Tuesday, September 25, 2007




Joe Leisek been promoted to B2 pursuant to three above-grade evaluations that he earned in the past year.

Matt Eason, the REO for the Pacific Coast referee society, announced this on Monday.

Congratulations to Joe! This is another fine feather in the Pelican’s headdress.


This Saturday, September 29: Humboldt State University will be having men’s and women’s alumni games this Saturday. Please let us know if you would like to referee up there during the dry (drier) time of the year!

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! Four to six referees are needed.

October 27: The Stanford Tens, the Baracus Tens on Treasure Island, and at least three more games of which we are aware. This will be a very busy weekend – please try to make yourself available.


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


Sacramento Amazons 5 – BERKELEY ALL BLUES 72 Referee: Scott Wood

TJs: Team supplied
Former Canadian National Team Players turned referee turned assessor spectating: At least one (Kat Todd-Schwartz)

Location: Meadowview Laguna Park, Sacramento
Weather: Cloudy, slight drizzle at halftime

On the final day of summer, the temperature was in the mid-60s and it had rained over the past couple of days. The north end of the pitch featured numerous pools and mudholes. Nonetheless, the turf held up better than some sod I noticed while watching the Rugby World Cup. This match marked the end of the NCRFU D1 Women's Club season. Berkeley was already guaranteed a spot in the upcoming PCRFU playoffs against ORSU and arrived en masse with an estimated 30 players. Sacramento had at least 20 players available for the match and a handful of fans braving the weather.

The Amazons tried their best and played hard but Berkeley was too organized and consistently exploited gaps and missed tackles. Berkeley scored its first try in less than two minutes of play and went on to touch down nine others to close the half 50-0. Tāwhirimātea may have been slightly annoyed by the signal for halftime as the skies opened up with a few minutes of rain upon the referee's whistle.

The second half scoring slowed down as the next try was not scored for at least five minutes. Sacramento was able to defend its position and managed more positive control and movement of its possession. Nonetheless, Berkeley was able to cross the goal line four additional times and convert a penalty goal. To the Amazons' credit, in the waning minutes of the match, they battled down the pitch to within five meters of the try line. A maul made it into in-goal without a successful conclusion. Sacramento won its put-in on the subsequent scrum and managed an 8-man pick to the weak-side. Berkeley's lone wing was outsized by an extreme margin but valiantly attempted to tackle her opponent. Fortunately for Sacramento, inertia won out as the ball touched down for a try--the first ever scored against Berkeley by the Sacramento Amazons.

After the match, we met at Mountain Mike's for festivities including local Fairfield microbrew, song and conversation.


The marvels of technology have literally put this Rugby World Cup into our pockets.

Here at the HP World Desk, we download every game from Mediazone to watch at leisure. A couple of 2-gigabyte jump drives are at hand, each of which will hold a match with plenty to spare.

These fit neatly into any computer at work, where our average twelve-hour workday seems to contain just enough spare moments to add up to two forty-minute halves. We have mastered talking on the phone with the sound down, signing charts with one eye elsewhere, and liberally applying the fast-forward to dead-ball intervals.

If you haven’t the luxury of seeing them all, watch the South Africa – Tonga match. This one had us turning the sound way up and leaping about like a teenager falling in love with rugby all over again.

Afternoon Sun
Jim Crenshaw, John and Eileen Pohlman and Lois Bukowski share a forlorn Saturday without any rugby to referee.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

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.


From eRugbyNews.com:

"(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 being...you 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

Tuesday, September 11, 2007




The showing by the USA Eagles this past weekend against the World Cup champions was one of the two or three best performances our team has ever achieved against a major rugby-playing nation.

For it to come on such a stage, with scores of millions watching the world over, is exhilarating.

We read where Dan Lyle hoped that this would be the last time the US would send an amateur team to this competition. Let us hope that he is correct. All we need is a hundred players under contract, living and training rugby full-time, year round.

I should think half a dozen might have earned contracts on Saturday!


There is one game this coming Saturday that needs a ref. Let us know.


ALL BLUES 76 – Belmont Shore 8 Referee: John Coppinger

Touch Judge: Preston Gordon

All Blues, fielding a mix of first and second side regulars, ran over Belmont Shore 76-8 in course of 4 20-minute periods at Rocca Field at TI Saturday afternoon. This 1:30 match was played after All Blues trounced Sacramento Amazons in the NCRFU league match that started at 11.

Thanks to new Pelican Preston Gordon (a former SF/GG and OC player, who has been refereeing in Switzerland for the past couple of years) for sticking around to run touch after managing the All Blues/Sac Amazon match.

NorCal League Match:

ALL BLUES 113 – Sacramento 0 Referee: Preston Gordon (Switzerland RRS)

Touch Judge: Anna McMahan (recently Boston)

NCRFU Women's League

The game began on Treasure Island right as the fog burned off, and Berkeley scored their first try shortly thereafter. They continued to score tries throughout the match every few minutes (18 in total). Sacramento made some good progress during the second half, keeping Berkeley from scoring for 10 minutes or so, but ultimately was not able to match the skills and fitness levels of the All Blues side. Aside from a couple of high tackles, there was no foul play, and overall this was a good match to referee. Anna McMahan, who is new to refereeing here in Northern California (as am I), came down and ran touch for this game (thanks Anna).


For Pete's Sake Field, Santa Rosa

Referees: Joe Leisek, Scott Wood, Bjorn Stumer, Cary Bertolone

Rugby players from throughout Northern California traveled to Santa Rosa for an event organized by Pat Culley. A graduate of Humboldt State University and Lumberjack rugby standout, Pat played for Santa Rosa for a short time before leaving for Aspen. He suffered a neck fracture on May 1, 2004, while playing for Aspen in a Super League contest in Boston.

The Bald Eagles are about to depart for an extended tour to France for a large number of matches, both playing and watching – there’s a tournament going on there, you know.

Many of those who played this weekend know Pat personally, either as a friend or a teammate. As all Pelicans know, the Pat Culley Shield is a highlight of the college rugby season, awarded to the winner of the HSU-Santa Rosa Junior College regular season match.

Pat organized this tournament with the help of his close friend David White, a former Bay Area high school rugby player and fellow HSU alum. "Whitey" is also back in Santa Rosa.

The day was a success, with rugby players, friends, and family enjoying lots of games, food, beer, and each other's company. There was Don Pattalock, playing Number Eight for the Bald Eagles (though Don has a full head of hair) and scoring his team's first try. John Tomasin, MD, played for the Santa Rosa Old Boys and could probably claim to have operated on at least a dozen players on the field.

Cary Bertolone combined playing with refereeing, though not in the same game. Great to see that Cary is enthusiastic about refereeing and that he is eager to learn.

Some of the best rugby on the day was in fact played by the Bald Eagles. This was not your father's old boys team...well, maybe in some cases, but they played well and had lots of experience and skill on the pitch.

For the referees, it was a pleasure to work this event. See you next year, Pat!

Results included:

Santa Rosa 12 Humboldt 7 (Stumer)
Sacramento Lions 39 Mendocino/Mixed 0 (Leisek)
Bald Eagles 33 Santa Rosa Old Boys 14 (Wood)
Humboldt 33 Mendocino/Mixed 7 (Stumer)
Santa Rosa 7 Sacramento Lions 5 (Leisek)
Santa Rosa 22 Mendocino/Mixed 10 (Bertolone)
Sacramento Lions 5 Humboldt 3 (Wood)

SANTA ROSA 12 – Humboldt 7 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

Two evenly matched and determined sides put on a fine display of Rugby at the fine "For Pete's Sake" event in Santa Rosa. No quarter was given in the two twenty-minute halves, but Santa Rosa outscored Humboldt by one try.

HUMBOLDT 33 – Mendocino 7 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

Touch Judges: Joe Leisek, Scott Wood

Humboldt walked away with this one, against a Mendocino side augmented by players from various teams. The extravagantly clad Mendocino side (not a like jersey on the team) was no match for an organized Humboldt crew which ran in five tries, four of them converted as they were scored under the posts.

We had a team of three for this one, thanks to Joe Leisek & Scott Wood. Fun was had by all.


Saturday, September 1

At the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park

SF Fog 7 – ALL BLUES 97 Referee: Pete Smith

Labor Day weekend, Bay Bridge Closed, must be rugby somewhere. And indeed the Fog and All Blues squared off for what is looking like the beginnings of a cross bay rivalry.

The All Blues are still the All Blues, perennial powers nation wide. They boast a handful of National Team players as well as several Territorial and ex-All Americans. The Fog are the upstarts, the new kids on the block with a solid foundation to grow from.

The All Blues had forty players available to about twenty-some from the Fog. The score was what you would expect 48-0 at Halftime and ended with KFOG 97.7. Yes the irony of that one is a little out there, but the Fog lost by the score of 97-7 which for us here in the South bay is the call letters for radio station KFOG at 97.7. Too many scores by too many players to attempt a recounting, but I will say that the Fog made a much better accounting for themselves than the score would reflect.

Yes, the All Blues just have more talent and continuity, but the Fog played hard the entire game, all 80 minutes. I would also assert that a good portion of the All Blues points came from individual break downs that are easier to correct. As the season progresses and the Fog get more time together, they should improve to the point of having the score more reflective of the competitiveness of the team.

The All Blues on the other hand just need more competition to help tune and oil their machine before they make another run at a title.


A reader writes:

“At least some of the Rugby World Cup matches are being presented on Versus (Channel 81 on Comcast) but delayed perhaps two days. Argentina-France was on yesterday; USA-England is on 9/11.

“This was not noted in the Pelican Refs web-site.”

Pelican Sunset
The days are getting noticeably shorter now for our Northern Hemisphere readers. Here along the coast of Northern California the days are also getting warmer and the evenings less windy. We have our hottest days in late September and early October.

So you might find yourself out for a sunset walk one evening and see something this beautiful…


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

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