Monday, June 26, 2006




The first day of Summer – some would say the first day of the Year – is the day that Sevens begins.

Practitioners and aficionados of Real Rugby gathered at Greer Park for the inaugural iteration of this year’s Palo Alto Summer Sevens, sponsored by Tonik.

For those who have known American rugby for several decades, you will be please to read that rugby continues to evolve in a positive direction.

Gone are the days when a nine o’clock start meant play might start by ten. Saturday’s first game, a high school bracket fixture between Sac Valley and Los Altos, kicked off BEFORE nine AM.

Scriptoris was the proud referee of this one, happy to part of rugby progress.

The high school and women’s brackets were both stronger than in years past, emblematic of the overall growth of our game.

There were also a number of seriously good men’s teams: combined Stanford/Seahawk sides, Hayward, the Olympic Club, Diablo and a Sacramento side.

This is the best on-going Sevens tournament in the USA – and it will be even better July 8, when there are thousands of dollars of prize money on the line.

We’ll be hosting two very good Sevens referees on exchange from Met New York for that one, Paul Bethe and Brad Kleiner. There will be more teams and we’ll need more referees.

Please mark your calendars and come on down! Let’s put on a picnic to remember for our guests.


The USA Eagles will host Barbados this Saturday, July 1, at the Steuber Family Stadium on the Stanford campus at 2 PM.

We are very lucky to have had a high proportion of USA home matches played in Northern California over the years. Let us never take this situation for granted; come on down, buy a ticket, and help support our team into the 2007 Rugby World Cup!

(webmaster note: Tickets are $10 adult $8 youth/student and ONLY available at the gate)


Report by Giles Wilson:
I had the opportunity to travel to Australia and NZ with 46 SFGG HS players (including 2 carpet baggers from TriValley), with about 10 adults and 20 young adult chaperones. Thanks are due to the organizers; coaches - Tony Wells, Brad Wells, Mike Caravelli and Ray Shear, Bill Cody and others behind the scenes, who have put in untold hours fundraising over the last couple of years as well as arranging 5 games for a 14 day period.

The two teams, one of U17 players and another of U19 players left SFO on Wednesday June 7th, arriving in Sydney via Auckland on Friday 9th courtesy of the date line. Traveling just south of Sydney to the coal/steel suburb of Woolongong where the Wonoona Shamrocks club would put the players up in their clubhouse with the adults staying in town in slightly greater comfort. A run out on Friday afternoon was followed by Saturday games which saw the U17s win their game and the U19s lose a close game. As would become a feature of the tour, the hosts showed the skill and experience honed over years by players starting a 6 or younger versus the size and physicality of the visitors.

After a Sunday tour of Sydney and watching the 1st England / Australia test match and early departure for Brisbane where the players were billeted by the Anglican Church School (AKA Churchies) for a game on Tuesday afternoon. The games followed a trip to the Lone Pine Koala center where one could feed and interact with Koala’s, Kangaroos, Emus and other native wildlife. In two more close games the U19s were victorious while the U17 team went down to a very skillful home team.

Wednesday morning saw a short drive down to the Gold Coast and the sunshine and surf of Surfers Paradise. The 3rd game in 6 days was played under lights on Thursday at Colleges Knights RUC with both the U19 and U17 teams starting to show some fatigue from the heavy rugby schedule. Here again the U19 came through for a victory with the last play and the U17 succumbed to higher skill levels. All the games in Australia came with some interesting scrum variations – no crotch bind by the locks and only lifting on the shorts, interestingly existing safety laws at U19 (wheeling and limited push) were overlooked.

The bus to transport the players from the Gold Coast back to Brisbane for the flight to Auckland waited at the wrong location and arrived over an hour late making the trip to the airport a mad rush, fortunately all arrived just in time for the flight. On to Auckland where we were away from the land of rugby league and into the cauldron of NZ rugby.

Arriving at St Peters College we were greeted with a haka – drowned out by the noise of the rain on the roof of the gym, no more sun and surf, real winter here. St Peters provided billets and the players donned snorkels for the monsoon that came in for the Ireland vs NZ test at Eden park – after we had watched the St Peters 1st team defeat Kelston in dreadful conditions but both teams showing admirable skill. On Sunday games were played on a quagmire that had already seen 3 games and rain both before and after. Neither U19 or U17 teams played well either for the conditions or any other conditions with both going down heavily.

Monday morning saw coach driver Ken Going arrive to take us north of Whangerei to Paihia where we met up with Brian Going (both friends of Nor Cal and former coaches of SFGG) who coaches Mid Northern the last tour opponent. Paihia is a vacation town well north of Auckland, very pretty in winter and well out of the tourist season. Fishing, cruises of the Bay of Islands where dolphins were to be seen, and souvenir shopping filled the day before heading back down for another game under lights against a tough Mid Northern team. Only one game was played with the hosts defeating the U19 squad to finish the tour 2 – 3 while the U17 squad went 1-3 on a good tour.

Wednesday saw the drive back to Auckland with a stop at the hot springs before the flight back home. The interesting experience of leaving at 7.15pm, flying for 12 hours and arriving 6 hours before we left – love that international dateline.


An Under-15 league of rugby teams will start up in Sacramento next season!

Other NorCal areas have had youth rugby as an on-going concern, mostly as Sunday gatherings in a festival setting. This will be different: these will be individual teams playing a league schedule.

Imagine: in the future, US college coaches will be greeting freshmen rugby players who have already played organized, competitive rugby for five or six years.


Thanks to Jake Rubin for cluing us in. Mike Strain also wrote to say, "Hate it when one of your own gets drunk and makes the national news."
Copyright material from the LA Times website:

Domoic acid in algae is the likely cause for inebriated seabirds
By Roy Rivenburg, Times Staff Writer
June 24, 2006

Four pelicans were being detained in an animal drunk tank Friday on suspicion of public intoxication, authorities said.

One of the birds was in guarded condition after allegedly flying under the influence Thursday and crashing through the windshield of a car on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.

The driver was rattled but uninjured.

The other California brown pelicans were nabbed in backyards or wandering local streets in a daze.

Although toxicology tests aren't complete (there are no bird breathalyzers), such behavior usually signals domoic acid poisoning from eating algae, said Lisa Birkle, assistant wildlife director at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, which is caring for the pelicans.

Domoic acid was also the likely culprit behind a 1961 seabird invasion that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror film "The Birds."

According to news reports, thousands of befuddled birds rained down on Northern California towns in August 1961, slamming into buildings and even pecking eight humans.

Nobody is predicting a Hitchcockian invasion here, but Birkle urged Southern California residents to be on the lookout for pelicans acting disoriented or turning up in unusual locations.

In the last week, the wildlife center fielded 16 calls of suspicious bird behavior. And more incidents are likely because ocean waters south of Los Angeles Harbor have tested positive for the poisonous algae, Birkle said.

The pelican that collided with the car is recovering from surgery for a broken foot and a 4-inch gash in its pouch.

"She's hanging in there," Birkle said. On Friday, the heavily sedated bird began eating on her own, a good sign for full recovery.

Blood tests for domoic acid will take about three weeks, but Birkle said she's never heard of a sober pelican crashing into a car.

The birds have phenomenal eyesight, she explained, noting that from high above the ocean, they are able to spot fish.

After the pelicans being held in Huntington Beach have sobered up, they will be released on their own recognizance.

By the Associated Press
Published: June 25, 2006

Cordelia, Calif., June 24 (AP) — Scores of starving baby pelicans — emaciated, cold and too weak to fly — are washing up on California beaches in disturbing numbers this spring.

The underfed California brown pelicans have stirred concerns over the endangered species, which in recent years has shown strong signs of recovery. Biologists say the recovery could actually be the source of the problem: there are more pelicans competing for food.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia, about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco, has taken in almost two dozen pelicans this month, most of them near Santa Cruz and Monterey, all of them 2 to 4 months old.

The center's sister facility in San Pedro, south of Los Angeles, has cared for more than 50 Southern California birds since late May.

The California brown pelican nearly disappeared in California in the early 1970's, a decline blamed largely on the pesticide DDT, which caused pelicans to lay eggs with shells so fragile that parents would break them when they sat on them.

The population began to rebound after the federal government banned DDT in 1972, and scientists estimate that 7,000 breeding pairs have nested in California in recent years. The federal Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to remove the California brown pelican from the endangered species list. Several dead birds tested recently by the California Department of Fish and Game turned up with empty stomachs, said Hannah Nevins, a seabird biologist with the agency.

Ms. Nevins said a successful breeding season this spring made the competition for food among the pelicans more intense. Young pelicans fresh from the nest must compete with adult birds. "You see all these young birds trying to make it on their own," she said.

More research is needed to see whether the starving birds also indicate a shortage of the sardines, anchovies and other small fish that pelicans feed on, Ms. Nevins said.

When the starving pelicans arrive in Cordelia, rehabilitation workers hook them up to intravenous fluids. The birds then move on to liquid food pumped directly into their stomachs by tube before they are released to the cages outside.

"Some of the birds are so weak you cannot give them whole fish," said Megan Prelinger, a specialist at the rescue center.

Pelicans can eat up to five pounds of fish a day once they move back to solid food. Nursing a bird back to health, Ms. Prelinger said, takes about 10 days and $200.

Pelicans nested on Prince Island in Southern California this year for the first time since 1939, evidence that the bird was returning to its historic breeding colonies.


All is repose after the last whistle has sounded at Greer Park in Palo Alto Saturday.

Left to right:
Back row: David Williamson, Paul _____, Ray Schwartz, Dixon Smith, Jim Crenshaw, Pete Smith
Front row: Amy Bravo, Bruce Carter, Benjamin Bruce Bravo, Kat Todd-Schwartz, Scott Wood
Left too soon: Mike Gadoua, Sandy Robertson


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Monday, June 19, 2006




It’s the first weekend of the greatest summer sevens series in the rugby world.

John Tyler has been putting on the Palo Alto Summer Sevens four times a year since 1972. That’s 132 iterations so far, and counting!

Last year the tournament picked up a sponsor, Tonik health insurance, and moved to new pitches at Greer Park. The new facility offers shady picnic areas which the Pelican Society puts to good use at the conclusion of the day’s games.

Join us this Saturday! There is competition from high school to national level, boys and girls, men and women.

Here are directions to Greer Park. You can see it from 101.,palo+alto+ca&hl=en

Games start at nine. The Pelican refs like to arrive at eight to set up shop and prepare for the day. Bring good food – there’ll be a grill!

Paul Bretz checks in with his regrets at not being able to be there this weekend: he’ll be running touch for a world cup qualifier, Barbados hosting Canada.



The Stanford Seahawks (a summertime creation – Chris Kron being the link) scrimmaged for two hours with the Olympic Club to prepare for the Sevens campaign.

John Pohlman got to work on his fitness alongside these speedsters. Here is his report:

Well the seven's season is upon us. In the words of our esteemed leader, Dr. Bruce Carter, real rugby now begins. No rucks, no mauls, few scrums and line-out... just wide open running and great open field tackling.

This Saturday saw the San Jose/Stanford team play Olympic Club in four games.

Kick-off was scheduled for 10:30. It was warm and there were no other officials, so I was in for a good sweat.

The O-Club won the first game five tries to two. The first game was wide open. No line-outs and one scrum. Lots of running. I attribute the lack of stoppages on two items. First the teams wanted to play open 7's. And second, a clear advantage, waiting to see what happens and allowing the advantage to be gained... play on.

The second game saw the first line-out and a 3-3 (try count) tie.

San Jose/Stanford had close to twenty five players and Olympic Club had 14 or so. So as the games went on the boys started to fatigue.

The third game was 4-3 San Jose/Stanford.

The last game was one 8 minute half. This was some good rugby. San Jose/Stanford with more players prevailed 3 tries to one.

Sevens is here. Run and get fit. It is amazing how the heat and pace can test the conditioning. See you in Palo Alto.


Who remembers playing against several touring sides every season? Northern California used to host dozens of incoming tours every year. And many of the teams we played on in the eighties used to tour every second or third year.

A few teams still drop into the Bay Area these days, but for some reason it always seems to be on short notice.

This may be one area where the Internet has hampered communication: in the pre-email era (ten years ago for almost everyone), tours were arranged up to a year ahead of time through the post. Dates and fixtures were finalized long in advance and those involved were notified.

Now, because such arrangements can be made on the fly, they are. And the notification process is as lax as email is informal.

Case in point, the game involving the touring bank side from Ireland a few weeks ago was noticed to the referee society 3 ½ hours before kickoff.

And now we have another Irish team, Cork Constitution, playing one of two games scheduled for a tour because they ‘only’ brought twenty-one players and had some injuries in their first match.

CORK CONSTITUTION – Olympic Club Referee: Pete Smith
No report received.

We believe that the visitors won but haven’t actually heard any score. They then wussed out of their next fixture.

‘Only’ twenty-one players on tour! That was enough to play firsts and seconds at every match for the first century and a half of rugby’s existence.


MARAUDERS 27 – Fog 5 Referee: Bruce Carter
Dave Santos scored the Fog’s only try after a nice break by their firecracker scrumhalf.

The Marauders, a sometime-team augmented by some longtime Seahawks, braved the ninety-plus degree heat knowing that they had to play two games back-to-back. And they didn’t even have 21 players.

MONTEREY 22 – Marauders 7 Referee: Bruce Carter
Monterey, like the Marauders, seems to put their best team on the field in the summer. Their straight-ahead game was not to be denied, and they seem to have gotten better at it as the following score will demonstrate.

MONTEREY 11 tries – Fog no tries Referee: Sean Dmyterko


USA Rugby will return to Stanford, Calif. for its Rugby World Cup qualifier July 1 against Barbados. The match will kickoff at 2 p.m. at Stanford’s Steuber Rugby Stadium, site of this year’s college championships. The all-general admission tickets will be $10 (adults) and $8 (youth and students with valid ID) at the gate.


Last week we spent our normal writing and editing day entertaining Sue and Murray Felstead in Monterey, visiting the Maritime Museum and the Pacific Grove lighthouse.

This meant that Hail, Pelicus! was rushed to press after having been largely delegated to the Fact Checker. That untrustworthy scoundrel, as profligate with errors as he may be, is at least always willing to sit down and type.

So it was that only four of the five major annual awards given at our banquet were detailed.

The Scriptoris Award owes to the old Nor Cal Notes that Brian Gildea put together back in the days when widespread use of the Internet was young. His departure left a void which Bruce Carter stepped in to fill.

Hail, Pelicus! began as a vehicle for reporting on the rugby played in Northern California over the previous week. It expanded into a serial love letter to the Game and to all that it has meant in one man’s life.

Hail, Pelicus! serves to disseminate information about the quality and the breadth and depth of the game played here in Pelicanland. We hope that it also serves as a recruiting tool, exposing rugby players and fans to the idea of becoming a referee, letting them know that it’s not at all solitary slogging and being abused by dimwits.

This weekly epistle would not be possible without match reports written by our referees. To recognize such efforts and to further inspire the Muses of our contributors, the Scriptoris Award was instituted.

Ray Schwartz was the consensus choice for this year’s award. The polls were closed after the issue of Rugby magazine came out that contained three articles and one letter to the editor by the same NorCal ref.

Ray has done the most this past year with his metaphorical pen to promote our game, and to let others know how lucky we are to live here.

Thanks, Scripto!



June 10:
Skyhawk 15 – SACRAMENTO VALLEY 51 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
At Watson Bowl, San Jose

Sac Valley's backs dominated this match, running to a 29-5 halftime lead. Skyhawk had some moments in the forwards, particularly with rolling mauls and Number 8 pickups, but Sac Valley was overall more cohesive and disciplined. Winners scored 8 tries to 3.

By Ray Schwartz:

Kirk Khasigian and Chris Miller (both ex-Eagles, Cal and Jesuit teammates) have bonded together to produce a very professional result. The kids attend elite training for over a month, and go on a well-funded tour, this time to Alberta. Someone in the Bay Area needs to step up with seed money and leadership to help make this happen in the three other conferences! Sac Valley NEEDS the competition!

I think the capable coaches are out there. But managing such a venture requires special leadership.


1st Annual Mike Sammons Memorial Old Boys Tournament
Friday, June 9th
Santa Clara University IM Fields
Report by Kenny Bousfield
With some edit and addition by Ray Schwartz

San Jose Seahawk RFC organization lost Mike Sammon, a great club player at all levels, starting in the Cupertino High School program, then to Chico, San Jose State, and back to the Seahawks and Silverhawks. Mike, and the Sammon family, will always be part of our rugby family. We hope to continue this Tournament in the spirit Friday’s games were played, which was truly fabulous!

A huge Thank You for Marty and Rosemary Sammon, for their support in getting the tournament off the ground. Hope you enjoyed the day as much as we all did. Let’s keep it going strong. And we welcome the involvement of all others this time next year!

Thanks to Tommy Phillips, Jacko, Hacksaw, Adam, Daniel Galvin, and Dan Coonan (Santa Clara University AD), for a great day of rugby. Thanks to AJ and Charlene for the greatest venue for a rugby party (pool and bbq). (It should be duly noted, that in addition to serving as the Maori All Blacks Liaison Officer, this Tournament was dreamt up by, organized and run by the big kiwi Ken Bousfield!)

Thanks to the referees and trainers, all of you are awesome!!!! Thanks to all the Silverhawks, Erik Amos and the Aptos Old Dogs, Steve Parli and the Old Southwest, Wags Parish and his Squirting Fists, Bruce Bernstein and the Speed Freak Clowns, Bill Dent and the Hayward Griffins, and all the rest who turned out to make the day memorable for the Mike Sammon family.

5 matches, each with 20-minute halves, were played. One of the Silverhawks (Andy) reffed the first, Delyn Barclay the second and fifth, as Ray Schwartz kitted up in new Pot Bellied Pig kit, fresh from this Hong Kong 7s (thank you Tinabobina Nesberg!), to handle two in a row and get back to the Referee Conference!

At roughly 9:30 we had two full sides, Aptos, facing off versus the Silvers. But ruggers kept showing up all day. And all the ruggers enjoyed plenty of game time. The day belonged to everyone who participated in playing, set up and take down of fields, and set up and clean up at AJ and Charlene’s.

It was great to see big Roger Bueno, the Eliasons, Big Mike Ayers and Karl Laucher, and Mike McDonald. Players of the Day were Mike the Maori, Alan Lowe, Don Pattalock, Julian Halkett, Billy Klump and the soon to be married Rhoan Laymon (this soldier met his bride in Iraq!). Iron men of the day were Brent Bueno, Norm Baccone and Gary in the engine room.

Billy C separated his shoulder on the last play of the last game of the day. His golf clubs are already committed to me while his shoulder heals. Steady got to mark his son (little Kenny) in the last game of the day. Steady took Kenny to school for the game! Fended him off, ran him over, ran around him and even slowed down so Kenny could catch him once so he didn't get too embarrassed as it was also little Kenny's 21st birthday and Steady gave him one to remember!! Steady was up the next day and playing golf 6AM. Super stud!!

With the return of the Churchill Cup expected in the Bay Area next year, and with much more advanced notice this time to pull it off, we expect to see this Mike Sammons Memorial Old Boys Tournament grow dramatically in 2007! And we truly hope it will help fill the seats at the Internationals as well!

Thanks again to all the ruggers!


Dear Bruce,

That was without exception the best referees’ conference that I have been to. It is a pity that more did not attend as they missed a very thought provoking and insightful program.

Best wishes
Martin Brown


Joe Leisek got married Friday night. Some of his rugby buddies dragged him away from his lovely bride, the former Tracy Czernecki, to help hold up the bar.

Left to Right: Tammy Cowan, Scott Wood, Kat Todd-Schwartz, Bo Rodman, The Groom, Ray Schwartz, The Officiant, Sharon Theriault, Jake Rubin

Present but not accounted for: Dixon and Christine Smith, Paul and Anna Berman, Helen Marcus, Bryant and Mary Byrnes

Coincidentally playing the ninth and tenth holes at Foxtail at the time and witnessing portions of the outdoor ceremony: Mike Gadoua


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, June 13, 2006




Cork Constitution (a club from Ireland) will be playing the Olympic Club on Monday, June 12, at 6:30 PM at Rocca Field on Treasure Island.

Pete Smith will referee. TWO TOUCH JUDGES ARE NEEDED MONDAY. Let Pete know if you can be there to help out.

Cork Constitution will then play a NorCal D1 selection Wednesday at 6:30 PM on the same pitch. Paul Bretz will referee. Touch judges are already covered. What the NorCal players in both of these games would appreciate are fans to cheers them on!


Pete Smith announced and presented our annual awards Saturday night:


When David Williamson retired from PG&E he asked whether there were anything he could do to help the society.

There was, and he did it.

Of immediate note is last week’s conference, which simply would not have happened without his efforts. No other referee society attempted to step into the biennial gap left by the lapsing of the old Conference on the Game, but David did.

Of more lasting importance is his work last year on the safety protocols for match officials. Northern California rugby, and the safety of referees in particular, had reached a crisis. David chaired an effort involving several constituencies, not all of whom see things identically, and put our game back on safe footing.

Then, too, it was his initiative and checkbook that allowed our members to benefit from the presentations of the two sports psychologists who spoke to us.

So for doing the most to make us the best in the past year, our Pelican of the Year is David Williamson.


On Valentine’s Day, the Senate received an e-mail from Bjorn Stumer stating that he would like to decorate the referee changing room in the Golden Gate clubhouse and asking if we had any mementoes that might be placed in it.

The board of directors of the society felt confident in Bjorn’s ability to do an even better job if his idea were funded. After getting approval from the SF/GG board to formalize the project, our board voted funds and Bjorn was named as project manager.

Thus, a fine idea led to a wonderful reality.

For years to come, visiting and exchanging referees from all over the oval planet will enjoy the facility, sign the guest book, and have one more dimension for their envy of the Northern California Rugby Referee Society due to the ambassadorship of Bjorn Stumer.


How is it that a referee who began the season as a B3 could prove to be the most improved by the time it ended?

Simply put, Tony Latu exceeded the expectations of those among us who think they can judge a referee’s talent, ability and potential.

On exchanges to Southern California and the Mid-Atlantic, Tony impressed evaluators who were expecting a mere B3.

His first game after he was promoted to B2 was Hayward’s CR1 victory over eventual national champion Santa Monica. With his masterful control of this match, Tony showed that he can literally referee any game in the United States, the fastest, most competitive and physical, and make it look easy.

He was already refereeing at the B1 level. The season ended too soon for our most improved referee, Tony Latu.


Those who saw Joe Androvich in February or March might have been forgiven for assuming that a new territorial referee had moved into the area: here was a new face and a very good referee.

But Joe was just getting started. The high school kick-off tournament in Sacramento was his debut.

Joe is a law student at USF who played at Jesuit and Cal. We hope that he gets his level one credentials so that we can assign him to some meaningful games and get him onto a fast track.


Two games will be played at the Campbell Highland Games on Saturday, June 17, at noon and 2 PM. The Marauders and Monterey apparently will be the two teams and will play each other twice.

One or two refs would be nice for this day in the sun.

There’s also a night game on the 17th, in Reno. The Nevada Old Boys will be playing Redding. Let us know if you fancy a trip to Reno for this one. We are sure the hosting will be excellent.


June 10:
Skyhawk – Sac Valley Referee: Aruna Ranaweera


The NCRRS hosted Rugby Through the Looking Glass: Different Perspectives on the Game, at the Crowne Plaza in downtown San Jose last Thursday and Friday.

David Williamson put together an interesting and informative program that earned a lot of very positive feedback. One of the organizers of a previous USARRA Conference on the Game told us that this was the best referees’ conference he had ever been to.

Parochial pelicans would, of course, second that emotion.

Out-of-state conferees hailed from Oregon, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Colorado and the District of Columbia.

Sessions were both well-attended and well attended-to. David did a great job of coordinating events, introducing the speakers and meeting all of the many needs that arose.

International presenters included Murray Felstead from Wellingborough, Colin Hawke from New Zealand, Iain Goodall of Scotland and Bruce Kuklinski from Victoria, BC. USA speakers were Ed Todd, Pat McNally of SoCal and Coach Pete Steinberg of the Mid-Atlantic. Pelicans on the podium were Dixon Smith, Mike Sagehorn and Bruce Carter.

Several pelicans ‘behind the scenes’ also helped to make the conference a success: Joe Leisek, Sam Reagle, Ray Schwartz, Pete Smith, Kat Todd-Schwartz and Scott Wood.


Well, there were really two banquets, two highlights of the season just past.

Thursday night, Leah and Pete Smith opened their lovely new home to those at the conference. Given that Ron Myers was their house guest, that meant that Pete and Ron shared ideas, recipes and exquisite culinary talent to the delight of us all.

Their home is a fifteen-minute walk from the hotel via downtown San Jose and the San Jose State campus. If you still think of San Jose as the prune capital of the world, you need to get down there and get off the freeway.

Pete had a hard-drive full of high-definition rugby queued up for the 62-inch plasma screen. The recent semis and finals of the Super 14, Heineken Cup and English Premiership were there to accompany the wonderful lamb dinner.

Pete also scouted out Paolo’s restaurant on the banks of the Guadalupe River in downtown San Jose for our purposes. It was somewhat of an upgrade from prior year-end banquet sites and it was also three minute’s walk from the conference hotel.

We ate buffet style, which served both to reduce costs and to increase conviviality: folks circulate, socialize, and go back for more!

Our invited guests included the conference speakers, along with: Robert Horner, who was president of the RFU when England won the World Cup; Al Klemp, in town to referee the Super League final; and Phil Smith of Victoria, now a frequent visitor to Pelicanland and a very fine young referee with a bright future.

David Williamson and Helen Marcus presented some awards, including fine Sherlock Holmes-style looking glasses for some of the conference speakers.

Al Klemp honored Paul Bretz with a jersey to commemorate the occasion of Paul’s first Test match last month in the Cayman Islands.

Bread was broken and friendships were cemented.


The three-match event on the campus of the University of Santa Clara went well. Attendance at Buck Shaw Stadium grew with each match and was near capacity on June 10.

This is another jewel in the crown of NorCal rugby, a ‘new’ facility to host Tests. In fact, Buck Shaw will host its first Test match on July 1 when the USA plays Barbados in a qualifier for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

John Coppinger (a Santa Clara alum) and Frank Merrill brought the existence of this venue to the attention of USA Rugby and lobbied for its use. If you are one of the more than ten thousand who enjoyed being able to see international rugby in Pelicanland, then you have John and Frank to thank.


For the second time in two years, OMBAC and Belmont Shore and their fans traveled north to the Bay Area to meet in the Rugby Super League final.

In June of 2004, Belmont came out on top for their fourth RSL title. This time, OMBAC won an absolute firecracker of a game, 36-33, for their first title at this level!

Al Klemp had this tiger by the tail. Paul Bretz and Pat McNally ran touch and run they did: there was end-to-end action, a lot of tries, and the key lead change occurred on the last play of the game.

OMBAC won after an extended goal-line stand by Belmont was nullified by a dummy, bought and sold at a very dear price. Immediately after Belmont’s halfback was sent to the bin for team repeated infringement near the line, the OMBAC flanker picked up the ball from a ruck a couple of meters out and offered to pass it wide.

Maybe an experienced scrumhalf would have defended it more instinctively. But the players opposite the flanker went for the pass and in so doing, they saw the title slip away behind their backs.


The Tonik Summer Series of the Palo Alto Sevens will kick off at Greer Park (same as last year) on June 24! Start thinking about what you are going to bring to the picnic!

There’s always one: Sam Reagle arrived just as the photographer was putting the lens cap back on.

Others also are not in the picture, as not everyone who benefited from the conference attended every session.

Ray Schwartz was off refereeing the old boys tournament in Santa Clara at the time.

Look who’s here:

Not standing, left to right: Mark Handel, Murray Felstead, Ed Todd, Pelicus Maderus, Martin Brown, JC van Staden, Bruce Kuklinski, Phil Smith, Paul Berman
Standing, left to right: Kat Todd-Schwartz, Robert Horner, Bruce Carter, Dixon Smith, Bryant Byrnes, David Williamson, John Pohlman, Pete Smith, Stephen Sivyer, Tom Martinez, Dave Peters, Jason Harper, Scott Wood, Sandy Robertson, Iain Goodall, Ron Myers, Joe Otten, Chris Parkhouse, Pat McNally, Mike Malone, Larry Herbert, Richard Hessler Joe Leisek, Matt Eason, Fred Yarger, Jake Rubin, Andrew Small, Colin Hawke, Peter Allan


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Monday, June 05, 2006




Wednesday evening the place to be is Buck Shaw Stadium, where the Eagles will take on the New Zealand Maori at 7:30 PM.

Thursday and Friday you should be attending the Pelicon, Rugby through the Looking Glass. If you want to attend, let Scott Wood know, and if you want a room at the conference hotel any of the nights involved let Robyn Clever know.

Friday night is our annual season-ending society banquet and awards ceremony.

Saturday there will be another Churchill Cup match followed by the Super League final in Santa Clara.

This is great stuff, and a great week to celebrate all that we have going for us in Northern California rugby refereeing.


MISSION 32 – Boston Irish Wolfhounds thirds 22 Referee: Tom Coburn

The notion of a national championship in the lowest division of play strikes some as oxymoronic.

But this writer has never met a rugby player who didn’t play to win, even if the odds against it were incalculable. If we bother to keep score, we need to know who is the best.

So the problem becomes: how do you define a third division side, to make the competition fair?

One criterion of a legitimate third division side could be that the boys might be found in the bar the night before the biggest match of most of their careers.

The Mission RFC met this criterion.

Another might be that on game day, they would hang around by the pool letting the hot sun dehydrate them, and then their pre-game prep once they got to the pitch would consist solely of playing bugger.

The Mission RFC also met this stipulation.

A third possibility could be that a friend of many on the team, a player from a rival side, would show up to support them and be declared Coach.

That would be Greg Melton, a player known to referees far and wide and now a national-championship coach!

Then, critically, this bunch would need to play some inspired rugby on the day to win the big one.

How about this: they miss a penalty kick, which bounces off the post, gather it by following up keenly and then, two phases later, calmly take a mulligan drop-goal.

So, by any definition, Mission is a third division side. And now they are the sixth Northern California national champion in the first seven titles to be awarded in 2006.


Santa Monica won the first division title for the second year in a row, defeating the team that won it the previous two years, the Boston Irish Wolfhounds first side.

Congratulations to Hayward for finishing third. They lost to BIW and then defeated Las Vegas.

The super league champ will also hail from SoCal this year. As in 2004, when the final was played at Balboa, Belmont Shore and OMBAC will meet in NorCal again to decide the winner.

They will play at Buck Shaw Stadium following the Churchill Cup game on Saturday.

The California sweep was ruined when Pearl City beat Santa Barbara to win the second division. Pearl City completed a remarkable double, having won the USA third division last year.


Mark your calendars for Wednesday, June 14, when the touring Cork Constitution (a top club from Ireland) will play a NorCal D1 selection at St. Mary’s at 6:30 PM.

Paul Bretz will referee. Touch judges are already covered. What the Pelicans would appreciate are fans!


May 27:
SAC VALLEY 76 – Bay Conference 17 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

June 3:
Skyhawk – Bay Referee: Pete Smith
Rescheduled? We’re not quite sure on this one.

June 10:
Skyhawk – Sac Valley Referee: Aruna Ranaweera


Please respond ( if you plan to attend the annual society banquet at Paolo’s Restaurant in San Jose on Friday, June 9th.

We need to know how many to expect. Will you be bringing anyone along?

So far we have only heard from twenty-one people. Certainly, more of us are planning to come. Please do not assume we think you are going to be there if you haven’t said so.

Thank you.


This writer was away on assignment and missed what we are told was an incredible game of college rugby.

In typical rugby fashion, promises to record a broadcast of the match and provide a copy for us were not kept.

We would like to think that in three years of videotaping about 150 referees and mailing copies of game DVDs to anyone who asks, never asking for postage or expenses, we have built up the good will and karma for someone to give us a copy.

Maybe we’re wrong.


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.
San Jose, CA

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.


The Fog lost in the Bingham Cup final to a team from Sydney. This ends their run after coming in first in 2002 and 2004.


The USA lost to Ireland A in Santa Clara. A good crowd was on hand, including sideline volunteers Tony Latu and Tina Nesberg.

Unfortunately, Tony and Tina must have been working when this photo was snapped. These volunteers have a lot to learn…

Right to Left: Event referee manager Colin Hawke, fifth official John Coppinger, sixth official Giles Wilson, fourth official Bruce Carter, and USA Rugby referee manager Ed Todd


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris