Thursday, September 20, 2007



The Senate makes no apology for having spent the better part of three days hiking in Yosemite this week. This is one of those rare occasions where rugby takes a back seat and Hail, Pelicus! languishes.


October 6 and 7: The Pacific Coast women’s championships will be hosted here in NorCal. We’ll need to provide touch judges for this event and could also employ at least one of our evaluators.

There are also a few games beginning to appear for October 6.

October 13: Pelican Refs annual training meeting, Society AGM and election of officers. This will be at the Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island and will run from 9 AM until 3:30 PM.

October 20: The Harlotfest lives!

October 27: The Stanford Tens, the Baracus Tens on Treasure Island, and at least three more games of which we are aware.

Please let us know if you would like to referee on any of these dates.


Aruna Ranaweera:

Sept 14-16
40th Annual Aspen Ruggerfest
Wagner Rugby Stadium, Aspen, CO

Friday Sept 14

After taking a half-day from work on Friday to travel on exchange to Aspen, I was greeted at the airport by my colleague Tim Luscombe of the Eastern Rockies RRS (ERRRS). We were just in time for the pre-tournament brief at the Mountain Chalet, a quaint hotel in which all the referees were staying. Lots of familiar faces, including Charlie Haupt, Tom Coburn, Marc Nelson, Joe Zevin (all of ERRRS), Gary Devoe (Northeast), Josh Tameifuna (SoCal). Charlie Haupt chaired the meeting and Jim Russell handed out printed assignments. The ERRRS referees were very cordial hosts. I was feeling slightly dizzy at 7908 feet above sea level, so one of the local referees, a colorful character from Wales, advised me to drink water like there's no tomorrow, which seemed to help. As I was sipping water at Bentley's, a local pub full of rugby people, I spotted a large man dressed in a clown shirt and surrounded by a small crowd of people who were clearly captivated by his stories. Of course, it was Ray Schwartz!

Saturday Sept 15

Wagner field is in the middle of Aspen and right in front of the Mountain Chalet: very convenient. The field has the most impressive wooden goalposts I have ever seen and is surrounded by picturesque mountains. Weekend tournament matches were 25-min halves played on two fields. Lots of spectators.

GENTLEMEN OF ASPEN 40 (6 tries) – Albuquerque Aardvarks 0

Touch Judges: Couch and Hartzell
Referee coach and assessor: Jim Russell

This was a physical, well contested match of 25-minute halves. Aspen had more sophisticated backs who created more scoring opportunities. I recognized some of the Aspen players from Northern California D1. Aspen led 19-0 at half. I was pleasantly surprised that altitude was not a factor for me. Much thanks to Jim Russell for providing constructive feedback after the match.

Some of us watched Georgia almost defeat Ireland in the Rugby World Cup on Setanta. (I suspect if rugby were an Olympic sport, the former Soviet Union would probably have been formidable.) ERRRS held a banquet dinner and kangaroo court in the chalet, after which most of us went to Eric's, a bar/nightclub, which was packed with locals and tourists.

Sunday Sept 16

Sam Reagle played in the Over 50 Final. In other news, lots of talk about Tonga's victory over Samoa in the RWC.

Open Consolation Final

KUDU 31 (5 tries) – Kansas City Blues 15 (2 tries)

Touch Judges: Ferguson and Hattrup
Referee Coach: Martin Brown

Despite the wet field, this was a fast-paced match with lots of up and down running. 20-minute halves. Kudu included several Northern California players. Two minutes into the match, a violent thunderstorm moved in and the field was pelted with medium sized hail for several minutes: play continued. I was about to suspend the match due to the possibility of lightning when the rain suddenly stopped. Much thanks to Martin Brown for his constructive feedback after the match.

I also touch judged the Open Final (40 minute halves) with Tom Coburn. Tim Luscombe refereed, as Aspen beat Mountain Men 13-10.

Due to the lightning storm, my flight from Aspen to Denver got delayed, so Charlie Haupt was kind enough to drive me to the Denver airport on his way home. The drive took 3.5 hours and we went above 12K elevation. There were no flights available out of Denver that night, so I stayed in a nearby hotel and managed to find an early morning flight back to SFO. Overall, this was a fun exchange trip. I highly recommend the Aspen exchange for other NCRRS referees. Much thanks to ERRRS for hosting me.

Joe Leisek:

Pelicans and Patriots

I flew into Boston late Thursday afternoon and was met there by Peter Watson, erstwhile national-level referee and now national assessor. Peter transported me to his house in Waltham, where we were met by Mike Howard. I stayed the first two nights with Mike and his wife Betsey. The Howards live just outside Lowell, MA, in a rural area bordered by conservation land and horse farms. Mike is a 10-year referee (though he is in his early 30s!) and dedicated hockey player. They share their home with cats Lucas and Larry. Lucas is definitely in charge of that household. The Howards were very gracious hosts and I enjoyed getting to know them.

Friday morning brought Peter Watson to the door with a plan to take me to the Lexington-Concord area. It's difficult for me to convey the profound feelings I had while seeing the areas where the Revolutionary War's first skirmishes took place. Standing on the North Bridge, reflecting on what those men undertook, was awe-inspiring.

Peter took me to lunch in Concord, then we briefly stopped at the homes of Nathanial Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott (neighbors). We also drove past the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Peter noted that Walden Pond was less than a quarter-mile away.

Later in the day, Mike drove me to Amesbury for a 7 p.m. match between Middlesex and North Shore. The match was played in warm, humid conditions on artificial turf. Despite being told about a history of scraps between the two teams, their demeanor on the pitch was outstanding.

On Saturday Mike took me to Peter's house in the morning. We arrived at the Irish Cultural Center just over an hour before kickoff. This is an amazing facility, efficiently staffed and well-organized by a group of dedicated men and women. The venue is located just south of Boston. A main building houses changing rooms, a bar, food service, and a banquet room. On this day there was also a large white awning that covered an outdoor bar adjacent to one end of the pitch.

There were four games on the schedule: a Div. III match between the Wolfhounds and MIT, the Super League match, and Division I first and second side matches between the Wolfhounds and the Connecticut Yankees.

After the match I showered and changed, then rambled upstairs to have a bite to eat and a beverage with the visiting team. I also met up with Wolfhounds coach Steve Teasdale. We had a 30-minute conversation about the game and about refereeing in general.

Afterwards I returned to the pitch to meet Rob Perle, a New York ref who was doing the first division match. Rob was also being evaluated by Peter. Arriving from other matches throughout the area were Mike Howard, Judah Boulet, and Don Jennings, my Saturday host.

Don took me to his home in Arlington, which is a small town along Battle Road near Concord. The town was formerly known as Monotomy, scene of some of the most violent fighting on April 19, 1775. It is also where Peter Watson was raised. The Jennings family includes Don and wife Kellie, and children Sam (10), Shannon (8), Will (5), and Caroline (3.5).

We enjoyed a delicious dinner with a great bottle of Clos du Val Cabernet, followed by playing with the kids and following college football on TV. The Jennings were wonderful hosts and I appreciated that they added me to the household population for the night.

I had set Sunday aside as a tourist day, but upon learning of Don's assignment (Harvard vs. Boston College), I decided to run touch for him instead. When I told Peter about my decision late Saturday afternoon, he also volunteered.

Prior to the Sunday game, I joined Don with Will and Caroline and met up with Kellie at Arlington High School, where Shannon's cheerleading squad performed for the local Pop Warner football program.

After the Harvard game, Don and I headed back to his house for showers, then he took me to the airport. We were joined by Shannon and Caroline. We first stopped at Quincy Market for a quick stroll before heading to Logan.

When you want a coffee in MA, you don't order a venti or a grande. You do not order a caramel macchiato with soy milk. You don't even think about a half-caf latte.

You go to Dunkin' Donuts and you order a regular, and your choices are: small, medium, or large.

A regular is coffee with milk and sugar. Variations include:

Regular with cream.
Regular, two sugars.
Regular, no sugar.

Mike Howard and Don Jennings both took me to Dunkin' Donuts. In fact, the floor behind the driver and front passenger seats in Mike's car are filled with empty Dunkin' Donuts cups. And on Sunday morning, Don said to me: "Nothing against my wife's coffee, but I'm going to Dunkin' Donuts. Wanna come?"

Between the rugby and the social aspects, this exchange was a highlight of my refereeing career. Special thanks to Peter Watson for coordinating the exchange and for the time he spent with me, and to the Howard and Jennings families for hosting me.

Friday, September 14

Amesbury Sports Park, Amesbury, MA

MIDDLESEX – 36 North Shore 5 Referee: Joe Leisek

Touch Judges: Mike Howard, Dan Solomon

A fast game played on turf by two teams that knew each other well. Middlesex was better organized in the forwards and backs, and moved forward constantly, especially in the first half. They ran in four tries to North Shore's one in the first 40 minutes. Middlesex has been very competitive in Northeast Division III, and would certainly be among the better teams in Northern California's Division III as well. Thanks to Mike and to Dan Solomon, North Shore's women's coach, for running touch. I thought that night about how no matter how fast the game seemed, tomorrow would be much, much faster.

Saturday, September 15

Irish Cultural Center, Canton, MA

Steward Shield Super League Competition

BOSTON IRISH WOLFHOUNDS 71 – Philly-Whitemarsh 3 Referee: Joe Leisek

Assessor: Peter Watson

Light overnight rain created a springy surface and overcast, cool conditions for the 12:30 p.m. kickoff. Perfect day for rugby at a wonderful facility. I arrived with Peter just before 11:30 a.m. and found the referee changing room, which is also the First Aid room. Gaelic Football posters hung on the walls. I stashed my kit and found the team changing rooms. Checked in with both coaches and captains, then conducted the entire pre-game ritual--equipment check, front row debrief, and coin toss--indoors before anyone went out to the pitch. This allowed me to shut myself in the referee room, change into my kit, and plug into my iPod before going outside.

The match itself was played in high-octane style from the opening whistle. Both sides played a number of younger players, but the Wolfhounds also had some veterans on the pitch. They also had Jason Lett, a flanker with blazing speed and physical power. An NA4 player, he was invited to the Eagle camp this summer. He and prop Brian LeMay stood out for me, though the entire team was impressive. Lett opened the scoring for the home side, which scored 11 tries on the day. They did it in the forwards via powerful rolling mauls, they scored via moving the ball out wide, and they pushed over a scrum. To their credit, Philly ran the ball at every opportunity, right up to the final whistle.

Sunday, September 16

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Harvard 10 – Boston College 10 Referee: Don Jennings

Touch Judges: Peter Watson, Joe Leisek

Don refereed a close early-season game with more than 200 very noisy, passionate spectators.

The two teams were pretty evenly matched, though Harvard came out stronger and more organized after kickoff. However, BC got themselves going and matched their opponents in every phase of the game. In fact, they had the lead until late in the second half, when a Harvard intercept tied the score. BC spent several minutes in the last quarter pounding the ball inside the Harvard 22-meter line, but a combination of errors and stout defense kept them from scoring.

During the second half, I heard a voice from behind me, calling my name. I turned to see a shadowy figure in dark glasses lurking behind the rope...Phil Griffiths! Great to see Phil.


Some rugby scenes are being filmed at Treasure Island for a movie. The players will be from SF/Golden Gate. The referee is invited to be from the NCRRS.

If you would like to participate, let us know. Robbie Flynn has more details. You will need to attend rehearsal this Sunday, September 23, from 3 to 6 PM, and then be available the following Sunday as well.



"(BIW Coach Steve) Teasdale also Kudos to the referee on the day. On exchange from Northern California and refereeing his first RSL level game, he was top class. Penalizing only material transgressions and communicating well with the players, he was able to let the game flow much to the appreciation of players and spectators."

This referee was, of course, Joe Leisek!


Sunday, September 16

ALL BLUES 117 – SF Fog 0 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

A hot day at Treasure Island, and an even hotter All Blues side on tap which, firing on all cylinders, handed the San Francisco Fog women a 117-0 pasting. The well organized and kitted out crew from Berkeley took the lead early, and maintained the pressure, scoring 65 unanswered points on the first half. The second half was more of the same, but the All Blues decided to try exotic stuff, thus missing a number of almost-tries. They still scored an additional 52 points, for a total of 18 tries, 12 conversions, and one penalty kick - pretty heady stuff from the perennial top-of-the-league ladies.

To their credit, the Fog ladies never gave up and fought until the end, the score poorly reflecting on their skills and commitment. As usual it was a pleasure to referee women which, with their grace, discipline, and love of the game made the day especially pleasurable for me. As always fun was had by all. Unfortunately I rode my bike to the game, so I could not partake in the delights of the third half hospitality. Let it be known however, that the beer was starting to flow & the burgers were just about done when I left.


This tournament was played in SLO on September 8. Dan Wilson sends along this report:

It was the typical gorgeous day in San Luis for the 2007 Tri-Tip 7’s tournament. The only blemish on the day was the slight haze in the air from the Zaca fire south of the region. Coming over from the San Joaquin Valley, where they cancelled all school sports the day before due to unhealthy air from the fires, SLO looked clear as a bell.

The fun started when the count of referees came to six, not including a referee MIA driving his way up the coast. Yep, it’s a running day. The tournament was to be held on four fields running at the same time. Once under way, it was easy to see that the one standout team was Santa Monica. One of the Santa Monica players predicted that they would be playing in the final against Belmont Shore. Having the enjoyment of refereeing their pool games against Eagle Rock and Arroyo Grande 2nd’s, they showed that they were the team to beat. They were scored on only once in their pool play. Belmont Shore won their pool, but with four of their starters not in country, they were not the same team that went to Washington for the Nationals.

As the day wore on, the major concern on the minds of both the other referees and the teams competing for the championship was “Is there going to be any tri-trip left at the end?” Unfortunately, last years debacle of running out of food prior to the conclusion still hung in everyone’s mind.

After being assured that the food would not be distributed until the final whistle, we pushed on. The semi-finals came and went with the two finalists guessed it, Santa Monica and Belmont Shore. As the day had shown, Belmont Shore was not the same team that competed for the national championship. Santa Monica scored at will (final score is not remembered) with many tries to none as a result. Unfortunately, there really was no competition for Santa Monica anywhere in tournament. At least the World Cup had started.


Paul Bretz lost his mother this summer. He and Mary are in the English Midlands this week to bury her alongside her own mother.

Paul would like to share some of his fondest memories of her:

Long Lost Bird
Nancy and Don Goard pose with the One True Pelican at Linda and Bruce Carter’s home in Salinas.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris