Wednesday, May 24, 2006



We've borrowed and rewritten the motto of the Jesuits, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam (for the Greater Glory of God), for this week's missive, as we are sure you will understand.


That would be the Sacramento Valley High School Conference.

Jesuit, the best team in Sacto, won their third national championship this weekend at Dartmouth. Vacaville, who finished second in that league, won the tier B championship at the same venue.

This is similar to 2004, when Jesuit won the title and Elsie Allen won tier B.

Congratulations to the players, parents and coaches of these successful teams.


For those who are counting, there have been six national championships awarded so far this season. NorCal teams have won five of them.

One team that will not, alas, add itself to that honor roll is San Francisco Golden Gate. They lost the super league quarterfinal to Old Blue of New York in Manhattan Saturday night, a game refereed by Tom Coburn.


LuAnn Campbell has asked us to put out a call for referees for Las Vegas 7s
on June 10th (the weekend after our conference).

You could attend our banquet on Friday night and fly to Vegas Saturday morning. Remember that the Sevens doesn’t start until 4 or 5 PM.

SoCal will pay your airfare and get you a hotel for Saturday night – those few hours you’ll be needing a room.

Let us know if you would like to attend!


The annual end-of-season banquet for our referee society will be Friday, June 9, at 7 PM. Plan now to attend, whether you will be able to attend the two-day conference or not.

We’ll be enjoying dinner and companionship at one of the South Bay’s finest restaurants:

Paolo’s Restaurant
333 W. San Carlos St.

The annual, attractive and much-coveted Pelican Awards will be presented. Don’t miss out!

‘Rugby Through the Looking Glass’, our two-day international conference for referees, will be well-worth your time and travel. David Williamson has arranged for a top-notch group of speakers for Thursday and Friday, June 8 and 9.

Plan to attend the conference and stay at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown San Jose. Call Robyn Clever at 800-675-3202 to make your arrangements.


Golden Gate 19 – ALLIED IRISH BANK 54 Referee: David Williamson

How would you like your company to send you on a rugby tour? Allied Irish Bank does that for its employees, who are located in various branches across Ireland. The tourists, who regularly play for senior men's clubs, get time off from work, and financial support.

On Wednesday evening, SFGG opened its field and clubhouse to the tourists. AIB was keen to play, kitting out 27 players. This was their fourth game of the tour, having previously played the Calgary Irish, the Vancouver Rowing Club, and a team from Microsoft in Seattle. Due to some communication glitches, SFGG didn't know until 2 pm the day of that the game was on. With some remarkably quick networking, SFGG was able to assemble a combined team of its U-23 squad and Div 1 team for a 6:30 pm match.

The teams played without a score for 18 minutes. AIB missed two penalty kicks before SFGG opened the scoring with a converted try. AIB quickly responded with a try at 21 minutes, followed by a converted try at 22 minutes on a long breakaway. AIB continued its scoring by picking off a pass in SFGG's back-line at 29 minutes, and sending its center across the line after a scrum inside SFGG's 22. Both these tries were converted for a 26-7 half-time lead.

In the second half, SFGG had a man sent off, and AIB exploited its opportunities by scoring four converted tries. SFGG's captain did an excellent job keeping his team focused on the game, and the team responded by scoring two late well-earned tries, converting one of them.

The teams gathered arm-in-arm under the goal-posts for a tour-ending photo, and repaired to the clubhouse for some sustenance and shelter from the chilly summer fog.

Golden Gate U23, 0 – CRAWSHAYS WELSH 101 Referee: Pete Smith

After driving up scenic Highway 101 from San Luis Obispo, where they played Cal Poly, this group of Welsh select-side players completed their tour by putting 101 points up.

These guys really should have played top-notch colleges or clubs. Seems fairly pointless what they did.

Saturday, May 20th
Pioneer Park, Davis
NorCal U-17 Select Tournament
Referees: Jim Roberts, JC van Staden, Ray Schwartz
With Rod Chance rotating as TJ and Jim Crenshaw observing
Report by Ray Schwartz

On this same day, over 3,000 away at Dartmouth, the Sacramento Valley HS Rugby Conference sides of Vacaville and Jesuit were busy winning the Tier II and Tier I HS Nationals, while back home, the SVHSRC was setting a very different, but equally positive precedent.

In the recent past, our 4 NorCal HS conferences have fielded Select Sides at the U-19 level, while in addition, Sacramento Valley has been holding a simple Frosh/Soph All-Star game. Last year, Cougars assistant and Frosh/Soph coach Michael Taylor, a retired surgeon and former wing forward for Wasps (in the early ‘70s), asked, “Why not a NorCal wide tournament? And why not make it a true U-17 tournament with the same age requirements as the iRB?" And so Michael set about contacting each Conference, encouraging them to field a team, and then planning to host the event.

And this was an event! Mike Purcell of the Davis Blue Devils secured the park, and lined the field. I was able to bring stands, benches, trainer’s tables and electronic scoreboard over from UC Davis Club Sports. Steve Giacomini served all day as trainer. Jerry Ahlin and others brought transportable shade tents.

A nice little 12-page brochure was produced (with all team rosters), as were t-shirts for all participants. Ludy’s BBQ of Woodland put on a great ribs and chicken feed. Josh Fitzgerald of Jesuit, and Extreme Soccer & Rugby, donated jerseys to the Sac Valley side and served as coach, etc., etc. And former Eagle player/captain/coach Steve Gray would present awards at the day’s end.

To our knowledge, and despite extensive research and inquiry to many authorities, it seems there has never been an Under-17 Tournament anywhere in America. Our NorCal community can be proud to pioneering in this way. As Michael Taylor wrote in the Tourney’s program, “So we step into the unknown, the untrodden path of Rugby development in the USA…!”

A total of (6) 30-minute games would be played, with the three refs taking turns, and each side playing each other once. Sacramento Valley dominated play, but the Bay Conference and Redwood Empire fought a great battle for 2nd place, and even Skyhawk, who apparently had a number of kids attend training, only to drop out on match day, had some fine players and playmaking of their own.

Steve Gray, plus the two TJs for each match, watched carefully and nominated MVP forwards and backs from all 6 games, and in the end, All-Tournament forward award went to Caleb Short of Cordova Lancers. Caleb is a huge and powerful #8 who plays with great spirit. The backs award went to Zach Lisson of Mother Lode, a gutsy and dexterous fullback who gave it a go, time and again.

I would like to note Nigel Carter as coach of the Bay Conference was a perfect gentleman, a thoughtful coach and a quite leader. We appreciated his presence. His players Sean McHugh and Danny Barrett of SFGG, and Josh Prickett of Antioch, to name a few, played very good rugby. Barrett and Prickett provided the best pair of locks in the tournament, Barrett scoring a number of tries, and Prickett hitting the rucks with perfect form and intensity.

David Meeson, Bruce Kelm and Afa Wongking lead a powerful bunch from Redwood Empire, who unfortunately had to play their best forward, Josh Berto of Elsie Allen, at flyhalf. We saw great dynamic play from this group, but a few too many little mistakes were made along the way.

Dean White and Mike Annab lead the Skyhawk kids. I was impressed with the play of flyhalf Scott Cody of Valley Christian, who scored a tremendous individual try.

Sacramento, lead by Taylor, Fitzgerald, Gino Jackson and Matt Metzler, had a deep squad who had practiced for weeks together, and it showed. Freshman scrumhalf Gabe Franzoia lead a group of 6 players from Christian Brothers (the program most represented), and played brilliantly. His father Tom, proudly filmed all matches, with the record to be sent off to U-19 National Coach/Selector Salty Thompson. CB’s Mark Spottiswood also played very well at #8, while Rod's son Max Chance played very well at lock.

It might be noted that as good as Sacramento played, only three young players from Jesuit and none from Vacaville were on this squad, presumably because the best U-17 players in these programs were busy back East. There were no Islanders on this squad. No Peninsula Green or EPA kids on Skyhawk’s side, no Sonoma Valley Dragons on Redwood Empire, and several sides were not represented on the Bay Conference squad. So we missed the chance to see many good kids I am afraid.

For those who did show up, the reward was a great day, and a great crowd. The show of potential and the development of skills were exciting for all. We cannot encourage the growth of the youth component of our game enough, and especially Elite development at younger ages. Congratulations are due to Michael Taylor, and all who participated! But especially the kids!

HAYWARD OLD BOYS 39 – Silverhawks 29 Referee: Joe Saccomanno
The old gents had a great game. They played two twenty minute halfs and the score at that point was 24 to 22 in favor of Hayward.

They proceeded to play another 30 minutes and the final score was 39 to 29 with Hayward winning.

Santa Clara 10 – ALUMNI 36 Referee: Pete Smith
Report by Larry Freitas:
In a game that Pete Smith adjudicated, on a semi-cloudy but warm day, SCUT-Bronco Alumni trounced Santa Clara by 36 to 10.

The forward pack of the Alums was manned by mostly recent graduates who seemed to be playing at the top of their game. The back division was older, wiser, and though slightly slower of foot than the opposition, knew when to make the breaks, dummies and passes that brought tries. SCU and Mission Club standouts from the past like Rich Kelly and Scott Logsden had a great time handling the ball. Terry Ryan, class of '77, played most of the match at scrum half. Ross Malinowski, class of '79, and former PAXO and Pelican, played most of the game at prop, and scored a try.

Apologies to those I don't name that played for SCU in the past, club rugby later, and continue to show up for this event every year, and make donations to the club. Nice to see those who aren't playing anymore, but show up for the Father Coz Cup Match anyway, like Paul Derania and Karl Winkleman, and Doherty.

I Myself, Larry Freitas, class of '76 and the oldest man on the pitch, got in about thirty minutes on the right wing in the first half. How much longer can guys in their fifties play against kids? Playing rugby is fun, that's all there is to it.

With the Alumni scoring three tries before half time, and with only a few minutes to play, Santa Clara scored when one of their second row forwards, the biggest man on the pitch, broke through from a scrum down near the Alum's 22 to touch down. The second half started with the students getting ball possession and scoring again in a short amount of time. The rest of the match saw the Alumni take back control, score a few more tries, and cruise to a win.

Conspicuous by his absence: John Coppinger (class of '77), and I must spare a thought for the late Bobby Barich, class of "77, long time Mission Club player, and one who could be counted on to play in this match, or stand on the sidelines and watch. If he could have recovered from his illness, he wanted to take up the whistle. R.I.P.

Santa Clara – ALUMNAE Referee: Larry Freitas
In a women's Alumni-Varsity seven-a-side match, with four ten-minute periods, the Alumni scored thirteen tries to the Varsity's three. I have a suggestion: since UCSC, SCU, and SJSU have had trouble getting enough alumni women together to have matches with fifteen apiece, how about all three schools having an alumni get together next spring at one of the campuses for a game or games. I told this to Betsy, SCU class of '03 and current Golden Gate Women's player.

PS: SCU current players and rugby alumni are looking forward to the Churchill Cup games at Buck Shaw Stadium in a few weeks. Perhaps Rudy Scholz's (class of '17) Gold Medals should be presented to the crowd.


Paul Bretz checked two big boxes at once a couple of weeks ago: first Test match and first Rugby World Cup qualifier:

The photo on the link shows Paul in action.


I traveled to lovely and historic Newport, Rhode Island, this past weekend to ply my referee video-coaching trade. The occasion was the annual New England club tournament and I was a guest of that Society.

The NERRS makes the most of this end-of-season event, bringing in the top tier of evaluators and coaches to work with their referees.

Bryan Porter, Jim Russell, Jeremy Turner and Ed Sorensen regularly join Don Morrison, Peter Watson and John Hayes to work with the New England refs. Spouses or spouse-equivalents are invited and the group stays at one of the best B&Bs in America, the Francis Malbone House.

I was invited to add my video-coaching dimension to the mix.

The pitches at historic Fort Adams overlook about a billion dollars worth of sailboats, and there aren’t that many of them. It’s that kind of neighborhood.

Many, many old friends from over the years were there. One encounter bears repeating:

Dinner Saturday was adjacent to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We were entertained by the promenade of entrants across a grass tennis court to the local high school prom before dinner.

Afterwards, I was speaking to Chris Davis, a wonderful fellow B1, an attorney in Burlington, Vermont. As so often happens in rugby, we’d met many times all over the country but never close to either of our homes.

Chris said, “I want you to meet my wife.”

I was pleased to shake the hand of the lovely Theri Davis who said to her husband, “I know Bruce. We met at the Atlanta referee conference.”

Chris quickly looked at both of us in turn with concern. “How is it that you remember meeting him for five minutes six years ago?”

To which she said, “He’s Pelicus!”

Here’s a cozy corner in the best-decorated referee changing room in the land.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris