Thursday, February 11, 2010




When did ‘youth rugby’ refer to the high school game? Two years ago?

No more. So sudden are the changes it feels like a wormhole opened and deposited a Youth Rugby Quadrant into Northern California. So sudden, at least, to those of us who have not been doing the work for the past five years...

NorCal high school freshmen teams will consist largely of veteran players in a few years if what happens on Sunday mornings at pitches around Pelicanland is any indication, and college coaches will be working with players who’ve been living on the oval planet half their lives soon thereafter.

Faithful readers will have noted the elevation of Ben Bravo through the touch judge ranks over the past five months, doing the Stanford-UC Davis men’s firsts this past Saturday. Sunday he graduated to try-scoring winger for the Santa Clara Youth U12 team, tallying two and being robbed of a third only by an errant whistle.

But the real story: little kids are playing rugby in great numbers and you need to see it to revel in it.

Host Lamorinda put three U12 teams onto the sub-divided Pat Vincent Memorial pitch simultaneously Sunday morning to play Santa Clara, Marin and Danville. I’m told that the visiting teams could all field multiple sides were they playing at home, and in fact their kids were playing intra-squad games among the non-travelers.

When we arrived, the U10s were playing in equal numbers.

Want to see large groups of people fall in love with our game? Want to help them?

We encourage our readers to contact their nearest youth rugby organization and show up to help out. ‘Real’ referees are appreciated but be sure to bring your coaching hat and your least keen eye for minor infractions.

You’ll get that good feeling that arises from a lot of appreciate pats on the back, a hot dog and a bottle of Gatorade.


We have in hand an offer for discounted rooms in Yosemite for while our English visitors will be here. This is the evening of March 17, a Wednesday. The reservations need to be made a month in advance.

So far we have Eric Rauscher and Bruce Carter to accompany the five tourists.

If you would like to join us and have the society pay for your accommodation, please let us know within the next week. Rooms will still be available but you may need to pay the premium for later reservations.


Note to those who didn't send in match reports: We need to know if the match was not played (otherwise the teams get billed for a referee) and we need to know the score if it was. Thanks.

SFGG – East Palo Alto CANCELED

Sac Lions 10 – OLYMPIC CLUB 27 Referee: John Coppinger
ARs: Eugene Baker, Rich Boyer
In-Goal Judges: Rod Chance, Mark Godfrey
Evaluator: Kat Todd-Schwartz
O Club's pack dominated possession in the set pieces, particularly in scrums where Eagles Kort Shubert and Lou Stanfill were able to consistently pick up the ball and make steady gains into the Sac Lion defense, and cruised toward towards a muddy win on the sloppy, greasy surface of Luther Burbank High's football field in Sacramento last Saturday. The halftime score was 19-5.

Sac Lions tried to play an expansive game, but the effort was blunted by the narrow dimensions of the Luther Burbank football field, the muddy conditions made worse by the McCaltchey/Del Campo U 19 match that immediately preceded the Lions/O Club tilt, and the O Club defense.

I was ably assisted by ARs Gene Baker and Rich Boyer and in-goal judges Rod Chance and Mark Godfrey (hence the reference to the French manner of doing things). My thanks to Kat Todd-Schwartz for the assessment and Jim Crenshaw for the coaching. Also in attendance were Pelicans Joe Androvich, Tony Latu, and Ray Schwartz.

Seconds: Sac Lions – Olympic Club Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

Reno – Sac Capitals Referee: Chris Tucker
No report received.

Seconds: Reno – Sac Capitals Referee: Craig Lusiani
No report received.

BARBARIANS 43 – San Mateo 19 Referee: Paul Bretz
ARs: Hennie Strydom, Austin Pedersen
Thanks to Hennie Strydom and Austin Pedersen for running touch. Austin is one of 14 players that the Pleasanton Cavaliers High School Club put through the referee certification course as part of an initiative the East Bay high school league has implemented to get high school students refereeing. I asked Dixon Smith to help Austin run the side lines and both did a fine job. Austin was in the right position at the right time and even confirmed that a try was scored in the corner of goal. Unfortunately Hennie was not so fortunate as he did not heed my words to stay further away from play and ended up getting hurt when a player took his legs out from underneath him. We hope the knee injury is just a strain. I'm pleased to say that another of my High school players refereed his first U14 match between Diablo and Danville.

The Bay Area Barbarians put San Mateo to the sword as they defeated San Mateo 43-19 at Pepsi field in Hayward. The Barbarians had an impressive scrum and good ball retention. The seconds also defeated San Mateo, this score a bit closer, 24-22.

Seconds: BARBARIANS 24 – San Mateo 22 Ref: Bretz
Referee Coach: Dixon Smith

DIABLO GAELS 64 – Seahawks 17 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assessor: Bryan Porter
There was an ominous, cloudy drizzle during warmups, but the sun came out by kickoff at Diablo Valley JC's football stadium. The artificial turf was fast and even, but the football markings on the artificial turf were rather disorienting. Diablo established their dominance from the start and didn't look back. With a steady scrum and structured back-line moves, Diablo found gaps in the porous Seahawk defense and sprinted to a 38-5 half-time lead. The Seahawks made some breaks, but lacked consistent support and cohesion. Diablo's back-row pounced an every opportunity for turnover and were powerful with ball in hand. In the end, Diablo sauntered to a comfortable win, 10 tries to 3.

Much thanks to Bryan Porter for providing constructive feedback despite lack of audio. Even though Bryan has retired from the National scene, it's good to see him still at work in NorCal.

Señors – Faded Roses Referee: Rob Hendrickson
No report received.

SFGG Colts 13 – Santa Rosa 6 Referee: Scott Wood

Seconds: SFGG COLTS 51 – Santa Rosa 17 Referee: Cary Bertolone
Treasure Island, we kicked off at 1:30 and it was a tale of two halves. Santa Rosa and Golden Gate played fairly evenly in the first half with both teams scoring from the backs. Golden Gates' pack was much superior in the scrums, but Santa Rosa was relentless in the rucks and scored a second try to take a 12-5 halftime lead. In the second half, Golden Gate and several subs of superior abilities and scored 17 points in the first 10 minutes. Some of the back moves looked of "super league" quality and a few the forwards looked pretty good too. Hard fought throughout, the final score was 51-17 in favor of Golden Gate. Jokes were made that I had reffed my first super league half. Scott Wood was there to give me some good feedback.

BA BARACUS 57 – Arroyo Grande 0 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Match played on an artificial turf field at Franklin Square Park (as a back-up field for GG Park) between Portrero Hill & the Mission under clearing skies. Baracus played very well led by their #8 Kevin McCaffrey who was a force in the line outs & gained most of his yards on kick-off returns. For some reason AG kept kicking off (which they did a number of times) right to him.

AG gets a lot of credit for showing up with only 16 players, ending up with only 14 for about a half & having a few of their guys not only play hurt; but went on to win the 2nd side match (reffed by Chris Labozzetta, who claims he'll be back reffing after this last hurray) & came in a close 2nd in the boat race at the party at a great Irish bar in the Lower Haight; & having to drive from AG to SF for the 2nd Saturday in a row.

Vacaville 7 – CHICO 24 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
Although heavily overcast, the weather cooperated and left all involved somewhat dry at the surprisingly good and well marked Jepson Middle School pitch in Vacaville. The match was a good natured efficient affair between two determined sides but Vacaville, although gracious hosts, really did not have the guns to respond to a determined Chico side which travelled with more than 30 players and spectators in tow. The first half had Chico written all over it, and only the stern determination of a spirited Vacaville team kept the score within reason. Three tries, two of which converted, saw the guests up by 19 points at the end of the first half.

Vacaville came back from the break determined to fight. They tackled hard and defended even harder. Chico showed some frustration at the pace of things and got at the receiving end of numerous penalties. Vacaville scored at the very end, but it was too little, too late, as Chico itself added five points to its tally. A great match enjoyed by all, and so great was the fun had that 20 more minutes of tens were played right after the final whistle. Overall a great day of Rugby!!

Vallejo 5 – STANISLAUS 83 Referee: John Pohlman

Humboldt 24 – EPA U23, 29 Referee: Mike King
The weather gods were a bit kinder to these participants, with only an occasional drizzle during the actual match. The Manila pitch however, had its spots where footing was tenuous for set pieces. The squads were ready to go at the appointed 2 pm kickoff, and jousted initially for possession and position. Humboldt was not of a mind to give any quarter to the impressive drives of the visitors, and carried the attack straight at EPA. Both sides seemed more content keeping the ball in tight, although Humboldt did launch several attacks wide to gain ground. Ultimately, the tactics of the hosts paid off with 2 tries and a conversion before half. Perhaps the adversity was what EPA needed to warm up the passing attack it unleashed. The visitors put in their first score, but Humboldt came back still firing on all cylinders and put in another converted try off a penalty tap. They were to score again in the middle of the onslaught that was to follow. EPA used strategic kicking mixed with pounding runs and pretty passing to score 3 more tries, converting 2 – leaving the match knotted 24-24 as the clock was winding down. A final kick and chase by EPA ended in the final try in the corner with only a few minutes remaining. Humboldt came back and moved into striking position, with only final phase leading to lost possession and the end of an exciting, intense encounter.

Diablo U23, 10 – BERKELEY 40 Referee: James Hinkin

MARIN REDS 20 – San Francisco Fog 5 Referee: Joe Leisek
Marin City Field, Marin City
Assistant Referee: Carl Fortney (Fog) Touch Judge: Paddy Davin (Marin)

In spite of recent heavy rains, the field was deemed playable under the IRB's revised Calistoga Guidelines. Have mud, will play rugby!

Both teams slogged through the muddy patches and ran as much as they could, with the two sides retaining the ball through multiple phases of play. Very impressive, considering the conditions. Credit to the coaching and commitment level of both teams. Marin proved superior on the day, with a converted try and penalty goal in each half, to the Fog's lone try. The home team had the size, strength, and organization to stay in command throughout most of the game. A competitive match, though, as these teams have built a rivalry over the last few years. Marin coach Jed Elley has his charges sticking to a game plan and is a steady, strategic influence at flyhalf.

Special thanks to Carl and Paddy for their excellent help. Both worked the entire game. As many of us referees know, Carl is always a great help and a knowledgeable AR.

Fog B 10 – SFSU 88 Referee: Matt Heafey
Treasure Island - Under a 'threatening sky'

This match reminded me of a young puppy retrieving a ball over and over and over. SFSU is trying to get back to division rugby after a multi year hiatus, and I would say that they are definitely ready. Young, eager and most of all worthy. SFSU kicked off and immediately scored after stripping the ball and a couple quick passes and a broken tackle into the end zone 7-0. The theme continued as they were very eager and ambitious on the pitch. Fog broke the bagel right before half on a great break away and score by their backs. The score basically tells the story about how the rest of the game went.

But here is the great rugby story:
The Warthogs a 2 year old team from Oakland wanted some opposition to do rucks and lineouts since they had not gone contested this year. SFSU quickly jumped at the opportunity and were fabulous in helping and instruction with the newer team. I tip my hat to SFSU for taking the time to help the Warthogs. This is truly what rugby is all about!

Shasta – Aptos CANCELED

SAINTS 78 – Mendocino 5 Referee: Preston Gordon
This game was moved twice in location and once on the clock in the preceding couple of days due to field availability issues. We ended up on the turf at Woodside HS at 1400. However, we didn't start the game until about 20 minutes past 2 - apparently not all of Mendocino's players had received word of the late changes, and the home side was gracious enough to give the visitors some time to get themselves ready to play.

The Saints established firm control of this match within about 10 minutes of kickoff. They were bigger, faster, able to attack from deep, offload in the tackle, rapidly shift the ball wide, shut down most of Mendocino's attacking play, and do all of that while spending most of the game in the opponent's half.

At halftime it was 37-0 in favor of the home side, with only one of their 7 tries converted. The second half was more of the same, with 7 more Saints tries (3 converted) to Mendocino's single unconverted try. That one was scored against the run of play, as the ball popped out of a tackle to the Mendocino winger, who scooped it up and went the ~30 yards untouched for the score. To top it off, I was told later that he was a true rookie - this was his first game of rugby. Congratulations!

The Saints had a lot of men dressed to play and made very liberal use of their subs. Mendocino only brought 16 men, having been affected by injuries, and didn't have that advantage. While one-sided, this was a pretty good exhibition of rugby. After the match I joined the teams at Famous Johnny's in San Bruno for a couple of slices of pizza and a pint before heading home. The hospitality was excellent, and I wish both of these teams the best of luck for the rest of the season.

ST. MARY’S 37 – Sacramento State 15 Referee: Derek Bellin (NE)
ARs: Ron DeCausemaker
Evaluator: David Williamson

Seconds: St. Mary's 7 – SACRAMENTO STATE 10 Referee: Eric Rauscher
After Derrick did the first side I had the seconds. I also had the rain clear up so the match was fairly dry, but still with wet boots and a slippery ball. The sides were evenly matched and played a game up and down the field. Play was a little messy at the rucks, but time will clean up play for both sides. I also had new players in the scrums, so they were a bit tedious. But that being said, I really enjoyed the game. It was played with intensity and with a good sense of both teams enjoying the game and a close score to boot.

Chico State – California CANCELED

Seconds: Chico State – California CANCELED

Stanford 10 – UC DAVIS 22 Referee: Sandy Robertson/Mike Gadoua
ARs: Bruce Carter, Ben Bravo

Seconds: Stanford – UC Davis CANCELED

U. of San Francisco 15 – SAN JOSE STATE 49 Referee: Sam Davis
It was a hard fought game the Spartans were more experienced with better fitness but USF never gave up. Spartans drew first blood at the 33 min mark with a great try in the corner that was not converted. At the 25 min mark they put up 3 points due to off sides. They scored two quick ones at 14, and 13 min marks converting one. USF came charging back the full length of the field to put 7 on the board at the 9 min mark. SJS added 7 more at the 4 min mark which was the last score of the half. No score the second half until the 27 min mark SJS put 5 more points on the board. USF on their 5 meter line trying to punch it in the lost the ball SJS went the full length of the field and placed between the post. USF capitalized on SJS mistake and put 3 points up at the 13 min mark. USF had SJS defending their goal line with a 5 meter line out USF pass went all the way to the wing and put it down in the corner 5 points at the 9 min mark. SJS came back 2min later and put one down in the other corner. The game ended with the last try close to the middle but SJS missed the conversion USF has some raw talent. SJS will be a team to watch this year.

SJS wanted to have some of the guys that did not get to play do an intra-squad run we did a 20 min half and called it a day. The rain stopped just before the game started and stayed clear and muddy ;-)

SIERRA JC 45 – Fresno State 7 Referee: Chris Tucker
An overpowering performance by a well organised SJC side. 20 minutes into the game they were 2 tries up, when their openside decided he didn't want to play any more. He lifted, twisted and speared his opponent, an evident red from any angle. This did not appear to slow down the attack, however, and 3 more were added before the break. Fresno overcame their poor start to ground a try midway through the second half, after a series of defensive penalties allowed them to march down the field under the advantage banner. But this did not deflect from the overall picture of the continuing successful development of the Wolverine side.

Santa Clara 9 – SANTA ROSA JC 10 Referee: Rich Anderson
After moving the match twice because of the weather, Santa Clara was able to secure a Turf field in Saratoga for a 3:30 kick off.

The match was tightly contested on both sides throughout. A 10-9 SRJC lead held up late in the match as Santa Rosa lost their captain to a late yellow card and the SCUTS had a few changes to go ahead on penalty kicks. They were unable to convert on those opportunities and SRJC left for their trip north with the 10-9 win.

CAL MARITIME 26 – Nevada 3 Referee: Phil Akroyd
If there was a pitch in a poorer condition in NorCal this weekend, I’d be massively surprised. The pitch was covered in water and soon cut up into a mud bath after five minutes.

UNR made the five hour journey across the state, which has to be admired. Unfortunately for them, they never really looked like getting Maritime on the back foot. The home side scored four unanswered tries in total, with UNR scoring the last points of the game with a PK to avoid being nilled.

One of those games where you are glad to get to the final whistle, but you still have half an hour before you can drive home, as you have to completely strip down out of your mud suit and stick it in a plastic bag in the back of the car.

Thanks to Bryant Byrnes for moving his schedule around to come and watch, although he had to take in fifteen on fifteen mud wrestling.

UC SANTA CRUZ 29 – Humboldt State 12 Referee: Greg Lundell
UCSC and HSU resuscitated their Saturday match with a last minute venue switch to the Job Corps field on Treasure Island after losing the field at UCSC to rain. The teams played a great game through alternating showers and sunshine. Santa Cruz came out strong and shut out HSU in the first half. HSU scored early in the second half and didn’t let up the pressure on Santa Cruz until the final whistle.

STANFORD women 74 – Nevada 0 Referee: Tom Zanarini
AR: Mike Gadoua, Ben Bravo
Videographer: Bruce Carter
A bit of an early morning SNAFU lead to my scheduled Stanford v UC Davis 1pm match suddenly rescheduled for an 11am kickoff much to the surprise of all referees involved. Luckily Sandy Robertson happened by and Mike Gadoua, whose B side match had been canceled, arrived to spell Sandy. So, I was given the 3pm game and Bruce Carter handled the women's B-side match. Made for a long day but luckily all matches were covered. Good game to referee, the skills of Stanford and quickness of their backline won the day. UNR had some great opportunities but could not find the white line. Thanks to Mike Gadoua and Ben Bravo for their assistant referee service and to Bruce for the video. Between Ben and Liam Bretz (10 and 11 years old), I'd say the future of the pelican flock is looking outstanding! Makes me think of the saying, "If I knew then what I know now..." Well, these two know!!

And a big congratulations to Mike who handled a fast paced Div 1 men’s match one year after a heart attack!!

Seconds: STANFORD women 33 – Nevada 12 Referee: Bruce Carter
Intrepid Nevada recycled most of their first side while Stanford needed only a couple of their starters, who ran in the tries.

UC Davis women – Sacramento State Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

Seconds: UC Davis women – Sacramento State Ref: ?
No report received.

California women 19 – TRIPLE THREAT 68 Referee: Roberto Santiago
I'd already been at Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex in Berkeley for five hours when the teams started warming up. About a half hour before kickoff we experienced the coldest wettest part of the whole day. Cal showed up in force at around 12:00pm while the visitors trickled in. Some of the Triple Threat players warmed up by helping to film a music video for local rapper Big Rich. The player took the roles of football players with one donning a striped jersey and giving rugby signals during the scripted portions of the "game."

Once these shenanigans were done there was rugby to be played. Since this was a friendly match both sides agreed to a liberal substitution policy. The visitors opened the scoring at 4:58 when the Red #10 got clean ball of the scrum, weaved her way towards the goal line and off loaded nicely to the hooker running in support. It was the first glimpse of the Triple Threat fly half's player of the game type day. All day she showed herself a master of every offensive nuance with strong running, accurate passing, a knack for finding space with the kick, and to top it off she made 9/10 conversions. Triple Threat scored three more tries over the next fifteen minutes converting all of them. Cal came back with a nice ruck-maul-spin that found the right wing all alone for a try just before the half.

Triple Threat opened the second half with grace and power getting the ball through several hands and then bulling into the try zone to score at the 41:27 mark. Using their advantage in the scrum and in the back line the visitors scored another four tries over the next twenty-six minutes converting all but one of them. Cal's scrum did muster one notable and mighty push taking a five meter scrum and pushing the ball within a meter of the line. When it was clear they'd gone as far as they could the ball got out to the right wing for another try. In the final analysis Cal's issue was an inability to deal with the strong runners in red. Cal was constantly forced to commit two or three defenders to the tackle which allowed overlaps that the precision passing of the Triple Threat ate right up. By contrast Cal's backs were a bit tentative with their own passing floating balls that put their runners in less than ideal positions. Triple Threat scored once more on a rumble by one of their props. Cal's captain finished the day by taking a penalty kick right up the gut for a confidence boosting try right at the 80:00th minute.

Thanks to both sides for clean, fun, fast game.

Humboldt St. women 0 – UC SANTA CRUZ 20 Referee: Mike King
Both sides were ready to roll for an early kickoff at Manila Field. The initial phases seemed to be played primarily in the Santa Cruz defensive end, although neither side made much headway. The wet weather certainly affected handling, and limited the attacks. A penalty midway into the half and an unconverted try shortly before halftime accounted for the scoring for Santa Cruz, with HSU unable to find its way to the try line. On a tap play soon after the half, a substitute for Santa Cruz, #20 Elizabeth Pesaleli, showed why she will be a dangerous weapon for the Slugs in the future. She dragged several Humboldt women with her into the try zone. Shortly afterwards, a long break by #15 Jen Neeley notched another try which Kari Lentz neatly converted. HSU came roaring back and used multiple phase control to move near the goal of Santa Cruz. Despite several strong moves, the Humboldt women were just not able to muscle past the stout defense to score before full time.

Seconds: HUMBOLDT STATE women 14 – UC SANTA CRUZ 0 Ref: King
The hosts then had their day in an abbreviated half for many new players for the sides. Two converted tries made the 2ds game a relative romp for Humboldt, 14-0.

USF women – Santa Clara CANCELED


Elsie Allen 8 – DE LA SALLE 20 Referee: Derek Bellin (Northeast)
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this game was the successful drop-kick made by Elsie Allen in the first half, in fact the very first score of the game.

JV: Elsie Allen 0 – DE LA SALLE 39 Referee: Eric Rauscher
De La Salle has depth in roster which was displayed in this game. Even when Elsie Allen put some first 15 players into the game it was a pretty one sided affair. That is not to say that Elsie Allen doesn't have the talent, they surely do, but experience counts for a lot.

Sunday, February 7
Report by Rod Chance

Alameda RFC - Coach, Stephanie Roth
Amazons - Coaches, Sefesi Green & Leka Green
Berkeley - Coach Ashley English
Davis Lady Devils - Coach Meghan Culp
Elsie Allan - Coach Andy Davis
Humboldt - Coach Adriana
Mother Lode - Coaches, Rod Chance & Ben de Bruyn

Donal Walsh
Joe Androvich
Jordon Bruno
Mark Godfrey
Tyler Harrison

Talent Scout:
Josh Fitzgerald, SBO All-Star/High Performances Committee

Bright and early Super Bowl Sunday morning Seven U19 ladies teams from across Northern California converged on Sacramento for a day full of Rugby. This is the start of the rugby season for the ladies and all were excited with anticipation for the games to begin. The first game set a high standard between the Amazons (3rd Place finisher at the national tournament last year) and Alameda. The Amazons are once again are very tough. Alameda battled, never giving up and proving they are going to be a strong team. Special thanks to Joe Androvich for refereeing the match. Joe is coming back from knee surgery and is in good form.

Josh Fitzgerald was feverishly taking down names and licking his chops at the talent available for his U19 and U17 Ladies All-Star teams

A special thanks to Donal Walsh, who brought out two young men from the UC Davis team to referee a match. Jordon Bruno and Tyler Harrison were very impressive considering they had never refereed a game before. Both gentlemen took the field with confidence and poise I would expect from a more experienced referee. One match turned into 2 ½ and with the tutelage from Donal Walsh it was obvious these men have potential to quickly become some outstanding young referees.

To maximize playing time conversion kicks were eliminated and replaced with a kicking contest. Place kicks ended in a tie, so drop kicks were required to crown our Kicking Champion, Elizabeth “Nina” Green from the Amazons.

Some teams fared better than others. Some were short numbers. Many were first-time players but all left pumped up and excited about the upcoming season. It was a near flawless day of rugby that we all can take pride in. Good job NorCal U19 Ladies.

For more information, see the website

Karen Chance, NorCal Girls U-19 Coordinator

Frosh/Soph: GOLDEN GATE 36 – Diablo 5 Referee: Cary Bertolone
At 9:30 am at Treasure Island, Golden Gate Frosh Sophs hosted a youth team from Diablo and we played in the rain. The Golden Gate team was more experienced and won 36-5.

Bellarmine Prep Boys Varsity 24 – SANTA CLARA University B 50
Referee: Stephen Moore

BELLARMINE Prep Boys Juniors 25 – Marin 12 Referee: Stephen Moore

PIEDMONT 37 – Berkeley Rhinos 0 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
ARs: Roberto Santiago, Rob Hendrickson
A much improved Berkeley side met a very good Piedmont side. (Writer's disclosure-my son played with both teams back in the day. He went to London with the PITS and also later captained the Rhinos.)

Last year this would have been 75-0. Berkeley plays with much more skill-it needs a bit more pace. Piedmont's backline-especially its centers- was excellent and scored most of the tries on long runs. Thanks to my ARs Roberto and Rob.


Here’s the import of the changes since last season regarding the number of replacements and the number of front-row-eligible players. (Law 3 was changed to allow national unions to adopt what follows, and USA Rugby adopted it.)

Number of players Number of suitably trained
and experienced front-row players

15 or less (sic) 3
16, 17 or 18 4
19, 20, 21 or 22 5
22 or 23 6

The table should be read ‘backwards’:

If a team has six front-row-qualified players designated on the match card prior to the start of the game, they can have up to 23 players listed, all of whom may appear in the match. All six may be starters and all eight subs may be players who are not front-row-qualified; the ‘extra’ front row players may run-on as centers or locks, for example.

If a team says, “We only have three front-row-eligible players,” they do not get to have any replacements at all, for any position.

Note: a team needs to have at least five to start a first-side league match.

If a game has to go to non-contested scrums due to the departure of a player, that player may not be replaced and the team will continue to play short a player. (The point of this rule is to prevent a weak scrummaging team from gaming the Laws.)


We neglected to credit and thank David Barpal for the photograph of Liam Bretz refereeing, and we apologize.

Conjoined Pelicans
Ed Todd’s been trolling the web. He sends along this intriguing view of a brace of pelicans and writes:

"I only take credit for finding them – there’s more.

"M. Ward is a country/indie musician and I found the link on his page to photos by Mike Watt:


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris