Tuesday, June 24, 2008




This is the granddaddy of them all – the longest running USA sevens tournament, having begun in 1972 – and with the wealth of rugby talent in Northern California it features some of the best Sevens played anywhere in the land.

Palo Alto also offers the occasion for the referee society to socialize. We’ll have a tent and some coolers. Bring a chair, some comestibles and potables for the picnic, and prepare to enjoy the competition and the camaraderie.

For new referees, this is the best chance our annual calendar offers to have a series of games with friendly, helpful eyes watching from the sidelines. Do a game, get some feedback, watch a more experienced ref handle the same situations, do another game: the best way to scale a steep learning curve.

For those referees who are not yet perfect at the tackle, Sevens affords you the opportunity to work on this basic aspect of our game. There aren’t going to be piles of bodies – the miscreants will be there for you to see and you’ll find your perception getting sharper, your anticipation honing itself as well.

For those who haven’t refereed sevens before, give it a try! We’ll let you in on a secret: not all of the matches are played at blistering pace. There are matches to suit your gear ratio.

And if you’d just like to spend a Saturday in the sun with rugby folk and have a picnic, come on down! Bring the wife and kids – there’s lots for them to do in the area during the day before it’s time to eat (Great America, movies, Stanford Mall).

We’ll be at Cubberley, on Middlefield just off San Antonio. Plan for 9 AM kickoffs. And please let us know if you will be attending!


NorCal Old Boys 30 – NEVADA OLD BOYS 45 Referee: Nikola Talemo
Dunsmuir, Calif.

On a hot and windy day drive with triple digits from Sonoma County upward North, to start of our Summer of rugby, my wife and I made the drive to Dunsmuir for five scenic hours.

Kick off was 5pm and we arrived around 4 to find 20 or so old young pretenders warming up and grazing the lovely grassed pitch. NorCal had 17 guys and Nevada had only 4 guys and a young lady. They ended up filling up two teams with 10 players and we played old boys rugby for 4-10min quarters. We agreed for uncontested scrums because our old young lady from Nevada was hooking whom I found out later to be the daughter of a former Pelican who was their inside center.

It was a feast of rugby and the enthusiasm showed by the two opposing 60yr old wingers was enough history lesson for me. A lot of passing and tries were scored by both teams with no conversions since we didn’t have any goalposts. In the last 10min they saw that I was a normal ref and asked if I was having any fun. They insisted I pull on an old boy jersey to experience old boys’ rugby. I touched the ball six times and scored four tries and that made me drink out of my size 13 boot. We made the camp and the fun started, they brought kava through their Reno Island connection and I made ‘em all Kava-doped that night. So much rugby to any new pelican to experience old boys style. Ain’t nothin’ better than playin’ in the jungles…


CAMPBELL MARAUDERS 29 – Tri Valley 0 Referee: Anna McMahan
It was already 90 degrees when we kicked off just a minute after the 9:00am horn blew to start the Campbell Highland Games. I was running late, so Tom Zanarini, who organized the refs for the tournament, kindly did a boot check while I got myself ready. The game consisted of one 30 minute period, which was quite long enough for most of the players on the field, and the ref.

The Marauders won quite handily, as the score suggests. They had more players and more organization than Tri Valley, and the ability to bring in fresh legs made a big difference in the heat. The first four Marauder tries were scored through breaks in the defense after multiphase play during regulation time. The last try was scored after the horn had blown, but the game was still on until the ball was made dead. Which it was eventually, by a Marauder in the try zone.

Possession favored the Marauders, who were able to get more go-forward ball from their breakdowns, but Tri Valley put up some solid defense for parts of the game. TV defensive disorganization eventually let the Marauders break through the line, and they had the support players to run in tries. Discipline was great, and both teams seemed to be out to have a good time.

CAMPBELL MARAUDERS 48 – Stanislaus/Monterey combined 0
Referee: Anna McMahan
By the time the 10:00 rolled around the temp had crept up to 96, in the shade. For someone who hadn't reffed in two months, and generally runs at a comfortable pace in cooler weather, chasing down 8 Marauder tries in 30 minutes was tough. Stanislaus was scheduled to play the Marauders immediately after their 9:30 match, and due to lack of numbers combined with Monterey for the 10:00 game.

Most of the combined team players had just finished a game, and they couldn't match the fresh legs of the Marauders team.

The Marauders were able to distribute the ball well, and their backs made some great slashing runs through the combined team defense. The game had few knock-ons, though a couple of forward passes happened while the teams tried to spread the ball to their speedy outside backs. The combined side had quite a creative scrum arrangement, in that their fullback would run up to play hooker any time we packed down for a scrum. Despite the heat and the score, both teams played positive rugby for all 30 minutes, and made for an enjoyable match.

Report by Bruce Bernstein:
Had a good time. There were 4 teams. Marauders had a good 25 players, while the 3 other teams looked like they each had a little more than 10--which as the day went on the Marauders played against a combined Stanislaus/Aptos/Monterey side.

MARAUDERS 60 – Combined Forces 5
The Marauders steam-rolled the other teams present.
Tom Zanarini reffed the first half which was 30-5 & I reffed the second when another 6 tries were scored.

I also reffed an earlier match Tri Valley (a HS team) which gave the Mauraders a run for their money losing only 22-7. It might have been hot, but I could swear there was a breeze, clouds, rain & thunder showers in the distance, & a nice spread in an air conditioned room for all the judges (which we were).


It was 110 when they kicked off. The Teachers, a team from exceedingly temperate Bermuda, said it best: “We knew it would be hot, but not THIS hot!”

The tournament has shrunk from its glory days, now being contested on five pitches instead of ten. But play continues in Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks divisions, there being only one entry for the Jokers (old boys) in 2008.

The only NorCal team was the Clowns, who were also the old boys team. They played in the Kings division, finishing their pool 3-0 before losing in the quarterfinal.

NorCal was of course represented by a number of players on various teams, including Kamal Mokeddem of the Olympic Club who played in the final for his alma mater, MIT, and Rikus Pretorius, the recent Cal grad who played for OMBAC.

Pete Smith refereed the Aces final and Mike Gadoua got the Jacks. El Siete, Pat McNally, was on hand to provide expert feedback and support for all the refs.

June 13, 14, 15 2008
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Exchangee: Don Pattalock

It didn’t take long to accept this exchange when it was offered: Toronto + Churchill Cup + good rugby to referee = no brainer! I arrived on Friday evening and was picked up by Byron Wood, who would provide my coaching report on Sunday, and whisked off to a little British pub for some dinner and a pint (or 2). My billet for the weekend, JC Gilbert, met Byron and I at the pub where we proceeded to discuss all the intricacies of rugby smattered with light discussions about the waitress. JC lives in Berrie, so after a little drive, we settled into the couch to watch a couple of summer internationals.

Saturday we headed out to Fletcher’s Field, in Markham for the Churchill Cup. England Saxons v Ireland A and Argentina v Canada. The pitch was heaving with 6,000+ rugby fans. JC, Byron and I settled at the top of the grandstand next to the tournament officials, which included Tony Spreadbury and Ed Morrison. Two great games, lots of discussions and a good time had by all.

Sunday, JC and I headed up to Simco lake for a look around before we headed back to Fletcher’s Field for our matches. Back at Fletcher’s, there are 6 pitches, a club house with several changing rooms along with two referee changing rooms with showers. My match had the Toronto Saracens v Oshawa Vikings. The Saracens had recently been relegated down a division and Oshawa had been promoted a division. The game was well contested, but Oshawa had too much possession and speed for the home team and ran away with the match 39-12. A quick shower, and Byron and I were on our way to the airport for my return home.

Thanks to Steve Scott for arranging the Ontario side, Bjorn and Bruce for the NorCal side.

Lucky Sevens Refs
Here are most of the referees who worked the Midnight Sevens this past weekend, well past midnight:

Standing, left to right: Pete Smith, Donny Slager, Jason Harper, Dave Thomas, Bill Caulfield, Sean O’Connell, Cullen Lowe, Mike Evergin
Not standing, left to right: LuAnn Campbell, Gary Patterson, DeLyn Barclay, Pat McNally, Bruce Carter, Mike Gadoua, Bruce Brown


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris