Tuesday, July 29, 2008




Eight teams took part in the sole qualifier to determine the three Pacific Coast teams that will play in the nationals. The qualifier was held at Rocca Field July 26, as will the nationals be August 9-10.

NorCal was represented by SF/GG, O Club, San Mateo, Mission and East Palo Alto. Tempe came up from Arizona while OPSB and Ellensburg represented the Pacific Northwest.

Golden Gate was the only undefeated team in the round robin and went on to win the tournament. The other semi-finalists were Olympic Club, Mission and San Mateo.

O Club and Mission earned the other two seeds.

A glorious, warm day in the heart of the bay was punctuated by naval artillery fire, as three-masted sailing ships engaged in a mock battle off the Embarcadero. There was also a nice ‘hooter’ effect when, with little time remaining in the consolation final, a cruise ship left port in San Francisco and drowned out the festivities.

SAN FRANCISCO GOLDEN GATE 36 – Olympic Club 19 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
The #1 seeds from each pool met for the Pacific Coast championship with seedings to Nationals at stake. Although unbeaten SFGG won by displaying a wide array of individual skills and flair, OC was well-organized and showed a lot of determination. Both teams will be formidable at Nationals, assuming they are fit.

Good luck to SFGG, O Club and Mission in the USA Rugby Sevens Club Championships!

Alberta Canada Exchange 2008...Details below. By John Pohlman

The Northern California Rugby Gods rewarded me with the Alberta Canada Exchange this year.

Eileen and I flew into Edmonton Canada on Friday July 18 from San Francisco. This is only a two and a half hour flight. Edmonton was originally the trading post for gold rushers to the Klondike. This river valley city is now the provincial capital. With a population of over 900,000, Edmonton is beautiful city with a thriving economy.

Eileen and I met with Paul and JoAnne Cassidy for a tour of Edmonton. Paul would be our primary host in Edmonton. We toured a very pretty river city with a low key personality. Paul showed us his home rugby team field. I visited four different rugby fields in Edmonton from third division to first division. All of these clubs had three rugby pitches, a club house with changing rooms, showers, bar and restaurant. Not fancy but professional.

We were able to walk into the Edmonton Eskimos a Canadian Football team’s field unannounced. This field was comparable to PacBell Park and hosted the Churchill Cup. Now could you imagine driving into Pac Bell and then strolling onto the field unannounced? Edmonton is a friendly city.

Paul and I headed to my first game, leaving Eileen and JoAnne to do whatever they do when we do rugby. Someday I may have to ask.

The Edmonton Pirates were hosting the Nor' Westers. The Nor' Westers is the famed home club of Kat Todd-Schwartz, local rugby icon. The Nor' Westers were middle of the pack third division. The Pirates were in the bottom for standing. Nice evening, low 70's at the 6:30 kick-off.

The Canadian Rugby Union is going through some insurance pains. This has and is becoming a real referee pain. The Alberta referees are supposed to card every player prior to the match as we do for the playoffs. Team fills out a roster, each player shows the card and is checked off. Well if the game card is filled out properly before the game and every player comes up in order with a card...no problem. Did I mention this was a third division game? Fortunately I left the cards to Paul and we were able to start only 15 minutes late.

When I did the boot check for the Pirates I was surprised by the similarity in players’ body type. They had 10 players who looked like they could play either prop. The Pirates must have had 30 pounds more weight per player on the Nor'Westers.

The Pirates dominated most of the game. The #12 started the scoring six minutes in with a crashing try. The Captain #10 Joel was my player of the game. At 5'10" 250, active, loved to hit and tried to give every Nor'Wester a little something extra. He scored the second try at 24 minutes. The Pirates kicker was on making two conversions and two penalties.

Half time score Pirates 22-Nor' Westers 0.

At half time I called Joel over and explained how I liked his game and hoped he would be able to finish. I think he got the message, but continued to play "hard".

The second half the Nor'Westers showed some life scoring their first try. They seemed to be more motivated and had better field position. The Nor'Westers biggest problem was not staying in their scheme. After three phases they would be overwhelmed and kick the ball away or turn it over. One highlight was refereeing one of the elite referees in Edmonton Dave Hunter. Dave plays for the third division team and referees mostly first Division matches.

Final Pirates 25- Nor" Westers 5.

Paul and I did a debrief over a beer at the clubhouse. I got to chat with a few players and off to meet the girls.

Eileen and I were supposed to be hosted by one of the Edmonton refs but neither Paul nor I could reach him. We had planned on staying on Whyte Ave on Saturday night, so we just moved in one night early.

Kat had recommended the Varscona on Whyte as a happening place to stay. And it was. Whyte Avenue is close to the university which means loads of young folks.

Paul saw we got checked in and paid for that night’s stay. We went out for a drink and dinner. This was around 10:30PM. Whyte Ave. was happening. It doesn't get dark in Edmonton until around 11-11:30 PM. Did I mention the dress code? For guys it was no effort grunge. For girls it seemed to be the shortest dress you could get, then hike it up. So you had all these girls dressed provocatively with loads of effort. And guys in jeans and tee shirts. Oh to be young again.

Saturdays game was a second division game with Leduc hosting the Nor'Westers. I left the hotel around noon for a 2:00 PM game. Eileen decided to meet with JoAnne and experience the Taste of Edmonton street festival.

The road construction is sick this time of year. I arrived later than I had hoped around 1:00 PM. It seemed around 75 degrees out. Leduc as all the teams had a clubhouse, changing rooms and showers. I was met by Dave Dashwood my coach and evaluator. Dave shadowed me for my pre-game and volunteered to do the cards, yeah. We kicked off on time.

Both teams were 4-2 and competing for league honors. They would have competed for D-2 championships here. The best thing about moving up divisions is the players actually hear you and stop prior to being penalized. This led to a penalty count of 12 for the game.

Leduc's captain is a provincial player and my MVP of the game by far. His name was Trevor but everyone except me called him Piggy. Piggy pretty much scored every try or set them up. He kicked an up and under for a winger which most of our Dads could have scored. Piggy set up the first try, scored the second and kicked that up and under for the third. I also had to warn him at half time about his finishing off plays. Piggy tried to get into the other players head by that little stuff after the contact. And he was good at it. Again I explained how I liked his play and hoped to see him finish the game. It seemed to calm him a bit.

The Nor’Westers have had a few injuries. Their scrum half from last night played hooker today.

Final Pirate 26 Nor'Westers 13. Sorry Kat.

Dave Dashwood and I headed for the D-1 Game at the Druids field, which was supposed to start at 4:00PM. We arrived around 4:15 the game started at 4:30 and three players from Calgary Saints sat out due to no cards. The referee that played in last nights game, Dave Hunter was doing this game.

Dave gave me some feedback on my game and sent over 6 page assessment. All good stuff.

Later Paul, JoAnne, Eileen and I met up with five other Edmonton referees for dinner and drinks at Whyte Ave.

Great stuff. Thanks Paul and Edmonton Rugby.

The drive from Edmonton to Jasper was four hours and lovely. We checked in at the Fairmont, another Kat suggestion. We saw what we thought to be moose, elk, deer and caribou. We were trying to keep track of all the different species. Later our bubble was burst when some said they were all elk.

We almost hit a black bear scampering across the road, and this was our first experience with those nasty mosquitoes.

The next five days we hiked, mountains biked and swatted at bugs. They have world class mountain bike trails through most of the park. We saw active glaciers, the Colombia Icefields, Lake Louise and Banff. The last time Eileen and I were there was 21 years ago on our honeymoon. I almost get a tear in my eye thinking about it.

On our first visit it rained everyday and about every minute. This time we only saw rain on two of the five days both times it was only for a few hours. Really good stuff. Booked all the accommodations on Expedia at about the third of the price.

Friday afternoon we headed for Calgary and my next assignment. Calgary has a rugby park on the southeast part of town. Friday saw three games being played. A women's match, a high school select side verses a British touring side and my game. The Calgary Rams were playing the Calgary Canucks in a D-3 game.

Calgary is just went over 1 million in population. Alberta boasts a thriving economy lead by massive oil reserves. The Alberta sand dunes come in second to Iraq in size. The US gets 10% of our gas supply from Alberta. Calgary is another river valley town only one hour from Banff. From the field you could see the downtown with the Canadian Rockies in the far background.

It must have been around 80 degrees at kick-off which was at 6:30. I asked about cards and the coaches said they weren't starting that until August 1st. I was later told different by Sandy Nesbitt my Calgary host. Both teams were ready to go and looked to have at least ten reserves. In Alberta the thirds have free substitutions. The only law is if a player goes off with a real injury they are not allowed back on, again insurance.

Both teams were undefeated in league play with 6-0 records. The captains asked if we could have a water break in the halves due to the heat, agreed.

Both teams seemed well organized. The game went well and was tried zero to zero at 39 minutes. The Rams #12 finally was rewarded with a try after breaking a number of tackles. Both teams played good defense and most of the reason there were no points scored was due to strong tackling and not sloppy play.

The Rams must have had a better half time than the Canucks because they followed their try at 39 minutes in the first half with tries at 5, 8, 29 and 36 minutes of the second half. Two of the tries were sort of the undeserved type. One 70 meter intercept, another a misplayed kick. The players were well-behaved and game was much closer than the score.
Final Rams 31 Canucks 0.

I got my first "you are the best referee this year" from the losing team after this game. You always expect the winning team to think you are wonderful right after the match.

Winning can distort reality.

I always feel better when the losing team feels I did a good job. Thanks.

So Sandy, Eileen, the other two referees, Andrew, John and myself had a couple of beers before heading up to Sandy and Christi-Sue Nesbitt’s brand new house. We sat and chatted until after 1:00 AM. It's hard to go to bed early when it's light outside. Sandy had some tips on my signals and positioning.

Saturday is a big day at the Calgary Rugby Park. Three fields with games played back to back from 12:00 PM until around 6:00 PM. The city of Calgary owns the property but wants rugby to continue to grow. They are currently expanding the Rugby Park by redoing one field and adding five more. Plans for three more fields after that. So in a year or so they should have 8 full size rugby fields with posts etc. Changing rooms for teams, they already have at least six separate rooms with showers now.

Eileen and I left around 10:30 for my game. This was a D-2 game between the Canucks 5-3 and the Saints 5-4. I was being coached, evaluated by both John and Andrew.

The Canucks dominated this game from start to finish. They showed great skills. Crashing, recycling, then spring it out to the unmarked wing. #14 scored the first two tries with this attack. At half time the score was Canucks 15- Saints 0.

The Saints started the second half with lots of possession and field position only to be counter rucked by the Canucks. The Saints would make strong tackles gain possession only to not set a constructive go forward for the backs. This resulted in crappy ball for the backs which resulted in turnovers.
Final Canucks 44 Saints 0. Penalty count 18.

Got some food, water and discussed my game with John and Andrew. I was scheduled to run touch in the second and third game of the day but was able to get someone to do the second game. I really needed to get out of the sun it was close to 90 for my game.

The final assignment was running touch for Sandy's game. This had the potential to be a cracker. St. Albert had dominated D-2 and stepped up to D-1 this year and continued to dominate. One of the consistent powerhouses is the Calgary Hornets. I know the Hornets from my playing days with the San Jose Seahawks. They being sister clubs who have exchanged players for years.

Plus the fact Sandy was my host and a great referee. Sandy has recently refereed the Canadian national team.

The Hornets dominated the first half. Their size and strength put too much pressure on the tackling of the St. Albert team. The Hornets scored three early tries.

Being a touch judge gives you a unique perspective into a game. Being with the players in the try zone after a score you get the temperament of the team. By the third try St. Albert was bordering on mutiny or rolling over.
At 38 minutes St. Albert's biggest player their outside center was about to score a try but was pulled down by a ugly shirt collar tackle from behind. Sandy awarded a penalty try.

Half time Hornets 19 St. Albert's 10.

At half time a storm started to approach cooling down the temperature a lot. The wind picked up to St. Albert's favor. The try at half time had boasted St. Albert's spirits. They pretty much controlled the second half. Scoring a try and a penalty to bring it to 19-18 Hornets. It seemed like a matter of time until St. Albert's would score. It also seemed like a matter of time until the storm hit, with its lighting strikes. About 10 minutes left I asked Sandy if they stopped games due to lighting, I had seen a number of strikes in the distance. He looked at his watch and felt we should be able to finish. Sure enough St. Albert's scored winning 25 to 19. The storm hit while I had a beer in my hand and roof over my head at the Calgary Rugby Park Clubhouse. Life is good.

Our conversation at the Clubhouse had a few distractions. First a Hornet friend and Silverhawk Dave Steadman, Steady, showed up. And we had inadvertently scheduled our trip to coincide the annual Canuck dress like a tramp night. Thirty plus guys dressed in drag. Entertaining in an old way.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding dinner Sandy and Christi-Sue prepared for about 12 of the society members and a few wives that night. Eight courses highlighted by Steak, Salmon and lovely wine.

Thanks and thanks again. And come to Northern California for our rugby, scenery and hospitality. Plus we have very few bugs.


Check the calendar and the weather report. Check the time you can take off work remaining this year. Check with the boss and the bank account and let us know if you would be able to referee at the Hawaii Harlequins Invitational October 24-25.

This is a Friday-Saturday tournament. Rooms will be provided for Tuesday (or later) arrival and Sunday departure. But you have to pay your own flights and most meals. (Lodging will probably include breakfast.)

The hotel provided will be within walking distance of the pitches, so no rental car would be necessary.

Let us know if you are available.


The Vancouver Rowing Club rugby team is 100 years old. Those who fondly remember the Golden Gate Tournament in GG Park every spring will also recall that the Rowers were regular competitors and frequent winners at that event.

At the bottom of the column along the left-hand side of this site is a bit about a game against Stanford in 1936 that drew more than 9,000 spectators.


Thanks for Bjorn Stumer for sending this in with the morning mail.

Sevens Qualifier
Good turnout at Rocca Field for the Pacific Coast Sevens Qualifier on Saturday:
Left to Right: Jim Crenshaw, Don Pattalock, Dixon Smith, Scott Wood, David Williamson, Pete Smith, Sam Reagle, Tevis Vandergriff (South), John Coppinger, Kat Todd-Schwartz, Tom Zanarini, Mike Gadoua, Aruna Ranaweera, Nicola Talemo, Tim Luscombe (Eastern Rockies), Bruce Carter


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, July 22, 2008




USA Sevens referee guru Pat McNally will be in the Bay Area this weekend for the Pacific Coast qualifier.

If there is interest Pat would be willing to hold a round-table session on refereeing the summer game, and he has some videos of IRB Sevens action to stimulate discussion.

Let us know if you would invest this Friday evening into such an occasion.


Whoever made the decision of when to hold the Pacific Coast sevens qualifier obviously didn’t consider it important that there’s another tournament that needs to be covered by the same Society on the same day. Not to mention that, by playing the two events on different days they could have given each NorCal team that many more games to fine-tune their performance.

What we are left with is a difficult position for the society and for the assigner – we need to insure good coverage of both events.

IF YOU CAN HELP OUT AT CUBBERLEY PLEASE LET ME KNOW. WE NEED AT LEAST NINE REFEREES THERE THROUGHOUT THE DAY. In the past we have relied on enough showing up, but we ask that you RSVP – if there are not enough, we’ll have to strip the team of five personnel from the qualifier.


The only NorCal ref who will be doing the Nationals is Aruna Ranaweera, so he is automatically in for the Qualifier. Others will have to wait and find out later this weekend depending on availability to cover at Cubberley.

Report by Don Pattalock

Feather River Junior College, Quincy, California
Referee: D. Pattalock
Touch Judges: Phil Ulibarri, Ray Schwartz
#4: Sam “Brick” Reagle

Frank Merrill’s dream camp was held over the week of July 12 – July 19 in Quincy. Approximately 35 U-19 athletes were in attendance for this week-long development camp. Headed up by Trinity College’s Tony Smeeth and Nigel (?) from Wales; with supporting coaching from Rob Holder, Jay Hanson, John Everett, Nigel Carter, Norm Boccone and Mike Smith; the players were subjected to an intense development camp. The final match was the culmination of the week’s work.

It was the story of 2 halves: PC White charged out with wide passing, hard charging centers and were rewarded with a 25-5 halftime lead. The second half found the PC Red notching a score immediately after the kick off. This try sparked the PC Red and they continued their dominance of the second half, taking the lead 26-25 with 5 minutes left to play. A late tackle by PC Red’s captain 5 meters out from their try line saw PC White quick tap and score the final try of the match. 30-26 was the final. Great game, great players, great time had by all.

Pelicans Sunset
Borrowed from the web, a beautiful tableau to soothe the soul.

Thank you to Flickr.com, who reserves all commercial rights to the image.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, July 16, 2008




Having run touch for two seasons and refereeing a few games here and there, Eric Rauscher has demonstrated his basic skills as a referee at the summer sevens and has earned the grade of C3.

Congratulations to Eric.


The Fog continue as effective proselytizers for our game:


Advance planning may begin for two SoCal tournaments that welcome NorCal refs:

Santa Barbara Sevens: August 16
Tri-Tip Sevens in San Luis Obispo: September 6

Let us know if either or both of these events whet your whistle!


Joe Leisek shares this delightful link and purports that, “Sonoma County pelicans usually have much better manners.”


Sandy Robertson’s ears perked up when he heard something on NPR’s Morning Edition: “...(a) story about a Venezuelan land owner who uses rugby in his attempts to promote social justice--rugby reference occurs about 3.5 minutes into the story.”


From Pelican Migratus, Skip Vaughn:
“Barb & I would like to announce the birth of our little girl; Sydney Lauryn Vaughn born July 9th @ 1339, weight 7 lbs 3 oz. Sydney came home today (Saturday) is getting used to the new digs. Pix available on request.“


Mike Gadoua follows the lurid details of London’s yellow press so you don’t have to. This is from the BBC.

“Britain's secretive S&M scene
“Sex seems to be everywhere these days, yet the details of Max Mosley's privacy hearing have helped lift a veil on one type of sexual behaviour still shrouded in secrecy - sadomasochism.”

Following the article are reader comments which include:

“Frankly, it scares me to know what people will do in the name of recreation. How can physical aggression, bleeding wounds, broken bones, dirt, humiliation, orchestrated and ritualised violence and even deaths have any place in the psyche of any rational adult? Anyway, so much for rugby.”

July 12 Crew
Sunny days at Palo Alto, left to right:
Standing: Ray Schwartz, Interloping Player, Roberto Santiago, Dixon Smith, Mark Godfrey, Tony Latu, John Pohlman, Chris Tucker, Jake Rubin, Kat Todd-Schwartz, Mike Gadoua, Jim Crenshaw, Nikola Talemo
Sitting: Scott Wood, Eric Rauscher, Tom Zanarini, Bruce Carter


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, July 08, 2008



You didn't miss HP last week - there wasn't one. The editorial board was overtaken by ennui and a summer slumber.


June 28 found the first iteration of this year’s NorCal sevens at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto.

We have a problem probably not shared anywhere else: so many refs that we only got two games each. The solution is obvious. More teams need to be there this weekend! It’s a lot of fun, playing Sevens. Come on down!

Golden Gate looks to be loaded this summer. The game of the day came when they played the Olympic Club in the last match. Both were undefeated.

With the game tied in the second half, a Gate player received a yellow card. They scored short-handed and then again at full strength to win going away.

Apologies if we’ve forgotten anyone from June 28th's crew:
Bruce Bernstein, Rich Boyer, Paul Bretz, Bruce Carter, John Coppinger, Jim Crenshaw, Mark Godfrey, James Hinkin, Chris Labozzetta, Don Pattalock, Eric Rauscher, Ray Schwartz, Dixon Smith, Pete Smith, Nikola Talemo, Kat Todd-Schwartz, Scott Wood, Tom Zanarini.


The Pacific Coast qualifier for the club nationals will be held at Rocca Field on July 26.

With the nationals two weeks later on the same pitch, this is an opportunity for the Pelicans to work on our team of five support – touch judges and in-goal judges.

Sad to say, but the TJ and in-goal support has been lacking at this event on occasion in the past, requiring the assigned refs to do double- or triple-duty. This will not happen in Pelicanland.

If you would like to be on the sideline crew for the club finals, you will need to attend the qualifier. Consider it an audition. We need six people, which will allow for rotation and rest in filling four positions per match.

The dates will be: Saturday, July 26 and Saturday and Sunday, August 9-10. Please let us know of your interest.


Report by Tom Zanarini:
Just wanted to thank the Society for sending me to Cape Fear. I had a great time, got some good matches and was able to watch some of the higher level refs perform. The heat wasn't too bad, just made me remember playing 15's in Austin in September and April.

I had four matches on Saturday mixed up between Social, Women's Club, Women's Premiere and Men's Club. The Women's Premiere was NOVA v. Northeast Selects, a very fast paced match with great athletes. NOVA won by three tries which the Northeast coast tried to explain to me that they were all due to missed calls on my part. Right. Pat McNally was on hand to give me some pointers which I was able to execute in the next matches.

One match that I was really looking forward to was the Cape Fear II v. Kenyan Exiles II. The Kenyan I team played the Cape Fear I right before, but the Kenyans were traveling light and ended up forfeiting my match. So, that sucked. David Von Kolnitz managed to tweak the schedule and got me another match right after so I did my four and ran touch for a couple.

The banquet was quite entertaining and Zinzan held court. I got two dings, one for not producing a yellow card after awarding a penalty try for a professional foul. Cherry Point were behind by 21 and we were into full time with a penalty awarded to CP. They kicked ahead to chase for goal and an AHO (Appalachian Honors Society) player grabbed the kicker's jersey with no other defenders chasing. I awarded the penalty try, took the conversion then called full time. I truly feel foolish about that since Dave busted me about the exact same thing in Chico. Sorry! I also forgot a Hawaiian shirt for the banquet. I did get out of paying that fine due to my permanent Hawaiian shirt ink which I had to present to the court. I was wearing my 2008 Pacific Coast Referee shirt and instead of donning the offending jersey I offered it to Zinzan as payment. He told me after that it made his night because he never got a PC jersey or polo when he was a Grizzly and said he wouldn't ever ask for one, but would take one as a gift. So, karma I suppose.

Sunday was another early and on time start. I had Camp Lejeune v. Washington Irish social div. quarter-final. An entertaining match that the Irish ended up running away with in the second half. The military sides were running shallow, Fort Bragg had to forfeit all their matches because most of the team were on recall and couldn't leave base. It was nice to see the Marines and Army playing nicely together. Great athletes that chased hard all match but didn't have the rugby skills or practice to compete with the Irish. My second Sunday match was the Women's open semi with Raleigh Venom v. Maryland Stingers. Raleigh routed the Stingers on Saturday but were a bit gassed on Sunday. The match was 5 all at the half. The second 7 was a different story. The Venom finally found their winger on the outside and it was breakaway tries for the rest of the match.

I ran touch for a couple more matches then had to leave for the airport. I'm glad I got there early since my flight was delayed for 2 hours. A thunderstorm in Atlanta put Delta in a tailspin of delays. The cold Yuenglings at the airport bar made the wait considerably less painful. My connection in Atlanta was delayed as well and pushed my arrival time in SF to 12:20am, twenty minutes past the last Marin Air Porter Shuttle. My wife is on vacation back in Plymouth, MA so I am fortunate to have one good friend in Mill Valley, to whom I owe a steak dinner. 1:30am in bed, 6:30am wakeup call and the coffee is extra strong this morning!

SERRS were great hosts and helpful at every turn. The tournament is very well organized, four fields well marked and in excellent condition. I hope this exchange remains on the NCRRS calendar for other referees to experience.

7's is starting to grow on me and I'm looking forward to this Saturday in Palo Alto.


By John Pohlman:
Just wanted you to know I leave July 18th for Edmonton. They have me scheduled for a D2 game on Saturday July 19th. Then probably a game on Friday July 25 in Calgary. Definitely a D2 game followed by TJing a D1 game on Saturday.

Hope to see you all at the 7's this weekend.

Ambassador of the Year
There was an unidentified referee in our photo from the Midnight Sevens two weeks ago. Thanks to several readers for identifying Cullen Lowe, formerly of the BATS and now living in San Diego.

This week we see Don Pattalock receiving his Ambassador of the Year award from Scott Wood in Palo Alto.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris