GET READY FOR SEVENS
Or, get ready for rugby in the Olympic Games. Have a look at this promotional video from the IRB:
SUMMER KICKS OFF
Palo Alto Summer Sevens at Greer Park (Oregon Expressway and 101)
FogFest at Treasure Island
Far NorCal Sevens and NorCal OBs versus Nevada OBs, in Dunsmuir
Elite Rugby day camps hosted by SFGG at Rocca Field, Thursday-Sunday
The Classic Eagles will be hosting the Classic Canadians for two games at Rocca Field on Saturday June 27, 2009 with a curtain raiser at approximately 3:00 pm with the Main Event at 4:30 pm on Treasure Island. The Classic's lead by evergreen center Juan Grobler and Co. will be taking on some of the finest former Canadian National Team players including Eddie Evans (54 caps); Ryan Banks (34 caps) and Quentin Fyffe (22 caps) for two games of exciting action. This is a North versus South rivalry that is not to be missed! The clubhouse and field side bar will be open for all your food and beverage needs. Come on out to support the USA Classic Eagles!!!
[Perplexed Editor's Note: Not sure why this release focuses on the opposition.]
LAW BOOKS ARRIVE
Just in time for last season, the 2009 law books have arrived from the IRB. Makes us long for the days we when published them ourselves…
Jim Crenshaw has them. He’ll be refereeing in Dunsmuir this weekend. You can pick yours up there.
HALLS OF MONTEZUMA
By Chris Tucker
Law book? Check. Spanish version? Well, I checked it, and ‘el knock-on’ suggests a pattern that is followed nearly throughout. “Ventaja” being the biggest exception I saw (advantage, for the uninitiated.) “Crouch, touch, pause, engage?” Maybe I’ll get that by my next trip – it’s the cadence that matters, not the words. There was one useful thing that is not in the lawbook, but more on that later.
Collected from the airport by Remy, the can-do heart of the Mexican Rugby Federation – I asked him what he did for them; it seemed everything from getting the national squad to the right place at the right time, to setting up the pitches to playing bodyguard for visiting IRB dignitaries. Remy plays hooker, and remarked on how young I was to be a referee. I told him I was old by comparison to the whipper-snapper generation that’s coming up fast!
Saturday, bright and early, and Miguel (also known as Michele via a Francophone grandmother) picked me up at the hotel with Thomas (an AR for the game) and a bunch of the Mexican U19 squad, fresh back from SoCal where they beat up on all concerned. This gave great opportunity to invite them to NorCal, where the best rugby is played! (One of them, Pascale, was press-ganged into TJ duty, in which he acquitted himself well.)
The 3 hour drive to Celaya (reigning national champs) is an hour an a half just to get out of Mexico City, a city of 20-25 million people, depending who you ask. Thereafter it resembles the Central Valley, endless, flat farmland. After a quick stop at the roadside barbeque (think Fijian cuisine and you’re close) joint, we arrived at the pitch at the local University. Tents and seats lined one touchline, and three camera points were on the other side for the webcast. I was about to be (in?)famous!
Mexico Division 1 Championship
Celaya 13 – MEXICO CITY WALLABIES 20
AR: Thomas Wavelet
TJ: Pascale Nadaud
4th: Miguel Carner
So the thing I didn’t know how to translate? Heads or tails. I said “call the toss,” and he did. But I have no idea what he said – the opposing captain had to translate for me, and I wore a sheepish smile as they settled on which end, and who would “Salida.”
Refereeing in English in Mexico is an interesting experience. Roughly half the protagonists are funny-talkers like myself, most with good experience in established rugby nations. The rest are locals, all of whom speak some English, but not all of whom can process “6 white, roll!” fast enough. At least I think that was going on. The contest was fierce, but fair, and the account was opened quickly by the hosts, touching down after only 5 minutes. A penalty (the first of many) for failing to roll allowed Mao, the Wallaby captain, to slot an easy 3 in response 4 minutes later.
A smartly taken drop goal (with penalty advantage) pushed Celaya into the lead, and they began to control the game, although they had 2 training-ground chances they failed to finish. At least until just before the half. Thereafter things went downhill for them. Mao, the Wallaby #10 was a dynamic runner, setting up both their tries, the first in stoppage time in the first half, the second with barely 30 seconds on the watch after the half. At this point, the Celaya team started to come unhinged.
I’ve watched this happen before, when teams stop playing, and start bitching, and can get into a death-spiral where they focus on the refereeing instead of the game. 2 penalties for back-chat, plus once when they simply stopped playing waiting for a call that wasn’t going to come (I had a clear view of the “offence”, a rucking player coming through the gate, and playing the ball with his foot as the scrum-half attempted to play it with his hands – play on in my book.) It got to the point where I drew the captain in and their #12, and gave the old “one more peep out of this guy, and he’s off) speech. Not one ruck later, and he’s M-Fing me to high heaven. By all account he spent his 10 minutes doing the same thing to the #4, and when he came back on came within a whisker of turning straight back round with a red when he took issue with me again.
But by then it was nearly over, and the Wallabies regained possession and launched the ball into the second deck (figuratively) to win a well-earned victory. Chatting with the players over a beer after the game, I began to get the impression that there is normally quite a lot of chit-chat in the games. As I pointed out to a few of the refs, it’s nothing a couple of cards won’t solve in pretty short order. No need to accept crap from people who have never read the lawbook.
Dinner was hosted by Thomas at his house in a rather nice quarter of town, albeit one my taxi driver couldn’t find. There I met the rest of the FMRU that I hadn’t already (including the citing officer, who heard about the Celaya #12) and enjoyed some excellent hospitality (another consistent theme of the trip.)
Mexican Division 2 Championships
Wallabies 5 - TASMANIA 37
ARs: Camilo Falcon, Nicolas Utrilla
4th: Armando Ramirez
Sunday brought the Division 2 championships, between the Wallabies 2nd side and Tasmania, another local side. Played at the National University on a converted gridiron pitch (widened, but with the goal posts on the dead-ball line) with a beautiful bowl built out of the local volcanic rock. Mexico City is at 2200m (7300ft for those who think in base 5280) which as always tests your fitness, particularly after a game at 35 degrees (95 in old money) the previous day. The worst of it was that my lungs were still suffering the smog 5 hours later as we landed, perhaps appropriately, at LAX. But none of this stopped the fun.
The game was not as close as the previous day, and there was no doubt as to the eventual winner. 3 yellow cards against Tasmania (one for a 3rd offence defending the goal-line, one for a late tackle, and one for persistent failure to retreat 10m) did not help the Wallaby side, who conceded 2 tries while a man up. Happily they did get the score they deserved, touching down with 5 minutes to go with advantage on for another 10m offence. This one I was particularly happy that the try was scored, as binning players, particularly 2 for the same offence, always makes me think I should have done better in the game management department.
Sadly I had to turn tail and run to the airport, so after some swift farewells and an exchange of gifts, I made my way back to California in time for some tearfully-dull meetings on Monday morning. Yes, life would look a lot better if I were able to stay and see more of the city. But the Pan-America games beckon in 2 years, with sevens on the agenda...
I highly recommend this trip to anyone who gets the chance to go. The Mexican Rugby Federation are fantastic hosts, and it’s a whole lot of fun refereeing in a country where you don’t always speak the same language, but have to make your point anyway (not like our local teams, who do speak English really!!) They even put up a big sign on the highway to welcome me – a big orange sign with a Pelican on it advertising MEGA.
SHORES OF WAIMAIRI
By George O’Neil
It was a raining and cold one this week with Burnside hosting University. The two division three clubs were forward dominated with Burnside holding the edge as shown in the 29-0 score line. The score is a bit deceiving as Burnside scored three late tries to take the commanding lead. The first 10 minutes and the last 20 were full of scoring but he middle 60 minutes was a wet period full of knock-ons and kicking.
This game challenged me in a much different way than last week’s high-speed high school clash. For one it was older men, meaning my age, so they thought they knew everything. I controlled that for the most part the boys were good sports and I did as much more preventive talk as I could. The also captains did a great job of controlling their teams. Second it was a slower game with more physicality, too, than last week’s game. Both teams challenged me at the ruck and maul in a large way. I set a precedent with the first five rucks and they teams responded very well to my preventive measures. My penalty count was maybe 13 in the first half and about the same in the second. I was not watched, but I don’t blame him for coming out it as about 4 degrees Celsius at the start with a steady rain falling for about 65 minutes of the game. Overall I was happy with the game and my performance and look forward to next week with two games on the schedule.
On a side note. After my game I watched Syeduem Vs Burnside a top of the table Division one game. Both teams had Canterbury NPC players on it. With Syeduem having basically the entire front row and All Black Ross Filipo on the bench. Syedeum had academy wing and a centre on the beach. It was interesting to see professional players playing in true grass roots rugby. I also caught up with Volney Rouse and Jim Barrett who have joined the Linwood Rugby Club for the rest of the season. Having just arrived on Friday they didn’t play this week but are training with the team and look to break into the division one squad in time for the playoffs. I will keep you posted of their progress. Also, Saturday I got to see two of the referees I have been training with on Wednesday nights TV as one was a Assistant Referee in the Italy V Australia game and the other was an Assistant Referee for the Loins Vs Springbok game, very cool.
POSTCARD AND POSTSCRIPT FROM MEXICO
Before anything else, please receive our best wishes from Mexico.
Just a few lines to express our gratitude to Mr. Chris Tucker from the Rugby Referees Society of Northern California, the Famous Pelicans.
Chris came to Mexico last Friday. On Saturday he refereed our National Final, between Universidad de Celaya and Wallabies "A". His refereeing was indeed impressive and his perfect control of the game helped raise the technical level of the match. He was helped on the touches by Thomas Wavelet and Pascal Nadaud.
On Sunday, Chris, who is in a superb physical condition (Triathlon helps...), was able to ref his second XV's final in two days. It was the Walter Irvine's Tournament Final (Metropolitan Championship) Between Tazmania and Wallabies "B". He was helped on the Touchline by Camilo Falcon and Nicolas Utrilla. Once again, in a 35C temperature and at 2,300 meters of altitude, his performance was outstanding, bringing the teams to play at a better level than usual.
Chris thinks he is too old to have an international career. I disagree vehemently with him. As with Mike Geach, Graeme Bullen, Chris Draper, Jim Wolfinger and others that have come to our country, it was an honour to have Mr. Tucker here.
Thank you very much Chris for coming to Mexico and allowing us to exploit you in such a shameless manner...
Thank you also to our lifelong friend James Wolfinger, from the Texas Rugby Referees Society, who, as each year, helped us find a rising star of US refereeing and made the connection with Bruce from the Pelicans. Bruce thank you very much also.
Finally, thank you as always to the USA Rugby who is always there to lend us a hand, be it at official level, club level or match officials level. We hope we can reciprocate one day...
I attach some pictures of Chris's activity in Celaya and Mexico City.
Federacion Mexicana de Rugby
THIS WEEK’S PHOTO
Halftime finds Chris Tucker seeking shade to confab with his assistants.
For the Senate