Friday, July 27, 2012




They bestrode the rugby landscape as colossi. They intimidated, they dominated, they ate the opposition. They were the stuff of legend as much as of fact, and the facts were legendary. They were the Grizzlies, the finest select-sides in USA rugby history.

They monopolized Eagle selections at every level, men and women, girls and boys. They won the Grizzly’s share of inter-territorial events over the decades.

The species lives on but its members are aging and will not reproduce. It is time to celebrate and commemorate these high-achievers, to appreciate a chapter in American rugby history that is not to be repeated.

If you played for the Grizzlies, or refereed for the Pacific Coast as a Territorial referee, or just enjoyed the rugby that these teams played, plan to be at the San Francisco/Golden Gate clubhouse on Saturday evening, August 4.

If you will have been at Sheeran Field watching the men’s and women’s USA National Sevens Club Championships that day, all the better!


We can’t tell you how happy we are that Sevens has become the normal expression of rugby this time of year. Your writer played rugby for six years before he ever HEARD of sevens, and then fell in love with it at first exposure at the 1980 Palo Alto event.

For the next thirty years there were 4-6 tournaments per summer in Northern California. In 1999, I thought I’d set some sort of record, refereeing 14 tournaments in one year, most of them after flying off in all directions, and all of them at my own expense.

But now – we’ve had 4-5 tournaments on some weekends in here Pelicanland. And the college season hasn’t even started!

Born too soon – by about thirty years. I should have been my own son.


Friday, July 27, 6 PM, at Sheeran Field:
NCYRA High-school Pelicans – British Columbia U17 Referee: Jordan Bruno
This should be a barn-burner. It is a rubber match, of sorts.

The Pelicans lost to the Mainland BC team last month and then defeated the (Vancouver) Island team, both on the road. Now they host the combined forces of Canada’s strongest rugby province.

Jordan may need ARs. The game deserves fourth officials as well, should you have a Friday evening free.

Saturday, July 28:
Final iteration of the Palo Alto summer series, with women and high school tournaments beginning at 8:30, followed by men’s club and college teams playing in the afternoon. We need ten-twelve refs for this one.

If you’d like to work either AM or PM, let us know and we can accommodate you. However, be advised that we tend to get half a dozen refs who want to leave in the afternoon, leaving the stalwarts to do three games after three PM, that sort of thing. So, we could use refs who only want to work in the afternoon to balance things out.

Plus, that puts you in position for the picnic and adult beverages.

This is probably the brainchild of a tight-five player. A moment of silence for several such previous ideas…

Why not old boys sevens, out of season, at altitude?

Actually, this sounds like fun. With the shine that Rugby Sevens has attained since it was announced that the games of Mount Olympus would appropriately enough include the Game Played in Heaven, even the tight-five are envious of the fleet-footed lads who get to play all year round.

This looks to be a hoot. We’ve got one ref and could use one or two more – guessing here that high-end pace will only be needed to get to the front of the serving line afterwards.

Sunday, July 29:
The NCYRA completes its summer series with a championship event in Dixon. This is well-organized and features many of the best young players in the USA – and Canada this time. The BC tourists from Friday’s feature match will be participating.


Report by Stephen Valerio:

Referees: Anthony Nguyen, Ray Schwartz, Stephen Valerio, Eric Rauscher, Matthew Le Merle, John Van Der Wahl, with Dave Williamson herding the cats.

For those of us who have been watching the High School 7’s this summer, the improvement in the skills has been appreciable. There was some good rugby on hand in Corte Madera where 11 sides descended and the shade tent was appreciated, along with the Highlander’s hospitality. There were 3 round-robin divisions played on 2 pitches. The Varsity Boys’ bracket was tightly contested with Bellarmine, Dixon and Marin all posting 3-1 records. Dixon took the championship (based on point differential) in the final match beating the previously undefeated Marin side 24-14. The matches were also notable for the mutual respect between the different teams, and the clubs should be proud of the way they conducted themselves.

Dixon’s success continued in the Junior Varsity bracket where they swept the pool. In the Varsity Girls’ Pool went to Danville which swept their 2 matches.

Varsity Boys
Champions: Dixon
Bellarmine 31/Sierra Foothill 10
Marin 28/ Sierra Foothill 5
Marin 28/Danville 19
Bellarmine 14/Danville 7
Dixon 31/Sierra Foothill 7
Dixon 29/Danville 14
Marin 12/Bellarmine 5
Bellarmine 22/Dixon 21
Dixon 24/Marin 14
Danville ?/Sierra Foothill ?

Varsity Girls
Champions: Danville
Danville 17/Pleasanton 7
Dixon 17/Pleasanton 17
Danville 32/Dixon 7

Junior Varsity
Champions: Dixon
Marin 28/Danville 12
Dixon 19/Danville 5
Dixon 32/Marin 5

Report by Cary Bertolone

Refs: Mike King, Sean Peters and Cary Bertolone
Approximately 30 rugby players converged at For Pete's Sake on Saturday. Despite the 96 degree weather, enough tents were erected to make the afternoon enjoyable.

Three games started the afternoon, with Rosa winning two and Redwood taking one game.

A game of Tens then took place and everyone got plenty of rugby.

The Luau was off the charts fabulous with Hawaiian dancers doing the entertaining for the last two hours. Food galore and a good time was had by all!!


Five teams participated in the second iteration of the Fog Sevens this summer, on a warm but windy day at the Job Corps pitch on Treasure Island.

The host Fog welcomed the Seahawks, the West Bay Angels, and two sides representing the All Blues, who had another side doing well in Glendale, Colo., at the same time.

Referees were Preston Gordon, Tony Levitan, Bruce Bernstein and Bruce Carter. A good time was had by all.


Old Puget Sound Beach and the Olympic Club advanced to the nationals, which will be next weekend.

Golden Gate will host the finals, but lost to O Club in the semis to miss out on their own party. The third time was the charm for Matt Sherman’s team, who scored two tries pretty much off the bat and then that was that.

SFGG defeated the Sacramento Lions to claim third - but only SoCal has three seeds to the nationals this time around.


Saturday-Sunday, August 4-5:
USA Rugby club sevens championships (men and women) at SFGG

Saturday, August 18:
Chico Sevens

Saturday, August 25:
Fifteens tournament in Reno


The picture is a little grainy, and not as clear as it might be, befitting something as rare as a photo purporting to show Nessie or Sasquatch or the Four Bruces.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, July 18, 2012




A handful of years ago we had four sevens tournaments per summer. Now we have four per Saturday. And so, of course, we need refs.

High School Sevens at Corte Madera: two pitches, thirty games
Fog Women Sevens at Treasure Island
For Pete’s Sake Luau Sevens in Santa Rosa
Pacific Coast Qualifier at Sheeran Field

If you’re carrying an injury or simply would rather not referee sevens but can help out, we could use in-goal judges and fourth officials at the qualifier. This one will be brutal: the Pacific Coast only has two slots in the national event, and Serevi will be here with OPSB and should take one of them.

That leaves a lot of good sides to fight for the other.

Report by Bruce Bernstein

Pretty hard to put in words how nice the refs from Alberta treated me (although I was warned) & the beauty of the Canadian Rockies which I went between two tournaments first in Calgary & then Edmonton. From the second I got picked up at the airport by Jay Macdonald to the minute Sandy Nesbit dropped me off.

Did the Calgary Stampede 7's both Friday evening plus all day Saturday with nice ref parties after each day & then ventured to the "tourny party" at Ranchman's celebrating the Stampede festivities. The 2nd weekend I did an U-18 & 16 Boys & Girls Allstar tourny in Edmonton.

In between I spent 5 days going to & from Banff, Lake Louise & Jasper, all high in the Rockies which had unusually hot weather while I was there. But it didn't stop me from hitting 2 hot springs, going mountain biking, hiking & driving to see incredible canyons, waterfalls, lookouts & glaciers.

I highly recommend this incredible exchange to anyone who has not been up there; & to meet some of the Alberta refs when they're here for the KOT Tourny in Sacto in January. Thanks for the experience & exchange!


The props in sevens want to grab each other instead of their hooker, so that the hooker can bind underneath their shoulders (rather than over) and slip out easier, like a number eight.

They can’t do this.

Sure, the hooker can bind under – a hooker could do this in fifteens should the mood strike.

This ruse happens every sevens tournament, every sevens game, and it’ll happen every scrum if you let it. But scrum players are required to bind onto a teammate, and this isn’t binding.

Last week we had a referee challenge the prohibition against props ‘binding’ each other, saying, “Where it is in the law book?”

Glad he asked:

“When a player binds on a team-mate that player must use the whole arm from hand to shoulder to grasp the team-mate’s body at or below the level of the armpit. Placing only a hand on another player is not satisfactory binding.”

So, I’m a tighthead prop. My left shoulder is against my hooker. My left hand is grasping the shirt of my loosehead. To whom am I bound?

Not to the hooker – my hand isn’t grasping him. Not to the prop – my shoulder is not against him.

Answer: I’m not bound to anyone; I’m not bound at all. I’m not participating in the scrum – I was never bound in!

Penalty against me. And penalty against any referee who doesn’t read the Definitions when studying the Laws.


If you would like to be part of an attempt to make the Guinness Book of World Records, mark your calendar for Reno beginning Friday, September 14 at 6 PM. To succeed, the effort will have to last until about 7 PM on Saturday, the 15th.

This will be for the longest rugby match ever played. It has to be played using the normal number of players (maximum of 23 per side), but the Guinness regulations do not speak to the officiating – so we can rotate refs.

(There is a glitch in the regs that perhaps we shouldn’t point out, but this is the way referees think: the requirements specify that the number of players has to conform to the sport’s normal maximum AND minimum.

(Well, the minimum is five. They could play five-on-five in four shifts and get plenty of rest. But we’re guessing the kind of rugger who wants to go for this sort of record doesn’t want to take advantage of loop-holes and rest.)

Lots of chances here for refs to set records as well: highest penalty count, most score cards required, most advantages-gained, etc.

This could be a chance to fly the Pelican flag high. Think about it, and let us know if you’d like to be a part.

July 14
Report by Ray Schwartz

Mt. Shasta 7s - Dunsmuir
Refs: Sean Peters, Ray Schwartz, Kevin Brown, Bo Kaihau

Nice green and spongy pitch (barely 50 meters wide), surrounded by trees and beyond them mountains. Just over the hill, the Dunsmuir Botanic Gardens (site of the after party), the Sacramento River and sweet flyfishing.

6 teams came out to compete: Shasta. Mendocino, the Highwayman, State of Jefferson, Oregon Institute of Technology and Rogue River (I had never even heard of hese last 3 clubs!). Bo and I traveled up from Sacramento, knowing the weather would be sweet and Bo would have lots of learning opportunities. He reffed (4) 7s matches, then scored a try in the Old Boys match that concluded the play. Some good players and fine spirits on display.

July 14

The flock responded commendably to the call to arms last Saturday: we had four refs in Dunsmuir, four at SFGG, and twelve at Palo Alto.

A six-team Pacific Coast qualifier was played to select three teams for the nationals, which will be hosted August 4-5 by SFGG. These games were played on field one while the high school bracket was played out on field two, with the sixteen-team men’s tournament beginning just after noon.

Seattle Breakers upset the All Blues in the final to take their top seed, with Seattle Mudhens securing the third entry by defeating the Sacramento Amazons. We were able to provide teams of five for these key games.

In the men’s competition, there is a fair amount of parity at the top. At the first iteration, in June, EPA Bulldogs came top. But this time they were in a pool with and lost to both rivals EPA Razorbacks and the West Coast Elite, who played each other to a tie.

The Elite seem to be Bay Area residents who go to college in Oregon. (This is a conclusion that was jumped to, not the result of any sort of investigative endeavor. And no, the fact-checker was not involved.)

The weather was perfect. The rugby was fast and friendly. John Tyler wasn’t there and things ran smoothly. (They also run smoothly when he’s there.) The refs enjoyed it all.

July 14

No report received, but reports that SFGG took the final over the Bay Area Vipers.

July 7
Report by Eric Rauscher

Job Corps field, a little chilly with the wind. Field was an interesting mixture of swampy sections with mosquito larvae swimming around and baked hard savanna. Refs that showed up to do games Eric Rauscher 2. Mike King 2, Sam Davis 3, and Stephen Valerio 3. The teams; SF Fog, San Jose/Reno, West Bay Angels, All Blues A, All Blues B. Games in order as follows. Unknown scores because I left before those games were played.
SF Fog 5 / San Jose Reno 14
West Bay 0 / All Blues A 41
San Jose 5 / All Blues B 17
All Blues A 19 / SF Fog 0
West Bay 5 / All Blues B 26
All Blues A 43 / San Jose 0
SF Fog 34 / West Bay 5
All Blues B ? / All Blues A ?
San Jose 22 / West Bay 5
All Blues B ? / SF Fog ?
No body walked away with a goose egg over-all, and the All Blues both A and B were pretty dominant. The West Bay Angels were pretty unstoppable 20 meters from goal, they just weren't there very often. Mike King and I both did two games and left to help out over at SFGG, leaving the final three games in the capable hands of Steve and Sam.

July 7

Tom Zanarini, Preston Gordon, Matt Hetterman, Bruce Carter, Gene Baker with guest appearances by Mike King, Eric Rauscher, and Stephen Valerio

July 7
Robla Park, Sacramento
Report by Ray Schwartz

Refs: Chris Tucker, Bo Kaihau, Anthony Nguyen, Bruce Ricard, Ray Schwartz

Hot and getting hotter all day, but a gentle breeze kept the temp below 100. Sac Lions won their tourney, over San Mateo. EPA Bulldogs and Razorbacks were also strong reaching the semis. UC Davis, River City, Sac Lions IIs, and two strong high school sides rounded out the field. Very good rugby, played in good spirits, all day long, but for an odd moment here and there.

Anthony, Bruce and I reffed most of the games, and each had a player run into us deliberately, or so these isolated incidents seemed. I'm a big guy, and merely chuckled mine off, but Anthony got wacked on the shin and had to sit out a bit, while Bruce had to award a red card in the final to a San Mateo player.

I reffed a semi between the Bulldogs and the Lions that came down to a tie, 21-21. The best ref on the pitch, Sione Tanoa, playing for the Lions, scored a minute into sudden death to advance.

Sunday, July 8

Report by Eric Rauscher
Sunday at Dixon. Not enough refs. I set a personal best doing 9 1/2 games. Not to boast, just to be glad I can do it. Chris Dempster (now at Cal Poly SLO) and I were assigned to the two pitches at the nearby Middle School and proceeded to do back to back games with the occasional relief from a coach or from Ron Salabar. Chris came out to relieve me half way through a third game in a row. After that, we went back over to the main sight and did a couple more. All in all I am pretty impressed with the level of play of most of the high school students. This can only bode well for the future of rugby in America.

A few more refs next time would be nice.

[Editor’s Note: Next time is Sunday, July 29, for the NCYRA Championships.]

Report by David Williamson
On a sizzling summer Sunday, Dixon hosted nearly 80 youth and high school 7s matches.

The 5 Pelicans--Anthony Nguyen, Eric Rauscher, Ray Schwartz, Neil MacDonald, and Mark Godfrey--were stretched to the breaking point to cover matches taking place on six fields. Fortunately, approximately 10 coaches and players (both adults and students) were persuaded to pick up the whistle--even if they didn't have one. Three refs used mine.

An even larger tournament is planned for Sunday, July 29. Pelicans are encouraged to attend. Good food plus cold water is provided, plus $25 for refereeing 2 or more matches.


Saturday, July 28:
Palo Alto Sevens
Tight-Five Sevens at SFGG

Sunday, July 29:
Youth Sevens championships, Dixon

Saturday-Sunday, August 4-5:
USA Rugby club sevens championships (men and women) at SFGG

Just Added:
Saturday, August 18:
Chico Sevens

Saturday, August 25:
Fifteens tournament in Reno


Sean Peters, Ray Schwartz, Kevin Brown and Bo Kaihau in front of Mt. Shasta at the Dunsmuir Sevens.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Monday, July 09, 2012




A lovely Saturday evening found the flock at Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek for an impossible event: the celebration of the end of a season that never ends.

Pete Smith demonstrated his stand-up talents in presenting our awards and putting down the occasional would-be heckler.

Annual Awards:
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jordan Bruno. Jordan did a handful of games last year, but this year was a regular and worked his way up to men’s D1.

MOST IMPROVED: Phil Akroyd. You don’t have to be a beginner to get a lot better. Phil, already on the national stage, demonstrated a leap of confidence and competence.

AMBASSADOR OF THE SOCIETY: James Hinkin. Taking your billet to Beach Blanket Babylon is a perfect example of what this award is about. Imagine the pub we will get for years to come from that visitor!

PELICAN OF THE YEAR: Chris Tucker. Taking more responsibility in more areas of referee management, always volunteering and being willing to change assignments to take on that opening for that ‘sick’ ref which always happens to be in a remote city, and for never being that ‘sick’ ref – lots of good qualities made Chris the winner.

SCRIPTORIS AWARD: JC van Staden. When the editor smiles at the stories and wishes he’d had that game himself, that’s good writing.

TJ/AR OF THE YEAR: Ron DeCausemaker. An assistant referee could merely take the best game, or the one nearest his home. But a dedicated AR asks, “Where do you need me?”

BRYAN PORTER AWARD: David Williamson. Having won also in 2009, David has since re-doubled his efforts to help as many referees as possible improve through his coaching and evaluation. If you had a written report in the past year, there’s about a one-third chance that David wrote it.

Special Award:
DIXON SMITH AWARD: David Williamson
Dixon presents this award when he feels someone has demonstrated sustained involvement, commitment and excellence, in a variety of roles, to the NCRRS. It isn’t won in a year – it’s won in a career. And it doesn’t mean the career is over, by any means!


Please let us know if you can help at any of these events:

Saturday, July 7:
Jackpot Sevens in Reno – no refs at present

SF Fog women’s Sevens – two refs so far

SFGG Sevens – three refs at the moment

Sacramento Lions Sevens – one ref on the roster

Each of these is played on the single pitch, so three refs is the minimum workable number. We hope you can help out.

Sunday, July 8:
Youth Sevens in Dixon
This event featured seventy-something games two weeks ago, and the refs did seven or eight games each. The doctor said there’s only one cure: more refs.


The Palo Alto summer series kicked off with games starting on both pitches one minute ahead of schedule, at 8:29 AM.

The new format was a hit: high school and women’s teams in the morning, men in the afternoon. Everyone got the same three games as always, but they were played over three or four hours instead of eight or ten. This also effectively doubled the number of parking spots, as each could be used twice, and reduced crowding in the team and spectator areas.

The refs, of course, are happy being there all day, and an eleven of us were:
Bruce Bernstein, Cary Bertolone, Bruce Carter, James Hinkin, Tony Levitan, Stephen Moore, Eric Rauscher, Bruce Ricard, Brad Richey, Pete Smith and Chris Tucker.

Sam Davis and Chris Labozzetta also attended, Sam to peddle, Chris to play.

This event continues on July 14 and 28.

The Nesquik Series began at Sheeran Field on Treasure Island, with SFGG hosting a twelve-team event.

By on-line reports, the hosts and Olympic Club looked to have the better of this first iteration. The series continues on July 7 and 14.

The referees are featured in this week’s photo.


The USA Under-20 team won the Junior World Rugby Trophy in Salt Lake City this past week, running the table and defeating Japan in probably the best game this writer has seen any USA team have.

This is competent, committed rugby with none of those let-down moments that make you wonder if the Eagles will ever beat anyone more highly-rated.

Here are the first and second half. It’s less than a professional job – you need to familiarize yourself with the players since there’s no commentary. The scrumhalf is an NCYRA referee: Nick Boyer, who plays at Cal. St. Mary’s’s Kingsley McGowan on the right wing scores a beautiful try through heavy traffic.

Celebrate the Fourth! Get your red, white and blue on.


Saturday, July 14:
Palo Alto Sevens
Mt. Shasta Sevens
SFGG Sevens

Saturday, July 21:
New this week: For Pete’s Sake Youth Luau Sevens
SF Fog women’s Sevens
Marin Highlanders high-school Sevens
PCRFU Qualifier Sevens for the nationals, Treasure Island

Saturday, July 28:
Palo Alto Sevens

Sunday, July 29:
Youth Sevens championships, Dixon

Saturday-Sunday, August 4-5:
USA Rugby club sevens championships (men and women) at SFGG

Saturday, August 25:
Fifteens tournament in Reno


Phil Akroyd, Jordan Bruno, Tom Zanarini, Ray Schwartz, new-guy Matt Hetterman, and George O'Neil at the Nesquik Sevens, showing off our latest green jerseys.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris