Thursday, May 28, 2009




Preston Gordon has been advanced to C1 in recognition of some good late-season games, particularly playoff games in D3 and high school. Congratulations!


The High School Grizzly Shield will be played this Saturday and Sunday in Palo Alto, with games at Stanford’s Steuber Family Rugby Stadium and across El Camino at Palo Alto HS.

You’ve heard about rugby in Hawaii, America’s Polynesian Nation. Look at it this way: even though Polynesians make up only about 10% of Hawaii’s population, that’s more than the population of Tonga and almost as many as Samoa.

Now our game is being organized in the 50th State and starting to grow in the youth divisions.

Well, now’s your chance to see a rugby team of players primarily from the high school that has produced the most NFL players, Kahuku. They will be taking on all-star teams from Arizona, the Sac Valley, Oregon, Utah, SoCal, the Redwood Empire and the ever-present ‘Wanderers’.

The fixtures will be refereed by promising C2 referees from around the PCRFU.

Assistant Referees are welcome, as well as peer coaches, for these games. We’ll start at 8:30 AM on Saturday, and likewise an early start on Sunday to allow attendance at the USA – Ireland match in nearby Santa Clara. Let us know if you can help out.

Speaking of which: see you there?


The best wishes of the Northern California rugby community will be flying east, to Glendale, Colo., this weekend, where Saturday will find SFGG in the super league final and EPA in the D2 semi-final.

We looked in vain for cheap up-and-back fares, wanting to be at Buck Shaw for Sunday’s Test.

Sometimes we’ve felt like our presence jinxed favorite teams; let us hope our absence guarantees them victories!


Now that we’ve overflowed the room we had initially reserved, which would only seat fifty, we can welcome as many more as wish to join us (well, up to a hundred).

Bjorn Stumer reports that we are up to seventy, and counting. Don’t miss out!

Pelican Society Banquet and USA Rugby Referee Hall of Fame Induction
Scott Seafood, Walnut Creek
Saturday, June 13, 6 PM for 7 PM
Society members: free. Guests: $50.
Reply to:


The TIP event that Aruna Ranaweera has been selected to attend at Stellenbosch, South Africa, stands for Talent Identification Program.

*Acronyms Are Us


Eric Rauscher and Mike King refereed at the Scottish Games two weeks ago:

I would like to say thank you for your help in making our rugby program successful at the 2009 Livermore Scottish Games.
You maintained complete control of the games, brought professionalism, and were very adaptable to our “ever changing” schedule.
The directors of the games were very impressed with our program....thanks to both of you!
Three cheers to the Pelican Refs!

Ken Burnthorn
Pleasanton Cavaliers RFC


Heck, not just Jim’s:

Disney Californian Hotel
Penelope Pelica and your faithful scribe spent the Memorial Day weekend at Disneyland with a passel of grandchildren.

The lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel offers this fine non-animated specimen.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 20, 2009




Joe Androvich has earned promotion to B2. Joe’s skills have been recognized by the PCRRS and his elevation announced by REO Matt Eason.

Congratulations to our formerly-struggling C2.


Aruna Ranaweera has been selected to attend an IRB training program for rising international referees at Stellenbosch, South Africa, in July. The program is called the TIP, an acronym that eludes us thus far.

George O’Neil has received a grant from the US Rugby Football Foundation to assist him in traveling to Canterbury, New Zealand, to referee for the next three months. The NCRRS will be helping out with his travel expenses as well, to the tune of an East Mids exchange airfare.


Doubtless you’ve seen a list of the ten ELVs that were adopted. What a worthless, backwards way to present information: we’ve all been refereeing them long enough that they aren’t ‘experimental’ to us; they are simply the way the game is played.

By not adopting three of the ELVs, what has happened is three Laws have been changed.

These are the ELVs that were NOT adopted. Stop refereeing them as of the next game you do, unless it is a playoff game from a season already underway as of May 23.

Experimental Law Variation 2
Law 17 - Maul
Removed reference to head and shoulders not being lower than hips. The reference is back in.

Experimental Law Variation 3
Law 17 - Maul
Players were able to defend a maul by pulling it down. Now they can’t.

Experimental Law Variation 6
Law 19 - Touch and Lineout
There is again a restriction on the number of players from the non-throwing team who can participate in the lineout.

Executive Summary: Back to the old maul laws and we have to count the players in the lineout again.

Please – don’t ever give a free kick for numbers. Just talk the players into compliance – the ball’s not even in play. Tell them they have too many guys and let them retire. Easiest whistle you’ll ever avoid.


I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.
- Psalm 102:6

Faithful readers will recall that my game count is now up to 1,699. But I have not refereed as indiscriminately as such a sum might imply to skeptics.

When I was playing and entered my thirties, older teammates started talking about the joys of old boys rugby, looking forward to ‘masters’ events. I was only going to be drawn kicking and screaming into it, wanted no part of it. Real rugby for me, thank you.

My playing career and my refereeing career overlapped by ten years, but I like a fool I gave priority to playing. Then I broke my hand punching an opponent who was playing dirty, requiring surgery to repair the damage – none of which was to him.

With two pins sticking out of my hand and an external apparatus to support them, I couldn’t play for six weeks. The Reno and Las Vegas tournaments were coming up! Only one thing to be done: referee.

The Wild West Rugby Fest was a big event back then, four pitches going all day for two days. I arrived early on Saturday morning and reported for duty to the referee director, Dan Hickey.

Now, Dan knew me as a fellow who’d played eight games for five different teams on the Saturday at the Golden Gate tournament less than six months previously. When I said, “But I’m a ref now,” he looked at the device on my mangled hand and said, “Sure you are.”

I was thereby assigned ‘every game on field four’; the old boys field, mercifully narrow and short. Mercifully because we were out of season, at altitude, all of the players older than the ref, many of whom had not been able to find beds amid the distractions of Nevada the night just past.

The first lineout of the first match I had to eject a player for punching. He told me I hadn’t seen the first punch and no wonder: it had been thrown several years previously, when I was yet living in Georgia.

It was at that point that I saw old boys rugby for what is was: the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. A vast wasteland of former glory. I didn’t wish to embrace getting older! I took a Scarlett O’Hara-like vow: “As God is my witness I will never referee old boys again!”

So it was last week, more than twenty years later, that I found myself contemplating Saturday’s schedule. Mike Walker had asked for a ref for an old boys curtain-raiser at Rocca Field. The only refs I knew for certain were going to be there were the ARs for the super-league match, who would need to be preparing for that fixture, and the two fourth officials: Tom Zanarini and myself. Tom was serving as AR for the high school championship that morning and the timings weren’t right.

I said to my wife, “Should I ref an old boys game?”

She said, “Why not?”

I said, “Well, I’ve always avoided them. I don’t think I’ve done one since joining the society.”

Knowing me better than I know myself, she said: “Check your diary. I’ll bet you’ve done one somewhere.”

Sure enough: Aspen Ruggerfest, 1995. Over-35 final.

But, I objected strenuously, that is HARDLY the same thing. My old Monterey teammate Brian Vizard played for OMBAC in that game, a month after playing on their national championship-winning Sevens side.

So it was that I drove to Treasure Island Saturday morning to willingly referee my first real old boys game.

Señors 31 – BALD EAGLES 43 Referee: Bruce Carter
How can there be old boys whom I refereed in high school? One of those, Tory Galino, more than accounted for the difference in score, setting his backline free again and again.

Something new under the sportsmanship sun: the Señors did not feel moved to take conversion kicks, so Bald Eagle Captain Beau McSwain took one for them, neatly slotting an own-goal.

Then, too, there were calls that one of the Señors had obstructed. The ruling was, “Fred Forster cannot obstruct.” (Fred, by the way, is in his fortieth season of over-35 rugby.)

What a fun game! My perspective has certainly changed now that I’m older than most of the players rather than the other way around. Refereeing rugby – any rugby – is the key to unlocking what youth yet remains in these bones.

SF/GOLDEN GATE 48 – Dallas 13 Referee: Tim Luscombe
ARs: Charlie Haupt, Chris Tucker
Fourth Officials: Tom Zanarini, Bruce Carter
Referee Coach: David Williamson

If you haven’t seen Gate’s super league side this season, find your way to Rocca Field this Saturday, May 23, for their 3 PM semi-final with the Denver Barbarians.

This team features dynamic, threatening players front to back, left to right. They lead the league in scoring. The locks, the halfback pair, pace and power everywhere you look – well worth your Saturday.


Round of sixteen:
Olympic Club 7 – GLENDALE 8
OLYMPIC CLUB 48 – Houston AC 13

Round of sixteen:
EAST PALO ALTO 16 – St. Louis Bombers 5
EAST PALO ALTO 26 – Back Bay 11

Round of sixteen:
Mission 7 – FORT WORTH 13
MISSION 31 – Eagle Rock 12

East Palo Alto will play in the final four in Glendale, Colo., May 30-31.


It was win, place and show for the Sacramento Valley conference of the NCRFU. Jesuit brought home gold, Christian Brothers silver, and the Amazons the bronze.

JESUIT 50 – Charlotte Catholic 0

JESUIT 27 – Xavier 5

JESUIT 28 – Christian Brothers 0

Sacramento 5 – LAKEWOOD 8
Third place:
SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 56 – Maryville (Tenn) 0


Marin Highlanders 27 – SAN MATEO Warriors 30 Referee: Preston Gordon
ARs: Tom Zanarini, Mike King
Evaluator: Mike Malone
Referee Coach: Peter Buchanan (Queensland & Australia)
Redwood HS, Larkspur, 2009-05-16, 10 AM

On a very warm morning, these two teams met in the NorCal high school final. The semi-finals were by all accounts very good games, and it looked like this one would be another. Marin was warming up when I got there at 0900, and by the time San Mateo turned up at the pitch at 0940, there were a hundred or so supporters gathered on the Marin side.

Tom, Mike, and I quickly got the pre-match formalities out of the way with San Mateo, and we were ready to go at the scheduled kickoff time of 1000. One of the Marin coaches still wasn't quite happy with the San Mateo IDs and rosters, so we had to wait a few extra minutes, but we started soon after. I'd guess it was about 75 degrees (and probably about 85 by the end of the game).

San Mateo used their outside backs as their primary offensive weapon in the first part of the game, while Marin seemed to be better suited to a forwards' style. Those trends balanced out nicely as the match progressed, with all the players on the field getting into the action.

Tries were traded back and forth, and at the half it was 20-15 in favor of San Mateo, despite their lack of serious pre-game preparation time. San Mateo had scored 4 tries against 2 tries, a conversion, and a penalty goal for Marin.

I don't think this game ever got more than a try apart, and there were several lead changes. 2 knock-ons over the goal line (one caught nicely by Mike) and a couple of runs close to touch kept things interesting and the team of three on their toes.

San Mateo added another 2 additional tries in the second half (neither of them converted), whereas Marin added 2 more and a conversion, setting up the result at 30-27 to San Mateo. Marin had one last chance to get out of their 22 when a San Mateo flanker was penalized for coming off the scrum early, but unfortunately they made a forward pass - I had to wait a few seconds to call it so I could check with Tom to be sure - a little later in the progression that gave San Mateo a scrum put-in. They got the ball out of that scrum, and shortly thereafter kicked to touch as time expired, and took the title.

This was a very well-played game with almost zero foul play. Either side could have won it in the end, and I'd like to thank the coaches from both sides for staying cool throughout. Many thanks as well to Tom and Mike, who both did a great job on the touchline, and to the 2 gentlemen who came out to watch the referee.

[Editor’s Note: there is a profile on the San Mateo team in the latest issue of Rugby magazine, and now they’ve got a trophy to go with it!]


Just a query: Sevens, along with golf, are the real Scottish games that have spread around the world. Why then are they playing fifteens in the blazing heat?

DIABLO GAELS 38 – Stanislaus 0 Referee: Eric Rauscher
AR: Mike King
Scottish games, Livermore sunny and hot

Did I mention it was hot? It was hot. The game consisted of two 20 min halfs. The pitch was full sized, but little more than a fairly level field with lines and flags. No matter, the teams were ready to play and game on. Did I mention it was hot? Diablo came out with all pistons firing and scored three tries and two conversions in the first half. Stanislaus put up a good fight, but the Gaels seemed to have a bit more hustle and speed. The second half was a mirror of the first (except I think that the temperature went up). Stanislaus had a couple of cracks at scoring, but were never able to make it over.

By the end of the game we were all pretty hot and ready for a break. We retired to under the tents provided by the Gaels to get out of the heat.

It was hot.

Sunday, May 17
GRIZZLY Women 17 – Midwest Thunderbirds 0 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referee: Mike King Touch; Judge: TJ: Petrie Quigley-Kodzis
Steuber Family Stadium, Stanford University

A game scheduled to give both teams a warmup before the national tournament in Little Rock in two weeks' time. Several women's national team players on the field, extremely skilled and athletic players, and a good spirit of cameraderie amongst teammates and between opponents. The game was played at pace and at a high skill level, but also featured some handling errors brought on by lack of playing time together and (primarily) the intense heat. The Grizzlies scored a converted try in the first half and a converted try and penalty kick in the second half (second half try by Tina Nesberg). The Grizzlies were the better team on the day, but the Thunderbirds kept the game close...both sides ran the ball out wide and also played it tight in the forwards. Really enjoyable game. Best wishes to both teams as they meet again in two weeks. Thanks to Mike King for his excellent assistance as AR (and for the ride and conversation) and to TJ Petrie Quigley-Kodzis who was volunteered by Ellen Owens and who in fact did a great job as a touch judge.


Referees: John Coppinger, Rich Anderson

Under a blazing sun, SCUTS (Santa Clara University Touring Side) took on the SCU Alumni on the lovely Mission Campus last Saturday.

Traditionally, the SCU Alumni game has been played in conjunction with the class reunions and all-class picnic held every Spring; however, this Spring, the University decided to shift all class reunions and the picnic into the Fall. This shift seemed to have discouraged Alumni participation as only two alums from classes prior to the class of 2000 played, although, a number were on hand. With the temperature above 95 F, it may have been a good thing that the old folks didn't show or we might have had a few fatalities.

It was agreed to play three 15-minute periods b/c of the heat. The alumni tied the match just before the 15-minute mark in the third period. Not wanting to be shunned by my fellow alums and to owe a case of beers to the referees at the first 7s, I continued play until another 5+ minutes passed. At that point, the ball was kicked far out of play and I decided enough was enough b/c of the heat. No one really complained and all departed for shade and refreshments.

SCUTS will kick off their 2009-2010 season with a match against the Alumni in October on Homecoming Weekend, the new date of the class reunions. This probably means that last Saturday was the last of the Spring SCU Alumni games, a fixture that has been on my calendar since the mid-70s. Sigh.

I will bring the case of beer to 7s.



Joe Leisek has accepted shipment on ‘five large boxes’ and Tracy would like him to get rid of them.

The next chance most of us will get to see Joe will be at the Pelican Banquet June 13 in Walnut Creek. Free dinner, free kit; what’s not to like?

Let Bjorn Stumer know that you are going to be there!

Update from David Heath:

It's been a disappointing season for me, not only limping off the pitch in January, but also having not had the opportunity to attend any meetings or do any socialising. You will see from the address that I have moved to Hawaii - I've been tied up with the job for the last few months and now it has been confirmed and I'm here permanently. My family move out here in early June after school finishes.

I would like to just acknowledge how much admiration I have for the work and dedication you and all the other Pelicans put into the "job" - although it's not a job to you, is it? It's a passion, and I would have liked to have been able to participate and contribute more.

I'm still hoping to get back out onto the field of play with whistle in hand and a host of instructions in my head - body position, scanning, offside line, loud whistle, signal... Do you have a contact for refs in Hawaii?

I will continue to follow Pelican Refs with interest.

Best wishes,

Quarterfinal Crowd
George O’Neil, John Pohlman, Preston Gordon, Charlie Haupt (Eastern Rockies) and Mike Malone enjoy a rugby day at the SFGG clubhouse on Treasure Island.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Thursday, May 14, 2009




While serving as AR for an exciting, well-played and well-attended high school semi-final this past Saturday I received numerous compliments on the referee from along both touchlines. I passed them along after the final whistle, commenting that the Pelican flock is richly blessed with excellent blowers these days.

And the humble worthy in question said, “Well, we have so many good games to do.”


* Livermore Scottish Games: Needs two refs
There will be rugby games Saturday at 2, 3 and 4 PM as well as one on Sunday. Referees will receive parking passes, free admission, food and drink This is fun, festival rugby with spectators who are usually new to the sport.

* Tens RoundRobin at Stanford: Needs two refs
Beginning at 2 PM, games involving the Stanford and UCLA business schools, Stanford, and possibly one other team.


SAN FRANCISCO/GOLDEN GATE will host Dallas in a USA super-league quarterfinal this Saturday, 3 PM at Rocca Field.

OLYMPIC CLUB, EAST PALO ALTO and MISSION will play in the USA club rugby playoffs May 15-16 in divisions one, two and three respectively. All of these will be in Austin, Texas.

JESUIT and CHRISTIAN BROTHERS are the two Pacific Coast representatives to the USA single-school high school playoffs.

SACRAMENTO will represent the Pacific Coast at the Girls High School finals.

We believe both of the above HS events are this weekend but the USA website gives no information about either event. No idea where they are.

MARIN HIGHLANDERS will host SAN MATEO for the Northern California high school championship this Saturday, Redwood HS in Larkspur, 11 AM. Preston Gordon will referee. Let Preston know if you would like to be an AR.


Joe Leisek has accepted shipment on ‘five large boxes’ and Tracy would like him to get rid of them.

The next chance most of us will get to see Joe will be at the Pelican Banquet June 13 in Walnut Creek. Free dinner, free kit; what’s not to like?

Let Bjorn Stumer know that you are going to be there!


Chris White will be refereeing the match, and Greg Garner will be AR #1. These two gentlemen arrive at SFO a week before the match, on May 24, and will be staying at the Sainte Claire in San Jose.

If you would have some time during the last week in May and would like to entertain or show these referees around Pelicanland, please let us know.

If someone would like to drive them down to Monterey/Carmel on Thursday, May 28, your dutiful scribe would be happy to accompany and host (i.e, foot the bill) for a day’s seeing of the sights.


Friday, May 8
Mother Lode 22 – SAN MATEO 43 Referee: Joe Androvich
ARs: Chris Tucker, Ray Schwartz

Saturday, May 9
MARIN HIGHLANDERS 29 – East Palo Alto Razorbacks 22 Referee: Joe Leisek
ARs: Bruce Carter, Tom Zanarini

Redwood High School, Larkspur
The Highlanders, winners of the Redwood Empire Conference championship, hosted the EPA Razorbacks in a NorCal U19 semi-final. A lot of excitement in the air...especially for the referee, who had a great assignment and Bruce Carter and Tom Zanarini as ARs. Lots to look forward to.

As the Highlanders warmed up and the lacrosse teams finally vacated the all-weather turf football field, we lacked only one thing: the other team. Traffic had held up the visitor caravan in San Francisco. With a men's soccer game scheduled to follow the rugby, we had no choice but to kick off on time. To their credit, the EPA guys came to play (all 14 of them), and about 20 minutes after getting out of their cars, we were ready to kick off.

As the Razorbacks struggled to find any semblance of rhythm, the Highlanders ran rampant. Soon they had scored two tries and converted both. The visitors looked confused. The second Marin try was handed to them by EPA, who won a ruck about 22 meters from their own goal line...but who did not have anyone playing halfback. An opportunistic Marin player simply scooped up the ball and off-loaded in a tackle to a teammate near the touchline, who scampered into in-goal and touched the ball down.

It was that way for the first 25 minutes of the game. The Marin forwards did an excellent job recycling the ball and the backs were fast and physical, with their fullback putting very good tactical kicks behind the EPA backline to maintain the pressure. However, late in the half you could sense that the Razorbacks started to put it together. They never lost composure, in spite of the shellacking they were receiving.

The half ended at 24-5 to the hosts, who scored three converted tries and a penalty goal. But the visitors were no longer giving anything away.

Back they came in the second half. Marin seemed to play to preserve their lead, while the Razorbacks remained focused and began to show confidence and purpose, scoring once, then twice more in the waning moments of the half. They were now a converted try from evening the score.

(Each team had scored four tries. Had EPA scored another and made the conversion, they would have won the game outright, based on the first tie-breaker being most tries scored.)

Then with only seconds remaining, EPA was on another inexorable rumble to the goal line.

They crossed midfield, then the 10-meter line, then the 22-meter line. At that moment I prepared myself for only two possible outcomes: they would score or an error would prevent them from scoring. Marin was not going to stop them. The hosts scrambled to cover in defense, but the EPA backs and forwards were everywhere, passing, running through people in contact, running straight ahead. Nothing mysterious about it. Just hard-charging, skillful, physical rugby.

The season came down to one last pass.

About 10 meters from the Marin goal line, one of the EPA forwards flicked a pass to a teammate on his right and the overlap was on.

[After the game, Bruce said that sometimes your heart says yes but your whistle says no.]

The pass was forward. Tom and I immediately made eye contact. His nod confirmed it: Forward pass.

Marin was awarded a scrum and made the clearing kick to touch. The game was over.

Marin was jubilant, having earned an amazing victory. And after nearly overcoming a 19-point deficit, EPA were very gracious in defeat.

Congratulations to Marin head Coach Dave Cingolani and his staff, and to EPA Coach Dave Tupou. An exhilarating game and a pleasure to referee.

Thanks to Bruce and Tom for their help and for being such great colleagues.

NorCal High School Final, Saturday, May 16:

Marin – San Mateo Referee: Preston Gordon
Evaluator: Mike Malone
Assistant Referees: YOUR NAME HERE


Long-time readers will recall a book review we did of André Watson’s autobiography five years ago, relating a favorite example of how to deal with an over-heated player.

That example now has to take second place in the pantheon.* Joe Leisek topped it.

A player committed a borderline dangerous tackle Saturday, after having been penalized for one such previously. Joe spoke to his captain and asked him to bring the miscreant over.

The player in question approached, but stopped about a dozen feet away and stood with his fists and jaw clenched, chin and chest out, glaring knives at the ref.

The body languages were mutually incomprehensible. Joe looked like he had paused while taking a stroll to check the time of day.

Joe said, “Could you stand a little closer so we can talk?”

The air and the agro simultaneously left the player, as neat a demonstration of Proverbs 15:1 as can be imagined!


Report by John Coppinger:
PITS (Piedmont U-19) has been centered in the community of Piedmont for decades now drawing players from Piedmont High School, Bishop O'Dowd, and various other high schools in the Oakland area.

Ray Lehner, who teaches at O'Dowd, is pushing to start an O'Dowd program next year. In order to give the O'Dowd effort a boost, Mike Sagehorn and the De LaSalle team agreed to play an extra fixture at O'Dowd this past Saturday against Piedmont. I handled the Frosh/Soph match and Preston Gordon refereed the varsity match.

Frosh/Soph: PIEDMONT 19 – De La Salle 17 Ref: Coppinger
AR: Ed Barfels
At the kickoff of the Frosh/Soph match, the stands were full of folks and the bar-b-cue was smoking. De La Salle prevailed over Piedmont 19-17. It was a fun match played in good spirits and a number of the Piedmont players were former Little Leaguers who played with or against my son over the years. My thanks to Ed Barfels for acting as AR. Thanks also to the unknown TJ from Piedmont (a Frosh/Soph reserve) who politely listened and smiled as he was severely admonished by a De LaSalle supporter (an adult former player who should know better) when he failed to call (and overrule me on) what the supporter judged to be a forward pass by Piedmont (and it wasn't).

Beyond the one knucklehead, it was a beautiful day for rugby. I had to miss Preston's match, but I caught up w/ John Collum, Mike Sagehorn, John Hyland, Jerry Figone, and Preston at Crogan's, where Trailer was a generous host.

Also in attendance at the pitch were Pelicans Joe Saccomanno and Rob Hendrickson.

PIEDMONT 34 – De La Salle 10 Referee: Preston Gordon
Halftime 12-7
AR: Ed Barfels

On a sunny afternoon at Bishop O'Dowd high school in Oakland, PITS played their last match of the season. I arrived about halfway through the frosh/soph game which had John Coppinger in charge, and took a few pictures of the crowd that had gathered for the occasion. I'd estimate there were a couple hundred people in attendance, both PITS and De La Salle fans. Lots of parents, teammates, fellow students, girlfriends, etc. It's great to see that HS rugby is this well supported and certainly bodes well for the future!

After the pre-match chat, we kicked off at about 1520. Both teams were pretty well matched up size-wise, but it was clear shortly after the opening whistle that PITS was the better-drilled side. Their forwards controlled the scrums, and although a few had to be reset during the game, it was a fairly one-sided affair. In the backs, both teams threw the ball around quite a bit and each side had several really good runs. There was a bit of indiscriminate kicking, and more than the usual number of knock-ons for a warm, dry day, which seemed to favor PITS' control of the scrums too. The game was somewhat constrained by the (lack of) width of the football field, and the lack of proper rugby lines caused a bit of confusion on occasion, but we got on with it.

At halftime it was 12-7 if I recall correctly, and a great contest. There was only one occasion where I had to deal with a dangerous tackle with something other than my voice or whistle - thanks for that, guys. PITS ran away with the game in the last 20 minutes or so, even though many of their seniors were taken off to give next year's seniors a run. We finished at 34-10, a well-earned victory to PITS that perhaps flatters them a bit. De La Salle has several players of their own who looked dangerous all game too.

The sideline support was great throughout the day, and if anything, it grew. Someone was kind enough to operate the scoreboard and clock, which is a huge help to the fans - we need more of this in American rugby. PITS organized a great BBQ and feed after the game too. All in all it was an excellent way to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Thanks to Ed who stuck around to AR, and also to the gentleman whose name I didn't catch who had the flag on the other touchline.



Nick Ashton of the East Midlands, who visited these shores five years ago, has been named to the RFU National Panel of Referees.

Congratulations to Nick!


Misspent youth triumphs:


This writer’s favorite and most telling Watson witticism came during the 2001 Lions tour to Australia, during the first Test.

Things had gotten heated. He needed to speak to Lions’ #8 Scott Quinnell, one of the more famous personalities in world rugby, and asked Lions’ Captain Martin Johnson for his number eight.

Quinnell was within earshot and was instantly in André’s face, glaring down at him, beginning his defense before charges had been filed, body language shouting defiance.

André relaxed, lowered his shoulders, took a step back and said as innocently as if he were inquiring after the age of a toddler, “Are you number eight?”

Quinnell, taken aback, responded in barely audible tones. “Yes.”

André said, “Good”, and then ignored him entirely while talking about him in the third person to Johnson.

Fateful Lodging
Phil Akroyd refereed at the Pacific Coast Girls High School Championships May 2-3:

I’ve attached a photo...take a look. Paul Berman and I were billeted to the Gaia motel in Anderson on Saturday night which, by the way, is an excellent place to stay. We checked in after the game and headed to our room. As I was putting the key-card in the door, I noticed the name of room 207 – the location where two Pelicans would be nesting for the night. Coincidence or did Dave Pelton request this specific one???? I think it was a sign...literally and figuratively!


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 06, 2009




A former California rugger once told me, “We didn’t often look across at the other scrum and think about anything other than what we were going to do. But when we played the Canadian schools, it always occurred to me that these guys are like us – they train like us, they think like us, they play like us.”

Saturday night BYU played like Cal: fast, hard, committed, selfless and as one. This is the best rugby the USA produces, the high-end college game, and those in attendance were aware that this isn’t the game we used to play.

A rising tide should lift all boats but only Cal has remained on the crest of the wave. Stanford was the last USA college team to beat Cal during the season, in 1996. Air Force did the trick in the playoffs in 2003 and BYU now.

It was something to watch. Davey Ardrey had a wonderful game, surfing right up there with the players. This was a symphony to so much of rugby’s pop music.

We only wish we could have been in the tunnel congratulating the players for showing us rugby’s pinnacle.

A lasting memory will be seeing the coaches from both teams immediately after the whistle, shaking hands with the opposition and hugging those who make coaches’ dreams come true, win or lose.


This weekend we’ve got: a tournament in Reno, high school semi-finals (which could use Assistant Referees) and Alumni Day at UCSC, games at noon and two followed by a tri-tip feed. Let us know if you’d like to ref in Santa Cruz this Saturday.

May 16:
* NorCal high school final. Site not determined yet. NEED ARs and 4/5/6.
* Super league quarterfinal, SFGG hosting Dallas. NEED 4/5/6.
* Pleasanton Scottish Games – two games of rugby on Saturday, one on Sunday
- NEED REFS, who will receive free admittance to the Games
* Santa Clara alumni game – reffed by alums John Coppinger and Rich Anderson

Although your long-suffering significant other won’t believe it, the season does actually end for us.


For your day planner:

May 23-25: Memorial Day weekend. The only rugby will be beach touch.

May 30-31:

* Saturday-Sunday: Grizzly Shield U17 and U19 competition at Stanford. Needs refs and ARs for two pitches
* Sunday: USA hosts Ireland in Santa Clara

June 6: Nothing calendared

June 13: Pelican Banquet and Referee Hall of Fame/Shanagher Award
Good news! We cleared the fifty-patron hurdle and have been moved into a room that will accommodate a hundred Pelicans and guests.

Tell your friends – there’s still room at the table for a celebration of Northern California rugby refereeing and all those who have gone before us. You don’t have to be a referee. You can even have ridden a few referees harder than they deserved, as long as you are willing to own up to it.

Have you ever been in a room full of people even more dedicated to our craft than yourself? Be inspired – be fulfilled – be there!

June 20: Nothing on the schedule but if experience is any guide there will be an emergency call for refs for the Midnight Sevens in Las Vegas. If you would like to be available should that emergency call ring though, please let us know.

June 27:
* Palo Alto Summer Sevens – needs a dozen refs
* FogFest at Treasure Island – needs six-eight refs
* USA – Canada over 35, two matches, at Rocca Field. We’ll need refs and ARs
* NorCal Old Boys – Nevada Old Boys in Dunsmuir. Needs a ref

July 11: Palo Alto Sevens

July 25: Palo Alto Sevens

August 15-16:
* USA Rugby Men’s Club Sevens Championships at Rocca Field. Will need ARs, In-Goal Judges, 4/5/6
* Women’s Club Sevens Championships on Treasure Island. Will provide referees and all the rest


MOTHER LODE 14 – Elsie Allen 12 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Assistant Referee: Mark Godfrey

It was a miracle that we got 4 tries.

The game was played in a downpour, in the foothills, under floodlights. Floodlights were appropriate, as they illuminated the flood that appeared to be underway. The game started before Noah’s Ark showed up, but this was never going to be a classic, due to the conditions.

Play went from scrum to scrum, as neither team could hold onto the ‘Gilbert’ branded bar of soap. When the ball did make it through more than two pairs of hands, tries were scored and the decider in this game was that Mother Lode converted both of their tries, while Elsie Allen only converted one. One other factor setting the teams apart was the M.L full-back who fielded the majority of high-balls and prevented his team from giving away knock-on induced scrums in their own 22m.

Not much else to report, other than thanks to Mark Godfrey for A.R duties and for the medicinal libation at Poor Red’s after the game to stave off pneumonia.

That was officially the most drenched I have ever been while reffing...Including a wet November in Victoria, Canada!!

Hayward 0 – EAST PALO ALTO 48 Referee: Ryan Luis

SAN MATEO 41 – Diablo 8 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
San Mateo proved too much for Diablo, winning 41 to 8.

MARIN HIGHLANDERS 10 – Cougar Rugby 0 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A dark, stormy, and wet early evening quarter-final match in Larkspur-rain and drizzle most of the match. The Cougars were bigger, but the Highlander backline a taste faster.

There were a multitude of knock-ons and errant passes throughout the game. Indeed, the only try (which was converted) came on a Cougar pass that flew 15 meters straight back into their goal-it was chased and grounded by a vigilant Marin player.

The Cougars with their ''launch defense'' were on several occasions literally inches from a stolen pass and sure try. But good Marin tackling preventing long runs paid off and preserved the win.

Joe Cavallaro, Cougar's Coach: This was Joe's last game. Like him or not (and by self declaration he is a sideline curmudgeon), he leaves a remarkable record for what I think is the toughest -and most thankless-job in the game. He has coached high school rugby for 30 years. He has thus mentored over 500 players. NorCal rugby owes him thanks.


Editor’s Note: We wish to add our voice to the chorus of thanks to Joe Cavallaro for all that he’s done for our game. He was coaching high school rugby when it was a novelty, when opponents were few and far between.

Joe helped build, crank up and drive the happy bandwagon that others have jumped onto.

Well, Joe being a pioneer, it was probably a Conestoga wagon. But happy nonetheless!

Speaking as a referee, I have always been impressed that Joe’s teams played a hard, cohesive brand of rugby and have been a pleasure to referee. Living three hours away, I’ve only refereed them on occasion but those occasions have been marked by a team that made the most of their abilities and played to a pattern.

Joe is like me: he’d rather see perfection than what we have to deal with most of the time. I was known as the Director of Youth Development when I played rugby because of my propensity for chasing away new players by my criticism of their nascent abilities.

And I’d like to think that I am like Joe in being able not to allow the emotional reactions invoked by our great game to pollute how we relate to and appreciate those who, after all, find a mistress in our same Muse.


Friday, May 8
Mother Lode – San Mateo Referee: Joe Androvich

Saturday, May 9
Marin Highlanders – East Palo Alto Referee: Joe Leisek


Women D2
SHIPPENSBURG 33 – Washington State 7 Referee: Leah Berard
ARs: John Pohlman, Preston Gordon

STONEHILL 27 – Delaware 12 Referee: Davey Ardrey
ARs: Pete Smith, George O'Neil

Men D2
Georgetown 18 – MIDDLEBURY 46 Referee: Nick Ricono
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, Bruce Carter

WISCONSIN 14 – Miami-Ohio 12 Referee: Brian Zapp
ARs: Don Pattalock, George O'Neil

Women D1
STANFORD 31 – Brown 12 Referee: Mark Nelson
ARs: John Pohlman, Preston Gordon

Navy 0 – PENN STATE 33 Referee: Joe Androvich
ARs: Pete Smith, Joe Leisek

Men D1
San Diego State 13 – BYU 31 Referee: Dana Teagarden
ARs: Don Pattalock, Bruce Carter

CALIFORNIA 42 –Army 17 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, Joe Leisek

SHIPPENSBURG 29 – Stonehill 5 Referee: Nick Ricono
ARs: George O'Neil, Leah Berard
The Shippensburg seniors missed their graduation to win their second, consecutive title. But not to worry: the seniors took the pitch in cap and gown!

MIDDLEBURY 27 – Wisconsin 11 Referee: Joe Androvich
ARs: John Pohlman

Stanford 7 – PENN STATE 46 Referee: Dana Teagarden
ARs: Preston Gordon

California 22 – BYU 25 Referee: Davey Ardrey
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, Nick Ricono


SEÑORS 35 – Faded Roses 15 Referee: Jay Hanson
Report by Bjorn Stumer
A welcome break in the rain at Rocca Field saw a fine display of old boys Rugby between the SFGG Señors and the Santa Rosa Faded Roses. As the Faded Roses came in with only 5 players, it was decided that the Señors would augment their numbers for two 20 minutes halves and 11 players per side. Your referee, always eager to support the Game, was enlisted to prop for the Faded Roses, opposing fellow ref. Chris Labozzetta in uncontested scrums (wanting to save the pitch for the forthcoming Superleague match). The match was therefore officiated in a delightfully pragmatic way by former international Jay Hanson, from hence to be known as "crouchy, touchy".

The small number of players on the pitch, and the lack of conversion kicks, made for a delightful (quasi) running display of champagne rugby. The tries came in fast and furious in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd. The Señors (Chardonnay = white jerseys) having more youth and speed ran in seven tries, but the Faded Roses (Merlot = burgundy jerseys) would not go down without a fight and put in three tries. One of the most enjoyable matches of my career - short halves, uncontested scrums, lethargic pace, humor, and the fellowship of old and new friends. A great day!!

SFGG SL 44 – Chicago Lions 20 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
ARs: Bruce Carter, Joe Leisek
Fourth Official: Jim Marsh
Assessor: Bryan Porter

Golden Gate clinched first place and home-field advantage in the playoffs with this bonus-point victory.

OLYMPIC CLUB – East Palo Alto Referee: Bob Leamon (Potomac)
ARs: Preston Gordon, Eric Rauscher
Evaluator: David Williamson

I came on Exchange from MARFU for this match. The last time I wrote a report for Hail Pelicus, it was as a "pick-up" as I was in Napa for a work conference...Reversing the day job and the hobby this time, I came out a day early and gave a seminar at Stanford. Conveniently, of course, the Collegiate Championship semifinals were but a short walk across The Farm after I was done...

Originally, Olympic Club was supposed to play Santa Monica's D1 side in the USA Rugby Round of 32...However, Santa Monica forfeited the Monday before. The night before I flew, I found out that the Sacramento Capitals had agreed to step up. Then on Friday at Stanford, I was told that the EPA Razorbacks (who themselves qualified for the D2 Round of 16) were to be the opponent. I was slightly concerned that even though I travelled with three different jerseys, would I clash? No, the only clash was between the two teams, who both normally play in red and white. Olympic wore their change whites, and the referee was safe in gold. Eric Rauscher and Preston Gordon were the able assistants, and made a matching team-of-three.

Olympic scored after only 90 seconds, a opportunistic kick-and-chase from midfield after a wayward EPA pass, that the Olympic fullback did well to gather just before crossing the line. Another opportunistic try followed shortly thereafter. EPA settled down, matched Olympic in the rucks, and there was no further score until the stroke of halftime, where the Olympic fullback completed his natural hat-trick. 15-0 at the break.

I was amazed, shocked, even that I did not have to cajole either team into being behind the last foot, or shouting "No hands" at every ruck. Clearly the two teams were well-prepared for their upcoming playoffs.

The agreed-upon policy of rolling subs disrupted the flow of play somewhat in the second half, and of the 8 scrums (kudos again to both teams for their handing in drizzling conditions) 5 had to be reset, although there were at least 5 and possibly as many as 8 different combinations of front row players... Both teams wheeled their opposition away, and took strikes against the head. Olympic managed to score three more tries, and converted one, before EPA finally got on the board with 15 minutes remaining, grinding closer to the line with a succession of rucks. Olympic's quick response closed the book at 39-5.

(In a pleasant change from this referee's recent matches, Olympic Club heeded the instruction "Probably the last set piece, gentlemen", and hoofed the ball into touch as soon as they gained possession, as opposed to the seemingly all-too-common 2-3 minutes of frantic, pell-mell fitness-proving play after the end of normal time...)

Best of luck to both teams in their playoff campaigns, although both go in deservedly as #1 seeds.

Until my next trip to NorCal,
Bob Leamon
Potomac Society of Rugby Football Referees

Girls Pacific Coast HS playoffs in Redding


Mother Lode 0 – KENT 5 Referee: Paul Berman

AMAZONS 24 – Kent Crusaders 10 Referee: Phil Akroyd
AR: Paul Berman, Rod Chance
Kent qualified for the final by defeating Mother Lode by five to nothing on the previous day, in a windswept and close-fought game in Redding.

The majority of supporters who stuck around for the final believed that the Amazons would sweep Kent aside easily. However, as the game developed, it became clear that this would be closer than many assumed. It appeared that Kent had recovered from their 14 hour, red-eye bus ride from Washington and the Amazons had not yet woken up.

Kent took the first try after five minutes but the Amazons made their way over the try line five minutes later. So many times this season, the arrival of the first Amazon try signaled that more were imminent, but the Crusaders battled their way back to re-take the lead by 5 to 10.

When the Amazons went behind again, it seemed to jolt them into life and they resumed the game style that has been so successful all season – route one, up the middle of the field with ball in hand. Their outside center and captain took responsibility when the ball came out from a ruck on the opposition 22m, and smashed through to score under the posts (and converted her own try). The Sac ladies were leading by 12 to 10 at the half.

The rest of the second-half was as close as the first, but when a Crusader kick was charged down in their own 22, the Amazons pounced and dotted down to stretch their fragile lead. Kent stuck to their guns and pushed the Amazons to the final whistle, with crunching tackles and determination at rucks.

This was U19 girls’ rugby at its best and a great advertisement for the sport. Thanks to Paul Berman and Rod Chance for A/R duties and best of luck to the Amazons at Nationals.

Women’s Round-robin at UC Santa Cruz

Report by Brian Schnack:
Fun time in the mists of Santa Cruz, juggling a round-robin tourney between Santa Clara, USF and hosts UCSC with the honorable Referee-in-Charge Craig Lusiani keeping me honest and keeping things enjoyable for all.

UCSC SLUGS 12 – Santa Clara 5 Ref: Schnack
The day after watching my semi-brethren (one glorious year from me at West Point before the boot) not-quite take it to Cal, and after settling out my babysitting challenges, I made it to the pitch in time for a fun go between UCSC and Santa Clara. After some good drives for naught, Santa Clara's #8 broke through with a thundering score to give the Broncos a 0-5 edge at half.

The Slugs evened it up in the second half with a great series, stealing ball from a ruck, followed with a few heady rucks with quick ball for a score. They scored again with #12 breaking through and, after the conversion, took a 12-5 lead.

The score stayed there through the final minutes. The Broncos drove deep, got a penalty inside the 22, played quickly and caught the Slugs not back ten. Unfortunately for them (and noted loudly from the sidelines...), I didn't allow quick ball after moving the mark up another ten. They gave it a strong go but couldn't put it in. The Slugs took the ball, kicked it long and, with the game winding down, the Broncos recovered. They had one last possession inside 35-meters, but Bronco player didn't release at the tackle. Penalty to Slugs. Game over -- Slugs 12-5. (Note that Craig reminded me afterward, if I could actually use that verb, that a game can't end on a penalty. I should have made the Slugs take the penalty and call the match at the next dead ball without infraction. Lessons all around)

UC SANTA CRUZ 12 – USF 10 Referee: Craig Lusiani

SANTA CLARA 20 – U. of San Francisco 12 Ref: Schnack
After Craig's match wrapped up, it was my turn to referee the final match of the day. Santa Clara, who rucked and mauled with gusto (and legally, as their coach insisted to me, particularly in comparison to other teams...), attacked from the onset, scoring three tries to get up at halftime, 15-0.

In the second half, USF broke through for a long 40+ meter breakaway and score, bringing the game to 15-7. The Broncos countered, taking the ball inside the 22 and eventually rolling a maul in for a try -- 20-7. USF closed the match with a another score, leading to Santa Clara's 20-12 win and closing out a great day of women's rugby, rucking, mauling and overall having a blast on the right side of the hills.


From Roberto Santiago:

Sorry I couldn’t help out this weekend. My wife is still on semi-bed rest after delivery. But I send greetings of a future Pelican attached. [Editor’s Note: Kitted out in rugby togs with a size-appropriate rugby ball!]

His name is Ryukichi Michael Santiago; he was a healthy 9lbs 2oz and 21" so I'm thinking perhaps a second row.


From last week’s otherwise-memorable edition:
"Cougar RC 51 – CHUCKANUT BAY 32" should read "Cougar RC 17 – CHUCKANUT BAY 51".

The fact-checker was found off in the bushes with his pants around his ankles and a sheepish look on his face when this one surfaced. He’d be flogged except that it would probably only encourage him.

American Idle Finalists
Joe Androvich, struggling C2, makes his HP photo-of-the-week debut.

Left to Right: Joe, Nick Ricono (SoCal), Leah Berard (Minnesota), Don Pattalock, Dana Teagarden (USA), Jim Crenshaw


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris