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