Monday, July 17, 2006




About ten or twelve years ago, an innovation out of the Midwest called for having conversion kicks in Sevens taken back toward the pitch.

That is, the kicker takes the drop kick from the line through where the try was scored, but it is taken from beyond the try line, ‘away’ from the pitch. This means that no-one has to chase the ball – the ball is back on the field of play.

This has been more or less adopted by the Pelicanrefs on pitches where the geography allows it.

The July 8 tournament in Palo Alto nicely illustrates why this is useful.

Two-hundred and eighteen tries were scored on the three pitches. Let’s do the math:

Let’s call it 72 tries on each pitch. If it takes thirty additional seconds to get the ball back into play (and that is being very conservative – on hot days, with tired players, often no-one is interested in hurrying to accomplish this task), that’s more than half an hour per pitch in dead time by the end of the day.

If the watch is not stopped during these delays, that’s thirty minutes out of play. If the watch is stopped, that’s thirty minutes that the pitch gets behind schedule.

Either way, the referee picnic gets delayed!


By David Williamson

Advertise a Touch Tournament and they will come: Kids from ten to 72, expats, women, Fat Guys, Clowns and lots more. Everyone enjoyed the festival atmosphere and reggae/rock music--including the little kids jumping on a two-story inflatable slide.

On Saturday July 15, SFGG hosted a splendid 6-a-side tournament, reflecting the excellent organizing abilities of Shaun Paga, Michael Walker, and Andy Armstrong. Eight teams participated in the Competitive division, with at least ten teams in the Social division. SFGG won the Competitive Cup, Firth won the Competitive Plate; Fiji 1 and Fiji 2 played for the Social Cup, and the Fat Guys barely edged a team of 10 and 11-year-olds from Alameda for the Social Plate. In all, there were over 30 games on three fields. In the match for the Social Plate, both teams wore white tournament t-shirts. When I asked if one team could change colors, a Fat Guy pointed out the obvious: everyone on the kids' team was about four feet tall. Although they were much shorter, the kids were fast, shifty runners with good passing ability and great hands. It's heart-warming to hear an eleven-year-old say "Pass the ball! We have a two-on-one over here."

There was more: At the same time, women's teams from San Francisco, LA, San Diego, and New York inaugurated a new netball court in the SFGG parking lot. Some of these players spilled over to the touch tournament, showing their running and passing skills on a grass field.

After the tournament, all participants and spectators could repair to the clubhouse to watch the Tri-Nations match between South Africa and Australia. What a day!!


The national U-23 team had a camp at Stanford last week, capped off by some scrimmaging over the weekend.

Lois Bukowski and Pete Smith helped out with the refereeing on Saturday, and John Pohlman took his whistle along on Sunday.

Here is John’s report:

First thanks for the game. It was a real pleasure.

I had the privilege to referee a scrimmage between the under-23 national side this past Sunday at Stanford. These athletics from around the USA were concluding their five day camp.

This was a very hard fought 80 minute game, the last opportunity for players to impress selectors. They certainly impressed me.

A total of nine tries scored. Great defense, good tackling and some amazing passes in the tackle. The coaching staff was well organized and the players very disciplined.

It was a real treat to see our future USA National team up close.

Thanks for a great run. And yes it was hot


This Saturday, July 22, the only Pacific Coast qualifying tournament will be held in conjunction with the Tonik summer sevens series.

We are not sure how this is going to work. The tournament to decide which teams represent the Pacific Coast at the nationals will be held July 29-30 in Park City, Utah. Apparently, any teams who wish can attend; there have been no other qualifying tournaments in Arizona, Utah or the Pacific Northwest.

Perhaps the winner at Palo Alto is ‘seeded’ into the Park City tournament. We do not know. Apparently, teams that do not win in Palo Alto may attend the Park City event if they wish.

None of this makes a lot of sense to us, except we do know that there is going to be some great rugby going on and good friends gathered at Greer Park this Saturday.


July 22 Tonik Palo Alto Summer Sevens ‘qualifier’
July 29 Fresno Sevens money tournament
August 5 Air Pacific Marist Palo Alto Summer Sevens money tournament
September 9 Tri-tip Sevens in San Luis Obispo


The nominees for this November exchange are John Coppinger and Ray Schwartz.


The best sevens summer sevens tournament in the USA was held July first and second this year. NorCal sent a ref along on exchange, and here is his report:

By Pete Smith

The trip to Cape Fear started early as Leah and I had planned a vacation in Scottsdale, AZ the previous Monday through Friday. I must say that the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale is quite the place, but boy is it hot there. I couldn’t do much more than lay by the pool with a cool beverage. Rugby is a funny game because of the size and geography of the sport. It didn’t take long before I was spotted by John Bulkley, a past Hawaii Harlequin and current Scottsdale Old Boy, in a rugby T-Shirt and was invited out to Scottsdale’s summer touch practice. John and his family relocated to Scottsdale some years ago and he is now selling fractional ownerships of the Westin/Starwood resorts and is doing quite well. As an aside, I would bet that someone reading this would have crossed paths with this 50 year old rugger who started playing in Sydney when he was 12 and seeing his name here will spark and ex-teammate/friend to drop Bulkley a line. One of the Scottsdale players that played for Red Mountain years ago, and is also working at the Westin, recognized me as the ref from their Div 3 playoff games in Chico from 4-5 years ago. He exclaimed ‘hey, aren’t you one of those Pelican Refs?’ I nodded my head ‘yes’. He followed with ’you guys have the best website in rugby! I’m on it every week’…Yet another one of our thousands of web hits every week.

