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