Tuesday, October 30, 2007




The coiner of our motto is a better bird.

Dixon Smith underwent a hip replacement operation on Monday, October 22. We are happy to report that he is home and once again learning to fly, eager to be able to leave the nest and visit some of his favorite habitats, the rugby pitches of Northern California.


The All Blues qualified for the final four this past weekend in Austin, Texas. They defeated Glendale (Colorado) 58 -0 and then put away Philadelphia 31 – 10.

Aruna Ranaweera refereed in Austin.

The final two rounds will be played in Orlando, Fla, November 9 and 11. Good luck to the All Blues!


We have five referees for the Andrew Mittry Memorial Tournament in Redding and four for the women’s Slugfest in Santa Cruz. Each event could use at least one more ref. See if you can shake your schedule loose…


We have enough refs available to cover November’s games. Thanks for your responses. Assignments will be posted on the website as they are worked out. This weekend should be up today.

We have a lot of games already scheduled for December 1, including the first weekend of the men’s college D1 season. Let us know when you can ref the first three weekends in December and whether you can travel. (Travel means more than 1, 1 ½ hours from where you live each way.)


Baracus Tens

Report by Eric Rauscher:

The weather was perfect: cool with a little bit of overcast. The tourney started pretty much close to schedule and pretty much kept to it all day and we were done by 4:30, leaving time for a beer or two. I don't recall the actual number of teams that showed up, but I think it was about 12. Some clubs had enough players to field two teams, some were made up of who showed up. Some of the games were pretty lop-sided, some were close and competitive. Some of the teams played an open sevens style and others felt more like 15's. The halfs were 10 min, so many games were played, the first part of the day with pool play and the second with tiered play-offs. East Palo Alto had two full teams and as I recall took top places (actual results of the various teams can I am sure be found else-where). All in all a very enjoyable day and plenty of chances to get back up to speed as we approach the season.

Stanford Tens

It’s official: rugby balls are in the air again.

Forty games were played on two pitches, with both pitches kicking off a minute before the 8 AM hooter sounded as Sandy and Bruce both determined to be part of a tournament that started early.

Your writer can tell you that, after more than thirty years around this game, it is delightful to kick a match off early, especially the first match of the morning, the grass still slick with dew. If only the game in America had been taken more seriously by its participants and organizers all those years ago…

How do you keep a tournament on time? Especially, how do you maximize the use of a tournament’s scarcest assets, rugby pitches?

Stanford does it. And they do it while playing matches that last twenty-four minutes and are scheduled every twenty-five.

Their director of rugby, Jonathan Griffin, had two ingenious ideas that should spread like wildfire to tournaments everywhere: don’t play halfs, play one period straight through; begin and end the games with a hooter.

It’s really very simple. The ref gets the pre-match out of the way well ahead of time – like as soon as a team finishes its previous game. And you tell the teams: ‘The game ahead of ours will finish at 10:14. Our game will finish at 10:39. If you want to play twenty-four minutes, you need to run onto the pitch the instant the previous game is over. Our game will finish at 10:39 regardless of when we start.’

And guess what? After forty games, the final scheduled for 4:35 kicked off at - mirabile dictu - 4:35.

Not having half-time is a small price to pay for coaches, players, referees, evaluators and spectators knowing what time a particular game will be occurring, and for being able to complete forty games on two pitches in late October without having to turn on the lights.

What used to be opening week for the NCRFU season in all divisions, the Stanford Tens has evolved into a venue for mostly-college and even mostly-less-experienced players. As such, the NCRRS endeavors to have new and newer referees present: it’s a chance to get to know each other, to work shorter games with fewer players that approximate refereeing fifteens, and there are other refs around for moral support and feedback.

Fifteen teams took part, the SF Fog women being the only club side. They gave a good account, as did UC San Diego, but it was Chico State who had the best faculty for scoring tries and so took the trophy home.

In the men’s bracket, San Jose State had a mixture of strength and speed that the field could not match. Tom Martinez was very proud to point out that SJSU had ten players whom he had coached with Silicon Valley the past few years, five of whom ran-on for the final.

Jackie Finck refereed five matches, earning commemoration in these archives.

Steve Gray made an impression on his first hit-out. He could become the best referee ever to pick up a whistle at whatever his current age happens to be.

Anna McMahan, Roberto Santiago and Tom Zanarini all proved to be valuable additions to our society and losses to New England, Potomac and New England again, respectively. (We also hear that Preston Gordon, returned home after refereeing in Arizona and Switzerland, impressed at the Baracus event.)

Tevis Vandergriff showed off the charming Southern style that complements his New Orleans accent like red beans does rice.

Tony Redmond demonstrated that the referee corps in Ireland behind the familiar faces from the World Cup is plenty deep. He controlled the men’s final with aplomb.

Bill Gillies also had an easy and player-friendly manner that commended him to the allocators, who put him in charge of the women’s final.

‘Regular’ Pelicans: Jackie Finck, Sandy Robertson, Jim Crenshaw

Newly moved to Pelicanland: Anna McMahan, Tony Redmond, Roberto Santiago, Tom Zanarini

Fledgling Pelican: Steve Gray

Migratory Birds in Transit: Bill Gillies from Melbourne, Tevis Vandergriff from Charlotte, NC.

Referee coaches and videographers: Kat Todd-Schwartz, David Williamson, Tom Martinez and Bruce Carter

SILVERHAWKS 20 – SF Fog 10 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
This was a pre-season scrimmage between the San Jose Silverhawks and the San Francisco FOG, played under the lights at Calabazas Park in Cupertino. Even though it sported some well known older names in local old boys rugby, Fred Forster among them, the Silverhawks were a youngish, fit, and competitive side that had control of the match throughout. For a change the FOG traveled light, but a number of the players on the pitch were brand new to the side, a clear sign of good things to come down the road.

From kick off the Silverhawks grabbed on to the game & did not let go. They had big runs, a great mauling ability, and some ferocious tackling which spoiled some fairly effective breaks from the FOG's young guns. A bit of indiscipline kept the Silver's from a bigger score, and the FOG refused to give up scoring a couple of tries late in the match. A bit scrappy here and there, but a fun and competitive match enjoyed by all. Final score: Silverhawks 20 - FOG 10. As there were no posts at the park, conversions were not taken. Fellow Pelican Bruce Bernstein played number 9 for the hosts as warm up to his upcoming exchange to the New York 7s."

NEVADA 15 – Santa Rosa JC 5 Referee: Sam Davis
Saturday morning 8:00 I found myself on the Rugbyhg (HOG) on the way to Reno it was a bit cold going over the pass but the sun was shining and it looked to be a great day. Santa Rosa JC and UNR were warming up when I got to the field. (Changed fields, new one did not have posts).

Both teams had on blue jerseys that look almost identical. I knew this was going to be a fun game to ref. This was an important game for both teams they were working in new players and tuning up for the season.

The Wolf Pack drew first blood at the 20 min mark with a ball out to the wing with an overlap they scored in the corner. Both teams had fits of brilliance and a lot of much less than brilliance. Santa Rosa had a great run by the wing all the way down the sideline touching down in the corner after he touched the flag, he did that twice. The first half ended the Wolf Pack came up with their other set of jerseys which made the game much easier to ref and play. I gave a general warning at half time about talking and let them know that the yellow cards would be coming out.

Both teams scored in the first 20 min of 2nd half. With 18 min left in the game I sent a player from each team to the sin bin for talking the wolf pack scored another one with 9 min left in the game. Wolf Pack lost another player to sin bin just as first sinners came back on. Santa Rosa had a hard drive that ended short of the try line as the game ended. Final score Reno 15 Santa Rosa 5.

The wanted to play another 20 min for the rest of the guys that did not get in the first game Santa Rosa dominated that 10 – 0.

It was off to the bar for a beer great fun was had by all. I saddled up the HOG and rode into the sunset back to the bay.

Sunday game:
STANFORD Business School 19 – Haas Business School 15 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
The future gentlemen of the Pacific Union Club played the next generation of Bohemians on a beautiful Sunday at Stanford, and it was a closely run thing.

This was not PG Wodehouse stuff; it was a good tough match smartly played. Early season as it may be, both showed up with full rosters of experienced and generally fit players (Stanford has 60 on their email list!). Forward play was a bit choppy, but once out to the backline there was real pace, nice hands and excellent utilization of the regulation pitch.

In the last two minutes, Berkeley camped out on the Stanford 5 meter line, but could not dot it. Thanks to Stanford for the nice social.


This is absolutely enthralling.

The play we all remember from 1982 featured five laterals. This one has fifteen.

This game was also for first place in the conference, so a lot more on the line as well.

Imagine a rugby team being allowed to obstruct at will, in addition to moving the ball in the usual manner.

And the homer announcers! California sports fans are used to neutral announcers, even those employed by the teams. These guys are great, getting delirious and breathless as the play evolves.

And note that the announcers say, just before the snap, “They’ll have to throw the ball as far as they can, or perhaps…” “Start lateraling.”


Stanford Tens 10-27-07
The problem with rugby tournaments: you can never get all the refs together at once!

Here’s a partial sampling of the crew from the Stanford Tens.

Standing, L to R: Steve Gray, Tom Martinez, Kat Todd-Schwartz, Jim Crenshaw
Not standing, L to R: Jackie Finck, Bill Gillies, Tevis Vandergriff


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2007




At the NCRRS Annual General Meeting last Saturday, a new board of directors was elected for a two-year term: Bruce Carter, Joe Leisek, Pete Smith, David Williamson and Scott Wood.

The Board has asked Bruce to continue as President.

Dixon Smith stood down after several decades of service as an officer of the society. We are very grateful to him for his dedication and for all of the contributions that he has made over the years.

Dixon will of course continue to teach, to assessor, to evaluate and to coach rugby referees. He is one of the bedrocks on which the Pelican Society has been built.

Bjorn Stumer is our new Exchange Coordinator. The three major functions of our society, from the point of view of our members, are education, assignments and exchanges. Thus, Bjorn assumes a major role.

We are always attempting to increase the ranks of our exchange partners in order to provide opportunities and rewards to more of our members. Bjorn has proven his abilities on several projects for the society the past few years.

Kat Todd-Schwartz did an excellent job with exchanges the past two years. She hands the baton to Bjorn at full speed and with a lead on the field. We are grateful for her service.

Exchanges announced: Scott Wood and Paul Berman will be traveling to Victoria for our annual exchange with the Vancouver Island RRS. They will be spending a five-day Thanksgiving weekend with our friends to the north.

Bruce Bernstein will be attending the New York Sevens.


About three-dozen Pelicans assembled for our annual pre-season meeting at the SF/Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island.

REO David Williamson has designed another coherent season’s curriculum, and this session featured before the match refereeing: mental and physical preparation, game-day pre-match rituals, and some basic issues of Law.

Joe Leisek facilitated a coaches panel discussion for the second year. The felicitous relations between Northern California rugby players, coaches and referees are among this region’s strongest rugby advantages.

A brief summary by David Williamson:

Joe Cavallaro (Cougar U-19) noted high school coaches are looking for consistency in refereeing, and don't want refs coaching their players.

Tina Nesberg (Stanford Women) urged respect for everyone; safety; communicating what you see on the pitch to the players; and accepting coaches' comments after the game.

John Everett (St. Mary's Men) seeks more "flow" in the game, with less whistle; fitter refs; more consistency between refs interpreting the "gate".

Ray Lehner (Olympic Club) seeks more consistency in refereeing the breakdown, and strict, prompt dealing with dangerous play, saying "the yellow cards don't come quick enough"


We have one unfilled place for a referee at the New York Sevens on Saturday, November 24. If you’d like to do some Christmas shopping on 5th Avenue, gawk at the tall buildings and work one of the biggest sevens tournaments around, this is your chance. And, we might add, at minimal cost to yourself.

Even if you have been on this exchange already, you would be welcome to go again. Please let us know of your interest.


The numbers aren’t balancing quite right: we have 7 available this weekend and 21 the next. We could use two or three more this weekend, but we are in good shape for the 27th.

October 20, two tournaments:

Harlotfest in Modesto: a day of fun with those who would play with anyone.

Slugfest at UC Santa Cruz: colleges teams on two pitches, including the hosts, UC Davis, Cal Poly, Santa Clara, and others TBA.

November 3: Mittry Memorial Tournament in Redding. Two pitches, ten games anticipated.

Nov. 10: About a dozen games on the schedule so far.

Weekend of November 16-18: Three tournaments and at least four other games. Refs needed Friday evening in Sacramento, Saturday all over, and Sunday afternoon.

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


Some folks are dropping in out of the sky to referee with us the next couple of weekends:

October 20:
Andrew Petti of Calgary is in San Francisco with his wife and will be working the Slugfest.

Cam Wilton of Edmonton is traveling down to watch the Raiders on Sunday and will referee at the Harlotfest.

October 27:
Tevis Vandergriff of the South will be in Monterey on business and will help out at the Stanford Tens.

Bill Gillies of the Victoria Society (Australia) will be in San Francisco on business and will be at one of the Tens tournaments that day. Bill was in town two years ago about this time of the year.

If you get a chance, welcome these folks and make them feel at home. Thus does the Rugby Circle get both larger and smaller simultaneously.


The annual society meeting was interrupted at noon by a live telecast of the France-England semi-final of the RWC. Golden Gate’s big screen held everyone’s attention to the final whistle.

Our dear friend Murray Felstead writes with news of an American who is the latest bandwagon-jumper on the Johnny Wilkinson Express:

“Have you seen any interviews yet with England's latest ‘celebrity’ fan - Your own Country & Western singer - Kenny Rogers who has been interviewed wearing his full England strip and wishing the guys good luck.

“So much so that the team sing all his songs on the team coach before and after the games and in the dressing room - especially on Saturday last!”

Personal Message from the Gambler:

Photo Collage set to music:

This one we especially like. Scroll quotes from Shakespeare’s Henry V… you might remember whom Henry was leading the English against.


Sandy Robertson forwards this link to a column in the Times of London that has some nice things to say about our lot, mostly vis-à-vis the ‘competition’ who are reffing other sports:


Coaches Panel

The Coaches Panel at the NCRRS meeting October 13:

John Everett, Ray Lehner, Joe Leisek, Tina Nesberg, Joe Cavallaro.

(That’s great photographic strategy: bigger folk closer, smaller folk further away.)


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, October 09, 2007




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

Attendance is important - your vote counts!


USA Rugby has released the current referee lists.

Paul Bretz is one of only two International Referees.

The National Focus Group features two new names: Aruna Ranaweera and Pete Smith.

Congratulations to these high-flying Pelicans!


One seat open:
Vancouver Island Exchange: Fly up on Wednesday, November 21. Referee the island high school championships Thursday and Friday. Do a club match on Saturday. Enjoy the beauty, the billeting and the best foreign exchange only three hours from home.

Two seats open:
New York Sevens Exchange: the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The earlier you travel, the more time you have to spend in the Big Apple. Lots of top clubs attend this one regularly, including Samurai, and it is a highlight on the US rugby calendar.

As always, going on exchange is cheap: our society pays for your travel and the receiving society either hosts you or pays for your ground expenses on their end.


ALL BLUES 29 - Oregon Rugby Sports Union 3 Referee: Paul Bretz

The All Blues will have the #2 seed in the sweet sixteen. ORSU will have #14, and the Mudhens #16. This event will be played in Austin, Texas, at the end of the month.

EMERALD CITY MUDHENS 21 - Seattle 12 Referee: Lois Bukowski
Touch Judges: Sandy Robertson, Eric Rauscher
Mudhens make a 2nd half comeback to defeat cross town rivals Breakers in first of 3 round robin games to determine final playoff spot. Not the prettiest game on Sat., but it worked for the birds as their backline capitalized on Seattle mistakes.

I was fortunate enough to have the closest match of the day! AND, I got to go home, shower, eat and pick up my son to only arrive back with perfect timing to watch the Blue Angels fly overhead as the All Blues exhibited their continuing dominance.

Kat and Ray were also in attendance. Fun day!

SF Fog 13 - MUDHENS 33 Referee: Preston Gordon
The Fog had 2 tries (both great ones from one of their wings) while the Mudhens had 4 (mixed between forwards/backs if I recall correctly), plus 1 penalty try (due to a late charge on their kicker who chipped ahead while attacking inside the Fog 22).

There was some persistent high tackling by both sides, which resulted in a yellow card to Mudhens #14 in the 18th minute of the 1st half, but other than that this was a great game, with lots of open play and free-flowing movements.

Let me double check the scorecard before you put any of that on the website though - I'll confirm for you by tomorrow.

Both Dave Williamson and Bryan Porter watched me (mic & video was a bonus) and gave me some great feedback afterwards.

I also helped out the U-19 women's Grizzlies. They needed a ref for a 7-on-7 scrimmage at the Job Corps pitch. It was interesting refereeing while being repeatedly buzzed by blue and gold F/A-18's going near full speed 200 feet off the deck, right over our heads!

SF Fog - SEATTLE Referee: Pete Smith
No report received:


Chico State Wildcats 31 - CHICO STATE ALUMNI 36
Referee: Scott "Tumbler" Wood
TJs: Jackie "Superstar" Finck, Jim "Glass Factory" Crenshaw
The students played well, occasionally rotating newbies in with seasoned players, and scored some nice tries. The grads steadily built steam and grew more cohesive as the match progressed. In the final quarter, the lead switched a couple times before the Alumni put the game away with a go-ahead try. Kudos to Mitch Jagoe and Paul Dooley for organizing the day's events (if someone else should be credited, my apologies).

Chico State - Chico State Alumna Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

Chico Old Boys - Silverhawks Referee: Dan Lacko
No report received.


October 20, two tournaments:

Harlotfest in Modesto: a day of fun with those who would play with anyone.

Slugfest at UC Santa Cruz: colleges teams on two pitches, including the hosts, UC Davis, Cal Poly, Santa Clara, and others TBA.

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.


Now is a good time to start making plans for the best rugby tournament played in North America, the IRB Sevens at Petco Park, February 9-10, 2008.

Todd Clever, as a crowd favorite and one of the best Eagles, is the poster boy for the tournament. His parents, Robyn and Harry, are the travel agents for the NCRRS.

The Clevers have negotiated rates with several hotels that are within walking distance. We can vouch for the facilities and the fun at the Solamar, where Mr. and Mrs. Scriptoris will be roosting once again.

The Clevers can also, of course, arrange for your flights and event tickets. Seating this year will be a little different: general (open) seating within any particular price zone. There will be no assigned seats, just assigned sections.

A credit card number will hold your reservation. Contact them at:



By universal acclaim, the best try scored at the World Cup so far (with 44 of 48 games played) was by the USA against South Africa.

Take a moment. Careful if you're at work--if you haven't seen this before, you will be leaping about and yelling excitedly for several minutes.



Alas, it is true that the "real" Pelicans are those rugby players who are good enough to represent the NCRFU on the pitch. Because of this, our referee society has long featured a pelican on the crest.

Somewhere along the line, because the refs were wearing pelicans and the players weren't, the Society adopted the mascot as well.

But now is the time of the year when the real Pelicans are chosen:

Please announce the following NCRFU Men's Pelican tryouts/practices to all in your domain:

Oct 20 at 10:00am: Pelican tryouts & practice at Treasure Island

Nov 3 at 1:00pm: Pelican tryouts & practice at Treasure Island

Nov 6: Possible practice at Hayward

Nov 17-18: Grizzly Shield at Portland, Oregon

Thank you,
John Tyler, Pelican Manager
Greg Stoehr, Pelican Head Coach

Kindred spirits meet in St. Remy during the World Cup.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Monday, October 01, 2007




A major benefit of refereeing in the NCRRS is our exchange program.

We have the funds and the willingness to send out at least a couple of dozen referees per year, both as a reward for service to the Society and for advancement opportunities.

There is also a lot of fun to be had making new friends on exchange, and it is one of the distinguishing qualities of our sport.

All that is lacking at the moment is someone to coordinate these activities.

Kat Todd-Schwartz has done a very good job the past couple of years, but now has found that the crush of business prevents her from continuing in the role. We are looking for a volunteer to take over the position.

Prospects should be Pelicans flock members who derive satisfaction from helping others. They should be able to anticipate upcoming exchanges to aid in the selection process, to track who’s been on exchange and who has hosted, and should be committed to helping us increase our number of exchange partners. This involves interacting with counterpart officers of various other referee societies.

Please let us know of your interest in this key position.

Our next out-going exchange will be Bjorn Stumer, who will be refereeing in Richmond, Virginia, on October 20. The game has been scheduled for an 11 AM kickoff so that everyone can watch the World Cup final together afterwards.

And speaking of which: we have two exchanges in November that can accommodate two referees each, both at Thanksgiving. PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN EITHER OR BOTH:

Vancouver Island Exchange: Fly up on Wednesday, November 21. Referee the island high school championships Thursday and Friday. Do a club match on Saturday. Enjoy the beauty, the billeting and the best foreign exchange only three hours from home.

New York Sevens Exchange: the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The earlier you travel, the more time you have to spend in the Big Apple. Lots of top clubs attend this one regularly, including Samurai, and it is a highlight on the US rugby calendar.

As always, going on exchange is cheap: our society pays for your travel and the receiving society either hosts you or pays for your ground expenses on their end.


No referees made themselves available for the Humboldt State men’s and women’s alumni games last Saturday. We note this fact with sorrow. Your writer’s excuse is that he works until nine PM on Fridays and again at 9 AM on Sundays, and he lives almost 400 miles from Arcata.

October 6: REFS NEEDED

Three games in Chico: Old Boys v. Silverhawks, men and women alumni games

One game in Fresno: Fresno v. Stanislaus

Even if you are a beginning referee and are not level one certified, you are welcome to referee in the pre-season. Don’t be shy – chime in if you’d like a fun run.

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.


So far we have four new members who have affirmed their availability for Stanford. This is very encouraging! Come on down and meet Tony Redmond, Tom Zanarini, Randy Boose and Roberto Santiago.

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


Six months after his second career-ending injury, Pelicus Scriptoris resumed his career.

The first career-ending injury stopped him from playing in 1988. Would that it had come several years sooner: he might have ascended to the refereeing heights.

But this one, the Achilles tendon that tore so publically at a society training session, this merely threatened his prospects for a prolonged and enjoyable post-panel career.

The orthopod who treated him said he’d have to take a year off. But in this case the standard Rugby Rehab Formula seems to have worked perfectly:

(Advice that applies to normal people)/2 = Advice that applies to rugby people

(or multiply by two, as seems appropriate to the advice given).

SF FOG 17 – Sacramento Amazons 10 Referee: Bruce Carter

Another perfect day on the Bay: low seventies, no clouds and no wind to stir them if there had been.

Alas, the referee’s mind has been playing tricks on him: he thought there was a tree that truncated the Jobs Corps pitch. Finding out this memory is false is the only symptom of middle age whose advent has yet been pleasant.

There was also the Treasure Island Festival in full cry, with a very good cover band playing two blocks and a hundred decibels away. Folks were jammin’ on the touchlines.

They were jamming on the pitch, too, a fast and hard-hitting game that provided a good test of determination and discipline. The team that could work a game plan against committed defense was going to win this one.

There were several long periods of goal-line defense in each half, both at the north end, each team being tested and forged in the crucible of the in-goal.

Linda Kilmartin ran in two tries for the Fog in the first half, both coming on movements in which Center Bridget Madell, who scored their third try in the second period, was instrumental.

The Amazons scored two tries in the second half, sandwiched around three held-up-in-goal calls in the same sequence.

Scriptoris was accompanied by his wife, Penelope Pelicus. Her namesake waited twenty years for Odysseus to come home from the Trojan War, while Mrs. Pelicus was patient for the fifteen it took her once-and-future husband to fight his own wars.

Having a spy incognito on the sidelines is sometimes a good thing, as in this case wherein she reported the following overheard conversation:

“This guy is pretty good.”

“He ought to be – he’s the head of everything.”


…where our motto is, “We watch every game so that you don’t have to.”

If you can only catch one match from the past ten days, the Wales-Fiji match was an absolute crackerjack bout of rugger. After about twenty minutes the announcers kept saying, “This one has everything.”

We can think of a few things it didn’t have, like gridiron grandiosity and panty-waist soccer injuries, but it certainly did not lack for enterprising, entertaining and thrill-a-minute play with lead and momentum changes galore.


September 24, 2007

Open Letter to:
Shasta Highlander Rugby
Pelican Refs
Northern California Rugby Football Union

Gentlemen and Ladies,

Andreas and Kristina Mittry have lost their son, and the Shasta Highlanders and the rugby world have lost one of our own. Andrew Mittry left us Saturday afternoon, September 22, as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile crash on Tuesday morning September 18th, while on his way to work in Santa Rosa. Andrew was 20 years old. Andrew was a fine young man, with the world in front of him. He played for the Highlanders the last two years and was going to play in Santa Rosa this year. He will be missed by his many friends. Please remember him, Andreas and Kristina and the family in your thoughts and prayers.

A fund has been setup to defray the costs of the hospital bills. Donations may be made to the “Andrew K. Mittry Donation Fund” c/o North Valley Bank, or mailed to the Shasta Highlanders, P.O. Box 494831, Redding Ca. 96049-4831.

Pete Ray
President, Shasta Highlanders RFC


Our Society’s best friends, Sue and Murray Felstead, have their first grandchild!

Evie Tayla was born of Kate and Ian last Friday, and all are doing well.

We are absolutely chuffed to find that English babies are delivered not by a stork, but via an alternative avian.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris