Wednesday, August 11, 2010



I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul remembering my good friends.

- William Shakespeare, Richard II, Act 2 Scene 3, 46-7

From Murray Felstead:

“Allow me to introduce Joshua James - - - "J J" - - - Born at 09-10 on Saturday 17th July by Caesarian section and weighing in at 7 lbs - 7 ozs.

“Emma and baby doing well!

“Sue and Murray”


Joe Leisek’s words darkened my day this dawn; a break in the routine, a ripple in the wavelength, the need for perspective suddenly upon me.

“Since returning from the Alberta exchange in June, I've been giving my refereeing future a lot of thought. I've decided it's time to retire.”

Wide awake now. An earthquake toppled one of the pillars of our Society overnight? No wonder my dreams were disturbed. Joe’s been intimately involved in NorCal rugby for several player-generations. He’s the glue that’s held more than one of our seams together over the years.

“The decision feels like a passage, a transition of some kind. It's hard to completely describe the profound effect that refereeing has had on my life. Refereeing has motivated and challenged me more than I could have imagined. But this feels like the right call.”

I’ve thought about how I’ll retire, what I’ll say. Motivation and challenge are excellent attributes for a game to inspire, and for a man to respond to. Players retire when time overtakes them, when the youngsters aren’t to be denied their place in the XV. But referees – we await either the inability to continue or the muting of the siren’s call.

“I've had a great run. I've refereed much higher-level games than I ever played. I've traveled to places I never would have seen had I not been a referee. And I've met many good friends I never would have otherwise known. I've met and come to know so many great people: referees, evaluators, coaches, players, administrators, fans. And as involved as I have been in our society over the years, I have received much more in return.”

Remember your first rugby practice, first game, first try scored, first tour and first tournament final? Did you realize this sport would lead to the kinds of life experiences Joe describes, the return on investment only dreamt about in the other walks of our lives?

Thank you, Joe, for crystallizing these thoughts.

“I'll be going out after a great year. After two years marked by injuries and fitness questions, I worked very hard to get into far better shape and stay injury-free. I feel like I reached those goals. In addition to my NorCal assignments, I refereed in Los Angeles twice, Portland, Boise, and Calgary. On my 50th birthday I refereed a Pacific Coast men's D2 playoff match. The last game I refereed was an Alberta Cup match. These will be great memories to end my career.”

Long may they run in the theater of your mind.

“But now it's time for me to focus more on home and family. My daughter will be a sophomore in high school this year, and I want to be as close to her as possible for the next three years. I want to take her to all of her volleyball tournaments. I want to be able to visit my son at UC Santa Cruz. And I will have more time with Tracy and more time to work together on our home.”

Another Joe, Joe Androvich, told me that he referees in no small part because of the quality and character of the people whose peers you become. Selfless. Dedicated. Focused. Principled. Admirable.

“At some point I'll consider a part-time commitment to coaching new referees.”

As long as life endures, there will be time to give back. The game abides. Rugby is not a jealous mistress. In fact, she encourages us to keep the friends we’ve made as our passion for her dies.

I married Joe, but I’m not married to him. No, we didn’t divorce: I performed his and Tracy’s wedding ceremony an honor I never got from my first love, basketball.

Rugby married us as well and those bonds expanded to include heavily-overlapping musical interests and many, many shared experiences and stories.

Joe dated one of the musicians in Game Theory. He saw XTC perform live. He knows what Squeeze song the “likely lads” feature in. I know no other person with these attributes and, in fact, there almost certainly is no other.

Rugby brings us together and insures that we see each other frequently, or at least regularly. That will be the critical absence now, that gravitational aberration that caused Petaluma and Salinas to cross orbits so often.

These are the times of our lives. Thank you rugby, for dear friends such as Joe Leisek.


This Saturday and Sunday will feature the USA club finals at Rocca Field. Play will begin at 9 AM both days, finishing at 5:20 on Saturday and 4:25 on Sunday.

We believe we have all of the billets covered. If you’d like to see the best practitioners of Olympic Rugby in the USA, drop by!

Please do not hesitate to chime in with your willing to work any or all of these events:

August 21:
Women’s club round-robin in Chico (fifteens). Two or three refs needed.

August 28:
Women’s club match
Arroyo Grande Sevens

September 4:
Polynesian tournament in Sunnyvale, men’s and women’s fifteens. Three fields.
Women’s league club match

September 11:
Women’s club season in full swing with three home games
Tri-tip Sevens in San Luis Obispo.

October 2:
Chico State alumni games – 3 or 4 matches

October 8-9:
Fiji Day Sevens celebration, probably in Palo Alto
(Saturday) Two women’s club games

November 6: Society meeting


The annual NCRRS meeting at society AGM will be held on Saturday, November 6. The site is yet to be determined but will be in the Bay Area. We usually meet from the morning until the mid-afternoon, with instruction, field exercises, and team-building camaraderie. Mark your calendars now!


Old Puget Sound Beach of Seattle and Humless of Provo won the two Pacific Coast seeds to the sevens nationals.

We remember the days in the late nineties when the Pacific Coast had four seeds and once put all four into the quarterfinals. In those days most of the Pacific Coast teams came from NorCal. We also recall the year San Mateo beat Fresno for the national championship. What has changed?

The Mid-Atlantic has always taken Sevens very seriously – already playing a ten- or twelve-week season even thirty years ago. Now, most of the country has a similar commitment except some areas such as NorCal.

The Palo Alto series is one of the best anywhere, but for top teams to be produced it would need to be supplemented by at least three or four more good, local events for clubs to compete it.

We expect college and high school sevens to mushroom the next couple of summers. The club game could be left by the side of the road, right here in America’s rugby heartland.


SoCal will be holding a level2 course at CSU Long Beach, Sept 11-12. This course is required for any referee hoping to advance to the T ranks.

Contact Mark Kottke if you are interested:


Ron Decausemaker sends along a link to a wonderful image. We were in Seattle last weekend and saw the Blue Angels, who have nothing on this crew:

colourful in olney
During the 2002 East Midlands exchange, Joe Leisek tried to blend in with Keith McLean and Trevor McCarthy.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris