Wednesday, October 08, 2008




Please respond if you can work any of these tournaments:

This Saturday, October 11:
Davis Double Decker Tournament

Both of these are one-pitch tournaments, so they need 2-3 refs each.

October 18:
Slugfest at UC Santa Cruz
Wild West Rugby Fest in Reno – twenty teams expected

These are two one-day tournaments which are always a lot of fun, and perfect for newer refs. There will be two pitches in play at UCSC and three in Reno. The Reno team will also pay for hotel rooms for refs Friday and/or Saturday night.

Let us know if you can ref, and if you’d like a room in Reno.

November 1:
Andrew Mittrey Memorial in Redding
Baracus Tens on Treasure Island

We especially need a few folks willing to make the drive up to lovely far northern California to take in the fall colors of the Mt. Shasta area.

November 15:
Women’s tournament in Humboldt
Plan now for a weekend away and take a date!


Saturday, Sept. 20:
ALL BLUES 102 – Mudhens 0 Referee: Pete Smith

Saturday, Sept. 27:
Fog Women 12 – DAVIS DOUBLE DECKERS 16 Referee: James Hinkin
The Women from Davis were able to translate a strong first half performance into a win at Job Corps field. Early game jitters let to a series of knock-ons and turnovers but DDD was able to break through in the 25th minute. The conversion was missed but Davis was able to continue putting the pressure on the Fog Women and soon had a penalty straight in front of the posts that was duly converted into 3 points. The halftime score stood at 8-0 Davis.

The second half started with the Fog dominating. They put DDD under a lot of pressure and were able to translate it into a converted try. Davis regrouped and was able to respond with a try of their own. When awarded a penalty for off side 5 meters from their line DDD elected to tap and go and they sent their center in through a large gap to score. The conversion was no good but the lead was extended to 13-7. The Fog came back strong and once again pressure turned into points as a try was scored out wide by the Fog’s rookie winger playing her first game ever. The celebration mostly consisted of “We’re so proud that you remembered to put the ball down!”. The conversion missed so the score moved to 13-12 to Davis. Both teams were getting tired at this point and some handling and mental errors crept in. Davis was able to get another penalty over to expend their lead and then survived a scare with a bit of luck. The Fog center was put through and made several defenders miss to breakthrough into the try zone but in attempting to put the ball down with one hand dropped it and was called for a knock on. Claims that she dropped it backwards went unheard. This was the difference in the game as it ended 16-12 to Davis.

Note: In spite of the controversial call to disallow the try one of the women came up to me at the social and said “I usually hate the referee after the game but I didn’t hate you too much today.” I think that means I did a good job.

Saturday, Oct. 4:

ALL BLUES 53 – Minnesota Valkyries 14 Referee: Pete Smith

Fog Women 12 - 45 ORSU Referee: Phil Akroyd
The weather was perfect for rugby - dry and sunny conditions with a cool temperature, a light breeze blowing off the ocean and a soft pitch. ORSU never looked like losing this one, although it took over 15 minutes before their dominance showed on the score board, running in a try. After their first try, they found their groove and took advantage of the Fog breaking their defensive line in the half-back and three-quarter positions on more than one occasion. ORSU ran in five tries in the first half, with the score at 0 - 31 at half-time.

It looked like more of the same after the restart with ORSU adding another try but the Fog began to play an open, fast and almost chaotic game. This was in contrast to the way that ORSU had been controlling the game with planned moves and a structured game. The Fog got back two tries in the second half, with a much more even and competitive game, resulting in a final score of Gate Fog Women 12 - 45 ORSU.

Sunday, Oct. 5

Report by John Pohlman:
Two trips to Treasure Island on the weekend must mean the beginning of rugby season. Saturday the referee society met to discuss the new laws and our annual kick-off training meeting.

Sunday saw the SF Fog women hosting perennial powerhouse Berkeley All Blues.

Teams from Oregon and Minnesota were in town to compete against the Fog and All Blues. The Fog had played a strong Oregon team on Saturday. The All Blues had played another powerhouse team from Minnesota on Saturday.

The Fog looked like they had pretty much the same team on Sunday as they had on Saturday. The All Blues with a roster of 40 including six current Eagles looked to field a competitive mix of players.

SF Fog Women 5 – BERKELEY ALL BLUES 55 Referee: John Pohlman
This was a much closer game than the score. A hard tackling game with only 9 penalties. Most of the stoppages were from ball lost forward in the tackle. This maybe a place both coaches would want to focus on controlling the confrontation with ball in hand. Other than that these are two well coached and disciplined teams.

The All Blues started fast with tries at three and thirteen minutes. The second scored by winger Petrie Quigley, who tied #8 Blair Goefsema with two tries each.

The All Blues was the superior side. Loads of depth. Making substitutions did not seem to change the pattern or level of play. The Fog continues to both play hard and tackle strong and were rewarded with a try at half time.

Half time score All Blues 31 Fog 5.

The combination of playing two very hard games in two days and the All Blues depth and numbers led to four unanswered tries by the All Blues in the second half.

Scrappy scrum half and captain Ashley Goefsema, sister of #8, was my player of the game.

It was a beautiful day on Treasure Island, with loads of activities, Dragon Boat races, art fair, parties and one thing I had never seen in my 30 plus years involved with rugby. After the game one of the Berkley star players who had just left the field changed her rugby hat to her mommy hat and nursed her young child. Ya got love and support moms who play rugby.

ORSU 46 – Minnesota Valkyries 15 Referee: Chris Labozzetta


This remains the best referee exchange going. Ask Bruce Bernstein, Bruce Carter, Preston Gordon, Scott Wood or Tom Zanarini, who returned this week from twelve days in Rugby Heaven.

Colleen Zanarini and Tina Bernstein accompanied us as we travelled from Twickenham to Bath, Windsor to Worcester, London to Peterborough.

Peterborough? Ah, you ask – the home of the Peterborough Dog Races, a Friday night entertainment to build camaraderie between hosts and visitors!

Nicola Reynolds is the exchange coordinator for the East Midlands, and she lives in Peterborough where she is engaged to be married to Paul Dickens, an old friend of NorCal refs. Nicola saw to it that all were well taken care of.

Sue and Murray Felstead hosted Bruce Carter and gave generously of their time to squire the tourists around and to keep their home open as a drop-in point for all.

Elaine and Ian Baggott hosted Scott for the second time and no disasters were reported on this occasion.

The Zanarinis stayed with the Pickle family (with a teenage son referee) in Northampton and then with Phil Woodcock in Towcester.

Duncan Clayton of Rushden hosted Preston Gordon, who scored a tour trifecta: most games, most pints, and most kebabs.

Bruce Bernstein stayed with Bob Kamper in Oundle the first few days and then moved to stay with Nando Dimatteo and his wife when Tina arrived.

The sun shone every day. The only one who was rained upon was Scott Wood, when he had a game in Bedford where a renegade found him while sparing everyone elsewhere.

Many old friends of the Pelicans appeared for such events as Pub Night, including the Wearings, the Leakes, the Abrahams, the Graces, Tony Neff, and Gary Malpas. The biggest shock was seeing Bob Tustin, his hair grown long to raise money for a charity, looking like a refugee from a Swinging Sixties movie.

The group ran into erstwhile NorCal referee James Minards, who ran touch for the A league game between Worcester and Harlequins Also joining up at that match was Angus, Doug Harris, who used to play for Fresno but is now teaching at a public (private) school in Bristol, coaching their rugby team, and doing very well.

Belinda and Peter Hansford joined us for the banquet, as did Tony Kennedy from Cambridge.


Preston Gordon refereed eight games. This is a tour record, not counting Sevens matches.

On the inaugural 1994 exchange, at the Harpenden Pub Sevens Neil Novotny was sent down to the fifth pitch to referee the first game or two, until relieved.

The fifth pitch was out of sight of the other four, and of the referees’ tent. The society’s assignor arrived only after festivities had begun and did not realize that it existed. The games followed each other so closely that he hadn’t any opportunity to make his plight known.

Being a diligent referee, he ran till he could run no more and then simply abandoned his post after nine games on the trot.

Thursday, September 18
Under 14:
BEDFORD MODERN SCHOOL 45 – Oakham 8 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Under 14 Seconds:
BEDFORD MODERN SCHOOL 26 – Oakham 5 Referee: Preston Gordon

Saturday, Sept. 20
Towcester 10 – OLNEY 25 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Northampton Casuals 0 – DEEPINGS 21 Referee: Scott Wood

TOWCESTER 5 – Northampton Old Scouts 0 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Leighton Buzzard 7 – OLD NORTHAMPTONIANS 25 Referee: Preston Gordon

RUGBY SCHOOL 24 – St. Edward’s 21 Referee: Bruce Carter
This game will be the focus of a write-up at a later date.

It was one of the highlights of my career to referee a game on this pitch, and I carried a photograph of Dave Jaquint in my pocket because he would have wanted to have been there.

It was one of those days when we can say that Rugby won!

Sunday, Sept. 21

Rushden U13, 3 tries – RUSHDEN U14, 4 tries Referee: Preston Gordon

Under 17 matches:
KETTERING 38 – Stewarts 0 Referee: Preston Gordon

AMPTHILL 55 – Oundle 8 Referee: Bruce Carter

LONG BUCKBY 21 – Saint Neots 7 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Wellingborough Old Grammarians 17 – Bugbrooke 17 Referee: Scott Wood

Wellingborough 5 – LUTTERWORTH 12 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Tuesday, Sept. 23

BEDFORD SCHOOL 51 – Sandys Upper 0 Referee: Scott Wood

OUNDLE SCHOOL 34 – Oakham 27 Referee: Bruce Carter

Seconds: Oundle School 5 – OAKHAM 12 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Thirds: OUNDLE SCHOOL 10 – Oakham 5 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Stowe School 5 – ROYAL LATIN SCHOOL BUCKINGHAM 21 Referee: Preston Gordon

Wednesday, Sept. 24

Moulton College is nominally an agricultural college just outside Northampton. In rugby reality, it is the academy for potential Saints premiership players, coached by men on the staff of the professional team.

Being together for less than a week, they proceeded to pole-axe a normal team from the East Anglia coast.

MOULTON COLLEGE 82 – Colchester College 5 Referee: Preston Gordon
Assistant Referees: Tom Zanarini, Bruce Carter

The young academicians scored early and often. Their number 10 converted all but one of their many tries, using his left or right leg according to which side of the pitch he was on.

At one point they scored three tries without their opponents touching the ball other than to restart.

Such is the level of play of those on their way to the top.

Seconds: MOULTON COLLEGE 74 – Colchester College 0 Referee: Scott Wood
Assistant Referees: Gary Malpas, Duncan Clayton

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Bicester 0 – BUCKINGHAM 53 Referee: Bruce Carter
Red-card Carter, the Fastest Card in the West made an appearance in this one.

The first few minutes featured bleeding players well away from play, alleging stomps, head-butts or punches. Try as I might, I couldn’t catch anyone in the act.

The players mistook the absence of an eye in the back of my head for a permissive attitude. But then a fight broke out as a try was being scored, twenty meters back upfield.

I noted the numbers of the two guys trading blows, followed the score in, awarded it, and without pausing ran back to the scene of the real action, arriving just ahead of the home team’s prop who ran in to deliver what they call over there a ‘king hit’.

Then of course a dog-pile ensued. We disentangled that while the unimpressed kicker took the conversion.

Next the players all stood around looking at me as if to say, ‘Are you going to ignore this, too?’

I asked for the captains, and then for #6 Red and #2 Green. Red’s captain looked pretty relieved, thinking I’d got the wrong guy.

Six and two arrived. I said, “You guys friends?” They said of course they were, shook hands, and vamoosed. Red captain turned on his heel to go - until I said, “And your #1, please.” His shoulders fell.

Number one needed no words, just a flash of the card.

And guess what? No further disciplinary problems arose in the fifty minutes remaining. The players were smarter than they were aggrieved.

GOSFORD AB 54 – Wheatley 0 Referee: Scott Wood

OXFORD 27 – Stow-on-the-Wold 16 Referee: Tom Zanarini

BEDFORD SWIFTS 23 – Northampton Men’s Own 18 Referee: Preston Gordon

Northampton BBOB 2nd – Kettering 3rd Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Sunday, Sept.28
RUSHDEN-HIGHAM 32 – Old Northamptonians 19 Referee: Preston Gordon


Bern 7 – STADE LAUSANNE 24 Referee: Preston Gordon
Switzerland National League A (Men's D1)
October 4, 2008 in Bern

After our East Midlands exchange, I traveled on to Switzerland for a little bit of work, time with friends, and one more rugby game. Since I refereed there a couple of years ago, I contacted the allocators and let them know I would be in town if they needed any help. I was pleasantly surprised when they assigned me one of the 3 NLA games that weekend. Attending the 2 Grasshopper Club Zürich Rugby training sessions earlier in the week definitely helped with maintaining fitness. The work on the scrum sled and 300 lb. tractor tires, while useful, probably didn't do much for this game though.

Before the match, I was running a few things through my mind. I had refereed both of these teams before, albeit a couple of years ago, and didn't expect anything unusual or any violence. Bern was newly promoted to the NLA this year, while Stade Lausanne has several players who only speak French. However, there were no problems with that - I remembered most of my rugby French, which was no doubt helped by watching Heineken Cup games with bilingual referees (Alain Rolland comes to mind).

On to the report: Saturday in Bern was forecasted to be very cold and very wet. As it turned out, it was about 50ºF and there were only a few raindrops before the game. We kicked off just after 1500 on the Wankdorf Allmend (the common, in English) next to the Stade de Suisse.

Bern scored a converted try at about 2' and were looking dangerous. They were definitely the more motivated side in the first half. I had to have a word with the captains at 5' after 3 quick penalties for hands in the ruck, which put a stop to that. Bern conceded 3 penalty goals after the try in the first half for a 9-7 lead to Stade Lausanne, whose backline play and lineout were better.

In the second half, Stade Lausanne had apparently received a good talking to, because they came out firing right from the restart. In short order they scored another penalty goal, and later an unconverted try to lead 17-7. At about 72', their forwards got another (converted) try off a rolling maul to seal the win at 24-7 to Stade Lausanne.

Bern's front row and scrum were dominant, although as the match progressed Stade Lausanne began to get the ball out of the scrums faster to compensate. Several wheeled scrums and crooked lineout throws led to changes in possession at the set piece throughout the match. Open play was good for the most part, and there were only a couple of isolated incidents of uncontrolled aggression. The Stade Lausanne #10 did a great job place kicking, scoring some long-range penalties and conversions from wide out.

Overall this was a good game, with nearly everybody happy after the match, and it was good to be refereeing in Switzerland again. The standard of play has increased from what I remember 2 years ago.


This tournament will be played over two days, October 10-11 (a Friday-Saturday), in Portland, Oregon.

A most gracious invitation has been received from Ron Myers that should be considered at least twice:

“I just wanted to extend the invite for any refs who are looking for a great run to come up for this event.

”I have been told there are 16 teams committed. Nike sponsorship has been secured and two great days are planned. The host club and PNRRS Oregon will provide lodging and meals and hosts for both days.”

If you are interested please let us know.


Life has expanded to fill what vacuum there was in your faithful scribe’s life, even when on exchange. The hiatus thereby imposed on the regularity of these missives is regretted but these circumstances threaten to occur more often than not in the future.

Several things appertain here: a new national referee job, requiring un-anticipated amounts of e-mail time, most of which comes with short deadlines attached; success in professional life, with a growing medical practice leaving fewer and smaller holes in the working days (already twelve hours long) in which to compose and compile these notes; a much-appreciated wife waiting at home and a grandson to raise, rendering computer time in the home office less and less desirable.

We are looking into setting up referee reporting of game results and posting of match reports directly onto This would free up the red-pencil time to be used for continuing Hail, Pelicus! as a vehicle for announcements, upcoming events, and creative writing.

(During the heart of the rugby season ten to twelve hours are required a week to chase down match reports, do the necessary editing and cross-checking, etc.)

Please bear with us if we become a less-than-weekly. Be advised that subscription rates will not change.

Passing Time
There are so many great pictures from the East Mids exchange but this one has a story:

Wayne Barnes refereed the Leicester – Wasps match. When he was kind enough to spend some time with the group afterwards he shied away, at first, at the sight of Preston Gordon’s warm-ups.

Your faithful photographer asked them to pose together and said to Wayne, “Preston has been looking FORWARD to PASS some time with you.”

And you can see for yourself that he was gracious and kind.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris