Wednesday, May 26, 2010




Now there are two tournaments scheduled, both fifteen-a-side:

Talisker Shield in Sunnyvale – needs two or three refs – Saturday only

The Inaugural Treasure Island U-19 & U-17 Rugby Tournament for Boys & Girls will be played at Rocca Field and the GAA pitch across the street. This will feature select-side teams from the four NorCal conferences, Hawaii, SoCal and Oregon. We need five to ten referees on Saturday and five on Sunday.

So far we’ve got a total of three referees available, one of them visiting from New England.


See you at Rocca Field, 3 PM Sunday?

SF/Golden Gate will be hosting the New York Athletic Club for the Super League title. There are a couple of curtain-raisers that might need ARs.

This should be a game not to miss.


Want to go on a most-expenses paid tour to the very heart of Rugby Football, the East Midlands? Rugby School is on the itinerary. Rugby Heaven, too.

So far three Pelicans have expressed a desire. More are welcome to join in – we usually send five, and referee coaches/evaluators are certainly eligible.

Let us know if you are interested or would like a sales call.

Sacramento Amazons won the Girls’ U19 national championship by defeating West Carroll, Brookfield, and then Fallbrook, 32 – 10.

Fallbrook had defeated the Amazons just the week before at Rocca Field, 10 – 13. So, Fallbrook is the California champ while Amazons hold the USA title.

Jesuit defeated Fallbrook 16 – 7 but then lost in the semifinal to Gonzaga, 15 – 17.

Marin beat DARC 48 – 5 but then lost to OMBAC 0 – 37.

SF/Golden Gate advanced to the final four with victories over Colorado Springs, 31 – 12, and GOATS 38 – 19.

Santa Rosa defeated Old Aztecs 25 – 12 and then lost to Snake River in the quarterfinals on Sunday, 12 – 28.

Olympic Club defeated Kansas City Blues 35 – 7 and then lost to Las Vegas 16 – 31.

SF/Golden Gate advanced to the championship game, which they will host next Sunday, by defeating Life 20 – 14.


UCSC – alumnae Referee: Roberto Santiago
No report received.

UCSC 45 – Alumni 36 Referee: Stephen Moore

Nevada Old Boys – NorCal Old Boys Referee: Blake Crawley
No report received.

Señors 31 – FADED ROSES 41 Referee: John Coppinger
30 minute halves w/ constant negotiations mid-match as to whether scrums were contested or not and some grumbling about the relative youth of some of the Roses, but a good time.

Super League Semi-Final
SF/GOLDEN GATE 20 – Life 14 Referee: Paul Bretz
ARs: Charlie Haupt, Bruce Carter
Fourth Officials: Scott Wood, John Coppinger
Evaluator: Jim Russell

This was a nail-biter, a rematch of last year’s title tilt, and like last year’s game it was close until Gate scored two trys at the very end to win by more than one.

Two of SFGG’s threes tries came on set plays and only one from their more characteristic run-it-over-or-around-you style of play.

The only try in the first half came from a ruck about thirty meters out near the left touchline. Halfback and Captain Mose Timoteo, who had been giving instant service all day, suddenly straightened up from being crouched over the ball and took a step back. The defense seemed to pause: what was he thinking?

That’s when the prop without a number simply played halfback: he picked it up and took off unmarked, straight down the touchline, feeding fullback Jone Naqica to cover the last few meters and center the ball.

In the second half Life had the lead on the strength of an unconverted try and three penalties, 14 – 10, with a strong wind at their backs. There were seven minutes left in somebody’s season. That’s when Mile Pulu broke from inside his own 22 and set up Tevita Okusi for the go-ahead points, 15 – 14.

Later, when there were thirty seconds left, there was to be a lineout five meters from Life’s goal-line, the home team leading by one.

March 22, 2003; Balboa Park: SFGG hosting Belmont Shore and leading by two with four seconds remaining. Lineout on Belmont Shore’s five-meter line.

The referee was Zinzan (Ed Gardner); the TJ was someone with a good memory.

Belmont Shore won the lineout, attacked from their very near their own dead-ball line and scored in the left corner after a length-of-the-pitch run by Alex Hammill to win 31 – 28.

But today was different: Golden Gate’s first lineout pod crabbed away from the five-meter line, causing their matchers to follow. The ball was thrown to the first jumper, attracting the Life hooker’s attention and leaving the tramway open.

Chris Biller, having run a buttonhook pattern and throwing-in, received the ball back at pace and scored in the left corner.


The annual NCRRS end-of-season banquet will be held at Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek on Saturday, June 26, beginning at 6:30 PM. This year it will also double as the retirement party for Bryan Porter, who has stepped down from the National Panel of Evaluators.

Bryan was as founding member of this Panel and played a role in the development of every USA Referee from the initial group up to the present Panelists. NorCal refs have been very fortunate to benefit from his dedication and expertise over the past four decades, and we will continue to do so locally.

Please mark your calendars and let Bjorn Stumer know that you and yours will be attending:

Dinner will be paid for society members at our annual banquet. Drinks and dates are your treat.

New Pelican Crossing
Pelican Crossing: short for PEdestrian LIght CONtrolled crossing

This was taken in Hounslow, about two miles from Heathrow Airport and five miles from Twickenham.

Good to see that the Brits are getting ready for the tourists visit in September.

Do you have any dates for the tour? I might be able to get a hall pass and pop over to visit.

Pelicus Propus Celtus (Brian Gildea)


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 19, 2010




May 22:
We’ve got five games (of fifteens) on the schedule this week and only four of them have referees. A game in Santa Cruz needs a ref.

Sunday, May 30:
One game of fifteens, an U12 game, an old boys’ tournament, all on Treasure Island.

June 5:
Three games of fifteens

June 19:
Las Vegas Midnight Sevens
We’ve been advised that they may need some NorCal refs for this event. Check your calendar and see if you’d like to attend, and then let us know.

June 26:
Palo Alto Summer Sevens (also July 10 and 24)
Dunsmuir Sevens
Old Boys game at Dunsmuir Sevens


The annual NCRRS end-of-season banquet will be held at Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek on Saturday, June 26, beginning at 6:30 PM. This year it will also double as the retirement party for Bryan Porter, who has stepped down from the National Panel of Evaluators.

Bryan was as founding member of this Panel and played a role in the development of every USA Referee from the initial group up to the present Panelists. NorCal refs have been very fortunate to benefit from his dedication and expertise over the past four decades, and we will continue to do so locally.

Please mark your calendars and let Bjorn Stumer know that you and yours will be attending:

Dinner will be paid for society members at our annual banquet. Drinks and dates are your treat.


Rugby California Girls State Final:
Sacramento Amazons 10 – FALLBROOK 13 Referee: Roberto Santiago
ARs: John Pohlman, Bjorn Stumer
I had the honor of reffing the first ever Rugby California High School Girls Championship pitting the Nor-Cal champion Sacramento Amazons against the So-Cal champion Fallbrook Warriors. The match lived up to the billing as both teams played fast paced, technically proficient rugby from start to finish with a level of physicality sometimes missing in U19 girls rugby.

Early on it looked like Sacramento would dominate with their size. The girls from southern California were much smaller and absorbed a number of crushing (but clean) tackles, which stymied their attack, but did nothing to diminish their resolve. Early on Fallbrook showed what the match had in store when an Amazon ball carrier crashed over two Fallbrook defenders but had the ball held up in goal. Sacramento did eventually score a try at 15:42 after the subsequent scrum, but the Warriors had shown that would not be intimidated by the Amazon’s strength.

The next ten minutes saw possession change over several times but for the most part the all stayed on the Warrior’s side of the field forcing them to play a defensive game. The Fallbrook backline was especially impressive as their undersized backs made tackle after tackle, often one on one, against the strong runners from Sac-Town. The Warriors did manage to convert a penalty kick at 27:01, on one of their few sojourns into Amazon territory but the Nor-Cal champs came right back with a try just two minutes later.

The half closed with a series of play that would foreshadow the second half. Fallbrook, who’d been unable to link up more than a phase or two and had been living off penalty kicks to relieve pressure, was finally able to get good ball to their back line. The girls in red showed off some nifty moves with looping players, dummy switches, and crisp passing. The ability to get a little space combined with quick ball at the breakdowns gave the slightly less agile Amazon backs some trouble which resulted in two illegal tackles due largely to defenders being out of position to make a clean play. The Fallbrook girls ran madcap up field but couldn’t score before the half. As the whistle blew for the break the score stood at 10-3 Sacramento and the ladies in blue looked to be in control. If they could continue to play on the visitors’ end in the second half the clock would take care of the rest.

Early in the second half the Amazons had pressure inside the Fallbrook 22. A chip kick had the Warriors fullback and wing chasing a rolling ball with blue and white jerseys bearing down. As the Warrior player gathered the ball and turned up field a combination of a shorter ball carrier and a taller defender on a bad angle resulted in a high tackle. The penalty gave Fallbrook some breathing room. Once again possession went back and forth with the Amazon’s ability to combine power running with a deft short passing game, ball carriers passing short while going into contact, making it look like they would control the tempo the rest of the way. However, Sacramento continually shot themselves in the foot with penalties. The Amazon #9 had trouble keeping her feet and more trouble leaving the ball alone once she was on the ground. The combination of penalties and a fearless Warrior defense would have been tough enough to overcome but a yellow card for a no wrap tackle at 53:00 minutes put the Amazon’s dominance in jeopardy. Still, aside from their flurry at the end of the first half the Warriors had yet to show that they could score with the ball in hand. Nothing changed in the next two minutes of play until the Amazons made a mistake they wouldn’t be able to overcome. The Amazons, already down one player, looked to clear some space with a kick that got out around their ten-meter line. As the Warrior winger fielded the ball she was crushed by her opposite number who came in low and hard and with her arms back at her sides; another yellow card. Now facing a defense down two players the Fallbrook backs had the space they needed. Just one minute later U20 Eagle Tara Burke scooted 35 meters for the Warriors first try. Five minutes later Burke led the charge again this time setting up a nifty weaving spinning run by #13 Nicole Bell.

After getting back near, and then to, full strength the Amazons pushed hard to get back in front but the sound technical tackling of the Warriors kept pushing them back. Though they had a few chances late Sacramento was unable to come up with another score. When the final whistle blew the Fallbrook Warriors entered the record book as the first ever Rugby California girls U19 champions.

A hearty thank you to both teams who played well and with great sportsmanship (I don’t think any of the illegal tackles were malicious and there were never any words exchanged between the clubs.) Thank you also to all the coaches who are clearly doing a great job with these programs. Thanks to John Pohlman and Bjorn Stumer for their AR work. Finally, thank you to Mike Sagehorn, Rugby California, and SFGG for putting on a great event.

Rugby California Boys State Final:
JESUIT 21 – Fallbrook 0 Referee: Phil Akroyd
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, John Pohlman
A well-matched game deserving of a State single school championship decider. This was the sixth time that I’ve reffed Jesuit this season and it was by far their closest game.

Usually, they have the game sealed by ¼ played, but they had to keep pushing all the way against the visitors from San Diego County. However, they did score two early(ish) unconverted tries (7 and 12 mins played) but that was all they got until the second half. During the first half, the pace of the game slowed from the lightning start when the tries were scored. That seemed to suit Fallbrook, as they played a slower style in comparison to the speedy distribution of the Sac boys.

Both teams got into penalty trouble, but Fallbrook more so, as they refused to enter tackle/rucks through the gate and both teams started out one pace in front of the back foot. Cards seemed to help solve that problem. Jesuit also held their discipline better than their opposition. Fallbrook lost their ten for ten minutes when he started talking trash. This was after all three of us refs thought we saw him throw a punch earlier in the first half, but couldn’t be sure. He’d been riding his luck all the game and needed time to cool off.

Overall, the better team won – Fallbrook visited opposition territory on very few occasions, while Jesuit always look dangerous with pace to burn on the outside. A total of three unconverted tries and two PKs. Should hold them in good shape for Nationals where in round one, they play…… Fallbrook.

Golden Gate 25 – HAYWARD 45 Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, Eric Rauscher
A lively game between two talented sides to decide the Norcal U19 champions. Gusting cross-breeze on an otherwise fine day at Norcal HQ on Treasure Island, pitch firm and fast.

First blood was drawn early by Hayward, after some great hands set up a ruck near the goal line, for a centre to crash over for the score. We had a post-match discussion on the grounding -- at what point is the ball held up? The tackler attempted to prevent the score, and was temporarily under the ball, preventing it being touched down, until the ball carrier's momentum took him past and allowed him to ground it. While by letter of law I might have erred, by spirit it was good. Conversion made (as were the first 5 out of 7, not easy given the conditions.)

Gate came back out strong, slotting a penalty and an unconverted try to take the lead, before Hayward got to grips with the game and started asserting their ball skills. While neither team was dominant up-front, it was clear that the visitors had the slicker hands, and the home side wasted good possession by taking it into contact with space out wide. Their kicker did not help, failing on all but one of their conversion attempts.

Alas in the second half we had no fewer than 5 yellow cards, all for dangerous tackles. Jim called one in from the side, the rest were pretty clear and no argument ensued from the culprits. Whether it was fewer players on the field, or the game just warming up, the score advanced much faster in the second half, with Hayward running away with it at the end.

Apparently I messed my watch up quite badly, the second half being nearly 45 minutes running time (3-4 of time off). Still, we'd been told the SL game was kicking off late, so we needed to shorten the intermission a little, right?

Thanks to Jim + Eric for staunch support from the side.

Later I was assigned to run touch for the SL game, which followed the familiar SFGG pattern of a hard, grinding first half, followed by 7s in the second for a 40 point victory margin. Exciting times for me as an AR -- first try was clearly going over in the corner: accelerate to get as close as possible, plant feet before touchdown, just inside the line for a thumbs up. Conversion knuckled hard in on my post -- a 5m miss ended up clanging off the woodwork, landing just over the line for a goal. Then in the 2nd half, ref Tim Luscombe was unsighted on a goal-line crash ball, but the grounding was clear and good, whatever the Old Blue fullback might think. Generally though, the ARing was more exciting than the game. Life, one would think, will be a stiffer test.

Super League Quarter-final
SF/GOLDEN GATE 62 – New York Old Blue 15 Referee: Tim Luscombe
ARs: LuAnn Campbell, Chris Tucker
#4s: Scott Wood, Eric Rauscher
Evaluator: Dixon Smith

SFGG set up a home semifinal by defeating Old Blue handily with their usual explosive second half.

However, they also had an explosive first half just to make sure there wouldn’t be any doubt.

If you haven’t seen this team play this year you should make every effort to be at Rocca Field this Saturday when they take on Life in a rematch of last year’s final.

If you have seen them play this year, you won’t need another invitation.


A one-off college sevens in May? What gives?

Rumor has it that NBC, pending the success of the college sevens event next month, is interested in creating a ‘March madness’ in May, a series of regional (and possibly subregional) tournaments that would lead into a grand finale.

Given the level of play the teams put together on short notice last Saturday (and for most of them it is the only time they will play Sevens all year), this is something that could eventuate quickly should NBC suggest it.

Six refs shared in the twenty games on the day, plus AR Ben Bravo.

STANFORD over UC Santa Cruz Referee: Preston Gordon

UC DAVIS – St. Mary’s Blue Referee: Mike Gadoua
ST. MARY’S Red – Sierra JC Referee: Pete Smith

ST. MARY’S Blue 26 – Sierra JC 10 Referee: Tom Zanarini

UC DAVIS over St. Mary’s Red Referee: George O’Neil

Women's GRIZZLIES 39 – USA-A 0 Referee: Don Pattalock
ARs: Cary Bertolone, Roberto Santiago
#4: Eric Rauscher
Stanford University
The USA women were young and enthusiastic while the Pacific Coast women were experienced, savvy and fast. The combined caps on the PC team could only be in the dreams of the young USA women. PC came out strong, fast and dominating in virtually all phases of play.


San Mateo lost to United of Utah, 14-24, in a playoff to advance to the nationals next weekend.

United has played neighbors Highland in the finals each of the last two years. No NorCal teams will be at the USA Rugby U19 championships.

Jesuit will defend their USA Rugby High School championship this coming weekend in Utah.

Phil Akroyd has been appointed to referee at the Utah events.


Delayed reports from Pac Coast girls playoff last weekend.

Match Reports from Pac Coast Girls U19 playoffs:


Final Score: SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 62 – 0 Lowlands

The long, five hour morning drive from Sacramento to Medford, OR terminated at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park. The park is a City owned facility, typically used for football (that’s soccer), but the good people of Kent Crusaders and select others did a fantastic job of setting up the field to the largest possible dimensions, complete with 22m in goals. The surface was soft with plenty of grass and well lined with a gentle crown. I believe that this is the first time that the Park was used for rugby, but hopefully not the last. It also helped that it was about three blocks from the various team hotels, making punctuality easy.

After a thorough warm-up, game one started at 1.30pm and put the Sacramento Amazons up against Lowlands of Utah (Salt Lake area). The Lowlands are a second-year team, helped out by the staff of the boys Highlands club. The size difference was apparent with the Lowlands struggling to make any tackles on the Amazon ladies. At 32-0 with fifteen left in the first half and one Amazon off the field for their first and only high tackle of the weekend, the game was all but decided. Lowlands clearly had speed, but insisted on punching up the middle when their best bet would have been to swing it out wide and get around their less pacey opposition.

With the game in their hands, the Amazons understandably took their foot off the gas, but still landed four more tries in the second half. A total of twelve tries and one conversion ended a solid day of work for the Burbank ladies.

Final Score: KENT CRUSADERS 39 – 3 Motherlode

Twenty minutes later and I got game two under way. Kent took the lead after eight minutes with a try, but Motherlode came back with a penalty-kick at goal after some brief goal line pressure. The deadlock held until eight minutes before half when the Washington State ladies grabbed another try, which they converted and followed it up with another just before half time.

Both teams played a good all round style with solid forward play and fast backs. Motherlode struggled at set-pieces and lost almost all scrums and many lineouts. It made for a long afternoon when they could not establish a solid platform to play from. Stand out player, number eight and captain Katie Humphreys dominated lineouts and distributed well in open play and has obviously read the Richie McCaw book on how to talk to referees.

The ladies from the foothills appeared flat throughout – maybe lacking a team spirit spark, but they continued their effort without reward and walked away on the wrong end of a further four second half tries. However, the highlight of their weekend was still to come.


Final Score: SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 15 – 13 Kent Crusaders

A full blood and guts game. One of those games that did not need to be over exaggerated with words as the blood on the shirts said everything.

It looked like the Amazons were caught flat footed – maybe the early 11.30 kick off or big match nerves – but they didn’t look like the free playing team of the previous day. Their indiscipline really started to hurt them too as the opposition could capitalize on the penalties. Kent were up 5 – 8 half way through the first half but the Sac ladies woke up and charged over for their second unconverted try just before half. The timing of the try may have dispirited Kent as the Amazons pushed on to three tries – a 15- 8 lead. In the dying seconds Kent rallied and had a goal line stand which generated a try. However, it was as far in the corner as legally possible. The kicker was just short and a little to the left and the Amazons took the victory.

Interesting stat – the Amazons scored 15 tries over the weekend and only converted one.

Girls' HS Final 2010
John Pohlman, Roberto Santiago, Bjorn Stumer at the Girls’ HS Final. Photo courtesy of Austin Brewin.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 12, 2010




The annual NCRRS end-of-season banquet will be held at Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek on Saturday, June 26, beginning at 6:30 PM. This year it will also double as the retirement party for Bryan Porter, who has stepped down from the National Panel of Evaluators.

Bryan was as founding member of this Panel and played a role in the development of every USA Referee from the initial group up to the present Panelists. NorCal refs have been very fortunate to benefit from his dedication and expertise over the past four decades, and we will continue to do so locally.

Please mark your calendars and let Bjorn Stumer know that you and yours will be attending:

Dinner will be paid for society members at our annual banquet. Drinks and dates are your treat.


Last week we blew our horn to celebrate the achievement of having eight NCRRS referees receiving national appointments this season.

There’s harmony to that tune: seventeen other Pelicans have been appointed as ARs, evaluators, coaches and fourth officials.

That’s twenty-five folks flying over and above NorCal airspace.


SF Fog 0 –QUEENSLAND OUTBACK BARBARIANS 83 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Treasure Island, Friday night 6:30 PM
Outback Barbarians are an Australian Touring/"Rep" side from Queensland (northeast; made of players from different teams in that big region) who go on a tour every 2 years. Two years ago some of them went to the Maggotfest, so this time they flew into New York & had a bus take them first up to Boston to play a 3rd division side there, Northside & then drove across the country getting hosted by the Maggots which meant a match Thursday night followed by rafting a Class 4 river in Idaho Friday & playing 3 matches at the fest & partying hard every night. They continued their moving party to San Francisco, which showed the first 15 minutes of their match against a very determined & inspired Fog team, which not only held their own, but was forcing the action by making some very hard tackles--somehow they got no points for all their effort.

Once the foreigners got untracked & over their hangovers they exploded for 38 first half points in the next 15 minutes & another 45 after 1/2 time.

The Fog also lived up to their off-field reputation as being one of the best, if not most gracious hosting teams, in NorCal, if not the rugby universe. Speaking of Down Under, the visitors’ team song used the old Bye, Bye American Pie with lower body parts descriptions I wish I could remember, let alone sing for you.

CR1 playoffs:

OLYMPIC CLUB 42 – Los Angeles 7 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
ARs: John Coppinger, Dave Newport
No report received.

The Olympic Club advances to the USA playoffs May 22-23.

East Palo Alto and Sacramento lost to SoCal competition and ended their seasons.

Pacific Coast Single-school HS playoff:
Bellarmine 14 – SNOW CANYON (Utah) 29 Referee: Tobin Ropes

NorCal HS U19 semi-finals:

Lamorinda 22 – HAYWARD 24 Referee: Preston Gordon
ARs: Dave Williamson, Tony McKenzie/Mose Timoteo
Campolindo HS, Moraga, 1400
A great game in front of a good crowd, and pretty close throughout. Hayward suffered a first-half yellow card for team repeat infringements, but managed to hold on and then come from behind at the end (22-19 to Lamorinda with 9 minutes left) for the win. Thanks to the ARs for all their help.

Here are a number of photographs taken by Bill Dent:

Vacaville U19, 14 – SAN FRANCISCO GOLDEN GATE U19, 17 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: Chris Tucker, Jeff Richmond
Despite the best efforts of a 7-car crash that closed the Benicia Bridge, I was able to find a detour to reach Vacaville for the NorCal U19 Semi-final on a windy, sunny day. In front of about 100 onlookers, Vacaville looked more cohesive in the first half, scoring two converted tries to one by SFGG. The home team almost scored an 80m interception try before the wing was bundled into touch-in-goal by three desperate cover-defenders, whereas SFGG missed a certain try when the ball-carrier gleefully ran 35m untouched, all the way over the dead-ball line. SFGG spread the ball wide and kicked deep in the second half to notch 2 unconverted tries, which stole Vacaville's momentum. In the latter stages of the match, both teams had attacking opportunities near their opponents’ goal-line, but ball-retention faltered after more than 3-4 phases with points in sight. In the end, SFGG won an evenly contested match, 3 tries to 2, to book their place in the NorCal U19 Final.

Much thanks to Chris and Jeff for their help as AR's.


By John Pohlman
Pacific Grizzlies Coaches Jonathan Griffin and Paul Keeler hosted 37 players from the Pacific Coast Territory at Stanford this Saturday.
This was an opportunity for collegiate men players to make the Grizzlies squad.
They ran 3 20 minute periods with unopposed scrums in this scrimmage.
Nine tries were totaled. Loads of talent. Good luck to all.


The For Pete’s Sake Foundation has a writ to host five ‘events’ a year, three rugby and two soccer. Their board of directors has the enviable task of deciding how to parcel out the three rugby weekend extravaganzas.

This was the first: the Wine Country Classic Sevens. Pat Culley and Dave Ellis seemed to be the men in charge; our apologies to those behind the scenes!

The pitch is in great shape, unbelievably lush, with a bench for spectator seating running the entire length of the enclosure. During the course of the tournament, volunteers from the Santa Rosa rugby community erected the framing for a spectator pavilion at the west end of the field.

The competition was played on two pitches and included high school, college and club brackets, and a brand-new team on the NorCal scene: Bishop.

Yes, this is the Bishop near the Mammoth ski resort. That’s about 350 miles from Santa Rosa if the Tioga Pass is open through Yosemite, almost 400 if it’s not. They seemed to have a couple of players with some rugby experience, the rest of the squad and sideline supporters having rugby enthusiasm.

Sierra JC won the college bracket and may surprise some of the four-year schools at this Saturday’s Stanford Sevens.

While there wasn’t any wine at the pitch-side barbecue afterwards, they did have the kinds of beverages that rugby players have been known to seek for the third half.

Gadoua, Carter, Byrnes, Zanarini, Bernstein, King, Ellis, Bertolone, Rauscher


Rocca Field:
Rugby California will hold its championships at Rocca Field, with the girls’ final at 10:45 AM and the boys’ at noon.

This will be followed by the NCRFU U19 final, and then the Super League quarterfinal.

10:45AM Girls State Final (Teams not known) Referee: Roberto Santiago
ARs: John Pohlman, Bjorn Stumer

Noon: Jesuit – Fallbrook Referee: Phil Akroyd
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, John Pohlman

1:30PM: Golden Gate – Hayward Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, Eric Rauscher

Super League Quarter-final
3PM: SF/Golden Gate – New York Old Blue Referee: Tim Luscombe
ARs: LuAnn Campbell, Chris Tucker
#4s: Scott Wood, Eric Rauscher
Evaluator: Dixon Smith


This tournament will feature Stanford, UC Davis, St. Mary’s, Sierra JC, Sac State and Santa Clara, with eight teams all told.

Play begins at 8 AM at the Steuber Family Rugby Stadium, with Mike Gadoua refereeing Stanford playing St. Mary’s.

If you’d like to come help out with the team of five (Assistant Referees and In-goal Judges), the knock-out games begin at 1 PM and will be finished by four.

Women's Grizzlies – USA-A Referee: Don Pattalock
ARs: Cary Bertolone, Roberto Santiago
#4: Eric Rauscher

By Preston Gordon:

Saturday, May 1st
RFC Basel 13-22 RC Neuchâtel (Swiss NLB/D2)
1500, Pruntrutermatte, Basel
Referee coach: Paul de Wouters

After getting some good fitness work done at the preceding week's training sessions with GC Zürich, I was feeling pretty good for the weekend's first game. I got out of Zürich just in time to avoid the annual May Day communist parade/riot which shuts down most of the city. This also had the side effect of getting me to Basel (about an hour away on the train) in time to see their seconds match against Luzern, refereed well by Sarah MacNamara. The ground is not far from the train station and very picturesque, with a vine-covered fence surrounding the playing enclosure, trees, and old buildings lining the north side of the adjacent street. As is standard in every Swiss sporting facility, the referees have their own changing room(s) with a shower.

The teams were ready to go about 20 minutes before the game, and we got the pre-match stuff out of the way with plenty of time. Communication with the team from the west side of the Röstigraben wasn't a problem. Right as we did the toss 10 minutes prior to kickoff a deluge of rain started, but luckily, it stopped right after the game began, although it did continue to drizzle for the rest of the day.

Basel kicked off, and only a couple of phases later were penalized for not rolling away at the tackle. Neuchâtel duly slotted the penalty goal and took an early 3-0 lead. Basel answered not long after with a well-worked try, unconverted, followed a few minutes later by a Neuchâtel try: 8-5 to the visitors. They were then penalized for not rolling away, and Basel got the penalty goal, evening the scores at 8 apiece. Basel managed one more unconverted try before halftime, putting them into the lead at 13-8. The ~150 spectators were highly entertained by the rugby on display, with hard hits and good passing. Basel had to be spoken to 10 minutes into the game about their players not rolling away, but once both sides figured out what I was looking for at the tackle, the recycling sped up quite nicely.

Halftime was a quick affair as these two closely matched teams were keen to get back into it. The second half featured a lot of play up and down the field, but neither side was able to score any points until late in the game. Before that, though, the Basel #13 went to the bin for the third not rolling away offense (48'). Thankfully that put a stop to the nonsense, and I didn't have to deal with it again.

As mentioned, the second half spectacle was not lacking in intensity. At 72' Neuchâtel found an overlap on the left side due to some slack defending, and the player on the wing got around the last tackle to score a try near the center. That tied the game at 13, and then they converted the try to take the lead at 15-13. So there was no shortage of entertainment on display, and both teams picked up the intensity. Basel adjusted their tactics a bit, playing a riskier game with more speculative passes and offloads. This worked well for a few minutes, but proved to be their downfall at 75' when a pass was picked off and returned for a try under the posts. That one silenced the crowd and was converted for the last points of the game (22-13 to the visitors). Basel kept up their efforts for the remaining 5 minutes but couldn't quite get through the Neuchâtel defense. At the end of the match they were pretty dejected, since their good work throughout the game was let down at the last minute. They played well though, especially considering they were missing several players in their backline due to injury.

After the match I had a shower and then talked over the game with Paul de Wouters while munching on a grilled pork cutlet sandwich and some potato salad. Paul works for Genentech and is occasionally in the Bay Area, so of course I invited him to let us know the next time he comes this way. As usual, the hospitality was excellent, and I stuck around for the rest of the afternoon and then helped the guys put away the tables and garbage. We then adjourned to the sponsor's pub in town, where I found the Luzern guys well-oiled and still going. After one more pint there, it was time to head back home in order to stay fresh for Sunday's game.

Sunday, May 2nd

GC Zürich 2nd XV 34-13 OC Monthey (Swiss NLC/D3)
1230, Allmend Brunau, Zürich

GCZ Match Report:[tt_news]=165&tx_ttnews[backPid]=48

Just like the prior week, GC Zürich had their firsts and seconds playing at home. I took the earlier game against Monthey, a new (2007) side from Valais, up the Rhône valley about halfway between Montreux and Sion. They had a very large pack and just a handful of substitutes, which wasn't surprising since earlier in the week there was some doubt over whether the match would be played at all.

The rain was still coming down, and was actually a bit heavier than Saturday. It had some effect on the game, but luckily there weren't too many dropped balls. The Grasshoppers started strongly, but within several minutes found themselves under some pressure, defending within their own half. Penalties for high tackles were exchanged (3-3). At 16' a GC wing found himself isolated near his own goal line, which turned into a loose ball. The Monthey player went for it, but was taken out early before he could pick up the ball. I debated awarding a penalty try, but decided that would be a bit much, so the offender received a yellow card instead. It may have been worth it to Zürich, since they were able to play 14-on-15 for the next 10 minutes without too much trouble. Monthey got the first try of the game not long after, by charging down a box kick and then getting to the ball in in-goal first (8-3 to the visitors). Later in the half GC scored a good converted try from backline play (10-8), and then another through the forwards, leaving the halftime score at 17-8. It was looking like a repeat of the prior day's game.

The rain continued in the second half, which suited Monthey's style of play: lots of forward drives. GC did well to move the ball around, using their backline effectively in spite of the rain. The players were doing a good job of staying out of the way when appropriate and getting themselves in a proper position to contest possession at the tackles, rucks, and mauls. While Monthey only had a couple of guys who spoke English, communication was not a problem, helped by the fact that this was my 4th game in a week with French-speaking teams.

Most of the second half was controlled by Zürich however. They scored 3 more tries, converting 1, for another 17 points. The first one was a real beauty, where the #7 took a quick pass and went about half the length of the pitch, dodging multiple tacklers along the way. He was almost caught at the 5m line, but wisely chose to dive and the wet surface allowed him to slide in left of the posts with the tackler hanging on by the legs. The ball was held in the attacker's right hand and was sliding on the ground for a good half meter, popping out just past the line. The defender saw the loose ball and looked like he wanted to complain about a knock-on, but seemed to realize that wouldn't be worth it as I was standing right on the line (and about 4m behind the #7 when he grounded the ball).

Unfortunately, GC were also guilty of losing their heads somewhat, which allowed Monthey to get back into the game and camp in the Zürich 22 for some time. They put together some really good rolling mauls, moving one over the goal line, where I was waiting. Somehow the Zürich #15 (or #9, I don't remember exactly) got himself under the attacking forward, who was easily twice his size, and had his arm under the ball: held up, 5m attacking scrum. Monthey was understandably disappointed but continued their physical dominance. This soon led to a 78' penalty about 15m out from the goal line, which was quick-tapped. The ball carrier, another of the big forwards, managed to shove the obviously offside and not retreating GC defender out of the way to score, but I had had enough with the cynical play and yellow carded him anyway. That was to be the last score of the game, for a 34-13 result to the home team. In the remaining 2 minutes Zürich attempted to score again, but ultimately were bundled into touch at full time (after their skipper was heard repeatedly shouting "kick it out, you *#@*&$#@%" to no avail).

Everyone was very happy after the match. The players on both sides were complimentary, and the Monthey coach told me right after the final whistle, "C'est la meilleur arbitrage que nos avons vu cette saison." [Editor: Bien sûr! Il est un Pelican.]

I congratulated him on his team's performance and also made sure to thank their captain and their #10, who was happy to do the extra work of helping to ensure the ref and his team understood each other when things were occasionally unclear. The ref was also happy, after feeling a bit tired and stiff that morning after 4 good, fairly fast games in a week, 2 training sessions, and a couple of late nights out on the town. We all hung around to watch the firsts hang on to beat Yverdon 13-12, enjoying a wurst and a beer under the tent, and then most of us made it to the pub in time to catch the Biarritz-Munster Heineken Cup semi-final, which was a cracker.

Now that I'm back in California, I'd like to thank all the different individuals and teams that I saw again, met for the first time, refereed, were coached by, trained with, discussed laws with, loaded up on kit from, traded pins with, discussed NorCal rugby with, and generally had the opportunity to enjoy our game with. Swiss rugby is, in my opinion, much improved from what I remember in 2006. Special thanks are due to M. Jean-Louis Larigaldie, the Swiss Referee Manager, for offering me another opportunity to ref in Switzerland, and to the Rachel and Paul for coming out to watch me.

And by all means, if anyone from NorCal finds themselves with plans to be in Switzerland, please get in touch.

Six of Nine
It’s 8:30 AM at For Pete’s Sake on a brilliant Sevensday in May.

Dave Ellis, Cary Bertolone, Mike King, Mike Gadoua, Tom Zanarini, Bruce Carter were there for the cameras. Bruce Bernstein, Bryant Byrnes and Eric Rauscher arrived a little later.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, May 04, 2010




The most recent USA Rugby national appointments, covering the bulk of the playoff and all-star seasons over the next six weeks, put eight Pelicans to work.

This is a testament to the work of eight people primarily and many, many more secondarily.

Your writer is choking up. All those hours - worth it.

Thank you.


The Wine County Sevens will be held this Saturday at For Pete’s Sake, from 9 AM until 4 PM.

Sixteen teams have signed up and a few more are expected by match time.

So far we’ve only got five referees, and could use about three more.

We will also need ARs for:
Olympic Club hosting Los Angeles on Treasure Island (CR1 playoff)
Bellarmine hosting Snow Canyon (Pacific Coast single-school HS playoff)
Lamorinda hosting Hayward (NorCal U19 semi)
Vacaville hosting Golden Gate (NorCal U19 semi)

Please let us know if you can help out!

Wine Country Classic at For Pete’s Sake field

So far we have four referees for this tournament, for which more than 20 teams have signed up, and could use at least four more. Six more would be better.

Come visit one of the nicer pitches in the North Bay, the fruits of the dream of the late Pete Eiermann. Get an early jump on summer!


The University of California won its 25th rugby championship Saturday at Stanford, in an epic match against BYU.

In a couple of years the Bears could catch the New York Yankees in number of titles, and the Yanks have been at it a lot longer!

Semifinals on Friday:

DII women:
TEMPLE – UC Santa Cruz Referee: Kurt Weeder
ARs: Pete Smith, Bruce Carter

WASHINGTON STATE – Norwich Referee: Leah Berard
ARs: Scott Wood, Tom Zanarini

DII men:
CLAREMONT COLLEGES – Miami University Referee: Gareth Morgan
ARs: John Coppinger, John Pohlman

TEMPLE – Univ. Mass Amherst Referee: Dana Teagarden
ARs: Scott Wood, Tom Zanarini

DI women:
STANFORD – Brown Referee: Brian Zapp
ARs: James Hinkin, Rich Anderson

PENN STATE – Army Referee: Marc Nelson
ARs: James Hinkin, Rich Anderson

DI men:
BYU – Army Referee: Tim Luscombe
ARs: Pete Smith, Bruce Carter

CALIFORNIA – Arkansas State Referee: Tom Lyons
ARs: John Coppinger, John Pohlman

Finals on Saturday:

D2 women: Temple – WASHINGTON STATE Referee: Tim Luscombe
ARs: James Hinkin, Rich Anderson

D2 men: CLAREMONT – Temple Referee: Gareth Morgan
ARs: Scott Wood, John Coppinger

D1 women: Stanford – PENN STATE Referee: Dana Teagarden
ARs: Leah Berard, Kurt Weeder

D1 men: CALIFORNIA 19 – Brigham Young Univ. 7 Referee: Tom Lyons
ARs: Brian Zapp, Marc Nelson


PC Men's D1 playoffs:

SAC LIONS 55 – North Side Tigers 17 Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: JC van Staden, Mark Godfrey
Evaluator: Mark Koiwai

Beach rugby at its finest was played for 80 on Danny Nunn field in South Sacramento.

A mid-70s temperature and a light northerly breeze greeted the teams, with the local Lions electing to receive into the wind for the first half. The kick was caught, ruck set and ball spun: 1-skip 2-3 5-in almost worked well, except for the poaching defender who picked off the long pass and jogged in untouched for the first try after 53 seconds.

After that point the Lions knuckled down and played a little less loose, and their quick recycling and deft passing created opening after opening, resulting in 5 tries in the first half, all but one centred and converted. The visiting Tigers managed a couple in return, and should have had another, but sadly the ball carrier stepped over the dead ball line just before touching down. A shame, as the movement to create the would-be score was sublime.

The half came and went (33-17), the second period was a little less organised, with both teams showing a clear preference for playing 7s. Neither wished to set a ruck, let alone counter, so offside became an occasional phenomenon, and the structure broke down. Notable incidents in the 2nd half included a blocked conversion -- the kicker stepped back, took a good look, then returned to address the ball. I informed him that the defenders were charging, but he didn't react swiftly, and the ball was taken away. I'm pretty sure he didn't like how I handled it, judging by his vocal criticism. Your first amendment rights have been exercised. Now we will restart with a penalty the other way in addition to your failed conversion. Please, continue...

A dangerous tackle by the Lions, and players repeatedly throwing away the ball after a penalty by the Tigers led to matching cards, but these were mere bumps in the road. The Lions were dominant all day, delivered on their game plan and had much fun to boot. The next round beckons, and their opponents should beware.

Thanks to Mark Godfrey who stepped up after a late cancel by the assigned AR, and to JC for policing his sideline with aplomb. Mark Koiwai told me what I suspected in his eval of me, and then took off to try to get to Stanford for the finals at 7 PM. Traffic willing, I hope he made it.

Olympic Club BYE

Bay Barbarians 6 – PROVO STEELERS 40 Referee: Don Pattalock
Steeler Field, Provo, Utah
Barbarians traveled to Utah with 16 healthy players, played valiantly but had no answer for Provo's powerful forwards. Great match with music, announcers and quality rugby.

EAST PALO ALTO won at Salt Lake City


O Club hosting LA Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Provo Steelers hosting Santa Monica Referee: Pete Smith
Belmont Shore hosting East Palo Alto
Las Vegas hosting Sac Lions

Thursday: VACAVILLE 48 – Santa Rosa 14 Referee: Dave Ellis
Vacaville hosted Santa Rosa under the lights at Al Patch Park on Thursday night in the NorCal HS/U19 Playoffs. The late afternoon threat of rain held off, and conditions were just about perfect for a game of open, running rugby. The fans in attendance did not go home disappointed.

Vacaville started strongly, opening the scoring with a try on the 5 minute mark. Not content with one early score, Vacaville continued to pressure. Santa Rosa was finding it difficult to contain Vacaville's hard-running forward trio of locks Earl Collier and KoleSiaki and hooker Daniel Gill, and it did not take too long for Vacaville to score their 2nd try of the night. Santa Rosa responded as best they could, but Vacaville's pack took control, providing a steady stream of quality ball for not only themselves but also for their hard running back line. Three more converted tries ensued, and the half ended with a score of 31 - 0 in Vacaville's favor.

Santa Rosa came back after the half with a renewed sense of intensity, and the game settled for a while with Vacaville still controlling the bulk of play but Santa Rosa pressuring at times with tactical kicking. It was Vacaville who again drew first blood, however, with Kole Siaki powering in for a try in the 17th minute. Santa Rosa responded quickly with their first try of the evening courtesy of flanker Russ Van Anda. Santa Rosa tried to open things up when offered the opportunity, with their fullback and Captain Tyler Laron showing flashes of his speed, toughness and elusiveness, but it was Vacaville who maintained control, although Santa Rosa flanker Blake Ratto did keep the 2nd half scoring close with a late try. In the end, a strong win for a well coached, well disciplined and well rounded Vacaville team against an overmatched Santa Rosa side that competed until the final whistle and played with heart and class.

Many thanks to Ray Thompson and Jim Crenshaw for their AR assistance. The three of us must have made one of the most 'experienced' crews of officials ever, having a total of 189 life years between us and 97 combined years of playing, coaching and refereeing with the NCRFU. Include Vacaville and Santa Rosa coaches Britt Hensley and Lynn Meister in the computation and the totals approach in excess of 300 life years and 151 years combined association with NCRFU rugby. Playing, coaching or refereeing, Northern California rugby truly is the gift that keeps on giving to us all!

LAMORINDA 64 – East Palo Alto 5 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Assistant Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A warm day in Moraga for the U-19 playoffs. Traffic was considerably terrible in Berkeley/Oakland where I witnessed a classic rear-ending of a pickup truck smashing into a Honda Accord who then chain reacted into a compact car. Thank goodness I switched lanes 2 minutes prior! Honda trunks crumple very nicely, by the way.

EPA was also affected by the traffic, but managed to have 15 players at kickoff. Lamorinda came out to make a statement and put 3 tries on the scoreboard in the first 10 minutes. EPA had flashes of great play, but unstructured as it was Lamo kept their cool and capitalized on every opportunity.

Thanks to both teams for an excellent match, despite the score. Many thanks to Bryant Byrnes for AR'ing, I hope he made it to the Final at Stanford in time.

Peninsula Green 12 – HAYWARD 91 Referee: Bruce Carter
It was clear, warm and beautiful Saturday afternoon at Woodside High School for this playoff tiff.

Hayward has a number of players who proved difficult to tackle, but #13 Sione Tupouata stood out. I was reminded of reading about the young Wayne Gretzky skating and passing around age-grade opponents, scoring at will.

Tupouata will be playing football for the University of Utah come autumn. Imagine his pairing in midfield next spring with Thretton Paloma!

Marin Highlanders 10 – SFGG 18 Referee: John Pohlman
AR: Cary Bertolone
I remember my first game this season: a well played and very competitive game from start to finish. My comment at the time was you may only get one of these a season.

Well Saturday took me to Redwood High School in Larkspur where Marin was hosting Golden Gate in a high school playoff. The game was moved from an 11:45 AM start to 3:00 PM kickoff to accommodate SAT testing.

This knock-out game was played on the artificial turf football field. The field also seemed like a wind tunnel.

Golden Gate won the toss and elected to receive the ball into the wind.

The game was a battle from the kickoff. Both teams playing aggressive in the tackle. Marin's second row Luke Becker scored the first try twelve minutes in.

Golden Gate won their lineout around 35 meters from the try line. Coach Wells has the GG forwards well schooled in driving mauls. And yes they drove the maul in for their first score at 30 minutes.

Marin slotted a penalty right before half to make the score, Marin 10 Golden Gate 5.

While both teams seemed totally matched to me, I thought the wind might be worth more than 5 points.

So on to the second half.

GG pack was bigger and really ran well together. Four minutes in GG second rower scored a multiphase forward attack with a nice pick and drive for a try.

Ten minutes later GG winger finished off a play were close to ten different players handled the ball. Marin had plenty of opportunities but very time GG would regain possession they would boot the ball 75 meters or so. Like I said the wind tunnel.

GG lifted a bit of pressure with a converted penalty kick with five minutes left.

Again Marin had numerous drives to the line only to be stymied by penalty.
GG kicked for touch and game over.

Thanks to both Captains Jake and Augie for a well managed game.


Lamorinda – Hayward Referee: Preston Gordon
Vacaville – Golden Gate Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

JESUIT 71 – Bellarmine 0 Referee: Phil Akroyd

Jesuit advances to the California State Cup against Fallbrook on May 15 and to the nationals in Salt Lake City in May 21-23.

Bellarmine will host Snow Canyon of Utah on May 8, the winner also advancing to the nationals.


MARIN LIONS 19 – Piedmont High 7 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
This was a tale of two halves with PITS coming on strong on the first half, versus a combative Marin Lions side. PITS had plenty possession, but could only put one converted try on the scoreboard due to Marin's determined tackling. Marin's lack of discipline also saw them at the receiving end of numerous penalties, but Piedmont could not fully capitalize on the fact. The second half was a total opposite of the first, Marin regained composure, cleaned up their game, and played with effect scoring three tries, two of which were converted, thus running away with the match. It was a tough and frustrating match to officiate, because both sides had much difficulty listening to the referee, while providing said referee with much unwanted feedback. I understand that both sides struggled this season; staying on their feet, knowing where the offside lines are, and not back chatting to the ref., would go a long way to provide the required improvement.

SFGG silver – Pleasanton

LAMORINDA silver 24 – Alameda 12 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A beautiful late afternoon match at St Mary's-and a nice way to end the season. These teams were analogous to middle weight boxers-of some heft but light on their feet-and came out swinging. It was 12-12 at half, but the Lamos backline was a bit more deft in the second half.

And then everyone grabbed a hotdog and raced down to Stanford for the national championship.


Q: When is it better to finish second or third than first?
A: When you are going to the Pacific Coast men’s D2 championships.

Santa Rosa and SFGG have qualified for the nationals by dint of each winning their first games at the playoffs in Boise. They played each other next, but das macht nichts: both advanced regardless of the outcome.

But Fresno, who won every one of their eleven games and many by large margins, then had to win two games in order to qualify for the nationals. They won the first one but then had to play Pacific NW champions Snake River, of Boise, at Boise.

Hard luck for the resurgent Fresno RFC.



SF Fog 12 – SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 29 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Amazons, led by their halfback & flyhalf, beat the Fog women at TI in two 25-minute halves.

Santa Clara women – Alumnae CANCELED


SF/Golden Gate won on the road, beating the Chicago Lions 63-23 to run the table. They will host New York Old Blue in a quarterfinal on May 15 and will host the league championship game on May 30.

If they win May 15, they’ll also host a semifinal on May 22.

From the Grapevine Independent

By BILL HICKS, Jr., Sports Editor & SHELLY LEMBKE, Sr. Staff Writer
The traditional transition of sport from one generation to the next often involves a father playing catch in the backyard with his son—or shooting hoops out on the driveway or sitting in the bleachers together to watch a ballgame.

For some kids in Rancho Cordova, life doesn’t come with the luxury of a dad to play catch with, a glove and a ball, a basketball hoop or a sunny day in the stands with a bag of peanuts and a soda, so coming to know the joys sports can provide is a daunting challenge.

However, while some of those conditions might exists for some of the players on the P.A.L. youth rugby club, the real obstacle doesn’t exist in finding a dad, uncle or brother with the appropriate qualities of interest and involvement, the real problem is finding someone who knows anything at all about the sport to begin with.

Luckily, the P.A.L. rugby program, a 14U youth team that plays other area rugby clubs, is coached by former Jesuit High star Matt Foster, former Lancer rugby club veteran Tyler Farnsworth and England-native Phil Akroyd. With all due respect to the neighboring club in the foothills, PAL has seemingly hit the Mother Lode.

“It’s really been amazing,” said Zach Hatch, a Rancho Cordova police officer who runs the PAL program. “We’ve had such a difficult time finding coaches in our others sports, but we’ve had guys coming out of the woodwork wanting to help with rugby.”

And Hatch couldn’t be happier with how the program has developed. Many of the players have had some struggles with various things—schoolwork, discipline and so forth—but many of those woes have gone by the wayside since joining rugby.

“The kids are all really good kids,” Hatch said. “I think it’s good that they have something to focus on and be involved with.”

Of course, the tough nature of the sport might have an appeal to any middle school boy trying to chisel himself into a man, but where any of the improvements in schoolwork, conduct and overall attitude might lie is with the detailed nature of the game.

“If someone thinks this game is all about grabbing a guy by the collar and slamming him face-first into the mud, that just tells me they don’t know much about rugby,” Foster said. Rugby, though very physical, is a rigorously nuanced game and it is through the mastery of those nuances that the kids have shown the most growth.

“It was certainly frustrating when we first came out here,” Foster said. “You wish you can just transfer everything you know into them, but there has been a remarkable difference in the kids from when we first started.”

The players attest to the changes themselves. Thirteen year-old Journey Fatu and fourteen year-old Erick Jarquin, both students from Mills Middle School, are playing rugby for the first time, but each has found something for himself within the game.

“We started out with 50 [players]. Now we have 28. All these kids have heart. They have something in them – potential,” said Fatu. “The first time I came out here I didn’t really like the game because I didn’t really know much about the game. But you know, I see all these kids. They are my usos – my brothers.”

“I used to play soccer and basketball, but this is my favorite sport. It gives me more self discipline,” said Jarquin. He also recently spoke before the Rancho Cordova city council on behalf of the P.A.L. program. “It wasn’t necessarily scary. I just didn’t want to say the wrong thing.”

One of the team’s youngest coaches is Tyler Farnsworth. Farnsworth graduated from Cordova High in 2009 after playing four years of rugby on the CHS team.

“Coaching is much harder. Playing, you work on your own stuff,” he said. “When I heard about this [program] I was really happy because I wish I had started younger. I would have been that much farther along.”

The details of the game might take repetition and practice, but for everyone involved, the love of the game seems immediate—and in the case of lifelong devotee Akroyd, the love is indelible.

“It’s my sport. I can’t just do nothing,” he said. “So I decided to get into reffing.” Akroyd’s three-year affiliation with the Northern California Rugby Referee Society is what introduced him to P.A.L.’s rugby program. He brings a global perspective to local rugby.

“The difference is that they (players) start earlier in Europe – in big rugby nations,” Akroyd said. “This [team] wouldn’t have happened here even three years ago.”

“It’s really taken quickly,” said Akroyd. “Rugby is just exploding, particularly here locally.”


Too much technology: the Pelicancam took movies instead of stills at Stanford and we can’t figure out how to embed a video and still fit through the narrow slots into people's mailboxes.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris