Tuesday, October 23, 2007




Please let us know which weekends in November you are available. We do not have any games scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend, but we could use 15-25 refs on the other weekends.

So far we have availabilities from four refs for the month. We’d like to put November’s assignments to bed in the next week or so.

November 3:
Mittry Memorial Tournament in Redding. Two pitches, ten games anticipated
Women’s Slugfest at UC Santa Cruz
Six other games
Three games on Sunday, November 4

November 10: About a dozen games on the schedule so far

November 16-18: Eighteen games and a tournament in Chico. Refs needs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


Nevada women hosting San Jose State. Report by Don Pattalock:

“SJSU did not travel. UNR Women played 4 periods of 7's. UNR won.”


John Pohlman writes:

Wow, for me the 2008 rugby season started this past weekend. I had just returned from France and the Rugby World Cup with the Bald Eagles. Great time, thanks Don.

UC Santa Cruz hosted the Slugfest. What a beautiful day. The views from the fields were spectacular. You know the field is special when you have the front row talking about the Monterey Bay views prior to engagement.

The referees for the Slugfest were pretty topnotch. Led by Paul Bretz, Pete Smith, Bruce Carter, Sandy Robertson and a very good ref from Calgary (Andrew Petti). He also had a brand-new touch judge, Randy Boose.

The only disappointment was not enough teams. UC Davis, Cal Poly, Santa Clara and UC Santa Cruz had two sides each. For the most part they split the squads up, mixing rookies with veterans. The rugby was hard and competitive, but fun with no tournament ‘winner’. The intensity is a tad more casual, which is good for this time of the rugby year.

UC Santa Cruz 12 – CAL POLY SLO 15 Referee: Pohlman
I got to call the SLO versus UCSC. Had two captains with great attitudes. We all had some mistakes, but good rugby. SLO led at half time 15-0. UCSC made a strong comeback only to run out of time.

Thanks for the early run. What a great rugby venue.

SANTA CLARA 17 – Cal Poly SLO 10 Referee: Bruce Carter
Santa Clara had two squads, both playing nine AM games. Young Andrew Petti, an Albertan provincial panel ref from Calgary, inspected and briefed the wrong squad, leaving me with the guys who would be playing on his pitch. So I had to introduce myself to the captain as our kickoff was taken and provide a précis of my front row instructions at the first scrum.

All the points were scored at the south end of the pitch, towards the view, with the Mustangs going up 10-zip in the first and losing in the second.

Santa Clara has a center who is very hard to bring down, compounded by the fact that it’s not easy to catch him.

The ref was able to catch him on one long try because the player made a number of side-steps, fend-offs and sold a couple of dummies for spare change while the ref ran a razor line as determined by Euclid.

By Bryan Porter:

As part of our ongoing exchange of evaluators I was fortunate to be asked to go to New England to assess one of their referees, Phil Griffiths, who is a member of the National Focus Group.

Phil was originally scheduled to handle a Super League game between the Irish Wolfhounds and Old Blue from New York. At the last moment Old Blue decided not to travel and Phil was assigned the Albany v Mystic River game, a New England first division contest. Phil delivered a first class performance which always warms the heart of an assessor.

Mystic were a comfortable winner by a score of 55 to 7. They look like a strong candidate for a spot in the sweet sixteens evidencing a well drilled and powerful forward pack with competent backs outside them.

Mystic's home field is artificial turf with 25 yard in-goals and produces strange bounces of the ball. Mystic keep the ball in hand rather than taking advantage of these huge in-goal areas and ran in a bunch of tries. Not withstanding the lopsided score it was an entertaining game played in good spirits. Mystic's record is now 6-0 and Albany is 3-3.

The other item of consequence was glorious weather. Weather is often the curse of an assessor standing on the side lines in wind, rain and even snow. Blue skies all weekend with mild days and this was the first time I had experienced this phenomenon on the East coast. My trips have normally been greeted by foul weather.

It takes over six hours on the Friendly Skies to get there. It is quicker to go to Hawaii!

I was hosted by Don and Trudy Morrison and "Lobo" their 100-plus pound Alaskan malamute. When he greets you your feet had better be firmly planted. Don and Trudy have a beautiful home in the woods in Southboro and it was a pleasure to sit on their deck with a brew in hand to relax after the day’s happenings.

One other thing that I learned while I was there is that evaluators or assessors will be called Observers next year. Same job but a different nomenclature.

By Bjorn Stumer:


Pelicans do indeed fly far via our Society's excellent exchange program, designed to provide members of the flock with improvement opportunities and reward for services rendered. This program offered me the chance for a match in Richmond, Virginia, hosted by the Virginia Society, and by the Richmond Lions Rugby Club. All I had to do was to arrange for my flight, promptly reimbursed by our Society, while the President of the Virginia Society & the President of the Richmond Lions took care of the rest.

The flight to Richmond, via Charlotte, North Carolina was uneventful and a quick transfer to my airport hotel saw me comfortably ensconced in a fine room that became home base for two nights. A bar & grill nearby provided food, fun, and (modest) frolic for the evening followed by an early night in with the law book by the bed stand. I was promptly picked up by a Lions' player at 9:45am (got plenty of sleep) on the following day, for the 10 minutes drive to the pitch and the 11am kick-off.

The Richmond Lions, founded in 1963, are a fine side which has purchased a goodish parcel of land with parking, a great pitch surrounded by trees, and plenty of room for expansion. Although their club-house is still in the planning and fund raising stages, they have purchased a huge Korean War surplus tent on e-Bay for 200 bucks that, as semi-permanent structure, provides shelter, changing space, and dormitory space for those rugby days that last long into the night.

I was quite impressed by the barriers: strong 4x4"s driven in the ground, through which a stout black nylon rope goes through - an effective and permanent way to ensure that local protocols are constantly adhered to. Alas, due to the long drought they are experiencing in that part of the country, the pitch was bone dry and rock hard. Throughout the match great puffs of dust emanated from this field, and many were the bleeding injuries due to friction.

The Richmond Lions came in as underdogs on the day, against a chart topping and determined looking Norfolk Blues side. Yet the Lions decided not to play like underdogs and gave the Blues great competition. Prior to kick off both sides sported white jerseys, but the Lions changed in their spare red kit, and the festivities were on! Norfolk had quite a few strong and beefy runners, and got on the board with a fine converted try in the first few minutes. This seemed to be the beginning of a one sided affair, but Richmond begged to differ. In the first half they put in 12 points against Norfolk's 24, and we had a match on our hand. Alas a minute or so before the end of the first half, the match was stopped and an ambulance was called for a suspected broken leg experienced by a Norfolk back during a legal tackle. As we were a minute or so from the half, I whistled for it.

There was quite a delay for the restart, to allow for the proper medical services to be administered, and for the ambulance to leave the pitch. By this time an alternative Norfolk kit arrived, and they changed in a Navy strip with gold bands very similar to the one used by our local Old Blues of yore. The second half had Norfolk written all over it, but Richmond refusal to give up created quite a bit of frustration within the Norfolk ranks. Frustration that resulted in a bit of volatility amongst the players, and a victory for which they had to fight much harder than expected. Norfolk's game plan was quite simple: pass the ball to one of the beefy backs, who would run right through the opposition. Richmond got wise to the simple strategy and put in some hard and effective tackling. Quite often opportunities were wasted by Norfolk when a simple pass would have resulted in a certain try. Final score: Norfolk 36, Richmond 12. Eight tries in total, with 5 conversions. A hard fought match, truly enjoyed by all involved and yours truly.

There is also a working part to exchanges and this was provided by David Hardwood, the capable and congenial evaluator from the Virginia Society, who provided helpful comments and suggestions about my match and refereeing style. His comments, presented in a gracious and effective way proved very useful, as did some philosophical comments he made on refereeing. David contends that older referees, such as myself, should not focus on the limitation that age is imposing, but should instead focus on the mental and physical enhancements that refereeing provides versus the sedentary rest of our age groups. Thus we should continue to referee as long as we can focusing, if advancement is not our goal, onto improvements within our grades. He correctly pointed out that we just need to take a look around us at a Society meeting to notice how much fitter and mentally alert we all are for our respective ages. So keep that brain working, and those legs pumping! Consistent with past evaluations, he also confirmed that I continue to have positioning problems at the loose, something that I will focus on.

After this salutary chat, David drove me downtown Richmond to the Penny Lane - a fine English pub where the Lions had reserved a room for our third half celebrations, and a live showing of the World Cup final. The final was what it was, but the hospitality provided by the Lions was truly exceptional. The beer was kept free flowing, and the food was varied and very tasty. After the match, official presentations were made and I was publicly recognized for my efforts on the day. It is not often that referees are given gifts, especially from losing sides, but the Lions gave me a nice polo shirt, and a cap signed by all of the players, which will go to adorn our Society's room.

I felt it my duty to represent our Society well and be one of the last to leave. This I duly accomplished but eventually repaired back to the hotel. A good night in, and the following morning back home via two great flights, one through Washington DC, both giving me ample time to meditate on the great week end just past, and on the wonderful fellowship our beloved sport provides all of us. Consider this: You are a Rugby enthusiast if.......

1. You know at least one South African
2. You know what Speckled Hen is
3. You can drink way more beer than non-rugby folks (and still behave)
4. You have been to at least 3 continents
5. You know where Namibia is
6. Your knees and shoulders can predict the weather
7. You own a blazer
8. You know the difference about the "Pocket" and the "Gate" (does not apply to front row players)
9. Your ears look funny (does apply to front row players)
10. No matter where you go, you have automatic friends

Thanks again to the Virginia Society, the Richmond Lions, the Norfolk Blues and our wonderful Rugby community.


Sloppy editing is to blame for the delay in publication of these next two reports from two weekends past.

First, John Coppinger’s account of his exchange earlier this month:


Last month I was asked if I would take an exchange appointment to New York Met, at a date to be determined. Since I had to be back in Charlotte, NC on business last week, it was agreed that I would handle a match on 10/6.

TA Fitzpatrick of NY Met RRS informed me that I would handle the Bayonne Bombers/Village Lions match in Bayonne at 1 p.m. and also offered me the second side match of the NY Manhattan/Long Island under the lights on Pier 40 Saturday night. After some thought, I decided that a 5 hour + wait between matches would not be the best plan now that I'm past 50. This was a good decision in retrospect.

The day before I departed to Charlotte, TA emailed to tell me I had been switched to the Monmouth (NJ) at Rockaway match in Far Rockaway along the Atlantic in Brooklyn.

Jet Blue, blaming fog delays, delivered me to JFK at 12:15 a.m. Saturday, instead of my scheduled arrival of 7:15 p.m Friday, which threw a wrench in my plans to see family in Mamaroneck (in Westchester County) not far from the northern line of the Bronx as I didn't arrive in Mamaroneck until after 1 a.m. and couldn't drag myself out of bed until after 8 the next morning.

I left Mamaroneck at 10 for what should have been an hour drive to Rockaway, which is located back past JFK. It turned out that it was Irish Day in Long Beach out past Rockaway and the Belt Parkway was more of a parking lot than a Parkway. TA was kind enough to give me a pre-match coaching session by cell phone as I sat in traffic.

I arrived at the pitch, which is located on Fort Tilman, an old Army post hard by the Atlantic and now part of a National Recreation Area. The pitch seemed reasonably regulation, lined (except for the 15 meter line), and roped.

I arrived at noon and there was a side fully kitted and running drills on the pitch and other group of 8 or 9 players sitting on the ground talking about who drank what and did what with whom the night before while watching 2 other guys line the pitch, set the ropes and install the pads.

Naturally, it was the visitors, having traveled up from NJ in a group, who were running the drills.

15 minutes before kickoff, Rockaway was on the phone looking for missing players (props of course). Eventually, they found 15 and we kicked off on time.

Despite my first impression, Rockaway won handily.

Here is the write-up I submitted to NY Met RRS:

"Rockaway 48, Monmouth 15 (Rockaway 22, Monmouth 3, at 40 min.)

Rockaway was able to recycle the ball effectively, while Monmouth consistently turned the ball over at the break down. The heat, humidity, and dust took a toll in the second half and play became less structured and more opportunistic.

Yellow card to Greg Costello (#21 of Rockaway for dangerous tackle, high and late) in the second half.

All in all a decent match played in good spirits."

The quality of play was about what you expect from lower MD2/Top of MD3 here, but, as TA had warned me, everyone has an attitude and an accent, but (except for a couple of Kiwis) the accent is out of the Sopranos, not the Southern hemisphere.

After the match, TA gave me a through coaching critique, which I thought was fair and extremely helpful (although I am not stout, I am just thick through the shoulders and chest), while Rockaway and Monmouth played 10-minute halves of very dusty 10s.

After the match, we watched the All Blacks get bounced by France at the Rockaway Yacht Club, with ice-cold beers and food. The cold beer was welcome as it has been a long time since I have seen such a dusty pitch. The Rockaway Kiwis left the bar as soon the final whistle was blown with long faces and without saying a word.

After the match, I drove into Manhattan and checked into my hotel, showered and headed over to Pier 40 to watch the NY Manhattan/Long Island match under the lights. Pier 40 is a wonderful facility (although the lights could be a little brighter) with field turf on a full sized pitch. I thought the size of the crowd was somewhat disappointing, but the rugby was fast-paced and Long Island easily put away NY Manhattan. The referee was a visiting young Englishman who was very fit and very good (if a bit officious [but he is English after all]) and watching his handling of the match put a sharp focus on the review TA had given me in Rockaway earlier in the day.

After the match, I went off to watch the baseball playoffs while listening to a session at O'Neils at 45th and 3rd Avenue. Great craic.

On Sunday, I had to fly back to Charlotte to catch my flight back to SFO. I arrived in Charlotte just in time to fire up the laptop and watch the Argentina/Scotland match in the NASCAR themed terminal bar while all around me folks were hooting and hollering about Jimmy and Jeff and the rest of the good old boys going around in circles and sneaking an occasional glance at the NFL games. I missed the last 2 minutes of the match when the pilot refused to delay departure from the gate and the cabin crew demanded that I turn the laptop off. Typical service I have come to expect from US Air.

All in all, a great trip and a positive experience. Thanks to the Society for the opportunity and to TA for his coaching. Both will help me improve this season.


Match Report: SAT 6 Oct 2007, Kick-off 09:50

Friendly Scrimmage: BERKELEY RFC 15 – Haas Business School 10
Referee: Paul Berman
Venue: Job Corp Field, Treasure Island, SF
Weather: Bright, sunny.
Comments: It was wonderful to see so many of my former Berkeley RFC clubmates still playing.
The pitch was firm under foot.
Three 30-minute periods.

A match played with tremendous commitment, intensity & passion. Super defensive clearances by Haas kept the score close. Good communication eventually allowed Berkeley to squeeze out a win.

During the 3rd period both squads were thoroughly intermixed.

No conversion goals were attempted.

Once again I was honoured to be invited to ref the inaugural match/rebirth of the UC Berkeley graduate club programme.

Point spread: Berkeley RFC – 3 tries; Haas – 2 tries


See Photo of the Week

Rue de Pelican
Matt Eason found a lovely little lane in Paris, two blocks off the Rue de Rivoli. You come out of the Louvre Metro station, head two blocks east and dogleg left.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris