Thursday, April 30, 2009




We are on the cusp of out-growing the room set aside for us by Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek. It’s time to fish or cut bait: we’ll be locked in over the next few days.

If you’ve been thinking of attending now’s the time to commit. At present we’re in a room that holds fifty. Next week the larger rooms will be given to other uses June 13. If we don’t have additional responses to justify the larger facility we’ll foreclose that option.

Pelican Banquet 2009
Denis Shanagher Award presentation to Donal Walsh
Gathering of Glitterati
Scott’s Seafood, Walnut Creek
Saturday, June 13, drinks at 6, dinner at 7
Pelicans free; Guests $50
Contact: Bjorn Stumer


The Reno tournament has expanded to two days and moved to May! It will be played May 9-10.

If you’d like to get in some post-season rugby, let us know. We’re negotiating the hotel rooms at the moment.


East Palo Alto has taken the top Pacific Coast seed into the D2 nationals. Congratulations to the Razorbacks!


Friday, May 1
Mother Lode – Elsie Allen Referee: Phil Akroyd

Saturday, May 2
Marin Highlanders – Cougar RC Referee: Bryant Byrnes
Hayward – East Palo Alto Referee: Ryan Luis
San Mateo – Diablo Referee: TBA


These will be played Friday and Saturday. We’re needing to wrench a couple of refs away for those high school playoff games – bear with us.

Best of luck to Cal and Stanford!


Wednesday, April 22: NorCal U19 Semi-finals:

San Mateo 20 – HAYWARD 21 Referee: Pete Smith
ARs: James Hinkin, John Pohlman

SF/Golden Gate 17 – LAMORINDA 20 Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: Preston Gordon, George O'Neil
4th: Eric Rauscher
Very close game, should have been closer. The first half was dominated by Lamorinda, who put in 2 tries and a penalty goal, all kicked by a very able #10. SFGG responded with a lone try, a result of pressure from the #8 who charged down a kick, collected the happy bounce and touched down under the posts. After checking with the ARs, it was agreed he was onside and so the try was given.

The conversion missed. At least that's what we ruled.

[Editor’s notes in brackets: Now: pay close attention] The conversion was a line-drive from in front of the upright that bounced off the upright at almost exactly 90 degrees to the direction of travel, still rising as it ricocheted off.

I knew it hit the post above the bar but thought it bounced back into the field of play. [i.e, crossed in front of the opposite upright]

George knew it bounced into in-goal [i.e, crossed behind the other upright], but thought it hit the post below the bar.

So we both thought it missed for different reasons, but between us we knew the true story. My assumption, which led to the screw-up, was that George ruled it unsuccessful for the same reason I did.

At half time I asked George what happened. He said the ball went under the bar. This is one of those moments that you find out what everyone else in the place knew already: I just screwed up. I had assumed that he ruled it unsuccessful because it bounced back out i.e. it did not go between the posts. The ball had clearly gone over the bar from my vantage point, so between us we had all the information to get it right. Why then, when I know to check with my ARs that a try is good, do I not use the same discretion on the conversion? Well for sure I will in future.

My blushes were spared in the second half when, with the score tied up at 17 after 2 further SFGG tries, I gave a scrum to Lamorinda under the posts for a forward pass. The passer took exception to my call, and rather vocally, so the scrum became a penalty. The Lamo #10 was not going to miss that one. Late pressure by Gate came to naught as the final pass went forward and the game was done. 20-17 to Lamo, should have read 20-19, but the result is the same.

On the drive home I did figure out that the result would have been OK in the end, had it remained 17-17. Given this is a knockout in the U-19 competition; the tie-breaker goes to the team with the most tries. This would have been SFGG, by 3-2. So although I would have altered the match, the spoils would have gone to the rightful team. This helped me sleep better, if not making me proud of myself.

[As with most things rugby, this reminds your editor of a story.

[The most difficult thing to judge is whether the ball goes over or under the crossbar when it is moving fast, especially if it is rising. The ball is white. The bar is white. Vision only seems continuous to us for the same reasons cinema appears to move: our eyes sample the optical environment frequently enough that we don’t ‘see’ the gaps. But the ball can subtend the arc represented by that crossbar during one of these lacunae.

[We were at the old North American Challenge Cup at the University of British Columbia, 2000. Josh Tameifuna was referee, Bob Woerner and Scriptoris the TJs. The conversion was taken dead center maybe fifteen meters out and followed a frozen-rope trajectory, like a laser beam through smoke. Looked to me like it went right through the crossbar.

[Josh stood patiently with his whistle at his side awaiting our call.

[I looked at Bob awaiting his call – we were both belly-up to the posts.

[And Bob looked at me awaiting my call. My call would have been quantum tunneling: award the kick for the degree of difficulty it represented.

[Ah – but there stretching and warming up for the following game, behind the corner flag in my field of view, was Tom Coburn, a fellow with a very quick mind. He read our three minds, found the pages blank, and gave me a thumb’s-up.

[Bob and I raised our flags together, the whistle went, it all transpiring so smoothly that Josh didn’t realize that his TJs had had no clue.

[You see now that the best place to call a low riser is way out to the side, from where it is obvious whether the line of flight is above or below the crossbar.]

Final: U-19 NorCal Championship for the Nationals
LAMORINDA 17 – Hayward 10 Referee: George O'Neil
Evaluator: Mike Malone

Pacific Coast Challenge Match for the USA Single-School Playoffs
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS 36 – Snow Valley 10 Referee: Chris Tucker
Thanks to ARs: Mason Gunn and Donal Walsh

A beautiful day for rugby on a pitch lightly softened by rain the night before. This was my first match actually at Christian Bros School: normally they beg borrow and deal a pitch from the city, but today rugby triumphed over baseball (as with 15 big guys vs. 9 scrawny ones you'd expect it to?) and we had pride of place for the Pac Coast High School playoff, to the victor going the #2 seed and a trip to Pittsburgh.

Snow Canyon made the drive down from St. George, UT in around 12 hours, and were going to be going straight back after the game. This is dedication! A couple of bystanders and I chatted about them as they warmed up, in particular the colossal gentleman whose name I later found out to be Jim, a 6'7" prop, tipping the scale at 413 pounds. His height hampered him slightly in the scrum, which merely meant he didn't dominate utterly, just never moved!

The first half was an even affair, with numerous handling errors, and some problems with tacklers not clearing (Snow Canyon) and entering through the side (CB) but a few stern words later in the half and this seemed to clear up. Both teams touched down for a try, leaving CB up by 2 at the half. After the interval, traffic went one-way for a while, as the CB backline got into their groove. The strong tackles and cover play from the first half began to fade, and some wayward kicking gave too much opportunity, with 4 tries coming in the span of 20 minutes. As one try was run in down the wing, a dumb photog was nearly flattened while blissfully snapping away a metre behind the goal line, 15m in from the touchline. I wonder why we painted the line around the in-goal? Decoration?? Those who know me will not be surprised to learn she received a blistering dressing-down.

Undaunted by the score, Snow Canyon put together a period of pressure late in the game, and were rewarded when Jim received the ball at full speed 2 metres out. The CB captain made a valiant effort to hold up the ball, but 413 pounds + 410-460 grams was too much to keep up, and the best he could do was an arm partway under the ball. This didn't stop contact with the ground, and the try was given. CB finished it off with one as time expired, and that was pretty much that.

The Snow Canyon team is in its first year, and features a majority of sophomores, so these guys will go from strength to strength. Always good to see a well-coached team out enjoying themselves. Welcome to rugby!

In Stanislaus: Son of Harlotfest

Referees: John Coppinger, Rich Anderson, Phil Akroyd
Teams: Harlots, Fog, UOP, Sierra, Berkeley, USF, Baracus, Gators

3 referees, but 4 Pelicans, went to Turlock for the revamped Harlotfest on Saturday morning.

A couple of teams canceled about last call-time early Saturday morning and one team not slated to play arrived and played.

As the result, a total of 9 40-minute games were played w/ each of the referees (Rich Anderson, Phil Akroyd, and me) getting 3 matches. (Someone had a shameful tie.)

Although no finals were played, Sierra College seemed to be the class of the day and had the most players on the day. Host Harlots played well and were generous with their food (pulled pork sandwiches) and beverages (although the keg did run out before the referees had finished their work). Also present were USF (which arrived in a chartered coach), UOP, a Berkeley/Fog amalgamation, and surprise guest San Francisco State.

The fourth pelican was Chris Labozzetta, who played tighthead and mentor for USF.

Hopefully, this event will be repeated w/ a bit more organization.

Pacific Coast Inv. Tourney

Pat Wickman (NY), Paul Phillips (SoCal), Tony Redmond, Pete Smith, Bruce Carter, Greg Lundell, Brian Schnack, Eric Rauscher, Mike King, Bruce Bernstein, Ryan Luis, Rob Hendrickson, Preston Gordon, Dave Richards, Paul Berman

Tournament Organizer: Ray Schwartz

Sunday, 2009-04-26
Cougar RC 17 – CHUCKANUT BAY 51 Referee: Preston Gordon
ARs: Mike King & Paul Berman
Assessor: Bryan Porter

After doing a couple of games at the Pacific Coast Invitational Tournament (U19) on Saturday, I had the opportunity to ref the varsity gold final match Sunday afternoon. The teams were Cougar RC (up near Sacramento) and Chuckanut Bay (near Seattle, and the tournament winner last year). The Cougars looked to be a lot bigger, but their warmup was somewhat lackadaisical.

The game seemed fairly evenly matched. The Cougars used their size advantage, while Chuckanut did a more effective job of playing together - offloading in the tackle, making the passes, moving the ball around, etc. For the first few minutes the score was close at 0-3, then 5-3, then 5-10. Soon after, Chuckanut was reduced to 14 players when I saw punches being thrown and subsequently sent one of their players off. Oddly, this seemed to lift their game: they went into halftime up 5-32, having scored 5 tries vs. 1.

The second half had lots of good open play and some excellent forward and back tries (by both sides). Cougars made some great plays towards the end of the game, scoring 2 tries, but ultimately they were outclassed by Chuckanut, who added 3 tries in the second half. The final score was 17-51.

Thanks to both teams for traveling to San Jose, thanks to the crew that organized the PCIT, and thanks very much to Mike and Paul who did a great job on the touchline.

Tournament Finalists
The team for the final at the Pacific Coast High School Invitational, which was won for the second year in a row by Chuckanut Bay:

Paul Berman, Mike King, Preston Gordon and Bryan Porter


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris