LONE PELICAN NO-MORE
The day broke well before the dawn.
That primal, anachronistic stirring awoke the erstwhile Lone Pelican at 5 AM. It was like the early mornings of the first year that he played rugby, when an early tournament kick-off or a long road trip demanded discipline in arising, when even precious sleep couldn’t hold a candle to the prospect of Game On.
He propped up on one elbow and beheld his bride’s Shakespearean shining morning face. As ever, even in her slumber she knew his was through and opened one eye.
One raised eyebrow, à la Mr. Spock, relayed the tacit query: Just what are you doing awake so early, Mr. Middle-Aged and I-Need-My-Sleep?
The answer, needlessly vocalized: “Sevens today!”
“But you aren’t even refereeing. At least I hope not. That torn Achilles wasn’t three months ago.”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s SEVENS.”
But, as ever, it’s more than the rugby. It’s the camaraderie. It’s the memories. It’s the fact that our hero has been to Cubberley to play or to referee sevens well over a hundred times. And it’s the rugby.
So, up and away without even time for the habitual Sunday NY Times crossword (which is printed in the SF Chronicle the following Saturday).
Saturday sevens mornings entails more than driving to Palo Alto. There’s the accoutrements of Sevens to consider – chairs, banners, various forms of lawn pelicans, sun block, ice chest, picnic utensils, hats – and then there’s the traditional stop to load up at Piazza’s Fine Foods, a well-named establishment just blocks from the pitch, purveyors to many excellent rugby referee repasts over the years.
The serendipity of the morning proved itself at one of the three well-stocked cheese displays. This stroke of fortune was hard to believe even for the oft-blessed has-been Lone Pelican.
One of the set-piece features of the East Midlands exchange, a sparkling jewel of a memory amid a multitude of bright moments, is late night conversation of the events of the day, comfortably at home with your hosts, over coffee and cheeses.
Sue and Murray Felstead introduced the fellow who used to be the Lone Pelican to two fine cheeses: Stilton and Double Gloucester. And what did he find at Piazza’s? English Huntsman’s Cheese: alternating layers of Stilton and Double Gloucester, the cheesemaker’s latest gift to humanity and a true joy to behold.
The once-but-not-future Lone Pelican had agreed to meet his co-sufferer of Sevens Fever, Pelicus Septenae Potioris, at Peet’s at 8 AM, corner of Middlefield and Charleston, to prepare for the 9 AM kickoff. Not-so Lone thought he’d trump his friend and earn commitment bragging rights for the summer by arriving thirty minutes early.
But of course, Septenae was comfortably ensconced, near to the dregs of his cold coffee, the spent sections of the morning paper surrounding him silent testimony to his superior dedication.
It was another memorable day at this premier Sevens event. Even a wounded bird can serve.
Not only were some of the referees relatively new to the sevens art and eager to learn, there were a number of injuries.
While it is always unfortunate when we are injured chasing our dream, there usually is found satisfaction by those who are privileged to help take care of us. And that was the lot of Lone Pelican NOT this day, to be on hand to assist in the care of some serious injuries which he trusts are now in the recuperative stages.
As the games wound down, Mrs. Lone Pelican killer arrived from an utterly superfluous appointment at the beauty shop, so that the couple could travel together to the home of Mike and Susan Gadoua in San Rafael and thence to the society banquet.
Thus ended the ‘lone’ portion of the day, and our story for this time.
THE FIRST DAY OF REAL SUMMER
Nine AM found Pelicus Septenae Potioris, Mike Gadoua, whistling the kick-off for the first game of the thirty-sixth Palo Alto Summer Sevens at Cubberley.
The Peninsula Green team gave a fine demonstration of the Sevens code, happily scoring tries whenever their opponents unwisely (and repeatedly) kicked away possession.
It was a fine day for the flock. Eight referees were privileged to run around with the boys and girls of summer, while two elder birds were happy to bask in the sun and offer a few pointers.
Most of the referees were driven many miles by their love of the summer game. From Reno came Don Pattalock. From Roseville, Sam Reagle. From Sacramento, Jim Crenshaw, Scott Wood and JC Van Staden. From San Rafael, Mike Gadoua. The ‘locals’ were Pete Smith, just off the plane from a family vacation in Hawaii, and Isaac Caselis.
Dixon Smith and Bruce Carter lent their years of experience to those who would profit thereby, definitely a part-time job.
The remaining three weekends will be played on July 7, July 21 (also Pacific Coast Qualifier) and August 4.
National Sevens referee patron Pat McNally will be in town the first weekend. He will host a Sevens referee/coaches conference at the Golden Gate clubhouse on Friday evening, August 3. All who are interested in Sevens should attend, coaches, referees and players.
FOGFEST III AT TREASURE ISLAND
The Fog Fest was held in conjunction with Pride Weekend in San Francisco. Eric Rauscher, Chris Tucker and Bruce Bernstein officiated. Here are two reports:
June 23 2007, 2nd day of summer. Fog Fest III, no fog, just sunny skies.
Chris Tucker and I ref the first games and Bruce Bernstein sits it out.
My first game was blue and yellow (the other two teams were black and white). The forwards were pretty evenly matched, but yellow had no reply to the blue backs. Final score, 19/7. I sat out the second game and handled the third round game between white and blue. The temperature has gone up a bit for this one. In the first half I allowed the break-downs after rucks and mauls to go on too long, there-by frustrating the players and raising the temperature further. More vigilant whistling (thanks to advice from Chris at the half) allowed to better play in the second half. Both teams gave it their all for this last game and the final score was a 21/21 tie.
Most embarrassing moment: A player avoids being shepherded into touch during a tackle and stretches out and dots the ball down just inches over the line. Whistle blows for the try. One problem, it was the 22.
Well the name turned out to be a misnomer as a warm sunny day welcomed ruggers from all over the country to the Bay area. Chris Tucker, Eric Rauscher and Bruce Bernstein reffed a smaller than expected tournament with only 4 teams fielded, dressed in Blue, Black, White and Gold. A paltry 12 women turned up, so without enough for 7s, the tournament became coed. And yes, they gave as good as they got, with at least 2 tries scored by female players.
It being a harlot tourney, there was no prize for the winning team. However, for the record, the final standings were as follows:
Blue W2 D1 L0
Black W2 D0 L1
Golden W1 D0 L2
White W0 D1 L2
For those keeping track of such things, Eric officiated the draw (that's a tie for the linguistically challenged.)
After the matches, we repaired to the beer and BBQ tent, where game balls were presented to each team's MVP, and songs were sung late into the afternoon. I was particularly miffed that some inexperienced minstrel put an end to Jesus Can't Play Rugby with several of the better verses left unsung, but all was forgotten as we were all fired many times over from our jobs working as department store assistants in Illinois.
Hopefully next year this will be on a weekend when 7s aren't being played down the road, so that a few more people will be free to come along. Regardless, it was a lot of fun, and I'd recommend it as a good day out for anyone in the rugby family.
A FITTING END TO THE SEASON
The Northern California Rugby Referee Society celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of its incorporation and the end of the 2007 season with a dinner in Port Costa.
Fifty-three attended, which we believe to be a record. Among the guests were the infant son of JC Van Staden and eight members of other societies who were in town for the Level Three Refereeing Course.
NorCal dignitaries Frank Merrill and John Tyler also joined us, and Paul Bretz’ father was kind enough to come along.
The Bull Valley Restaurant was perfect for the group. Bull Valley and Port Costa are in a little-known corner of the Bay Area, tucked in against the Carquinez Strait between Crockett and Martinez. Once upon a time, this was where the railroad met the furthest-inland deep-water port and thereby the area became very wealthy. When the dredging of channels became possible and the railway network was extended, Port Costa was bypassed by the major thoroughfares and rendered an historic footnote.
But it survives as a quaint area of miscellaneous architecture and colorful characters, well worth a detour from the beaten path.
We had the place to ourselves, a big saloon-style bar, atmospheric back patio and dining room, and we filled it precisely to capacity, although it could not contain the conviviality.
The Centurion appeared after dinner, his shield emblazoned XXX, to rally the troops and find out exactly who was, in fact, Pelicus.
Pete Smith presented our annual awards and announced that next year there will be a new award added: Touch Judge of the Year.
Rookie of the Year: Don Pattalock
Five months after doing his first game in November, Don earned a B2 rating as a C1 on exchange. We had several good rookies, but this kind of performance by a beginner only happens every decade or so in NorCal.
Most Improved: Joe Androvich
Last year’s Rookie of the Year progressed nicely, earned some national attention and wowed ‘em in Alberta earlier this month.
Scriptoris Award: John Pohlman
John’s laconic, entertaining and self-effacing writing style was a favorite of some of our readers. His prose was illuminated by his love of the game.
Ambassador of the Society: Paul Bretz
Paul is now carrying the Pelican standard to heights unattained since Ed Todd was doing Tests, and representing us very well indeed.
Pelican of the Year: Jim Crenshaw
All Jim did was everything that was asked of him, and more besides. A worker, a mentor, a volunteer, an officer, a touch judge… and among our referees, one that teams are happiest to see assigned to their big games.
Dixon Smith then made a surprise award of his eponymous trophy. It is not presented annually.
Dixon Smith Achievement Award: Bruce Carter
On the evidence, Dixon presents this when he reckons that someone has contributed a tenth as much to the NCRRS as he.
SECOND ANNUAL SFGG TOUCH TOURNAMENT
Presented by Americorp Funding
First Call for Referees and Team Registration
JULY 14TH , 2007 - Rocca Field, Treasure Island San Francisco
The second annual SFGG Touch Rugby Tournament will take place at the Rocca Field and SFGG Clubhouse on Treasure Island on Saturday July 14th. There will be two divisions this year Open (competitive) and Social (social). In order to maximize games played we have limited the number of teams entering to 24 (8 Open and 16 Social teams), organized in three separate brackets. We will be widening the fields and will announce the tournament schedule prior to the event (early registration is key!). Americorp Funding will be sponsoring the Americorp Funding Cup along with a $500 cash prize for the Open division.
Cost to enter is $150 per team, 10 players per team (7 on the field - open subs). SFGG Touch Rugby Tournament T-shirts will be given to each team member. There will be food and beverages served throughout the day. Additionally, there will be a bouncy castle for the kids and the Southern Stars Netball team will be hosting a netball tournament at our facilities concurrently, all should make for another great tournament!
All teams are asked to register by July 7th on a first come first served basis. To register please send a check for $150 made out to "SFGG Rugby" attention Shaun Paga at Americorp Funding 100 Bush Street, Suite 900, San Francisco, Ca 94104. Include a note with the division your team is signing up for, name of your team, and the shirt sizes for your teammates. Teams can also sign up by sending an email to Shaun Paga (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your info and pay the $150.00 via the Paypal link at www.sfggrfc.com.
This is an open tournament so please forward this email to anyone who might be interested in putting in a team. We are all looking forward to another great day of touch!
ALBERTA EXCHANGE REPORT
Rich Anderson and Joe Androvich recently returned from the 2007 Provincial High School Championship in Alberta, Canada. This is their report:
Boys and girls high school teams from across the province traveled to Calgary Rugby Park to compete in the two day tournament.
Calgary Rugby Park’s unrivaled facilities included a two story field house complete with a referee fitting room, full locker rooms, multiple beers on tap, and a second story balcony which provided a bird’s eye view onto the main field. The park had three fields that were all well maintained and marked for rugby. Though all three fields were not flat due to the irrigation and basic contours of the land, the fields nevertheless provided an easy running surface for fast-paced play by the players, and refereeing by the men in charge. Each referee was in the center for two games on Saturday and one on Sunday.
The referees’ performances on Saturday would determine which matches they would be assigned the next day. Rich Anderson’s Saturday performance earned him the Sunday 3rd/4th boys match, and Joe Androvich earned the Boys 1st/2nd final match. Congratulations to both referees.
Hosted by local referee (and New Zealand born) Jarred Morrison, Rich and Joe had “bed and breakfast”-like accommodations where they could not have been treated better. Referee coach Don Whidden attended each match and provided helpful coaching advice to be followed by a written report.
Numerous other Alberta based referees attended the post-tournament BBQs/parties where we all exchanged stories (both good and bad), had a passionate rugby law dispute, and drank the “watered down” Canadian beer. (For those interested, the dispute was: if an attacking player touches the ball in the middle of the goal post pad, is it a try?)
While waiting for their flights on the last day, Rich and Joe ventured into downtown Calgary where high-rise buildings, funded mainly by Calgary’s booming oil and cattle industries, accompanied their famous Seattle Space-Needle like attraction. Rich and Joe wandered the streets, ate lunch, visited the local businesses, and had perfect seats for a joyful parade/party that took place on downtown’s main street, Stephens Avenue.
THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT SITE ON THE INTERNET
We greatly appreciate the time and effort that NCRRS members put into writing reports about their refereeing experiences for Hail, Pelicus! While we formally acknowledge one person a year for their contributions with the Scriptoris Award, we’d like everyone to be able to see just how many rugby folk around the world await our collective efforts every week.
2007 Monthly history for www.Pelicanrefs.com
Month Unique visitors Hits
January 3055 68923
February 3643 85504
March 4464 104607
April 3671 75105
May 2399 34390
Jun 1314 17388
United States 15286
Great Britain 50
Czech Republic 4
Other EU 86
South Africa 27
Saudi Arabia 7
Russian Federation 4
New Zealand 4
South Korea 2
Hong Kong 2
Aruna Ranaweera has received an international appointment from the IRB.
He will be refereeing at the NAWIRA RWC 2007 Under-19 Qualifier Tournament in George Town, Cayman Islands, July 7 - 14. He will be following in the path of Paul Bretz, who has refereed there on appointment as well.
A week in the Caymans is not a bad way to spend your summer vacation! Congratulations to Aruna.
THIS WEEK’S PHOTO
It was the best day in recent memory for this lucky fellow: the first day of Sevens, surrounded by friends, in the company of his wife, to be honored by his peers for serving the Game he loves.
For the Senate