Sunday, February 19, 2006




The monthly meeting of the Northern California Rugby Referee Society will be this Wednesday, February 15, from 7 – 9 PM, at St. Mary’s College in Moraga.

We will meet in Room 201 of Galileo Hall (second floor), where we met back in October.

Our speaker will be Professor Robert Weinberg, his topic "Mental Skills for Officials."

He will discuss what separates "the best" from "the good," based on research and practice, with a special focus on rugby.

This is a unique opportunity for professional development for all of our referees.


If you would like to be assigned matches in NorCal in March or April 1, please send in the weekends that you can ref and whether you can travel on any of them.

Far fewer than half of our membership responded to this request last week. Please stop reading and do so now!



It was time for the Lone Pelican’s California Adventure and Tour.

The weather had been auspicious: it was the fourth day of cloudless skies and eighty degrees or more on the mercury at the location of the HP Editorial Wing of the Senate. As the television blimp drifted off its berth at the Salinas airport to mosey over to Pebble Beach for the pro-am golf tournament, it was time to get rugby.

And it was about time! Lone Pelican had been working six-day weeks for some time, in preparation for a change of medical practices. Leaving his partners of twelve years to strike out in competition with them in the middle of the rugby season may not have been the best idea, but at least it allowed a week off between jobs – a week that corresponded to the LA Sevens!

So Thursday morning the mail and the newspaper had been put on hold, Sunday’s garbage was already at the curb, and it was time to drop out of the workaday world, to psychologically change kit, to devote more time to the pursuit of the oval ball. After all, LP did well enough in medical school to have his choice of residency programs, and his choice of San Francisco was entirely rugby-based, now half of his lifetime ago.

The first order of business was reviewing Paul Bethe’s game of last Saturday on DVD. Paul is a Drip (development panel) referee and one of LP’s jobs entails the privilege of working with such refs.

Next order was handling ninety minutes of e-mail, the volume tapering down nicely as the week goes on. Usually Friday is the only day of the week with less than one hour of correspondence.

Perhaps at some future communiqué we could give a flavor of what the job of society president can include, based on an e-mail ‘day in the life’. Handling complaints, baby-sitting, beating one’s head against the wall, handholding, dealing with threats, calling on the sun not to set, these are all part and parcel of the deal.

Then, with the Pelicanmobile gassed up and detailed, it was time to hit the road. Top down and iPod all the way up for the trip south on 101, what the Angelenos call the Golden State Freeway.

A few weeks back Dana Teagarden contacted our hero to say, “We need a ref to cover a Thursday evening game in San Luis Obispo.” He agreed, saying that he generally can free up a Thursday evening. Then he found out that it was the Thursday before the IRB Sevens, even more convenient, and then he found out that it was a dream college game, Cal Poly hosting BYU.

He asked that it be recorded for posterity that he accepted the match not knowing which teams it involved.

The annual trips to the Central Coast for Arroyo Grande games and the Tri-Tip sevens have been highlights of the calendar for well over a decade. But this time Lone Pelican took a little detour, turning from 101 onto Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo, a couple of miles north to the lovely pitch of the Cal Poly Mustangs for this tasty match.

This is a new pin in the map for LP, never having refereed on this fine paddock. Rolling hills surround it, more-or-less barren, it looking like one is an ant wandering within an egg carton.

A waxing half-moon ushered the sun down as the artificial lights came up. A large and scenery-laden crowd gathered, it being a warm evening with no breeze on a college campus. Say no more.

Cal Poly – SLO 10 – BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIV. 30 Referee: Bruce Carter

BYU has not begun their season. They have not even begun outdoor practices. Yet the first scrum, ten seconds into the game, was of utmost ferocity and they scored a converted try from that first primary phase.

Cal Poly is in the middle of their season, actually past the middle as they play as extensive autumn fixture list, including a handful of NorCal colleges. However, they seemed to have some missed assignments in the backs and some passes that got behind their intended recipients.

BYU’s massive and powerful backs saw to it that bad ball was more than worthless.

However, overall possession was about even through the eighty minutes. BYU scored two long-distance tries by the backs in the first half, in the first and fortieth minutes.

In the second half, their cagey #8 found that his arm was just long enough to score after a bullets-bounce-off run. Their final try came when a tackled Cal Poly player, confused by the back of the jersey that was to him (the home team in black, the visitors in the deepest blue, the sun having set), passed the ball from the ground to an opponent on the ‘wrong side’ of the tackle. That pass of course obviated any considerations of wrong side and the grateful fellow scored easily.

BYU delivered some massive hits early in the game. There may have been an element of shell shock at work in the Mustang backline. If they can shake this, they can play with anybody.

We may well see both of these teams at Stanford again come May.

Terry Conner of the SLO RFC greeted the referee after the match. Terry is a longtime stalwart of that club and helps run the Tri-Tip Sevens. The two exchanged kind words, brightening the evening further.

After the game it was time for more southening. It was still warm enough to drop the top, but the 200+ miles to bed called for speed to be of the essence.

Rugby benders require sleep. In three hours flat these words were being typed at the Santa Monica Travelodge, three miles from the UCLA pitch, where Friday’s edition of the rugby jag would continue.

But along the way, just after ‘turning the corner’ on 101 to travel east along the south-facing coastline of Santa Barbara County, we heard an ad on the radio: an ad for the Rugby Sevens at the Home Depot Center! This was on an ESPN Radio affiliate, and it was exciting stuff.

It was enough to make one want to buy tickets!


A short early morning drive on one of the world’s busiest commuter routes, the Santa Monica freeway to the San Diego freeway, led to the beautiful campus of UCLA.

Lone Pelican had never been here before, either.

What a fantastic place! UCLA lies in one of the ritziest parts of La-La Land and the architecture befits the location. Grand brick edifices and stately landscaping greet the eye.

The athletic fields are adjacent to Pauley Pavilion, the House that Wooden Built. But even more fantastic, they are built atop parking decks!

There are at least two levels of parking beneath the pitch. The field sits entirely atop a masonry structure. So one has to ask: why is the field crowned? It certainly can’t affect drainage, which has to be by a French drain system if not actively aided by pumping.

It must be a nod to the gridiron tradition, where even artificial grass surfaces are often crowned.

The occasion of the day was the USA – Canada women’s sevens tournament, starting at nine AM. Each country entered two sides. They played a round-robin and then a knock-out bracket, lots of games against each other throughout the day.

It was a fabulous day, sunshine out of the blue from start to finish. A crowd accumulated as the day went on, including long-time UCLA and original Eagle coach Dennis Storer, who shared some of his many memories.

Scott Wood and Tammy Cowen came along to enjoy the day, and Kathy Flores also enjoyed being among friends, seeing such talented players.

Dana Teagarden of SoCal and Joyce Henry of Canada officiated three games each and did a fine job of allowing the players to demonstrate their skills with fluid phases.

Some of the refs from the IRB doings dropped by to get a game, including Tim Luscombe of Eastern Rockies, two-time NorCal visitor Phil Smith from Victoria, and a couple more carpetbaggers from down under.

Touch judges included Dave Pelton of PNW, USARRA Treasurer Tom Feeney of Michigan, and Lone Pelican.

An incredible fact emerged: whenever Tom Feeney was in-goal, no tries were scored at his end. The NorCal team-of-five rotation system was not in use, so Tom would stay at one end for seven minutes at a time. And never a try was scored.

In Las Vegas legend, a cooler is someone with the mystical power to sit by a winner and create a loser. In rugby, it is no longer a legend: Tom Feeney has the power to determine the outcome of matches.

Just put him in-goal and have him switch ends at halftime, and you can bet the farm on the team whose in-goal he inhabits.

His powers even extend to running touch, where all of the tries that will be scored will be in the opposite corners.

Meet The Cooler.

The sevens final was refereed by Dana and won by the USA ‘A’ side.

Following the sevens tournament UCLA hosted BYU for a fifteens match, a rout by the Cougars. This was refereed by Larry Johnson (Eastern Rockies), with TJ’s Cooler and Scriptoris.

All of BYU’s many tries were either centered or scored in the corner opposite the Cooler.

Lone Pelican ran touch for eight matches on the day.

Footsore, he spent the evening sitting around a fireplace at the Team America reception in the Torrance Hilton, shooting the breeze with a bunch of guys who played a much higher level of rugby than he ever did, including old teammate Brian Vizard.

Todd Clever said hello, a nice young man living the rugby dream of playing club rugby in New Zealand, now back home in California to represent his country. Todd broke his right ring finger in training just before the Wellington Sevens yet played in all five matches.

A quick consult led to the following diagnosis: a mangled, swollen and discolored digit combined with a desire to play Sevens that overrides any possible amount of pain.

An early evening found your faithful correspondent back at the keyboard, discipline coming before dissipation these days, readying his kit for Saturday morning’s refereeing duties.


The week of perfect weather continued. Early to bed had led to early to rise; it was time for coffee and the open road.

The drive from the Torrance Hilton to Long Beach isn’t long on a non-workday. When the sun and the sunglasses are out, the convertible top is down and the miles are melting away, it is difficult indeed not to find oneself singing, “I love LA”

On a day such as this even a confirmed NorCal’er observes the Southern California shibboleth, putting the definite article in front of freeway numbers.

Women’s Select Side at a middle school in Long Beach:

SoCal U-23 Griffins 13 – PNW LOGGERS 17 Referee: Bruce Carter

Senior Griffins 7 – PNW LOGGERS 14 Ref: Carter

This game was the Loggers playing eighty minutes, their two opponents forty each.

Coach Dave Pelton only had fifteen players on hand. By the end of the morning they needed to borrow one or two, but still they continued their winning ways.

Several of the under-23 women remembered the referee from the Stanford tournament two weeks previously. Sarah Davis, daughter of our own Sam, played fullback for them. Another of the Griffins had a Georgia Tech sticker on her truck. She knew the referee’s brother, a professor at that fine institution.

The Loggers had a #7 who was a wrecking crew. She shook off injuries like she shook off tacklers, kicked the conversions, and basically seemed never to slow down.

After the match, the USA U-23 women’s team played Southern California on the same pitch. Dave Peters had arrived from the IRB sevens to referee that one. He and your pen pal exchanged the greetings of old teammates and traded places.

The miles went by even faster driving back to Carson and the Home Depot Center. They say the return trip is shorter for psychological reasons, but it’s also shorter when you drive faster in anticipation!

The parking lot was noticeably more crowded than either of the two previous years. That was the first good sign, and it was in fact borne out by record attendance at this year’s event.

The first, best, t-shirt that was spotted in the parking lot said: I AM NOT FAT. I AM HARD TO KIDNAP.

The voice of John Chapman, once again in the announcer’s booth, greeted fans before they even entered the stadium.

David Williamson, Helen Marcus, Jake Rubin, Mike Malone. Scott Wood on the sideline. Paul Bretz on the touchline. Ed Todd on the headset. John Pohlman, Tony and Tomasu Latu on the concourse. Jeff Jury and the Fresno boys at the mezzanine restaurant.

The International Bunnies, former UCSB players dressed in the colors of each of the competing nations.

Referees from every other USA society of note, old friends and new like Mark Handel, Andrew Ormsby, Tom Lyons, and on and on.

Players seemingly from every team in Northern California, especially West Sac.

Players from every team from every era in this man’s rugby experience.

Rugby writers Kurt Oeler and Buzz McClain.

Enjoyed some time with Steve Scott, former Canadian panel referee, development officer in Niagara and Ontario, and all-around nice guy. Well-traveled, worldly, handsome, entertaining, gracious... We’re even told that he reads Hail, Pelicus! What utterly discriminating taste this gentleman has!

Well, the plan was to continue to write in a diary style but the clock has raced ahead of the calendar. What started with a bang will end with hardly a whimper. It’s back to work soon. Suffice it to say:

SUNDAY: More rugby and friends all day long.

MONDAY: A day spent at the Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, reliving the eighties. This was a time when your correspondent was in the Army and felt very much a part of the events recorded and recreated in this excellent facility.

The plane that served as Air Force One during this era, conveying the President to the negotiations that led to nuclear stand-down, is a highlight of the tour. The world changed in those days, and as a result the Wall came down.



PENINSULA GREEN 14 – Valley Christian 7 Referee: John Pohlman

I had the pleasure of refereeing the Thursday night game between Peninsula Green and Valley Christian. This preseason game was played at Woodside High School's all-weather field.

Game time: 7:30 PM. The coaches decided on three 20 minutes periods.

Peninsula Green started fast with a try by Travis the scrum half. Travis is playing with the US under 19's and I can see why. He has all the skills of a quality scrum half. The rest of the first period was all Peninsula Green, scoring 5 trys in all.

The second period saw Valley Christian improve their tackling and were rewarded with a nice try by their scrum half. Second period score 14-7 Peninsula Green.

The last period was again competitive with Peninsula Green scoring three more trys, two by Travis.

This was a fun match. All the coaches, players and fans were very positive. Lots of very good talent. Hope to see both teams in the playoffs.

SILICON VALLEY 47 – Los Altos 0 Referee: Pete Smith


Nevada 17 – CHICO STATE 35 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

A tale of 2 halves.

University of Nevada-Reno hosted CSU Chico under the lights Friday night, on a crisp, clear and cold Nevada evening.

Chico scored a couple of penalty kicks in the first 20 minutes of the match, but UNR answered with a converted try and then an unconverted try to make it 12 to 6 UNR at halftime.

The second half was almost all Chico scoring 3 converted tries, 1 unconverted try and a penalty kick, while UNR could only manage an unconverted try at the very end of the game.

Seconds: Nevada – Chico State Referee: Dylan Gill
No report received.

ELSIE ALLEN 36 – Sonoma 7 Referee: Bo Rodman

Beautiful rugby under the lights on a Friday night.

The visiting team has made vast strides from last year and made the host Lobos work for every point. The score at halftime was 19 -7 and the contest was still very much in doubt.

The second half showed the home team's dominance as they consistently used overloads in the backline to create scoring opportunities. While Sonoma never let up, the hosts were able to overcome some sloppy ball handling to take control of the match.

EAST PALO ALTO 22 – Aptos 10 Referee: Chris Fisher

Good hard game. Aptos brought close to 40 players to the game.

DE LA SALLE 31 – Piedmont 14 Referee: Chris Parkhouse

A very evenly matched game saw DLS out score Piedmont by 5 tries to two. DLS captain Tim Maupin scored two tries as he showed why he is a member of the U19 Scout team for the U.S.A. The first an opportunistic try from open play, the second a darting run that split the Piedmont back line. The two sides were very evenly matched in the line out and in the forward packs. A well contested game played in good spirit that was a good advertisement for youth rugby.

Davis high school 16 – DEL CAMPO 25 Referee: Sam Reagle

Kudos to Mike Purcell from Davis. He showed class when some would have been jerks. While Mike took off work to complete the ID cards in time for the game, Joe Cavallaro delegated the task to a parent. With no ID cards for Del Campo, the game could not be played. Joe offered the forfeit, but Mike suggested they reschedule the official game and play a friendly since they had already negotiated the rush-hour commute. I said I would be happy to ref any game where the hand of God wouldn't smite me, friendlies no problem.

The kicker for Davis HS has a knack for drop kicks making both his attempts from about the 22 meter line.


ST. MARY’S 89 – Stanford 0 Referee: Chris Parkhouse
Evaluator: Bryan Porter
Touch Judges: Jim Crenshaw, Bryant Byrnes, Rookie - Steve Jarmek

St. Mary's dominated all aspects and phases of this game as they ran in 15 tries to comprehensively beat Stanford. Solid in the scrum and having total control in the line out, they proceeded to play running fluid rugby spreading the ball across the field and carving runs through the Stanford defense. I have to take my hat off to the No 6 of St Mary's - Kevin Suaror (I hope I have spelt this correctly) who scored at least three tries to my recollection running fully 75 metres of the field.

I would like to express my personal thanks to Jim and Bryant who helped me have one of my best games to date. As we point out time and time again this a great strength of this society. I very much appreciate all the help and support.

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 44– Stanford 3 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

A win, but not a rout. The Gaels executed well and scored a lot, but Stanford played hard the entire game.

UC SANTA CRUZ 26 – Maritime Academy 19 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

This was a well-played, exciting game of rugby with lots of open play. Cal Maritime dominated possession and territory, but UCSC was able to counter with long breaks through their backs. Led by their captain and prop, Cal Maritime scored three tries to lead 19-12 at the half. UCSC found more gaps in the second half and scored twice to take a 26-19 lead. Cal Maritime had several opportunities to score as well, but were denied by some resolute UCSC defense, including a tense goal-line stand with 3 minutes remaining in the match. Players from both teams should be commended for playing entertaining, clean rugby.

Seconds: UC Santa Cruz 5 – CAL MARITIME 29 Ref: Ranaweera

This was a 10-a-side, 40 minute match with uncontested scrums.

San Jose State 17 – UOP 66 Referee: Rachel Lawton

SANTA CLARA 25 – U. of San Francisco 8 Referee: Sandy Robertson

Santa Clara jumped out to an early lead with 3 tries in the first fifteen minutes or so of the match. From there USF settled down and the game was pretty even the rest of the way.

Golden Gate U-23 0 – HUMBOLDT STATE 22 Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: David White, Ian Mallard
Main Field, SFGG Grounds, Treasure Island

A brilliantly sunny day in a wonderful setting: SFGG's new facility near the Bay Bridge. Humboldt State, last year's national DII finalist, is led by No. 8 Nick Cadet, while SFGG's youthful side is captained by No. 8 Danny Laprevotte. The match started slowly, with attacks by both sides stalling due to handling errors, loss of possession, penalties, and stout defense. In fact, it took 37 minutes for Humboldt to break through, which they did on a charge from a penalty five meters from the host's goal line. In the second half, Humboldt poured it on, taking whatever ball they had and creating opportunities. The first try of the half was scored on a breakaway interception at the 18 minute mark. The visitors scored two more tries, including on near full-time. Next week's match in Arcata should be a cracker: HSU vs. Santa Rosa Junior College, for the Pat Culley Cup.

Special thanks to HSU alum David "Whitey" White and SFGG coach Mallard for their excellent touch judge assistance.

ST. MARY’S women 70 – San Jose State 10 Referee: Paul Berman
Referee Coach: Jim Crenshaw
Venue: St. Mary's College, Moraga, Kick-off: 10:00 am
Weather: The game began in cool fog, quickly burning off to bright warm sunshine.

Comments: As good fortune would have it, I stepped in as a last minute replacement for Lois Bukowski.

Communication, fitness, focus, hunger & team work were the hallmarks of this impressive display by the ladies of St. Mary's, in this their season opener on home turf. Boy did they play some mighty fine rugby, propelled in no small part by SJSU's pack & scrum-half's unwillingness to simply roll over.

SJSU's experienced & traditionally strong pack must have initially entered the fray suspecting they'd have little difficulty dominating all aspects of forward play against a considerably lighter ("lite") & slighter St. Mary's pack. Much to everyone's surprise St. Mary's forwards, swift & tight, proved a hard nut to crack. Tackling like demons, they moved the ball at pace between forwards & backs, releasing their line whenever feasible. In defence they kept SJ's line on the back foot for much of the match.

SJ proved most effective when their forwards ran with the ball. Unfortunately in defence they were often caught flat footed, missing vital tackles. A situation sure to be remedied by their next game.

Highlight/Play Of The Game: Greatly assisted by her tight, low center of gravity, stable forwards platform & wonderfully swift hooker Katrina de Jesus, in rookie scrum-half Lauren Shaughnessy*,St. Mary's have found a lassie who can instinctively perceive & create gaps. Small of stature, wiry, fearless & elusive she knows when to pass & when to fly solo, amply proven by her five try haul. Fun to watch! With patience & attention she'll develop additional skills. A star is born!

St. Mary's fly-half Tracy Dashjian had a fine day of her own, with super service to set her line free, quality kicks to touch, two tries & five conversion goals of her own.

(* Note: This is the 2nd occasion I've watched Lauren play. The first, when I ref'ed a pre-season friendly back on 15 Nov 05 against Cal, where she marshaled her side to a 0-30 victory, scoring three or four of their six tries in the process.)

Points spread: St. Mary's - 12 tries (#15 - 1st min; #10 - 15th & 17th mins; #12 - 19th & 78th mins; #9 - 22nd, 27th, 45th, 60th & 62nd mins; #13 - 25th & 58th mins) 5 conversions (#10 - 20th, 46th, 59th, 63rd & 79th mins)

SJSU - 2 tries (#16 - 8th min; #5 - 66th min)

CSU Monterey Bay 17 – SAC STATE 33 Referee: Larry Freitas

Played at Fort Ord's Prescott Park, I was able to drive down from Aptos with little traffic mid-day, as the Crosby Clambake was going on at Pebble Beach. This game was fun to watch and ref, as it had plenty of scoring, and errors from either team allowing for those opportunities to be taken advantage. Two players really impressed me in this match, one from each team. Monterey's Melissa Fehn is an outstanding player, as her running on #8 pick ups at the back of the scrum are hard for any opposition to stop. After Sacramento State had taken a 19 to 0 lead as the first half was coming to an end, Fehn scored a try from five metres out from the #8 pick up play. The other player who impressed me was Ellen Silva, Sacramento's flyhalf, as she drop kicked four conversions in this match.

Monterey is an improving side, and their 19 - 5 deficit as the second half started didn't stand for long. Monterey scored two more tries, another by Fehn, and Kandance Powell, the second try being converted, and cutting the score to 26 - 17, but there wasn't much time left. A final try for Sacramento in the final few minutes ended the scoring for the day. Try scorers for Sacramento were: Nathalie Bryant, Lorae Simpson, Kari Ramirez, and Shawna Grisler. Sacramento had some speedy backs, and were able to spin the ball wide on several occasions, resulting in some long runs and tries. Monterey's backs played well too, and it's obvious that they are improving on their passing skills, and setting up scoring opportunities for themselves. The packs for either team can use some work, as there were quite a few collapsed scrums. The last five minutes of the game were played with uncontested scrums, as Monterey's hooker went out with an injury, and there were no replacements on the bench, and they had to play one short.

One final note: it's sad that CSUMB will not support rugby. There hasn't been a men's team for quite a few years now. This women's team is playing much better than past teams I've seen, and they should be getting more support from the school. I will call the K.C. Lynch show on Seaside's 540 AM KRXA and bring this up next Saturday morning.

UC Davis thirds 5 – JESUIT 18 Referee: Sam Reagle

Jesuit HS crossed the causeway to play UC Davis for the annual "Why Go Elsewhere When You Can Play Here?" game. This was "friendly" played at 11 am Saturday morning, however, Jesuit was in full force with cheering section in tow. This was a fast clean game with good camaraderie throughout. The score of this interscholastic game isn't as important as the message and the friendship that both clubs demonstrated.

Jesuit did a better job of protecting the ball and playing cohesively to win the annual "Meet the Aggies" Invitational.

Lamorinda 17 – GOLDEN GATE 29 Referee: Joe Saccomanno

Golden Gate scored first and ended the first half with 3 unconverted tries to Lamorinda's sole unconverted try for a half time score of 15 to 5. Golden Gate had strong first half.

The second half was more even with a try and conversion by Golden Gate to Lamorinda's sole unconverted try. However, play was more dominated by Lamorinda.

JV: Lamorinda – Golden Gate Referee: Bo Rodman
No report received.

LIVE OAK 47 – College Park 5 Referee: Chris Fisher


HAYWARD OB 29 – Bald Eagles 19 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

Sunday is a rugby day! The Bald Eagles gathered to face a determined Hayward old boys side to showcase long time local rugby figure Barry Welsh who has signed up for some sort of reality TV show (swapping wives?). Hayward, generously sprinkled with a Clown contingent (Speed Freak Rugby Clowns on Acid), came determined to steal the show and so they did, running in 5 tries, two of them converted, to the Bald Eagles 19 points. Considering the many players who have graced the local rugby scene for decades (Mike Comstock, Richard Lompa, Fred Forster, Leo from Golden Gate, Bruce Bernstein, Bill Dent from Hayward, etc.) this was a surprisingly fast and hard fought affair. Lots of fast running, hard tackling, & scoring.

The players liked it, the crowd liked it, your ref liked it, and the vast TV audience out there is sure to like it when the fun rugby antics will grace the small screen (Alouette anyone?). Overall a fun day was had by all. SF Golden Gate's hospitality in their great clubhouse was beyond compare. Final score: Hayward 29 - Bald Eagles 19. A great day of rugby!!



There are certain fringe benefits to writing the text and choosing the photo.

This week we feature a preview of the Churchill Cup, where the USA hosts Canada and England with open arms!

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Pelicus Scriptoris