There were a ton of people out to their touch practice including U19’s, women, and old boys. They had a 3 team rotation with about 15 -20 per team. When I showed up, safe to say no one recognized me, but I did see a tour bag from the Seahawks ’87 World Cup tour to Australia and New Zealand that I went on. I moved the shoulder strap and sure enough it belonged to that well traveled, round head himself, Mike Elliot. I had a good time running with new faces and even managed two tries, taking one to the house from about midfield. Considering I haven’t played much since turning to refereeing 7 years ago, it felt good to know at 37 I still got a little game left in me.

Friday morning is was up and off the airport and the next leg of our travel.

By and large, Friday was a brutal travel day, hung over and heading for the Carolina heat was probably not the smartest thing I could have done. Okay, so we get to Charlotte and it is quite the kick to terminal E from terminal B, but we have scads of time and we stopped at a Chinese fast food place. At this point, I feel like we are both in the South and yet right at home. After some Chow Mien and Sweet and Sour we were off to our hopper over to Wilmington. I have never seen a more unassuming airport anywhere in the world. Small is one adjective I could use, but friendly would be better. From the minute we touched down, people we just the nicest and friendliest I had ever encountered. Maybe they were crazy from the heat, but I wasn’t complaining. Getting a rental car was easy at the counter, but of course we were parked in the last possible space in the lot. West Coast time or not, when we hit town I was beat. We checked in and grabbed a quick bite at the adjoining IHOP only to hit the sheets early.

Saturday 6:30 AM EST, or 3:30 PST, we did our darndest to peel ourselves out of bed and head over to one of the best and most arduous days of rugby I have ever experienced. The heat by definition wasn’t bad, high eighties to low nineties, but the humidity put the ‘heat index’ over a hundred. I was sweating just sitting in the shade.

My first game was ‘English’ versus Cape Fear on field ‘G’. So I asked the locals where field ‘G’ was. They pointed to the colored flags on top of the uprights and said ‘R’ is for red and ‘P’ is for purple and ‘B’ is for blue and so on. I saw green flags and went over to the green field and waited…and waited…until finally I declared a forfeit as neither team showed up. I walked back to the referee tent a bit indignant wondering how the ‘home’ team could possibly be a no show for their first game. It was quickly pointed out to me the they were playing on the ‘G’old field and that they had been looking for their ref. Fortunately, Southern hospitality pushed right to the top as folks were quick to get me another game and get my first real sweat going. Sans the Pacific Coast, the women’s ITT’s were held early at Cape Fear. All of the Provincial sides were there playing in the women’s Elite Division, making me feel just a bit more at home having been to last years ITT’s and reffed most of the players. My first game was the West versus the South and it had just enough of everything to get my head screwed on tight from the get go. Meanwhile, Leah and Christine (John Meyer’s long time SO) had made their way to the beach for an afternoon of sun and surf.

The rest of the day I made my way through the different divisions and brackets to get a good variety of games. It seemed like they handed me every possible tie on the slate with every game being some sort of grudge match or local rivalry. Seven games later, I had made friends, gained a ton of respect for how hard it is to play in the South, sweat more than any other day in my life and had enough fun to make it all worth while. We all headed back to the hotel and hopped in the pool. Doc bought some local suds and Paul Gautier and I exchanged rugby stories-I had no idea Bruce Carter was such an internationally famous referee, but hey, why not! After dropping our body temperatures down to something close to normal, we cleaned up and head over to David VonKolnitz’s place (tournament director) and had a great time. It reminded me so much of our own NorCal get togethers with everyone and their SO’s mixing and having a good time.

Sunday was more of the same with a barrage of top flight games and heat, heat, and more heat. I had a couple of good warm up games to get me going again with my final game being the club division final between Southern Kudus and Old Toe Darosa. Both teams are from Charlotte with the Kudus teams comprised of all South African Ex-pats and Old Toe the local guys. Needless to say there was no love lost between these two teams as they were both very familiar with each other. To the delight of the PA announcer, both teams came out in green socks, white shorts and green shirts. The only differentiation was the thin gold shoulder trim of the Kudu team. The announcer spent the entire game making statements, like ‘green to kick off to green’, ‘it appears as if the referee is determined to only penalize the green team today’, or ‘two knock-ons, the first by green, the second by green…scrum to green”. The game itself may have been the game of the tournament as it was end to end action with the score knotted at 7 at halftime, 14 to 14 at full time and 14 to 14 after the first 5 minute sudden death overtime period. Kudu finally broke through in the second overtime to pull off the 19-14 victory.

Across the board, the guys were great. The tournament was a well organized first class event. My hats off to John Meyer for assigning the referees and David Von Kolnitz for running a tournament with five fields and 85 games-and that is just Saturday! There are teams there from the Bahamas, Kenya, England and all over the US. The competition and conditions make it a very challenging event. I would encourage West coast teams to make the trip sometime and see how they stack up against their East Coast competitors. The people are friendly and make you feel welcome from the minute you arrive. I have since been invited back in addition to whoever we send as part of the official exchange.


The University of St. Andrew’s awarded an honorary degree to an actor last month.

Here is the citation in full:



Your guess is as good as ours on this one.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris