Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick Tangents and Long Meetings

1. SO several weeks ago I played a quarter of a match against the All Blues. As previously mentioned I got the snot knocked out of me in scrums resulting in a number of reset scrums. After the game a tall ridiculously fit lock gave me a chiding for all the discomfort I was causing in the Berkeley scrum (discomfort from resetting a million and a half times). I didn't recognize her but she was definitely an elite level athlete so I just tucked the incident away into memory for a later date. Long story short I think it might be Chris Trucano of the Twin City Amazons. Which would be frickin to be uh kinda insulted by the...alright anyhoo moving on.

2. the ABs won against ORSU up in Portland, Davis Double Deckers beat Fog, and the ABs are playing a friendly against the Minnesota Valkyries which I'm totally stoked on going to see (on sat) and will play a league match against fog on Sunday. Fog will also be playing ORSU on Saturday.

3. ugh the meeting with the rookies was poorly organized and dragged on. Oh well a couple of people were stoked.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

First Practice and New Coaching Roles

It's a weird experience overstaying one's visit. Last thursday was the first practice of the season (vets only) and there were 13 of us standing out there. We had a few missing but shit almighty if it wasn't weird waiting for the senior corps to roll around half an hour late. All the people who just frickin ARE rugby to was bizarre. The chemistry of the group is different, more serious, less joking around. Eh I guess it had to go in that direction but it's damn weird seeing so many serious faces on the first day of practice in preseason.

We did some lines, some rucks, poaching drills, pop tackling drills and ended with a wonky fitness thinga-ma-bob [(sprint, push-ups, sprint, sit-ups,)x2 +hill sprint + run through sand + kick accurately + bear crawl back - from where the ball hit the dirt]. Uh yea. Since there were 13 people I was kinda odd man out and I talked to my coach about helping coach in fall because it's not really set if they want me to play or not. (Two of our vet props won't be playing for fall and we don't necessarily have a hooker either) but obviously it'd be advantageous to be safe and train someone for each open spot. Conversely it might be helpful to have structure + a vet in the front row. So we'll see how it plays out. Plus I tweaked my shoulder somehow so I'm resting that up.

Coaching-wise I'm trying to make an effort to give specific tips to improve technique issues rather then trying to convince players of the importance of doing or not doing an action. Basically I'm a pair of extra eyes.

I've done a bit of outside fitness lifting and such on Wednesday and then played a round of basketball. Worked on Friday and tossed thousands of boxes (weeee that burned the hell out of my arms). Didn't really work out this weekend 'cause it's the first weekend I've had free basically all summer. I'm stoked for my classes so far but I've got class right after practice so I'll have to leave early. Dammit oh well. We've got some sort of meeting today with the rookies...dunno what the fucks gonna be fact I don't think anyone does. It's rather frustrating but you gotta give the kids the leash and let 'em run with it. *sigh* Occasionally I don't think they've heard the phrase "If it ain't broke don't fix it". Yea we only got 3rd last year but we've won league the last five, and pac coast the last three years, and had been doing a fairly good job retaining rookies considering the size limits of our club structure. At least learn and consider the previous system before you start tearing it down. *double sigh* One more quarter....

ps fog just posted this with clips of their game against the Davis Double Deckers WRFC

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rugby Recruiting, Stereotypes, Team Structure, and Dues

First off I've been doing a lot better staying off my computer and keeping active. Yesterday was my last day of work so I made it a race to see how many fix-it tickets I could finish in my half day (14). They were ALL third floor problems *grumble* I hate college 8 kids *in a whiny tone* "ummm so like I bought this shelf can you help me assemble it? " NO! "Ummmmm likeeee sooooo we want a second fridge" ok....go out and buy one! Arghh it's only been three days and they've already screwed the paint job we worked on all summer long. I could complain forever. It's over. Done. Alright new topic...

I only worked a half day yesterday since it was our schools fall festival (where clubs compete with sororities + frats to save their souls jk jk) uh but yea it was personally disheartening to see what my school is transforming into. Ugh where are the hippies!? This is UC Santa Cruz! Where are my smelly vegan hippies at?! Where are my die-hard extreme eco-terrorist political activists?! Where are my spiritually centered sustainable I compost my own crap farming folks? Where are the people who can walk out the door without an hour and a half MINIMUM of makeup + hair??? Where are my sensitive uber-otaku nerds at?! Ykno I don't actually mind the sororities we currently have, they're actually pretty cool and empathetic and it was a little sad that they were falling in with us in agreeing that Santa Cruz is making a turn for the worst. I'm allowed to be a little bitter, I caught a lot of stick today. It sucks promoting a sport where there is no body type and gah @(*#)&@*# it just pissed me off. Yea they're freshmen but c'mon...wake're going to college...being an ignorent asshole just doesn't cut it to be cool. Just some fun sample quotes. "OH Noooooo rugby is too intense *giggle*"...and as they're walking away "sHe'd snap me in half...*heehee* He'd snap me in half" Or how every third guy would be like "women's rugby no thanks *hahaha*" and a couple of guys would say "well if you count as a woman I guess I could play women's rugby". Yea...normally it slides off the back but 4 1/2 hours of that..yea it sucked.

Got a number of enthusiastic rookies but we'll once again see how it'll turn out. Man I wish I could stay another year. But I'll get over it...I'm sure. It sounds exciting this year with more teams in our league. Pre-season should be fun though, we've got a number of good D1 matches lined up (Stanford and Davis for sure) plus scrum by the sea. We had a scrambled meeting that was basically a re-iteration of a meeting that I wasn't invited to. I'm skeptical but uninvolved in the new power-structure. Before last year we never voted for captains. They just stepped up. I'm a politics major...I'm not really down for democracy in all situations. Anyhoo just curious what other collegiate clubs do. (and I'm really doubtful of voting for a captain, field captain especially before practice has even started). MEh. They're club not mine.

I paid dues, 30 bucks for a collegiate player and 20 for Pac Coast Territorial Union. I can't recall what our club dues are but I'm sure I'll be reminded of it sooner rather then later. I want to do a survey/some research to see what kind of dues that the different levels of rugby charge. Breaking down women's senior club to the proposed super league, d1 regionally, and dii. Yea it'll take some footwork and I got distracted looking at the New York Roster...I'm such a sucker for a well maintained web-site.

Important side-note! Alex Williams (Berkeley All Blues Head Coach)is running another one of her collegiate/high school developmental camps early in January. You should read up on Alex William's Rugby Camp and email her on the contacts page to tell her you're interested. I went to this last summer and it was awesome! Meeting players from all over (as well as a number of u-23 eagles preparing for their tour to NZ) and learning from some of the best coaches and players in the nation! Yea just go alright!

Fitness-wise I was pretty drained after opers but I still went through my handling practice. Twenty-five static passes a side (still working on turning my damn shoulders towards the target and passing across the chest). Also worked on 5 dummy and then a back flick pass. 5 Dummy and then that weird 7s pass around + behind your head. Lastly I did fifteen dummy and pass.

Today I'm lifting light weights (gotta work on my hamstring and surrounding muscle) and then a pool workout. And painting our new janky home-made scrum machine...we'll see how it works out. Our old backs coach designed it...ehhhhh....yes...optimism.

Monday, September 22, 2008


will no longer be my enemy. I can do a lot of cool things when I'm fit. I want to be fit so I can have more fun playing rugby. So I'm going to *gasp* spend less time on my computer. I don't want to be the most out of shape player on the team. I want to be able to lead by example. Yep. Heh we'll see how this works out. Well I'm off to get my heart rate up. Tomorrow is my last day of work. OPERS the annual recruit rookie-a-thon is tomorrow. It's lead by the next gen of kids...we'll see what comes out of that. Alright I'm stalling but I want to survey the teams of goffs proposed women's super league and see what their rookie and member dues are. A project for another night.

**Radio Edit** I practiced fifty static passes (splitting them half with my r and l)with my new favorite passing partner (ie the random broken anchored hanging umbrella in my backyard) while chasing and picking the dribbled ball that results from a successful pass (also working on the novel idea of passing across the chest, looking before I pass, turning my shoulders and keeping my hips square ahead, and making sure my follow through is pointing at the target). Got warmed up a bit with a few dynamic stretches then headed off on a twenty minute bike-a-thon changing pace and direction around west side SC. I made two stops to do some circuit training in well lit areas. The first one was just 10 push ups and the second stop was shoulder pressing a rugby ball size hunk of concrete, 2x10 for each arm and 2x10 bicep curls with it. Yea...I did just spend more time describing the exercise then doing the exercise...damnit! *sigh* Whatever it was good to get my heart rate up for thirty minutes. (not that I don't get a workout dragging ladders and furniture (+tools) around an entire college 10 hours a day =p

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Berkeley All Blues vs Emerald City Mudhens

aka starstruck day 2. Well I managed to be less starstruck then the last time I saw an All Blues match and as a result I remembered a bit more about the rugby this time around....granted it helped not getting rocked on the pitch. It was another who's who-fest on the sidelines with Jen Crawford (who has been to 3 world cups and and eagle captain aka Berkeley's super-experienced backs coach with 23 caps), Laura Cabrera (hella experienced eagle), Lisa Butts (current Davis captain? and eagle and world cup reserve hooker/flanker) and more I'm sure.

Wow...even in a team of Berkeley's caliber Blair makes and impact. The way that she targets the binds of players, ducks under tackles, with her pace, power, and work rate she was really part of the lube that kept the ABs ticking over with tries. With Blair in first pod and Street in 2nd the ABs had a powerful attacking platform off of lineouts. Emerald city seemed to hold their own on their own scrums keeping the ABs from using it to its full potential (in the second half the mudhens occasionally got a drive on berkeley but not in time to affect the unleashing of the all blue backs). Ashley English was on the pitch at fullback linking up with Natalie Marchino (for some reason the usa rugby stat site has her under Nathalie...?) at wing for some spectacular tries. The All Blues were doing a great job hitting everything at pace and playing multi-phase rugby. The kicks by both teams were well placed and props has to be given to the Mudhens pack and fullback (who I'll figure out her name eventually) for their tenacity. Near the middle of the second half the mudhens had the ABs pinned in their own twenty-two for a good amount of time, putting them under pressure as their forwards doggedly kept driving the ball to within inches of the tryline. Unfortunately due to an eventual mistake and infringement by the mudhens (can't remember if it was for coming in from the side or diving over the ruck) but the ABs were able to clear the line and the mudhens didn't really get another good scoring opportunity after that.

Injury-wise Stephanie Bruce or Ruth Bryson had to go on for the other but I really have a hard time telling them apart so I can't tell you what was going on with that. One of them made an amazing 60 yard breakaway but was tackled from behind just as she made the tryline and was injured in the process. Chou had to go out when she took a knee to the eye socket at which point Mari Wallace moved to prop and that east coast hooker that I played against at pumpkinfest (Audrie? Something like that) came in at 2. The ELVs didn't really come into play as far as I can see (it's hard to judge whether the added space behind the set piece is really affecting anything) but there was one quick lineout that was done in a spectacular fashion. For the whole game she had been sprinting into the fans to retrieve kicked balls and I thought she was just trying to keep the game moving. Well next thing you know the mudhens take a floating high ball into touch from their half and Marchino is a blur into the crowd taking the ball mid-flight (and nearly taking out a spectator who was stepping forward to catch the ball) and throwing it in rather flat to Ashley English who preceded to open up the unprepared mudhen defense (it was a hair backwards and not where the ball went into touch but behind it...which is why I brought up the ELVs). Apparently the rule only counts if a spectator hasn't touched the ball yet hence her full body dive to prevent the spectator from touching the ball...this kinda sounds like a grey area law but I'll email a ref and post an update if I'm wrong. Oh and street was awesome off of scrums and harrying the opposing scrum-half...the first scrum of the game she wrapped the 9 so fast she was unable to even pass the ball to her backs.

Final Score ABs won a lot to 0. The game was played in two halves and I'll post the official pelican refs score later. The match took place on the goose-poop pitch on Treasure Island.

Oh and I talked to Lisa Butts (2 full caps) after the game to get a bit of a scoop on the new Davis team. Apparently they played an extra third against Berkeley because Sacramento (amazons I assume) canceled a match against the ABs last Sunday. The team was mostly made up of chico + davis alum with some chico state players filling up the ranks. They have a number of u-23 players (grizzlies I think) and they actually held berkeley to 38-0 during the first game and only conceded the rest of the points in the extra third. Berkeley didn't even score a try until the 23rd minute of the match (which after seeing Berkeley in action the last couple of weeks is a pretty mean feat on it's own). Once again a really strong start for a teams first match against last year's national champions (Lisa Butts of course used to play for the Berkeley All Blues and helped them on that road to victory).

Well next week in Norcal Rugby...the ABs are flying up to Portland for a match against ORSU (I assume) and the Davis Double Deckers are playing Fog somewhere in San Francisco! Specific...I know! Hehe anyhoo hopefully I'll be there and I can get a better hold of this new tough team in Norcal women's club rugby.

ps total sidenotes...didn't know that Street (Allyson Hemstreet)and Natalie Marchino are the captains of the All Blues. And rookie dues for the All Blues run $75 bucks and returning vets are ~100+ bucks. Yup.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Getting Schooled and Cleaning up my room

ALL BLUES 59 – Belmont Shore 7 Referee: Preston Gordon
Assistant Referee: Eric Rauscher

Because SFGG's main pitch is being re-seeded, this took place at the Job Corps field a little further up the island. We kicked off just after 12:30 for 4 20-minute periods with open subs, as requested by the coaches. The opening quarter of the game was fairly even, with both sides working off a little summertime rust. The All Blues did a little better with support play and passing, and ended up with 4 converted tries by halftime. Belmont Shore did well but couldn't quite match their opponents.

The second half was about the same, and the All Blues scored 5 tries, 3 of which were converted. Belmont Shore put one across the line towards the end of the match through some good recycling, and converted it, leaving the scoreline at 59-7 to the All Blues. I think that flatters the winners a bit though - this match wasn't really that lopsided.

This was the first match under the ELVs for everyone on the pitch, myself included. I thought everything went pretty well - the 5 extra meters of space at scrum time seems to create more attacking opportunities. I don't recall many of the others having an impact either way.

Thanks to Eric Rauscher, who showed up to touch judge, or rather, be an assistant referee. He and I stuck around to assist Don with the first half of the SFGG-Greggs match that happened right afterwards. That was a great game (36-32 at the half) and I would have stuck around for the rest of it had I not had family waiting for me. Next week's match should be a cracker!

yup...I know it's a slow repost...I've been working 60+ hrs a week and yea it's got me all muddled. The game against the All Blues was awesome...I was only in for a quarter but it was so cool playing against the who's who list of world cup players, eagles, and u-23 eagles. Ehehee I know I have issues with being star-struck but it was cool playing against Tina Nesburg, Mari Wallace, Jossy, Street, Chou, Blaire's sister, Vix, and those were the ones I noticed while I was being pummeled to a pulp (hmm seems I know my famous forwards a wee bit better then my backs). Belmont did damn well (before Lenny and I were subbed in) to hold off Berkeley. I was pretty surprised by the number of knock-ons and penalties that the ABs committed and some major credit has to be given to the Landshark defensive pressure which was the cause of a number of these mistakes. A good pre-season friendly for both teams for sure. I gotta say it was an awesome experience being surrounded by so many veteran players and against such a skilled side. Regina Sheck added additional structure and leadership to an already solid and experienced Belmont pack and I can't believe how effortless they made scrumming against the all blues look. Regina played 8 and was our primary kicker in the match and there is more info about her here (Heh and now I can say that I've played with a world cup champion against half the eagle roster).

Long story short I got schooled for the twenty minutes or less that I was on the pitch...for the first couple minutes I was fine, had a few straightforward carries, made a few yards, rucked a bit and that was fine. But lord once we packed down I was toast. I played loosehead and I haven't propped in a full scrum since oooo last fall...and I only do it during rookie tournaments...ehehe. So I held my own for the first two scrums until they realized that I didn't know shit and just started dropping, pulling, barging, holding, and popping me at will. Then I died. Only time in my whole life that I've been chastised by a ref for sucking so much in the scrum. And I quote "If you can't take the hit maybe you shouldn't be out here". Yup. Ouch. I was keeping my side off the ground but I was basically limbo-ing and my spine was doing a stretch-armstrong. I'm in total awe of my opposite number and any prop that can keep the scrum steady while she's doing the things she does (cheers to Brooke and Amber). Wish I knew her name but she wasn't particularly friendly during the match or's kinda a Berkeley thing (which isn't meant in a harsh way but Berkeley tends to be serious + elite and deservedly so).

After the match was pretty fun, got to hang out a bit with the Reddick sisters, Alex from Fog, Georgi Ellis from CSU Sacramento. It was cool 'cause Alex Williams stopped by and said hi (I went to her summer camp last year) and everyone basically assumed that I was playing for Belmont now which is a hard thing to correct when you mumble a lot like I do. Kathy Flores was there as well and it was also super cool to see Miller again (Belmont's forwards coach) heh she's so badass! Heh Kasey, Kate, Shannon, Fuj, Grace...yea I miss Belmont even if I was ridiculously dorky and awkward when I played for them (not that I'm much improved now).

Anyhoo enough sentimentality. Apparently I completely missed that our women's club LAU dissolved and now there's just a pac coast competition. Wonder if they'll still be a TAU playoff...I feel that step always helps prepare our collegiate team to gear up for post-season play and prep us for Elite 8s (I'm only bringing it up because I imagine it serves the same purpose for Women's senior side teams). As goff and a number of other blogs have mentioned that there are two more teams that are trying to settle into the scene and they are Budd Bay out of Olympia, WA and the Davis Double Deckers (which I think I mentioned earlier seems to be a mix of UC Davis alum, chico players, and sac alum...but I'll try and post a roster later in the week). Anyyhoo both teams played a match against a strong side and did fairly well for a brand new club. I can't recall the budd bay match but I'll look it up later. Davis played the All Blues and held it 61-0. Oh and there seems to be a lot of questions about club rugby in norcal and I thought that I'd mention that the Sacramento Amazons seem to have been having issues with dues/admin stuff with Pelican Refs and thus have been in 'poor standing' so that might be why things are going through a bit of a shift.

BLeh...lots of rugby so little time. Apparently rugby magazine is going to be distributed in Barnes & Noble stores around the country as well as college campuses...which is neat and while I don't super like the magazine it's kinda one of those things ya just gotta buy cause it has rugby on it (and actually is about the sport and not about stupid fuck fashion...thank you Ralph didn't invent rugby...*sigh*) I'm going to the Berkeley vs Seattle game I don't actually know which seattle side it is...but we'll see. Maybe I'll get the guts to do and interview. Meh...probably not seeing that I'm so poorly prepared. Then again if the Berkeley All Blues ever updated their website...............

**UPDATE** updated their website and expanded their 7s roster. Did you know that there was a women eagles youtube channel? Nope...I didn't either (well kinda but then I forgot about it) Alright that's it goodnight.