A Meeting Of The Minds


A Meeting Of The Minds

As the autumn chugs on with chronastic inevitability the landscape inhabited by The Greatest Referee Society In The World starts to change as well. Leaves are changing color and dropping from their trees (and, for some reason, about 90% of them end up on my car even when parked in an open lot with no actual trees nearby), the evening air has a decided chill in it (can you believe the temperature drops all the way into the 50s at night now?), and rugby clubs across the land start to wake from their slumber as the dawn of a new season approaches (does all this side commentary make this sentence hard to read?).

The notable exception, of course, is the colleges, who are in full 7s swing right now. The National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) has their regional championship last weekend to determine the west coast representative at nationals while the West Coast 7s warmed up in San Luis Obispo 2 weeks ago and are ready to reach their shuddering climax this weekend on Treasure Island with a 2 day Sevenspalooza. The Pac 12 7s and the Pacific Western 7s fill out the major collegiate events and other small warm up tournaments litter the calendar.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: I know it is trite and I didn’t want to, but by law all large gatherings, festivals, celebrations and parties are required to be referred to with the suffix “palooza” added. This is an addendum to the original law passed in 1974 that required all political scandals, no matter how small or batpoop crazy, be referred to with “gate” appended. Thanks, Obama.)

With all these happenings, well, happening, we add another to the list. Yes it is time for the annual meeting of the minds, where the greatest and most fashionable rugby minds and bodies gather together for some serious decision making. Yes, it is the Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society Annual General Meeting. Please free up Saturday, October 27 as this is an important date on our rugby calendar. We have a chance to come together as a group to reacquaint ourselves with fellow referees, review law changes and decide which teams we will allow to win this year. Also this year we will be having our biannual Board of Directors elections so now is the time to get your vote heard. If you don’t vote you forfeit your right to complain about anything for the next 2 years.

You know, that could be a general statement on life in America these days: If you don’t vote you forfeit your right to complain about anything for the next 2 years.

Teams have been informed that there will be no referees available that day, so should someone reach out to you for a match just remember that it will not be an assigned match and you will not be covered by our insurance. Just sayin’.


9:00 AM-2:00PM

Newark Memorial High School
39375 Cedar Blvd. Newark CA 94560

• AGM and Referee training
• Fitness testing for all National Panel or striving to be National Panel members

More details on the agenda to be shared by our (at the moment) Noble Leader Pelicus Iudex Pennipes.

Don’t forget your mascot.

Abbreviate This!

Recently (read: last year) it was brought to our attention that officially, according to the documents we were incorporated under, the Pelican Society is not the Northern California Rugby Referee Society but the longer and much clumsier Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society. The nice, elegant and sexy acronym NCRRS that everyone knows and loves is apparently incorrect and should actually be NCRFURS, which reads like a kiosk selling black market fur coats.

This is unfortunate, but what can we do? Well, I can tell you what we can do. At this AGM we can demand, yes DEMAND, that our corporate docs be updated to reflect the name that everyone knows us by already. We are the Northern California Rugby Referee Society and no moldy piece of parchment is gonna tell us otherwise. Make your voice heard, Pelicans!

Not that this has anything to do with me being the one who has to type out the full name or that baby harp seal murdering atrocity of an acronym. This is about preserving our legacy for future generations. Do it for the kiddies.

The NCRRS Kit Store

The NCRRS (HA! Fight the power!) Fall Collection is available online. To access the store you can click on the banner below or go directly to https://norcalrefereewinter18.itemorder.com/

Please note that you can get your entire kit plus accessories EXCEPT for a jersey. Those are still handed out by the society’s Kit Cat because we don’t sell them but give them away in appreciation of refereeing 5 assigned matches.

The store is currently open and will be available until midnight, Sunday November 11, so any purchases made should arrive in time for the holidays. Try to remember that date as all orders need to be in by then to be processed. If only there was some way to ensure remembrance of that date. Oh well, as a veteran of many online stores I am sure I will come up with something.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

(As usual at this time of year, we rely on our foreign correspondents to provide match reports of their season currently in progress. Many thanks to Stephen Valerio for his report. The word on the street is that he drove to this match because he could not just walk there.)

Date: 09/15/2018
Mount St Mary’s Women 69 – Molloy 0
Location: Mordor
Referee: Stephen Valerio

After a canceled match the week before due to the pitch being closed the fall season finally started. Unfortunately, Molloy couldn’t field a full side and had to forfeit the match. The coaches agreed to 3 15-minute periods of 10s. While Molloy had a few deep excursions into Mount St Mary’s half, they were never able to close the deal. On the other hand, Mount St. Mary’s dominated the lineouts, frequently stealing Molloy’s throw-ins. Mount St Mary’s had several large forwards and while Molloy was able to stop them, they invariably broke the gain line and usually took a couple of Molloy tacklers to bring them down. From there the remaining Mount St Mary’s players were able to easily score from all over the pitch.

Date: 09/08/2018
Tri Tip 7s
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
Referee: Roberto Santiago

James. Hinkin’s. Chip.You either saw it, or you’ll feel like you did.
Good times.

Date: 09/15/2018
Life West Gladiatrix 24 – Lindenwood Women 38
Referee: Pete Smith

Great write up at Goff: https://www.therugbybreakdown.com/single-post/2018/09/15/Lindenwood-Begins-With-Big-W

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Letting someone else write your match report is frowned upon and will not win points towards the coveted Pelicus Scriptorus award.)

This Week’s Photo

Sometimes you just can’t win for trying.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Getting Board



Getting Board

On Sunday, August 12, the Northern California Rugby Football Union held their annual AGM and elected their Board of Directors.    Congratulations to the returning and newly elected BoD members.   Looking good!


This Week’s Photo

The new NCRFU BoD in their first press photo.  L-R: Dan Nagle (Secretary, backup vocals, rhythm guitar, lead tambourine), Andrew King (Scheduling Secretary, backup vocals, drums), Tina Watts (Vice President, lead vocals, keyboard), Rick Humm (President, backup vocals, bass guitar), Dan Wilson (Treasurer, lead guitar)

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre


The World Cup Runneth Over


The World Cup Runneth Over

It has been a few days since the conclusion of the 7s Rugby World Cup at AT&T Park in San Francisco and by now everyone’s heart rate should be back to approaching normal. At the end of such major events I often look back and reminisce about the games, how the USA did and general impressions of the overall spectacle. This time is different, however, for 2 related reasons:

1) It was in our back yard. For the first time in history the US has hosted a Rugby World Cup and it was right here in Pelicanland; and
2) I was directly involved. Not in the planning, but as an official timekeeper, along with Pelicus Miratus Velocitas, tasked with, well, keeping the official time.

Let me say right up front that I was skeptical. I had publicly expressed doubts in these pages as to the preparation work and fitness of USA Rugby to manage such an event. I had privately expressed quite a bit more using language my mother would not be proud of as I foresaw disaster looming. After all, USA Rugby has not proven that they could manage our national events, much less international events. Some early decisions I felt were extremely ill advised, starting with not allowing United World Sports, the entity that runs the very successful USA Sevens in Las Vegas, to have anything to do with the planning and organizing of the event. USA Rugby essentially said “We got it – no need to help us” to the only domestic entity with a proven track record of putting on a major international 7s rugby tournament.

That seemed foolish and petulant to me.

This lack of experience became apparent as expenses were badly miscalculated when USA Rugby decided to put all the teams and officials in the Grand Hyatt in downtown San Francisco, a not inexpensive location to host 40 teams, plus coaches and staff, plus trainers for over 2 weeks. Then you add in the referees, both international and domestic, plus various World Rugby officials and USA Rugby officials and you have a substantial bill at the end. This isn’t taking into account transportation, food, training facilities and field rentals, stadium rental and all of the other little things that are expected of the host country. The upshot of all of this is that I don’t see how USA Rugby could turn a profit (remember, this was sold as a $5million bombshell for us). In fact, it would take a miracle to break even.

And then a miracle happened.

I have been a part of large tournaments before, notably running the world famous Santa Barbara International Rugby Tournament in 1992 and 1993, so I know that once a tournament starts it has its own momentum. Even more so when international teams, television broadcasts and massive ticket sales are involved. This was a WORLD CUP, so it was going to happen no matter what, hell or high water, damn the torpedoes, with cream and sugar please, all aboard the love train doing the loco-motion. World Rugby would not allow it to fail. And it most certainly did not fail.

The stands were brimming with fans from across the world, well over 100,000 over the three days (final totals have not been announced as of this writing). It certainly passed the eye test as the stands were full even accounting for all of the people walking around the stadium at any given time. The field looked good and held up well – I didn’t notice any excess loss of footing even on the newly placed infield turf. Everyone had a great time and, as per usual at international events, the stadium staff and police were amazed at how friendly and well behaved everyone was even when playing rivals or after a loss.
Welcome to rugby culture, folks.

I have to give credit where credit is due. From all appearances, the tournament went off without a hitch and is a massive feather in the cap of USA Rugby. It showed the world that the US can not only compete on the world stage (we already knew that) but could support a World Cup in record breaking numbers. If there were any hiccups on the weekend they were not noticeable and everyone involved should pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Even the Weather Priestess kicked in with the 3 most perfectly gorgeous days San Francisco has seen in years. You seriously could not have had better rugby weather: just warm enough to encourage shorts and shirts without being too hot and clear blue skies well into the evening darkness with Karl The Fog holding off until matches were complete.

We have yet to see the final numbers and if USA rugby made money (unlikely), lost money (a tragedy for a Union that is broke), or broke even (highly likely, from all appearances). Unfortunately, World Rugby and AT&T Park get paid first and USA Rugby only gets paid from what is left, but even with a modest financial loss this tournament has to be considered a rousing success. The only black mark I can think of is the size of the pitch (the numbers I heard were 94m in length and 60m in width with 5m in-goals areas), so it was a little short and a little narrow – not ideal for a World Cup. This was, of course, known coming in as it is impossible to fit a full sized rugby pitch in AT&T Park without some major renovation. The good news is that the casual fan and 90% of the non-casual fans probably didn’t notice. You had to be looking for something like that.

Even the format, the single elimination required to fit 2 major events on one field at the same time was barely noticeable and didn’t provide the massive upsets that people were afraid of. After all, one bad game each and both the USA men and women could have been out of the running by Friday evening. Still not ideal for a 7s tournament, but it worked.

So take a bow USA Rugby and everyone else involved in putting on a world class event. I had my doubts and you proved me wrong. This should be the first step towards hosting the 15s World Cup.

Host Monsters

So how did the host nation, USA do? Well, both the men and the women came in ranked 5th in the world and the women finished 4th while the men finished 6th, so in that regard, the met expectations. That doesn’t really tell the whole story, though. Let’s start with the ladies:

The USA women started off with a rout of an overmatched China 38-7 and followed that up with a deceptively close win of 33-17 over Russia. I say deceptively close because Russia scored 2 tries while America had a player in the sin bin to bring the score to 22-17 before the US pulled away with al 7 on the pitch. And then came the juggernaut that is New Zealand. The USA gave them all that they could handle and the Kiwis escaped, yes escaped, with a narrow 26-21 victory. Let us put that in perspective. The Black Ferns did not allow a point to anyone else, including France in the final. The scoreline against the US was 26-21. The scoreline against everyone else was 105-0 and that includes the World Cup Final. Yes, we lost to Australia in the consolation game but Americans never seem to get up for consolation games. Even with the 24-14 loss to Oz we could put our hand up to being the 2nd best team in the world. Not too shabby. You done us proud, ladies.

The men had a similar track. Given a first round BYE via their status as a top 8 team in the latest World Rankings, they drew, as expected Wales. This was not an easy match by any stretch of the imagination as Wales had beaten us several times recently and the match was the last one played on Friday, at 9:30PM. So imagine having to sit around all day with all your nervous energy and nothing to do with it, listening to the roar of the crowd and watching the excitement of all the other matches and then having to go out and perform. At least Wales had an opening round match to knock the cobwebs off. So did Mike Friday have the lads ready? And how! A 35-0 thrashing showed our class as the fans stuck around until the end to cheer the home team on. Next up was a quarterfinal against England. A fantastic, back and forth match with Perry Baker and Dan Norton matched up head to head to see who was the better finisher. That matchup turned out to be a draw as each scored a try. In fact, the entire match turned out to be a draw as both sides played great back and forth rugby but ended up tied at 19 at the end of regulation. Then, in a move that probably only 5 people in the world could have pulled off, England scored the golden points on an inch-perfect, 40 meter cross field kick. Any further upfield and Burgess doesn’t catch the ball and it bounces into touch. Any further back and Burgess has to slow down to catch it and Madison Hughes catches him before he can score.
But no, it was perfect, and 40,000 hearts were broken.

The US men rebounded strongly against Scotland with a convincing 28-0 victory, but looked flat and disinterested in the 5th/6th playoff against Argentina. The scoreline was 33-7 and could have been worse, as we scored our only points with time expiring. I said it earlier in this column, America doesn’t do consolation games well. Once we are out of a Cup competition we seem to lose focus. In any case, that ended the day for the locals who can hold their heads high for the effort, only losing to the eventual runners up via a miracle kick.

Takeaway – USA Women

The USA Women’s team finished 4th, with losses to champions New Zealand and Series winners Australia. They could argue that they are, in fact, the 3rd best team in the world and even the 2nd best, seeing as they were the only team to really push the Kiwis. Considering that they lost their best player (Alev Kelter) a week before the tournament and then lost her replacement (Kelsey Stockert) 2 hours before their first game. These are significant losses, especially considering Alev Kelter would give Portia Woodman a run for Best Player In The World. They must be disappointed to finish out of the medals, but should be immenely proud of how they played.

A random comment from a friend of mine after seeing one of the many Facebook posts about rugby: “I just watched some of the rugby on TV. I didn’t know ladies played!” Yes, I replied, they do. And they are certainly ladies, I added. The care our ladies took to meet fans, work with the community and generally comport themselves was above reproach. Not just us, but all of the ladies from all the teams. Gods, but I love rugby.

Takeaway – USA Men

We may be seeing the final laps for the “Core Four” of Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Martin Iosefo , Maka Unufe and Folau Niua. Ok, that’s 5 players but “Core Four” sounds better than “Jive Five”. Baker and Niua are in their 30s. The other three are 28. They are starting to see the end of their careers as 7s is a young man’s game. They aren’t paid enough to do this forever (note: I don’t know if the women are paid at all) and will soon move on to the next stage of their lives. This is certainly the last 7s world cup we will see them all at and they can look back on their accomplishments with great pride –they changed the game domestically by raising expectations and internationally by forcing teams to change tactics and focus.

You see, the rest of the world has caught up to our boys. 7s players have always been fast but you now see most teams will have a flat out speedster that can challenge Baker and sometimes even contain him. More importantly, the rest of the world has figured out our kickoffs. The greatest evolution the USA underwent under Mike Friday was the importance he put on restarts. Previously we would be guaranteed to mess up a kickoff and gift possession to our opposition and the better teams crucified us for it. You can not give good teams extra possessions because that leads to extra scores and losses. We became a dominant force at restarts and lapped the rest of the world with our retention percentage… until the World Cup. Teams have adjusted and we not only failed to retain our kickoffs but also failed to retain the kicks that we were receiving. This was a huge advantage that we no longer had and it showed. Looks like Mr Friday has some work to do to address this lack of imbalance to tip the scales back into our favor.

Sweeping The Shed

It isn’t just the women who were class acts, but the men as well. One of the great things about rugby is the general humility and ethos of rugby players, past and present. No other sport has this culture where the superstars and international legends so freely mix with the common fan. This has become exemplified in the concept of “sweeping the shed”. You are responsible for your surroundings and, traditionally, the captain of a side is the last one out of the locker room to make sure that no mess is left behind. 30 minutes before this photo was taken Fhatuwani “Rasta” Rasivhenge was refereeing the World Cup Final. Now he is literally sweeping the shed because, and I quote, “you never leave a messy locker room behind”.

Every other referee joined in without being asked. This is yet another reason why I love rugby so much.

Pelican Embarrassment

While all this was going on we were still playing 7s back here in Pelicanland. The national qualifier series were a series of tightly contested games with very few blowouts on the men’s side. (Unfortunately, I do not have information on the women at this time.) The end result was Olympic Club, Life West and Official Surprise Team Sacramento Capitols going up to PNW to vie for nationals.

And they all lost. Granted Life West lost in the final, but they lost. Why do I mention this so harshly? Because for the first time ever, Northern California does not have any representative at nationals. This is a fact that shook me to my core. Back in my day (insert grainy footage here, complete with Morgan Freeman voiceover… “on these hallowed fields, short shorts, baggy jerseys, windswept mullets and all, rugby was played, not just for fun, but for glory”) we regularly sent 3 teams to nationals, at the very least 2. Old Blues and San Mateo each won a few titles and we were always in the semis and finals – often with more than one side in these final matches. Northern California boasts a quarter of the current USA squad and yet we can not get a team to nationals. This is not a one time fluke but the culmination of an ongoing trend as the NCRFU underperformed and gradually had seeds stripped away until now, when we have to go through the Seattle sides, stocked with pro players and Waisale Serevi’s influence. A tall order, indeed, and too tall this year, but in the past we would have eagerly accepted the challenge.

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

And after all of this work, next summer, go do that voodoo that you do sooooooooo well!

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

I got nuthin’!

This Week’s Photo

Pelican representatives at the Rugby World Cup 2018, San Francisco. Standing L-R: James Hinkin, Tim Lew, Preston Gordon, Steven Fenaroli, Phil Akroyd. Sitting: Lee Bryant. James Hinkin and Preston Gordon acted as timekeepers. Tim Lew, Steven Fenaroli, Phil Akroyd and Lee Bryant acted as In Goal Judges and Assistant Referees.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

7s Up!


7s Up!

Ah, Summertime. That glorious time of year when the days are warm, the daylight lasts all day (huh?), trees and flowers are committing shameless acts of photosynthesis in broad view of everyone, and Pelican Society members sit around in gazebos and on verandas sipping wine while reading slim volumes of poetry to improve their minds. Actually, I’m not too sure about that last one, but you, dear reader, get the idea. This is the time of year when baseball fans still have hope for October glory (except for Reds and Orioles fans), swim suits are all the rage and the California Triathlon* can be completed.

Additionally, but more importantly, this is the time of year when props, locks and other members of the back hair and monobrow set drag their knuckles back to their caves until the time of year when mud, rain and fog can hide their physical and mental deformities from polite society. The rest of the rugby family head out to play 7s, the greatest, purest form of rugby. “You always put your best athlete on the wing” an old coach told me and I heartily agreed as I slipped into the #11 jersey. This is the time of year when wings shine, running about in all their glory, sidestepping pretenders at the tackle and their supremacy is apparent to all. As Mel Brooks said, “it’s good to be the wing.”

The Northern California Sevens Series started last weekend for both the men and women (more on that next week) and this may be one of the most important seasons to date, because this year the Nor Cal Sevens Series is coterminous with the Rugby Sevens World Cup to be held up in AT&T Park. (How? Seriously, how?) As the eyes of the world descend on a city obscured by the daily appearance of Karl the Fog, some few will notice the local action and it is imperative upon Pelicanland to put on a good show.

Based on the first weekend’s results, we have little to worry about in that respect. A full report will be in the next issue because, frankly, this is long enough already.

* The California Triathlon is when you snow ski in the morning, water ski in the afternoon, and then surf in the evening. Yes, I accomplished this feat back in the days of my youth, getting in some late season, early morning skiing up in Tahoe, at 10:00 drove down to Folsom Lake to waterski and then at 4:00 continued south to finish off the day with some sunset surfing in Santa Cruz. It was awesome.

Houston, We Don’t Have A Problem – Scotland Do!

(EDITOR’S NOTE: When the fancy (or his wife) tickles him, my predecessor Dr Bruce Carter will send in a column, commenting on an event or person that affected him greatly. Such is the column below and I literally could not have said it better myself. He even suggested the title, a quote from match commentator Dallen Stanford as the US were surging late in the game.)

I started playing rugby in Augusta, Georgia, before USA Rugby was founded, before Rugby Magazine existed, and before there was a national team. The teams you played against were real and all others were mere rumors. Book stores had nothing referencing rugby – I spent hours looking.

Our expat teammates assured us that this was a real game, played at a high level in other countries. For the annual team banquet someone would rent a mail-order spool of film, as big as a large pizza, along with a projector to show it, and we’d watch the 1971 Barbarians victory over the All Blacks – every year. It was the only game most of us had ever seen that we had not played in.

I review the technology and information-state of the former world to show how long it has been, a long rugby lifetime, many turns of the technological wheel, from the conception to the full maturity for our national team.

We really started to feel a part of the larger oval planet when Rugby magazine (originally called Scrumdown) came along. And then, exciting news – there was going to be a team to represent us all!

The first Eagles match was in 1976, a 12-24 loss to Australia in SoCal. That whetted everyone’s appetite and fired our imaginations: someday, we’d beat the big boys!

The big boys were what are now the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship. Until last Saturday, we’d never beaten any of these countries’ first XV.

It has been a long forty-plus years. The number of people who have worn the jersey is 500 + and the number of people who have labored in the larger vineyard is now probably more than a million. We’ve had our hopes raised, and dashed, many times.

We needed the portion of the iceberg that’s below the surface. We needed players who learned the game at an age where the skills quickly became second nature, as was the case for our competition. We needed athletes who were equal to the opposition players who were drawn from countries where rugby was at or near the top of the sports-viewership and public-adulation food chains. We needed quality coaches and competitions, training facilities and academies, scouts and development officers, and good rugby, of course, always needs good referees so that the players learn to trust the Sir and express their abilities within the Laws without needing to get their retribution in first.

It has been my feeling on more than one occasion (the two Tests previously played in Houston, as a matter of fact), we would have won with a mature, confident, referee. On those occasions, we got a ref whose rating, worldwide, was about where the Eagles were rated. Such refs don’t want to make a name by having the ‘wrong’ team win.

But to win, you have to overcome all opposition. Saturday, there was a little less opposition because there was a ref who’s been at the top for a long time – Wayne Barnes did the infamous New Zealand-France World Cup match as long ago as 2007. He doesn’t fear having the wrong team win, because he is confident that he lets the players determine the outcome.

I have read about every match the Eagles have ever played, attended probably forty of them, and watched all of the rest that could be watched without being in the stadium. With apologies to the very good players we’ve known over the years, especially plying our trade as we do in Pelicanland, nest of Eagles, this is the best team the Eagles have ever fielded. Across the board they are skilled, fast, and all but the skill positions are big, muscular big.

Even there – watch the match again, keep your eye on MacGinty and watch him defend. He couldn’t be a better tackler at any size: you can’t do better than 100%.

He also never missed a kick.

This was not a match for the faint of heart or for those lacking in hope. Such people would have turned it off after Scotland scored a try on their first possession at 0:58. Even if they turned it back on, they would have turned it off again when Scotland got a penalty try and then another with a man advantage due to the yellow card from the PT. That’s three cheap tries, the kind that have often been fatal to Eagles in flight.

Watch the match yet again to see who plays better, who wins the collisions, who gets numbers over the breakdown and even – gasp! – who wins the tactical kicking game. This was often the way to beat the USA, catching them out of position after several exchanges.

The Scottish kicker made two conversions from the touchline. Three would have been better. Although I must say I was disappointed that the crowd booed that third attempt, almost putting an asterisk next to it. But just as we have failed to overcome un-self-confident referees, Scotland failed to overcome rude decibels.

But what do you say when a team wins a game by a single point? In 1991 you say ‘Super Bowl champions’ (Giants). In 2011 you say ‘Rugby World Cup holders’ (New Zealand).

And in 2018, you say: Thank you to all of people, over forty years of hunger, who cleared the rocks, plowed the ground, planted the seed, carried the water and cultivated the crops, thank you for the harvest. And thank you especially, for those who brought it in and put in on our plates last Saturday in Houston, Texas.

– Pelicus Scriptoris

Pelicus Awardus

The Pelicus Festivus celebration has come and gone; jokes were told, some of the jokes were even laughed at, silly costumes were worn, good food was eaten voraciously, good wine was guzzled uncouthly and mascot fines were handed out to those whose shame will not be named here. One of the most important functions of the Annual Banquet is to honor those who have performed and served the cause of the Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society, both within and without our borders. All of the winners are deserved, one was a surprise break with tradition and one brought the house down with tears. Your winners:

Rookie of the Year – James Fonda
Pelican of the Year- Jordan Bruno
Bryan Porter Award – James Tesoriero
Assistant Referee of the Year – Rich Anderson
Scott Wood Award – Jessica Turner
Ambassador of the Year- Lee Johnson
Pelicus Scriptorus – Preston Gordon
Dixon Smith Award – Scott Wood

Of special note is the renaming of the Most Improved Award as the Scott Wood Award. We all still keenly feel the loss of Our Scott Wood and the Board was looking for a way to memorialize him when their attention was brought to the fact that the first match he ever refereed was abandoned. Yes, Our Scott, who most remember as a solid, sensible referee with a quirky sense of humor, got off to that most ignominious start. He worked hard on his craft and improved greatly to become one of the most trusted referees in the Society and so it was that in mind it was deemed fitting that the Most Improved award be renamed in his honor.

Another oddity that the cleverer readers may have spotted is the winner of the Bryan Porter Award. The Bryan Porter Award is given to the individual who most helps with the development of referees within the Society. This year it was given to an individual who not only filmed games, but sent detailed analysis and commentary with specific timestamps to help the referee find the action being addressed. Why is this unusual? Because the winner, James Tesoriero, is the coach of California State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo. As a coach he would do match analysis, as many others do, but he would make a special effort to include the referee. Many clubs offer the referee a copy of their match tape for reference and that is most welcome, but nothing else. James went out of his way to highlight contentious decisions, even those that went in his favor, to help the referee understand his point of view and would continue a dialogue if necessary. Never was he accusatory, but always helpful as he realized that better referees make better games. It is the first time the Society has given an award to a non member, but I have the feeling it won’t be the last.

Finally, the Dixon Smith Award is not an annual award but one that is only bestowed upon those whose service to the Society soars above that of the others. It has only been award five times in the history of the award, a list comprising of Dixon Smith, Bryan Porter, Cheryl Leslie, Bruce Carter and Mike Malone – an impressive list indeed. This year we added Pelicus Radix Lecti, Our Scott Wood, whose influence was not only felt within our society but across this great rugby playing nation via his work with exchanges, coaching and at national and international events and matches. The number of tributes and moments of silence across the time zones in his honor attests to this fact.

The Naming Of The Flock

Another highlight of the evening is the roll call where we all respond to our Pelican Names and those who are still scandalously unnamed are recognized with their own Name. We allow such unfrocked members to propose a name for themselves and if deemed salubrious then it is so enshrined… but the Senate will not be mocked. Should such sobriquet be presented that is deemed unworthy or offensive then the Senate will bestow a name and the results, while funny, are never pretty. Also, should no name be suggested the Senate will pick one of their own liking and the results are often the same.

With that in mind, those named below are welcomed to the flock, with the occasional explanation. Please note that many of the names are not strictly Latin, but Latin-ish, so don’t bother if some professor you know wants to complain about the Latin grammar.

From now on Jessica Turner shall be known as Pelicus Liber Spiritus!
Meaning: Free Spirit

From now on Ron DeCausemaker shall be known as Pelicus Quarto Officialis!
Meaning: Fourth Official

From now on Tom Fennell shall be known as Pelicus Gulo Gulo!
Meaning: Wolverine
Explanation: Gulo Gulo, is the scientific name for “Wolverine” and pays homage to his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Gulo, in the singular, means glutton….which also fits.
(EDITOR’S NOTE) To be fair he was offered Pelicus Aesculus but he declined. Unsurprising since Aesculus is the genus for “buckeye”.

From now on Megan Holt shall be known as Pelicus Quartus Concussus!
Meaning: Four Concussions

From now on Preston Gordon shall be known as Pelicus Miratus Velocitas!
Meaning: Surprisingly Fast

From now on Duane Heil shall be known as Pelicus Graeca Nauta!
Meaning: Greek Sailor

From now on Stephen Moore shall be known as Pelicus Antipodus!
Meaning: Antipodes
(EDITOR’S NOTE) You really should have been able to guess that.

From now on Liam Bretz shall be known as Pelicus Filius Parva Digitus!
Meaning: Son of Pinkie
Explanation: Ask Pelicus Iudex Pennipe. Or possibly his wife.

The Senate Will Not Be Mocked

From now on Jordan Bruno shall be known as Pelicus Narcissus!
Meaning: Narcissist
Explanation: The Senate Will Not Be Mocked. Jordan had proposed as a name for himself, Pelicus Hot Refficus. This was deemed unacceptable and the Senate rendered its judgement with Pelicus Narcissus.

From now on Lee Johnson shall be known as Pelicus Inlaetabilis Raeda!
Meaning: No Fun Bus
Explanation: Lee proposed for himself “Nosiest Coachus”. This was deemed unacceptable.
So, given that Lee is English and was a prop before becoming a coach…
Given that the most famous English prop in recent memory is Jason Leonard…
Given that Jason Leonard is widely (ha!) known as “The Fun Bus”…
Given that in England a coach is another word for a bus…
Given that referee coaches are often tasked with pointing out referee mistakes and that is No Fun.
The Senate chose to bestow upon Lee Johnson Pelicus Inlaetabilis Raeda, which translates directly to “Joyless Carriage” aka The No Fun Bus

Flock Talk, Enriching The Vocabulary Of Pelicanland

Some knitted brows and other puzzled expressions were elicited in the opening paragraph and thus we have this edition’s Word of the Day:

adjective koh-tur-muh-nuh-s
1. Having the same border or covering the same area.
2. Being the same in extent; coextensive in range or scope.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

Dude. It’s 7s season.

This Week’s Photo

(Some of) the winners of the 2018 Pelican Awards, posing with Our Noble Leader and Our Noble Emcee. L-R: Pelicus Iudex Pennipes, Danielle Wood for Pelicus Radix Lecti, Pelicus Fistulator, Pelicus Inlaetabilis Raeda, Pelicus Miratus Velocitas

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

Summer Rugby Solstice


Summer Rugby Solstice

It is now the second week of June and we have reached the Summer Rugby Solstice when the seasons tip from 15s to 7s. This phenomenon notably occurs when the final USA Rugby club national championships are played and the calendar is all 7s going forward and is a couple of weeks before that other solstice that gets meteorologist all in a lather. It is a time of reflection and renewal and regret:

Reflecting on the season past and the accomplishments or disappointments therein.

Renewal of a new season and new opportunities.

Regret, oh so much regret, after the first few 7s trainings on not keeping up your conditioning after the 15s season ended.

7s is a whole new ball game and with the upcoming World Cup in our oddly shaped and far too small backyard (How? Just how?), all eyes and attention will be on 7s – the purest form of rugby on the planet. Now I need to take a break from writing to get a few more sprints in.

Pelicus Festivus

Yes, it is the annual Pelicus Festivus celebration where the Referee Society cleans up, puts on the finest attire and gathers together to congratulate each other on a Job Well Done. In the grand Pelicus Festivus Tradition we will have Feats of Strength and observe Festivus Miracles such as Pelicus Tempus Procurator actually buying someone a drink without requiring them to chase him down in an airport hundreds of miles away.

The Airing of Grievances was held a few weeks back so we won’t need to go into that again.

We even allow non-referees to attend, although you will have to pay for your own Festivus Dinner. From our Beloved Leader, Pelicus Iudex Pennipes:

It’s been an incredible season for NCRRS and we need to come together to celebrate our accomplishments, thank our family members who provide us with the ability to follow our passions, recognize those that we have lost and enjoy the evening together. All referees who have officiated matches this season and guests are encouraged to attend.

Save the Date: June 16th 2018
Location: Scott’s seafood Walnut Creek
TIme: 1800 hrs to 2100 hrs
Actual Time: 6PM to 9PM

(EDITOR’S NOTE: OK, I added the actual time.)

Please fill out the google form to let us know if you are coming, how many guests, and what you want to eat: https://goo.gl/forms/fziflNwpde11k2Y02 . NCRRS will pick up the tab for officials but guests are covered by you.

On a separate note, we have several new members to our flock that have yet to be adorned with Pelican names. I will be asking James Hinkin to reach out to you all to ensure that you have a name. If you do not name yourself you will be assigned a name by the flock. You have been warned. Roll call will commence our banquet so be sure you come up with your Latin (or Latin-ish) name.

Pelican Names

You have been warned.

The Dominion Of The Gladiatrix

Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through
(Everybody say I’m cool, he’s cool)
I can’t complain but sometimes I still do
Life’s been good to me so far

-Joe Walsh (Eagles 1975–1980; 1994–2016; 2017–present )

Yes, we open with a quote from one of our longest serving Eagles to seamlessly segue into the domination of the Life West Gladiatrix, because truly, Life’s been good. Very good. They took their second straight D1 title, thrashing the Raleigh Venom 91-22, a ridiculous scoreline for a national final. They declined to Take It Easy, instead choosing to Take It To The Limit. After Life West jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the opening minutes, Raleigh went into Desperado mode and answered with a pair of tries of their own. Not a team to be flustered, the Gladiatrix responded with a 4 try blitz to go into halftime with a comfortable 26 point lead, after all they are hardly the New Kid In Town, this being their 3rd straight national final (the first being in D2).

After flipping the record over and starting side 2 (ask your grandparents) the Gladiatrix once again came out on fire but Raleigh, hoping it wasn’t going to be One Of These Nights, fought back again with a pair of tries of their own, but a red card to Raleigh allowed several Gladiatrix to go on The Long Run to the try zone. What was the red card for? I Can’t Tell You Why, just that the referee decided some foul play had disrupted the Peaceful Easy Feeling of the match. In any case, the chances of a Raleigh comeback were Already Gone. “There will be a Heartache Tonight”, said Venom player Jazamine Grey.

Life West prop Catherine Benson was named MVP after a 4 try performance and the Gladiatrix have once again proven to be the class of women’s D1 rugby. “These ladies were fantastic”, said Head Coach Adriaan Ferris. “They have the Best of My Love”.

Where to go from here? Well for Life West it is back to Hotel California for a Tequila Sunrise or two but on a grander scale, one unnamed source in the WPL said they will consider adding the two time defending D1 champion Life West to their competition when Hell Freezes Over.

You Can’t Be An Elite Competition Without Elite Clubs

The Women’s Premier League is billed by themselves and USA Rugby as “the highest level of women’s senior 15s club rugby in the US” and yet they seem to annually come up with excuses not to add the Life West Gladiatrix. After winning D2 convincingly in 2016, the WPL said “you need to win D1”. Fair enough, so the next year in 2017 the Gladiatrix did just that. “Well, we can’t have you in our competition because our schedule is already set” was the reply from WPL. Now the Gladiatrix have won their 3rd straight title, the second straight D1 title (which was supposed to be the bar they had to reach to be considered good enough) and did it by an unprecedented 69 points. Surely now they will be able to join the competition. “Of course not”, said the WPL, “and don’t call me Shirley.”

You see, on May 29, FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE D1 FINAL, USA Rugby released the WPL schedule. (https://www.usarugby.org/2018/05/wpl-schedule-released/) The last time this happened (last year) the claim was that plans needed to be made and flights arranged. I called BS then and I call BS now. The first game is August 18, and even if you insert Life West into the schedule the day after their championship you can not tell me that 11 weeks is not enough time to arrange flights for the first games. You get even more time to arrange flights for the rest of the year. I defy anyone to give me a rational explanation why Life West is not in the WPL that doesn’t predicate itself on excluding a new, vibrant and yes, dangerous club and keeping the familiar teams of the Old Girls Club in, whether they deserve it or not. Money for travel isn’t an issue. Scheduling certainly isn’t an issue because, once again, it is early June. And they don’t start until mid August. Last year the DC Furies were 0-8 with a -251 point differential. They deserve to be there? Easy solution – drop DC and move Chicago to the Eastern (Red) conference. Or drop Chicago (1-6-1, -84 point diff) and replace them with Life West straight up in the Western (Blue) conference. Or promote a second club for balance if there is one available. Just do something, because the WPL can not claim to be the top competition when it doesn’t have the top teams.

When Life West doesn’t get the promotion they deserve the knock on effect locally is tremendous. They are forced to play essentially a D2 competition with WPL players and they steamroll teams. Can you blame Life West? Of course not, their players need match time, but it is telling that last year two women’s clubs, Colusa and San Jose, folded (although San Jose is staying on as an at large team). Moving Life West to the WPL, enforcing player restrictions and allowing their B side to play local D2 (as the All Blues do) would bring some balance back to the league and improve the recruiting efforts of everyone as well as allowing the smaller clubs to hang on to their better players. Will the cream rise to the top and go to the WPL clubs? Of course, but at the moment that really isn’t a choice and you have a top heavy league with only 4 viable clubs instead of a healthy league with 8 or more viable clubs. With the amount of collegiate talent the local sides produce this should be a no brainer.

Boys Will Be Champions

In our last issue I pointed out that the women were carrying the torch for Nor Cal rugby at the national championships and that was confirmed when Chico State and Life West won their titles. Of course, I only said that the Men had fallen short this year and will happily add Danville Oaks to the roster of national champions as they won the Boys High School Rugby National Club Championships. (See what I did there?) Danville had to beat another strong local side in Granite Bay in the semifinals 34-14 before defeating defending champion Royal Irish of Indiana with a thrilling 29-15 overtime victory. This brings the boys High School championship back to Northern California where it belongs after spending a few years in Indiana, of all places. Tries from The Son of Tammy Freeman (2), Jason Severance (2) and Jack Slimm led the way as the future of Pelican Men’s rugby looks bright. I don’t think we will see too many more championship-free seasons on the men’s side with this kind of talent coming through.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

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

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

On To The Game Reports!

Dude. It’s the off season.

This Week’s Photo

This year’s rule: You win a senior National Championship, you get the honor of This Week’s Photo. Congratulations Life West Gladiatrix.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre