Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | Deplorable Contest
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Deplorable Contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

They aren’t the Cubs.

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

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


Early Election Results

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

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


Pelicus Nomenclature

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


All Hail!



How To Play A Perfect Alumni Game

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


Pelicans Getting High


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


2016 NCRRS Kit And Swag

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


Ask A Pelican

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

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


Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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


On To The Game Reports!


Date: 10/01/2016

American University 39 – Gettysburg College 21

Referee: Valerio, Stephen


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


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


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


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


Date: 10/22/2016

North Bay 36 – Baltimore-Chesapeake 0

Referee: Valerio, Stephen


Today’s lesson, when it is very windy:

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

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


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


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


Date: 09/24/2016

Berkeley All Blues 0 – Glendale 44

Referee: Bryant, Lee


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


Date: 10/16/2016

Stanford Women Rookie Tournament  Reports


Referee: Pohlman, John

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

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

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


Referee: Gordon, Preston

A great day out in the constant rain at Stanford!


Referee: Simko, Paul

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


Date: 10/22/2016

CSU Monterey Bay WR 7 – UCSC Women 36

Referee: Freitas, Larry


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

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


Date: 10/22/2016

NorCal NSCRO 7’s

Referee: Richmond, Jeff


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


Date: 10/22/2016

NorCal NSCRO 7’s

Referee: Gordon, Preston


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


Pool rounds:

Santa Rosa JC 0-26 Sonoma State

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

American River College 7-31 Sonoma State

Cal Maritime 22-7 UOP

American River College 0-21 Santa Rosa JC

Cal Maritime 15-28 Solano



American River College L-W Cal Maritime

UOP 14-19 Santa Rosa JC

Cal Maritime L-W Sonoma State

Santa Rosa JC 12-19 Solano


Final round for placement:

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

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

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


Date: 10/22/2016

Sacramento State 30 – Sacramento State 29

Referee: Boyer, Rich


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


Date: 10/23/2016

Stanford Women 5 – Alumni Women 59

Referee: Simko, Paul


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


Date: 10/23/2016

Stanford Men 29 – Alumni Men 31

Referee: Hinkin, James


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


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


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


This is also worth remembering.


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


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

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


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


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


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


Date: 10/29/2016

Berkeley All Blues 12 – ORSU 24

Referee: Akroyd, Phil


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


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


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


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


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


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


Date: 10/29/2016

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

Referee: Bryant, Lee


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


Date: 10/29/2016

UOP 59 – Fresno D3 29

Referee: Richmond, Jeff


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



This Week’s Photo

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


Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

James Hinkin
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