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