Thursday, August 20, 2009




Treasure Island is well on its way to becoming the epicenter of American rugby that the polo field in Golden Gate Park used to be.

Treasure Island was created to host a World’s Fair and then to serve as the Bay Area’s major airport. (You can see the control tower on the corner to the right at the stop sign where the entrance gate used to be.) The lower deck of the Bay Bridge was at that time covered with railroad tracks – the airport would have been at the heart of the mass-transit network. But this was in 1939 when storm clouds on both the Atlantic and Pacific horizons led the government to take possession of the engineered island for the Navy.

Those clouds finally dissipated fifty years later when the Berlin Wall fell and with the retrenchment of our forces Treasure Island freed up for civilian development.

The San Francisco/Golden Gate club has developed an enviable facility on the southeast corner of the island, with Rocca Field running parallel to Avenue H between California and 1st.

Golden Gate has dreams of resurrecting the Golden Gate tournament, and what could be more appropriate? With the Gaelic Association having three pitches along Avenue H, each of which is much larger than a rugby field, the athletic acreage exists already.

There is also the possibility that SFGG will be developing a second pitch of their own just to the north of their clubhouse.

Recently, the San Francisco Fog have obtained the use of enough land at the corner of 6th and H to build two full-sized fields or to squeeze in three playable pitches in order to realize their dream of hosting a Bingham Cup. They also have two choices for potential clubhouses. One is 70,000 square feet. The other was formerly a YMCA, which means it already has changing rooms. If we word-associate ‘YMCA’ and ‘San Francisco’, 'Fog' can’t be far behind.

And then, of course, there are those three Gaelic pitches. The Fog and Golden Gate are on good terms with the GAA. There could be six or eight athletic grounds along Avenue H where never a soccer ball fears to tread...


In order to remain current with USA Rugby everyone reading this needs to register for 2010.

Go to
Click on Registration ’09-’10 (sic) just below Welcome in the column on the left.

Take the first option: Create/Renew Individual Membership. Go from there. It's $60.

REMEMBER to print out the liability waiver. This needs to be signed and submitted in hard copy to our treasurer, Jim Crenshaw, with your $10 annual NCRRS dues.

Your ‘club’ is the Northern California Rugby Referee Society. So far, we have five members for 2010. We’ll need more than that to meet the regular-season schedules.


Belmont Shore won the USA Rugby Club Sevens Championships hosted by SF/Golden Gate this past weekend at Rocca Field, defeating Aspen and gaining revenge for their defeat in last year’s final.

SF/GG reprised last year’s performance, winning the Plate. This requires finishing the round-robin in the top half of the sixteen-team field, losing a quarterfinal, and then winning two in row to go home with hardware.

NOVA won the first-ever nationwide women’s club competition hosted by the Fog at the GAA fields at the northern end of Treasure Island, along Avenue H between 10th and 11th.

The All Blues were dominant in their first six games, giving up only one try. However, in their final game they gave up six trys to the NOVA juggernaut.

NOVA 2 won the Bowl, emulating their men’s team who also won the Bowl at the other end of Avenue H and were on hand to watch the women triumph.

Readers will recall that there wasn’t a USA Rugby-sponsored Girls High School Championship until after the girls proved their interest by holding it themselves. Perhaps these women’s efforts will be similarly noticed and rewarded.

Report by John Pohlman:

This was Golden Gate’s 2nd year of a three year contract to host the USA National Club 7's.

Props to Golden Gate for doing a great job. Way too many GG supporters to name all. Mike Walker stood out by organizing the ball boys and generally keeping the tournament on schedule. It looks like they may have even come close to making a profit.

The Pelicans were well represented in all phases of officiating. We had members @ 1-8 or whatever includes referee, AR's, In Goal Officials, evaluators, substitution officers, etc...

My Saturday started by arriving at Treasure Island around 7:45. This allowed enough time to check out the woman's Club 7's hosted by the FOG.
I was one of the first officials to arrive. The main group coming from SF were detoured by a mail truck which closed the Bay bridge. But being well prepared officials and leaving plenty of time, the tournament started at exactly 9:00AM.

Sweet Donnie Pattalock was deputized by Patty Mac to organize the AR's and IGO's. Patty does a great job running the referees, always positive and loads of energy. Donnie set up assignments for the AR's and IGO's.

Paul Bretz got the opener. Denver versus Life. First game and everyone was warming up. Aruna had the third game. Not bad three games two Pelicans already in the middle. Unfortunately a player rolled into Aruna's knee in the first half. He had to leave the game with a fractured tibia and will be out for an extended period.

First day saw 28 games played. I ran AR or IGO for 14 of them. The first eight hours were fun with the energy of the tournament fueling the competitive juices. By the end of the day I had 'almost' had enough rugby. Fortunately three things happened. First and foremost, Tony Wells GG workhorse and tournament organizer, brought me a Genius at the end of the last game. Yes I did the first game of the day and the last. Second, the Pelicans from the FOG tournament showed up with birthday cake for Mike Gadoua's 50th. And last rugby really was over for the day. Finally got home a little after 9:00PM.

Sunday got to sleep in. First game at 10:00AM. I arrived before 9. Most of the officials were there, no mail mis-deliveries.

And day two starts with renewed energy and knowing this is A-game day. The competition is heating up. A loss and you are gone.

I am not going to get into details of the games, you can go to a number of website and get specifics. Aspen, last years champions played Belmont Shore. Aspen's roster was filled with players from everywhere...except Colorado.

But Belmont Shore won and certainly deserved to win. They seemed to improve every game. And as the completion got faster and stronger so did they. Tom Lyons did a good job refereeing the game.

One quick plug for the Golden Gate boys. I was talking with one of the GG organizers who said they were hoping to resurrect the Golden Gate tournament at Treasure Island. They have four fields available. Thinking this would be a post season tournament sometime in May. If you have any interest in helping out with this project please contact the GG's website.

A narrative of my exchange to Alberta
By Bjorn Stumer

Customarily those who travel up North to Alberta make a week of it, with matches in Calgary one week-end, in Edmonton the following week-end with some sightseeing in between. I could not spare the time but arrived on Thursday for the long week-end hosted by the Alberta Society. I was met at the airport by David Robinson who, even though only in his late forties and still quite fit, has been refereeing top level rugby since the early nineties. As a matter of fact he remembers refereeing one of the night matches played at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, a series that I remember playing in 1992. Since then he had many important assignments including in Dubai.

After picking up my bags, David drove me to a local watering hole where I met Andrew Petti, my host for the week end, and another referee. After snacks & a few pints we made our way to the car, but on the way met another ref. who was coming to join us. This required us to stop at another pub for an additional pint. We finally retired at the Petti’s house, having stopped on the way to stock up on liquid refreshments and steaks that Andrew ably BBQ’d for our supper. The Petti family and their two fine dogs are all most hospitable, and I was given full use of their furnished basement with my own TV and music system.

As both Andrew and his wife had to work on Friday morning, I was met by David Robinson who graciously took me for a brief tour of Banff National Park, about an hour away from Calgary. I said brief tour, because the park is so beautiful that days on end could be spent there exploring. As a matter of fact I plan to return with my wife who fondly remembers a summer spent there as a kid. After our tour, David drove us straight to the Calgary Irish Rugby Club, where I was scheduled to do a Div. 3 match between the Irish and the Canucks.

This Division 3 match was portrayed to me as a hodge-podge match comprising inter-divisional players, old boys, and even a couple of playing refs, to include David. This might have applied to the Irish, but the Canucks were a much younger and fitter side, who put in 50 points on the 5 scored by the Irish. If I were to point out the difference between the match and a Division 3 match here in NorCal, I would mention the great handling skills of both teams. Our teams would have had far more knock ons. I should also point out that there was quite a bit of running in this match, and the 3000’ feet altitude and extremely dry weather seriously affected my pre-season form. After the match I enjoyed the hospitality and atmosphere of the Calgary Irish clubhouse, then off to bed in order to approach the Saturday match in a more professional manner.

Saturday morning my host Andrew and I went out for a full Dutch breakfast and still had time to watch the South Africa – Australia tri-nation match prior to our setting off for the Saturday matches. The Rugby day unfolded at the fine facilities of the Alberta Rugby Union: Three fine pitches, the main with bleachers, a ground floor set of changing rooms, including referee facilities, and a second floor clubhouse with bar, terrace, and the usual memorabilia and accoutrements you would expect at such a Rugby venue.

This time I had a second division match. Once again pitting the Calgary Irish versus the Canucks. This was a closely fought and fast match, played by two fit, young, and determined sides. I felt much better than the day before and felt more able to follow the game, but feel that this match would have been better served by a more capable referee. Having said that, the team meant to win did on the day did, and the Irish reversed the table by handing out a defeat to the Canucks. The score was pretty close but, since no official match card materialized for this match and I gave my notes to Andrew for the official record, I cannot remember what it was. I felt that I had a decent first half but, as the score was pretty close and the rivalry high, the second half seemed to slip away from me a bit, and the penalties increased as tempers began to frail. Fortunately I did not have to resort to cards, and a good time was had by all. Oddly enough the coach of the losing team approached me later and told me that I had a good second half – go figure!

Following my match, I assisted with two more matches, both first division, one ably refereed by my host Andrew. My fellow assistant referee for both matches was Kim Godeseth, a good natured young and attractive female referee who has great potential within Alberta and Rugby Canada. I see great things for her in the future, especially if she will visit Northern California on an exchange as planned and get some of our assessment assistance as part of her development. After the 3 matches I was pretty tired, especially since all of them were played in fairly hot weather. This after weeks of incessant rains experienced in the area. I was tired, but not enough not to be able to repair to the clubhouse for the customary apr├Ęs’ rugby activities. The food choices were great, the company congenial, and the beer flowed freely – a great time indeed!

We had a nice lazy Sunday morning, then lunch with Andrew and his wife and a ride to the airport for my trip back home. All of the referees I met were incredibly friendly and hospitable, the Rugby on tap was great, and this was a wonderful experience for me. David Robinson gave me a super Rugby Canada tie and I in return gave him a San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby ball. Andrew Petty proved the perfect host and gave me two polo shirts as gifts. One from the Alberta Referee Society, and another from his old club the Calgary Canucks. In turn I gave him a few goodies including our Society tie and flags. Just a wonderful exchange!!! Thanks to all up in Calgary and to our Society for sending me up.

Gadoua's Fiftieth
Pelicus Septenae Potioris (who of course prefers Sevens), Mike Gadoua, celebrates half a century with his wife Susan and hundreds of like-minded folk at Rocca Field on Saturday.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Thursday, August 13, 2009




Aruna Ranaweera has been promoted to the USA Rugby Referees National Panel, and Joe Androvich to the USA Rugby Referees Focus Group.

Congratulations to these hard-working and talented officials.

This is the third year in a row the PelicanRefs have put someone onto the focus group, and now two of them have moved up.

The pump is primed for those of our membership who are following this flight path.


A couple of shots in the arm have revitalized the club schedules for 2009.

The first thing to know is that last year’s Davis Double Deckers are now the Triple Threat, referring to their plan to play home games in Chico, Sacramento and Davis. The other teams are the Sacramento Amazons, the San Francisco Fog, and the Berkeley All Blues.

The All Blues will be competing in the new super league.

Eight teams in two conferences will play home-and-away within their conferences. Games will be played on Sundays beginning September 6 and ending October 25.

The top two from each conference will advance to semi-finals on November 6 and finals on Nov. 8. (We believe these will be on Treasure Island but can’t cite a reference.)

The All Blues are in the Red Conference with Minnesota Valkyries, Twin City Amazons and ORSU.

The Triple Threat, Amazons and Fog will play in the new CR1 league with six other teams: Seattle, Budd Bay, Mudhens, Belmont Shore, Scottsdale and the Surfers. League play will run from August 29 until mid-October.

The third- and fourth-place teams will advance to national play-in games leading to the quarterfinals. The first- and second-place teams receive byes into the quarterfinals. These games will all be on October 24-25.

The national semi-finals and finals will be on Treasure Island November 7 and 8.

Our NorCal season starts with a friendly, the Triple Threat hosting the Fog in Chico on August 22, Joe Androvich to referee.

This makes it official: rugby balls will be in the NorCal air every weekend from now until Christmas. Let us know which weekends you can ref and whether you’d like to AR for some good games!

PAXO OLDE BLACKS 8 tries – Nevada Old Boys (NOBS) 7 tries Referee: Scott Wood
For two consecutive years we experienced cooler than normal temperatures. Obviously, this data definitively demonstrates that global warming is a sham. However, I have carbon credits for sale if you are in the market.

D and I loaded the Pookiemobile, fed the dogs and bolted for the hills. After a brief stop in Marysville to view its skyscraper, we headed up Hwy 70. This is a very beautiful drive through the Feather River Canyon into the Shasta Cascade region. We arrived at the secret match location to find players of all ages, shapes and talent in various forms of readiness. This year's iteration was moved up one weekend due to the forthcoming National 7s Finals. Unfortunately, this caused the game to coincide with the SFGG and Reno 7s and may have been the cause for fewer players on hand.

Nonetheless, we had a lot of running (yes, running), passing and scoring. One referee was almost flattened by Dave Cuadro(?). Dave and Conor Calder are two players from SFGG who were up for the day to demonstrate their future potential to those who may be forgetting much of their past. After three iterations, we retired to the wonderful mountain home of Frank and Clarice Merrill for great conversation and award winning chili. No player of the match was awarded. Although Glenn Mills received a First Place Friendly Dart League trophy. Russ Wilkening accepted the Third Place trophy on behalf of the NOBS.

Sunday morning, we woke to another beautiful day. We continued our circle of the Sierras and drove south to Truckee. Lunch at Smokey's BBQ then off to the I-80 parking lot. Home later than desired but satisfied with a fulfilling weekend.


The teams of the NCRFU warmed up for the national Sevens championships this coming weekend with two tournaments involving a total of two teams.

Reno Sevens: Canceled

SFGG Sevens: The first two referees arrived at 8 AM. The visiting Diablo side was there are 9 AM. The hosts were late. Six referees all told made appearances.

John Coppinger made but a cameo, the hills of Marin calling him and his mountain bicycle. That left five officials to practice their rotation for next week’s nationals.

The teams were divided into a pool and then played three complete round-robins.

First round: SF/Golden Gate 14 – Diablo 14 Referee: Mike Gadoua
Team of five: Bruce Carter, Mark Godfrey, Preston Gordon, Roberto Santiago
This was not a good start. Every match in the entire round-robin ended in a tie. Tie-breakers to resolve much occurrences were invoked (most total points, total point differential, most tries, most converted tries, fewest red cards, fewest yellow cards, head-to-head result) but none of them unknotted the standings. The round had to be declared a complete and utter draw, with every team precisely on even footing.

Thus the referee certainly must owe more than the traditional penalties for a single tie game.

Second round: SFGG 35 – Diablo 7 Referee: Roberto Santiago
Team of Five: Bruce Carter, Mike Gadoua, Mark Godfrey, Preston Gordon
Golden Gate has fifteen or so players working at a high level of Sevens proficiency. Several changes in personnel told the story here and they rolled.

Third round: SFGG 33 – Diablo 19 Referee: Bruce Carter
Team of Five: Mike Gadoua, Mark Godfrey, Preston Gordon, Roberto Santiago
Now SFGG was in gear, hopefully ready for the toughest pool in the national brackets next week, swimming with NOVA, Chicago Lions and Glendale.

With the three rounds completed, the teams were ranked from first to last, with the top team advancing to the knock-out round:

SFGG Green – SFGG White Referee: Preston Gordon
Team of Five: Bruce Carter, Mike Gadoua, Mark Godfrey, Roberto Santiago
Golden Gate won this one.

Play was followed by not watching the South Africa – Australia TriNations match, something having gone wrong with the recording process in the clubhouse. But outdoors on the patio it was sunny, calm and beautiful and the rugby conversational ball was passed around late into the afternoon.


Lucky Sevens!

The first-ever women’s national club Sevens championship will be played this weekend, just a few blocks down the street from the men’s event at Rocca Field.

Hosted by the Fog, the women will play on the GAA (Gaelic) fields. We believe this will be the first use of this very attractive facility for rugger.

San Francisco/Golden Gate will be hosting the USA event for the second of the three years they’ve been awarded. Lessons have been learned and improvements to the use of space implemented – the pitch west of Rocca Field will be used for warming up and H Avenue between the two pitches will be closed to vehicle traffic for the weekend.

Not too many referee societies could lend a dozen or more highly-qualified and experienced officials to each of two such tournaments at the same time, but that’s the ask for the PelicanRefs, to which the flock answers in the affirmative.

Play begins on both pitches at 9 AM Saturday morning. The women will wrap up by 3:30, when a Gaelic match is scheduled, whereas the men will continue until 7 PM.

Sunday’s play begins at 9 for the women and 10 for the men. The men’s final will be at 3 PM. We’re not sure of the women’s precise schedule at press time.

Report from George O’Neil:

Week of July 13
This week I was awarded a Division Three game between High School Old Boys (HSOB) and University. I had University in my second week here and they were a much-improved side on the day. The day was perfect for Rugby about 60 degrees and no wind. HSOB came out of the gates running and scored a quick try and a penalty. University replied with a penalty to make the half time score 10 to 3 in favor of HSOB. After the half the University team slowly wore down on the opposition of and scored four unanswered tries to win the game 20 to 10. I didn’t have a referee coach to observe me but I have attached my game summary sheet and self review.

Before this game I was also an assistant referee for the Christ College Wamimia College this is a Crusaders Cup game. This is a high school level game that is part of a regional competition that includes Colleges from the entire south island. The head referee was Blair who is an academy referee. Also the other Touch judge was Chelsea who is a Women’s National Panel referee. Before the game both teams did the Haka which was a very cool experience. I didn’t know this was coming and was surprised at it but it set the stage for a great game. Christ College hung on for a 2 point win with Wamaia College knocking on a ball to end the game.

Also Volney Rouse and Jim Barrett continued their winning ways with the Linwood Rugby Club. Volney played for the division one side and they secured their top four playoff spot with 26 to 29 win over Brighton RFC.

Week of July 20
The playoffs for Division one and two have started so I was given a Division Four game between University of Christchurch and Mervale. The conditions were great no wind and not a cloud in the sky, so much for bad weather Johnny. Division four is much slower and the teams barely practice but it was a good to get a slower game that I could really think about positioning. I did have Paul Duggan come to watch me and I want to talk about the discussions we had on Monday night at the referees meeting. A little background on Paul: he is the coach for the four highest referees in the union including Vinny Monroe, who is on the national panel. He took me through what the national panel is going through with all the top referees. It was all about “time and space” how to position yourself to get the most time and proper spacing. I have attached his report and he will be watching me in the next two weeks. It was a great contact to make and a great learning experience.

Week of July 27
On Wednesday July 29th I did an under 16 game between Christ College and St. Bede's. It was a great opportunity to apply what Paul and I had talked about. My only goal in the game was to be the third person at every ruck. This was accomplished with little struggle and it was a very fast game. I have noticed that the younger level kids here are faster games, as they are less physical at the breakdown. It was a good game the only difficulty was that at that level they don’t wear any numbers so it was a challenge to identify players on the ground or at the break down. Jim Barrett took some pictures of the game that I have attached.

On Saturday I was given a Division three game between High School Old Boys and Suburbs. It was an interesting game, as I gave my first red card in New Zealand and a yellow. HSOB needed a bonus point to secure a top four finish in Division Three and they nearly got one as the won the game 29 to 16 but failed to get their fourth try. I gave the red card for referee abuse. Besides that the game was smooth and flowed very well. On a side note, the new mandate from the IRB, allowing the tackler to have his hands on the ball for longer has created more turnovers at the breakdown in my games and has lead to a few more holding on calls. Again my goal for the game was to be the third person at every breakdown, this lead to much better management at the ruck and better “time and space”.

The Linwood rugby club lost by one point to Christchurch RFC, 19 -20. This means that the game on the 8th is a must-win game to get to the finals. I’ll let you know how it goes. Also NPC has started and it’s great to watch games live Thursday through Sunday.

I was also able to watch an Army game that was between the South Island and the North Island. It was great game with the South eventually winning by a large amount. I have attached a picture of that as well.

By Ryan Luis:

I flew out Thursday morning to arrive in upstate New York for the Saranac Lake Tournament beginning on Friday July 31st and ending on Sunday August 2nd. I was under the impression that I would arrive in New York late Thursday evening, but other arrangements were made. So after a 5 hour flight, 4 hour layover, 1 hour flight, 15 minute drive, 4 hours of sleep in Vermont, 20 minute drive, a 20 minute ferry ride across Lake Champlain, and an hour drive we arrived in Lake Saranac at 7:30am for breakfast and our game assignments for the day.

Friday was Old Boys day with over 30’s, over 45’s, and over 50’s. I was assigned two games this day. The first being at 11am was the O45’s with the Ancient Warriors vs the White Plains and the second being an O50’s consolation semis between Virginia Cardinals and Pequea. I received coaching in both games and was fairly satisfied with my performance in the game given it had been my first two games of referring in about 6 weeks. I was very impressed with the pace of both games given the median age of the players involved. The simple fact is that because of the age of the players management was the word of the day. All players put forth a gainful effort, but players off their feet at the breakdown needed to be managed in both, along with savvy vets trying to feel out and push a younger ref. Over all the games were very good. White Plains won the first one by a three tries margin, and Virginia won the second game by 25+ points.

On Saturday morning we had breakfast at 6:30am (which definitely did feel like 3:30am California time) to receive our match assignments. I was given three games this day, the first at 11am between Brooklyn and Virginia Cardinals. I felt this was one of the best games I did on the weekend. I was watched and coached. I took a very long time to get warmed up before the match as it was my first game of the day, and to wake myself up as much as possible given the time difference. The biggest problem with this game was that both teams were wearing blue with white trim. In the first half this created a lot of confusion as neither team was sure which blue or white I meant when I called a color and name. This lead to no response as players assumed either I wasn’t talking to them or that I didn’t see them. In the first half there were 10 penalties, 2 free kicks, one yellow card and no score. After a talking between both sides at halftime and making sure each side knew their own color and discussing the breakdown the second half opened up. The second half ended with a score of 14 points to 3 for Brooklyn with a penalty count of 4 and 2 free kicks.

After this game I had a long break until 3pm when I did a game between the Saranac Lake Mountaineer Women (who were just called Mountaineer Women) and Albany New York Women. Going into this game I expected it to be an opportunity to work on my running lines and keeping my feet active around each breakdown. As it turns out I had no idea that these two women’s team are very big rivals as they are about two hours apart and compete in the same division together. I also didn’t know till right about kick-off time when roughly four to five hundred people started to congregate around the field that this was also the Hometown women’s team. The game was hotly contested and a confrontation of two styles. The Albany women looking to play wide and let their outside backs loose while the Mountaineer women looked to consolidate and play tight with their bigger pack. The game ended with a 24 to 17 score line for Albany women. This was one of the first games I have refereed where literally every call I made was followed by an ooh or an ahh by the crowd and was collective enough to be heard by all.

After this I took a 20 minute car ride over to Lake Placid for my third and final game of the day at 6pm between Akron and Toronto T.W.A.T.S. Obviously the name was meant to be a joke but the abbreviation was legitimate of some place and/or organization. This was a loser’s consolation for the social division, and that’s exactly what it was. The Toronto Women’s Team had also come down for the tournament, and had already been eliminated at this point so they spent the game jeering from the sideline and many jokes concerning the team name were had. Both teams were also informed that the winner would have a game the following morning at 8am. This changed the attitude of many players and I found the attitude quickly became who can lose the most valiantly. In the end Akron won running away and the Canadians didn’t seem that upset about it in the end.

After all this I went back to the motel and got cleaned up. We had a BBQ at the gazebo outside the motel which was sitting right on Flower Lake with a breathtaking sunset over the mountains in the background. After the meal we had a referee’s kangaroo court which was definitely fun, especially since I was judged not have committed any crimes over my time there. During the dinner I was informed that I wouldn’t have any games the following day and that I was more than welcome to explore the town and festivities taking place. A few refs and myself all went down to the Watering Hole which was the local bar sponsoring the tournament. There were quite a few people out, roughly 800 rugby players to be exact; quite an outing for a Saturday evening.

Sunday I awoke and went out to the main field for the finals of each division. There was quite a turnout given the poor weather conditions. A good 1500 people there were watching all the games in the pouring rain. I watched all the games except the big finale in the men’s premier division. I had to leave to get back for my flight home. As it turned out this is where my only real troubles occurred.

We began with an hour drive back to the ferry across Lake Champlain, a 30 minute drive to the airport and then a long wait. It turned out that the power had gone out at the airport so we were delayed. The plane was also delayed about an hour because of weather. This created problems as I had about an hour and 20 minute connection time for my flight from Dulles back to SFO. So we left Burlington Vermont about an hour late. We landed in Dulles with just about 20 minutes till my next flight. I ran to the next gate and my ticket was taken by the attendant and I walked calmly down the ramp only to have the attendant at the plane close the door inform of me and inform me that I was too late. I was extremely upset with this, though I did not make a scene. The man in front of me who had been flying for over 20 hours already coming from Africa made enough of a scene that the lady threatened to call security. I figured this was not attention that was going to help get me home so I decided to go to the customer service counter to make arrangements otherwise. At the ticket count I was informed that there were no other flights leaving Dulles that night (it was already 10pm D.C. Time) for the West Coast. I was told that the first flight leaving for SFO with possible space wasn’t till Tuesday or later. The same was true for Oakland. My only choice was to take a connection flight leaving the following day at 5:50pm from Dulles to Denver and then Denver to San Jose after a two and a half hour layover. I accepted and found a hotel for the night. So after a hotel night stay, a lot of waiting around, a four hour flight, a two and a half hour layover, and a two hour flight I was back in San Jose. I was picked up by a friend at 11:30pm Monday night. We then made the 45 minute drive back to my car that was parked at Orinda BART Station. I was sure that my car would have a ticket given that it was there a day longer than I had planned. To my surprise there was no ticket, but another little surprise to be found just after my friend had left to go home. As I went to enter the driver side seat I noticed I had a flat tire. With great frustration I changed the flat and went home. Finally I got to bed by about 2am so I could get up at 6am for work at 7am the next morning.

Overall the trip was very good, and the exchange was very worthwhile. The style of rugby was different from NorCal Rugby so the tight game with a lot of breakdowns presented a different challenge and allowed me to work on managing players and my movement around the breakdown.


Melanie Ryding (nee McGowan) has visited Pelicanland twice before, first on exchange in 2002 and then on honeymoon with Mark a couple of years later. She acquired an appropriate sobriquet at the craps tables of the Lake Tahoe area.

She has since refereed for England and now, in her post-rugby life, she will be competing in triathlon for Great Britain.

And, no doubt, tomorrow the world!

Every team is represented at the pre-tournament Captains, Coaches and Referee’s meeting Saturday at Rocca Field.

Mike Gadoua clarifies things with Grant Wells and Mose Timoteo of Golden Gate, and with John Compaglia and Mo of Diablo.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, August 05, 2009




There are going to be two sevens tournaments on this Saturday, August 8: Reno and Golden Gate.

(This is reminiscent of our having had tournaments in Palo Alto and Sacramento on the same weekends this summer.)

Both of these will be single-pitch tournaments. We could use 3-4 refs for each event. Please let us know if you would like a run.


Perhaps a more organized summer schedule would generate more interest. As it was, the Pacific Coast qualifier featured four teams and a grand total of six matches.

Four referees were flown into Flagstaff, Ariz, to work this event. Ouch!

Tempe and Golden Gate qualified to make up the final sixteen men’s teams that will be playing at Rocca Field for the USA Rugby title August 15-16.


Saturday, October 17: Society training meeting, AGM, and election of Board of Directors
At the SFGG clubhouse on Treasure Island.

There will be two vacancies on the five-member Board. Well, there could be more at the discretion of the voters, but we will need at least two new faces among our leadership. If you are interested, or know someone you think would be a valuable addition to the board, now is the time to start talking it up.

Saturday, November 14: Level One Officiating course, at Sacramento State. This will be taught at the same site with a USA coaching course.

Sunday, November 15: Assistant Referee and Touch Judge courses, also at Sac State.

If you are interested in attending a Level One course in the Bay Area in October, please let Rob Hendrickson know of your interest and which of the following dates you would prefer: Oct. 3, 10 or 24.

Stellenbosch, South Africa
Report by Aruna Ranaweera

Week 2.


Fitness testing was conducted for the TIP referees at 8am on the track field. The TIP Strength/conditioning coaches supervised the warm-up and administered the tests. Both 10m and 40m sprints were timed electronically. We also did the "T"-test for agility. We moved to an indoor basketball court to do the multi-stage beep test, but after about 4 levels, the CD started to skip (probably due to vibration from the wooden floor), so the test was postponed to Tuesday.

After lunch, the big event on everyone's agenda was the TriNations match between New Zealand and South Africa. Since the match was being played in Blomfontein, we couldn't watch it live, but thanks to my roommate Horatiu's rugby collaboration with Chester Williams in Romania, the Romanian trainer and I were invited to watch the match at Chester's place in Cape Town. As Chester drove us out of Stellenbosch, he pointed out several rugby matches being played in the black neighborhoods of the town. We arrived at his hill-top house with a stunning view of Cape Town, including Table Mountain and the ocean. Chester showed us his memorabilia from the 1995 World Cup and we were joined by several other guests to watch the Springboks control possession to defeat the All Blacks 28-19. Chester and his wife Maria then treated everyone to a delicious feast that included marinated springbok. After an evening of joviality and reminiscing, they drove us back to our hotel in Stellenbosch. What great hosts!

Most of the TIP participants went out to celebrate our first week in Stellenbosch. The bars and clubs were packed with locals, mostly students, some of whom have started to recognize us from our refereeing during the week (positive reviews, so far!).

SUNDAY July 26

Stellenbosch is South Africa's prime wine region, so appropriately, TIP participants were treated to lunch at Spier, a safari-themed winery that includes a wildlife area featuring live cheetahs and wild African dogs. Dining was buffet style under a large tent, complete with native dancers and couches. Everyone ate too much.

After lunch, most of us were bussed to scenic Cape Town for shopping at the Waterfront area. I seem to have caught a cold, so I went to bed early.

MONDAY July 27

We were treated to a presentation about creating winning teams and attitudes, in which we were shown video of how the Springbok team was motivated and focused for their World Cup campaign in 2007.

The TIP referees participated in a practical session for scrum management in which we took turns refereeing the Western Province Rugby Institute (WPRI) players during their morning practice. Tappe Henning led us through a practical session on running lines recognizing that top-level players are often faster than referees. TIP participants also took an MBTI survey for categorizing personality type.

In the evening, we watched four of the TIP referees officiate Division 5 hostel matches (uncontested scrums).


At 8am, TIP referees ran the multi-stage beep test. Unfortunately, the wooden gym surface turned out to be quite slippery, so we started to lose our footing around level 6. Consequently, the beep test results will only be used to estimate relative aerobic fitness within the TIP group.

Referees then took turns refereeing the WPRI players during maul practice. We were impressed by the bizarre "spider-maul", an innovative variation of the rolling maul that is sure to confuse anyone who hasn't seen it before, especially defenders and referees!

TIP participants then watched and analyzed video from the Lions versus Springboks 1st test. The video clips had been sorted and categorized using "Fairplay" software that dramatically increases the efficiency of post-match video review.

In the evening, four more of the TIP referees, including myself, officiated Division 4 hostel matches (uncontested scrums). We are able to put our new running lines to good effect.


We listened to a presentation on counter-attack and kick defense by former Springbok and current assistant coach of the Blue Bulls, Pieter Roussou. He started his presentation by showing video of the famous Cal vs Stanford football play from 1982! (The message was to not relax and play till the final whistle.)

Tappe then lead the TIP referees through a fascinating presentation on practical refereeing, which included excellent recommendations on the approach one should take to balance the laws and the game. He and Kosie Horn emphasized that a lot of useful material is available on the IRB website (

In the evening, we watched three of the TIP referees from Monday officiate Division 3 hostel matches. The matches were videotaped for assessment purposes.


Tappe led the referees through more discussion about laws and the game using video clips. He emphasized the need for referee accuracy, i.e., the first clear and obvious infringement that has material effect. We were also introduced to several innovations to the sport including "power-play" advantage and also the use of software for time management. The latter is expected to be used globally by #4 officials for substitutions/replacements at high level matches.

In the evening, three of the TIP referees from Tuesday, including myself, officiated Division 2 hostel matches. The matches were videotaped for assessment purposes. There were supposed to be more matches, but Stellenbosch has been hit by the flu, so some teams had to withdraw on short notice due to illness.

FRIDAY July 31

On the last morning of TIP4, we were treated to several stimulating presentations. First, we listened to a presentation by Paul Treu, coach of the World Cup champion South African sevens team. He stressed that his team's success was in large part due to continuity (tenure) between both players and staff. Furthermore, South African sevens players are full-time, i.e., they do not play 15's. They are also monitored on a daily basis for fitness and health.

We were also treated to a fascinating presentation by Jake White, who coached the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007. He focused on attention to details and showed how, starting from basic plays, he had created an elaborate play-book for the Springboks with an emphasis on defense. His presentation was especially useful for the TIP coaches, since it showed the level of preparation and tactical detail that is needed to win at the highest level of international rugby. I couldn't help but notice how the Springbok playbook was somewhat similar to an American football playbook!

We also listened to an entertaining presentation by Tim Noakes, professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Cape Town. He emphasized the need for recovery and impressed the audience with data on performance and training, using international teams as examples. He also highlighted the mental aspect of training and performance, using Roger Bannister's 4-minute mile as an example. Prof Noakes also stressed that in terms of literature and professionalism, American football was "40 years ahead" of world rugby, so rugby has a lot of room to learn and grow. In fact, it struck me during the past 2 weeks that even though USA is considered a second tier rugby nation, the tier 1 nations look to professional American sports as an example of how to grow and commercialize rugby. Many of the TIP presenters used examples from American football to highlight their points.

All TIP referees had brief 1:1's with Tappe Henning to touch base on future plans and options. We bade farewell to him and agreed to keep in touch.

In the evening, I enjoyed watching the visiting All American rugby team defeat the Stellenbosch Markotters 36-24. Even though the Markotters are essentially a 3rd string varsity select side, beating them is no mean task since Stellenbosch has the top university rugby team in South Africa. I congratulated Matt Sherman and Dave Williams who were at the stadium with the USA team.

TIP organizers and participants were treated to a hearty farewell dinner BBQ in which we thanked everyone for their efforts and company. Steph Nel and the Western Province Rugby Institute (WPRI) were very good hosts.


My 18-hour South African Airlines flight from Johannesburg to Washington DC was poorly timed as it took off during the 2nd TriNations match between New Zealand and South Africa. In case anyone was wondering about the score, the pilot announced that the Springboks had won 31-19, which drew loud applause and cheers from the passengers.

SUNDAY August 2

After a 36-hour trip from Stellenbosch to San Jose, I now have to get back into my regular routine despite jet-lag...

I would like to thank USA Rugby for nominating me for this great opportunity in Stellenbosch. I will be a better referee as a result and I intend to share my new-found insights and knowledge with my USA referee colleagues.




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