AUTUMN CALLS RUGBY BALLS
SAN FRANCISCO FOG 26 – Sacramento Amazons 12 Referee: Joe Leisek
Saturday, September 16
Crocker-Amazon Playground, San Francisco
An unusually warm, clear day in San Francisco. However, there was plenty of...Fog!
Actually, more than anything, there was a very competitive, stirring game of rugby. Fesi's Amazons were strong and played best when they kept ball in hand, especially in the maul, while the Fog looked for opportunities to spin the ball wide, or at least wide enough to reach Bridget Madell. The young center had a spectacular game, scoring all of her team's points: four tries and three conversions. She is a smart runner who changes direction quickly; with a bit of space, she left would-be tacklers flat-footed.
The game was very intense and fast, as both sides played hard for 80 minutes. The Amazons, led by their captain, Leka, scored two tries and one conversion. They were hard as nails on defense as well, stuffing several Fog attacks cold.
Lots of multi-phase play, open field running, hard rucking and mauling. Both sides played well, with the Fog backline clearly making the difference on the day (with the delivery of quick ball from their forwards).
A well-attended and entertaining social capped a wonderful rugby day.
University of San Francisco – Fog men Referee: Joe Androvich
No report received.
Aspen exchange by John Pohlman: report pending.
EAST MIDLANDS EXCHANGE
By Pelicus Scriptoris, In His Element
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
Wednesday morning brought about the brightest dawn possible for some Pelicans – the one where your bags are packed for a long-anticipated trip.
Converging on SFO from various ports of debarkation, Sam Reagle and Teresa Schwartz, Dave Miller and Bruce Carter exchanged warm smiles, hugs and handshakes; pre-tour bonding setting the stage for what was sure to follow.
Semper Bonis Avis: Sam and Dave had already found and photographed the giant gilded Pelicans incorporated into the wall design of the departure lounges of SFO’s International Terminal. The good birds were lining up for takeoff.
New restrictions on carry-on luggage, related to the plot uncovered in England last month to blow up multiple jetliners, do mean that boarding, stowing and getting airborne is faster than it used to be. The capacious overhead bins on the 747 had a few shoebox size items in each of them, no more.
Modern travel is miraculous: movies to choose from or a favorite book brought along, a few hours’ sleep, nice folks periodically put food in front of you and there you are – circling over Kent in a holding pattern but unable to see through multiple cloud layers and ground fog.
It was Dave Miller’s first trip abroad and he longed to see the ground. Ever helpful and rarely quiet, Bruce did his best to describe what Dave was missing.
But O! to be in England!
The friendly face of Nando DiMatteo awaited just through customs. Nando conveyed Murray Felstead’s regrets; Murray was appearing at an immigration hearing on behalf of a family friend many miles to the north.
It was good to see Nando, who visited NorCal on the very first exchange back in 1994 and was to be, along with his wife Adriana, Dave’s host for the duration.
But first, a challenging puzzle had to be solved.
The elements are as follows:
- A ‘normal’ size European car (small, with a hatchback less than two feet behind the back seat)
- Five adults
- Luggage for eight – the four tourists and all the stuff they seem to have brought for four more people who perhaps are following on a later flight
The Enigma code-crackers of Bletchley Park had nothing on this crew, who required only twenty-minutes of packing and re-packing to get it all in. It required the shoulders of three men to get the hatchback to close. A crate of wine had to be opened so that the individual bottles could be stowed in a wine rack of nooks and crannies. Stuff was on laps and underfoot, but the tour was afoot!
Sam’s decision to wear shorts on the flight was a good one: England had been having unusually warm weather. It was over 80 early in the week. Of course, the tour group had left Northern California in the throes of summer, the coastal areas typically getting their hottest days of the year in September. The mercury had been flirting with ninety in Monterey when Bruce was shopping for cheap trinkets – er, meaningful giveaways – at Cannery Row on the Tuesday.
Nando drove round London’s ring road, the M25, up the M1 through the greenbelt, exiting at the A509 through Buckinghamshire, through Olney, and thence across the River Nene into Wellingborough.
As only a new tourist could do, Dave Miller took pictures of houses and fields though the windows of the moving car. Bets are being taken on when he will satiate his camera’s one-gigabyte memory card.
During the journey, Sam and Teresa were heard conversing about a license in New Zealand. After a brief interrogation, the following details were extracted: they are to be married in New Zealand, on the beach, on November 1!
Congratulations are well in order for Teresa and Sam!
Sue Felstead greeted the group upon their arrival at Touchdowns, many a NorCal referee’s home away from home. Sue’s happy face and warm embrace were a balm to all the miles.
Nando took Dave Miller to his home. In time-honored fashion, the remaining tourists determined to stretch their legs, obeying the clocks on the wall which said it was mid-morning rather than the body’s internal chronometer of biochemistry, which read ‘deep slumber’.
A walking tour of Wellingborough highlights ensued, including post card and stamp purchase, Thornton’s fudge shop, ATM access and finally, a chance to bend the elbow at the Old Grammarian’s downtown club.
As they walked in, Bruce said to Sam and Teresa, “This may be my only chance to buy you a drink on tour.” But there at the bar were Nando and Dave, and Bruce’s coins were only so many slugs, worthless in the land of rugby hospitality nonpareil.
Nando’s wife Adriana made a nice pasta lunch for everyone, enjoyed between walking in the DiMatteos’ lovely garden and watching the news in Italian on television.
After a short stroll back to the Felsteads’, Gary Malpas came by to collect Teresa and Sam, as they will be staying with him and his wife Ann. It took two people three trips to carry their bags out…
It dawned a perfect day: lightly-etched cirrus clouds, the kind Californians have to drive to Nevada to see, laced across a rich blue vault. Off in the western sky were ranks of contrails pointing south, the tracks of jetliners arriving from the New World. Opposite, in the eastern perspective, another bundle of such gossamer traces heading north, flights from Europe on their way to visit their cultural descendants.
Gary Malpas took Dave, Teresa and Sam on a tour of Rugby School, Gilbert’s Museum, Warwick Castle and the Northampton Saints’ home grounds, Franklin Gardens, a full-on rugby pilgrimage with appropriate photo documentation.
Bruce accompanied his dear friend Murray up the M6 to the north of Blackpool, on a business trip to meet halfway a man driving down from Scotland.
Be advised that the ‘little’ cars one sees on the motorways of Britain take about seventy pounds of gasoline to fill the tank. That’s more than $130! At first glance, it might appear that petrol costs a little less over here until you realize that it’s priced by the liter, not the gallon.
So imagine Murray’s reaction at the end of an otherwise successful meeting, the deal done, when the man he drove three hours to meet halfway reveals that he was on his way to London!
That’s like driving from LA to meet someone from SF in SLO, then finding out they’re on their way to San Diego.
As ever, Saturday is a rugby day. The hundreds of weekly phone calls that Murray receives (he’s the re-appointments officer) dwindle down to their last dozens.
Out the windows of Northamptonshire there’s no rain in sight, but rain is in sensation: a humid closeness to which Pelicans are unused. We might as well be in Mississippi. Just putting on Number Ones and walking around is enough to wet the epidermis.
Which brings up another point, the passing of a tradition: match officials and their performance reviewers no longer necessarily wear number ones.
Colin Wright, who picked up Dave and Bruce for their drive down to Bletchley, was dressed casually and explained that yes, a memo had gone out. Independent confirmation from a variety of sources reveals that yes, indeed, yet another sun has set on the British Empire.
You don’t have to wear number ones anymore. Let it be noted: WE ARE NOT AMUSED.
Sam Reagle had two games on the day: school boys in the morning and the Oundle club in the afternoon. We recall that David Williamson refereed at Oundle just ten years ago this month.
Dave refereed Bletchley’s thirds against High Wycombe’s thirds. Old timers might recall the visit of High Wycombe to Northern California in the mid-1980s. This writer played against them at Monterey.
Bruce had a league fixture, Bletchley against Amersham & Chiltern. Both home teams won handily and everyone was happy.
Small world department: Ian Punter is a friend of Ian Baggott’s and has been to California. He is a clubman with Bletchley. He and Bruce had met before but didn’t expect to see each other on this day.
In the bar afterwards, Ian said, “One of our players moved to the States a few years back and became a referee.”
Bruce said, “Try me. There’s a chance I’ll know him”
How cool is that? Until recently, John was the president of our neighbor referee society to the north, the Pacific Northwest. Before that, he was Matt Eason’s coach at Sacramento State.
As the Bletchley old(er) boys gathered ‘round, they were pleased to hear that John has a large family and has gained fame announcing at the IRB Sevens and the USA Collegiate Finals.
In the evening it was Indian food in Wellingborough, where the tourists and their hosts were delighted to be joined by Bob and Karen Tustin, Ian and Elaine Baggott and John Wearing.
California shorts weather. That’s the only way to describe it. Little wonder they aren’t wearing number ones hereabouts.
The drive down to London was complicated by road works on the M1. This yearlong project will probably shorten people’s lives; such is the effect it is having on commute times from anywhere north of the metropolis.
It was a rugby day: the Saracens hosting Newcastle in the premiership. It was also a Southern California day: beach weather! Bright sun, no breeze, temperatures tempting flesh to be seen.
The sad truth was confirmed when Murray gained everyone access to the official’s changing room: the team of three were in casual clothes.
Well, those who were present were in casual clothes: Paul Dickens, well-remembered no doubt by many Pelicans, was late.
Paul just stepped down from the RFU Panel at the end of last season. This was to be his first appointment as an RFU touch judge in the professional league. But alas! – car trouble – left him as the fourth official because he didn’t get there until 45 minutes prior to kickoff.
We wish our old friend better days ahead.
Saracens were dominant, a fact which their California foreigner home-team-supporting fans appreciated. Especially inspiring was a try from a maul that was driven, beginning near touch thirty meters out and finishing up between the posts.
We are confident that everyone is enjoying tremendous hospitality from their hosts. We know for a fact that Dave Miller is enjoying the Mediterranean diet at the DiMatteos’. But on this night, this Sunday, it was the British diet at Touchdowns as Murray made his famous Yorkshire pudding. That’s one scrummy pud!
There was a coda to the evening as karma came calling.
Murray’s phone rang late. Hardly surprising, Murray’s phone ringing, but this was not, strictly speaking, a rugby call.
Bob Tustin had had car trouble. In Bristol. He needed a tow and some work but had left his credit card at home, thinking he wouldn’t need it, apparently never having memorized its number.
Ah, but the source of the trouble – he put the wrong fuel into his car!
Let us return to March of 2004, when an unnamed Pelican put gasoline into his diesel vehicle while showing some exchangees around Tahoe and Reno. Bob Tustin was firstest and loudest to remind all he encountered of this fact for the duration of the exchange.
And now Bob found himself getting home at 4 AM on a workday, another day older and deeper in debt.
A muted dawn as cloud-bedeckt England greeted the week. It was still quite warm, the grapes groaning on the arbor in the Felstead’s back yard, flowers a-blooming in the giant vases that many roundabouts are. Another short-sleeve day for a group who didn’t bring any such.
Sam and Teresa undertook a walking/shopping tour of Northampton. As charming as this might have been, there are those who suspect that Sam may not be correct in his estimation that the shops of Northampton will have quelled Teresa’s desire, and that she will thereby be proof against the palatial emporia of Oxford Street and willing to spend their one full day in London next week visiting the Cutty Sark.
Nando and Murray showed Dave and Bruce around Cambridgeshire.
First was a stop at Madingley, a cemetery for American servicemen who gave their lives during World War II. Many thousands lie in honored rest here in the heart of ‘Little America’ as it was called during the war.
East Anglia was known as the ‘World’s Largest Aircraft Carrier’. The countryside was a grid of American airfields as both the 8th and 9th Air Forces had scores of bases here.
Dave Miller’s father served here as a tail gunner aboard B-24s, the aptly named Liberators. He survived being shot down twice, once over the Channel, and made it home to have a family after VE Day.
Next, at Duxsford, a visit to the Imperial War Museum proved to be entirely satisfying.
A wonderful indoor display of US aircraft ranged from WWI to Desert Storm.
Archives there allowed Dave to quickly find precisely at which airfield his father had served, and a mint-condition B-24 should ready to be photographed, the tail-gunner’s port right there within arm’s reach.
Bruce was reminiscing over a paired display, a Scud missile and a Patriot interceptor, when a woman approached and said, “I worked on those.”
He said, “Then you saved my life. I spent many nights in a chemical suit and gas mask listening to the Patriots launch and hearing the explosions overhead.”
(Actually, he typically ran outside with his camera and tried to photograph the pyrotechnics, rather than into the shelters he and his tent-mates had dug, in gas mask nonetheless.)
So they had a photograph taken, this engineer with Raytheon and this veteran of the United States Army Medical Corps, the two of them with the implements of war that inspired their shared humanity.
A visit to the souvenir shop inevitably followed, a visit made more interesting when Bruce recognized a familiar face: a player for Belmont Shore! Sure enough, the team is on tour and playing at Hertford Tuesday night.
Lunch was at an Italian restaurant in Cambridge, alongside the River Cam where the punters go about. These are pole barges which can be hired for a leisurely tour of the medieval city and the various colleges, and it was a lovely day to be so doing.
One crept by, a single fare apparently asleep on the deck. The punter was immediately dubbed Charon.
But such slow-motion tourism was not to be, for an appointment awaited back in Wellingborough: a visit from the Hansfords.
Peter, Belinda, Abigail and Jonathan live in Swansea, of course. Misfortune conspired to bring them to Northampton when one of Belinda’s relations died.
Abigail stayed home to attend school this week but the others drove across, looking as well and happy as ever.
Belinda, retired from Levis, has found work but Peter, retired from finding work, has not. (Insert smiley face icon!)
It was a delight to pass a glorious late afternoon with old friends on all sides.
Monday evening found everyone in Olney for the monthly meeting of the East Midlands Rugby Referee Society. There weren’t enough chairs to hold everyone in the large room and for good reason: the featured speaker was Martin Heinz, front-row coach for the Bedford Blues, formerly with the Saints, who prior to that played in the premiership.
This guy knew all the techniques and all the tricks. An engaging speaker, he educated and involved a lot of referees to such effect that they should have safer and more enjoyable games in the future through a better understanding of what the players are trying to do.
After the presentation Clive Leeke, the East Mids training officer, graciously asked Bruce if he wished to have a few minutes of the groups’ time. As he just so happened to have a jump drive containing almost two dozen of his rugby talks in his pocket, he allowed as to how that would be nice; Martin’s session dove-tailed perfectly with the talk he gave at the June conference on Scrum Time.
Lots of old NorCal friends were in attendance and send along their regards. Particularly: Melanie ‘Shooter’ McGowan, Bill Hulme, Paul Dickens (who was only a few minutes late), Nicola Reynolds, Steve Oliver and others – such is the whirl of re-acquaintances that even the fact-checker cannot keep up.
Monday drew to a close with no rain yet to have fallen on the tourists. There were to be some schools games to referee the next three days. Some South African exchange referees were arriving Tuesday to be billeted with the Felsteads and their daughter Kate, who lives seven houses down.
The world was spinning round very nicely indeed, like a perfectly kicked rugby ball.
REPORT FROM NATIONAL REFEREE CONFERENCE
September 7-10, 2006
Report by Dave Williamson, NCRRS RDO
Referees: National Panel Refs (Davey Ardrey, Paul Bretz, Graeme Bullen, Richard Every, Jem McDowell, Tim Luscombe, Chris Henshall); plus two promising refs (Mitch Damm and Aruna Ranaweera)
RDOs and Referee Coaches: Cap Pelletier (SoCal), Ted Serfas (SoCal), Josh Tameifuna (SoCal), Gerry Fitzgerald (South), Steve Glentzer (West), Tom Barr (M.West), Gary Devoe (Northeast), Dave Williamson (NorCal)
Trainers: Ed Todd (Tackle)), Al Klemp (Scrums), Andy Melrose (RFU--Referee Coaching course), Dave Williams (Strength and Weight Training), Peter Thorburn (refereeing the tackle/ruck/muck), Paul Bretz (heart rate monitor)
Thursday evening social: meet and greet for refs and coaches
Friday morning: Fitness testing and discussions re use of heart rate monitors. Coaches helped keep track of refs’ times for beep test, 40-yard sprint, and 505 agility test. Paul Bretz described his personal use of heart rate monitor; Polar rep described team-wide use of heart rate monitor data.
Friday afternoon: Scrum Discussion for all/Electronic Diary/Referee Coaching course. Al Klemp (recently-retired from the A panel) led a video review of the scrums from Phil Smith’s NA4 match, presented iRB’s DVD on the scrum, and led further discussion. Ed Todd described the referee’s Electronic Diary. Andy Melrose led a discussion of the course material previously distributed to the coaches and RDOs.
Friday evening: Video review for refs/Referee Coaching course. Refs analyzed Phil Smith’s match; coaches continued with their course.
Saturday morning: Ropes course for all. Refs paired with refs--plus one pair of RDOs--tackled various sections of an elevated ropes course.
Saturday afternoon: Coaching--the Referee’s Perspective/Training and Warmup Activities. Andy Melrose asked the referees some of the same questions regarding coaching that he presented to the coaches. The refs’ responses were very similar to the coaches’: It’s all about the ref taking ownership of the learning process; the coach listens more than talks. Dave Williams provided DVDs on training and conducted an excellent demonstration of a 15-20 minute warmup.
Sunday morning: Tackle/Ruck/Muck--Past/Present/Future. Peter Thorburn discussed the current difficulty (impossibility??) in refereeing the breakdown, the reasons for and effects of the current situation, how he coaches the USA team to run with the ball with a strong preference for the maul over the ruck, and how the game might look after the Rugby World Cup.
Summary: Ed Todd did an admirable job of assembling
Useful training materials for refs, RDOs, and ref coaches,
A good cross-section of participants,
Excellent trainers, and
Group activities to bond the participants
The participants mixed well together, actively participated in all the activities, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The next gathering, and the second portion of the coaching course, will take place in early December at the ITTs in Florida.
SAVE THE HARLOTFEST
We have been asked to publish the following in a good cause:
“Save The Harlotfest Rugby Festival”
It’s always been a sad day when something that you knew was a good thing has gone and disappeared. As of now, that thing that is gone is the Harlotfest as you knew it. Created by two players from the Stanislaus Rugby Football Club, Scott McDonald and Miles Hunter back in 1991, this year would have been the 15th birthday of this unique event. The Harlotfest gave rugby players across the nation, and even around the world, a new way to attend tournaments and play rugby. Ruggers know that playing for another team during a tournament is called whoring, but in a good way. We can’t pick an exact point in time when this practice began but we gave the rugby whore his/her own tournament. That tournament happens every third weekend in October, this year on the 21st.
Although this won’t exactly be the Harlotfest everyone remembers, it will be one that will never be forgotten. Throughout the years people have become accustomed to paying $80.00 and getting a jersey and having a great time playing with a lot of guys they hardly know but this year is a little different. Due to lack of sponsorship and attendance being down in recent years, we have had to scale down this year’s festivities to not include jerseys. Sad I know, but look at the bright side! We have passed that savings on to our fellow ruggers and taken away the excuse not to show up. A simple donation of $20.00 gets you a few rugby games and a bunch of great laughs, and if that isn’t worth saving the Harlotfest, then I don’t know what is. Take a stand and come out, we ruggers can’t afford to let another great rugby tournament slip away!
The format for October 21st will be kick-offs at 10:00 a.m. The fun will run until the social is done or they kick us out of the park, then we move on from there. In the place of jerseys we will provide mesh tops to help separate the teams and make it a bit easier. We will have referees and fields as usual but the difference will be no structured teams. The good thing about this is that you can play as much as you want, as often as you want, whenever you want and with who ever you want. We are taking the idea of the Harlotfest and breaking it back down to its roots. So for the rookie who wants to pick up the game, jump in one. The Old Boy who wants two, play two or the Die Hard who wants every game, well that’s your choice. Come out, bring your friends and teammates. For the $20.00 you donate the beer and rugby is on us, but the memories are yours to keep.
Time and Place:
Saturday October 21st 10:00 a.m.
Beyer High School,
Modesto Ca, 95355
www.harlotrugby.com for any additional information.
THIS WEEK'S PHOTO
Knowing the predilections of the editorial staff here at HP, Alex Goff was kind enough to forward this photograph he took at the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton while he was in that city covering the World Cup.
We are sure that you will be as taken with it as we were.
For the Senate