Tuesday, September 04, 2007




There are seven games on the schedule this weekend and only three referees have raised their hands.

The All Blues will be playing two: one against Belmont Shore and a league fixture against Sacramento.

Then there will be five games in Santa Rosa at the For Pete’s Sake field.

We need help! With the women playing their league in the autumn, we need more folks thinking rugby in September and October.


Like Brigadoon peering from the mists, the Rugby World Cup appears to enchant us after being too long gone.

In 1987 you could watch the games for free on ESPN. There is still a box of VHS tapes of these games in the HP garage to prove it.

In 1991 and 1995, the only access to those who didn't attend was pay-per-view. This was availalble at the various bars that cater to ex-pats in the Bay Area, but also to those who had the jack to watch it at home.

1999 was the high-water year: the Rugby Channel included every match of the entire event in their programming, which was available to anyone as part of a normal expanded cable package.

2003 found the Rugby Channel still carrying many matches, and pay-per-view still drawing crowds to the bars.

This year finds us with the most options, but still nowhere near as nice as we had it in 1999. The games can be watched on-line through several vendors, on Setanta at home, or of course in the usual pubs. What has improved greatly since 1999 is the on-line reportage of rugby, with a multiplicity of sites aimed squarely at us.

The next six weeks will be a great time to follow the bouncing ball.

Although we must say - individual cities have always managed to host the entire Olympics. Why must the RWC be scattered among various nations? This year's 'France'-hosted event includes matches in Cardiff and Edinburgh. We find ourselves trying to explain this to people who know little about rugby and it simply seems VERY minor league. "Oh, I see. They isn't enough interest in one place."

But nonetheless, our USA Eagles play all of their matches in France and many of this page's readers will doubtless be there to cheer them on.

Give the boys a loud HAIL, PELICUS! for us, please, and best of luck to them.


Saturday, August 25
Nielsen Park, Sacramento

Sacramento Amazons 5 – SF FOG 17 Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: Tony Latu, Jacqueline Finck

A warm day in Sacramento, but not typically warm. This was bearable: somewhere in the upper 80s. A slightly cool breeze found its way across the park later in the match. The pitch was well-prepared and roped off very well.

Jackie Finck had agreed to run touch for the first league match of the women's season, and spectator Tony Latu volunteered to run the other side. What a pleasure for the referee to have these two Pelicans--and friends--running touch!

Both sides brought many friends and family members in support, and spirits were high throughout this competitive match. The teams are well-coached and led by very skilled captains: Fog flyhalf Megan Brown showed her defensive mettle throughout the match, while Amazons scrumhalf Leka Green was always around the ball and directed traffic like a veteran.

Sacramento had the measure of the first half, attacking frequently and finally breaking through for a try by Green. In the second half, the Fog attacked with more confidence and fitness, distributing the ball out wide more often.

Part of their confidence was no doubt inspired by the halftime entrance of center Bridget Madell, a very talented player who is a threat every time she touches the ball. In fact, she scored the Fog's first try of the day early in the half. She converted her own try, then converted another try scored by the other center on an intercept. Madell also scored on a penalty kick late in the half.

Sacramento worked very hard in the second half but could not convert their opportunities, including one at full-time that was denied by the Fog defense.

Well played by both sides and special thanks to Tony and Jackie.

Saturday, September 1

At the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park
SF Fog 5 – ALL BLUES 98 Referee: Pete Smith


The son of the Wild West Rugby Fest was born this past weekend. Opinions differ whether it may actually have been the grandson or even the great-grandson but it arrived only thirty minutes late, vigorous and healthy.

Ten teams participated in the draw, with featured women’s and old boys’ matches also on the main pitch.

The tournament was played at Mira Loma Park in Reno, a nice venue with two decent pitches. There is talk that tournament sponsor Mustang Sally’s may be building a pitch at the site of their business, which would certainly be a unique draw for rugby events.

The Saturday referee crew: Scott Wood, Referee in Charge; Shawn Waterman from Portland, Jim Crenshaw and Bruce Carter, with Phil Ulibarri guesting in for the Old Boys match.

The Highwaymen were a good tournament team. These guys, nominally from Eugene, Oregon, welcome players from all up and down the Interstate 5 corridor.

The backs of the jerseys feature the player’s number inside one of those interstate shields so familiar from our nation’s roads.

But it is the shenanigans that make a tournament team – along with picking up shares and playing respectable rugger.

One of the Highwaymen wore what we might style CHP shades and toted a bullhorn, using this to cite various infractions including those of the referee.

Referees who played and enjoyed the brand of rugby that your scribe did heartily endorse this sort of off-season tournament entrant.

Univ. of Nevada, Reno 0 – SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 27 Referee: Bruce Carter

After two training sessions, the Wolfpack took the pitch with five players in their first match, including both locks at one point.

The Amazons, more experienced and already into their league season, demonstrated how the game is played: hard, with support, clean and fun.

The best two teams on Saturday were the Sacramento Lions and an eponymous team from Salt Lake City. Each went undefeated until the draw had them playing each other in the final match of the day.

SALT LAKE CITY 23 – Sacramento Lions 22 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Tries were alternated in this very hard-hitting game until it was tied at twenty-all with only a short time remaining. The Lions had just scored in the corner.

The well-traveled Malakai Delai, now living in Sacramento after having raised the level of play for teams from OMBAC and Riverside to Albany and Atlanta Old White, slotted the conversion into a gusting wind for what seemed to be the winning points.

Yet hope lives while the clock still ticks, and Salt Lake made good a penalty kick for an on-the-ground infraction with no time left for a one-point victory.

After this game, each of these two teams still qualified for the final on Sunday. After having slugged it out so intently and to such a close finish, they both drove home that night.

Sunday, September 2


BEND 24 (2) – Portland 12 (2) Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: Scott Wood, Sean Waterman (PNW)

One of two games played Sunday in the Biggest Little Rugby Tournament in the World. Having two referee touch judges was nice, as the players got down to business and tried to defeat their intra-state rivals.

A few minutes into the game Bend scored first, via a penalty kick. In fact, penalties comprised their first half lead of 9-7. In the second half, Bend extended the lead when their flyhalf took a pass from a ruck, then spun the ball past the inside center. The pass was a low-trajectory missile, caught at full speed by the fullback entering the line. He scampered 30 or so meters for a wonderful try.

Bend scored an odd try in the second half when a Portland defender took the ball into his in-goal to avoid onrushing attackers. Instead of grounding the ball, for some reason he flipped it into the air. A Bend attacker, probably expecting a 5-meter scrum, instead caught the ball and scored.

A good game and great rugby day in a beautiful setting. Thanks to Scott and Sean for running touch.


Report by David Williamson

USA Rugby recently conducted a series of conferences in Chicago. On Friday evening, about 40 college coaches met to discuss the national collegiate championships, the overall collegiate competition structure, and the All American program. Nigel Melville, USAR’s CEO, attended the meeting, chaired by the All American coach, John McNamara. USA Rugby will circulate the discussions points.

On Saturday, the Evaluation Committee, comprised largely of national assessors met to discuss the structure of the committee, a possible revision to the assessment form, consistency in reporting, recommendations for the National Panel and a National Focus Panel, and Ed Todd’s proposal for a national panel of touch judges. The new National Panel Manager, Richard Every, plans to circulate a document to help referees, coaches and assessors achieve consistency in various aspects of the game, including the tackle. Dixon Smith and Bryan Porter attended this meeting.

On Saturday and Sunday, coaches and referees met to discuss Approaches to Coaching and Refereeing Decision-Making. On Saturday morning, an international panel, including Richard Glynne-Jones from the RFU, led discussions on an athlete-centered approach to coaching. On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, there were separate programs for coaches and referees.

On Saturday and Sunday, seven Territorial Referee Education Officers met with the new National REO, Charlie Haupt. Ed Todd described the REO structure as a way for USAR to communicate with the Local Referee Organizations. Ed’s budget includes funds for Referee Development. Jen Gray from USAR described a new referee training model whereby the regions decide what training they need and schedule it themselves, using both USAR-trained Instructors, and IRB-trained Educators. The fee for the Level 1 referee course will be reduced to $35; the test will be completed during the course.

The REO meeting was facilitated by Don Morrison, who previously asked each REO to submit an Action Plan for their activities during the coming season. For discussion purposes, Don summarized their Action Plans under four topics: referee recruitment, retention, development, and training. Based on Saturday’s discussion, each REO drafted a letter to Charlie on Sunday, promising to take certain actions in each topic area by March 2008. Charlie will send out a nation-wide action plan. Matt Eason attended as the Pacific Coast REO; Dave Williamson attended as the NorCal REO. (Dave wrote his letter to Matt.)

On Sunday afternoon, the conferees attended the USA v. Munster match.

Reno Refs
Happy to be at Mira Loma Park in sunny Reno:

Bruce Carter, Jim Crenshaw, Sean Waterman and Scott Wood


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris