Tuesday, February 13, 2007




We have sung the praises of this event the past three years when it was in the LA area. It has now become much better in many, many ways.

You should stop reading right now and mark your calendars for the second weekend in February, each of the next four years, to be in San Diego for this event.

They play at PETCO Park. It is located in the historical hotel-restaurant-bar Gaslight District, a cheap and easy cab ride from the airport. You don’t need a car and all your rugby buddies from across the decades will cross your path in short order.

The organization is fantastic. The event is promoted. Folks in San Diego know about it – it’s on the radio, on banners hanging from streetlights, in the sports pages.

The atmosphere is continuously electric for two days. The IRB has managed to 'bottle' the famous vintage of the Hong Kong Sevens and ship it 'round the world.

It is professionally-run from start to finish. If you want to visit the Rugby Festival across the street but also want to see the Eagles play at 4:38 PM, you can rest assured that if you return to your excellent seat at 4:38:01 the kickoff will still be in the air.

And you would have seen lots of Pelicans involved: Paul Bretz running touch for all the big games, Ed Todd orchestrating the sideline support, Aruna Ranaweera controlling sin bins, Scott Wood running the clock.

The Clever Traveler provided superlative support: convenient flights, a fun and romantic hotel, and great seats.

Harry and Robyn also ‘provided’ the highlight of the year: the biggest, best and most effective hit this seasoned Sevens watcher has ever seen.

Todd Clever is beginning to compete with Vuka Tau as the best Sevens player the USA has produced, in the opinion of your correspondent. Todd wins ball; he rucks with the power of two or three; he destroys prepared defenses; he runs for breakaway tries down the center of the pitch.

But the play that will remain in memory yet green happened in the Eagle’s decisive victory over Kenya; it was a hit that made ESPN’s Plays of the Week.

Kenya was trying to create an attack from their own end after the final hooter had sounded. One pass floated a bit.

Todd lined the receiver up. The instant this unfortunate’s feet touched the ground he was subjected to a bilateral kidney biopsy accompanied by the simultaneous administration of anesthesia.

The ball popped into Jone Naqica’s hands for a fabulous try and a round of delirium for the house.

This is truly great stuff.


We can’t pretend to recount the many renewed acquaintances and chance meetings that occur at such an event. Find someone who was there: they invariably ran into an old teammate from days long past, their first rugby coach, or a respected opponent now suddenly a best friend.

The PETCO Jumbotron reflected the atmosphere. The Olympic Club’s international ‘bunnies’ caught a lot of air. Then too, there were the on-field terpsichorean efforts of Toshi Paloma in a dance-off, lost only at last minute when the other finalist, a sylph in a stars and stripes bra, dropped trou to reveal a matching bottom.

But a middle-aged star was born when the camera focused on a certain Pelicus Scriptoris moving to his own Muse. Our hero had the presence of mind to turn and kiss his fiancée Linda, for all the Sevens world to see.

The wedding is Tuesday, February 13.


Dana Teagarden is now and forever more the first woman ever to referee an IRB match.

And not just one. Dana was initially appointed to France – Chile and Fiji – West Indies. Further assignments would depend entirely on merit.

We lost count of how many matches she controlled. At least seven. Eight? More? We know for a fact that she refereed the Bowl Final!

Your faithful writer first met Dana when she and Tom Coburn ran touch for us on May 1, 1998 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. This was a representative match that ended 16 – 16, formerly an embarrassing memory but now a proud moment of “I knew her when”.

One further thought: no doubt this summer Dana will be working a local Sevens in SoCal between two forgettable squads. A player will give her grief over a call.

She’ll look at this hapless sap and think, “I’ve been on the pitch with Fiji… stuff it, buddy.”


Last year, the Safety Protocols were introduced in response to threats and attacks directed at NCRRS referees and touch judges. These garnered national media attention and constituted an existential crisis for the game in NorCal: referees were thinking twice about how best to spend their Saturdays.

These protocols are signed by the teams and by the referees. They are designed to ensure safety of match officials by enlisting sustentative and visible efforts on the part of the teams in furtherance of this goal: crowd restraints and sideline monitors. They also define a process for not beginning a match or for abandoning one in progress if the protocols are not met – and provide support for the referee in such circumstances.

But you have to apply them to benefit from their provisions.

Non-compliance has been noted and reported to us by observers.

There are several things to bear in mind:

NCRRS performance review officers (coaches, evaluators, assessors) have been asked to note non-enforcement of the protocols by match officials.

If a criminal or tort proceeding arose out of a match you officiated where the protocols were not in effect, you would be hard-pressed to explain why you disregarded standard, agreed-to procedures which you signed. It is possible that you would be denied liability coverage by our insurance carrier in such circumstances, and a judge and jury would not look favorably on a match official who ignored basic safety considerations.

The protocols are easy to enforce:

- Arrive at the venue an hour early and ask the first person you see from the home team, “When will be the sideline barriers be in place?” If he doesn’t know, you can tell him that the correct answer is, “Before kickoff.”
- When you ask the coach/captain who their touch judge is going to be, also ask for the sideline monitor
- If you notice people within the barrier during the match, stop the game and ask the monitor to move them back

You might also need to remind the home team that failure to comply with the crowd restraint provisions means they lose the match.

The ‘barriers’ do not have to be ropes strung between poles. The sideline barrier has to be an identifiable line behind which non-participants must remain. It can be: a ski rope or garden hose lying on the ground; the far side of the running track that surrounds the pitch; a line of kit bags, placed every five meters a sufficient distance back from the touch line.

At a field with grandstands it is simplicity itself: everybody sits in the bleachers.

The Pelican Refs have done a very good job of introducing the new scrum engagement protocols across the board. We can certainly handle something as basic and as easy as the Safety Protocols.


The Redwood HS conference will begin play on Friday, February 16, with games for the next seven weeks.

Joe Leisek coordinates refs for these games. Let him know if you’d like a run on any of these Fridays. Most of the games are played at 4 PM, but some are later.


Thursday, February 8
Cal Poly 13 – BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY 36 Referee: Andy Doukas

This was the highest level match I have refereed, and it was a great honor to be asked by Cal Poly’s head coach, Nick Massman, to officiate.

[Editor’s Note: Andy did not poach this game. The SCRRS was not able to provide a mid-week referee in SLO. Andy then asked the NCRRS and we also had to demur.]

We couldn't have asked for better conditions, moderate temperature from an overcast day and a full size, brand new pitch in the countryside of Arroyo Grande.

When I arrived to the field both teams were in intense preparations and I knew I was in for a serious match from two top collegiate teams. From the first blow of the whistle to the last, both teams exceeded my expectations of play and pace. BYU was the first to get on the board, quickly moving down the field from continuous passing out of the tackle and a nice dummy to slip in for a try. Cal Poly came back with a nicely executed chip kick right in the try zone and raced to touch it down. BYU continued the pressure, powering in the scrums, and at times throwing wild passes in the tackle. Cal Poly’s fullback (and captain), placed a nice kick, retrieved for a break away but BYU’s amazing speed from the winger chased him down. BYU put up two more trys but gave up a penalty kick from off-sides in the line-out, half time score BYU 19 – Cal Poly 8.

The second half seemed to start faster than the first, both coaching staff making good adjustments. A quick try from BYU and then answered by Cal Poly. Good pressure by both defenses, Cal Poly using kicks over the attacking defensive line with success. BYU scored from a well executed maul from a line-out. A tremendous effort and well played match from both sides, I'm very grateful to have taken part and thank both teams and coaching staff for having me.

Friday, February 9
Stanford 0 – CALIFORNIA 60 Referee: Dave Pope
Touch Judge: Pete Smith
Assessor: Bryan Porter
On a rainy, wet day at Stanford, Cal was too strong, winning 60 - 0. Early in the game both teams had trouble holding on to the wet ball. Cal's aggressive defense made sure Stanford never had an easy time holding on to the ball. Stanford's cause was not helped when their loose head prop went down in the very first scrum with a pulled muscle. I'm not sure how Stanford would have fared in the scrum, but as it was, they were constantly under pressure. On the day and considering the conditions, Cal looked quite impressive.


UC DAVIS 29 (5) – Nevada 19 (3) Referee: Jim Crenshaw
A rainy windy Saturday at UC Davis, perfect for a rugby match!!
A tale of two halves. UC Davis won the first half 17 to 5.
UN Reno won the second half 14 to 12, but not enough to win the match.
Final score UC Davis 29 (5 tries, 2 converted), UN Reno 19(3 tries, 2 converted)

Seconds: UC Davis 2 – San Jose State Referee: Chris Bush
No report received.

UC Santa Cruz 0 – SANTA ROSA JC 20 (4) Referee: Sandy Robertson
The rains last week were sufficient to have UCSC close its pitch, so late Friday afternoon the match was switched to Santa Rosa. Around 12:15 PM the referee arrived to a pitch that had two full teams warming up amid some puddles and steady rain. The teams were anxious to get going; nobody saw any reason to wait for the official start time.

The 2 sides came out hard, with Santa Rosa able to kick for territory and capitalize when in the Santa Cruz end, scoring 3 tries in the first half. Santa Cruz's defense stiffened in the second half; they threatened the Santa Rosa line but were unable to touch down.

U San Francisco 5 – HUMBOLDT STATE 24 (4) Referee: Lois Bukowski
Time of game: 5pm
Field conditions: Light rain falling on USF's soccer stadium, firm turf, no flags
Saturday night rugby! Even with the precipitation, it was a great day for rugby…isn't every day?

Both sides settled in after kickoff. It took a little over 10 minutes for Humboldt to strike first. Their athletic backs put together a nice movement off a scrum center with the winger on the overlap. 10 minutes later, the rain had stopped falling and the sun peaked out from some spotty clouds and lo and behold, a full, large rainbow sprouted from one end of the field to the other. We were literally somewhere "under" the rainbow and the boys from up North took the sign and ran with it. Another nifty backline play saw their winger touching down again. The ended the scoring with a center crash after a series of nice pick and jam phases by their forwards. USF continued to pressure, but never seemed to get any offensive ball to work with. When they did, their flyhalf usually relieved pressure by booting it strongly downfield. They took several swipes at goal, but even playing a man up the last 10 minutes of the half would not net them any points. We headed into halftime 17-0.

Humboldt continued its scoring ways about 10 minutes into the second frame. They spun the ball across the field and their big #8 weaved and crashed through traffic to put it down near the corner. USF played hard the entire game, but never could link very effectively with their forwards and backs. They were finally rewarded with merely 5 minutes left in the game off a nice break by the flyhalf who offloaded to his support that dove over the line for the last score of the match. This was a fun, wet game of rugby!

STANFORD women 44 (8) – Humboldt State 3 Referee: Sam Reagle
I awoke at 6am and was on the road toward Stanford by 6:45 to do 2 games in Palo Alto. When I arrived just after 9am Griff informed me that the B-side game scheduled for 10am had been cancelled due to the rain, but that the A-side game would was good to go at noon. It's never been a ritual of mine to eat right before a game, but with 2 hours to kill, I went to breakfast.

This game pitted last years' Women's Division 1 National Champion against a determined, but slower Lumberjack side. Both teams battled for field position for the first 10 minutes, but the Cardinal backs finally broke thru the line and it was off to the races with tries at 9, 13, 19 and 36 minutes to go into halftime leading 22-0. The lumberjacks played solidly and tackled well when they had the chance, but just couldn’t keep up with Stanford.

The second half was a carbon copy of the first. Another 22 points for Stanford with a shutout looming until the very last minute of play. Both teams were practically penalty-free the entire game, but during a strong final attack by Humboldt State, a Stanford forward picked up the ball while rucking. The Lumberjacks stroked the penalty kick from about 15 meters out to end the game.


23rd Annual Kick Off Tournament
February 3rd
Granite Regional Park, Sacramento
Ray Schwartz, Referee Liaison

With apologies to the Senate for the late report, this has been an amazing time, what with our tournament including Thurs-Sun festivities last week, our Society meeting Wednesday, and then 3 fabulous days in San Diego. Somehow I need to get back to work…

Anyway, the progress and success to report since my stepping up to help the KOT Organizing Committee about 14 months ago, is pretty darn cool. And the very best part of the news has everything to do with my wife Kat! If not for Kat, I wouldn’t have been in Edmonton for the Women’s World Cup last September. From that trip, two key elements for success at this Tournament fell into place.

At an Edmonton pub I met Cam Wilton, the President of the Leprechaun-Tigers RFC, who would then work closely with me, and then Ravi Perera (Fullerton Youth) and Rod Chance (Mother Lode) to bring a touring side of 56 to California, including a full boys and girls U-19 side. This pending tour, plus the addition of a new, 5th field available for us to utilize at Granite Park, made it possible for the KOT Organizing Committee to open the door to include Girls HS rugby for the first time.

At St. Alberts, during the USA v Australia RWC match, I reacquainted myself with Don Whidden, the top Rugby Alberta Referee Development Officer. We then spoke several more times over the next two weeks of my trip to Kat’s hometown. With Don I set into place a vision of him possibly sending some young referees down to help us with our little High School rugby tournament. Little did I know at the time that Don himself would travel, and bring along three of Edmonton’s top Premiership Referees! Sandy Nesbitt, Todd Van Vliet and Paul Cassidy each handled (5) 30-minute matches with grace and professionalism, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the process.

Our Tournament also grew in other very significant and Pelican friendly ways. Matt Eason, who we all know as working tirelessly in many other capacities has, by sheer force of will, also started a U-15 competition this season in the Sacramento Valley. Three new sides got to enjoy their first live rugby experience at KOT (Rob Salaber is back coaching, now at Dixon U-15!). We flew in Eagle Mark Griffin from NYC and www.PlayRugbyUSA.com, who we paired perfectly with Josh Fitzgerald, a tireless young coach and kit supplier in our community. They ran all the U-15s through a free 80-minute clinic in the early morning, giving these young ruggers new skills and confidence going into their first-ever contact games. Later in the morning, and again in the afternoon, Mark and Josh ran a free and open Tykes Clinic that drew attendees from as far away as Stanford and Chico.

We held an Old Boys game as well, the SOBs v the Bald Eagles, which brought many old friends back to see the spirit of the volunteers working this event. Several brought their kids to the Tykes Clinic as well. We also brought in Bill Burch of Lineout Video to run a team of videographers. We erected 30’ high scaffolds on our two Varsity fields were Bill and his crew could work from. Sylvain Doreau, a former Mission/Baracus player, and current ILM film expert, was present shooting a documentary in Hi-Def. But back to the referee’s story…

From a point last year when told our Referee Society could hardly cover all League matches, let alone send a single ref to our HS event, I set out to solve this problem. I was able to find 4 refs who flew in to help with last year’s event. Plus I was able to talk Joe Androvich and Colin Wallace into refereeing their first games. For this year, two of the four travelers from 2006 (Carla Cross, Minn., and Pete Barry, Erie, PA) happily returned, and brought Nate Scholnicoff and Judd Worrall along as well. Judd is the Allegany RRS President. Don Whidden (+3) signed on, as well as John Lawson (ERRRS) and Dan Drasher (Minn.). Then Dan “Gilligan” Hattrup came out to “recruit” for his Regis College side in Denver. Plus, I made certain to get Cam Wilton (the LTs President) a game.

Locally, I (easily) convinced KOT veteran Don Pattalock to come down from Reno (his mother lives nearby, and he helps run the Bald Eagles), JC Van Staden reffed 5 matches (including Islanders v Jesuit), Joe Androvich and Colin Wallace were excited to return (and Colin seemed to improve greatly). My dear friend Bruce Bernstein signed on. And local youth ref workhorses Michael Taylor, Rod Chance and Mike Villierme joined relatively new ref Dave Buckey and brand new Jackie Finck. We had a few fall out, but at the last minute, Heath Hathaway came aboard and ran touch for 7 games.

Our Society blessed KOT by assigning Ref Coaches Dave Williamson and Kat to attend, who worked well with Don, and together saw to it that all refs received the much-welcomed benefit of expert coaching advice. And then from the very first games, the quality of the people I was able to recruit shown through. Everyone worked as a team. There was never a gripe. The number of games that went off with two referee touch judges was, to me, just absolutely stunning. It seemed to be about 1/2 of all matches enjoyed a team of 3. The volunteerism and support we all lent was inspirational.

And so with 12 travelers and 11 local refs (some working only one or two games), I set out to assign all 63 matches scheduled (completing this Tuesday night, well in advance). I showed up Saturday morning early with a solid plan, and as is the case with all tournaments, had to adapt to some last-minute changes, but all was well.

We left the last 4 Varsity matches unassigned, to be awarded based on merit and fitness on the day. Upon consulting with the Ref Coaches, Carla, who picked up our Silver Division Final last year, got one, while Paul, Todd and Sandy the last three, with Sandy Nesbitt more than capably handling the Varsity Gold Final where Jesuit beat SFGG U-19 10-0, to avenge the opposite result from just a week earlier.

Please visit www.kickofftournament.com for complete results, to read our Program online, and to see the newspaper and TV clips!

I continue to be amazed at the impact our turning so many top games over to Sandy, Todd and Paul had on our event, and on our rugby community. Everyone was blown away, truly! The compliments continue to role in. In the end, the quality of the product; the game on the field, is what truly matters, and we took care of business! The kids, the coaches and the parents, couldn't have been any happier!

I cannot possibly be more pleased at the fact that we (KOT) were able to offer high quality referee coaching to almost all who attended and refereed a match. The value returned to those who sacrificed their day, and in some cases, a good part of their week, to attend and help us, was truly marvelous.

And that just made it all the more easier to keep things fun, humming along and, in the end, entertaining for all; at the dinners, the banquet, the Sunday brunch... the Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation supplied all with engraved, commemorative whistles and moisture management embroidered (periwinkle) polo shirts. Our Programs turned out great. And Hoppy Brewing (at 6300 Folsom Blvd.) helped us throw a great dinner after the event. Stay tuned; the 24th Annual will be even better still…!

UC Davis 17 – Sacramento State 17 Referee: Don Hattrup (ERRRS)
Thanks for the game. I'd heard from folks at the Kick Off Tournament that Sac State was having a good year and that Davis had been riddled with injuries. As a result, I'd been told to bring my running shoes.

The game started off with the teams testing the referee -- each side had a couple quick penalties as they probed the boundaries and then they settled down to play the game. The second Davis penalty led to Sacramento State bombing a kick downfield, and driving the maul-from-lineout over for their first try. Sac quickly followed up with a converted try before we hit the ten minute mark. The first scrum (at 13 minutes) went off without a hitch -- the new engagement sequence was more trouble for the referee than it was for the players. Davis built off of the platform and were able to work their way down the field, scoring a few minutes later. Their continued pressure resulted in a sin bin for a Hornet lock, who collapsed a maul that was making its way toward the in-goal. The first half ended on a high note for Davis as they scored with a minute to go bring the game to 12-10 in favor of Sacramento at the break.

The second half started off all Davis. They converted their third try to pull out into the lead for the first time in the match. As both teams wearied, rucks got sloppier, handbags started flying, and the rivalry between these neighboring schools manifested itself in ways unbecoming rugby players. After the pugilistic backs put aside their differences of opinion over hair care products, the game got back on track with multiple linebreaks for both sides. Only the astute whistling of the referee prevented four or five tries as final passes were either knocked on or adjudicated as having been thrown forward. Davis assisted with the prevention of try scoring by collapsing a maul with 5 minutes remaining -- their first choice hooker spent the rest of the game in the bin as a result. With a minute remaining, Sac was making a last ditch effort to win the game -- Davis had put the ball into their scrum and it seemed over until Sacramento was able to drive it around past 90. The Davis hooker began to complain about the call and the reset scrum was discarded in favor of a penalty for dissent. Sacramento tapped quickly, took the ball through two phases and did not convert their try to bring the scoreline to 17-17 at the final whistle.

Our Canadian visitors appreciated the scoreline, as I purchased the requisite libations which were shared among the group back at the hotel. Just doing my part to keep up international relations among the fine folks of Colorado and the Republic of California & our northern neighbors.


Varsity: GOLDEN GATE 45 – Marin 3 Referee: John Coppinger
SF/GG U19 comprehensively defeated Marin U19 45-3 at a wet and windy Job Corps field at TI on Saturday. The score at the half was 21-0.

The field was narrow, a factor that probably kept the SF/GG score from being higher as SF/GG looked to take the ball wide with support. Marin played hard, but struggled with the laws.

JV: Elsie Allen 5 – JESUIT 32 (6) Referee: Mike King
Referee Coach: Mike Malone
A well-played encounter on a wet field that became very sloppy by the end of the match. Jesuit fielded a more experienced side with greater numbers to substitute. They played with dedication and balance, using both forward and back play to their advantage. They put 4 unanswered tries on the board by half time. In the second stanza however, the greener home town boys showed their mettle, by holding Jesuit to fewer points and scoring one try of their own. They played with the heart and physicality that is the trademark of Lobo Rugby. Both schools should be very proud of the manner in which their young men comported themselves.

Varsity: ELSIE ALLEN 25 (3) – Jesuit 8 (1) Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judge: Mike King, Trevor Payne

Brent Musberger might've said: "I'm looking liiiive at the 2007 Mud Bowl at the Lobodome in Santa Rosa."

Two of the nation's best high school rugby programs battled each other and the elements in an intense pre-season friendly. Despite the conditions, both teams were obviously committed to letting the backlines have a go. Lots of fierce tackles, several impressive mauls (primarily by the hosts), and some rumbling upfield runs by players from both teams.

Jesuit seemed to have the momentum in the very early going, but the hosts scored first, just past the six minute mark, with a penalty kick. Momentum began to shift in their favor, as the Lobos would go on to score two tries in the half to Jesuit's one try and one penalty kick.

The best period of the game was the last 20 minutes of the first half, when both teams played some good rugby in the rain and mud. With Elsie up 15-8 at the half, the game was still up for grabs.

But the visitors were held scoreless in the second half against a very strong defense, while Elsie tallied with a penalty kick and a converted try from a Jesuit mistake in goal.

Players I especially enjoyed watching: Lobo flyhalf Patrick Drauywa, who possesses speed and a veteran's presence; and number eight Michael Phipps, whose strength and skill are the linchpin of the Lobo forward pack.

Live Oak 10 (2) – DELTA 24 (4) Referee: Chris Fisher
Good natured game played by two evenly matched sides.

JV: LIVE OAK 56 – Delta 0 Ref: Fisher


Two previous visitors to Pelicanland have been assigned U19 Women’s Internationals:

April 1: USA – Canada Referee: Nicola Reynolds
April 8: England – Canada Referee: Melanie Ryding

Congratulations to our dear friends!


Some of us are children of the Information Age. Others grew up during the Space Age. And some of our readers recall the gung-ho days of the Aviation Age which preceded them both.

This video will delight and entertain us all, dreamers and doers alike:


Samoa Sevens Supporters
Mose Timoteo and Toshi Paloma will be seen among the happy faces as Samoa nearly defended their Wellington Sevens title of last week, meeting Fiji in the Final.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris