Wednesday, August 31, 2011




Cheryl Leslie died peacefully, after a blessedly-brief illness, on Monday, August 22.

Readers solely of more recent vintage may not know her name, but long-time Pelicans will honor the debt we all carry for the work she did for the NCRRS over about a decade.

One measure of her worth to the Pelican Refs is the fact that Cheryl is one of but three winners of the Dixon Smith Award for lifetime achievement in helping this Society prosper.

I couldn't help but delight in Cheryl's company from the start, because of the circumstances in which we met. This was back when Golden Gate (ten years before they were SF/GG) played a series of Friday night home matches under the lights at Kezar Stadium. I had been assigned to run touch for Don Reordan, so after having gotten off work at noon I found myself early, having a pre-match cup of coffee at the Kezar Pub, reading Rugby Magazine, our only rugby lifeline in those pre-Internet days.

A woman approached me and said, "Do you know anything about rugby?"

With that line in a bar, she picked up an entire community. Delightful!

After I allowed that perhaps I might know a little bit about rugby, Cheryl wanted me to teach her everything possible about the game. She was dating a soldier stationed at the Presidio who said he was a rugby player, and she wanted to be conversant with his sport.

Not having the time, or the energy as we would all later learn, to keep up with Cheryl's need for involvement, after an hour or so I introduced her to the assembled referee conclave who were there to watch the evening's match, so as to be able to discharge my other duties.

Of course it turns out the soldier was only a wanna-be in a striped shirt but to Cheryl, rugby and the Pelican Refs were the real thing. I'd like to think that we supplanted her boyfriend.

With a heart as big as her smile, Cheryl became involved with planning our meetings and socials events, coordinating food and drink at tournaments, and then took over the checkbook and served as our treasurer for many years. New refs immediately assumed that she'd been around forever, as she understood who did what and how things worked.

These same traits endeared her to the Golden Gate club, as she came to perform many of the same duties for them, even during her involvement with the Society.

Those of you who recall attending Test matches at Balboa Park will have seen Cheryl in the ticket booth, or re-stocking the snack bar, or finding a lost jersey, or all of these and more seemingly at the same time.

Then the travel bug bit, perhaps when she managed the Golden Gate club's tour of the East Midlands in 1997. Making fast friends with Sue Felstead and many of our other East Mids cousins, Cheryl determined that she would return many times to England and Europe. She said proudly, "I've seen Les Miz in San Francisco, London and Paris."

And she also related that Sue had taken her to see a place she considered magical, the White Cliffs of Dover. This conversation was ten days before she died, smiling while tethered to IV tubes and surrounded by machinery, and Cheryl added, "I always wanted to see them. “

Retiring from Chevron and anticipating even more travel and rugby involvement, she was dealt an unfortunate hand when health problems intervened, precluding these activities and keeping her from the company of many of those who loved her. Fortunately but ironically, that cloud began to lift earlier this year when a perceptive doctor made a long-overdue change in medication. Alas, it was only in time for Cheryl to have to face the end bravely, as always, when another even more diabolical diagnosis appeared.

Cheryl leaves her daughters Shay and Christine, along with a sister who was dependent on her, as so many others before. She leaves bereaved friends on two continents; she leaves the SF/Golden Gate RFC without another of its illustrious alumni; she leaves the Pelican Flock flying in a missing-man formation; and she leaves us all to our memories of a delightful and giving person whom we were fortunate to have had brighten our days while we dwelt together on this mortal coil.

Her friends trust she is finding eternal delight, with a heavenly view of the White Cliffs.


Roland Maitland, who coached a variety of teams in the Santa Cruz area over the years, passed away after returning home from a visit to his native South Africa last week.

Referees will remember him as a thoughtful proponent of hard and fair play who always had a kind word for the officials of the sport.

We will miss our sideline conversations with this real rugby gentleman. Here is a photograph of Roland, some details of his life, and information regarding the memorial service this Friday at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Santa Cruz 125 High Street:


The women’s league season begins with the Triple Threat hosting the SF Fog in Chico. Scott Wood will referee this one.

Sevens continues at the Pleasanton Highland Games, with Mike Gadoua and Brad Richey refereeing.

The Bloomfield Cup, Polynesian rugby (fifteens) for men’s and women’s teams, will be played at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in East Palo Alto. We have five-and-a-half referees at present and with two pitches going all day, we could use a couple more.



Tri-Tip Sevens in San Luis Obispo: this is a great tournament, with the best food. They provide rooms for refs both Friday and Saturday, so bring a date and make it a weekend on in coastal mid-California.

We’ve got four refs and one maybe lined up. They could use some company. Let us know.

Report by Scott Wood:

Location: Danny Nunn Park
Referees: Bryant Byrnes, Matt Eason, [Name redacted to maintain marital bliss], Hubert Wang, Scott Wood
ARs: Ron DeCausemaker, Mark Godfrey, plus team-supplied

I was told the tournament started at 1 p.m. yet found out upon arrival that the first match started at 11. The day was hot so I was not disappointed to only referee two games. I don't have my scorecard so the scores are approximate. Kudos to Ben Parker for manning the grill and serving up tasty barbecue, including non-Aussie pies.

To the best of my recollection (brain fried by heat), the following teams were present:

Sacramento Capitals
Sacramento Old Boys
Sacramento Spartans AKA Sac State Alumni
Sierra JC

SIERRA JC 27? – Sacramento Capitals 25
Sierra evened up the score (25-25) as time ran out. Fortunately (for the referee) the conversion was successful.

SIERRA JC 57(ish) – Highwaymen 12 (?)
Too much running for the heat. Highwaymen would attack then lose the ball. Sierra would scamper back for 90+ meter tries. Repeat.

From Bryant Byrnes:
"Freddie Forrester at the age of 77 scored all 10 points in a 52-10 loss by the Faded Roses to Sac Old Boys. His try was a masterful exhibit of speed, cutting ability, guile, and red shorts as he engaged in a bit of open field running the likes of which have not been seen for many years and may not be seen again. The field covered with the supine bodies of failed, unsuccessful tacklers, he dotted the ball down between the posts-and Bob's your uncle kicked the conversion. It was magic."


We have a suite of upcoming IRB courses that you should be interested in:

Level 1 Officiating
OCTOBER 2: Bellarmine College Preparatory School, San Jose
November 6: somewhere in Sacramento
December 4: Elsie Allen HS, Santa Rosa
December 4: Lamorinda (East Bay)

We will also be offering the TJ/AR courses, but are still nailing these down.

Cheryl Ten Years
Cheryl Leslie is delighted to be presented by Sam Davis with an award for ten years’ service to the NCRRS at our 2002 banquet.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris