Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I HEART RUGBY

HAIL, PELICUS!

MARCH AVAILABILITY

Please respond with your availability to referee in March, and whether you can travel that weekend (more than a hundred miles each way).

Available? If yes, can you travel?
March 7
Mar 14
Mar 21
Mar 28

We’ll be running about forty club and college games each Saturday through March 21. It starts to slow down after that, with fewer than half as many games on any particular weekend. But of course the high schools will still be going strong.

FEBRUARY SOCIETY MEETING

We will be meeting this month on Wednesday, Feb. 18, the usual time and place: SF/Golden Gate clubhouse, 7 – 9 PM. We’ll be covering Laws 11, 19 and 20.

The Development Committee will meet from 6 till 7 and food will be on hand for early arrivals. So, allow time for traffic. Traffic: you won’t be late; no traffic: plenty of time to talk rugby over a bite.

BIG WEEKEND

The IRB Sevens in San Diego improves every year. Not just the crowd, and the amenities at the stadium, but the Eagles’ performance on the pitch.

You probably heard: on Saturday we lost to South Africa by one, beat Australia and pole-axed Canada to move to the quarterfinals.

Sunday the boys took down Kenya and then were leading Argentina in the semi-final until a late score put the South Americans ahead by five.

Finishing tied for third in a sixteen-team event is a wonderful thing but we can plausibly dream of what might have been. Argentina went on to win the final and the USA should have had another play to tie or defeat them.

This was fairly straightforward. There were twelve seconds left went Argentina took the re-start kick. It went directly into touch. The ref and the assistant ref stood there looking at each other until the twelve seconds expired and the horn sounded. Then the ref blew full-time.

All we can possibly imagine is that both of them were waiting for the other to tell them what just happened. There were about ten thousand fans in a position to SEE exactly what had just happened, any of whom could have told them: it’s a free kick to the USA at the center.

But that’s not what happened and explanations are of course meaningless after something like this transpires. It’s just a fact. A chance to help cement the game into the American consciousness was denied – presumably if we’d won the tournament it would have made the mainstream news. But, no. Just another anonymous event on a weekend that included Daytona and Pebble Beach.

Saturday night featured a dinner of the US Rugby Football Foundation in honor of Doc Hudson and Pat Vincent, two of the leading lights in American rugby through the middle part of last century, both NorCal stalwarts. The NCRRS was represented by Dave Williamson and Helen Marcus, Dixon Smith, and Bruce and Linda Carter.

TELEVISED GAME

ESPNU will be broadcasting three rugby games over the next month, and one of them will be right here in Pelicanland: Saturday, February 21, Cal hosting the University of British Columbia at 1 PM.

This is always a great game, often Cal’s toughest of the year. And this year, we’d love to show viewers across this land that doesn’t know it loves rugby yet just what they are missing.

If you are not going to be refereeing or playing rugby elsewhere, please consider attending this match, adding your face and voice to the crowd and the chorus that has always supported rugby in this, the best blest part of the country.

MATCH REPORTS

Thursday
U. of San Francisco 13 – MARITIME ACADEMY 55 Referee: Chris Labozzetta

Friday
Stanford – Chico State RAINED OUT
Seconds: Stanford – Chico State

Saturday
UC Davis 21 – ST. MARY’S 50 Referee: Joe Androvich
Assessor: Bryan Porter

Seconds: UC Davis 7 – ST. MARY’S 63 Referee: Chris Labozzetta
So after the nonsense going back and forth on both games, the SFGG HS side cancelled!! Even worse, they cancelled and didn’t tell anyone, so I along with another ref showed up only to find out the game was off.

Anyhow, I got to Davis with plenty of time to spare and reffed a nice match between Davis and St Mary’s B-side.

Davis has a very good side, but on the day, St. Mary’s was just bit more fit and won out. But I will say without a doubt that the boys never gave up and that’s what rugby is all about, never quitting, so they deserve a ton of credit. Especially the try they scored late in the game. Great stuff. It’s always fun to ref well coached teams, and this was one of the better coached teams I’ve seen. Good luck throughout the season.

In the end it was St. Mary’s 63- Davis 7.

SAC STATE 19 – Nevada 12 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Seconds: Sac State – Nevada CANCELED

San Jose State 6 – HUMBOLDT STATE 12 Referee: Sam Davis
Clouds in the sky with scattered sunshine and snow on the hills two rugby teams warming up! Is this San Francisco Bay area?

Saturday is a rugby day! Humboldt had made the drive down the night before everyone was warming up at 9:00 am. SJSU looked like a budding team with a number of new players filling in their ranks. Humboldt won the toss and elected to take the morning sun and breeze to their backs. Humboldt played in SJSU side of the field for 12 minutes on attack. SJSU just would not let them cross the goal line. So the quick witted #10 drew first blood by a beautiful drop kick. This surprised the new players who did not understand that Humboldt had just scored 3 points.

SJSU kicked off the ball which was passed out to the fullback who was a great runner driving deep into SJSU end of the field but was stopped short of the 20 meter line the ball was recycled and Humboldt was back on attack. SJSU never gave up Humboldt drover over the goal line but was held up in goal. The ball out to the backs who knocked it on SJSU was able to get the ball out of their end of the field SJSU was in Humboldt's end of the field attacking when a high tackle/dangerous play provide their first opportunity to score. With a very strong wind blowing the SJSU kicker kicked a 30 meter kick straight thru and well past the goal post.

Both teams were plagued with off sides. After a number of warnings Humboldt's new lock drew a yellow card. Humboldt still on the attack and SJSU still holding strong the #10 did another drop kick bringing the score 6-3 at the half.

The 2nd half had much more open play since everyone had figured out how to stay on sides (most of the time) Humboldt capitalized on a quick penalty it was out to the sidelines and a foot race which Humboldt one hitting the corner flag as he put the ball down (thank goodness for the new laws) The strong wind and being on the side line the kick came up about 5 meters short. Humboldt plagued with a number of penalties gave SJSU two shots at goal making one of them.

SJSU was on the attack inside the 5 meters when Humboldt's strong defense and a knock-on ended the game. Final Score Humboldt 12 SJSU 6

Nevada women – Stanford Referee: Sam Reagle
Stanford @ UNR Women has been postponed until 1pm Monday at UNR. I will head up Monday morning.

SAC STATE women 56 – St. Mary's 0 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
The final score of this match - Sac State Women 56 (29) - St. Mary's 0 pretty much sums up the one sided affair. The Sacramento ladies were just too fit, big, and skilled for a youthful St. Mary side which, to its credit, continued to soldier on throughout the match. The tries came in fast and furious in the first half, a number scored by Sacramento's sturdy but deceivingly fast No. 12, who appeared to cut through defenders at will. Five more tries were scored in the second half for a total of ten, three of which converted.

The only item of note is that, due to a number of collapsed scrums of unclear source, I called the scrums uncontested from the 16th minute of the second half.

As usual the ladies ruggers were polite, played in the spirit of the game, and refrained from the back talk that is frequent in the men's game. A wonderful dedicated pitch and a smallish but friendly crowd in attendance contributed to the good day.

HIGH SCHOOL GAMES

COUGARS 36 – Lancers 0 Referee: Sam Reagle
On a rainy and cold Friday afternoon in Sacramento, 2 good high school rugby teams met to play on a pitch with an area named Lake Cougar. I imagine it was rugby as the creators at Rugby School in England envisioned. The game stayed in the forwards most of the day.

In the first half, the Cougars had the wind and managed 3 tries and a conversion against a pretty solid defense. The Lancers did well to recycle the ball and attack into Cougar territory, but never managed to get into goal. Any turnover by the Lancers allowed the Cougars to either attack or gain territorial advantage thru the air. Halftime score: 17-0.

Though I expected the wind to give an advantage to the Lancers in the second half, the stronger Cougars pack continued to dominate the day with 3 more tries (2 converted), one of which was a spectacular diving try into Lake Cougar. There were very few penalties and no kicks at goal attempted. I commend both sidelines for their professionalism. I hope the players enjoyed it as much as I did.

Frosh/Soph Game: Elsie Allen 13 – JESUIT 53 Referee: Roberto Santiago
Both teams played hard but Jesuit had more athletes and more size. Despite being undersized Elsie Allen played hard and never hung their heads. Elsie's hooker and scrum half played with particular distinction. Both sides showed the benefits of solid coaching.

Varsity: ELSIE ALLEN 8 – Jesuit 5 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
Referee Coach: Joe Leisek
Santa Rosa. This may be the best game I am assigned all season. All of the positive sports clich├ęs apply to these programs and this game. These are two of the heavyweights of American high school rugby. Both have been national champions.

Because it is a varsity sport, Jesuit starts the season later that many teams. It also had a game the night before this traditional preseason match. The swagger of their players warming up was unmistakable, but the pregame focus of the Elsie Allen Lobos was also obvious.

Play was intense and generally disciplined from the opening kick. The first half was mostly the Lobos, who had more of a game plan-keep it in the pack and pick and go- and executed it to perfection. Several times they took it to nine phases before spinning it out to backs who crashed and then started it again. The fact that it was only 5-0 for the host team was a credit to Jesuit; although their attack was a bit unstructured their defense was not.

The second half saw a more organized Jesuit force turnovers at the ruck and then the backline swing it wide to its advantage. It was Elsie Allen's turn to tackle and dig in. Jesuit scored at about 15 minutes in, only to see its conversation kick bounce off the goal post. With 10 minutes left, Elsie Allen kicked a penalty (just barely inside and over the bar). Full time found Jesuit pressing and just outside the Lobos' 22, but losing its throw-in prior to the game's final re-start.

Low scoring? Yes, but these are early days; two weeks from now the ref will need a CPA on the sideline to keep up with the points.

My complements to both teams. And thanks to Joe Leisek for his perceptive, constructive coaching.

JV Game: Elsie Allen 0 - JESUIT 12 Ref: Santiago
Jesuit came back to win the bookend game and end the day on a good note. The end of a long day of rugby in the cold rain and wind ended about the way one might expect, sloppy. Knock-ons were the story of the game with repeated infringements around the tackle as a sub-plot. Even with the slop both sides played solid defense and made tactically sound decisions when pinned in their own halves. Both sides again reflected well on their coaches and their schools.

Berkeley Rhinos – Lamorinda Referee: Rob Hendrickson
After receiving word late Friday night that the rains meant TI was no longer available, Berkeley and Lamo were able to shift gears and go back to their original Gilman Field venue to play a shortened f/s scrimmage followed by a varsity run for one period within their 9-12 field reservation. The rain managed to lift long enough to make for a great morning of rugby, with only one ball going over the fence and the Gilman on-ramp and onto the freeway shoulder. The f/s scrimmage was close, with Lamo scoring 2 tries in the first half and 3 in the second, and the Rhinos coming close but held scoreless. The Varsity side scored a lot.

Late score from last week

UCSC 34 – U. of San Francisco 17 Referee: Sam Davis
It was a beautiful day in Santa Cruz with a great clear view of the bay perfect temperature for rugby. USF and the Banana slugs were warming up ready for rugby. I had refereed the Slugs on their trip up to Humboldt and was impressed with the come from behind win. They would be on their home turf I was wondering how they would play on such a nice field vs the pothole invested field that Humboldt had available.

The Slugs kicked off and both teams came to play it took 8 mins before USF surprised the Slugs and scored between the uprights. The Slug had their wake up call their first score was 3 points after USF came into the side of the ruck at the 21 min mark three min later they doted the ball down and added the two extra when the kick was good. The Slugs dominated the scrums but had trouble getting the ball to the wings. The half ended with Santa Cruz scoring one in the corner the kick was short Slugs 15 USF 7 2nd half it took the slugs 5 min to score their first try at the 21 min mark USF put one down the kick was wide. The slugs came back the next min to score and two mins after that they scored again 9 min pasted with no one scoring USF had not given up with 10 min left in the game they scored their final try. The game ended UCSC 34 USF

THIS WEEK’S PHOTO
St. Valentinus
The first day of the IRB Sevens in San Diego falling on February 14, a certain personage dropped by to validate the festivities.

Here is St. Valentinus with James Hinkin and his friend Elisabeth.

HAIL, PELICUS!

For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris