Wednesday, March 31, 2010

RUGBY DAYS AND KNIGHTS

HAIL, PELICUS!

BUMPER CROP OF PROMOTIONS

Tom Zanarini to L1
Rod Chance to L2
Stephen Moore to L2

Be sure to congratulate these folks at our April 14 meeting!

AN OLD FRIEND IS AN OLD FRIEND

From Tony Redmond:
“I just received notification that I have been appointed to the IRB TMO panel. I figure that USA Rugby deserves at least an "assist" on this one based on the appointment for Canada v Ireland last May. And Bruce, maybe the Pelicans can take some credit too...

“Nomina Rutrum Rutrum”

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEKEND

Watch or #4 for Pacific Coast college playoffs at UC Davis, Maritime Academy, or St. Mary’s Friday and Saturday.

Referee high school games – plenty to go around.

Stop by Stanford at 6:30 Saturday evening for a cracker: touring Napier HS of New Zealand being hosted by a combined San Mateo/East Palo Alto side.

TREASURE ISLAND TOUR

First impression on the drive up: an Impressionist artist seems to have invaded NorCal, painting vibrant bursts of violet and lavender in areas where, in a few weeks, will be merely a green expanse of wisteria vines. Arbors, sides of houses, fences and even the west-facing sound wall along I880 through Hayward have Doppler-shifted into the upper frequencies of the visible spectrum.

Routines: gasoline at a particular station just off the highway, coffee at the same drive-through, the Pelicanmobile knowing its way up highway 101, the El Camino Real, from Salinas to the South Bay, from repetition. Listening to Teaching Company courses (currently playing: Herodotus) until within range of KFOG when on Saturday mornings they play all of the week’s Ten at Ten shows.

It was 1980 again; just like it was the first time I ever drove into the Bay Area, moving to the promised land of American Rugby to undertake my medical internship in San Francisco. And the same song was playing: (We’re All) Clones, by Alice Cooper. Don’t think I’ve heard it since, but the ‘destroy the government’ refrain telescoped thirty years into yesterday.

With the eastern span of the Bay Bridge in the process of being replaced, the left-exit lane onto Yerba Buena coming from Oakland has been lengthened and made much safer. No longer is it necessary to go from freeway speeds to a hairpin-turn crawl in a couple of car lengths.

Rounding Yerba Buena and then descending onto man-made Treasure Island shows all the famous bits of San Francisco to best advantage: the Embarcadero, downtown, Coit Tower and the pyramid, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate at its eponymous bridge. It’s hard not to wreck your car here sometimes, and Saturday was such a day.

As you drive through the gate onto the former Navy base, to the right is a building with a glass-walled cupola. This was to be the control tower for the Bay Area’s major airport, the ostensible purpose for which Treasure Island was built, until Admiral Yamamoto changed those plans.

Rugby sprouts up in three places on TI these days, an even dozen games being played last Saturday. From Golden Gate’s Rocca Field, a knight’s move north-north-west lands you on the Job Corps field, which the Fog and Berkeley call home. Another excursion of the knight, to the north-north-east, finds the GAA pitch which the Olympic Club has been renting. This rugby knight visited all three.

10:30 AM, Job Corps Field:
SF FOG women 41 – California 10 Referee: Bruce Carter
Ellen Owens’ Cal Bears wanted to be tested prior to this weekend’s Pacific Coast playoffs. The Fog’s backs performed the examination and found some pace lacking.

I should have kept a penalty count – probably less than ten. Thanks for the players for doing your jobs and letting me not need to do mine.

1 PM, GAA East Pitch:
Assistant Referee for Bryan Arciero on Olympic Club – Bay Barbarians
Bryan flew down last year for Cal – St. Mary’s, and in 2005 he was here as a young man (well, he’s still young – still in his twenties). This guy is good, and will be going to the Nations Cup in Romania with Aruna.

This game was close into the second half, when I found myself on the touchline with the Barbarian supporters. O Club scored twice during a Barbarian yellow-card suspension to end the suspense. Some good-natured ribbing began behind me: ‘Who’s this ref?’ ‘Where’s he from?’ ‘He’s no good.’ ‘You should tell him about that guy offside.’ ‘It’s all his fault.’

About this time an Olympian broke two tackles and undertook a long excursion down the far touchline. Came the comment: ‘Well, that’s not his fault.’ Laughter all around, rugby affirmed.

2:50 PM, Rocca Field:
Spectator with Bryan Arciero for the second half, Golden Gate hosting Chicago Griffins
The home team was ahead 17-12 and we seemed to be in for a treat. The second stanza turned out to be a treat of a different sort as SFGG ran in six or seven tries to none.

After that, Bryan and I returned to the GAA clubhouse so that he could speak to the coaches and players from his game.

A rugby day wound down and it was time for the Pelicanmobile to retrace its tracks, back to domestic bliss with Penelope in our feathered abode.

PLAY BALL

SF GOLDEN GATE SL 58 – Chicago Griffins 12 Referee: Tim Luscombe
ARs: Joe Androvich, George O’Neil
Evaluator: Dixon Smith

The season is only six games for these teams. It’s a sprint: think short-track skating, a fifty-meter swim or a hundred-meter dash. A single loss costs home field advantage in the playoffs. Both teams were undefeated, although the Griffins had already played two to Gate’s one.

SFGG won the league last year and, having to replace about half their side, doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. They have two more home games during the regular season, against OMBAC April 10 and surprising co-frontrunners OPSB April 24.

It’s the best way to spend the day if you can’t be off whistling somewhere.

OLYMPIC CLUB 35 – Barbarians 10 Referee: Bryan Arciero (Rugby Alberta)
ARs: Bruce Carter, Tom Zanarini
Last-Minute Videographer: Eric Rauscher
Performance Reviewer: Bryan Porter

In preparation for some upcoming appointments, it was time to head back to NorCal for some fun in the sun.

After a quick remarking of the field, some goal post shifting, and rockin'up with the new Eartecs we got the party started. The Olympic Club took an early 10-0 lead after some excellent work off the set-piece. Support in numbers paid dividends as effective clearing out at the breakdown delivered quick ball to create space out wide. Not to be outdone, the Bay Barbarians used some excellent support running and inside cut-backs to keep the score close at the end of the first half despite playing short for 10 minutes due to repeated infringements.

In the second half the Bay Barbarians were effective at spoiling possession but after several phases their defense broke down, allowing the Olympic Club to mount wave after wave of attack. Another 10 minutes with a player in the bin for intentionally offending was the last nail in the coffin, and Olympic Club ran away with a 35-10 victory.

A quick pit stop at SFGG to catch the 2nd half of the RSL match, then back to the GAA club for a beer and a general sense from the players that I didn't ruin the game. A 10 km run the next day meant an early night on Saturday.

Thanks to Tom & Colleen for putting up with me for the weekend, and to Bruce for helping organize things on the ground.

Seconds: Olympic Club 0 – BARBARIANS 55 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Assistant Referee: Eric Rauscher
Evaluator: David Williamson
Another great weekend of rugby camaraderie in the books. I had the pleasure of hosting Bryan Arciero from Edmonton this weekend. Bryan is a great guest and is always welcome at the Zanarini's house (actually a tiny apartment). Bryan arrived Friday night off of the Marin Airporter just as I got off work. Colleen prepared a ravioli dinner that went well with the Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel (see Preston’s report from last week). A quick after-dinner drink at the now famous D'Angelo's restaurant (3 mentions this season in Hail Pelicus) and off to bed. Saturday morning we managed to catch some of the Warahtas match then off to Rugbyland.

Since our matches were at the GAA fields I was able to show Bryan our Pelican Nest in the SFGG clubhouse. As we arrived at the field the O club players were jumping the fence to get to the pitch. The locked gate and unlined fields at noon had us a bit worried but O club got things sorted quickly. If you've never seen Bryan referee it is a sight to behold as well as a tough act to follow.

Think of your junior high jazz quartet opening for the Stones when the Stones were young.

The B's were ready to play right away, opting for a 60 minute match to counter O Club’s lack of depth due to injuries. The Babas came out firi.. I mean came out strong and didn't look back. When Oly attacked the Babas were patient and picked a few loose balls that ended up grounded for points. A low penalty count and good sportsmanship all around until the last minute when a cocktail of points differential, heat and exhaustion got the better of a few. A quick whistle and all tempers settled. Thanks to Dave for the eval and learning points and to the ever faithful Eric whose AR flags may occasionally point in the wrong direction but never tire.

Colleen and I treated Bryan to dinner at you know where, then we went to Balboa
Cafe around the corner for some cougar spotting.

Prior to our arraignments Bryan agreed to run the Golden Gate Vista 10k on Sunday morning in the city. It was a beautiful route along the Coastal trail between the USSSF memorial and the GG Bridge. Good runners know you need fuel for your muscles after a workout and I knew just the place: the Tipsy Pig on Chestnut where the Bartender is from my hometown. Adam hooked us up with a few tipsy sized pale ales to aid the day’s recovery. One more stop at the Fishbowl on Divisadero for some more sampling then home to shower. I hope Bryan had a great time and we wish him well on his upcoming trips to Australia and Eastern Europe.

Sac Lions – San Mateo Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

Seconds: Sac Lions – San Mateo Not played.

EAST PALO ALTO 28 – Sac Capitals 26 Referee: Pete Smith
This was a great game played in perfect conditions at San Mateo High School.

Sacramento started off strong and pressured EPA into penalties early slotting two penalties to take a 6-0 lead. EPA answered back with a try to take the lead 7-6. Two more penalties by the Caps put them back on top 12-7 and EPA answered with a great individual try by their #10 and captain to again take the lead 14-12. Sac would take the lead again with a try before halftime to go up 19-14 at the break. This is the third time this year that I have seen the Caps and they have been tied or leading at halftime of all three games only to get crushed in the second half of the previous two. This time Sac came out strong and scored another try to take a big lead of 26-14. EPA would not roll over and concede this game and fought back with another try 21-26 and with four minutes remaining scored the tying try with a very difficult sideline conversion to go ahead. The kick was good 28-26!!! The Capitals did not fold and they kept pressure on in the EPA end until the Razorback surrendered a penalty 25 meters out and just to the left of the posts. The kicker got under the ball and the slight headwind pushed the kick wide! The Caps had one more possession, but rather than pounding the middle and waiting for another opportunity to for a penalty kick or drop goal, they spun it wide and were run out of bounds to end a truly great game.

No seconds match.

Vallejo 0 – DIABLO GAELS 88 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Probably the most mismatched game I’ve had this season, and I have reffed a lot of blow-outs. 0-27 after twenty minutes, 0-59 at half. Diablo opted to purposefully miss conversions to keep the score under 100.

Thanks to Scott Wood for hanging around after his game to A/R for me. Maybe I’ll get a close game next week.

FRESNO 55 – SF/Golden Gate 17 Referee: John Coppinger
Fresno has a new Field of Dreams.

A farmer near Lemoore Naval Air Station installed an almost regulation soccer field for his son some years ago smack in the middle of a Walnut orchard. The son is an adult now, with a son of his own. One the Fresno players works with the farmer and the farmer agreed to let Fresno use the field. The pitch is certainly wide enough and may be 10 meters short, but it's better than most. There was a fair bit of dust, particularly at the south end, and a lot of pollen, but it was pretty cool and Fresno had a bar set up under an overhang from the adjacent barn.

Fresno State and San Jose State (and Rich Anderson) ran out for the initial rugby on the new pitch.

In the Fresno-SF/GG match that followed the college match, Fresno went out to a 26-0 halftime lead and, although SF/GG rallied to score three tries in the second half, Fresno ran out 55--17 winners.

SEAHAWKS over Arroyo Grande by forfeit

SANTA ROSA 50 – Vacaville 12 Referee: John Pohlman
Santa Rosa hosted Vacaville at For Pete's Sake Field. This was an important game for Santa Rosa, who is driving for the playoffs. With their play today they looked like they could move deep into the playoffs.

I arrived around 11:30 for the 1:00 kickoff. No traffic and beautiful drive, put me in one of the happy-to-be-alive moods.

I saw Vacaville play Golden Gate and was impressed with their play. So I was expecting a competitive game.

Thus I was surprised to see Vacaville having 16 players suit up. After going through my pre-game with both teams, it seemed both teams felt Santa Rosa would win.
I say this because although Vacaville could not have beat Santa Rosa on this Saturday, they play well and have a number of very good players.

OK on to the game.

Santa Rosa's captain, #7 Pat King won the toss and choose to kick. It only took Pat one minute to poach his first of many balls. This led to a quick try at 2 minutes by inside center Matt Klew. Ten minutes later second row Chris Reynolds scored his first of two trys on the day. (Note I really think it was Tyler Alhborn who scored two from the second row position, but the roster said it was Reynolds).

Santa Rosa just had just too much defensive pressure in the first half. They would poach ball, spin wide and score. At 22 minutes Matt Klew got his second of the day.

The Vacaville fullback had a pop kick he fielded and scored a nice try.

At forty minutes scrum half Elvis Shipman threw a sweat dummy which the entire Vacaville forward pack took and scored under the posts.

Half time SR 31 Vacaville 5.

Santa Rosa started faster in the second half than the first, with Elvis getting his second try one minute in.

Santa Rosa brought on the subs and the game evened out a bit. Santa Rosa looked to have over 30 players available. The rest of the game saw SR scoring two more to one by Vacaville.

Vacaville had a few moments of brilliance in this game. One of their props finished off a long forward movement by off loading to one of their flankers for a great try.

Santa Rosa was just too dangerous on turnover ball today. Of their eight tries at least half were scored in this manner.

Special thanks to captains Pat King and Matt Heafey for excellent management. It so much more fun to referee a game where you feel the captains are working with you.


BA BARACUS 61 – Stanislaus 31 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
On Baracus' outback field, a lumpy but regulation pitch, rugby balls were a-flyin'-and then touched down in goal with a frequency that make rugby guys giddy.

Baracus is back in full flood-30 plus guys warmed up. And they put on a splendid offensive show in the first half-49 points (to 5) every which way possible. One winger-I think his name is Doc-got frequent flier miles; 4 tries on two dummies and fullback in. However, chippiness became an issue. ''Pete Smith woulda let me put the boots on the guy.'' I don't think so.

Stanislaus is the most dogged but game team I have seen this year. Fifteen players at a home match; 22 eventual players here. And after getting pasted the first half, they came out and scored four tries the second half. As their very own most chippy player said, ''go figure''. They are the epitome of that somewhat dreadful phrase that what does not kill you makes you stronger.

MENDOCINO by forfeit over EPA U23

REDWOOD 36 – Diablo U23, 15 Referee: Scott Wood
Location: Morton Field, Mare Island

After several shuffles of the referee deck, I got the Diablo U23 v Redwood matchup. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Diablo was forced to find a new home pitch. Fortunately Vallejo Barbarians were able to accommodate them on Mare Island. The game was scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. so I packed my bags, bade Pookie farewell, and set out through the Delta. Open space and the iPod set to eclectic (The Residents, Led Zeppelin, Kings of Leon, Kiss, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Pantera, etc) made for a relatively quick journey. A youth soccer tournament was underway and having never been to Vallejo's pitch I wondered if I was at the right location. Sure, the field was also lined for rugby but at 10:15 no other ruggers were around.

Slowly but surely, the teams began to arrive. It was while talking to a couple soccer parents that I learned the match was moved to noon. Oh, well. The soccer was entertaining. Yes, I said that. Some of these kids are extremely talented and well-drilled.

Redwood was in second place looking to maintain a first-round bye. Diablo U23 was much lower in the standings and was hoping to get 15 players into the match. Well, everybody found their way and we kicked off (20 minutes late). Redwood was very physical at the breakdown but could not keep their feet. Nor roll away. This kept Diablo in the game for most of the first half.

With under a minute remaining, Diablo was on the attack near midfield when a ball carrier pivoted to pass the ball. Being the deceptively swift referee, I was trailing maybe five meters behind when I heard a SNAP-POP-SCREAM. I immediately blew the whistle and signaled "doctor needed" to the sideline. The ambulance rolled on scene five minutes later but had to stabilize (a whole lot of doping) the patient prior to transport. Halftime score: Redwood 19 Diablo 10.

After an extended halftime of about 30 minutes, we resumed play. Apparently Redwood took advantage of the break to discuss cohesive patterns as they moved the ball at will. Diablo was able to respond with a try in the corner but Redwood was able to move the ball freely in the backs.

This was a fun game to referee (with the exception to the aforementioned medical mishap). Both teams were very responsive and played with excellent discipline and character.

After my match, I AR'd for Phil Akroyd's Diablo-Vallejo explosive match. But I will let that be his tale to weave.

FOG 39 – Humboldt 12 Referee: Preston Gordon
Job Corps field, Treasure Island
Kickoff at 1548
Humboldt turned up with 15 men, with the last half dozen arriving about half an hour after kickoff time after suffering "van trouble" of some sort. They were graciously given a few minutes to warm up, but were disorganized. The Fog were not, and earned their win and apparently first-ever playoff spot. The game opened up nicely after one yellow card to each side cleaned up the team repeat infringements (tackled players failing to release the ball for the Fog; arriving players leaving their feet at the tackle/ruck for Humboldt). Thanks to Carl and the unnamed Fog lady for doing a good job on the touchline.

BERKELEY 100 – Shasta 7 Referee: Stephen Moore
AR: Dave Newport
Referee Coach: Mike Malone
A run away game for Berkeley, try after try, with plenty of conversions too. After the first 20 minutes with Berkeley 5 tries ahead the game was changed to a ‘friendly’ with Berkeley players substituting for Shasta. Shasta worked hard for their single try in the second half and converted it in cavalier style with a drop kick. Game was played in good spirit. With the weather being a little on the hot side the game was called up 10 minutes early with the agreement of both sides.

San Bruno Saints 14 – Marin R.E.D.S 24 Referee: Roberto Santiago
You may have heard a rumor that D3 is up this year. It's true. The quality in D3 is better than it's been in my 2.5 years in Nor-Cal. The Saints hosted the R.E.D.S. this past Saturday in a game that had a lot on the line. I feel like I'm getting repetitive here but here was another good hard fast game on a field that reminded me of Los Angeles, pretty from a distance but pitted treacherous up close. The teams played scoreless for the first 13:00 minutes. Then the R.E.D.S.' fly half/captain/coach found his #8 on a nifty double skip pass. It's not often you find a guy built like a slightly smaller version of ┼Żydr┼źnas Ilgauskas who can run like this guy could run (and the R.E.D.S. have two of them) but this guy was fast and agile in a way that men his size usually are not. He wove and powered his way 24 meters for a try under the posts. Nine minutes later Marin had a series of rumbles and passes that saw the ball pass through at least 2/3 of the team for a long full team effort try finally put down by the #2. It was at this point that there was a hint that Marin's team speed and San Bruno's injuries were going to be too much for the Saints to overcome. San Bruno did come back with a converted try at 30:46 to get within seven. Then, after a yellow card to the Saints #8 the aforementioned Marin #10 intercepted a pass and took it 30 meters for a score right at the half.

A half hour went by in the second half with the only significant action being a red card being issued to the home side scrum half for a rake to the head of a Marin player at 57:34. The real unfortunate part was that I had already called an advantage for San Bruno and the offending player was attempting to comply. The whistle was almost to my lips when, "rake." See ya.

The Saints went on from there to score a try on a controversial play wherein I over ruled the touch judge on the sideline. It reminded me of a quote from Macbeth, "Wherefore did he raise his flag and 'Play on' stuck in my throat." The call was right, the communication was lacking but I bet the R.E.D.S play to the whistle in the future. Fired up and maybe a little concerned about a 5 point lead the R.E.D.S regrouped and scored a nifty try on the right wing with another display of timely passing and great support. In the end Marin got the win, the bonus point and the top seed in Nor-Cal's D3 playoffs. For their part the Saints are also playoff bound and are fantastic hosts.

Many thanks to both teams for a great day. Good luck in the playoffs.

Fresno State 22 –SAN JOSE STATE 34 Referee: Rich Anderson

UC Santa Cruz 17 – NEVADA 62 Referee: James Hinkin
I woke up Saturday morning eager to beat the beach traffic and meandered on into Santa Cruz to meet up with my old Seahawks coach Kevin Meek and his wife Leah. After a nice breakfast on the beach where we told each other how much better rugby was when we were still playing/coaching I drove up to UC Santa Cruz and arrived for a rugby match on a perfect picture-postcard day.

The Nevada team was ready and warming up at noon while the UCSC hosts seemed to be having trouble getting their team out. Frantic phone calls and excuses ("we're on spring break") finally mustered up 15 to start the match with 5 minutes to spare and we were off. Nevada has apparently taken the example of Todd and Chris Clever to extremes and have decided that More Hair = Better Rugby. There were a lot of tonsorial abstainers wearing the blue jerseys, including the #10 who rocked a mullet the like of which hasn't been seen on a rugby pitch since yours truly was terrorizing opponents at UC Santa Barbara.

Apparently warmups are overrated because UCSC took control from the start and jumped out to an early lead with a penalty goal. Nevada soon responded and and started rolling, scoring 5 tries to Santa Cruz's 1. Halftine score: 31-10 to the visitors.

The second half was more of the same as an organized and well-coached Nevada side dominated a piecemeal UCSC team. Santa Cruz was able to take a quick tap penalty to catch UNR unawares to score a try, but that was dwarfed by the 5 that were scored by Nevada.

SAN FRANCISCO STATE GATORS 39 – U. of the Pacific 17 Referee: Sam Davis
It was a beautiful day at the Fog field. The Gators, working to be included in someone’s league, have played 18 games this season. UOP, retooling themselves with a number of young players, 4 had their first game today. Gators dominated the first half scoring 3 trys & one conversion to one try. Both teams scored with some very good multi-phase play. Gators scored two in the corners and their captain placed one down under the post which was the one they converted. UOP off a maul passed it out to the backs and scored in the corner. The second half had the same intensity Gators scored 4 more times converting one and UOP scored twice converting one. The final score Gators, 39 UOP 17.

SANTA ROSA JC 83 – U. of San Francisco 0 Referee: Cary Bertolone
We kicked off at 11:30 am on a beautiful rugby day in Santa Rosa. Although the first try by the SRJC was with the forwards at the 5 minute mark, most of the tries that followed were back line moves with many passes way out. Austin Welch, the fullback for the JC, lead the way with 30 points, including four tries. No injuries or cards left everybody, even USF, in a good mood and USF never gave up.

SUNDAY

Sac State women – USF

SAN JOSE STATE 52 – UC Santa Cruz 20 Referee: Pete Smith
Sunday afternoon at Valley Christian HS was a big rivalry game between the Spartans and the Banana Slugs. There was a good size crowd on hand with notable dignitaries Doc Macbeth and Mike McDonald as well as several prominent SJSU Alumni. The Spartans were much bigger and more athletic across the board and used their size and strength to just hammer at the Slugs. Most of their tries were just multi-phased, up the guts, smash mouth variety. The narrower football lines played into that style and the Slugs were hard pressed to answer. It is tough when you continually lose the point of contact to gain possession or any momentum. The Slugs, to their credit, never quit, scored four tries with quick thinking and great open field running and showed that despite, on this day the Spartans may be the better team, you can’t count out the Slugs.

SANTA CLARA men 59 – U. of San Francisco 8 Referee: James Hinkin
A sunburny weekend was brought to a close on Sunday with a clash at Santa Clara. Santa Clara were out in force warming up at noon but missed meeting points delayed the arrival of USF. All eventually arrived safely and we were underway.

Once again proving the adage that warmups are overrated USF started out on fire and scored the first try of the match after a period of sustained pressure. Santa Clara quickly regrouped and added one of their own before tacking on two more for good measure. The game was fast and played in great spirits and the referee had his work cut out for him keeping up with the young collegians. Halftime score: Santa Clara 19 - U of San Francisco 5

The second half saw the depth and pace of Santa Clara start to tell. With only one sub available USF was at a disadvantage and Santa Clara exploited it to the best of their abilities. The Santa Clara fullback in particular seemed to find space whenever he touched the ball and punished ill-advised kicks accordingly. Santa Clara ran in 6 tries balanced only by a penalty for the visitors as USF played hard and tackled hard but could not find an answer to the waves of Bronco attacks.

WHISTLING IN THE NORTHWEST: Directional Rugby Tournament
By Joe Leisek:

Two Fridays ago I flew to Portland to visit the Myers family and referee at the PNRFU D2 men's collegiate playoffs. I was met at PDX by the Two Ronnies, a reference that will resonate only to fans of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. The younger of the Myers men is now seven years old and has a career ambition to be an engineer. Not a train engineer, like most seven-year-old boys; an electrical engineer. This is a very smart kid. After a dinner of Swedish meatballs at Ikea, we headed back to Chez Myers, the family's home on nearly a half-acre in Lake Oswego. There we joined Ron's wife Kate and Moira, their 13-month-old daughter. We visited and the visiting Pelican retired early, right after the other kids.

On Saturday morning Ron and I headed down to Western Oregon University in Monmouth, just south of Salem, in the beautiful Willamette Valley, for a play-in match to determine who would face Eastern Washington in the final the next day.

Saturday, March 19
WESTERN OREGON 36 – Western Washington 29 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Ron Cronin, Pete DeJong
Number Four and Match Commissioner: Ron Myers
What a game. These two teams played a taut, close contest for 80 minutes. This one could have gone either way, but WO proved to be better organized in the backline and a little more adept at ball retention. On a sunny day, the teams ran wide as often as possible. Very entertaining, at least to the referee, and a real sense of the outcome being in doubt for nearly the entire match. A total of 11 tries scored, six by WO and five by WW. Thoroughly enjoyable.

I was lucky that Ron Cronin was there, because about an hour before the game I realized I had forgotten my whistles. He loaned me a new Acme Thunderer, which worked really well.

After the game, back in Lake Oswego, the Rons and Moira and I went grocery shopping while Kate went out and enjoyed some time on her own. Back at Chez Myers, I sat in the kitchen and watched Ron at work. I took notes on my phone as he prepared a roast vegetable dish and pan-fried gnocchi. He also grilled lamb, chicken, and beef. We washed it down with a nice Willamette pinot. Ron's culinary skills are legendary among referees for a reason: he is so skilled in the kitchen. After the kids went to bed, I joined Kate and Ron for an episode of Nero Wolfe, before I headed to bed to rest up for the final.

Sunday, March 20
WESTERN OREGON 39 – Eastern Washington 7 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Ron Cronin, DJ Heffernan
Number Four and Match Commissioner: Ron Myers
Western Oregon won handily in a bit of an anti-climactic final. One interesting point: EW may have actually had more possession, and in fact at one point early in the first half they reeled off about 20 phases of play. The first scrum wasn't necessary until the 7:43 mark. But they just could not break the gainline with all the possession. WO should compete well in this weekend's Pacific Coast playoffs at Cal Maritime. Best wishes to the players and coaches. And thanks to Ron, DJ, and Pete for their excellent assistance and for making the game better for everyone involved. And special thanks to my host for loaning me a brass Acme Thunderer, given to him by Dave Jaquint.

On Sunday night I joined the Myers family for dinner in a downtown Portland deli, Kenny & Zuke's, followed by dessert at VooDoo Donuts.

The Myers family are gracious hosts, and really nice people. This was a wonderful weekend of rugby and good friends.

NORCAL YOUTH TOURNAMENT IN DANVILLE
By Bruce Carter:

The Mustang Soccer Complex, across the street from Blackhawk, hosted this event for a couple-dozen U8, U10 and U12 teams. The place was packed.

This is the burgeoning end of our game, and the learning curves of these kids don’t curve at all: they climb.

Refereeing this age group two months ago, at the Sacramento Kick-off Tournament, required the patience of Job and the turning of blind eyes to the myriad of minor infractions in the interest of letting them play.

No more: Paul Bretz and I agreed after the U12 semifinals that these were simply games of rugby to referee. Six weeks ago we sometimes ignored offside and here we were calling side-joining at the ruck!

Had video been running, youth rugby might have gotten the Play of the Day on ESPN: a player for the Sierra Foothills U12 did something I’ve never seen, in any sport.

A kick went up. Running back to field it, he lost his shoe.

Caught the ball – ran back to the shoe – inserted foot – and then resumed the counter-attack properly shod.

Given the growth of this brand of rugby, we’d expect several more events like this each season in the coming years.

HIGH SCHOOL

Wednesday, March 24:
Girls: MOTHERLODE 38 – Oregon 12 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Motherlode ladies played Oregon at Cordova High on Wednesday evening. They played three 20 min segments as this was supposed to be a “friendly” tour game. There were long periods of continuous play, only stopped when the hard field took down another victim – heads bashing onto the firm ground, cut faces from hard rucking, concussions from hard tackles.

Motherlode were always in control but Oregon had taken a bashing from UC Davis the previous evening, so it was not entirely fair. Both teams rolled in some really young girls (a young Eason?) who represented very well with a try from one of them and several important tackles.

Friday:

Woodcreek 3 – JESUIT 58 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Under Friday night sunset and lights in Roseville, the Jesuit machine checked off another victory. This is about the fourth time I’ve seen their Varsity team play this season and they seem to keep getting more and more polished.

If they are in their own half, they kick deep into opposition territory effectively. If they don’t have the ball, they steal it very quickly. When they do get the ball, they almost always score. They have often won rucks as the tackle is taking place by committing men early and hard. Impressive stuff.

The Frosh/Soph game went a similar way: Woodcreek 12 – 41 Jesuit. Note to coaches – please keep shirt numbers reasonable. “Roll away one-hundred and two, red”, gets a bit wordy.

FRIDAY NIGHT LOBODOME

Elsie Allen High School, Santa Rosa
Elsie Allen Lobos 10 – MARIN HIGHLANDERS 31Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referee: Mike King
Touch Judge: Dan Bartholomew
Friday night rugby in the Lobodome, two teams that have developed an intense rivalry because they always play competitive games and are always in the running the Redwood Empire Conference title. Earlier this season, the Highlanders had defeated the Lobos at home in a tight contest, and last year the Lobos won in Marin on the last play of the game. This year's game was fast and intense and very competitive, especially in the first half. The Lobos struck first with a penalty kick but the visitors scored two tries to the hosts' one to end the half with a 14-10 lead. A Highlanders penalty early in the second half extended their lead to 17-10, where it stayed for much of the half. Finally, the Highlanders pulled away late in the half with two more converted tries. Highlanders center Jake Anderson converted all four of his team's tries, and added the penalty. The Highlanders look big and fast and should go deep in the playoffs. Thanks to Mike for coming out to AR before his game, and to Dan for his help.

JV: Elsie Allen 15 – MARIN HIGHLANDERS 19 Referee: Mike King
The LoboDome on a Friday night? It does not get any better than that, as the Lobo Jrs hosted their Highlander counterparts following the first side spectacular. Both sides fielded several new players, and neither was at full strength. In a rousing abbreviated 10 a side contest, the players got the opportunity to show their developing skills and get the valuable game time they need. The enthusiasm was amazing and this match hung in the balance into extra time. A final break by a fleet Lobo back almost ended in a reversal of fortune for Marin, but the pursuit caught up just in time to take him into touch. Great contest!!

At Cardinal Newman High School
NEWMAN/ROSA 31 – Montgomery High 3 Referee: Cary Bertolone
Kick-off at 7:45 PM with a large crowd and a fiercely contested game provided the spectators with a thrilling view of rugby as both teams rucked hard and had long runs from their backlines. It seemed even, yet the score was 19-0 at the half, thanks in a large part to Newman's flanker, Blake Ratto, who scored two of the tries. The same kind of second half ended with the game 31-3. Both teams played well!!

JV: MONTGOMERY 7- Newman Rosa 0 Referee: Chris Curtis
Coach Curtis picked up the whistle and ran the second sides until 10:00 PM, when the lights had to be turned off. Rosa/Newman has three sides worth of players!!! Montgomery won 7-0.

Saturday:

High School Girls Rugby

Saturday Afternoon 3/27/10 at Elsie Allen in Santa Rosa
ELSIE ALLEN 32- Humboldt 10 Referee: Cary Bertolone
My third game in 17 hours, I was trying to stay hydrated, drinking lots of water on this sunny afternoon. The girls were ready and we kicked off at 1:30PM. Appearing to be evenly matched, a battle ensued with Humboldt striking first with two tries and Elsie responding with two tries of their own for a 10-10 halftime tie. With ten minutes left, it was still tied. Then Elsie, blessed with some substitutions, ran 4 tries in, two from more than 70 meters to win going away, 32-10.

PLEASANTON CAVALIERS 76 – Oakland Warthogs 12 Referee: Preston Gordon
The score (which may be a little off since I don't have my match card with me as I write this) pretty much sums this one up, which was played at Muirwood Park in Pleasanton - a great, flat, soft pitch close to full size. Pleasanton controlled proceedings throughout, with the exception of the first 10 minutes after halftime, where Oakland scored 2 tries. A good game.

Varsity: GOLDEN GATE 22 – Diablo 21 Referee: Joe Androvich

Alameda Riptide girls 0 – AMAZONS 51 Referee: Sam Davis
Alameda U19 hosted the Sac Amazons in Alameda. The Alameda girls’ team did not have the size or experience but they played a great game. There are some fine players on both sides.

SAN MATEO 60– Bellarmine 15 Referee: Chris Fisher

SILICON VALLEY 12 – Live Oak 10 Referee: Chris Fisher

Monday:

Bishop O' Dowd boys 24 – DE LA SALLE 45 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Referee Coach: Bryant Byrnes
Bishop O' Dowd high school, Monday night, under the lights with parents and fans in the stands. It was a game of two halves. First half score O' Dowd 3, De La Salle 40. O' Dowd scored 21 points in the second half, to De La Salle's 5. This was due mainly to De La Salle bringing two full squads, and O' Dowd playing many rookies. My vote for best player of O' Dowd was their kicker. He slotted really hard conversion kicks. Sorry I didn't get his name. My thanks to Bryant who was supposed to do the game, but due to injury showed up to give me coaching.

A REFEREE GOES HOME AGAIN
By Phil Akroyd:

Below are four game reports from my trip to England a couple of weeks ago. I also attached a photo from the first game at Skipton Rugby club. If only all pitches could have these signs.

Game 1 – 3/13/10
ILKLEY 3rds 37 –Otley 3rds 22
An easy way to get into rugby after a ten hour haul across the Atlantic, less than 24 hours previously. This was a last minute assignment, as the game that I originally scheduled fell through. It actually turned out as a ten-a-side game as several players didn’t bother to turn up/were working/got stuck in the bar.

The two clubs are actually local rivals, located approximately 5 miles apart in a large valley bottom in rural West Yorkshire, to the northwest of Leeds. As the Firsts and Seconds were playing away that day, we had the pleasure of the main field – a large, flat and firm surface that had track meet written all over it, given ten-a-side.

I was really relaxed and looking forward to doing a very social game and really happy to be moving, after the plane journey. Apparently, I was a bit too relaxed and fluffed my first call; what I thought to be a player playing the ball in front of the kicker. The players all looked confused and the truth is that I don’t think I’ll ever know what the call should have been, but I stood tall and explained my inexplicable decision… some of them may have bought it. Lesson learned – never get too relaxed, no matter what the game.

My thoughts about a fast game were also inaccurate. Many of these players had obviously experienced former glory and the minds were evidently capable, however the bodies could not execute. As the Ilkley winger took off down the right wing on half-way, I also hit my top gear from about ten yards behind him. As we reached the opposition 22, I had to hit the brakes as I was now five yards in front of him.

Ilkley ran in seven tries in the first half, and managed to convert one, making it 37 - 0. At half, Ilkley evidently decided that they had worked up enough of a thirst for a pint and switched off for the remainder of the game, thus producing the typical game of two halves. Otley took advantage of the oppositions’ stand-by mode and ran in four tries, again, converting only one, making it 37 – 22 at the end.

We retreated in from the chilly but dry, spring-like afternoon to the warmth of showers (a ref changing room!), the clubhouse bar and live Six Nations Rugby, with a pint.

Game 2 – 3/14/10
Skipton 7 – HESSLE (U16) 12
Day three in England brought match number two. The game was a first round Yorkshire Cup meeting between two U16 club teams. Skipton were at home and Hessle travelled down from the northeast coast, from around the Hull area.

The hour drive to the club from my parents’ house was pretty nice – partly cloudy skies but windy and therefore pretty chilly. It was six or seven years since I’d visited Skipton RUFC and in the intervening period, the rugby club had developed into a center for sports, including six rugby pitches, two cricket pitches, a tennis club, several all weather football fields, indoor squash courts and of all things, a remote control car racing track!

It was good to see that there were a number of age group games and practice sessions going on, with the notice board inside the changing rooms indicating that an U6s fixture was taking place.

I made my way to the ref changing room (Hallelujah!), and was met by the coach of the home team who appeared thoroughly peed off that he had to ref an U14 game. I moved onto the boot checks and team talks outside and had the misfortune of overhearing the many conversations about the events of the previous nights’ drinking sessions in the local pubs – these are Under 16s players. The away team, contrary to form, were out early, dressed and organized, while the home team were showing up late and looking pretty shabby.

The game finally got under way at midday on the First XV field, which was wide, flat, surprisingly firm and dry but pretty threadbare on the grass front. Not a bad condition given the recent rain and snow throughout winter.

The rugby was fast but scrappy. Even though this was the first round of their knockout cup, they had been playing since September, not that you would know it. Maybe too many down at the local on Saturday night? Hessle looked crisp and the better technical team but lacked the raw physicality and aggression of the rag-tag Skipton team, with shaved heads and mis-matched shirts.

Hessle scored first with their big number eight crashing over after a series of rolling mauls close to the opposition line and they converted the kick. Skipton scored later in the first half with a wonderful run, chip over the defence and collect by the cannonball inside center to score under the posts from half-way. They also converted. It was certainly a case of “game on” at half-time (7 – 7), and if both teams were to clear up their handling errors, the game would have benefitted.

Unfortunately, the errors carried on – obviously the players were inspired by the Scotland V England debacle, aired on TV the previous evening.

One of the more entertaining aspects of the second-half was the battle of the two scrum-halves. They were giving each other a hard time, which I occasionally had to get in the middle of, like a boxing ref. When I informed them that the game could survive with both of them on the sidelines, they reined it in a bit. The second half stumbled and staggered forward, much like the Hessle forward who scored from short range after an extended period of time in the opposition red zone. The try was unconverted and the scores remained at 7 – 12 until the final whistle.

Game 3 – 3/16/10
CROSSLEY HEATH (U13) 43 – Hipperholme & Lightcliffe (U13) 10
I attended Crossley Heath Grammar School, in my home town of Halifax, until 2000. I asked one of my contacts in the area if there were any midweek games going without a ref and this game came up.

It was an U13 county cup game played at the Old Boy’s club, close to the school. I checked in with the coaches before the game and Nick O’Connor of Hipperholme told me that they have just introduced a Rugby Union program to the school, which previously played football and rugby league. The game would be a big challenge to the newly formed team as Crossleys are one of the Premier rugby schools in West Yorkshire, having produced several national players and elite coaches.

As is often the case at this age level, a couple of more developed athletes can dominate the game. Crossleys had a fly-half named Sam Allen who looked several years older than thirteen and played a large part in wrapping the game up by half. He is apparently signed on a youth contract to Leeds United football team – a huge pro club in the area – and as a result, is not allowed to play rugby on weekends. He had devastating speed, strength, a killer sidestep and the feet of a potential pro soccer player. He helped the team to 33 – 0 by midway, having scored about 21 of those points himself.

After the break, Crossleys scored a few more tries, and then eased up a bit with tackles, which coincided with the visitors committing more to the rucks. Hipperholme bagged a couple of tries but this game had really been decided well before the final whistle. The game wasn’t too demanding and required a bit of coaching to help the more inexperienced players.

As far as I was concerned, that was my reffing duty covered for my trip. Three games in four days was not too bad and the games weren’t at particularly high levels by any means, but just enough to keep my hand in while on vacation. The following day I got a call from the head coach at my old school, asking me if I was available on the Thursday afternoon to ref the First XV (Varsity) against Prince Henry’s Grammar School Otley, in a Yorkshire cup semi-final. They could not source a ref, with it being a 3.45pm kick off.

Game 4 – 3/18/10
CROSSLEY HEATH 32 – PHGS Otley (1st XV) 19
This was the game I really wanted to do all along. They are two very good rugby programs, each with about two players per side who were signed to Leeds Carnegie youth development squad. Carnegie plays in the Guinness Premiership and it is quite conceivable that these kids could be playing in their first teams in a few years.

One thing that became quite apparent, quite quickly was that the game was fast – fast running, fast recycling and fast decision making - on a par with a NorCal High School playoff final. The First XV looked more professional than when I played in it ten or eleven years ago. They looked more athletic, bigger and faster and it was actually quite shocking to think that a teacher would have to step in to ref such a good quality game. I mean no disrespect to the teachers, but a dedicated, impartial ref was really needed.

Crossley Heath opened their account with a penalty kick at goal, followed by two unanswered converted tries. Otley responded with an absolutely fantastic try by their captain and outside center (Naz), who ran from a lineout move, deep inside their own half, breaking five or six tackles to score under the posts. The comeback was on at the start of the second half with an unconverted try to make it 22 – 12 and to spur on the visitors even more, Crossleys got into penalty trouble at rucks with stupid offenses, such as a player on the ground kicking the ball back to his half-back. After a warning, a further offense saw the home team down to fourteen and Otley took advantage of the extra man and converted a try to make it 25 – 19, with twenty minutes to play.

The score stayed the same until seven minutes left on the clock. Crossleys were deep into the opposition half and the 10 put in a wonderfully weighted cross field kick to the (onside) left wing, who had acres of space. He took the ball on the fly, five meters infield and fifteen from the line. The backtracking defensive full-back was way out of position and he came barreling across field, along the 5 meter line. There was no way he could slow in time to make a good tackle and inevitably he went way too high on the ball carrier, knocking him to the ground. There was no other choice but to give a penalty try and send the distraught full back off for the rest of the game. At 32-19, with fourteen men, the comeback was never going to happen, but it was a great cup game that never let me switch off for a second.

THIS WEEK’S PHOTO
Second That Emotion
Phil Akroyd likes what he sees as he prepares to run on.

HAIL, PELICUS!

For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ONLY EVERY OTHER YEAR

HAIL, PELICUS!

PROMOTION

Bruce Bernstein has earned promotion to L2 with the games he’s done over the past few months. This was announced last Wednesday night at a special joint session of the Tour Committee and the Party Committee, which was held in the bar at the Yosemite Lodge.

Formalities were observed.

Congratulations to Bruce!

EASTER TRIP TO HUMBOLDT?

We have only a small handful of games to assign on April 3. We will, however, need ARs and #4s for Pacific Coast college playoffs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The only way to guarantee that you will be refereeing that weekend is to raise your hand for the Humboldt U19 hosting Rohnert Park/Windsor.

PLAYOFF ARs AND FOURTH OFFICIALS NEEDED

Otherwise, let us know if you’d like to work one of these Pacific Coast college playoff events. Each event features two games each of the days listed. Obviously, we need some Friday volunteers.

Friday and Saturday:

Women’s D1 at UC Davis – games at 2 and 4 PM each day
UC Davis, California, Stanford and BYU

Men’s D1 at St. Mary’s – games at 1 and 3 PM each day
St. Mary’s, UO, Chico State, UC Davis

Saturday and Sunday:

Men’s D2 at the California Maritime Academy – times not known at present
Maritime Academy, Western Oregon, Sierra JC, Utah champ

YOUTH TOURNAMENT REFEREEING THIS SUNDAY

There are a lot of budding ruggers who would appreciate your expertise, and none of them will question your calls:

Danville Mustang Soccer Complex, 9 AM until 4 PM
Competition in U8, U10 and U12 brackets.

Come for all or part of the day. 6 – 8 pitches going all the time.

Games are short, fun and easy to ref. Let us know if you can help out.

NO SLEEP ON TOUR FOR THE EAST MIDS

From Phil Ulibarri:
Tuesday: 9am: Two Cessnas flew the gentlemen over Portola, Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Virginia City, Pyramid Lake, and back to the Reno/Stead Airport, site of the Reno Championship Air Races where we were treated to an overview of that great event by lovely Valerie the public relations officer.

Then onto a quick lunch and three guest passes to the Health and Fitness Club to earn credit for 6 or 7 rounds of beer at the Great Basin Brewery.
Wednesday had them back in Sacto by 9:15.

Think they had a good time. Del won $200 on the slots.

Wednesday our visitors were conveyed from Sacramento to Yosemite by Bruce Bernstein, where Bruce Carter met them with some bicycles for a self-guided and -propelled valley floor tour.

This led inevitably to thirst and a desire for the assembling flock to get to know each other better. Joining the EMRRS crew, Del Stevens, George Shield and Keith McLean, were the two Bruces, Ron DeCausemaker, Eric Rauscher and Chris Tucker.

Dinner at the Yosemite Lodge somehow led back into the bar where Bruce Bernstein’s promotion celebrated. An early closing at 11 PM elicited no complaints because of a 6:30 breakfast-for-trailhead-by-7:30.

Lunch reservations had been made at the top of Nevada Falls via the John Muir Trail, about five miles in and 2500 feet up, through significant snow and ice on the switchbacks. Four hours was not a bad time in the conditions.

Nothing would have been a bad time in the conditions: the weather was perfect. No clouds, no wind, temperatures in the sixties in the sunshine. Hikers who brought five layers of clothing set out wearing only two and never regretted it.

Surrounded by fast-melting, pristine snow a foot or more deep, a shirtsleeve lunch atop a polished granite slab comprised a whole smoked salmon, cheese and crackers, and the mystery contents of a small silver flask. For purists there was of course the usual assortment of dried stuff, melted snow, and gorp.

It’s heaven up there. You should go. And no other humans were encountered on the way up, an experience that cannot be had between next month and November.

From Yosemite our guests returned to the Bay Area, where they refereed college playoff games on Treasure Island on Friday.

Saturday George refereed East Palo Alto, Del had a morning HS game and then was at Cal, and Keith also was at Cal to watch Jim Crenshaw.

Saturday evening’s banquet at the Up ‘n Under in Point Richmond was delightful: this is the rugby bar we’ve all been looking for. Even the light fixtures are made of rugby balls. Not made to look like rugby balls – made OF rugby balls. You can spend an hour looking for yourself and your friends among the photographs covering the walls.

And we can now officially declare the demise of the English rugby-singing tradition: having an incredibly deep and rich vein of songs to mine, between the three of them our guests could only extract the tune and the first line of ‘Sunshine Mountain’.

That’s piss-poor, as they might have said.

But camaraderie ruled the day, and the night, and the ride home except for those two couples who were smart enough to book rooms at the nearby Hotel Mac and had only a short stroll home.

Thank yous to:
Bjorn Stumer for organizing the exchange and the banquet
Hosts the Merrills, the Rauschers, the Schwartz/Todd-Schwartzes, Don Pattalock and Phil Ulibarri, the Williamson/Marcuses and the Zanarinis
Tour guides Preston Gordon, Bruce Bernstein, Cary Bertolone, Lee Salgado
Everyone else who made our visitors miss their homes and families a little less

Got the fever? Want to go on the return exchange? This will be in September, either the second/third or third/fourth weekends. Self-nominations are being accepted. The society pays your airfare and your hosts will repay the hospitality that you showed them.

PACIFIC COAST ‘PLAY-IN’ PLAYOFFS, COLLEGE WOMEN D1

Preston Gordon was on hand at the Job Corps pitch Friday:
"Reserve AR" for the BYU - Sacramento State women's game. AR with Eric Rauscher for 1st half of Cal - Oregon women for George Shield. Tom Zanarini replaced me for the second half so I could get down to SFGG for the youth game on time.

BYU 78 – Sacramento State 0 Referee: George Shield
CALIFORNIA 54 – U. of Oregon 5 Referee: Del Stevens

Saturday:
Consolation: Sac State 5 – U. OF OREGON 17 Referee: Mike Gadoua
Championship: California 7 - BYU 52 Referee: George O'Neil

NCRFU REGULAR-SEASON GAMES

Reno 12 – OLYMPIC CLUB 41 Referee: Don Pattalock
AR: Lee Salgado, Phil Ulibarri

Seconds canceled

Tevis Vandergriff from New Orleans via North Carolina visited us this weekend for the third (?) time, and now he’s assumed a place among the flock with a Pelicus name:

All Hail Pelicus Creoleus!

Sac Capitals 30 – SAC LIONS 53 Referee: Tevis Vandergriff
Evaluator: Dixon Smith

First off, many thanks to the NorCal family for allowing me to venture west for this match...a carpetbagger if you will. I had been advised that many moons ago, these two clubs were one team, but now they are the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. That was enough to warrant this thought, “Will this be an old fashioned brawl or just good rugby between Cain and Abel?” No worries as this sounded no different than the backyard brawls that I’ve run before: ATL Renegades v Old White and Miami Tridents v Miami. So, off to the Golden State I went.

Since I see the inside of a plane more than my own car some months, the flight across from Charlotte was a breeze. Minus the chap that lost his breakfast right before takeoff and had to be removed (his fellow passengers didn’t want him to return), my flight still landed on time. Amazing how they do that, right...leave 30 minutes late and still arrive on time. Pete Smith and family picked me up for the short trek from SFO to Vacaville for the NorCal Youth hockey championships. Don’t laugh, those kids can skate, hit, shoot and stop the puck, although a wee bit slower than their peers in the USA v Canada gold match. Trevor’s team won 2-0 and off we went back to the Smith residence for a good night’s rest. Again, thanks to the many nights of hotel stay, it took me no time to hit lights out.

Saturday morning came and off we ventured for the capital. A brief stopover to wish Trevor and his team well, we got to the pitch about 90 minutes ahead of kick-off. After the traditional word with the clubs and coaches, I came away thinking, “These boys want to play rugby and nothing more.” The tone was set at the opening kick off and I was spot on. This game was going to match the famous NorCal weather...perfect. Although both sides decided to test me with some early penalties, the tone was set and everyone settled down for a very fluid game of rugby. It wasn’t quite “champagne” rugby, but it was close enough. Both sides found the try zone and slotted the odd penalty kick, leaving the Caps ahead, 18-15, at the break.

After some back and forth in the second half, it looked as if this match would come down to the last score. The Lions took the lead with an early try, but the Caps responded shortly thereafter. There were some testy moments for sure, but both sides were captained by “true captains” and the cards remained in my pocket. Again, we seemed to be on cruise control until the 50 minute mark or so. The Capitals were ahead, 25-22, but this is when the Lions scored 3 converted tries in ten minutes, all of which came from “did you see that” plays.

The first score came from a cheeky up and over by the Lions 10. He caught the ball in full stride after the ball cleared a very surprised Caps line. The fullback stepped left and the Lions standoff went right...try. On the ensuing kickoff, the Lions found themselves pinned back inside their 22. No matter as their flyhalf placed the perfectly weighted “kick pass” to the far side of the pitch. Thanks to a very cruel bounce, the ball went right behind the Caps winger and into the arms of a flying Lion. He went in untouched for the score. On the ensuing kickoff, the Lions knocked on, so scrum center to the Caps. However, the Lions pulled off a tighthead, went weak and had a fantastic ball through hands movement with 4 people for the punishing blow.

The Caps scored one last unconverted try, but the Lions scored another 12 points on a very tired and deflated Caps team. Make no doubt about it, before the 21 point barrage, this game was still up in the air. However, those 10 minutes of lights out rugby provided all the damage necessary to win a match. Again, the match was much closer than the 53 – 30 score line. And in true rugby fashion, a good time was had by all afterwards: players, officials, family and friends.

Again, many thanks to Dixon Smith for his time, Pete and his family for putting up with me, the Capitals and Lions for a fantastic day of rugby and I would be remiss for not mentioning Bruce Carter in making this happen. Thanks again.

Seconds: Sac Capitals – Sac Lions Referee: Pete Smith
Ten-a-side for fun, no score kept.

EAST PALO ALTO 62 – San Mateo 3 Referee: George Shield (EMRRS)
AR: Tom Zanarini

Seconds: East Palo Alto 7 – SAN MATEO 22 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Diablo Gaels 21 – SFGG 31 Referee: Paul Bretz

Stanislaus 5 – FRESNO 44 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A Central Valley shoot-out in Turlock on the Field with No Name. Fresno scored first (at 3 minutes) and frequently (duh). But Stanislaus, outgunned but not out manned, never made it easy. Few penalties, no cards; good teams playing good rugby.

Fresno, so long in the wilderness as the outpost of Nor Cal rugby, has come of age. Fresno State and four high schools now have programs. It has a great rugby fellow in Greg Melton. It is undefeated in league.

Stanislaus, new to D2, isn't there yet. But I have had them twice now and nobody plays harder. With numbers up and injuries down, they will contend.

Vacaville – Seahawks Referee: Sam Davis
No report received.

Vallejo 0 – SANTA ROSA 70 Referee: Mike King
The home team is in a major re-building process after losing a number of players from last year’s stellar D-3 side. A number of players were fairly new to the game, which accounted for some defensive lapses. There was absolutely no lack of enthusiasm for the game, however. Rosa fielded a strong side, although some regulars were resting with injuries. There was little or no difference in the un-selfish, team oriented passing attack that Rosa is capable of unleashing in second phase. Vallejo hotly contested the loose, and played fairly even in set play. It was just not able to stop the constant pressure on the back-line, accounting for 12 tries for the visitors. Along with 5 drop-kick conversions, the visitors ran on all cylinders to make the margin wide.

Seconds: Vallejo 0 – SANTA ROSA 37 Ref: King
An abbreviated second side match led to a similar result, the Santa Rosa prevailing 37 – 0. This match gave Vallejo the chance to spread the joy of the contest to newer players who definitely saw improvement as the game progressed. With a wonderful facility at Mare Island, and great spirit and leadership, the future is bright.

Chico Mighty Oaks 31 – BA BARACUS 77 Referee: Chris Tucker
Chico men's club at home for once was not played in Gopherland, but at a high school down the road with a full-width pitch and 18m in-goal areas. Perfect for chasing grubber kicks, which we did a lot. To a series of 22s. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Both teams showed up in good numbers, including one Mr. Chris Labozetta, who was propping. In his words, "I'll be the last one to the every ruck." Which wasn't actually true, he was there, just never behind the back foot. A second-half substitution spared me from having to bin him!

The opening kick went up, and what can only be said to be an all-star attitude prevailed -- have a good time, show off your skills, play no defence. This worked against my legs somewhat, still not recovered from 8 miles and 3000 vertical feet gain in Yosemite on the Thursday, and a similarly played high school match on Friday. Starting pitchers get 4 days rest for a reason. 16 tries in total is quite a haul. A few performances to note:

1) Chico #6 showed a rare talent for swimming through mauls. Baracus generally had a rolling maul that was going places, scoring 1 try and setting up another, but #6 stole the ball 3 times through the middle. The third led to the sweetest try of the game -- BA saw an overlap to their right of their maul, Chico's backs nowhere to be seen. But Chico knew what BA did not. #6 had swum in, pinched it, and worked back out to offload the ball. A 4 on 1 on the other side of the maul scored a great try.

2) BA #10 with the first successful drop-goal of the season for me. Taken under penalty advantage, he stepped back and slotted it. I'd noticed his intent, so was in good position to give the points for a well-taken kick.

3) Chico #8 and #9 for listening to my post-game explanation of how you can have a tackle without a tackler, and how that leads to the player who tackled the tackled player having to either go to ground and get back up as a tackler, or stay on his feet and go through the gate as any other player.

One final note for all full-backs out there. Here's the definition of a mark, under Law 18 (my emphasis added)
DEFINITIONS
To make a mark, a player must be on or behind that player’s 22-metre line. A player with one foot on the 22-metre line or behind it is considered to be ‘in the 22’. The player must make a clean catch direct from an opponent’s kick and at the same time shout “Mark”. A mark cannot be made from a kick-off, or a restart kick except for a drop-out.

This does not mean shout "Mark" when the ball is at the apex of its arc, 40 feet above your head. This will result in your ex-fullback ref shouting "Play On!" and you getting thumped. At least know the law as it pertains to your position. In this match the fellow dropped it anyway, but it wasn't the first time this season I'd seen it called incorrectly.

Thanks to Baracus for the post-match beer watching the B-side.

Shasta – EPA U23 rescheduled for April 3

Diablo U23, 15 – SF FOG 27 Referee: John Coppinger
4:30 Saturday afternoon @ DVC
Gaels had more athletes, but SF Fog wanted the game more than Gaels and played as a team scoring late to win on the road.

Saints 10 – BERKELEY 26 Referee: Preston Gordon
TJs: Club supplied
I hadn't been to San Bruno's home pitch before, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice (mostly) flat space on top of the hill near a school, with a fully lined pitch. It seemed to be just a little less than full size. I was not pleasantly surprised when I walked onto it and found my feet sinking about 2 inches into the ground with each step. There wasn't any mud, but the surface was exceptionally soft, and difficult to run on. It felt a bit like trying to run on a dry sandy beach in fact.

However, it was time for rugby. Both sides had a full roster and looked keen for the contest to come. The first half was fought to a near-standstill, with ferocious commitment to the tackles and good offloading. The condition of the field didn't seem to hamper the speed of the game either. The Saints spent a large proportion of the first half camped in Berkeley's 22, but couldn't quite get that last effort to close the deal and get over the line with the ball. There were a lot of scrums for knock-ons and a few pile-ups, and repeated line-outs near Berkeley's goal line after they had relieved pressure with a kick to touch from within their in-goal area. Finally, at ~30', the Saints were able to work a try from a long throw-in at a lineout that found their fly-half about 20m in from touch. He dodged/ran over a couple of tacklers and scored, creating some confusion on the part of some of the Berkeley players who evidently weren't aware that such a move is allowed. I explained this after the game, but for those who are interested, have a look at law 19.15(c).

Shortly afterwards, one of the Berkeley players was knocked out as he was trying to tackle an opponent peeling off a Saints lineout towards the touchline. Not long after he was helped from the field, a Saints player departed for the sin bin for playing the ball carrier from an offside position after a penalty. By this point we were ~47 clock minutes into the first half due to the injury stoppage and a couple of chats I had to have with the captains to encourage their players to make the ball available faster at the tackle/ruck area. Berkeley wasn't ready for the break yet, however, and continued to attack until they were let down by a knock-on. The half thus ended at 5-0 in favor of the Saints.

The second half started at a similar level of intensity to the first. The Saints were a man down for the first 9 minutes, which allowed Berkeley to work the ball across the field in a counterattack and put a man into space, who went perhaps 50m for their first try. It was duly converted, with the score now at 7-5 to the visitors. Soon after the Saints returned to 15 men they got another try (unconverted), restoring their lead at 10-7. We had to stop for an injury again, this time to a Saints player who had opened up a gash on the top of his head that needed some attention before he left the pitch under his own power.

(An aside: rugby is the only sport I've seen where a member of the opposing team will instantly change gears and tend to an opponent's injury when play stops, and sometimes before then. The Berkeley player who looked after the Saintsman's cut may have been trained to do this or not - it seemed like he was - but he should be commended for the display of sportsmanship either way.)

We were maybe 15 minutes into the second half at this point, and I was expecting the tempo to increase even further. Unfortunately the Saints started to run out of gas soon after, allowing Berkeley to score 3 more tries similar to the first - counterattacking after a kick or a knock-on advantage and then putting a wing into space on the outside - in the last quarter of the game. 2 of these tries were converted, leaving the result at 26-10 for Berkeley.

This was a pretty good game of rugby, especially at the D3 level. After the match, the home team fired up the BBQ, while Berkeley got a second side ready to play a team I hadn't heard of called the Marauders. I was separately offered both the whistle and a Berkeley jersey for this one, but I had to decline each due to the banquet later in the evening as it was already past 3pm (that was my excuse, anyway).

REDWOOD 25 – Marin 19 Referee: Cary Bertolone
Evaluator: Mike Malone
At For Pete's Sake in Santa Rosa
Beautiful day, dry field for the 1:00 Pm kick-off. Redwood began the game with ball in the forwards and scored 4 1/2 minutes in with forward possession ball. 5 minutes later, Marin broke loose with a 50 meter run by their wing to take the lead 7-5. Shortly after this point in the match, I warned Marin about the talking. It got worse. I penalized them for chirping ("He's just a high school ref", etc.). I should have used cards, but didn't, and the constant complaining got a bit under my skin. Live and learn.

The second problem I had was several late hits and/or failure to wrap by both teams, but especially Redwood. This resulted in an altercation accompanied by a yellow against Redwood. One minute later, another yellow to Redwood. The score went back and forth. However, Redwood, down to 13 players, scored last to take the lead 15-14 at the half.

Taking an extra minute before kick-off of second half, I took captains away for a talk about the respective issues I had with each team. I made them communicate said talk to teams and I had a cleaner 2nd half.

Playing with only 13 players, Redwood scored a try 1 minute into the second half. The second half was back and forth. Marin was down by 6 points when their wing crossed the try line but stepped out before putting the ball down. That call, by me, was unpopular with the Marin club and their fans, mostly because their touch judge did not see it nor call it out of bounds, but I was right there and it was clear. The game ended with Redwood winning 25-19 in a game that I found little pleasure in reffing. At the 15 minute mark in the first half, I almost handed the whistle to a Marin player and walked off the field. Next time, I'm using the cards and won't let it get under my skin.

APTOS 32 – Mendocino 5 Referee: Craig Lusiani

ALL BLUES 87 – Sequoias 10 Referee: George O'Neil

CALIFORNIA 56 – St. Mary's 5 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
ARs: Bruce Carter, Del Stevens
Fourth Officials: Eric Rauscher, Ron DeCausemaker
Referee Coach: Keith McLean (EMRRS)

Seconds: CALIFORNIA 43 – St. Mary’s 3 Referee: Del Stevens (EMRRS)
ARs: Eric Rauscher, Ron DeCausemaker
Referee Coach: David Williamson

SAC STATE 24 – Stanford 13 Referee: Scott Wood

U. of San Francisco 5 – FRESNO STATE 44 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Match had to be held at the Beach Chalet (soccer fields) at 5 PM making it tight but easy for me to head over the GG Bridge to the banquet Saturday night.

Fresno St. was on fire with both their props scoring 2 nice tries each, their center making some nice moves for 2 more tries & a long run by their winger resulting in another try.

They showed promise for a novice team at he beginning of the season at the Slugfest at UCSC, but were exposed last weekend when I reffed them at SRJC. Here against a relatively equal opponent they showed what they will be capable of for the next game & next season.

USF only had 16 players to start & although looked good at times they knocked on at least two potential scores in or by the try line & had some costly forward passes when they finally moved the ball out. Their #8 scored a nice try to cut 15-0 Fresno halftime lead before Fresno opened the flood gates. Also both teams were disciplined enough not to talk after my calls--I think they listened, or I want to believe they did.

SIERRA JC 17 – Santa Rosa JC 5 Referee: Roberto Santiago
Dateline LDS Park, No swearing. No drinking.
The match can basically be boiled down to a few adjectives: good, hard, fast, open. Both teams played similar styles with similar athletes. Both teams had good attacking chances and good defensive stands before Santa Rosa JC broke through at 27:30. Eight and one-half minutes later a silly penalty cost the visiting side when a Rosa player threw the ball at an opponent. The following five-meter penalty resulted in a score. 5-5 at the half.

The second half played out much like the first. It's often little things that end up turning the game and for Santa Rosa it was the inability to get low on a strong runner. Sierra scored again at 45:50 (with the conversion) and added one more at 53:25 for insurance. Santa Rosa had some strong runners on their side too but just couldn't get the ball across the try line again. Sierra's victory was all the more impressive considering they lost a man to a red card (dumped man on his head after a maul) at 39:18.

Seconds: Sierra JC B 20 – SIERROSA- 34 Ref: Santiago
Rosa didn't have enough for a full B side so some of the Sierra boys donned the visitor's blue shirts and filled in a side. The game started with about 13 per team but filled out to full 15s as Rosa's A side got their fourth wind. The scrums went well despite having nearly every person in the pack playing out of position including a tight head wearing number 15. Both teams seemed to have a great time and I was glad to get a full day's run before the banquet that night.

Santa Clara 16 – CAL MARITIME 33 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Santa Clara put a try on the board in the first couple of minutes and soon added a penalty. Maritime responded with a converted try, Santa Clara kicked another penalty. Both teams executed well, finding space and width, and the ball moved end to end. Near the end of the half Maritime added another converted try and went to the break up 14-11.

In the 2nd half Maritime scored 2 more converted tries in the early going. After a period where neither team was able to score, Santa Clara pulled to within 12 with a try. Santa Clara continued to pressure Maritime, but were unable to break the Maritime defense.

Humboldt State 8 – SAN JOSE STATE 24 Referee: James Hinkin
The last time I drove up to Humboldt it was a foggy day and I was on an island of reality all by myself. This time it was bright and clear and I got to see all around. Hey! There are a bunch of trees on this road! I never saw them last time.

Arriving precisely at the stroke of noon to see both teams ready and waiting and with the home team sporting a prepared match card that gave me a few more minutes to loaf about while pretending to stretch my legs after the drive. Time to get things going came soon enough and we kicked off at 1:00 on a perfect rugby day. The first half was a story of constructive rugby that was let down by errors before points could result. SJSU finally broke through with a try when a wiper kick was allowed to bounce and then proceeded to avoid the next 4 people who tried to corral it. The 5th man there was a SJSU player who gratefully scooped up the ball, politely stepped over and around all the previous 4 lying on the ground, and dotted down for the try. The conversion sailed wide and we had a 5-0 scoreline. It stayed that way until the stroke of halftime when Humboldt was able to pull 3 points back so we went to the break in a close 5-3 match.

The second half was a better offensive half of rugby as passes were finding hands and holes were opening up. San Jose and Humboldt traded early tries before SJSU started to take advantage of gaps in the Humboldt defense. Two more converted tried followed for a final scoreline of 24-8.

YOUTH AND HIGH SCHOOL

Friday
Three-fer:
SANTA ROSA 25 – Windsor 10
then rushed to Montgomery H.S:

Montgomery 17 – ELSIE ALLEN 24
Then the second sides:

MONTGOMERY 22 – Elsie Allen 10
Thanks Coach (and Referee) Sean Peters

Piedmont 12 – SAN DIEGO MUSTANGS U17, 35 Referee: Preston Gordon
AR: Rob Hendrickson
TJ: One of the San Diego coaches

This was an excellent match - fast and clean, and the players knew what they were doing for the most part (mostly high school freshmen/sophomores). At halftime it was 12-20. PITS scored 2 tries in the first half, converting one. San Diego scored 4 in the first half and 3 in the second, converting none.

I wasn't sure what to expect going into the game, but my impression afterwards was the following: if this is what these players look like now, then we're in for some really good college rugby in about 5 years. The pace was easily the same as most of the high school varsity sides I refereed last year.

Thanks to Rob and the San Diego coach whose name I can't remember at the moment for running touch.

BELLARMINE 22 – Live Oak 12 Referee: Chris Fisher

Saturday
U19 Girls:
Humboldt 0 – SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 86 Referee: James Hinkin
The Amazons took the opening kickoff and went almost completely unmolested to score a try in the opening seconds. Humboldt rallied bravely after that and started putting some tackles in and putting their bodies on the line but the Amazons were too big, too strong, and too experienced to be stopped. Halftime saw Humboldt looking at playing with 13 due to injuries but the girls rallied and played. When further injuries reduced Humboldt's numbers the Amazons generously lent some players to keep the teams at full strength. A one sided affair that spoke volumes about both teams as Sacramento showed class all over the field and never devolved into taunting or showmanship while Humboldt showed spirit by never giving up and playing hard until the end as they learned from their opponents - the second half was much more even than the first as Humboldt started playing better and you could almost see them visibly thinking and correcting earlier mistakes.

At St. Mary's College:
Marin Highlanders 20 – SAN DIEGO MUSTANGS 22 Referee: John Coppinger
Marin led 13-8 at the half and controlled play for most of the game; however, Marin played all of its players to ensure that everyone on the roster, including all the JV players, got into the match. The result was missed opportunities on attack and defensive lapses, which allowed San Diego to take the win late.

JESUIT 43 – Golden Gate 12 Referee: Rich Anderson
If you ever get a chance to drive up to Sacramento to officiate a Jesuit High School match, take advantage of it. I am glad I did.

There were four other matches that day besides my match. Doing the math, there may have been as many as 150 high school ruggers from both squads. I heard that Jesuit alone has upwards of (I believe) 140 in their program.

[Editor’s Note: Simple matter to confirm – the USA Rugby website shows 143 CIPPed for Jesuit.]

Either way, we had a beautiful pitch and a nice day. The quality of the match was high on both squads, especially in the first half, with a tight 15-7 Jesuit lead. The Home squad was able to use their speed wide in the second half and take control.

Thanks to both teams for the quality of the match.

Sunday:
U16 boys:
LAMORINDA 34 – San Diego Mustangs 24 Referee: Tom Zanarini
[The same check of team rosters shows Lamorinda has 130 high school players and 230 youth players.]

U19 boys:
Lamo – San Diego Mustangs Referee: George Shield
No report received.

Monday:
Bishop O'Dowd girls 5 – ALAMEDA 12 Referee: Eric Rauscher
An interesting game to do. Bishop O'Dowd shows great promise in that they display a knowledge of what to do with the ball, but need to be able to do it instinctively. Alameda played well all-around and has several players that have both size and talent. Both teams played hard to the last whistle.

7 p.m. Monday @ Bishop O'Dowd in Oakland:
BISHOP O’DOWD boys 7 – Alameda U19 Boys 0 Referee: John Coppinger
This match was tightly contested with lots of attacks, great cover tackles, and rookie errors, but mostly the match was young men earnestly playing a hard and fast game and having a great time doing so. The first half was scoreless and BO’D powered in a try midway through the second to run out 7-0 winners. A good crowd was on hand to witness this match and the girls’ match that preceded the boys’ match. Eric Rauscher refereed the girls’ match.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST REPORT
By Ron Myers:

I just wanted to report that Joe graced us with his presence last weekend at Chez Myers.

While here I roped him into officiating both matches at the PNRFU D2 Collegiate Playoffs in Monmouth. He did an exceptionally good job and hopefully the winners, Western Oregon, will find the intro to NCRRS law application helpful at Maritime when they meet Mr. Bretz.

There was just one small detail of his match management I wanted to pass along - hard to ref w/out a whistle. Yep, we had to loan him one both day...

I trust the Pelican Court will find a suitable punishment/fine for Mr. Leisek.

BELATED

SHASTA 49 – Diablo Gaels U23, 10 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Got an early start Saturday morning for my jaunt up to Palo Cedro, for a match between the Shasta Highlanders and the Diablo Gaels U-23 squad.

Just for future reference for those folks coming up I-5 for points south, it's about 10 miles shorter to get off I-5 in Anderson on Deschutes road and take Deschutes road to Palo Cedro rather than driving to Redding and taking 44 to Palo Cedro.

It was a little breezy at kick-off, but the setting is spectacular, in the shadow of Mt Lassen and Mt Shasta looming to the north, both capped with many feet of snow.

The U-23 Gaels are a young scrappy team, but the experience of the Shasta gentlemen proved to much for them this day.

Shasta led 32 to 5 at halftime and won 49 to 10.

THIS WEEK’S PHOTO
Nevada Falls
Bruce Bernstein, Chris Tucker, George Shield and Del Stevens can’t believe their good fortune to be in such a world.

HAIL, PELICUS!

For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ALL HER FAVORITE FRUIT

HAIL, PELICUS!

PROMOTION!

Greg Lundell has been promoted to L2 on the basis of several recent games.

Congratulations, Greg. You are on your way.

MENU CHOICES FOR SATURDAY’S BANQUET

If you are one of the thirty-plus who have confirmed for dinner, please respond to Bjorn Stumer with your choice of dinner: bstumer@comcast.net

1. STUFFED CHICKEN with bacon, onion and Gouda cheese. Covered in a mushroom au jus. Served with mash
2. NEW YORK STEAK with asparagus
3. TIGER PRAWNS, onion, bacon and cilantro in a garlic white wine butter sauce served over pasta
4. FRIED POLENTA with seasonal veggies and house marinara

All entrees come with house salad and dessert.

Appetizers will be provided beforehand.

ALL HER FAVORITE FRUIT

Penelope Pelicus was by my side, the Pelicanmobile gassed and packed, playlists queued, with memories in the making on a sunny mid-March Saturday morning.

Our grandson was off at camp – a rare free weekend together for a couple on their second mutual marriage anticipating a second courtship.

We met thirty years ago this September, but are still always on the lookout for the time to keep our relationship current. Plans serve, as do surprises.

Such is the intoxication of togetherness that we left five hours before kickoff for a game two hours away. This allowed for a brief tour of King City, where I work two days a week, and a stop at another of the jewels of the California Missions.

The Mission San Miguel Arcangel was closed due to damage caused by the killer San Simeon quake of Christmas 2003. These straits stimulated a fund-raising drive which was seeded with insurance money paid by Lloyd’s of London and led, six years later, to the re-opening of what must have looked like the orbiting hotel in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey to the native Californians.

In the mission gift shop we learned that Camp Roberts, where the California National Guard trains, has a museum of military vehicles dating back to WWII that is open on Saturdays. Should have left seven hours before kickoff...

The game at the enviable Talley Farms pitches is recounted below. With rugby in my veins, may I stay forever young.

Penelope and I then took our leave after a single plate of tri-tip, having determined to support rugby sponsors: tasting at the nearby Talley Farms vineyard, directly on your route to and from the rugby facility. Some bottles found their way into our car, liquid memories of another of our chapters of shared joy.

It was warm after the tasting, internally and externally, and especially in the car which had been sitting in the sun. So we dropped the top and proceeded back to SLO the long way, up 101 along the coast through Pismo Beach, the sun winking through the picket of palm trees to westward.

Nearly thirty years ago we stayed at the Madonna Inn on a double-date weekend with Dave and Connie Jaquint. With my wife’s birthday just passed, I surprised her with a room there again. (She thought we were coming home.)

The rugby weekend may take many forms. Increasing the pair-bond is one of the most exemplary of the species.

And so to Sunday.

Forget the equinox: Spring has sprung. Last Tuesday’s rains were likely the last until after Halloween. A bumper crop of rain fell on the Golden State this season but that doesn’t really matter because we don’t need rain. We need snow in the Sierra – that’s where the water for forty million people, their agriculture and industry comes from.

An inch of rain along the coast and in the valleys equates to a foot or more of snow in our alpine reservoir. What delights skiers melts soon enough, fills the waterways, storage and transport systems, and delights kayakers and white-water rafters in the process.

The drive ascending the La Cuesta Grade, through San Luis Obispo’s County’s horse country, into Monterey County and following the Salinas River to the sea was enchanted by the awakening of the Earth, the blossoms, sprouts and tendrils yearning in their heliotropism, the colors of the pastel rainbow set against the earth tones of Terra Firma, the fecundity of life and love.

NO SLEEP ON TOUR FOR THE EAST MIDS

Our guests arrived Wednesday evening. Two of them made it to our society meeting at the Golden Gate clubhouse while one missed the trans-Atlantic flight and caught up four hours later. That brings us to Thursday:

SF/Wine Country Tour March 11
By Preston Gordon:
This is a brief recap of yesterday's 15+ hour odyssey... it was a pretty awesome time, and it was cool hanging out with everyone that could make it during the trip.

Our visitors seemed very entertained and happy. They were certainly well looked after by all Pelicans and honorary Pelicans on the day. Richard, Cary's friend and the owner of Pedroncelli winery in Geyserville, deserves our gratitude for taking the time to give us the ultimate insider's tour of his family's establishment (not to mention the 33% discount on all the wine we bought).

Enjoy!

JPG Reveille @ 0645
Pick up SUV @ 0815
Drop Catherine off @ 0825

JPG in Millbrae @ 0845, picked up Keith & George at Frank's office
Back to Nob Hill @ 0930
- Met Eric/Del & Dave, coming from Berkeley
- Saw Nob Hill's (in)famous March Christmas tree
- Egg sandwiches on sourdough from Le Beau
Met Tom @ 1000, coming from Mill Valley
- Walk down Hyde St (Lombard, Bay views, etc) to Aquatic Park @ [pic]
- Walk through waterfront to Pier 39 & sea lions
- Walk to Mason St cable car @ [pic], take it back to Fairmont @ 1150
Dave departed
- Coffee at Caffe Cento
- Fairmont & Nob Hill tour, then walk back to car @ 1220
Golden Gate Bridge & Hendrik Point (Marin Headlands) @ [pic]
Pit stop for gas off 101 in Marin @ [ask TZ]
Healdsburg @ 1405 (Russian River drive-by)
- Look around the plaza
- Taqueria El Sombrero off the plaza for pollo asado/al pastor/carne asada tacos
& a round of cervezas de Modelo
- Met up with JPG's Mom over lunch
Drove to Pedroncelli Winery (101/Alexander Valley drive-by)
- Met up with Cary Bertolone
- Barrel tasting (2008 Sangiovese)
- Tour of the winery by Richard (owner) @ [pic]
- Tasting room @ 1545
- Bought a bunch of wine
Dry Creek General Store @ ~1600
- Look around
- Round of beers with Richard, Cary, and his old teammate who popped in.
We departed, leaving Cary, in order to see another winery before closing time
(Dry Creek Rd & Westside Rd/Dry Creek Valley drive-by)
Hop Kiln Winery @ 1640
- Wine & Mustard tasting room @ [pic]
- Bought a bunch of wine
- Depart 1720
- Russian River Valley drive-by
Pelican Inn @ ~1900
- Met Bruce Bernstein & Tina
- Round of beers
Back to Mill Valley for dinner at Piazza D'Angelo
- Met up with Colleen
- Wine/dinner/comped dessert for 8 (BB had 6 delicious custard-filled beignets)
Dinner finished @ [ask TZ/ER/BB]
Last round of beers at the 2 AM Club @ ~2200
BB/Tina & Eric/Del departed @ ~2220
JPG/Keith/George departed @ ~2230 - Tom stayed a bit longer
Back to Frank's in Atherton
- 45 minute delay for 101 accident in Burlingame
- Dropped off Keith & George at Frank's house just after midnight

JPG back to SF
- Gas on Howard & 9th @ 1235
- Home & in bed @ 0100

Total distance driven by JPG with guests: ~225 miles

Friday we believe that they were shown around San Francisco by Bruce Bernstein, and then they had high school games in the evening.

Saturday they refereed games in Sacramento and then spent the evening and night hosted by Kat and Ray.

Then to the high Sierra Sunday, and this report from Don Pattalock came in Monday morning:

“Just an update, everyone had a blast tubing on the summit yesterday. They proceeded to the River Ranch to drink beer and see a snow carving competition. Ulibarri convinced them to skinny dip in Tahoe. Even walked out on a snow covered pier to jump in. Dinner with steaks and lots of beers until late. Today it’s off to a local ranch for some horse and gun play.”

No telling what they did today (Tuesday). But tomorrow morning they’ll be shuttled back down to Saccamenna and thence to Yosemite.

You’ll have to come to our banquet Saturday evening just to catch up!

And be asking yourself: would I like to go to the East Midlands this September and receive such hospitality myself?

GAMES

Saturday:
OLYMPIC CLUB 24 – Sac Capitals 19 Referee: Scott Wood
TJs: Austin (OC, Former PITS); Mike Dopson/________ (Sacramento)
Evaluator: Mike Malone

The match was played on the Gaelic Athletic Association's field. Due to a communication breakdown, the field markings were a couple weeks old and the faded sidelines posed a potential problem (especially when no ARs are present). While faint touch lines were visible, they were "enhanced" with saucer cones on the intersections (e.g., midfield, 10 m, 22, etc).

Olympic Club is at the top of the standings whereas Sacramento Capitals are near the lower end. Apparently nobody told either team that. The visitors were on fire producing intense pressure on defense, forcing turnovers and capitalizing (no pun intended) off Olympic Club's mistakes. One of the Capitals' tries was scored off a floating Olympic Club pass that was easily intercepted. Both teams worked the length of the field back and forth until halftime where the visitors led 14-11.

The Olympic Club, fresh off a reading of the riot act, opened the second half up by scoring a try to give them the lead 16-14. Undeterred, the Capitals continued to move the ball around, mostly east-west, until their backs got it wide enough to race down the side. Down 19-16, Olympic Club put its forwards to work. Repeated infringements by the Capitals put them in a dangerous area. With five minutes remaining, the Capitals lost a man to the bin. Olympic Club found touch and, from a 5-meter lineout, formed a maul that pushed over for a grounding and a try to take the lead 21-19. Play resumed with Olympic Club again attacking downfield and finding itself with a penalty goal attempt at full time. Victory was theirs by a mere margin and for the first time this season Olympic Club found itself at the end of a match without a bonus point.

Sacramento nominated Rikus Pretorius as Olympic Club's man-of-the-match. Olympic Club put forth Joe Schmitt as Sacramento's man-of-the-match.

I would like to thank Mike Malone for taking time to critique my refereeing and to Ray Lehner and Ben Parker for their insight.

Seconds: OLYMPIC CLUB 41 – Sac Capitals 5 Referee: Greg Lundell
Referee Coach: Dave Williamson

SAC LIONS 47 – Reno 17 Referee: George Shield
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz

Seconds: Sac Lions – Reno Referee: James Hinkin
Referee Coach: Keith McLean
Not played, and no-one was told ahead of time.

James drove 300 miles and Keith McLean flew eight thousand to watch a ref who didn’t ref.

EAST PALO ALTO 35 – Barbarians 15 Referee: Rich Anderson
ARs: Sandy Robertson, Pete Smith
Evaluator: Dixon Smith
EPA pulled away from the Barbarians after a 10-all intermission using the wide field to their advantage. The EPA backs proved quicker on this day, scoring 4 tries in the second half, three of which were scored in the left hand corner of the try zone.

Special thanks to my ARs, Sandy Robertson (hanging around for his Third match of the afternoon) and Pete Smith (performing in his fourth match of the weekend). Their assistance was appreciated with dealing with our Trapezoid Field. Also, a hand to Dixon Smith, for giving up part of his weekend to watch.

Santa Rosa 21 – DIABLO GAELS 26 Referee: Mike Gadoua
First Half: SR 0 v. DG 5
2nd Half: SR 21 v. DG 21

Wow - Great Rugby! I enjoyed two different games compressed into 80 minutes. While it appeared in the first half that both teams presented a lackluster appearance on the pitch, Diablo managed to gain a single try despite racking up more penalties usually learned in Rugby 101. Rosa’s failure to score from a penalty kick seemed to be the tip of the iceberg as potential tries were lost due to a breakdown in the backs’ hand-eye coordination while moving inside the Diablo’s 22. The half ended with a yellow card given to the Diablo fullback for foul play. However, Diablo came close to scoring in the remaining seconds. The half seemed dominated by the Gaels at set pieces who had a taller and heavier pack and their backs were larger as well. However, the Rosa captain kept his team intact and appeared to do better when the ball made it out to the elusive backs. Generally speaking, the play demonstrated by both teams was slightly more elevated than being comatose.

The teams recharged during the half. It appeared that Coach Petty gave Rosa a half-time pep talk. Rosa backs connected and even linked up with forwards to score three converted tries in this half. Diablo picked up their game, scoring their own 21 points. And different from the first half, both teams played a dynamic, physical, and exceptionally assertive Rugby. The caliber of play was ratcheted up by both teams and Diablo’s five point lead proved the deciding factor at the whistle.

FRESNO 111 – Vallejo 0 Referee: John Pohlman
A strong Fresno team hosted a rebuilding Vallejo side at the regional park in Fresno. Vallejo had a few players and game jerseys lost in the Fresno area so we kicked off at 1:30.

Fresno has three players from the New Zealand Universities side which played Golden Gate earlier in the year. These players filled the skilled positions of 8, 9 and 10.

The ability of the Kiwi three to spread the ball wide against a Vallejo team fielding 13 led to 10 first half trys.

Some Fresno substitutions slowed the scoring to 7 trys in the second half.

Chico 22 – SEAHAWKS 31 Referee: Joe Androvich
Way back in 2005, my VERY FIRST NorCal assignment (if I remember correctly) was for a San Jose Seahawks seconds' match. I have not refereed another one of San Jose's matches until this weekend. It was sunny but windy afternoon. Chico came out strong and looked as if they were going to dominate the match, but a second half surge by the San Jose proved too much for Chico.

Stanislaus 12 – SFGG 22 Referee: Sam Davis
It was a windy day in Turlock great field sunny day but if you sat the ball on the ground the wind would move the ball like a tumbleweed. This was a good D2 match up SFGG were deep with players being away Harlots had the home turf. SFGG drew first blood at the 36 min mark with a nice pass to the wing that had the overlap who touched it down in the corner. Kick was no good due to the wind blowing it off course. SFGG scored again with the half ending SFGG 12- Harlots-0

At the 32 min mark Harlots held up in goal I awarded a five meter scrum. SFGG back line off sides at the scrum so I awarded a penalty try. The kick was good score 12-6 At the 20 min mark Harlots score again and the game is now tied. SFGG came back with a score at the 12 min mark and 3 min mark sealing the Harlots fate. Great game played by both clubs.

Arroyo Grande 40 – VACAVILLE 46 Referee: Bruce Carter
We've all taken a wrong turn in navigating life's thruways, but going north instead of south on 101 won't get you to Arroyo Grande in time for a 1 PM kickoff.

So it was that thirteen Vacavillians kicked off to fifteen Arroyo Grandees. Playing with eight forwards and five backs, they elected to keep the ball in tight and thereby scored a try three minutes in. It was a lead they would hold for 75 minutes.

Despairing of the arrival of the late car, Coach Chris Motes suited up and joined the action after not having played for a number of years. He must have been saving up his good plays.

One: a well-timed insertion into the line to break free and score from about fifty meters. Two: a perfectly-timed intercept that would have led to a score but for a wiley gopher that popped to make a tackle. Three: a no-look inside pass to big, crashing Vacaville #3 who was big and crashing all day with two emphatic tries to show for it.

This last try gave Vacaville a thirteen-point lead with little more than ten minutes remaining.

This is when the game got exciting, and not simply due to the aroma of the tri-tip wafting across the pitch. Arroyo Grande scored and converted to make it feasible that they would come back.

Down 33-39 with two minutes left, a long break by Tommy Hayes with follow-up by Captain Mike Draper led to a pass to a player whose name I neglected to get. He was wrapped up in goal and spun around, dropping the ball which he then fell on for a try.

Some of the Vacaville players were despondent apparently to lose in such a fashion and accusing the referee of less-than-encyclopedic knowledge of the Laws. But there are two kinds of people it’s best not to start an argument with: those with whistles and those who buy ink by the barrel.

When a player in-goal is spun 180˚, drops the ball and then has to dive back towards the goal line to ground it, it didn’t go forward.

However, this is but Moot Court: Vacaville scored a centered and converted try from the restart, having been ahead on the scoreboard for 76 minutes and behind for almost exactly one.

The pitch-side tri-tip, beans, garlic bread, salad and salsa were perfect.

NorCal Triple Threat 5 – ALL BLUES 56 Referee: John Coppinger
At Pleasant Valley HS in Chico on a flat, gopher free, full-sized and freshly mowed pitch, All-Blues and NCTT went at it in a fully spirited, but good spirited, friendly match with the All Blues scoring consistently against the game, but slower, NCTT team in a 56-5 All Blues win. NCTT battled hard to score a well-deserved late try.

East Palo Alto U23, 12 – FOG 23 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Fog took it to EPA right from the start, controlling the early scrums, getting good ball to a couple of centers who barreled through EPA' s backline for an early try. EPA began to turn the tide just before half and got to within a point early in the second stanza, but Fog struck again with a penalty and a converted try to put some distance between the two clubs.

Shasta – Diablo U23 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

Humboldt Old Growth 10 – SAN BRUNO SAINTS 50 Referee: Roberto Santiago
Don’t you love match reports that open with long descriptions of the drive to the field? Good. I hear the drive from Berkeley to Humboldt is really pretty. I wouldn’t know since I did most of it in the dark. What I can say is that at night in the rain and fog it can be pretty harrowing. I pretty much thought I was going to die at certain points. In addition I had to struggle with the “Santiago Two-Hour Event Horizon”, which is a seldom seen physical phenomenon. I was tooling along slightly ahead of schedule at a pretty decent 70 MPH when the sign said I was 140 miles out. “Cool I’ll be there in two hours.” Twenty miles later as the rain picked up and the sky grew dark I was slowed to a steady 60 MPH. “OK, I’ll be there in two hours.” As the way grew curvy twenty miles later I was reduced to a white knuckle 50 MPH. “Huh, I’ll be there in two hours.” Twenty more miles, down to one lane, “Hhhhh, I’ll be there in two hours.” Twenty miles farther down the road, as I crested Mount Crumpet through the pea soup fog at just under 30 MPH, I found that I was just two hours away from my destination. A quick mental calculation indicated that at this rate my car would break down five miles from my hotel.

Lucky for me the fog broke, the road widened and I was able to break through the Two Hour Event Horizon and cruise into the hotel around 10:00pm.

The rest of the trip was much more pleasant. The sun broke through and gave us perfect rugby conditions. The air was crisp, the sun was warm, and the field was soft. It seems Humboldt is trying to give Marin a run for worst field in DIII but absent an in-goal that slopes gently into a light standard Marin still holds the crown.

San Bruno was there in force with around twenty-five players warmed up and ready to go. Humboldt trickled in partly due to a mix up about the start time. By 1:30 they had 15 and more showed up as the game progressed.

The Saints scored early getting the ball out to the backs and watching their big strong #13 break four tackles on his way to a try at 2:07. This woke up some of the late arriving Humboldt players who realized we were past the warm ups. Humboldt held for another thirteen minutes before the San Bruno #9 took a ball off the line out, through the remnants of the line out, and in for the score. Led by some nifty surgical kicking from their big #10 (it looked as if one of the props ate the regular #10 before the game and had to take his position, or perhaps it was the other way around) the Saints took chunks of territory scoring again at 22:17, 29:35, 35:19, and 39:03 converting all but one of them. To their credit Humboldt never hung their heads and kept up positive chatter among the ranks. They were losing, but they were competing, playing hard, and having fun.

The second half opened with another quick San Bruno try at 42:00. Humboldt got on the board at 58:00 by going hands down the back line from about 7 meters out. The quick passing paid off as the outside center found a little hole and carried a few would-be tacklers over the line. This came in the middle of a 33 minute defensive stand by Humboldt who improved their tackling, counter attacking off the kick and avoided penalties. As had been the case the whole game both teams dialed the intensity way up, and then when it seemed it might boil over, backed off and let things simmer. This kind of fire coupled with a sense of sportsmanship and respect made this one of the most enjoyable games I’ve had this year. San Bruno put one more over at 73:00 and Humboldt answered with just on a minute left.

Then it was off to the party. Humboldt’s hospitality knew no bounds and I wanted for nothing for the rest of the afternoon. As it turns out there were a couple players left from when I went on an epic trip to Humboldt as a player for the Old Gaels back around 1997. When I told the story of someone biting me on the top of my head during that game they all came up with the same name of who it must have been. (Cheers to the head-biting guy!) I had great conversations with members of both teams and got a rare “three cheers for the ref” when it was time for me to leave the pub. That last bit got me all energized for the six-hour drive home. Thanks to both teams and good luck to the Saints as I figure they’re going to the playoffs.

MARIN 40 – Mendocino 7 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Beautiful day in Marin City, except for the cornfield of a pitch. I think the grass is taller than the field is wide. At any rate, we started a tad late to wait for the Marin coach's arrival. Mendocino had no problem with this so we kicked off at a little after 2pm. Marin had the benefit of experience in this match but Mendocino should be commended for looking like a solid rugby team in their first year.

REDWOOD 41 – Aptos 19 Referee: Mike King
With a full day’s schedule in Santa Rosa, this match was played at an auxiliary field at For Pete’s Sake. Redwood was ready for bear and came out firing on all cylinders. They seemed dominant in loose play and took some lineout ball, but Aptos countered with short lines to maintain possession. There were a few Aptos forays into Redwood territory leading to a late first half score, but most of the opening stanza was pressure by the home side. 22-7 at Half.

It seemed like more of the same in the second half, with Aptos stopping most of the relentless attacks of the hosts, but a few drives led to 3 more tries, and 2 conversions. Aptos was not done, however, and mounted attacks off a penalty and a long burst and run, that finished the scoring. Beautiful end to a beautiful day.

Sacramento State 15 – ST. MARY’S 33 Referee: Del Stevens
AR: Eric Rauscher

Seconds: SAC STATE 20 – St Mary’s 15 Referee: Eric Rauscher
I had done a game between these two three weeks previous at St Mary’s. Before the game the two captains (Donny and Colby) and I joked about it being the second half. As I was headed over to the sidelines after the coin toss thinking I had 5 min or so, Donny said "Can we go ahead and start?"

Colby agreed and we were off. At the first kick into touch I remembered why I was headed to the sideline before the game. I usually have the captains give away the touch flags, but since we had an early start, I had failed to do so. Imagine my surprise when no flag went up with the kick. Short pause and quick run to get flags. Game back on. It was a really fun game.

By this time in the season both teams have a pretty high skill level and play was open and fast. The first half score was tied 5/5 and I hoped not to have to re-pay Del for his score on the previous night (see Santa Rosa/ Elsie Allen).

The second half was also close, but Sacramento was able to save me the drink. Both teams played in good, friendly spirit and with about 5/6 minuets left in the game at a scrum-reset, I heard someone say "Can we have 40 more minutes?"

UC DAVIS 34 – Stanford 7 Referee: Chris Tucker
AR: Cary Bertolone
Also in attendance: Dr. Walsh
A playoff-bound UC Davis team comfortably beat Stanford on a windy yet sunny day in Davis. This in spite of losing their starting prop to a red card early in the game after a dangerous tackle in defence of his goal line. In spite of this it was all one way in the first half, as the UCD scrum held up well and the team work rate rose to compensate. One other unfortunate chap left the game with a dislocated kneecap just before the half -- happily half of the faculty of the Med School seemed to be in attendance, and an orthopedic surgeon popped it back in and he walked off under his own steam.

The second half was more of the same, although the strong wind helped Stanford improve their territorial position. Finally a line break gave the visitors a consolation try at the end of the game, but overall it was a pretty one-sided affair. The seconds match was closer, but Stanford ran out of props and they had to go to uncontested scrums. So another team finished with a man down. Definitely a law change I approve of.

Seconds: UC DAVIS 29 – Stanford 12 Referee: Cary Bertolone
At Davis, beautiful, sunny, dry day of rugby. TJ the first side game for Chris Tucker as Davis won convincingly. Same with the second side game. Davis had a large advantage in the scrums and lineouts and took a 24-0 halftime lead. Things evened up in the second half, in some ways, as Stanford scored two tries, but the final score was indicative, 29-12. It was great to see my old teammate, Chris O'Brien, one of the coaches of Stanford, as well as the Meeson boys of Davis, sons of my other old teammate, Dave Meeson (whom most everyone around the bay area can say the same).

Chico State 12 – CALIFORNIA 97 Referee: Preston Gordon
After putting in ~275 miles behind the wheel on Thursday, I figured I would be a bit less than enthusiastic about driving to Chico and back on Saturday. But when the alarm went off I jumped right up, picked up the car, and was on the road out of San Francisco before 0900. Unfortunately, I was obliged to stop and sign up for a contribution to the CHP benevolent fund a few miles south of Orland (Note: I heard from a couple of people in Chico that they've been cracking down in that area lately). Even after that, I arrived at the field with more than enough time to loosen up and get the paperwork out of the way.

The game was a bit one-sided, not helped by 20 Chico State players apparently MIA due to Spring Break. Here's a good write-up of the match:

http://www.californiagoldenblogs.com/2010/3/13/1372103/cals-ruggers-skunk-chico-state-97

The only thing I would add to that, aside from Cal's dominance all over the field: the Wildcats put 2 good tries on the Bears. They both came off of lineouts: the first at 50' from a peeling move towards the touchline, and the second at 62' after an attacking ruck right on the goal line. Chico State caught the Cal defense napping by grounding the ball right on the line, from less than 6 inches away. This second try was converted, and Chico State was indeed able to take advantage of a 60' yellow card to Cal for a dangerous tackle.

Seconds: Chico State 3 – CALIFORNIA 72 Ref: Gordon

I did the B game too, which with 30' halves was pretty much a repeat performance of the A game, although not quite the same blowout. I figured I had had enough for one day when I heard myself say "maul" followed shortly by "hands off" in the last few minutes of this game.

Thanks to the 2 gentlemen from each side for running touch - all 4 of you did a good job. After the games I stopped in to the Madison Bear Garden, where the Chico men's club was hosting San Jose, for a bite and a pint (thanks Mitch). On the way home I took the back roads as far as I could, and then breezed into the city around 2100 with no traffic to speak of. All in all, it was a pretty good day of rugby.

USF – UC Santa Cruz Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Referee Coach: Jake Rubin

SANTA ROSA JC 34 – Fresno State 5 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
For Pete's Sake Field mushy but nice turf. SRJC was much better in every phase using teamwork & experience to dominate. Their tight head prop got the ball in the loose & set up his backs.

Somehow Fresno State managed to finally score a try in the second half after 2 very close held up in goals & SRJC only scored once in the second half with one knock on as they tried touching down--making for a more exciting half.

Jake Rubin was my ref coach & gave me some good feedback at a cool English pub in old town Santa Rosa.

(I was luckily able to ref this match, thanks to Pete once my assigned match USF-UCSF was canceled, after about 5 field changes due to the rain & approx. 10 phone calls on Friday.)

San Jose State 13 – SIERRA JC 27 Referee: Stephen Moore
Very competitive first half. Home side San Jose started with a try. Sierra somewhat disheveled in the beginning with late arrivals got their act together finally and responded with a converted try. San Jose took charge once more scoring off a penalty to put them a point in front. A tight contest for the rest of the half until Sierra scored just before half time. The second half remained tight in the beginning with Sierra scoring first. San Jose responded with same. From here on it was all Sierra though, San Jose ran out of gas, Sierra scored three more tries.

Seconds: San Jose State 7 – SIERRA JC 12 Ref: Moore
Game time was constrained by a field scheduling error to two 15 minute halves. A spirited short contest well played by San Jose but dominated by Sierra. A funny incident kinda.. the Sierra fly-half makes a break for the goal line just outside San Jose’s 22. Uncontested the player slows down close to the goal line ready to score, one of his team mates comes screaming up behind him in support. Generously the fly-half passes the ball to his mate to let him score. The ball is caught cleanly the carrier runs over the line and with ample time to place it down, believe it or not, fumbles it – knock on!

CAL MARITIME ACADEMY 34 – Humboldt State 3 Referee: Rod Chance
Assessor: Bryan Porter

Nevada 10 –SANTA CLARA 39 Referee: Craig Lusiani

Nevada women 23 – SACRAMENTO STATE 26 Referee: Pat Loo
Close match and hard fought. Final score reflects how evenly matched the teams were.

Humboldt St. women – USF CANCELED

Wednesday:
San Jose State – UC Santa Cruz

HIGH SCHOOL

Monday, March 8:
Bishop O’Dowd 10 – LAMORINDA 43 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Bishop O’Dowd is starting both a boys and girls team this year and is having "friendlies" with local teams on Monday nights.

It is a synth turf football field with all that that entails, plus a low fence on one side which drops over an embankment to a busy street below. Kicks to touch on that side are just an automatic 20-yards-marched-off-with-no-kick for obvious reasons. The first half was a close 10/10 tied game, but a combination of fitness and skill allowed Lamo to pile on 33 pts in the second half. Under Ray Lehner's coaching they should however be a better team next year and am looking forward to seeing their progress.

Friday:

Santa Rosa (Newman) 12 – Elsie Allen 12 Referee: Del Stevens EMRRS
ARs: Mike King, Eric Rauscher
Was able to introduce Del to the fine Pelican tradition of tied games.

JV: Santa Rosa 5 – ELSIE ALLEN 14 Referee: Eric Rauscher
At least the rain had let up. After a whirl-wind tour (in car) with Bruce Bernstein of SF, Del and I headed up to Santa Rosa to do a night game.

The pitch reminded me of the old pitch at Saint Mary’s. Boots could leave the feet stuck in the mud and there were patches of standing water on the touch lines several inches deep. The game was pretty much a match between a larger and more physical team (Santa Rosa) that went for mauls whenever they could against a smaller but more skilled in the back line team. In the end Elsie Allen won, but it was an enjoyable game to do with both teams in it till the last whistle.

Montgomery – MARIN Referee: Dave Ellis
Montgomery hosted Marin in this Friday night high school contest held under the lights on Montgomery's field turf stadium. Marin looked the far more organized side from the start of the game, took the early lead and showed some real ability to gain chunks of yardage with a backline that was able to move the ball well through the hands and break the line with some tough runs. After a slow start, however, Montgomery picked up their intensity level and kept themselves in the game with some spirited defense and opportunistic offense. The half ended with a Montgomery try that covered most of the length of the field and tied the score at 12 apiece. Marin's organization and fitness showed through in the second half, as they took control of the game with a forward pack that began to dominate the set pieces. Two more second half tries (one converted) provided the winning margin for a well disciplined, athletic Marin squad.

Saturday:
RANCHO COTATE 30 – Humboldt High Schools 5 Referee: Mike King
In a prelude to the club side match, the local Sonoma County side took advantage of some moments of disorganization by the visitors to score twice in the first half and 4 more times in the second. The hosts had a distinct size advantage and used it by running up the middle to establish a phased attack, then passing out the backline,with the wings doing much of the scoring. To their credit, the visitors did not concede anything and struck paydirt themselves near the end of the contest. The defense improved as the match progressed and all seemed content that they had a full and satisfying opportunity to run.

PENINSULA GREEN 43 – Silicon Valley 12 Referee: Chris Fisher
Silicon Valley lead 5 nil at half time but fell to pieces when their half back went off injured.

East Palo Alto HS – Live Oak Referee: Sandy Robertson

Sunday:
LAMORINDA 22 – SF/Golden Gate 21 Referee: George O'Neil
Great game!

HE LIVES!

By Giles Wilson:
It is so nice to report that I refereed 3 games this weekend - a HS game (with one new club, Bishop O'Dowd who have great promise going forward), U 12 and U 14.

It was great, kids having fun, playing rugby and parents watching in awe.

YOUTH Rugby U12 (Sunday)

Palo Alto Seahawks 20 – Lamorinda 20 Referee: Stephen Moore
A highly spirited game tightly fought back and forth by each side for supremacy. 14 boys a side, two twenty minutes halves. Lamorinda arrived with a 30+ squad and substituted all boys on during the match. A great contest, highly spirited, well behavior spectators, coaches and parents. Nice to see such a determined and skilled bunch of kids playing for their lives.

BEAUTIFUL WORLD
From Joe Leisek:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/photoblogfl/detail?entry_id=5260
Chronicle photographer Frederic Larsen captured some pelicans in a lovely shot in Sausalito.

SEASON-ENDING BAY AREA YOUTH TOURNAMENT

Sunday, March 28, 9 AM until 4 PM: If you can spare a Sunday you can help a whole bunch of young ruggers finish their season on high notes.

Danville Mustang Soccer Complex
Competition in U8, U10 and U12 brackets.

Come for all or part of the day. 6 – 8 pitches going all the time.

Games are short, fun and easy to ref.

Free hot dog for all refs!

Let us know if you can help out. Your writer can attest that this is family-friendly entertainment at its best.

PETER HANSFORD CHECKS IN FROM WALES

We visited Dublin for the Six Nations game last weekend, and went on a trip around the Guinness Storehouse, a self guided brewery tour.

Looking at the marketing over the ages, we saw that the famous Guinness Toucan, started life as a Pelican.

"A wonderful bird is the Pelican
It's beak can hold more than it's belly can
It can hold in it's beak
Enough for a week
I simply don't know
How the hell he can."

Dorothy L Sayers changed him to a toucan for a new rhyme for a new advert.

Type Guinness Pelican into google for all sorts of pelican memorabilia, including a nice badge (patch to you) suitable for a rugby jersey.

We also met up with Brian Gildea, and saw most of a game he did.
Dublin Medics v Cardiff Medics.
Cardiff won 29 -21, after trailing 17-11.

THIS WEEK’S PHOTO
Fueling Stop
Keith McLean, George Shield, Tom Zanarini, Eric Rauscher, Del Stevens and Preston Gordon celebrate hands across the water.

HAIL, PELICUS!

For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris