Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | Rip Van Pelican
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Rip Van Pelican


The editorial staff took the COVID shutdown of rugby as a sign to go into hibernation for a much needed rest as the great undertaking of publishing Hail Pelicus every week during the rugby season had taken its toll.  The winds of time and change have stirred this beast from the long sleep and it has been decided that it may be time to put out an actual issue.   So here it is.   As soon as this effort  is complete we are going back to sleep – wake us up when rugby is back.

The Testing Of The Flock

While it is assumed that every Pelican Referee has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Laws of Rugby, it is useful at times to verify this.  To that end the Great Minds that lead our flock have decided that a monthly law quiz should be published to ascertain the veracity of the previous statement.   The editorial staff of Hail Pelicus have at times been accused (wrongfully, of course) of exaggerating the capabilities of the mighty Lords and Ladies of the Whistle  – mostly by jealous members of other societies and players who have lost a match through (allegedly) no fault of their own.

The decision was made to coordinate the law quiz with the theme that Tim Lew selects for our monthly society meetings so that aspects of the law in question can be studied and analyzed in greater depth.    The only question left was the timing.   We needed to get the quiz out far enough ahead of the monthly meeting without being too far in advance so that the connection is lost.   The following formula was painstakingly arrived at:

Our monthly meetings are held the second Thursday of every month so the quiz is designed to be sent out the second Sunday before the second Thursday of each month, unless it is a leap year in which case it will be sent out the third Tuesday of the previous month.  Of course, that all changes if Mercury is in retrograde, in which case the quiz will be delivered four days prior to the first Wednesday of the month while keeping in mind if it is a holiday weekend then the quiz will be sent out the Tuesday following the Monday previous to the first Saturday of the month, with the exception of course during the current administration if this falls within three days of the Burns Supper, where Scots gather to toast Robert Burns and drink enough whisky to drown a horse and get to the point where they forget how to speak English and say stuff like “Ae fond kiss, ach aboot toon weel nae haggis in our hame, getting fou and unco happy, we think na on the lang Scots miles it wad frae mony a blunder if other see us since auld lang syne ‘cos the best planning laid on mice and men gang aft agley and I’ll nut ya, says you!”.   The Scots then call this a dialect instead of the drunken nonsense we all know it to be.   At that point we have no idea when the quiz will come out.

Pelicans Doing Themselves Proud

Even during a pandemic the world recognizes the quality that is a Pelican Referee, for behold! Preston Gordon has been promoted to RFU Level 7 and the LSRFUR Premier List.

From Preston:

I’m happy to share this news, and I’d like to take a brief moment to reflect on it. First, it was pretty surprising to get the call about this in May, especially given certain family events occurring at the time. Next, I’m going to self-plagiarize some remarks I made about two years ago: From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of the peer coaches and referee evaluators everywhere, who developed skills I didn’t know I had, set the standards I didn’t think I could achieve, and showed me this wonderful, somewhat obscure pathway to staying fully involved in the game that we all love so much. I am grateful in particular to Knute Knutson and Kevin McCaslin of my old club Old Pueblo RFC, who pulled me into refereeing in Tucson, wound me up, and sent me off in roughly the correct direction.

If I had to pick one refereeing experience that convinced me there was real value in being a referee, it was the East Midlands exchange I did in September of 2008 [4 years after I got my USA Level 1]. I was still a pretty green C2 referee at that point, and I had no idea what club rugby was like in a place like England’s green and pleasant land. I ended up refereeing 8 matches in 10 days, and I came back home hooked in addition to improving my capabilities somewhat. I can tell you from personal experience that multi-game developmental exchanges like these do work, and can pay off for years.

As I mentioned at the AGM, I can’t stress enough how much I agree with the thesis that a higher frequency of matches generally results in much faster development for most refs. I was lucky to have been able to knock out 37 matches last season, and 28 the season before that, and it was a massive boost to me in addition to being great fun. I think it’s what made the difference that got me bumped from level 9 in Oct 2018 to an unofficial level 8, which is a territorial

(“federation”) grade in England, and now to level 7, effective at the end of the 2019-20 season. This tops my original goal of one day making it onto the Grizzly panel, which was a thing back when I started reffing in Arizona and NorCal. Therefore, in order to mark this occasion, to share the love & pay it forward, and in recognition of those that have provided me with the opportunity to write these words…

To all who shall see these presents, greeting: Know Ye, that today, November 10, 2020, I donated to the David Williamson Referee Scholarship. I would urge anyone who has the ability to do so join me in making a contribution. With the power of compound interest, any amount today can make a big difference to a future referee’s individual career and enjoyment of the game, while strengthening our society *and* the game as a whole simultaneously. And if you have one, don’t forget to check with your employer to see if they’ll match 501c3 donations – many do, and their budgets for matching programs often go unused. As far as we’re concerned, it’s free money that will make a difference – what is not to like about that?!

Please consider joining me, via our official PayPal site here:

2019 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines (until we get 2020 GMGs)

Looking for guidance on how to manage a game?   Well, USA Rugby has your back.  You can find the 2019 USA Rugby GMGs here:

If you do not have access to the google drive linked above you can also view them as well as other pertinent documents here:

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

Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone.  If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.

When needed fill it out and click submit.  The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.

He/she may contact you latter for more details.

If you have any questions as to how to use the app please refer to the following video:

On To The Game Reports!

I wish I had some.  I really do.   Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay safe and hopefully we can have rugby again sometime in 2021.

This Week’s Photo

Preston Gordon’s  most recent game, holding the RFU Junior Vase London & South East Division trophy on March 15th at Allianz Park.  (photo courtesy of Matt Bright Photo,

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

James Hinkin
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