preen the feathers and take off. Starting north up the east side of the San Francisco Bay to cross the San Pablo Bay in darkness as the sun struggled to meet its appointment with the day. After a planned stop off in Santa Rosa to grab some coffee and a breakfast sandwich I added a few more stops just to take time and look around at the scenery. As the sun rose Pelicanland slowly lit up to the dazzling beauty that it is known for with vistas found in few other places in the world. Early fog blanketed rolling vineyards, thick enough that the far side was obscured from sight. Breaking into more secluded regions the morning sky sparkled clear and blue as the clouds that should have been floating by were still asleep in the wooded valleys. Looking down on these opaque cotton balls still clinging to the valley floor on a crystalline day is a magnificent sight.

Finally, I have arrived at my destination. The gods have declared that rugby is a sport best played in fine weather and arranged such accordingly. Also noting that close matches with last minute heroics are more fun than blowouts, the gods arranged this as well. What could be better?

As is common at my age, I had played with the coaching staff at Humboldt St and we spent some quality time rehashing old and new stories over a few pints in the taproom at the Redwood Curtain Brewing Company. The good people of Redwood Curtain have figured out some excellent ways to combine flavors and have quite the selection and I wish I had time to try them all, but families and rest called to us as we parted, going our separate ways.

I moved 10 miles down the coast of Humboldt Bay to the next town and checked into my lodging for the night. There was one requirement: a hot tub. I stopped by the hotel bar and obtained a suitable libation and stepped into the hot tub. I idly noticed how the water sloshed over the edge when I stepped in and, as my mind wandered, I saw how the level of my drink changed as well. With a sudden flash of inspiration I jumped out of the hot tub shouting “EUREKA!” and went to get a new drink.

Heading home the next day there was an opportunity presented that is unique to this special area of the world. I pulled off the freeway and drove for about a half mile or so… and then I drove through a tree. As they so often are, the roads less travelled are the most interesting.

The NCRRS Kit Store

As stated before, the NCRRS is moving away from buying all the kit and then reselling it to our referees. The reasons for this should be obvious in that 1) we have to guess ahead of time how many referees will want or need kit and we have guessed wrong in the past and 2) I really don’t want to continue to have to deal withal these boxes of old and new kit. So to that end, while we will continue to order and distribute jerseys, because we do not sell them – they are earned, moving forward we have set up a store through Canterbury to sell our kit directly to you, our loyal customers. This also allows us more flexibility to sell branded merchandise, such as warm up shirts, tee shirts, backpacks, tooks and so on. The store is now open so please check it out using the following link:

https://norcalrefsjan2017.itemorder.com/sale?read_message=true

The store will stay open until 11:59:59PM, Sunday Feb 25, at which point Canterbury will collect the orders, stich and screen as needed, and then ship them out. This store can be reopened as needed depending on demand, but don’t wait! Get your gear now!

Laying Down Some Knowledge

Our February Society meeting is coming up on Wednesday, February 21. Apparently a few Pelican Sweetie Babies objected to having a meeting on February 14, thus the later date. Details will be posted next week.

Vegas Needs Refs

For Behold! I see in mine eye a City full of Sinners whereupon unruly masses descend for feats of violence, tests of skill and corybantic rituals fueled by mind-addling ambrosia. Should Paragons of Law not also descend upon this madness all will be lost, there will be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth and nobody will have any fun at all. Thus I proclaim the following missive:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. As our tournament continues to grow, so does the number of referees needs to keep this event rolling! Come ref by day, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! Northern California brought a great number of refs last year, and we can’t do it again without you!

All Referees receive:
– Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific cuts)
– Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event (when you stay at the Westgate Hotel – massive LVI benefits available on room rates, $10 breakfast deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH THE END OF JANUARY!!, and $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields)

Westgate Hotel link: https://aws.passkey.com/go/SLVI8R – 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 2017, contact Autumn Arvidson at : mnrugbyref@gmail.com

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

Flock Talk, Enriching The Vocabulary Of Pelicanland

Taken from the Vegas intro, we have this edition’s Word of the Day:

Corybantic

adjective kawr-uh-ban-tik, kor-
1. frenzied; agitated; unrestrained.
2. of or relating to a Corybant.

Bonus Flock Talk!

Taken from Flock Talk:

Corybant

noun kawr-uh-ban-teez, kor-
1. Classical Mythology. any of the spirits or secondary divinities attending Cybele with wild music and dancing.
2. an ancient Phrygian priest of Cybele.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 02/03/2018
Chico State 39 – UC Santa Cruz 17
Referee: Rich Boyer

A beautiful day greeted me on my trip to Chico. UCSC were keen from the start and worked the ball methodically down field only to be undone by an error. Chico took control from there, but had a difficult time finding the try line, until a few well worked mauls resulted in two consecutive tries. Chico’s forward pods were difficult to stop, try as UCSC might, and eventually it took its toll, resulting in two tries scored out wide. UCSC have a very strong, big number 8, who put his hand up second half. That, combined with a revised gameplan, resulted in two tries in the second half, but it was too late as the damage had been done. Chico State’s notable players included captain Matt, their flankers, vice captain Kevin at lock and the flyhalf, who directed the game. UCSC’s outside center has pace to burn and played very well to complement the 8 man, hooker and captain Billy at ten.

Date: 02/03/2018
Pacific 17 – CSU Monterey Bay 24
Referee: Giles Wilson

A beautiful day in Stockton with a well marked field, in great condition. Both teams and the field were ready in plenty of time; we got the coin toss out of the way and then the other pre-match conversation. This left plenty of time to talk Scott Wood into being one A/R.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Good choice. I hear he is outstanding in his field.)

Both teams were ready to go about five minutes early so we didn’t delay and got things rolling. CSUMB started well and scored after five minutes but then Pacific came back into the game for a try of their own. Things settled into more of an arm wrestle until CSUMB scored another try to pull out to a 12-5 lead. Late in the half, Pacific had a breakaway who was pulled down with a high tackle, resulting in a Penalty Try and a half time score of 12-12.

CSUMB started the second half a little over excitedly, with dangerous tackles at 2 and 3 minutes meaning they’d spend 9 minutes with only 13 players. Pacific chose that time to drive narrow and keep the game narrow allowing CSUMB to play out the sin bins. CSUMB in fact scored first in the half for a 19-12 lead. Pacific pulled back a try to close the gap to 2 points but CSUMB got the final word with another try for a final of 24-17.

Both teams have promise and will improve as their conditioning improves. Pacific should have made more of their time with a 2 player advantage. CSUMB have the athletes to score more when they identify spaces rather than running to contact.

Date: 02/03/2018
Central Coast RFC 35 – Sacramento Blackhawks D3 22
Referee: Stephen Moore

A competitive match marred by ill-discipline in the second half. Both sides were quick to put points on the board early in the first half. The score oscillated competitively with Blackhawks ahead at half-time, 17 to 14. The second half saw the Beachdogs gain strength and come out on to top due to foul play by the opposition. A Blackhawks player was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle in the first-half that carried over to a four-minute suspension in the second half. Following his return another dangerous tackle occurred by Blackhawks, resulting in a send-off, red card. In the final 15 minutes of the second half, two more yellow cards were issued to Blackhawks, dangerous tackle, and obstruction professional foul. With Blackhawks playing now with twelve men, for an eight-minute period, Beachdogs exploited the situation scoring several tries. The final score: Beachdogs 35, Blackhawks 22.

Apart from the ill-discipline, players accepted their marching orders, were cooperative, and the match was competitive with some big hits and very determined contesting at the breakdown. Blackhawks did score one try in the second half and it was a beauty. Kicking the ball from deep towards the goal area the Blackhawks scrum-half raced to reach the ball, he jumped high in goal and received a lucky bounce off the ground with the ball depositing into his arms coming down to score. He was one of five jumping players and the only Blackhawk. It was a skilled but beautiful fluke.

For a very hot sunny afternoon for the month of February in Monterey, it was a good and competitive effort by both sides all around. Thank you to the captains and players for their cooperation.

Date: 02/03/2018
Vacaville 26 – Sacramento Blackhawks D2 31
Referee: Jeff Richmond

A contrast in two different playing styles. Sacramento had a very powerful group of forwards and was able to dominate scrums and loose play. Vacaville was forced to bring more attention and manpower to slow down the forwards and that opened up gaps in their backline that Sacramento could exploit. Vacaville had a disciplined set of backs that could coordinate attacks by getting Sac defenders to commit to a tackle and create openings. Vacaville was able to stay in the hunt, down 24-14 at the half. The Blackhawks began to fade in the second half and Vacaville closed the gap and had chances to take the lead but Sac held on for the win.

Date: 02/03/2018
Mother Lode Rugby Football Club 39 – Solano-Yolo Rugby Club 12
Referee: Scott Wood

Both teams competed well, albeit early season issues with tackle entry and offside disrupted contest and continuity.

Date: 02/03/2018
UC Davis 55 – UC Santa Barbara 0
Referee: Pete Smith

Both teams struggled mightily with the laws surrounding the maul. A maul is formed by having two offensive players and one defender. Once a maul is formed, if it goes to ground, the ball must be played immediately or a scrum is ordered to the defending team. If the ball carrier manages to get their knee to the ground after a maul a formed it is deemed to have been taken to ground; scrum and turnover. Moreover, if a maul goes to ground (it is not a tackle) no one is obligated to roll away, but if the ball is available to be played it can be if done so immediately. They also struggled with gate entry at the ruck despite the entry standards being severely relaxed and sealing off on the ball carrier. I spent an unusual amount of time explaining points of law. However at the final whistle it was me that made the law mistake. With Davis up 55-0 and time out, I awarded a penalty to Davis which they kicked to touch at roughly their own 22 and I blew the whistle for match over. The Davis captain corrected me, reminding me that the match no longer ends on a penalty kick to touch unless the kicker taps it first so we continued to the next stoppage. Minor mistake and a quick fix.

Date: 02/03/2018
Humboldt State Women 31 – UC Davis Women 49
Referee: James Hinkin

On a beautiful day up in Humboldt County the Humboldt State Lumberjills* hosted the Aggies from UC Davis at College Creek Field in a wildly entertaining match. Technical zones and flags were in place and the only blemish on the field’s perfection was an overexcited line-drawer who continued the 5m and 15m lines into the try zone and the midfield 10m lines past the touchline. Oh well – so close to perfection.

Perennial national powerhouse UC Davis were ready to play from the opening whistle and put HSU under pressure early. They scored first and their impressive #10 nailed a difficult conversion to add the extras, so when another score was put up by the visitors this looked to be a long day for the home side. Not to worry, as they settled into their game plan and got a few turnovers and started attacking the UC Davis team with purpose. The reply for HSU came with about 20 minutes gone when they scored a converted try to get to 12-7. This set up the pattern of the game : UC Davis would score to extend their lead and Humboldt St would reply to close the gap. The match saw 14 tries: 9 for UCD and 5 for HSU. The Davis #10 was excellent at attacking and distributing and threats were generated constantly by their small but extremely fast #13. In the backline Humboldt countered with a big, strong #13 of their own who would go on long, line breaking runs, handing off several defenders as she raced to the try line. In the forwards HSU had a size advantage but UCD had better scrum technique so advantage Aggies, but the Lumberjills used their size better in open play as they hammered at the defense with one-off runners to move the advantage line and create overlaps. A contrast in styles eventually won by the smaller, fitter Aggies.

A great game played by two wonderful teams in a perfect rugby spirit.

* Actually the HSU mascot is the Lumberjacks, but I think the women’s representatives should be the Lumberjills so that is what I am going to do.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: You don’t get to decide what a team’s nickname is. Use the one they use.)

Date: 02/03/2018
Univ Nevada Reno Women 46 – Santa Clara Women 7
Referee: Sam Reagle

Great day for rugby in Reno.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Love the writeup, Sam. This kind of work gets you noticed for the Pelicus Scriptoris award.)

Date: 02/03/2018
San Jose State Women 0 – Fresno State Women 83
Referee: Larry Freitas

I got to Independence High School for the 1pm kick off, and it was very sunny and warm, especially for early February. The new normal now? I’d say the week before last was the old normal, when I was a kid growing up in the South Bay. Anyway, everything looked good on the field, except the pitch itself isn’t all that great, with dirt patches here and there, and lots of weeds. I have allergies and right after the match it seemed my sinuses went into swelling mode.

Fresno State scored the first try of this forfeited match within a few minutes of kick off. They would score 38 unanswered points in the first stanza. FSU also gave San Jose State a few players to make up numbers, to have a 15 on 15 match. The Spartan women are down to 13 active players now. It’s sort of sad that the two Silicon Valley college teams are having a hard time putting 15 healthy players out on a pitch on any given Saturday. That wasn’t the case fifteen years ago.

At the mid point of the second half San Jose kept Fresno from doing any scoring for about twenty minutes. Then the floodgates opened again. In the second half there was even more tries scored, and the final tally was 83-0, though I know the real score in the books will be different. Fresno State experimented with some players playing out of position. Balestra, who only played the first half, was the scrum half, and she scored a few tries, seemingly coasting through any gaps that popped open between defenders. Next week Nevada Reno come to San Jose State. I imagine things will repeat themselves.

Date: 02/03/2018
BA Baracus 7 – San Jose Seahawks 51
Referee: Paul Bretz

San Jose visited BA Baracus at the famed Fort Scott field overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge on a beautiful February afternoon. San Jose elected to run up field the first half and managed to control play by scoring 27 points during the first half. San Jose was able to find holes in the Baracus defense by using it’s center to soften the defense and then spin it wide. During the second half of play San Jose again controlled play by scoring 24 points to 7.

Date: 02/03/2018
St Marys College 60 – Olympic Club 7
Referee: Neil MacDonald
AR: Peter Sandhill
AR: Jeremy Sandhill (no relation*)

(EDITOR’s NOTE: * no relation to Neil, I mean. Jeremy is actually Peter’s son.)

The 76 degree weather was nothing compared to the heat that St Mary’s brought to Olympic Club in the latter’s final pre-season fixture, with the Gaels breaking a couple of soft tackles and scoring under the posts in the first minute, in front of a vocal home crowd. After sometimes intense contests at the breakdown, St Mary’s pace, ball retention and great support play were too much for the visitors to contain and 23 minutes in the hosts had scored four tries and enjoyed at 24-0 lead. A few minutes later, Olympic Club were down to 14 players after a yellow card for an attempted trip. Olympic Club stepped up and defended well, but St Mary’s crossed for another try just before half time to go into the break 31-0 up.

The second half was more of the same, although Olympic club were looking less rusty by the minute and held the Gaels to just the one early try for a long time. Bruce Thomas, back in Northern California and now playing for Olympic Club was his usual larger than life self at the breakdown, and won several key turnovers for his team, but the Gaels were clearly alert to the threat he posed as a fetcher and worked hard to meet him with numbers over the ball. The hosts scored a brace in quick succession around the 60 minute mark. By this point, the Gael halfback was on for an unusual hat trick, having hit the post with two conversion attempts from out wide. Two more tries for St Mary’s in the final ten minutes took their tally to 60 points, but the hat trick was not to be. Olympic Club got on the score board with moments remaining, through a very well executed rolling maul which they drove over through very committed St Mary’s defenders, and converted with an excellent kick. Some reward at least for Olympic Club, who played positive, committed rugby throughout on a difficult afternoon in Moraga.
At one point in the match I heard a familiar accent, and later discovered there were two freshmen Gaels from Kilmacolm, not far from my Ayrshire childhood home in south west Scotland. St Mary’s is attracting talent from far and wide, and on this showing are going to be a handful for any team this season.

Thanks to the Sandhills for their excellent help on the touchline – it was great to have good assists coming in on the radio. All the best to Olympic Club for their PRP season, and to St Mary’s for their remaining D1A fixtures.

Date: 02/03/2018
St Marys College B 31 – Olympic Club B 27
Referee: Peter Sandhill

Thank you NorCal “winter” for turning on perfect rugby conditions. This is game was a “friendly” and the last warm-up before the “real” competition starts next weekend. It was a game of two halves, well mostly.

The Gaels kicked off and the game started at a fairly fast pace. It was clear that the Olympic Clubs backs were a little faster as they ran in three tries in the first half. OC #10 had a thunderous boot which provided good field position at various key moments. SMC seemed a little surprised and on the back foot which, as coach Tim O’Brien mentioned afterward to me, was a bit new for this team this season and good for them. The forwards seemed quite even in the first half, clean, appropriately aggressive with both team allowing fair contest, challenge with amply quick ball. Half time OC ahead 22-7.

I don’t know what happened at half time but it seemed a new SMC side began the second half – harder on the ball, less small mistakes as they ran in a couple of quick tries. All of a sudden OC were on the back foot. There was a bit of heat and chatter, for the first time. The captains calmed their team down and everyone got back to work.

Both team switched it up a gear or two for the last twenty minutes as the game became tighter. OC through everything at Gaels and they responded in kind. It was tense and mostly very clean. OC #7 and #8 had some lovely runs from behind the ruck and set piece. As fatigue set in, it became a little sloppy in the last five but still compelling rugby. Gaels won by a whisper.

Keep an eye out for these two teams this year. Lots of skill, ability and solid team work.
Gratitude to Neil McDonald for hanging back after the A game to watch and offer some useful thoughts at half and full time. Cheers Neil.

Date: 02/03/2018
Sacramento State Women 17 – St Marys College Women 43
Referee: David Hosley

Technical zones not marked, nor field flags present, when I arrived at 10:10 for 11 a.m. match. I spoke to facilities staff setting up tents and stands on north side of field, who in turn informed Sac State coach. Then I introduced myself to coaches on south side of the pitch, and said we couldn’t start match without required zones and markings. Kristina had CSUS team establish zones with cones, but reported only four flags were available from shared club sports locker. I had them place those at the in goal line. It would seem the CSUS club sports office need to be contacted on the matter, as it is difficult for coaches to deal with this on match day when trying to prepare their teams. They did have zones and flags the previous week for the men’s match.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Very nice, David, but what about the game?)

Date: 02/03/2018
Stanford 36 – Univ Nevada Reno 17
Referee: David Pescetti

Unseasonably warm sunny day down on the farm. UNR traveled down from the mountains to play the Cardinal. The heat of the day caused many players to go down with injury. The compounding effect allowed for an intense match when the ball was in play for those who were able to survive the physicality and heat combination.

The first half was a close affair. With Reno trailing into the half by a try. In the second half, Stanford used their back play to create the difference. But the second half was all Stanford. As time was near expiring Reno put a try and were meters from getting their 4th and bonus point try but their time ran out.
Stanford 36 – UNR 17

Date: 02/03/2018
Silicon Valley 15 – Colusa County 48
Referee: John Pohlman

What a beautiful day for rugby. Silicon Valley hosting Division three powerhouse Colusa at Calabasas Park in San Jose. Colusa traveled with 17 players, Silicon Valley looked to have 25 or so. Field properly set up, both teams ready at the 1:30 kick off time, 70 plus degrees, whistle in hand and big smile on my face…doesn’t get any better.

Silicon Valley was rewarded with a quick penalty in front of the posts at 2 minute and converted for a 3-0 quick lead.

Silicon Valley turned the ball over and Colusa did what they do best go forward. Both teams were ready for a physical game but Colusa broke down the defense for an early try at five minute. Colusa followed with another hard running try at 9 minutes. Both teams steadied themselves and played a physical Division three game…hard rugby.

Half time score Colusa 12 Silicon Valley 3.

Colusa opened the second half putting Silicon Valley under pressure. S. V.’s french wing made a high tackle 5 meters out for my first penalty try of my refereeing career. Colusa scored another try with a man advantage at 11 minutes. Colusa then scored what I felt was one of the prettiest try’s. #10 captain Cody kicked a ball to his outside backs picked up by #12 who was immediately high low tackled by Silicon’s backs. #12 popped a blind pas out to their hard charging #14 who went in a beautiful score. Colusa looked to be running away with the game only to have Silicon Valley score try’s at 22 and 26 minutes. Colusa realizing there was time for Silicon Valley to come back scored the last three try’s.
Final Colusa 48-Silicon Valley 15. Thanks guys for a fast, physical, hard game to referee. Good luck.

Date: 02/03/2018
SFGG D2 33 – Life West D2 44
Referee: Grant Mcdougall

No Report Received.

Date: 02/03/2018
San Francisco State 43 – Fresno State 15
Referee: Preston Gordon

No Report Received.

Date: 02/03/2018
Marin 8 – San Joaquin-Stanislaus RFC 17
Referee: Chris Labozzetta

No Report Received.

Date: 02/03/2018
Google 17 – Olde Gaels 39
Referee: Nome Tiatia

No Report Received.

This Week’s Photo

Shows Stephen Moore setting a scrum under the lights at Stanford University as they hosted UC Davis.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Sunny Delight

HAIL PELICUS!

Sunny Delight

One of the many reasons why we are blessed here in Pelicanland is the indisputable fact that our local Weather Priestess is a huge rugby fan. How can I tell? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Year round we have nearly constant, perfect rugby weather. Of course, in any season a little rain must fall but our Weather Priestess generally schedules these brief interruptions for the weekdays, not the weekends. Take last week, for example. Most of the region had heavy rain during the week, which may have affected practices but had no effect on matches because come Saturday the weather was clear, sunny and warm, e.g.: Perfect Rugby Weather. Having such a wise, hardworking and compassionate Weather Priestess is a luxury that is not granted to all regions of this world of ours. Most of America, for example, can’t even play at this time of year – the natural season to play rugby, of course – because their Weather Priestesses are busy dumping snow all over the place. One wonders what the people who live there did to piss off their Priestesses. Did they forget to make the proper sacrifices? Just to be sure on Friday I plan to sacrifice a nice steak and a bottle of California grown Cabernet Sauvignon (2006 was a bloody good year!).

Now, the opposite has occurred down south amongst our brethren of the Griffin. When looking at their Weather Priestess as it is quite obvious she is rather indolent and lethargic and as a result they don’t attend to the sacrificial duties very attentively. Don’t believe me? In San Diego the Weather Priestess doesn’t even bother creating new and exciting weather every day but just reuses the same 75 degree and sunny template over and over and over again. This lack of attention was no more obvious than at the inaugural Silicon Valley 7s when the San Diego based Tournament Director failed to make the proper sacrifices and as a result, the first cold and rainy day in 6 months showed up on that Saturday. Hopefully the lesson was learned.

Bogey Nights

It is official, there can be no more doubt or controversy. South Africa is the USA’s Bogey Team. Last year we could and did beat anyone… until the Cup Semis when we would inevitably run into South Africa and lose. This year I was thinking “new season, new attitude, new results!” but was sadly disabused of that train of thought last weekend in Sydney. The USA had started the World Sevens Series horribly, finishing last in Dubai, but got a bit better in South Africa. Things looked to be back on track last weekend in Sydney when we lost a close match to home side Australia – no shame there – but steamrolled Scotland and Canada to advance to the Cup round. Our first opponent in the knockout rounds? Only perennial champions and Lords of Sevens, Fiji. Faced with such a daunting task Our Lads brushed aside the islanders 24-7 in a commanding performance.

If you, dear reader, have been paying any attention at all to the last paragraph you would know what comes next. Riding high into our Cup semifinal we naturally faced South Africa and promptly got spanked 35-7. Now yes, South Africa is the defending Series champion and if we are to consistently make the Cup semis there are only a handful of teams one would expect to face. There will be the odd team like Canada in Singapore last year, or Kenya before that, or Argentina in this tournament who will make a run but for the most part it is South Africa, England, Fiji and New Zealand who will be your opponents at this late stage. Ever since our coming out party at the London 7s in 2015 we have been regular Cup round contenders and have sported a healthy winning percentage against all the other teams listed, but for some reason we can’t seem to beat South Africa. This is not to say we beat the Kiwis or the English all the time, but at least some of the time we do and on the other side, South Africa loses to these other teams as well – just not us. This is a hurdle we need to get over and soon.

Part of the problem is depth. Our top 8 or 9 players can beat anyone, but once we go beyond that the dropoff is noticeable. Injuries and suspensions can happen at any time and the core of our team (Niua, Hughes, Baker and Barrett) are all getting to be elder statesmen for international sevens. We need to start developing more youngsters fast or this run will soon be looked at as a Golden Age, never to be seen again.

Now THAT’s A Segue

We need to blood more young players and Mike Friday surely realizes that, so for the New Zealand leg of the Series he has called up to the squad Nick Boyer, son of the Society’s own Rich Boyer. Congratulations to both father and son on this accomplishment and to Coach Friday for noticing that international rugby talent is grown right here in Pelicanland. He will be joining local products Danny Barrett, Folau Niua, and Matai Leuta. 4 out of 12 isn’t bad.

Ladies And Gentlemen… Ladies

The Women’s Sevens Series was also playing in Sydney last weekend and Australia put on a performance for the ages, going undefeated to win the tournament while not allowing a single point. They won their games by scores of 29-0, 50-0, 43-0, 29-0, 31-0 and 31-0. That is complete dominance, my friends. Our women did not fare as well losing a tight contest to England 24-28 before rolling Japan, but then getting rolled in turn by New Zealand. Things went south from there on Day 2 as we lost to Russia and Spain and continued on Day 3 as we lost to Ireland in our final match. This was a disturbing result because our women have traditionally outperformed our men. While I realize that in sevens one tournament does not define a team – see US Men, Dubai – but we have historically produced some of the best women’s rugby athletes on the planet and some of these losses were galling. We looked like a team that lacked structure and cohesion and relied on individual skill to win and at the top level this does not work. At the NDS just passed the lack of support for the women’s game all the way up to the international level was passionately spoken about and if we don’t start taking our women seriously then more results like this weekend in Sydney will be the norm, rather than the exception. I am now putting the onus on USA Rugby to address the lack of support for the long term, but in the short term I am looking at the coaching staff. The women don’t play as many tournaments as the men so there are fewer opportunities to score Series points. The next tournament in not until April so there is plenty of time to work on what went wrong. I expect no less from our ladies than to be in the Cup semis at every tournament.

Vegas Needs Refs

Kowtowing is the traditional Chinese custom where a person would kneel and touch the ground with their forehead to show submission and respect. This obsequious demand was adopted by the Las Vegas Invitational years ago by their autocratic and imperious former leader to help solidify his position and it is no surprise the current administration continues this practice but they occasionally need to show respect to others in order to acquire the resources they need. The tiled hallways of Pelilcanland are covered with crazed patterns of broken tiles from the years of headbanging from the LVI organizers This year is no exception – I just wonder who is planning to pay to replace all the damaged tiles?

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. As our tournament continues to grow, so does the number of referees needs to keep this event rolling! Come ref by day, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! Northern California brought a great number of refs last year, and we can’t do it again without you!

All Referees receive:
– Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific cuts)
– Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event (when you stay at the Westgate Hotel – massive LVI benefits available on room rates, $10 breakfast deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH THE END OF JANUARY!!, and $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields)

Westgate Hotel link: https://aws.passkey.com/go/SLVI8R – 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 2017, contact Autumn Arvidson at : mnrugbyref@gmail.com

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
2. When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
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: 01/26/2018
Stanford Women 31 – UC Davis Women 14
Referee: Stephen Moore
Annoying Know-It-All: James Hinkin

The most competitive match I refereed this season, and the most enjoyable. Davis took the lead early and dominated with two tries and two conversions. Excellent teamwork by Davis in the first twenty minutes, it felt like it was going to be another of those high scoring one-sided matches. But Stanford was not for giving up! They came back in the second twenty hammering at Davis defense, camped down in their opposition’s half and eventually breaking thru and scoring two tries and two conversions. The match was fourteen all at halftime. Spectators, very excited.

Fired up, Stanford came out stronger in the second half denying Davis any further points. Stanford scored three tries and one conversion. Despite no points, Davis plugged away at Stanford attacking from deep and coming close to scoring, but Stanford’s defense was too strong. It was an exciting second half with both sides working hard in defense and attack phase after phase, with few mistakes, penalties or stoppages. Stanford had the upper hand in the attack though, they broke through scoring points out wide, and turning over several balls at breakdowns as well as scrums.

There were three yellow cards during the match, for dangerous tackles, all committed by Davis. None egregious, two committed by the same player, resulting in Davis player sent-off in the second half.
Thank you, James Hinkin for referee coaching again, valuable tips and points of advice as always. I look forward to reviewing the video.

Date: 01/27/2018
American River College 66 – Univ Nevada Reno B 0
Referee: Scott Wood
AR: Andrew Stockton
AR: Owen Thomas (Edmonton)
Voice In Ref’s Ear: Paul “A Nal Ease” Bretz

A couple of venue changes landed the match at the KOT. I had an enjoyable morning coaching referees, it has been too long since I’ve participated in the KOT and it was a pleasure to return.

ARC was clearly the more dominant team (6 tries per half) with several large players with nimble feet and a scrum half that was very adept at misdirection. Despite three yellow cards, the teams played in good spirits. With 11 minutes remaining, UNR’s captain inquired as to how much time was remaining. Upon being asked if he wanted all 11, he stated unequivocally and affirmatively in the positive. Gladiators can also be gluttons; kudos to his teams tenacity.

NB: When the whistle is inadvertently blown because a player has seemingly scored a try (over the five meter line…), the restart should be a scrum to the attacking team. A fine platform from which one may successfully dot down the ball over the goal line.

Date: 01/27/2018
Cal B 89 – Olympic Club B 5
Referee: Roberto Santiago

It was a beautiful day at Witter Rugby Field. This B-side match played out much like the previous A-side game, with Cal dominating the scoreboard. 20 minutes into the first half the score stood at 12-5 and it looked like this one might be more competitive than the game before. But Cal scored 77 unanswered points over the next hour to salt this one away. Even as they fell further behind, the visiting team played hard and clean to the end.

Date: 01/27/2018
Cal Maritime 76 – Pacific 7
Referee: Preston Gordon
Voice In Everybody’s Ear: Michael Gadoua

On a perfect-weather-for-rugby Saturday at Cal Maritime, the Keelhaulers outscored their visitors by at least 12 tries to 1 to win 76-7. I stopped counting because I was lucky enough to have Mike Gadoua in the booth keeping the score and keeping the crowd advised of what was happening right in front of them. Thanks for the color commentary, Mike – I know the parents in the stands were happy to have that. Even some of the players were listening to your concise and accurate law descriptions.

Cal Maritime had a full roster of 23, plus another dozen players watching, while UOP brought 19 and played 18. The first few minutes of the game saw 4 tries scored, 3 to Cal Maritime, with UOP taking advantage of a knock-on to run the ball in for their sole try of the afternoon. The halftime score was 19-7 (or perhaps 24-7), so it wasn’t totally out of reach for UOP until Cal Maritime began piling on the tries in the second half.

The magnitude of their victory flatters Maritime a bit. UOP probably deserved more points than they got, and a silly mistake at the end of the game led to yet another try for a home team player who pounced on a ball being bobbled in-goal to score. Having said that, Maritime’s defense did well to keep UOP from scoring while they were defending with 14 players due to a carelessly high tackle which earned the offending player a yellow card in the 69th minute.

Thanks again to Mike for announcing, and to both touch judges, and to Cal Maritime for hosting a great day of rugby.

Date: 01/27/2018
Fresno State 10 – Chico State 51
Referee: Rodney Tuisavalalo

No Report Received.

Date: 01/27/2018
Jesters Rugby FC 19 – Santa Barbara Rugby Academy 39
Referee: James Hinkin

A lovely winter’s day in Livermore saw two young at-large teams going at it. Pleasanton Jesters U23 were hosting the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy on a partially marked, turf football field. I mean, the field was obviously used for football as it had all the 1 yard hash marks but not all of the 5 yard markers. It had soccer lines on it as well so we essentially used the soccer lines with some cones to mark where the rugby lines should be. Both teams are young and eager so I anticipated a fast match and I wasn’t disappointed.

The match started out even with Santa Barbara showing more structure but Pleasanton making more line breaks. The game was back and forth for the first 20 minutes until some ill-discipline on the Pleasanton side led to quick tap opportunities and a pair of tries for the visitors. (Side note: both teams were eager to tap and go at penalties keeping both the defense and myself on our toes – they were fearless and ran it from most anywhere.) Towards the end of the first half the Jesters started putting more pressure on the Acadamians resulting in some ill-discipline on their end. Pleasanton quick tapped and scored with a nice little chip into space that wasn’t handled well and fell kindly to the onrushing support players for a try in the middle.

From the resulting kickoff came a try out of the top drawer that needs to be sent in to ESPN for their Top 10 highlights. Santa Barbara kicked deep right and Pleasanton immediately started moving the ball left across the field. Two long passes put the ball into the Jester’s big, impressive center who showed some footwork to slice through a gap into open field. Just past midfield the defense caught up with him so he threw a one handed offload to his teammate running at pace in support. Santa Barbara wasn’t beaten yet as more defenders arrived, chasing down each runner, yet every Pleasanton runner who was caught passed the ball to yet another player at speed in support, back and forth 6 times until the last man dove into the try zone for one of the best tries I have ever seen at any level. It only took a few seconds to go the length of the pitch on the kickoff earned from a try – great stuff. The half ended with Santa Barbara up 19-12.

The second half was a different story, however. Santa Barbara scored early and Pleasanton replied almost immediately, but after that the fitness of the visitors began to take a toll as they pulled away. Apparently training 5-6 days a week (often with double sessions) pays dividends. Hard, probing runs up the middle led to overlaps on the outside that the Acadamians were happy to exploit. The game ended with a solid piece of play on the left side by the Jesters that created room on the right side. The ball worked its way to their fullback who beat the last man to casually stroll to the try zone and put the ball down… about 2 meter short. The ensuing scramble saw a Jester player knock it on and the game ended. A good game from two good sides.

Date: 01/27/2018
Life West D2 74 – Santa Rosa 7
Referee: David Pescetti

In their first fixture of the year saw Life West playing some of their top side to get the rust off before PRP begins. This dominance ran throughout the game and showcased their backs. The scrum was in the hands of Santa Rosa for the majority of the match. They will have a strong scrum for teams to contend with in the remainder of the season.

Date: 01/27/2018
Sacramento State 27 – Univ Nevada Reno 38
Referee: Neil MacDonald

Following the CSUMB Sea Otter Women’s visit, this Pac West Conference league opener got off to an auspicious start with a formation fly past of five law enforcement and rescue helicopters. This however was scant consolation for the fate of the technical zones requested of the groundskeepers the day before while I was at Sac State for the KOT referee development program. Spotting them painting the pitch for the next day’s festivities, I realized that this was my chance – for once – to have properly marked technical zones. Summoning my celtic charm, I persuaded the crew to paint technical zone boxes stretching from the 10m lines to the 22m lines. The next day, I found beautiful technical zones painted in exactly the right places with exactly the right dimensions. There was only one problem. They were now under the portable bleachers which had been brought in that morning to seat the fans, and which could not be moved. Back we went to the half-assed oddly-shaped technical zones with which you are all so familiar on the other side of the pitch marked by cones. The balance of nature in Pelicanland had been restored.

The UNR Wolfpack shot out the gate, scoring twice in the first ten minutes to get out to a twelve point lead. The Hornets were far from done, though, and matched UNR’s smash mouth rugby in tight and their pace and handling out wide as they warmed to the task, pulling them back to 10-12 in the 26th minute. The two scrum halves were having a tremendous contest at every scrum and every breakdown. As Sacramento piled on the pressure, UNR repeatedly infringed, and a not back any penalty on top of the off feet and not rolling away penalties that preceded it saw a temporary cessation of scrum half hostilities as the UNR #9 spent ten minutes on the sideline to cool his ardor and reflect upon his team’s errant ways. The Hornets capitalized with another try, taking their first lead of the match into the break at 15-12.

It was all Hornets again as we got back underway for the second half, with a try coming in the 41st minute to take the score to 20-12. Back to full strength, the Wolfpack came roaring back with a try of their own to close the gap to three points. Alas, mid-way through the half, the Wolfpack fullback had a rush of blood to the head. Beaten, he lashed out with his foot to trip his opponent. UNR were back down to 14 players, this time permanently, and they were still behind. The next score was crucial, and it was the visitors who got it, getting their noses back in front 20-24 with fifteen minutes to play. It turned out that at this point that the earlier fly past had been a harbinger, and we required both law enforcement and rescue to help a Hornet with a serious leg injury apparently resulting from a freak accident jumping over a prone player on the ground and landing badly. The Sacramento State trainer did a wonderful job caring for him, and had already called 911 in the moments it took for me to reach the injured player. Police and fire were quickly on the scene. After a 20 minute hiatus while the player was cared for by the first responders, he was transported to hospital for further treatment.
As the match restarted, there was still everything to play for in the remaining 15 minutes, and the next score would once again be telling. The 14-player Wolfpack ran in two in quick succession, taking the score to 20-38. The Hornets fought until the last, scoring in the 78th minute to peg back the UNR lead, but ran out of time, and the match finished 27-38, giving the Wolfpack a win on the road to open their season.

This was an exciting game of rugby with great physicality and solid handling from both sides. This bodes well for Pac West play this season. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured Hornet, and thanks the Sacramento State staff for all their support on the day.

Date: 01/27/2018
Sacramento State Women 15 – CSU Monterey Bay Women 25
Referee: Paul Bretz

Sac State Women hosted the Monterey Bay Otters this past Saturday at Sac State. Enjoyable game played in good spirits. Sac State scored first and seemed to be in control until their center went down with an injury. After that Monterey utilized their pick and drive to draw defenders into the ruck zone and then used their outside center to dramatic effect, scoring 3 of the 4 tries, a penalty kick, and a conversion.

Date: 01/27/2018
San Francisco State B 0 – UC Santa Cruz B 0
Referee: Giles Wilson

Apparently UCSC had been told by SFSU that there would not be a B side and since the UCSC vans were otherwise committed, they left their B squad at home. SFSU indicated that they would field some sort of B side (despite being very short of players) but if UCSC didn’t have the players … Either way no one had notified the referees.
He said he said with the result of no B side so I had a nice sunny afternoon on TI watching Matt Hetterman referee the A side game.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The good news is that the teams will still get charged for a B side match and the referee will still get paid.)

Date: 01/27/2018
San Jose State 10 – Stanford 65
Referee: Pete Smith

The final score is indicative of the cohesive play by Stanford…good coaching and seasoned players. San Jose St had several players seeing rugby for the first time many of whom are tremendous athletes. The consensus on the day is teams that meet SJSU early in the season are much better off than those that we will see this team after they have had a chance to learn the game. SJSU’s learning curve will determine their success this year, they have the players to compete.

Date: 01/27/2018
Stanford Women 48 – Humboldt State Women 41
Referee: Robert Hammack

Beautiful, sunny day at Steuber field. Humboldt made the long drive to Palo Alto Friday night and must have had a good night’s sleep and their Wheaties for breakfast because they came out firing in the first 30 minutes. Humboldt had a great game plan centered around possession controlled by their powerful forwards and spinning the ball out to their backs after the defense got sucked in. Both Humboldt props and their #8 captain consistently broke the gain line and their #10 and #13 combined for some well-worked backline moves to score several early tries. Humboldt were up 26 – 7 before Stanford knew what hit them. However, Stanford was up to the challenge and once their brilliant #10 realized they couldn’t run through or around the Humboldt defense, she decided to turn the defense around with some well-placed kicks that led to 2 consecutive tries within 10 minutes to close the 1st half. HT 26 – 21.

Stanford came out firing in the second half with a try within the first 5 minutes and it had the feeling of a second half runaway. Humboldt continued to soldier on and scored another try but the depth of the Stanford bench and their superior fitness eventually won out. FT 41 – 48.

Overall a wonderful, fun game played with great spirit by both sides. Thank you to John Pohlman for the input and feedback.

Date: 01/27/2018
UC Santa Cruz Women 3 – Fresno State Women 44
Referee: Larry Freitas

Another beautiful day for rugby in Santa Cruz. I arrived at the parking lot at the Lower Field about forty minutes before kickoff, and it was 59F with plenty of sun. Had the game been a day earlier, it would have been a good ten degrees colder, somewhat windier, with cloud over the Santa Cruz Mountains. UC Santa Cruz does have some elevation, after all, and I have refereed a game there a dozen years back when it actually started to snow at the end of a match against Santa Clara during the last minutes of play. I heard one student on the sidelines before the match complain about the cold weather and rain that visited the Monterey Bay area during the week. Face it, in this current decade there have been way too many high pressure zones during winter that have made winter feel less like it used to in decades past. Both teams were warming up, and the field was in order, though I had flags at the tens removed (why are flags put there? Suggestion: look at a pitch online!) and had in goal flags put on the touch lines. The tech zones were roped off near the touch line on the ocean side of the pitch, unlike a few weeks back when Santa Cruz’s second side hosted Cal Poly’s freshman team, so there was no mistaking the tech zone line nearest touch as the touch line! Fresno State had arrived by bus, and think of how no one had to drive the distance from there to Santa Cruz.

Fresno State won the toss and elected to defend the east end of the pitch. In the first few minutes of play UC Santa Cruz seemed to have the upper hand, and pressured the Bull Dogs in their own 22, and at a ruck an infringement led to Tina Bullington easily kicking a penalty to give the Banana Slugs a quick 3-0 lead just four minutes into the match. Fresno State responded within a few minutes, getting a turnover in a counter rucking situation inside the home team’s 22, to the left of the posts, and flyhalf Jenna Balestra fed the ball out right to the backs, with full back Jacklyn Blackenship filling into the line, and scoring the first try of the match. Balestra missed the conversion. For about ten minutes both teams stymied any offensive threats, with hard tackles being made. From a scrum just inside Fresno’s own 22 in the midfield, Balestra, getting a pass from scrum half Raquel Macias, took advantage of a split backs formation to run through a gap that presented itself, and took off for a long run, motoring away from Santa Cruz’s backs who were desperate to catch her. Eventually she was brought down just inside the home team’s quarter, but dished off a pass to the other member of the half back combination, and Macias scored under the posts. This time the conversion was good and now Fresno State had a 12-3 lead. Nearer to the end of the half Balestra would score from a tap penalty. Her attempt to convert failed, and at the intermission Fresno State had a comfortable 17-3 lead. Six minutes of injury time was played because of one injury to a Fresno player who badly pulled a groin muscle, as she said she heard a pop when she went down in a tackle, therefore requiring some time to get her off the pitch as her left leg was virtually in a crippled state. One other note was that there was some chatter from UC’s coach on the sideline, complaining about a few calls. I’ll only say that when a ball is loose on the ground, a player can go to ground and attempt to secure it, and then can play the ball off the ground, pass it off the ground, if done very quickly. That player need not get back on his or her feet to do so. Check the law book! At half time I let the assistant coach know that that was how I had seen a few of these situations on the pitch, so I did not penalize for playing the ball off the ground. I also try to play advantage as much as I can. I won’t blow a whistle if I see that the non-offending team might play on and gain ground. I had my arm stuck out and even yelled out “advantage” at those moments during this match, so it’s a bit bothersome to hear any coach yelling out that a penalty has been committed when I’m playing advantage for his or her team. I can’t report any verbal abuse, then, but can report that the coach of UC Santa Cruz needs to keep it down on the touchline.

If UC Santa Cruz had any hopes of a second half comeback, they were dashed quickly. Fresno State’s dominant possession of ball meant that the Slugs were making many tackles. A few players on each side went off injured, but as the second half wore on, Santa Cruz could not take down runners as they had in the first half of the match, as they were getting worn out. At 43 minutes loose head prop Vanessa Maravilla crashed over the goal line for another Bull Dog try. About ten minutes later another counter ruck by the visiting team, well inside their own half, led to a Macias try. Balestra was in support and indeed had made the initial break out when the ball was turned over, and they seemingly toyed with Santa Cruz’s full back, Bullington, in passing the ball to each other a few times each inside the Slug 22, as though in a two on one drill in training. A dozen minutes more had gone by when flanker Megan Oleski of Fresno State scored from a five meter set piece, as Santa Cruz had held up a Fresno player’s attempt to dot the ball down in the previous phase of play. Eight minutes from no side Balsestra would once again score a try. The game ended with one more Fresno State try as Blackenship got her second of the match. The final score was 44-3 as the Slugs failed to cross over the opposition goal line. Fresno State just had too much talent for the home side to overcome. The whole team is solid from #1 to #15, and Macias has performed well as a replacement at scrum half for injured Moriah Halteman. She suffered a rib injury in the first half of the match, went off for some five minutes, and returned as she was not substituted. Regarding chatter from the sidelines, at one point mid-way in the second half, on awarding a penalty to Fresno State, I marched off another ten meters, as I was not happy with another complaint from the Santa Cruz coach. I saw that the Santa Cruz team, flyhalf Loren Roundtree in particular, didn’t use any real tactical kicking as it had the previous week against Santa Clara. The few kicks that were made went right into the hands of Fresno’s backs, as opposed to finding some space to make them turn around and retreat. At one point in the second half a desperation kick by a Santa Cruz player from inside their 22 was no where near touch, and as it was a weak kick that didn’t go high enough or very long for that matter, no Santa Cruz player was able to put some few of their own onside, players who were up field some fifteen or so meters from where the kick was taken, as a Fresno player caught the ball and ran forward into opposition to be tackled. Fresno opted for the scrum from the given penalty.

One other note is that it was heartening to see Brittany Wiedner return to the Banana Slugs, as she had dropped out of school when the 2015-16 year ended, but was able to get financial support to continue her studies at UC Santa Cruz. I hate to see any rugby player dropping out of school, as college is so much more expensive now than forty-five years ago when in the middle of my studies.

This Week’s Photo

When the rugby gods want to let everyone to know who is in charge of the match they don’t mess about.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Shrinkage

HAIL PELICUS!

Shrinkage

Here we are in the second week of the regular season for most clubs (Men’s club D1 starts next week) are playing matches, yet should you be naughty and scroll down directly to the match reports you would only see 12 items. I find it a little hard to believe that there were only 12 matches played (and that includes B sides) so referees, please put your narrative in when reporting scores in our new system, whostheref. As a rule of thumb it is best to have your entries in by noon on Wednesday as that is when I usually start downloading.

Of course, there are other reasons for the paucity of meandering musings. The assignment system is new and perhaps people haven’t bothered to learn how to use it or are put off its idiosyncrasies. If that is the case I highly recommend sending an email to R Scott Wood demanding instructions on how to use the system and fill in your scores and narrative. While CMS may be the official system of record, whostheref can work as a remote backup in case of disaster (every system needs a good disaster recovery plan). Plus, players, coaches and fans like to read this stuff. We get around 10,000 hits a month and it isn’t just the witty banter at the top. Probably in spite of it.

Another reason may be that the API used to extract the reports is a bit of a black box. I do not know the parameters that are set up for the extract so I may be missing reports because they just don’t get to me. I am working on getting more information on what exactly is being extracted.

Of course there is another reason for fewer reports this year than in the past. Much like a strong man in cold water, the NCRFU has recently undergone a little shrinkage. Just this past year South Valley, Sacramento Lions, Napa Wine Thieves and Colusa Women have all folded. Many of these free agents will play with other clubs – technically South Valley merged with the San Jose Seahawks, Lions players have the choice of Capitols or Blackhawks and Napa probably sent players to Santa Rosa – but not all. Where will the women of Colusa go? Do you really want to play for your cross town rival? In spite of assurances to the contrary, we are losing clubs and that means losing players. Yes, the youth game is growing but the club game is not and that is a concern. As it is rugby needlessly loses far too many athletes once they matriculate and not having a solid club to land in is one of the many factors in that statistic.

Clubs have folded before and the game still lived on, so what is the big deal? Won’t other, new clubs just form to take their place? The reason this is a big deal was touched on in the previous paragraph: youth. We are in the middle of a youth explosion when it comes to rugby participation and as a sport we do not want to lose all of these kids when they leave school. It is imperative that there is a place for them to go when they do so. Some clubs may just form senior sides when enough players move on – see Silicon Valley – but that is a rare thing and takes a few very strong willed individuals to drive the creation of a club.

Perhaps I am tilting at windmills here, but I see this as a pivotal moment in our sport and in Northern California. Very soon we may have more U19 and Youth players than senior players and if our game is to grow we need to accept the challenge of retaining these players. You will never get 100%, but we should at least strive for a majority. How is this done? I don’t have all the answers but I have some suggestions. USA Rugby and the NCRFU have already taken strides in implementing the tighter field regulations already in place at the youth level, such as team technical zones and that is a start, but the overall product needs to improve. I am not talking about the product on the field, but the field itself. The clubs themselves. Look professional, like you know what you are doing. Little details matter. Impressions matter.

As referees we need to do our part as well. When you are at a match you are often the lone representative of the entire society and what each of us does reflects on all of us. Be professional. Be prompt. Be friendly. Be whatever you need to be to help a great rugby event occur. It is the least we can do.

If not, we will have to deal with some embarrassing shrinkage for quite a while.

Vegas, Anyone?

Once again the organizers of the Las Vegas Invitational have realized that they simply can not put on the biggest rugby festival in North America without the assistance of the Greatest Rugby Referee Society in North America. To that end, here is their official begging letter:

Referees One and All !

The biggest rugby tournament in North America is looking for YOU! The Las Vegas Invitational needs you on March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to help volunteer and officiate 7’s (and a select few 15’s) matches across youth, collegiate, and adult divisions in Sin City. As our tournament continues to grow, so does the number of referees needs to keep this event rolling! Come ref by day, and enjoy the most exciting city on earth by night! Northern California brought a great number of refs last year, and we can’t do it again without you!

All Referees receive:
– Rhino LVI Referee jersey (both Male and Female specific cuts)
– Tickets to all 3 days of the USA Sevens International event (when you stay at the Westgate Hotel – massive LVI benefits available on room rates, $10 breakfast deal, WAIVING ALL RESORT FEES THROUGH THE END OF JANUARY!!, and $40 shuttle passes from the hotel to the stadium and the fields)

Westgate Hotel link: https://aws.passkey.com/go/SLVI8R – 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 2017, contact Autumn Arvidson at : mnrugbyref@gmail.com

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

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
2. When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
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: 01/20/2018
EPA Razorbacks B 35 – BA Baracus B 20
Referee: Robert Hammack

No Report Received.

Date: 01/20/2018
SFGG Women 31 – Berkeley All Blues B 17
Referee: Jessica Turner

It was a beautiful day on the island for some midday footy, with lots of sunshine and little to no wind. The SFGG women came out fierce, playing the first quarter with a lot of intent, especially getting physical around the breakdowns. Keeping the game plan fairly simple, they were able to get some good individual runs to tally up some tries early. A young All Blues side took a little bit to get going, but once they did the momentum started to turn over ever so slowly into the second quarter. The All Blues defense was getting a bit pinched in and were just unable to really string together a fast enough attack around the outside. The hard working forwards were able to capitalize on some errors by SFGG, punching a try in on forward picks. It was a great day for handling as well, we didn’t have our first scrum until the 24th minute! The second half was a great contest between the two sides, as they were playing much more evenly at this point. This was most definitely a forwards heavy game, with lots of action for both packs. The All Blues with some quick thinking and good ball movement, were able to get 2 more tries in on SFGG. However, the hard second push came a little too late, as they ran out of time to try and catch up. The Gate women dotted one more try down to seal the deal. Congratulations to Gate on the solid win, and well played by Berkeley!

Date: 01/20/2018
Colusa County 59 – Berkeley RFC 21
Referee: Giles Wilson

Both teams wanted to play enterprising rugby and started off well. Colusa worked a score after about 10 minutes before losing a player the sin bin at 12 minutes. After the return of the player, Colusa started to increase the pressure with hard running lines at good angles. The half finished at 26 – 7 with Colusa having 4 tries to Berkeley’s single, well worked score.

In the second half, the effort of defending Colusa’s hard lines wore down the visitors who gave up five more tries while running in two of their own.

Date: 01/20/2018
SF Fog 14 – Central Coast RFC 48
Referee: David Pescetti

No Report Received.

Date: 01/20/2018
UC Davis Women B 5 – Chico State Women B 31
Referee: Scott Wood

Great day for rugby–sunny, mid to upper 50s, plenty of spectators (est. 5,200). Chico State retained possession for a majority of the match. Knock-ons and tackle infringements were frequent. First half ended with Chico State leading 19-0.

Date: 01/20/2018
Google 31 – Fresno 33
Referee: Matt Hettermann

No Report Received.

Date: 01/20/2018
Fresno State 0 – Santa Clara 54
Referee: Dan Wilson

The end of a great youth round robin day culminated with a friendly game between Fresno State men v Santa Clara men. While a friendly game in schedule, the game had bouts of unfriendly behavior and long sessions of one-sided dominance. For the first quarter, the game was evenly played even though Santa Clara was able to score two converted try’s. The second quarter was filled with consistent defense from Fresno State intertwined with short bouts of ball in hand by Fresno State, but most of it was filled with the four try’s (2 converted) by Santa Clara and tempers flaring by Fresno State. The second half, however, was a better half of rugby all around even though Fresno State was not able to score while Santa Clara scored three more try’s (two converted). Final score: Fresno State 0 – Santa Clara 54

Date: 01/20/2018
Sacramento Amazons 75 – Santa Rosa Black Roses 22
Referee: Roberto Santiago

It was a crisp clear day in our state capital as the home standing Amazons hosted the visiting side from Santa Rosa. Sacramento dominated the first half, using coordinated back line play and bruising runs from their forwards to set the tone. The visitors played with discipline, but the mix of rookies and vets couldn’t hold the line against the more experienced Sacramento side. The Amazons put up 53 points in the first half, with Santa Rosa answering with just 5. The Sacramento #11 showed off a nifty bit of athleticism, attempting conversions with both her right and left foot depending on the angle. The second half was closer, as Santa Rosa showed no inclination to pack it in early. Though both sides brought made substitutions the second half, the level of play didn’t change. Santa Rosa’s inside center ripped off a series of dazzling runs to help the final score look less lopsided. The Amazons’ most noticeable sub was like a secret weapon from a sports movie. The reserve forward, wearing #17, came in and took the opening kick off of the second half through several would-be tacklers. That would prove to be her stock in trade as she continued to run over, defenders time and again, the perfect type of player to bring in against a tired defense. The indelible play of the game came when one of Santa Rosa’s subs, easily the smallest player on the field, found herself one-on-one against the Amazon’s #17. It looked like a potential disaster, before the visiting player executed a perfect form tackle, right at the knees for an improbable and temporary victory. It was one of those moments within the game that remind us why we play, ref, or watch. That moment that shows that no matter the score, or the size difference, sports are about challenging yourself in those moments to see what you can be. It was a play that exemplified and encapsulated the match. One team facing long odds against stronger opponent, but never backing down. Well played by all.

Date: 01/20/2018
Olde Gaels 55 – Silicon Valley 29
Referee: Peter Sandhill

Old Gaels and Silicon Valley played a hard clean game on a great field at Cal Maritime. The field, while astro-turf, is well marked and full sized with a nice stadium feel. It was a glorious day and the rains from the day before had abated and conditions were dry, cool and sunny. Perfect conditions for two teams hungry for competition points.

Old Gaels opened with two tries in the first ten minutes by moving the ball to the outside backs, who had good hands and fast line speed. Silicon Valley came roaring back but couldn’t breach the line, initially, having to settle for a penalty goal. 12-3.

It was clear, especially in the first half, that the Old Gaels outside backs had the edge. While it was a little tighter in the forwards, Old Gaels began to appear slightly dominant especially at the scrum. Every time they ran the ball into the Silicon Valley forwards, they made only small inroads. However whenever they worked the ball wide, their faster backs scored. At halftime it was 31-3.

The second half started with a couple of tries to Old Gaels and a try to Silicon Valley: 48-8. At about 20 minutes into the second half, Silicon Valley began running the ball in tight, from the post off the ruck, to great success scoring three tries in about 15 minutes: 48-22. The Old Gales were tiring and Silicon Valley could sense it.

The leaders on Old Gales, including their skillful scrum half and captain settled the team, as a try to each team finished out the game. No incidents of foul play, just good clean rugby.

Date: 01/20/2018
Santa Clara Women 26 – UC Santa Cruz Women 45
Referee: John Pohlman

My first league game of 2018 took me to Santa Clara University where the woman’s team hosted UC Santa Cruz. Both teams were warming up when I arrived around 10 for a 11:00 kick off. Fields and technical zone all good. Santa Cruz won the toss and elected to kick.

The first half was very balanced with both teams scoring three tries apiece. Half time score Santa Clara 19 Santa Cruz 21. Santa Cruz captain Loren #10 scored two tries in the second half, both 50 plus meter runs breaking numerous tackles. The first was scored with Santa Cruz a player down due to repeat penalties.

Both teams had new players who came into the ruck from the side and played the ball on ground at breakdowns. This led to more whistles than I like. But both teams show allot of potential. Santa Clara scored one try in the second half to Santa Cruz’s 4 tries.

Date: 01/20/2018
San Jose Seahawks 57 – Vacaville 14
Referee: James Hinkin

A beautiful winter’s day in California featured a break in the rain from the last few days for perfect conditions in San Jose: low 60s, sunny and very little wind. As I arrived at the (perfectly set up) pitch there already was a youth match between Silicon Valley and EPA Razorhawks in progress – a sight that never gets old. Youth rugby! It’s great to see. I spent a few minutes chatting with old friends either coaching their kids or watching their kids become the next generation of rugby stars (and getting assurances that they would be done by 1:00) before moving on to the teams. Both sides were warming up as I approached but the home side looked to have significantly more participants, an observation that was confirmed when the Vacaville team sheet showed only 2 subs. Early season injuries and squad depth may be an issue going forward with what is otherwise a talented and well coached team.

The match started with both sides aggressively running at each other as adrenalin pushed the initial bursts past the point of control and a couple of early knock-ons resulted in scrums. The match then settled into each team executing their pattern and probing the defense with limited success until about 15 minutes in when San Jose stole an overthrown lineout and broke for the line. Good scramble defense kept the home side at bay for a few phases until Vacaville was penalized for not rolling away at a tackle only scant meters from the line. A quick tap and hands to the right saw the impressive #13 Richard Weber for San Jose go over for his first of three tries on the day. A missed conversion put the score at 5-0. At this point the Seahawks started putting Vacaville under more and more pressure as they exerted dominance in all phases. Whether kicking for territory or running good, hard lines at the defense they kept the visitors pinned in their own end for much of the remainder of the half. The few Vacaville forays into Seahawk territory were quickly rebuffed and the pressure was reapplied. Another try (converted) moved the score to 12-0 and at the 30 minute mark San Jose was again hammering away 2 meters from the line when another desperate Vacaville defender was off side and held up San Jose captain Alex Pedjase long enough for teammates to arrive and prevent a grounding. Had the ball been grounded then it was a try but as it wasn’t we now had a penalty try. The combination of multiple infractions within 5 meters and the penalty preventing a try led to a yellow card for the Vacaville #13, who was admittedly unlucky because it was the first penalty he had committed all day. With their man advantage San Joes was able to dot down once more in the half before Vacaville stirred back to life. The last 5 minutes of the period saw the tables turned and Vacaville on the front foot with clever kicking and committed runners breaking tackles. They received their just reward as time expired with a try of their own, duly converted, to go into the break down 24-7, but with momentum and hope and all 15 players to start the second half.

Vacaville took their momentum from the end of the first half and rolled straight into the second half, scoring first. Their converted try put the match at 24-14 and the game was still in doubt but that was the last time Vacaville would cross the line. San Jose regrouped and started reapplying pressure, especially at scrum time where they were pushing the visitors around and off the ball for a couple of tightheads. Excellent vision produced accurate tactical kicks that put the visitor’s back three under pressure and the relieving kicks that resulted were mostly aimless punts down the middle of the field for a perfect counterattacking platform. With ball in hand the Seahawks runners were breaking more and more tackles and gaining territory in great chunks. As the home side put more tries on the board the visitor’s lack of depth showed. Having committed both of their replacements there was no help for Vacaville’s tiring legs while San Jose reloaded with fresh bodies and kept turning the screws. All in all, they produced 5 unanswered tries (4 converted) and won comfortably going away. The league should take note: this is not the 1 win team from last year.

My thanks to both captains who worked with me to keep the game moving and to John Pohlman who showed up and took an AR’s flag for me.

Date: 01/20/2018
San Jose Seahawks B 17 – Jesters Rugby FC 57
Referee: Stephen Moore
Nosy Know-It-All: James Hinkin

Heavily one-sided match. The Seahawks were coming off a previous A-level match, a little tired. Match settled into place after fifteen minutes following a flurry of tries from Jesters. Two yellow cards by Jesters in the second half: dangerous tackle (9.13), and professional foul hands in the ruck (15.11). Apart from the yellows, discipline good, both sides cooperative and competing vigorously. Thank you to James Hinkin for his referee coaching, two take-ways: think ‘anticipate’, think ‘position’. Looking forward to watching the video, and the next match.

This Week’s Photo

Referee coaching has been a point of emphasis in recent years and nowhere more so than in here in the Land of the Pelican. The numerous referee coaches in the society are greatly responsible for the high quality and steady improvement of referees that our society regularly produces. Last week at the USA Rugby National Development Summit our very own Lee Johnson was recognized as the USA Rugby Referee Coach of the Year. Congratulations on an honor well deserved.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

A New Hope

HAIL PELICUS!

A New Hope

The season is upon us as the Land of the Pelican braves the winter chill (it was 70 degrees and sunny at my game in Santa Clara) to start the new season of the Game They Play In Heaven. This time of year each club and team, no matter how dark and hopeless it seemed the previous year, no matter how powerful the League seems to be, no matter what evil machinations have worked against the forces of good rugby (obviously your team), have a New Hope. Perhaps the new player that joined is the Chosen One that will lead your team to victory? Maybe a new coach can be the wise old mentor, directing the education and the progress of the Chosen One? Possibly together they can use their concentrated will to steer a match their way and even predict the opponent’s play so that they are in position to defend it? It is even feasible that I have watched too many Star Wars movies and can’t separate them from reality any more. Only time will tell.

Granted, some teams will have more hope than others. As for the rest, if history plays out there will be some surprising victories followed by a resurgence of the opposition before the memory of a legendary club player inspires a final coming together of purpose to defeat the League again. Then, for some reason a party at a furry convention – I never understood that part of a rugby season. Of course, in a few years the Chosen One will watch in horror as his replacement changes the style of play for his beloved club and then goes off to sulk like a child, but that’s just normal team dynamics and is neither here nor there.

And finally, I really need to stop watching Star Wars movies.

Shiny New Laws And Mistakes

Yes, even as I pompously lectured the reading public on the new laws that are being implemented for the 15 a side game for the first time here in Pelicanland, even as I blithely tossed off a comment on the players needing to adjust to these changes, yes, even as… I made a law error this week. This feels more ironic than a bad Alanis Morissette song. While this error didn’t affect the match I still made it and there is no guarantee that in a tighter match it wouldn’t have had a greater impact. Which law, I hear you ask? After a yellow card to a team’s hooker, at the next scrum I insisted that the penalized team put 8 in the scrum. When the scrumhalf/captain questioned me, I told him “these are the new law trials”.

I was close, but wrong. That law only applies to uncontested scrums. (And yes, U19 and youth, but this was a senior game.)

The bad news is I got the call wrong. The good news is that it didn’t affect the game. The takeaway from all of this is, as a referee, you need to know your laws and a constant refresher and review is needed to keep them fresh. Our monthly law meetings do a good job in reviewing laws and scenarios, but they can’t cover everything. To that end our beloved President, Pelicus Iudex Pennipes, has developed the NCRRS 2018 Law Challenge. You can take this short quiz on your computer or on your phone. Using the mobile app is highly recommended by Our Noble Leader as the app will provided you notice when the questions are posted. The link to the document is here.

Selling Stories And Taking Responsibility

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect”
– W. Clement Stone

One of the most underrated tools in a referee’s kit bag is the ability to sell a call. We are all human and all referees make mistakes, just as all players make mistakes. The ability to sell a bad call can help with game management and establish player confidence. Now, we obviously don’t recommend making bad calls in order to sell them – making the correct call works just fine, thank you – and in no way should a dangerous situation be “sold” to the players. After all, player safety is the first goal of any referee. The reality is that more often than not the players are unsure of the law so that makes a confident call – even an incorrect one – a good call in the mind of the players. Every referee who has refereed more than a few years will have an example of this, where they made an incorrect call, either knowingly or unknowingly, and then sold it to the players, including any player who questions said call. More often than not this actually helps the flow of the game and underlines the referee’s ability to control a game. In the example in the above section I was wrong, but when questioned I was confident in my response and sold it. It was only after the fact when I looked up the actual text of the law I recognized my error.

That was an easy one because I was confident that I was correct and very little selling needed to be done. There will be other situations in matches that are not so clear cut, where you have to make a decision that could go against either team and that is when presentation and salesmanship come to the fore. It a hotly contested match a critical call at a breakdown needs to be made with confidence. Players will sense if a referee is unsure and will lose confidence in future calls if they believe the referee to be “winging it” and that can lead to disaster, fights and cards.

But what about the second half of the title to this section? Should a referee determine that they had made a bad call they should take responsibility. In my example above, once I determined I got the law wrong I messaged the coach of the team and apologized for getting the call wrong and then asked him to convey that to the team and explain the correct law. In another case after reviewing a conversation I had with a coach after a match it became clear that I was merely trying to justify a poor decision after the fact. In that case I also messaged the coach involved with a mea culpa and owned up to my mistake. These little gestures will mean a lot to the teams and coaches should you ever cross their paths again. They don’t always have to happen after the game, should you realize your error sooner. A quiet word with the captain and maybe a player who was involved can go a long way to maintaining control and respect.

The phrase “I am sorry, you were right and I was wrong. I will endeavor to do better” should also be in every referee’s tool kit and will do more good than you think, especially that last phrase. I will end with another quote that comes to mind should any of you dear readers find yourself in the position I was in and are trying to justify a bad decision.

‘“If an apology is followed by an excuse or a reason, it means they are going to commit same mistake again they just apologized for.”

– Amit Kalantri

Flock Talk, Enriching The Vocabulary Of Pelicanland

Making its first appearance of the season, we have this edition’s Word of the Day:

Autometalogolex
noun | au·to·me·ta·lo·go·lex | \?-t?-me-t?-?l?-g?-leks\

1. the act of looking up the word “autometalogolex” (see also recursive)
2. the law of compulsiveness that forces you to automatically look up a strange term you found on the internet.

Why? Because it is a fun word. You’re welcome.

Ask A Pelican

Yes, it’s time for this week’s installment of “Ask A Pelican”, the widely loved Q and A session with Hail Pelicus. This week’s question comes from Harry Kisserov-Butte of San Francisco, CA who asks:

“I am always impressed with the columns in Hail Pelicus. What is your process?”

Thank you for your question, Mr Kisserov-Butte and your kind words. What I do when I write is very similar to what I do while refereeing and just about every other referee does – I talk to myself. While on the pitch I have a constant inner monologue going that is processing what I am seeing and making judgements. I am constantly asking myself a series of questions and then answering them. What did I just see? What did I expect to see? Why is it different? Is it a penalty? Is it material? Do I need to stop the game? These are just some of the questions that come during the flow of the game and the answers I give myself, along with the belief in these answers, form the bases of any decision I make as well as the confidence I project when making it (see previous segments).

While writing I also have a monologue with myself, although the questions are different. I try to be conversational, as if I was talking to another self, or another person entirely. That means that, much like Fox and Friends, I have an audience of one that I am attempting to entertain and inform. Anyone else who is entertained, informed or just laughs at some of the jokes is a bonus.

Keep these questions coming! It’s a long season and I can’t just keep talking to myself the whole time.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
2. When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
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: 01/13/2018
San Jose Seahawks 50 – Sacramento Capitals 0
Referee: John Lane

The 15’s Div 2 league season kicked off on a sunny afternoon at Independence High School with the San Jose Seahawks hosting the Sacramento Capitals.

On arriving for the game it was great to see a well marked field accompanied by a USA Rugby “textbook” defined Technical Zone and a full sideline spectator rope!

An hour before kickoff the Seahawks were already started on their warm-up drills and the Sacramento Capitals were just settling into team discussion and preparation. Boot checks, captain chats and the coin toss were completed with no fuss and I left the teams to their preparations. Supported by John Pohlman (he came to watch!) and one of the Sacramento entourage as TJ’s I started the game promptly at 13:00 with the Seahawks 10 kicking off.

The Seahawks dominated field position in the early exchanges and missed with a “longish” penalty kick on 5 minutes. Sacramento did break out of their half with some direct running in midfield but turned over possession and the Seahawks pushed downfield again and after a number of direct drives crossed for the first score of the day on 9 minutes. Conversion was missed for a 5-0 lead. Both sides were reacting to my communication and the game developed well with plenty of open play. The Seahawks overall team support structures was generating better quality ball. This lead to strong field position which they turned into a converted try on 15 minutes for a 12-0 lead. Sacramento settled into the game more in the next 10 minutes, gaining some strong running yards in midfield but lack of support or a forced pass cost them possession and delivered relief to the occasionally stretched Seahawks defense. On 27 minutes one of these turnovers was run out of defense and committed support and re-cycling delivered another try (converted) for a 19-0 lead. It was clear some fatigue was impacting the players and both sides started to kick more. Both sides back 3’s looked to counter but the Seahawks support again proved the better with another unconverted try on 33 mins for a 24-0 lead. Despite a strong finish to the half by Sacramento, they failed to register a score leaving the halftime at 24-0.

The coaches had obviously noted the fatigue the Seahawks made 4 halftime changes with Sacramento making 2. The second half played out in a very similar manner to the first half with both sides having periods of field position dominance. As in the first half the Seahawks overall 15 supported better and while Sacramento had multiple line breaks they failed (narrowly at times) to convert their efforts into scores. The Seahawks got their 5th try on 47 mins and converted to move to 31-0. The next 15 minutes were fairly even with Sacramento unlucky not to score in this period from some strong running from their 13 and 15. Tiredness started to creep in by mid way through the half and progressively the rest of the substitutes were introduced. Infringements due to fatigue started to increase but with some strong communication and a willingness from the players to use the “advantage” they were given the game stayed open and (relatively!) fast. The Seahawks continued to dominate the score board with an unconverted try on 22 mins followed by a converted one on 27. The lead now stretched to 43-0.
Sacramento kept looking to attack but it was the Seahawks who finished the scoring with the last play of the game (converted) for a final score of 50-0.

Date: 01/13/2018
UC Santa Cruz 0 – Cal Poly-SLO Freshman 60
Referee: Stephen Moore

Friendly but heavily one-sided match with Cal Poly being the master team and SC not having much experience. A couple of controversies. One, the technical zone line 2M in from touch. Two white lines in close proximity are confusing players. One of my players mistook the technical zone line for touch and took out and injured my touch judge, society member Larry Freitas. Second, Cal Poly contested my decision on their lineout maneuver. They were forming a lineout without a receiver and had a player running in deep from an angle into the lineout to be lifted as the ball was thrown. I did not catch it at first, but 30 minutes into the match made a decision that a receiver was needed and it was not legal for the player to run in. I believe I was half wrong and half right. Wrong in that a receiver is optional. Right in that players cannot stand outside the lineout and run in. If anyone has a counter opinion please inform me. Apart from these, it was a good enough match. SC was happy at the end despite their loss, Poly not happy for my lineout decision despite the score. There were three yellow cards, all SC, one for a dangerous tackle (10.4), another for professional foul not rolling away, another for obstruction, resulting in a penalty try. Thanks.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Spot on with the lineout decision. Law 18.16: If a team elects to have a receiver, the receiver stands between the five-metre and the 15-metre lines, two metres away from their team-mates in the lineout. Each team may have only one receiver. Sanction: Free-kick.)

Date: 01/13/2018
Silicon Valley 34 – Berkeley RFC 10
Referee: James Fonda

It was a nice day. The field did not have clear lines and I did tell them that the next match what was needed. We worked together about the use of technical zones. The match started on time. No problems during the match and no cards needed. Teams were well disciplined and yet played hard.

Date: 01/13/2018
SFGG Women 0 – Life West Gladiatrix 87
Referee: Lee Bryant

No Report Received.

Date: 01/13/2018
Santa Rosa 23 – Sacramento Blackhawks D2 54
Referee: Neil MacDonald

This was the second match in a full day of rugby at For Pete’s Sake field in Santa Rosa, under bright skies, on a soggy pitch that held up well. Santa Rosa kicked off, and 38 seconds later the Blackhawks scored under the posts after a series of offloads and great supporting play. Five minutes later Santa Rosa opened their account, kicking a penalty on the 22 from a Blackhawks tackler not rolling away. Blackhawk discipline on offside and at the breakdown continued to cost penalties, and Santa Rosa’s solid lineout meant they continued to kick for territory, regather the ball and march up the field. They took advantage of that free territory in the 23rd minute to cross for their first try. 8-7 Santa Rosa.

Sacramento struck back immediately and retook the lead 8-14. A block on Santa Rosa’s 10 inside Sacramento’s 22 as he was chasing his chip saw Blackhawk #7 depart for ten minutes of reflection on repeated infringements with half an hour played. Continuing a long period of pressure, Santa Rosa scored again to close the gap to a single point. 13-14. Alas, a fired up 14-man Blackhawks team responded immediately with more strong play in contact and great support, extending their lead, 13-21. Another penalty kick from Santa Rosa brought the score back to 16-21 at the half.

During the break, the Blackhawks finally realized that the penalty count was killing them, and came out in the second half with a newfound understanding of the offside line and better control at the breakdown. Rosa’s front row, each giving up at least 100lb to their opponents, were playing a blinder in the scrums. Alas, Santa Rosa missed too many tackles to contain the resurgent Blackhawks, who ran in four unanswered tries in the first 20 minutes of the second half, taking the game out of sight. Santa Rosa’s 28th minute try gave them their only points of the second half, and Blackhawks fittingly had the last word, closing out their solid win with another try. Santa Rosa 23 – Sacramento Blackhawks 54.

Thanks to Lee Johnson for his words of wisdom.

Date: 01/13/2018
Redwood Empire RFC 24 – Olde Gaels 53
Referee: Robert Hammack

First match of the day on For Pete’s Sake field and the grass was still dewy from recent rains. Lots of knock ons and handling errors early but a few nice tries scored by both teams. Several key injuries to Redwood early in the half also didn’t help their cause as their 12 went off with a nasty gash above the eye and their bollocking #8 went down with an ankle injury. Second half saw Olde Gaels start to pull away with superior fitness and structure. Their set piece also started to gain ascendancy and provided some nice front foot ball. Redwood scored a few length of the field tries with their exceptional offloading in the tackle and support lines but, in the end, it wasn’t quite enough. Great, fast-paced, fun match and great start to the season.

Date: 01/13/2018
Colusa County 38 – Google 26
Referee: Jeff Richmond

The match started 40 minutes late and Google only fielding 11 players as their squad had trouble getting to the match on time. Colusa ran up a few quick tries with easy overlaps and big gaps in the defense. By minute 20, Google was up to full strength and things tightened. Colusa seemed to have a more integrated style of play between their forwards and backs. Frequent communication and good mix of forward pick and go, then swinging it to the backfield. Google relied on a few big runners in the forwards to make their attack then maneuver through the Colusa backline. A few “first game of the season” issues, e.g. confusion over new laws, but overall a good competition.

Date: 01/13/2018
Chico State Women 46 – Stanford Women 17
Referee: Jessica Turner

It was a chilly morning in Chico, with lots of fog on the drive up which caused Stanford to arrive about 10 mins late to warm up, so we all agreed to move KO to 10:15am. The first quarter of the match was heavily dominated by Chico. The girls were physical and doing well offloading in support, and with a couple of stellar backs they were able to break the line for some nice tries. Most of Chico’s tries did in fact come from the first half. Stanford started coming around in the second quarter and the game was becoming more tightly contested, although Stanford’s pack was clearly dominant at the scrum. There was good discipline from both sides during this half, with a lot of open play, not very many penalties, and most stoppages for knock ons from a lightly greasy ball. I was feeling good and excited about the second half, as the game was getting tighter as we went on. However, the second half was a bit more messy but still well contested from both sides. Chico was starting to slack on their discipline around the breakdowns, which resulted in many more penalties from slowing Stanford’s ball. Eventually the penalties earned their side a yellow card, and Stanford did well to keep the pressure on. As they did start to connect more and challenge the strong Chico side, it was too late to bridge the score gap. The scoreline is not entirely reflective of the competition between the two sides. It was a great match to witness with lots of skill and physicality from all the girls.

Date: 01/13/2018
Chico State 9 – Cal Poly 32
Referee: Steven Fenaroli

The drive to Chico was quick without too many cars on the road. It was an easy hour and a half to get to Chico from Sacramento. When I arrived there was a full day of rugby already in swing. The Chico women played Stanford women, and the B-side was kicking off. After my game would be the second 15 for both Cal poly and Chico State. Both teams had issue with the breakdown being disciplined enough to stay on side. Cal poly scored first and would use any opportunity to kick at goal and take three points. That didn‘t deter Chico State from answering back and limiting any options for them. They were plenty of handling errors which led to a number of scrums all over the field. The first half saw issues out the breakdown with hands in and poachers trying to contest ball too late. A word with both captains and reminding them of the repercussions if they did not clean up the play, led both teams to behave differently. The second half proved to be a more hard-fought game, with lots of contest at the breakdown. There were two yellow cards one for collapsing the spray on my Cal poly, and one by Chico State for high tackle. Jessica Turner gets a load of credit for working with me even during malfunctioning radios, and having my back every step of the way.

This Week’s Photo

This week’s photo shows Jordan Bruno keeping a close eye on events at the St Mary’s – Santa Clara match.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Phoenix Ex Cineribus

HAIL PELICUS!

Phoenix Ex Cineribus

The world has been reborn, or at least it has here in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere the world is dying while in the wishy-washy equatorial regions everybody is too busy enjoying themselves to worry about practically unnoticeable fluctuations in the amount of daylight they get, but enough of that. As our title (“Phoenix rising from the ashes”) indicates, the seasons have turned and the days are getting longer which means that Rugby Season is starting up. (As an aside, it is a common misconception that summer days get longer. In fact, every day of summer (and fall) is shorter than the previous and every day of winter (and spring) are longer than the previous. Drop that tidbit at the office water cooler and wow your coworkers.) Every non-tropical culture has myths and celebrations around the start of the year and usually involves some sort of blood sacrifice to make the sun come back up. Why do you think Santa wears red? It isn’t because of some 19th century poem, or 20th century Coca-Cola advertisements, or even the 4th century images of the Bishop of Myra, but traces back to the Germanic Yuletide animal sacrifices and the importance of spilling blood to bring the sun back to life.

Good times, but people tend to get upset these days when you slaughter a boar and smear blood on the walls and each other so what better way to celebrate the rebirth of the world and honor our shared history than to start up the rugby season? Women and Men will strive towards glory and excellence, blood will be spilt, and the participants will – in another fine ancient Yuletide tradition – “keep the holiday while the ale lasted”*.

* King Haakon I of Norway, who would have made a fine front row player.

Shiny New Laws And Directives

As we depart from the Year of the Unscrupulous Rat and kick off the Year of the Insulted Goat the landscape of our game has changed, in some cases quite literally. Most are by now aware of the new laws approved for trial by World Rugby, including the ridiculous One Man Ruck and that scrumhalves are now allowed to cheat at scrum put-ins, but I still foresee quite a bit of difficulty with the USA Rugby Sideline Discipline Protocols and Procedures. (For a refresher, you can find them here.) It has been my – admittedly limited – experience that teams are not taking these too seriously, not getting them correct or just plain ignoring them. At the NCRRS AGM we discussed these at length and tasked each member of the referee society to work with the teams they see to enforce these protocols. If you didn’t have a technical zone marked out then use cones or bags to set one up; if you don’t have pennies for the water carriers turn the jersey inside out; warn coaches who wander beyond their Technical Zone; that sort of thing. Get clubs used to the protocols during the preseason so that they won’t have an issue during the league season.

This preseason I saw senior referees start matches with none of these protocols in place. I had coaches wander up and down the sideline and on the field and when asked to get back in their Technical Zone, with a smile and a wink indicated that these new rules didn’t really apply to THEM, after all. We have known each other for years! This only applies to the problem clubs and troublemakers!

Much as the Society strives to fairly and consistently enforce the Laws of the Game in the same manner across all levels and all members, we need to fairly and consistently enforce the USA Rugby Protocols. For example, for years I have been lamenting the tendency of some referees to allow men’s players to wear tights and when I (and others) require the players to remove them I invariably get “but the last ref let me wear them!”. Don’t care, it is illegal equipment. The same applies to hard knee braces and other non-approved gear.

I see the same conversation happening when I refuse to start a match until a Technical Zone is set up, or I make the coaches and subs stay in their technical zone or enforce the limits on water carriers, etc. “The last referee let me do that!” is the last thing I want to hear but will probably be the first, so please, everyone, let’s get together and make sure we are all on the same page.

January Society Meeting

It is time for the flock to regather for our monthly meetings and the first of the year will be held Wednesday, January 9 . We will be using this facility for all of our development meetings and training sessions for the 2017/18 season. The address is:

East Bay Sports – Livermore
6474 Patterson Pass Rd
Livermore, CA 94550
925.455.8300

A fitness test will be administered at 6:00 and the general meeting will follow at 7:00. The agenda for this month:
1) Safety overview “Do no Harm” – John Pohlman
2) Keeping the head and neck safe and out of contact – Paul Bretz
3) Fitness and conditioning. Nutrition management – Tim Lew
4) Kit Presentation – James Hinkin

Kit Presentation?

Yes, the kit has arrived and will be handed out at the meeting on Wednesday, so if you want to start the year looking sharp and fresh you will need to be at the meeting to get your 2018 jersey.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

1. Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.
2. When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
3. He/she may contact you latter for more details.
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: 10/21/2017
West Coast 7’s
Referee: Andrew Stockton

So far, this was the best weekend of rugby I have participated in. It was my first time being able to referee D1 A side teams, and I felt as though I learned an immense amount. The competition was strong, entertaining, and fast paced. There were clearly teams that were head and shoulders above the rest, especially Cal, UVU, and CWU, but for the most part, all of the games were very closely contested and allowed for some great individual and team efforts to be showed. I hope to be able to come back to this tournament next year to see how the competition level, as well as my own refereeing level, has improved.

Date: 11/04/2017
Shasta Highlanders 7 – Shasta Highlanders 0
Referee: Bruce Bernstein

AKM Memorial Tourney & Scholarship
Did 2nd match of the day b/w Oregon Institute of Tech v. host team Shasta which barely beat the college kids 7-0 & 3rd match where OIT was back trying hard against Sac State Alumni who was too strong & prevailed 40-0.
Sam Reagle handled best (& 1st) match of the day b/w Sac State barely losing to Chico mens team.

Date: 11/04/2017
BA Baracus 36 – BA Baracus B 24
Referee: Robert Hammack

Spirited match between BA Baracus and “Old” Boys (30+). Well-contested match until last quarter of the game, when superior fitness and speed overcame wisdom and trickery.

Date: 11/11/2017
Chico Holiday Classic
Referee: Sam Reagle

Great rugby day in Chico! Too bad Jeff Richmond and I were the only refs that showed up for it. Thankfully 2 Chico coaches, Mitch and Beau, took some games. There were 6 mens teams and 4 womens teams. With 18 games on 2 pitches, it was a busy day. The Black Hawks said they brought their “B” side. If so, their “A” side must be a delight to watch. Humboldt State women have a center who can run around and over defenders.

Date: 11/11/2017
Pacific 12 – Loyola Marymount University Rugby Club 48
Referee: Giles Wilson

Loyola got a late start from LA for their day trip and players didn’t start to arrive until 2pm and a full team wasn’t on hand until 2.20 or so, pushing back the kick off to 3pm.

Unsurprisingly, the hosts started better but made mistakes and also struggled to understand the tackle requirements and only led at halftime by 12 – 10.

For the second half, the visitors had got the drive out of their legs and they became much more effective using their experience (UOP is a very young team) and conditioning to run in 6 tries with no reply, 3 conversions further stretched the lead.

Date: 11/11/2017
St Marys College B 119 – Sonoma St 0
Referee: Paul Bretz

St. Mary’s B side scored early and often in this rather one-sided match on a beautiful November day. Game was played in good spirits. St. Marys # 2 committed all of the penalties and was warned (he committed 2 penalties).

EDITOR’S NOTE: After the match Mr Bretz was officially reprimanded and told to manage his penalty count better.

Date: 11/11/2017
UC Davis 68 – Chico State 3
Referee: Phil Akroyd

Chico State gave UCD about 20 minutes of a solid game, but didn’t have the necessary decisiveness in attack. For the first quarter of the game they had all of the possession and territory but couldn’t really do much with it and only came away with three points.

UCD absorbed the pressure with some hard work in defense, then got a couple of breakaway tries to open the floodgates. Ten tries later the game came to a close.

Date: 11/11/2017
San Jose Seahawks B 10 – Cal Poly-SLO B 28
Referee: James Hinkin

The B side match at the end of a long day of rugby was always going to be a race against the sun and we were only able to get 60 minutes of rugby in. Cal Poly fielded a true B side in that there didn’t seem to be any overlap between the players from their A side while San Jose continued to mix and match all players as they did in the first match. As expected for early preseason B side matches, this was an affair dominated by knock ons, unforced errors and learning. (“Tweet! Accidental offside after the knock on. We will have a scrum.” “Accidental offside? Is that even a thing?” “Yes. Yes it is.”)

Not to say that rugby was not played. There was plenty of rugby and a lot of enthusiasm on both sides of the ball, just that the rust and/or inexperience was evident on both sides. Cal Poly may have been a bit rusty due to having finished their 7s season last weekend, but head coach James Tesoriero is a high quality coach who will have his kids ready for the 15s season, I have no doubt. This was my first look at the new Seahawk coach Michael Haynes and his playing style. He has his ideas and patterns set up – now he needs his players to train to them. They will be fine this year, much improved over the shocking results from last year.

Date: 11/18/2017
UC Davis 68 – Sacramento State 7
Referee: Steven Fenaroli

UC Davis have the field line very nicely. The technical zones were all laid out as prescribed by the guidelines. The game started on time and it was a very sunny Saturday afternoon. UC Davis had a lot more players. Sac state looked like they were struggling for 15 a side. UC Davis came out swinging and put up 47 points in the first half. It was obviously an early season match. Davis starters were much more experienced and had better communication. Both teams struggled with offsides at the breakdown. Sac state scored a breakaway try late into the second half. That didn’t deter Davis who put up 21 more points in the second half. Davis reserve front row had issues at the scrum and their setup.

Date: 11/18/2017
Reno Zephyrs 29 – San Jose Seahawks 30
Referee: Sam Reagle

Wow. Though there were clear signs that this was a pre-season game, both teams came to play. Reno kicked off to start the game and scored a converted try at 22 minutes in. SJ responded with the same 10 minutes later. At 36 minutes, Reno scored an unconverted try to end the half up 12-7. The second half was a gem. SJ scored a converted try 8 minutes in to go up 2 and another at 22 minutes to go up by 9. Reno responded with tries at 25 minutes and 28 minutes to lead by 3. SJ turned to their excellent kicker who tied the game with a penalty kick at 32 minutes and took a 3-point lead with another kick just 2 minutes later. But Reno wasn’t done. Reno took a 2 point lead at 38 minutes in with their 5th try of the day. The game ended at the 43 minute mark when SJ made their 3rd penalty kick. The social was at Mixer’s Bar and was well attended.

Date: 11/18/2017
St Marys College Women 39 – Fresno State Women 26
Referee: John Pohlman

Early season friendly with two well matched and growing sides. Both teams had well over 30 players. We played 5 20 minute periods. First period Fresno State Woman 14 St. Mary’s 0. Both teams played well in this period but Fresno controlled ball possession and had too many opportunities. Second period was all St. Mary’s with four tries to zero. Lots of subs and new players got an opportunity to join the rugby community with much enjoyment. Game was played in good spirits.
Both teams have some very talented players and lots of reserves. Good luck and stay healthy.

Date: 11/18/2017
Pacific 0 – Univ San Francisco 20
Referee: Roberto Santiago

It was a clear and crisp day at UoP for this preseason round robin. The visiting USF side played with cohesion and skill that indicated detailed coaching. Both teams mixed in new players at a variety of positions.

Date: 11/18/2017
San Francisco State 29 – Univ San Francisco 24
Referee: Roberto Santiago

This was the most evenly matched game of the day. Both teams had experience in the backlines and solid play up front. I hadn’t seen SFSU in about a year, and the difference in play was remarkable. Last year’s squad played with athleticism and heart, but without cohesion. This year’s team looks like they can play. USF is no slouch either, both teams look well coached and motivated. The game was physical, and played in good spirit. Good luck to both squads this coming season.

Date: 11/18/2017
San Jose State Women 12 – Sacramento State Women 45
Referee: Stephen Moore

SJ State not prepared ahead of KO, the field not properly set up. Late KO as a result. Concerns raised by Sac players for lack of Athletic Trainer. We found a registered nurse (parent) to fill in. Match very scrappy in the first half, SJ struggling to find any rhythm. Sac more organized and effective, most Sac points scored in first half. Late second half there was a quick succession of yellow cards (3) against Sac, dangerous tackle. SJ found their rhythm and scored points in last 10 minutes. Match played in good spirit overall, players and coaches very cooperative, well behaved.

Date: 12/02/2017
Cal Poly Men B 55 – Long Beach St B 25
Referee: John Pohlman

A lovely drive down to the beautiful campus of Cal Poly saw Cal Poly hosting Long Beach State in a friendly preseason match. I ran the second side game.
Cal Poly dominated the first half with 6 trys. Three off of the kick off. Long Beach was not committed to the tackle in the first half, making Cal Poly runners look dominating. The second half saw some subs enter end the level of play drop a bit. Both teams look good and should fair well this year.
Thanks to the Cal Poly and Long Beach players, coaches and fans for a fun, fast and friendly game.

Date: 12/02/2017
UC Santa Cruz B 5 – Pacific 37
Referee: John Lane

Under a December sunny blue sky Pacific won an enjoyable pre-season friendly fixture against a less experienced UCSC B-side on a scoreline of 5-37.
While the scoreline appears one sided it does not reflect the commitment and effort put in by the Slug’s – the big difference between the sides was the experience on the field where UCSC were introducing a significant number of “new” players to college rugby this season – this also involved significant and frequent player changes as rolling subs was agreed before the game with both sides.
The game was played in a committed manner throughout by both sides and new (and experienced) players reacted well to the referee’s “guidance” throughout.

Date: 12/02/2017
UC Santa Cruz 22 – Ventura Outlaws 69
Referee: John Lane

Captained by a SLUG Old Boy, Ventura made the long trip up to Santa Cruz a worthwhile one with a solid victory over UCSC on a scoreline of 22-69 in an open, free flowing game.

The game started at pace with continuous play for nearly 3 minutes with a number of turnovers from both teams . Ventura looked the slightly stronger team at this stage with UCSC looking for width as much as possible when in possession. Ventura took the lead on 6 mins with a converted try. The students then had their best phase of the game with excellent speed and width getting them around the Ventura defense out wide for 2 tries (1 converted) to lead 12-7 on 15 mins. Ventura tightened things up a bit after that and exerted most of the pressure for the remainder of the half leading to 3 tries (26, 30 and 38 mins) with 2 conversions. Half-time 12-31.

Both sides were making use of the pre-season friendly agreement on rolling subs throughout.
Ventura notched up another quick 12 points shortly after the break (2 tries 1 conv) to extend the lead to 12-43. UCSC got on the scoreboard again on 10 mins for 17-43. Tactically Ventura opted to keep less players in the lineout on UCSC throw-ins for the whole second half which allowed them to fill the backline defense out wide nullifying the strength of UCSC backline effectively and delivering turnover possession frequently. Another 2 converted tries stretched the lead to 17-57 after 22 mins.
Some fatigue started to affect play at this stage on both sides and play moved back and forth between the 22’s. UCSC broke through for their final try on 35 minutes for 22-57 but Ventura wrapped up the scoring with a converted try on 37 minutes and a final unconverted try out wide on the left with the last play of the game.

Date: 12/02/2017
UC Santa Cruz Women 12 – Univ Nevada Reno Women 97
Referee: Stephen Moore

Runaway match by the more experienced Reno side. Four yellow cards first half for dangerous tackle and professional foul violations, nothing egregious. Match played in good spirit, players and coaches cooperative. First 10 minutes of the second half saw Reno score only points (12). Coaches informed me that Reno had played five matches this season and SC only two. SC players seemed new to the sport.

Date: 12/02/2017
CSU Monterey Bay Women 19 – Fresno State Women 63
Referee: Larry Freitas

Fresno State visited the Cal State Monterey Bay campus for this late morning match. The kick off was under milky skies and the temperature was in the upper 50’s, with just a touch of seasonal chill in the air. Fresno State received the kick off and fly half Jenny Balestra gathered the pass from her scrum half at the first ruck and rambled deep into the Monterey Bay 22 before she was tackled, dishing off to winger Alexis Gonzales who would score the first try, with Balestra missing the conversion for a quick 5-0 lead at two minutes. Gonzales would score another try five minutes later, and Balestra added another one which she converted for a 17-0 lead at 18 minutes. Maybe it was that half the visitors had long sleeve undershirts on, but they were as hot as the red jerseys they wear, dominating possession, and when they did lose possession counter rucking at the breakdown to get the ball back! To make matters worse Otter Yanicke Stein, outside center, and one of the best players for the home team, left the game with a shoulder injury. Jaclyn Blankenship would score a fourth try for a 22-0 lead before the Otters started to get some ball themselves and get out of their own end with some back line play spearheaded by fly half Katy McGill. Finally the home side would score late in the half when prop Kiari Young picked up a loose ball at the base of a ruck, deep in Fresno’s territory, and as she fended off would be tacklers, ramble to score under the posts, with Hanna Kim making the easy conversion for 7 points. Fresno State would score once more to finish the half with a 27-7 lead. Jenny Balestra was not greedy, feeding her backs countless times instead of taking off with the ball herself. They responded well by penetrating deep into the opposition half and following up to take passes before tackles could be made, and when a team mate was brought down to be on the spot to retain possession. Monterey’s back line did a credible job as a covering defense, but with having to play defense so often, they were getting worn down, and it didn’t help with one of their best open field tacklers on the touchline after the first ten minutes of play.

The second half would produce even more try scoring for Fresno, led by scrum half Raquel Macias, who would dot down twice. Hooker Emi Lacandazon, who is all of 5’2”, scored two tries for Monterey, one in the corner near the flag, in which she dodged some tackles and stretched out to place the ball. She was the bright star for the home side, playing from the heart, hawking the ball when she could get to it, and seemingly always first to the tackle, and making quite a few herself in the process. The match would end 63-19 for Fresno State’s victory. Monterey, who had lost only by one point to UC Santa Cruz a few weeks earlier, tried their best but it just wasn’t enough to stop a well trained, talented, and very fit side. Other try scorers for Fresno were Vanessa Maravilla, Megan Walls, and Nicole Munoz.

Date: 12/09/2017
Sacramento Blackhawks 0 – Life West 60
Referee: David Pescetti

The final game of the round robin between Chico, Blackhawks, and Life West pitted Life and Blackhawks against each other. The schedule favored the Blackhawks, but the rust showed. Life having just played Chico beforehand functioned much better as a unit. They were able to quickly move the ball in hand to outmaneuver the feisty Blackhawks.
Good luck to both in season.

Date: 12/09/2017
Sacramento Blackhawks B 51 – Chico Mighty Oaks 17
Referee: Roberto Santiago

Friendly round robin between three teams. This was the second match, with Sacramento playing back-to-back. The lopsided score doesn’t tell the whole story, as the game was 17-15 in favor of Chico when we came to half time. As is often the case in the pre-season, Chico opted to play a largely different roster in the second half, which contributed to the lopsided final. Overall the game was competitive play to play, even when the score indicated otherwise.

Date: 12/09/2017
San Jose Seahawks Preseason Classic
Referee: John Pohlman

San Jose Seahawks hosted a preseason tournament this past Saturday. I refereed the Aptos Sea-dogs verses the San Jose Seahawks. This was the Seahawks second game in a row. The Sea-dogs led at half over the Seahawks 14 to 12. Open subs led to Seahawks first side forward coming back on the field. With the Seahawks forwards starting to control the match their backs showed their form, scoring five second half toys.
Fun game played in good spirits. Good to see both teams gearing up and looking good.

Date: 12/09/2017
CSU Monterey Bay Women 47 – San Jose State Women 15
Referee: Larry Freitas

I drove down to CSUMB”s campus at the former Fort Ord arriving at 10:30 for an 11 AM KO. Oddly enough, as I got out of the car in the parking lot, it was very chilly, from a south east wind blowing in from the Salinas Valley, though my car’s thermometer read 61F. Not to worry, it would warm up into the 70’s and feel much warmer in about an hour, as this very unseasonable weather continues (the new normal?). San Jose State Spartan Women arrived with 13 players, and as they had checked with the home side the night before, it was agreed to play twenty minute halves of 10 a side rugby. An extra 20 minute practice game would follow of 15s. Cal State was just too much for the new and revived San Jose State squad. Isis Smith, who has been asked to run track for CSUMB, playing full back, did a lot of damage. She was not the player San Jose would want to see with ball in hand. She is very, very fast, and also a courageous tackler, despite her very slim frame at about 5’5”. She can’t be much more than 110 pounds. The Otter Gals scored 40 points in the first half to none for the visitors. In the second stanza San Jose would score three unconverted tries to the home team’s one converted try. Final score was 47-15 in favor the Cal State Monterey Bay. This was their one win in the fall or early part of the schedule, having lost to Nevada Reno in late October, and in mid November to UC Santa Cruz.

There were some injuries to players during that 10s match, including what looked like an ACL for a San Jose player, so instead of playing 20 minutes of 15s, it was decided to play 12 a side. This game didn’t count, but CSUMB did win by a score of 12-7, as two of their side went over to fill out San Jose’s side. Hopefully during the Christmas and New Year break the Spartans will get their injured players healthy. In that regard CSUMB has to get some of their players healthy too, as out of some 20 players only about 13 could play if a game were held next weekend. Leg injuries, ankle injuries, and some few concussions have plagued their side this fall.

Date: 12/16/2017
SFGG D2 27 – Sacramento Blackhawks 32
Referee: Roberto Santiago

This was a competitive match from start to finish. Both clubs displayed skill and cohesion, though there were an uncharacteristic number of knock ons throughout the contest. Sacramento came out fast at the opening whistle, scoring their first try just 90 seconds into the match. The Blackhawks put over another at 14:40 before Golden Gate countered with one of their own at 24:00. Sacramento added two more (none converted) before half time to take a commanding lead into the break.The second half saw the home team’s numbers come into play. Having more fresh legs on hand allowed SF to put up four tries in the second half, thanks in large part to their forward pack. The comeback bid fell short though, as Sacramento was able to score two tries to hold on for the win.

Date: 12/30/2017
St Marys College 85 – Olde Gaels 5
Referee: John Lane

The last pre-season friendly for both sides was a fully committed performance with St Mary’s as expected gaining a comfortable victory on the scoreboard over Diablo Gaels. Peter and Bryant on the sidelines gave me some pre-season team of 3 practice as well – some good inputs throughout.

The first half was highly competitive from a physical perspective with St Mary’s 5 tries coming from an ability to retain possession through multi-phases and exploiting the eventual defensive cracks that appeared. Diablo Gaels did have a strong 5 minutes to end the half and crossed for an unconverted try on 38 mins to leave the half time score 27-5.

At the start of the second half Diablo continued to be competitive for the first 5 minutes but from then until the 80th minute St Marys crossed regularly for tries (10 in all with 4 converted) – regular introduction of fresh legs through the rolling subs agreement and a significantly larger squad contributed to this for St Mary’s. Both sides adapted to the new law variations well and overall a fast open game was contested fairly but physically throughout.

Date: 01/05/2018
UC Davis 33 – Central Washington University 14
Referee: Steven Fenaroli

Friday night lights in Davis made for a match against CWU and UC Davis. Central was on a trip down to California with St Marys the next day. Davis came out strong and on the first scrum pushed over CWU. CWU was a team that made kicking a big part of their game. Davis must have picked up the idea because both teams were kicking a lot on the turf. Central hit the offsides line hard and would consistently not engage in the breakdown unless they had a big opening. They instead spent their time and energy pressuring Davis’ backline and forcing errors. Both teams had issues with straight throws at the lineout. The wet weather made for handling errors. Ultimately CWU couldn’t keep pace with UCD and UCD took the lead early in the game and never gave it back.

This Week’s Photo

The referee crew for the 2017 San Jose Seahawks Preseason Classic… all former Seahawks wearing 4 generations of Seahawk jerseys. How many clubs can accomplish this? L-R: Pelicus Iudex Pennipes, Pelicus Pilula Biberarius, Pelicus Pedem Referre, Pelicus Fistulator.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre