By Austin Brewin
On a rain-drenched Sheeran Field the short, intense competition between top teams supplemented with guest players, ended with OMBAC holding off Life West 26 – 22 to win the Trophy. SFGG edged past Belmont Shore 20 – 18 to secure 3rd place. The day opened with the Olympic Club running away from the Old Aztecs to take it with a 50 – 14 win – their first of the competition.
SFGG took the kickoff at 1:00 from Belmont Shore and moved the ball across and up into Belmont territory on a long break by center LIMOTO FILIKATONGA, only to lose possession and found themselves defending the goal from a fired up Belmont. The pattern was set. The field, which was under water as late in the week as Friday, was in good shape top side, but treacherous underneath. This allowed attacking moves to begin, but hard cuts and set scrums were a challenge.
Man of the Match COLBY STEVENS kept the game in control – keeping Belmont on their heels.
With the wet field conditions, both teams kept their wide open game under wraps, and we saw a great deal more ball control and the kicking game than we are used to.
On regaining possession the OPETI brothers were instrumental on the counterattack, with “E” taking the ball into a tackle at midfield with close support from the entire forward pack. “O” spotted an opening down the middle of the field, sprinted 20 meters for his try under the posts at the 5:30 mark. VOLNEY ROUSE converted.
Belmont scored an uncoverted try at 16 minutes as the heavy hitting on a heavy field continued. ROUSE added a penalty kick at 20 minutes to bring the score to 10 – 7 for SFGG. Five minutes later, the first Green Card your writer has ever seen was issued to FATAI VAILALA for a high tackle. Belmont scored from the penalty, converted and took the lead into the half by 10 – 12.
As the half resumed, IZZIE DONALDSON made a long break, linked up back to the middle of the field and center FILIKATONGA scored in the corner. ROUSE’s plant foot skidded and the ball went left. SFGG regained the lead 15 – 12.
The heavy slogging and hitting resumed. In one series, every forward had a turn running the ball. At 55 minutes, TOM ROOKE broke a tackle 20 meters out and headed for the line, breaking another but stretching out for the try. VOLNEY ROUSE then added 2 and SFGG took the lead 20 – 12 with less than 18 minutes left. Belmont closed it to 20 – 18 with a penalty kick and that’s where it ended.
Coach NEIL FOOTE was pleased with the effort put out by all the players under the pressure of a very good opponent, the weather and the field conditions.
Like others, our players are still adjusting to the new tackle laws, where a tackler who makes contact with a ball carrier’s head – even if he ducks – is a penalty.
NEIL commented that the competition was terrific – most of the games between the top 4 were decided by one score or less. The problem is the short season, and the lack of a stable national structure.
SFGG opens the Nor Cal Division I season on Feb 8 at Sheeran field. We are still trying to get a competition for the B side players – not enough of the teams field 2 sides. Stay tuned.
NEIL was especially pleased at the turn out for the games and party. He was so pleased that he burst into song when he got his hands on the mic and a willing band...
California Cup Grand Final Day At SFGG on Treasure Island - Jan 21; Rugby starts At 9AM ends AT 5PM, When the Band Picks Up
After 5 rounds of hard fought games demonstrating the first class standard of rugby in the Golden State, all the teams in the competition compete for their final position at Treasure Island.
If you love rugby, you will love this spectacle. Bring friends and introduce them to the game played in heaven while enjoying a beer.
Ray Sheeran Field:
5v6: San Diego Old Aztecs RFC v OC Rugby 11AM
3v4: SFGG v Belmont Shore RFC 1PM
1v2: Life West Rugby v OMBAC Rugby 3PM
$10 Adults General Admission, U18 Free
Green Lantern Catering serving quality food including burgers, fish & chips etc.
Bar will be Open inside and at the shack by field.
Cal Berkelely Women v Humboldt 9AM
SFGG Women v Berkelely All Blues 11AM
Women & HS girls clinic led by World Cup winning coach Gary Street and Tony Diprose from Harlequins UK - 1PM
RSVP - https://www.facebook.com/events/1629621314011130/
Dogs on leash outside ok - please pick up after your pet.
Band - "Live Rhythm" starts playing at 5PM!
Help us keep the club clean by putting litter in appropriate bins provided.
By Austin Brewin
With a dramatic end of game try and conversion, Life West came from behind to defeat SFGG by a score of 36 - 34 as time ran out under the lights at the California Maritime Academy’s field in Vallejo. Life West now move on the California Cup Championship game against OMBAC next Saturday, Jan 21 at 3PM on Treasure Island’s Sheeran Field. SFGG will play Belmont Shore in the consolation round at 1PM, following the 11AM game between Old Aztecs and Olympic Club.
Life West came out hard, testing the SFGG defense until winning a penalty kick at the 6 minute mark. Life took the early lead, 3 – 0. Winger FATAI VELALA broke a tackle deep in the SFGG territory and sprinted down the sideline, feeding NEIL BARRETT who finished the move, beating Life’s scrumhalf, Devereaux Ferris, to put 5 POINTS on the board. VOLNEY ROUSE, back at 10 after missing several weeks, converted to make it 7 – 3. The lead was short lived, as Life put up another converted try at 21 minutes to retake the lead. Captain BRENDAN DALY made a break up the center of the field, leading to an offensive run to hold a commanding lead as the half drew to a close, marred by lackluster play, allowing Life West to score under the posts to close the gap and gain a measure of confidence. Halftime score: SFGG 24 – Life West 17.
The second half opened with a disputed try by ISOA DONALDSON, who beat the defenders to a loose ball and touched it down under the posts. ROUSE converted. Life added a penalty kick.
DONALDSON added his 2nd try. With 15 minutes on the clock, SFGG went to 14 men when a Yellow card was issued for failing to wrap in a tackle. SFGG lost composure, failing to clear the ball when under the pressure. With 3 minutes time left on the field clock, Life took the lead 36 – 34 and held it until USA Rugby panelist NICK RICONO blew the final whistle.
It was a hard fought contest between 2 evenly matched teams. Coach NEIL FOOTE commented that it was in the end, “… a disappointing loss for SFGG. The opportunities to win, the intensity and skills were there to take the game, but several simple mistakes and a lack of composure again proved costly. Congratulations to Life for a gusty game played and won.”
He singled out flanker OPETI OKUSI for his Man of the Match honors, noting that O continues to bring his best to every minute of every game.
In the B side game, Life came out on top of another close contest between 2 talented teams 24 – 19. Prop JULLIAN ADEAMO was Man of the Match, featuring hard forward play and quick attacking forays by both sides. Scrum half TOM ORANGI showed a lot of his skills and speed.
Next week we have the end of the California Cup Season with all 6 teams on display at SHEERAN FIELD. SFGG’s training will remain positive, as the coaches will work on the issues that have lead to our several losses in tight games. Playing an equally skilled team one man short for 10 minutes is an invitation for a loss. The added pressure of trying to cover for a gap can too easily lead to dumb rugby. My first wife contends “dumb rugby” is redundant, but we say “Not at all.” To be corrected by training and effort.
SFGG Roster For Must Win Game At Life West To Be Played At Cal Maritime Academy, Vallejo SAT Jan 14, 4PM
You don’t want to miss Saturday January 21, this day of rugby at our own home field on Treasure Island. All the teams will be in action – 6 of the top domestic teams in the USA battling for the Championship in a short, intense season with little room for error. A single loss or blow-out can cost a good team a shot at the final. SFGG lost to an excellent OMBAC side in December – 20 minutes of poor play put the opportunity for a spot in the final in jeopardy. It is a tough league, with the top 4 teams fielding international level players, mixed with young, talented athletes moving into the top echelon.
The win over Belmont Shore was essentially a quarter final playoff, which we won. Next week the game at Life West is a semi-final – to lose is to be relegated to the runners-up bracket. There is little room for mistakes, so the team that brings their A game will move on. SFGG has the talent, leadership and will to win to do it. Come on out.
Here it is :
Week 4 January 7
SFGG 25 – Belmont Shore 21
OMBAC 43 - Life West 25
Old Aztecs 31 - Olympic Club 22
Week 5 January 14
SFGG @ Life West
Olympic Club @ Belmont Shore
Old Aztecs @ OMBAC
Plan it now – Sheeran Field on Treasure Island on 21 January is the rugby day to not miss. Three games featuring some of the nation’s best. We anticipate OMBAC to be a finalist, with the winner of next weekend’s SFGG – Life West.
Come on out – bring the kids and grand kids – a treat for all.
By Austin Brewin
The weather disrupting the entire West Coast was only 1 of the challenges facing SFGG in this pivotal game against a strong, Kiwi - flavored Belmont Shore side on their territory. The weather kept us off the practice field, and with the airport delays we got to the field 30 minutes before kickoff.
Belmont were having problems of their own. Locked off their field because of the weather, they moved the game to Mira Costa High School, which has an artificial surface for their American Football team.
The narrow field not only cut down on space for the open field running game and makes the defense more efficient, but also seriously hindered strategic kicking opportunities.
Coach NEIL FOOTE’s assessment of SFGG’s first half play - awful – the first 20 minutes - dreadful. As the half progressed, the boys settled down and began playing as a unit. Behind 14 – 0, flyhalf ISOA DOLANDSON got Gate on the board, scoring and converting a try, then adding a penalty kick to close the half at 14 – 10 for Belmont.
SFGG continued to play to the pattern and won the game in the second half despite some discipline problems. Right wing FATAI VAILALA continued his aggressive play, scoring 2 tries, defending well, and earning Man of the Match honors. His second try salted the game away. At the end, Belmont scored another, inconsequential converted try to bring the final score to 25 – 21 for SFGG.
Captain BRENDAN DALY, had a solid game, rallying the troops into form. PILA HUIHUI at fullback had more attacking opportunities than he usually has from the wing. The forwards were solid and the defense solidified, keeping the talented Belmont backline away from the try line. PATRIC LATU came off the bench to take up where he left off.
SFGG lost 2 more players to injury. DANNY LaPROVOTTE went out with a leg injury which will keep him out of the lineup for at least next week. His replacement, RICKIE REYNOLDS suffered a foot injury which ends this short California Cup season for him.
Contributing to Belmont’s final score were penalties incurred by SFGG players.
Only 13 SFGG men were on the field at the end, with JARAD STALLING receiving a Red Card for a dangerous tackle which occurred following a Yellow Card issued for the same offense. This is a new Law, designed to reduce the risk of injuries.
Next week we face Life West in what amounts to a semi final game to get into the final. As a result of Saturday’s loss. Belmont is out of the Championship round.
Coach FOOTE was pleased with the grit shown by the entire squad. We have a group of younger players who have fully bought into the One Club concept, and will get better as we move on. We face Life West next week at their venue (TBD – hunting for an available field with the weather continuing to dominate the thinking).
We need to cut down on simple mistakes, and get a better grip on discipline. It looks like Wednesday may be the only rain-free day this week, so the Club is looking to get an all weather venue for that.
By Austin Brewin:
CAL CUP – Week4
This week our men go back to Southern California – this time to battle BELMONT SHORE. Before the holiday break, Belmont beat the Old Aztec 44 – 31, while SFGG lost to OMBAC by 62 – 36.
Coach NEIL FOOTE gave the players a week off, and offered to eat their holiday excess to keep them in trim. Last night they re-assembled, and we asked the Coach how it went. “I did my part – even had to drill a new hole to let the belt out.”
Due to the heavy rain on Tuesday, they were not able to get on the field. They had a good, hard series of inside workouts and drills, and worked on the mental aspects of the games. In this competition, there is greater parity – more hard games than in the PRP. In this short season, nobody can afford to be taken lightly. The OMBAC game is a good example, with a tight, even game turning into a blowout during a 20 minute lapse. Belmont experienced a similar outcome in their first game, losing to Life West.
After 3 weeks play, only LIFE WEST remain undefeated. To win this inaugural Cup, SFGG must run the table from here to the end. The Coach says they are taking it one game at a time – concentrating on BELMONT SHORE this week, then onward.
JACK HALILO is lost for this season, and VOLNEY ROUSE has a family commitment this week, but everybody else is ready to go.
GO GATE - Onward through the fog!
SFGG Roster at Belmont Shore Jan 7, 2017
1. Jacob Nelson
2. Neil Barrett
3. Saimone Laulaupealu
4. Brendan Hardiman
5. Drew Hyjer
6. Opeti Okusi
7. Daniel Laprovotte
8. Brendan Daly (captain)
9. Colby Stevens
10. Isoa Donaldson
11. Tevita Vehikite
12. Eaekalifi Okusi
13. Tevita Okusi
14. Fatai Vailala
15. Pila Huihui
16. Grant Hyjer
17. Pat Latu
18. Jared Stalling
19. Tom Rooke
20. Nick Grass
21. Ricardo Reynalds
22. Connor Ring
23. Sione Tupouata
January 7 – Week Four
Life West at OMBAC
SFGG at Belmont
Olympic Club at Old Aztecs
January 14 – Week Five
Old Aztecs at OMBAC
Olympic Club at Belmont
SFGG at Life West
January 21 – Grand Finals – Treasure Island
Austin Brewin OFFERS Congratulations to BRENDAN DALY, selected THIS IS AMERICAN RUGBY Club Player of 2016.
This Is American Rugby (http://www.thisisamericanrugby.com) is an on-line publication dedicated to covering the U.S.A. Eagles at home and abroad. Their goal is to bring to you updates from Eagles playing overseas, the 7's team, all national team matches as well as the top domestic club and college teams.
The editors write:
“We are striving to be unique in the American rugby news market by providing video highlights involving Eagles, player profiles and interviews, news links, and opinion related to the Eagles.”
The TIAR Network is a group of web sites focusing on rugby throughout the country, and as part of that to award outstanding teams and individuals.
BRENDAN, who has captained the SFGG's men's side for the last 2 years, plays lock and #8. He was playing football, then discovered rugby as a sport for the Spring in his senior year at High School playing for SFGG HS. Rugby moved to the top of his sports interest, then the Cal opportunity sealed it. BRENDAN went on to star at Cal and became an All American.
The Cal Athletics (http://www.calbears.com/news/2016/12/31/rugby-daly-named-club-player-of-the-year.aspx) wrote:
BERKELEY – Former Cal All-American and current San Francisco Golden Gate captain Brendan Daly has been named the 2016 Club Player of the Year in a fan poll hosted by This Is American Rugby.
A 6-5, 245-pound lock for the Bears who arrived in Berkeley from across the Bay at St. Ignatius High School and graduated as a Scholar Athlete from the Haas School of Business in 2013, Daly led the senior SFGG side to the final of the 2016 Pacific Rugby Premiership and has been instrumental in Golden Gate's campaign for the California Cup this winter.
"When you want a leader that leads by example then Daly is your guy," wrote TIAR in its announcement of Daly's award. "He is one of the better players in the country but it's his work rate that pushed SFGG to another PRP final."
A native San Franciscan, Daly has remained in his hometown following his collegiate career, having worked in the off-season for his father, the recently deceased Daniel Daly, before embarking on his professional life at Visa and, most recently, the cloud service distribution provider AppDirect.
"It's truly an honor to have been selected by the fans as the player of the year," said Daly. "I couldn't have done it without my coaches and teammates throughout my career. This is especially true of the foundation given to me at Cal that has helped me succeed on and off the field."
"Brendan is an excellent player in his own right," said Cal head coach Jack Clark, "but on our campus he will always be known as a team-man first and foremost."
Austin Brewin adds:
Brendan returned to SFGG after graduating Cal in 2013 and has been a stalwart in the SFGG side since.
In this, his second year as Captain, BRENDAN has settled into the role as Game Manager on the field, and has earned the respect of the coaches and his team mates with his intense leadership and on-field decisions.
In 2016, after leading SFGG to the PRP final and completing his club obligations. BRENDAN went on to join the San Francisco Rush PRO Rugby team for the remainder of their season and was selected to AMERICAS RUGBY NEWS (http://www.americasrugbynews.com/about-us/) PRO Rugby 2016 Dream Team as a result of his impactful play.
Coach NEIL FOOTE spotted the leadership qualities in BRENDAN when he first arrived, and feels that over the last year he has grown into that role very nicely. He leads by example, and personifies a never say die attitude on the field with an incredible workrate that guarantees he is never far from the ball - if he's not scoring, he is one of the first to congratulate a scorer with unconditional enthusiasm. His tenacity and will have been a big driver of SFGG's success over the last few years.
BRENDAN’s most ardent fans and familiar faces on the sidelines of all his games – from SI, through Witter Field, Sheeran Field and Boxer Stadium – have been his mother, MARGARET, and dad DAN. DAN died in late November a year after discovering he had cancer. His death leaves a hole in the Daly family and in our SFGG community.
BRENDAN is looking forward to getting back into the fray. He says this all too short season is winnable. While the team lost JACK HALILO to injury, the team is solid and talented, now just need to go out and do it.