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

Thursday, August 25, 2011




The Sacramento Capitals and Peroni are sponsoring a Tens tournament at Danny Nunn Park this Saturday, August 27:

We have a deep and abiding need for referees for this event.

It’s been rough lately: two weeks ago (see below), we had two refs for a six-game fifteens tournament. Last weekend, a 57-year-old man had to do six games of Sevens including a quarterfinal and semifinal.

Let us and Bryant Byrnes know if you can help out:

Also this Saturday, the SF Fog will host the All Blues in a women’s pre-season game at 11 AM on Treasure Island, with Preston Gordon to referee. Their seasons start the following weekend.


Want to start your Labor Day weekend with some rugby?

Your choice:
Sevens at the Pleasanton Highland Games
Fifteens at the Bloomfield Cup in EPA
We also have a women’s league match. The Triple Threat are at home, ‘home’ being either Chico, Sacto or Davis (not sure yet).

Saturday 8/13
Report by Preston Gordon:

Burton High School, San Francisco
Bjorn Stumer and I showed up for the festivities around 9am, just in case things kicked off on time. As it turned out, we spent most of the next 2 hours watching the dignitaries, musicians, and families get ready for the opening ceremonies. The 3 flag raisings were great, as they were accompanied by the anthems for the United States, American Samoa, and Samoa proper, sung by a youth choir. The Reverend's remarks were memorable as well.

Partially because of the delayed start, we decided on 20-minute halves in each game. This would give us enough time to do 6 round-robin games among the 4 teams in attendance: East Palo Alto Bulldogs, East Palo Alto Razorbacks, San Mateo, and the Bay Area Chiefs (formerly/aka Samoa United). A final was also on the schedule, but as it turned out, the 6th game had the two best-placed teams, so we scratched the 7th and played 25-minute halves.

Bjorn refereed the first game. I did the second, San Mateo vs EPA Razorbacks, which ended up in a 12-12 draw (7-5 at halftime). The game moved pretty well, but clearly everyone needed to get the rust off as there were a lot of dropped balls and several interceptions. Mose Timoteo did the third in order to give Bjorn and I a break. Bjorn did the 4th. I did the 5th, Bay Area Chiefs vs San Mateo, which again was a low-scoring affair. San Mateo was up 5-0 at the half and held on to win 12-5.

After a 20-minute break to let the crowd build - I'd guess a couple hundred were in attendance - and the players (and me) get a rest, the two East Palo Alto teams contested the final. It was a hard-hitting, fairly good game, but both teams kept the ball tight from the rucks and despite a few line breaks, the only score in the first half came from a Bulldogs penalty goal at 23', even though they had a 1-man advantage due to a yellow card a couple of minutes earlier. The second half was largely the same, and with the players starting to tire a bit I asked the captains to refocus their teams on the objective with about 10 minutes left. That seemed to work well, and in the last minute of the match each side scored a converted try for a final result of 10-7 to the Bulldogs.

Bjorn and I, and Sam from Santa Rosa, were able to AR off and on throughout the day. This was a good day of rugby in the sun, and the Samoan community in the bay area is obviously very strong. The organizers did a good job with the rugby at this event, the food offerings were impressive (and tasty, although I had to wait until I was done reffing), and it's well worth the trip to referee it - see you there next year!

Saturday, 8/20

The Sacramento Lions did a very good job in hosting their first sevens tournament and are hoping to make it an annual event.

We can safely say from the referee perspective (the best perspective from which a pitch may be seen) that this would be a good idea.

Will Niupalau and Aaron Frederick did a good job organizing and keeping everyone happy.

Twelve teams competed for the men’s title, which was won by the EPA Bulldogs over the home side. The Bulldogs have now won tournaments at fifteens and sevens on consecutive weekends.

Four U19 teams vied for the cup which was taken home by the San Mateo Warriors.


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

Level 1 Officiating
August 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.


Keep the Pelicans in the forefront of USA rugby refereeing. It takes good refs, which lots of areas have, but it also requires dedicated and talented referee coaches and evaluators.

You can do this while you are still refereeing.

Coaching of Match Officials Course
October 16: Cal Maritime Academy, Vallejo

Evaluator Course
October 28-30 (Friday evening-Sunday morning): Cal Maritime Academy

Please think at least twice about how you can best give back to the game we love. If you’d like to attend any of these, please reply or simply register at

By Brian Gildea:

Hail Pelicus!

Hope you are summering well. Hope your shifts are not too early for the next two months so you can stay up late and watch the RWC.

Sounds like the sevens this summer were fantastic.

At the Leinster Branch seminar....with over 160 attendees including Alain Rolland...the two law messages that came out were:

1) The Barrel Roll is OK as long as it is not around the head/neck.

2) If a maul forms and then collapses, the defending players are not required and should not be told to do anything. The defenders are entitled to hold on to or lie on the ball without fear of penalty.

Joe Schmidt, the Leinster coach, presented on how teams scout referees and was hilarious. Interestingly, he said that the turn-around in the Heineken Cup final occurred when Leinster decided to match Northampton with the "arrowhead" scrum.

Enjoy the RWC.

We might need to open a Pelican branch in Dublin. Marcus Williamson is going to the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin starting in September.


Propus Celtus


Point 2) is worth emphasis.

We've seen too many refs 'try' to produce ball from collapsed mauls, which is when these 'penalties' occur.

(Non-intentional) Collapsed mall = turnover = dead ball.
And: the ball is dead even if it takes the ref a moment to get to the whistle.

The only penalties that can occur during dead ball are for foul play, punching, abuse, that sort of thing.

Seven for Sevens
It was a sunny day for Sevens in Elk Grove last Saturday.

As usually happens, it was not possible to assemble all of the officials at any one moment. Anthony Nguyen had left when the photo was taken, just prior to the quarterfinals, and Sione Tanoa (who did the U19 final) was preparing to play with the Sac Lions.

Eager: Eric Rauscher, Phil Akroyd, Eugene Baker, Jim Crenshaw, Liz Palmer, Mark Godfrey.
Lazy: Bruce Carter


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Thursday, August 04, 2011




The best Sevens teams in the nation will competing for men’s and women’s titles this Saturday and Sunday at the SF/Golden Gate facilities, using Ray Sheeran Field and the GAA pitch across the street.

Games begin at 8 AM on both pitches, both days, and will be finished about five.

NEEDED: Fourth officials, scoreboard operators, and a radio coordinator.


If you’d like to help, please let us know.

Fourth officials keep track of the subs, replacements and sin bins. The paperwork is easy to pick up. We like to have enough so that you only have to work half the games, so we need two for each field.

Same with scoreboard operators: you need to know when to start and stop the clock and how many points to add when something good happens. We’d like to have two per pitch.

The radio coordinators are key players: there will be half a dozen sets of four radios each. These have to be kept together, charged, provided to the team of officials one game ahead, and taken from the off-coming team immediately.



Marin High-School Sevens in Corte Madera
Report by Eric Rauscher:

A pleasant Sevens high school tourney. I ended up doing three pool play matches with the last one being the most exciting.

Rio Linda 19 – Kennedy 17
Rio was leading with only 30 sec left in the game. They kicked it to Kennedy and proceeded to commit three penalties in a row which allowed for quick tap-and-goes ending in a try past full time The try was scored close to touch and the conversion was missed, otherwise it would have been a tied game. Shades of things to come.

John Coppinger assigned the matches after the break and told me I was doing the third in line. Just before the start of the game he asked me if I would be willing to do two in a row. I said sure. Little did I know what was in store.

BULLARD 14/31 – Kennedy 14/30
That's right, a tied game that when into overtime and ended up only a one point difference in total score. Needles to say it was a very exciting and tiring event. Then came the second game.

Rio Linda 12/19 – Bullard 12/19
Yet another tied game that ended up tied in overtime play. It was eventually won by Rio in a kick off.

After two back to back games that went into overtime, I was a tired puppy but happy.
I did notice that the level of play by all the teams that showed up was fairly high. This bodes well for the future of 7s rugby.

RENO ZEPHYRS 55 – Bishop, CA 12 Referee: Phil Ulibarri
TJs: Corey Lott and Nelo Lui

Most Bishop players drove into Reno on Friday night in order to get underway earlier than usual on a Rugby Day and beat-the-heat. But, even at 11:30 a.m., the temperature was hovering between 95 and 100 F. Thank goodness the pitch was Terrace Park which is located at the base of Peavine Mountain. So a steady 5-10 mph wind kept players relatively cool.

3/20s were agreed on at the coin toss and Reno kicked downwind to Bishop to open the first stanza. The young Bishop team – while enthusiastic – was no match for the experienced Zephyr 15, even though neither a game plan nor strategy played any part in the Reno win. A dislocated shoulder suffered by Bishop’s touring player from Punta Arenas, Chile, was the only injury on the day. The final tally added up 55 - 12.

After a sweaty 60 minutes in the dry heat at 4,500 ft, burgers, dogs, chicken and ice cold beverages were welcomed by everyone.

Mendocino Round Robin Tourney
Report by Mike King:

At least one side had to cancel, so this Mid-Summer event involved 3 sides: host Mendocino, new club Sons of Jefferson, and the Hooligans select side. It was decided to follow the format of some other round robin events and play 20 minute halves, each team to play one direction, then switch at 20 and go off the pitch after 2 halves. I was fortunate enough to ref several halves with Hooligan player-coach and Pelican ref, Sean Peters, covering the final stanza.

For a while it seemed it would turn into a hot afternoon, but the weather stayed very pleasant. Every side got in some good time and each side got on the board with scoring during the round-robin. The actual play was quite organized given the time since last regular competition and the baptism of many new players on the Sons of Jefferson. It is always heartening to see a new club continue to battle under fire, and improve during the course of the competition. Well played by all.


Your writer attended the Referee and Laws committee meeting in Birmingham, Ala, last weekend, at the Olympic Training Center at the Lakeshore Foundation .

Rugby has been welcomed to the family of Olympic sports and now can share in some pretty good deals for room, board, and training and meeting facilities.

It was good to see Pelicus Epicuris, Ron Myers, in attendance as the new chairman of the PCRRS.

The Quad Rugby team was in residence at Lakeshore. After their coach and one of their top refs came to speak to the group, it was decided to have an early-enough dinner to attend their scrimmages that evening.

These guys, the current World Champions, are preparing for a tournament in Brazil next month, and then of course the Paralympics are in London next August.

They have a motto – ‘Smashing stereotypes one hit at a time’.

To qualify, the athlete has to have neurologic or anatomic (amputations, birth defects) in at least three extremities. One of the best players on the USA team is a quadruple-amputee, having had above-the-knee and above-the-elbow amputations all around. But ah! – he can move his torso and leverage his hips, which gives him an advantage over those with cervical injuries.

You’ve got to love a sport that allows a fellow who might evoke pity on the street to be Quade Cooper, reading the defense, outhustling everyone, putting in his hits, seeing the field as it will be a few seconds hence and scoring almost at will.

It obviously has nothing to do with rugby except that it's a hard-core sport. But they obviously feel the bond and now, so do we.


Saturday, August 13: Samoan Flag Day tournament, fifteen-a-side, in San Francisco

Saturday, August 20: Sac Lions Sevens at Witter Ranch Park in Sacramento

Saturday, August 27: Peroni Capital Tens at Danny Nunn Park in Sacramento

Saturday, September 3: Bloomfield Cup, men and women fifteens in the South Bay
(This will be a two-day tournament. Not sure if the other day will be Friday yet.)

The women’s cup season also begins on September 3 with the Triple Threat hosting the SF Fog.

Saturday, Sept. 10: Tri-Tip Sevens in San Luis Obispo. Rooms provided Friday and Saturday night, within walking distance of Saturday’s post-match pub crawl.
Also: Amazons hosting Lady Razorbacks

Saturday, Sept. 17: Amazons – West Bay Angels

Saturday, Sept. 24: Triple Threat – ORSU

Saturday, October 1: Chico State alumni games. Lots ‘o rugby.

East Bay Refs Society - Copy (1024x768)
On the occasion of David Williamson stepping down as our REO, the East Bay chapter of the NCRRS had a dinner at Crogan’s in Walnut Creek:

Standing, left to right: Chris Nolan, John Cullom, John Coppinger, Rich Anderson, Helen Marcus, Rob Hendrickson, Bryant Byrnes, Eric Rauscher (foreground).

Seated: Guest of honor


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris