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