Thursday, March 09, 2006




Please let David Williamson know if you plan to attend the society banquet in March 19 at the Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley.

(If you already responded in the affirmative to Bruce Carter, your name has been forwarded.)


This Thursday SFO will be the portal of entry for two exchange referees from Vancouver Island and six visitors from the East Midlands.


From Victoria, Matt Ward will be joining us for the second year in a row and Chris Saini will be a tour rookie. Matt will be hosted by Joe Leisek, while Paul Berman will be the billet for Chris.

Both of them will referee high school games in the Redwood Empire on Friday, and then league matches in the East Bay on Saturday.

A small group dinner for our guests will be held Saturday night, probably in Oakland. If you would like to attend, please contact Joe Leisek or Paul Berman.

Those of you who have been to Victoria on exchange, or who might like to go there some day, may wish to help entertain our friends.


We will be visited by Ian Baggot, Bob Tustin and his wife, Ron Gore, Gary Malpas and Nicola Reynolds. The six arrivals need to be met at SFO this Thursday, March 9, at 1:20 PM and transported to Sacramento.

Bruce Carter has arranged to rent a twelve-passenger van for this purpose. If anyone else would like to ride along, or could help transport so that the rental would not be necessary, please let Bruce know.

The group will be hosted and entertained in the Sacramento area for five nights. They will have high school matches, a group dinner, league matches and possibly a side trip to Tahoe.

They will be transferred to their Bay Area hosts at our society meeting on Tuesday, March 14, at the Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island.

Wednesday they’ll head up to Yosemite, spend the night and do some hiking on Thursday.

Friday will again find those who wish doing high school games before a full Saturday of league matches.

There will be a society dinner on Saturday, March 18, at the Pyramid Ale House in Berkeley, meeting at six for dinner at seven. Wear your number ones.

Sunday everyone will be welcome at the Cal Invitational. Our guests depart for home on Monday, March 20.

We will also be hosting Paul Rosenzweig of the Potomac Society, here on our evaluator exchange, the weekend of March 18-19. Bryant Byrnes will be his billet. Paul will be watching two or our referees.

If you would like to get involved with any of these activities, please let Joe Leisek know.

This is the heart of the biennial social calendar for us. Get your duds dry-cleaned and scrub up nice!



San Mateo 15 - West Sac. 10 Referee: Dave Pope

This match was played under warm sunny skies on a fast artificial turf field which got very hot under the sun. It was also a football field meaning goal posts on the dead ball line which made kicking very difficult. San Mateo started very fast. A hard running San Mateo center broke the first tackle, drew the next line of defense and passed. Then it was off to the races. About 4 passes later San Mateo scored the first try less than 5 minutes in. After this West Sac settled in and the rest of the half was very close. San Mateo scored one more try and West Sac managed a penalty kick, 12-3 at half time.

The second half started much as the first, only this time West Sac scored the try about 3 minutes into the half. Once again from this point things were very even. West Sac created several chances but was always one pass or support player short. San Mateo probably created even more chances, including getting the ball over the line at least three times. Once the ball carrier dragged a defender with him into goal, but because of the football field did not realize he was in, resulting in a held up in goal. Another time, San Mateo drove a maul to where the ball was directly over the line where the "maul" that wasn't stalled, resulting in another held up as they attempted to restart the drive. A third time a tackled ball carrier was reaching over the line to score when the excellent West Sac open side flanker Nem, running along the goal line snatched the ball out of the attacking player's hands and took off running. San Mateo's best chance came with some sleight of hand in a driving maul. Unfortunately for San Mateo, and the refs, they fooled both me and my excellent touch judge as to where the ball was and when the apparent maul went to ground about a meter short of the line I blew it dead as a San Mateo player was coming off the back with the ball. How I wish I could have that one back. The game ended with San Mateo doing an excellent job retaining possession in the attacking end preserving their 5 point win.

What an excellent game. West Sacramento has improved tremendously since I last saw them. They have turned into a formidable team.


Cal Maritime 3 – SANTA ROSA JC 20 Referee: Sam Reagle

Conditions: Unbelievable

By the time we kicked off at 7pm on Monday night, those from this area know that it had been raining about 24 straight hours here at the Academy. It certainly added zest to my rush-hour commute across Sacramento and into wine country. This pitch is ominous during bad weather. There was an eerie roar as wind blew through the trees and swirled about. It was a difficult game to referee and an unpredictable game to play. The wind and the standing water did unexpected things to the ball. Kicks veered wildly and passes were dropped.

The KeelHaulers pack dominated most of the scrums winning ball by driving the pile even after Santa Rosa hooked it on several occasions. CMA converted a penalty kick for the first points of the night, but SRJC went into halftime clinging to a 5-3 lead on a nice run thru defenders by their flyhalf.

Then a surprising thing happened. It stopped raining. That was all the incentive Santa Rosa needed to turn their backs loose chasing kick after kick into CMA territory. I'm sure that several of those kicks were meant to find touch, but they'd curve around for a while and land in a puddle for whoever could find the handle. SRJC scored their first try one minute into the second half and third try at full time. In between were periods of good multi-phase rugby and poor ball-handling by both sides. I suspect that on another day this score could easily have been reversed.


7:30 PM at USF’s Negoesco Field

OLYMPIC CLUB 34 – New York Athletic Club 15 Referee: Paul Bretz

Touch Judges: Jon Moore (Utah), Bruce Carter

Report by Bruce Carter:

NYAC came out for a couple of pre-season games to begin getting ready to defend their super league title later this month.

OC dropped from the super league after last season. But playing for a handsome new Cup seemed to inspire the team, who are in mid-season form.

The visitors have a scrumhalf who is quicksilver on cleats. This guy could run between conjoined twins.

But Olympic Club didn’t just win handily; three tries were left on the table.

Early in the first half an OC player was tackled from behind as he crossed the line and knocked the ball on. That’s one.

Early in the second half an OC player was tackled from behind as he crossed the line. The referee was handicapped by a concatenation of shadows (under the soccer goal cage) and couldn’t see the grounding of the ball. That’s two.

Later in the second half, NYAC had a lineout on their own five-meter line. Chris Clever sprung up without having been either supported or lifted, stole the ball, and was on an arc that would bring him down within arm’s reach of the try line.

Perhaps it was surprise at having made such a Jordanesque jump, but he couldn’t hold on and spilled the ball forward. And that’s three.



CALIFORNIA 33 – New York Athletic Club 27 Referee: Kevin McCaslin (SoCal and USA)

Touch Judges: Joe Leisek, David Williamson

Spectator-watching-a-great-match #1: Scott Wood

We feature four reports on this unprecedented match.

Report by Scott Wood:

Just a friendly test between champions? Perhaps. Mother Nature placed a cooling wind into Strawberry Canyon but held the rain so fans and players could enjoy the spectacle. NYAC spent the previous months shoveling snow while Cal was playing Rugby--and it showed. The visiting team fell short in consistency and continuity while Cal was able to put multiple phase ball, steal lineouts, and take the ball against the head.

Oddities of the match: Cal's missed penalty goal from 28 meters looked to be a certainty but fell short. NYAC converts a penalty goal after the ball hit inside the right upright and bounced off the crossbar. Cal's Jason Lee interception for a try (does he have Inspector Gadget arms?). NYAC's 11 and 14 collided with each other twice in the match setting up turnovers for Cal to score.

Report by David Williamson:

March 4 was a fabulous day for rugby in verdant Strawberry Canyon: The skies were overcast, the temperature in the mid-50s, with a slight westerly breeze. The newly painted broad white lines contrasted sharply with the smooth, grassy pitch. This was the day for the Clash of the Champions: Last year's Collegiate Champions were challenging last year's Super League Champions to an unprecedented match.

Kevin McCaslin was the perfect referee. He had recently refereed each team in a championship, and his broad smile and infectious sense of humor helped keep the game in perspective. The teams were confident they could concentrate on the run of play--not on the ref's calls.

After a few thrusts and parries by each team, Cal scored a converted try 15 minutes into the game. NYAC earned a penalty goal, and scored a converted try about 5 minutes later. NYAC led 10-7 at half, and looked to able to contain Cal's speedy players. But it was not to be.

Cal came out with guns blazing, scoring two tries in the first 7 minutes, converting one of them. NYAC responded with an unconverted try 14 minutes in, but Cal put the game out of reach with two more converted tries. NYAC closed with two tries, converting one, but it was not enough. Credit the strength and speed of the youngsters while defending their home turf. What a day!!

Report by Joe Leisek:

A wonderful day at Strawberry Canyon. Kevin McCaslin is a referee who uses clear communication and subtle humor to full advantage. Through this approach, and great fitness, he had a spectacular game under firm control. Very exciting to be part of it, and a pleasure to work with Kevin and Dave.

The sense of excitement at a packed Witter Field was obvious. Spotted in the crowd: Dan Lyle, Dave Hodges...and Scott Wood!

Afterward, Kevin, Dave, Scott and I drove in a referee convoy to Dave's home, where we were welcomed by Helen Marcus. Refreshments were served and we talked about the day's game, about refereeing, and about each other.

Kevin was reminded by Scott that he had blown his whistle to signal approval of one penalty kick before the touch judges had raised their flags. The conversation went something like this:

Kevin: Well, these two seemed mesmerized, looking at each other. I was thinking, are they gonna raise them, are they gonna raise them, are they gonna raise them?

Dave: We were getting our communication down, looking at each other and making sure we agreed.

Kevin: Well at that point I saw both teams at midfield waiting for the restart, so I thought I should do something.

Lots of laughter.

Report by Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle:

SF/Golden Gate 5 – DIABLO GAELS 52 Referee: Sam Reagle

Assessor: Bryan Porter

Weather: Cloudy

When I arrived on Treasure Island there was some confusion as to which pitch would be used for this Division 1 game. There was a high school game in progress on SF/GG's home pitch with Dan "Gilligan" Hattrup from Colorado controlling the action so we (the Gaels, Bryan and I) were told to head for the Job Corps pitch a few blocks away. We weren't there 10 minutes when we were told that the game had been moved back to the better pitch. Despite the confusion, I was glad to run on well-manicured grass.

The home team started off a bit shaky. On Diablo's first try 4 minutes into the game, a Golden Gater received a short commentary from me for falling on the scorer. About 8 minutes later, I awarded a penalty try for a "Professional" foul about 3 meters out. After that, things settled out and the ball moved freely. Diablo’s scoring was methodical with 26 points each half. Though Gate only managed one try, it wasn't by luck. They took the ball deep in their half and worked it to midfield, then to the Gaels’ 22 meter line, then rolled a maul for a bit and finally 2 sharp passes split a seam in the defense and dragged them into goal.

Thanks to Bryan Porter for donating his Saturday afternoon on my behalf.

Second side included in this report by Jim Crenshaw:

I did 3 games on Saturday.

SAC STATE women firsts 39 – UC Davis Women seconds 10 Ref: Crenshaw

At Sacramento State

I then cruised by Davis to say hello to referees Mike Villierme and Tim Luscombe, and Coaches Steve Gray, Tim O'Brien and Johnny Everett on my way to Treasure Island to ref SF Golden Gate U-23 versus Diablo Gaels 2's. I only got to watch Sam Reagle ref the second half on the first side match and Bryan Porter doing the evaluating.

Seconds: SF/Golden Gate U-23, 10 – DIABLO GAELS 24 Ref: Crenshaw

Piedmont 12 – HAYWARD 41 Ref: Crenshaw

Then I stopped by Piedmont to ref PITS versus Hayward high school. John Cullom and Rob Hendrickson graciously ran touch, with Ray Lehner coaching PITS and Blaine Warhurst coaching Hayward, with a little help from Manu Finau and others. It was a very nice match, although a little one sided at the end. Score at halftime was Hayward 19 PITS 7. Hayward found at little more space in the second half, with the final score Hayward 41 PITS 12.

Big fun all day and got to see lots of friends, although refereeing 3 games in one day is at, or possibly slightly over the limit for an old, bald, fat guy. My body is talking to me a little today.

Hayward 13 – SAN MATEO 28 Referee: Paul Bretz

San Mateo had an early-season result reversed for using a non-CIPP player against SFGG. So they entered this match in second place, to Hayward.

With San Mateo’s victory, each team now has two losses. However, both of Hayward’s losses are to their rivals, so San Mateo sits atop the leaderboard.

Hayward 27 – HAGGIS 32 Referee: John Pohlman

Touch Judges: Paul Bretz; Giles Wilson 1st half, Jon Moore 2nd

After tough judging an exciting game between Hayward and San Mateo, I grabbed my whistle to do Hayward versus Haggis. Haggis is a D1 team from Salt lake City who needs D1 games to qualify for the playoffs.

Hayward looked impressive in the first 4 minutes scoring the first time they touched the ball. And then again 3:00 minutes later. Hayward looked to dominate, but Haggis was not going down easy. Haggis had lots of speed wide and scored two long tries in the next ten minutes. Score Haggis 14 Hayward 12. The game steadied with matching tries in the last ten minutes of the first half.

Hayward did not look to be tiring in the second half and opened the scoring with a converted try. Haggis answered with a penalty score Hayward 22 Haggis 20 with twenty minutes left in the second half. Hayward felt they had sealed the win with a try at 30 minutes, only to be matched at 31 by Haggis. With five minutes left and Hayward up by 2, Haggis missed a penalty. At 38 minutes I awarded a penalty to Haggis on their own 20 meter line. The Haggis winger took a quick tap kick, which went about four meters forward. He had not knocked the ball on or attempted to catch his quick tap. Players often think this is a knock-on, kicking the ball out of your own hands – and indeed Hayward seemed to stop and hope for a whistle, but there was reason to stop the play. As we followed play, I looked at my touch judge Paul Bretz who agreed with me, play on. Haggis scored under the posted and made the conversion. Final Haggis 32 Hayward 27.

I heard one of the Hayward players say I was the worst ref ever, fortunately it was not said to me and no one else heard the comment. Somewhat ironically I have seen Hayward win many matches with the quick tap.

[Editor’s Note: You have it backwards, John! If you had a witness to this remark you might qualify for the highly-coveted IUDEX PESSIMUS MUNDUS award.]

Seahawks – WEST SACRAMENTO Referee: Jon Moore (Utah)

Videographer: Bruce Carter

West Sac won this game. Don’t have the score handy at press time.

Seconds: Seahawks 7 – WEST SAC 75 Referee: Bruce Carter

The Seahawks have two full squads, the Lions just a shade more than XV. So it was the developing Seahawk players were pitted against a vastly more experienced side.

West Sac did have one new player. Chris Brewer was, in fact, playing in his first match. They put him where new players so often go, on the wing.

And then they got the ball to him and he scored two tries!

Something tells us this fellow will be Hooked on Rugby.

Arroyo Grande – Baracus Referee: Rachel Lawton

No report received.

FresnoSacramento Referee: Pete Smith

Seconds: FresnoSacramento Ref: Smith

No reports received.

MARIN 26 – Berkeley 12 Referee: John Coppinger

Good match. Marin had more opportunities, and despite a Marin knock-on at the try line and two Marin penalties within three meters of the Berkeley line, won going away.

MISSION by forfeit over Humboldt

Stanislaus – Monterey Referee: Rod Chance

No report received.

Fog 24 – PETALUMA 60 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Petaluma beat the Fog 60-24 at USF's all-weather Negoesco Stadium this past Saturday. Petaluma was the visiting team, but played much better by making long evasive runs primarily by their scrumhalf & inside center; which the Fog had a hard time tackling, controlling or slowing down.

The party again was an unbelievable feast of endless dishes & a great showing by both teams at The Metro.

Redding 15 – VACAVILLE 48 Referee: Bo Rodman

Beautiful day on a reasonably dry pitch in northern California. The hosts were unable to match up consistently in the backline and the resulting scores began to mount.

UC Davis 16 – St. Mary's 16 Referee: Tim Luscombe (Eastern Rockies and USA)

UC Davis opened the scoring early with a quick drive down the pitch after receiving the kick off, finishing with their prop being tackled just shy of the line but able to reach out and ground the ball on the line. Good phases of open play with both back lines able to move the ball although neither team could convert pressure to points. UC Davis went further in front with a drop goal and a penalty kick. St Mary's down 13 - 0 then stepped up a gear, drawing the UC Davis defense into the break down to leave room out wide and some great multi phase ball and this allowed the backs to score under the posts. Half time score was 13-7.

St Mary's looked to continue where they left the first half however, defence was the order of the day. Two penalty kicks later leveled the score at 13 a piece. UC Davis continued to try and punch the ball up the middle and then throw the ball wide, St Mary's played a lot of kick and chase and then attack the narrow wide, however no team's offence was a match for the tackling of the other in defence. Another two penalty kicks (one each way) left the game tied and a tense final 10 minutes was rightfully shared. The game finishing 16 each with both teams looking towards the playoffs.

Seconds: UC DAVIS 22 – St. Mary's 12 Referee: Mike Villierme

Stanford 31 – NEVADA 39 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

At Stanford. A boffo game. The teams were somewhat cranky-it has been a long season for both - but that did not interfere with a close skillful Division 1 match.

Nevada led most of the way, but could not put Stanford away. The Cardinal pack had its hands full with a larger and aggressive Wolfpack scrum, but its opportunistic backline kept them in the game. Indeed, there were several nifty individual efforts.

After some curious and in some instances errant kicking and kicks, the score was tied at half, 19 to 19. Nevada pulled ahead, but with about a minute left Stanford scored a try and converted to make it a 5 point game. Alas, Nevada sealed it with a penalty kick at full time.

Seconds: Stanford 5 – NEVADA 12 Referee: Sandy Robertson

After completing their first match much of Reno's 1st side got a little water, a clean jersey and went back on to the pitch to play Stanford's 2nds. Play was spirited and the sides traded tries in the early going. In the end UNR had more of the ball and some runners a bit more adept at evading tackles; they won by a converted try or so.

CHICO STATE 15 – Sac State 7 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

A pretty scrappy but highly competitive match played by two evenly matched sides under a cloudy sky, and in front of a good crowd. Not much fast running in this one, but a lot of hard fought ground gained inch by inch by both sides. Chico state closed the half with a converted try, but Sacramento was determined to soldier on. On the second half, Chico put in one more unconverted try and slotted a penalty through the posts. At the 28th minute of the second half I called the scrums uncontested for safety, this due to repeated collapses and to the very aggressive nature of both front rows - hardy, fit, lads full of fight & trickery.

Sacramento battled throughout, but could not capitalize from a number of good runs that could have resulted in a score. They, however, scored a converted try right before the final whistle. A scrappy but fun match, good sport for all involved and for the spectators. Final score: Chico State 15 - Sacramento State 7

Seconds: CHICO STATE 37 – Sac State 20 Referee: Dylan Gill

The drive down from Reno was a bit slick. A perfect day for rugby, Cloud cover and a bit of wind. Chico St 37 VS Sac St 20.

MARITIME ACADEMY 96 – San Jose State 7 Referee: Joe Saccomanno

Cal Maritime came out with a charge and never stopped. They scored seven tries and four conversions in the first half to take a 53 to 0 lead.

The second half was much like the first. Another 7 tries and 4 conversions to San Jose's converted try.

U. of San Francisco 17 – SANTA ROSA 34 JC Referee: Rich Anderson

Whatever this match lacked in technique or skill, it made up with enthusiasm and effort. SRJC had the more complete and talented team on this day and was able to control play, ending the first half with a 22-10 lead. The second half some spirited play on both sides, sometimes too spirited. Play eventually leveled out with SRJC on top, 34-17.

Santa Clara – UOP CANCELED

SAC STATE women 39 – UC Davis seconds 10 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

California women 19 – CHICO STATE 21 Referee: Lois Bukowski

Seconds: California women – Chico State Not Played.

NEVADA women 24 – Humboldt State 11 Referee: Deb Hart

Touch Judge: Russ Wilkening

Because of the storm on Friday night, I decided to leave for Reno early Saturday morning. At 5:15 am, my dog and I left Oakland for the Sierras. I made good time until Applegate and then the traffic crush began. I arrived at the UN Reno pitch about 10:45 and found out from the Humboldt players that their drive was over 12 hours on Friday night/Saturday morning.

The all weather pitch was clear of snow; there were official university sideline monitors and a timekeeper/scorer. Humboldt came out strong and pressed into Reno territory for the first fifteen minutes. Then there was an ankle injury to Humboldt prop "JT" Jessica Turner during second phase play. An ambulance was called and she was taken to the local hospital. Play restarted after the ambulance left and Reno scored the first try of the match in the 21st minute and converted the kick. Humboldt answered with 3 points on a penalty kick, called for hands in the ruck, and another penalty kick late in the first half. Reno had two more tries, one off a mid-field interception by the outside center. The score at the half was Reno 19, Humboldt 6.

In the second half Humboldt scored its first try in the 43rd minute. There were a number of scrum collapses in the first half and when one Reno prop came off the pitch following another collapse with a stiff neck the scrums went to uncontested for the remainder of the match. The fourth Reno try in the 66th minute was the try of the match. Humboldt pressed into the Reno 22, Reno gained possession at a ruck and passed it back to the fullback, Lee Bryant, who was standing in ingoal. She ran up and toward the other side of the field, eluded tacklers, sprinted the length of the pitch and touched it down between the goal posts.

Thanks to Russ for running touch. Thanks to Reno for their hospitality. And thanks to the coaches who I had a chance to talk with at the social for their constructive comments and an opportunity to review the match.

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery to JT who we found out broke and dislocated her ankle.

St. Mary's women 7 – UC SANTA CRUZ 39 Referee: Barry Welsh

Great game....I'd forgotten how pleasant refereeing can be.

(Editor’s Note: Which explains a lot – especially to referees’ long-suffering Significant Others!)

SAN JOSE STATE women 82 – Santa Clara 15 Referee: Chris Fisher

Referee Coach: Tom Martinez


Olympic Club 5 – HAGGIS 17 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

Assessor: Bryan Porter

At Treasure Island

Kickoff was accompanied by cold, steady rain that lasted through much of the match. Both teams had trouble handling the ball in the wet conditions; side-stepping was almost impossible. Haggis (from Utah) dominated possession in the first half and led 7-5. Olympic Club dominated both territory and possession in the second half, but Haggis was the team to score off a well-placed chip kick to lead 12-5. Olympic Club showed good mauling technique and had several opportunities to score, but many of their drives ended in handling errors. The Haggis #13 repeatedly eased pressure on his team with long kicks downfield. Haggis won numerous tight-heads and were rewarded with a bonus try in the last minute of play. At the after match function, both teams suggested that many of their starters had been rested for this match, so the significance of the final result is unclear. Nevertheless, this was a fun game to referee in East Coast weather.

UC Davis women 23 – STANFORD 26 Referee: John Pohlman

The UC Davis women were hosting Stanford in their only home game and Senior day. Davis was concerned the University would not allow them on the field due to rain, which it did for most of both games. Not only did we play, the field was well marked, firm and regulation with a score board.

This was a very close and competitive game throughout. Stanford scored first and led at half time 21 to 17.

UC Davis has some very athletic players and controlled most of the second half. UC Davis #10 Cameron Stewart had a great day kicking scoring on two conversions and three penalty kicks, the last one putting Davis ahead 26-23 with ten minutes to play.

You don't win national championships by giving up and Stanford's pride allowed them to score on a long run in the last five minutes. Stanford controlled the ball the rest of the game with pick and drives to run out time.

Final Stanford 26- UC Davis 23. UC Davis looks to be a true contender for the playoffs.

This was my second game this weekend where the winning try was scored in the last 5 minutes. Really great exciting rugby.

Seconds: UC Davis women 7 – STANFORD 12 Referee: Joe Androvich


Our old friend from Denver, the guy who shaves his head and coaches rugby at Regis College, yeah, THAT Gilligan, made his annual recruitment trip to Pelicanland this past weekend.

We put him to work. Here’s his tale:

Friday started off well -- the rain that I'd been reading about didn't make an appearance, In and Out delivered another incredible Double-Double and Jesuit kicked off against Davis under mostly blue skies.

Davis 0 – JESUIT 51 Referee: Dan Hattrup

Jesuit started off playing a territorial game, with Co-captain Alex Murchison dominating in the lineouts. The Jesuit attack resulted in two tries in the first ten minutes; despite playing down a man after receiving a yellow card 6 minutes into the game. Davis settled down and began to make the most of their possession, effectively recycling and retaining the ball through multiple cycles.

The second half came with Davis kicking to Jesuit, and holding off their attack. The Devils continued to go through multiple phases with the ball, but each mistake was quickly capitalized on by Jesuit's counterattack. The Davis players finished out playing with a lot of heart and keeping to their pattern of play, resisting the temptation to break down and point fingers among themselves. The coaches and players were incredibly complimentary after the game, capping off a fine game with excellent sportsmanship.

Saturday morning, the drive down to Treasure Island reminded me why it's easy to fall in love with the automobile while in California. Open roads, a fine disregard for the speed limit, and a few country stations to listen to made for a quick drive to the new Golden Gate facilities. Walking in, I felt as if I was in any-rugby-playing-country-but-America, with a large screen television showing the day's games and changing rooms in the back.

Varsity: GOLDEN GATE 31 – De La Salle 10 Referee: Dan Hattrup

This game was a hard fought affair, with both squads exhibiting the physical play that only teenagers with no concern for their own well being can provide. Golden Gate scored the first two tries of the game, organizing their play and using multiple phases to move down field. De La Salle answered with pressure on the goal line scoring to the left of the posts after three Golden Gate penalties brought a caution regarding a penalty try. The first half ended with Golden Gate cycling through eleven phases, ending with a De La Salle player getting his hand under the ball as the hosts attempted to score their third try of the half.

De La Salle took advantage of the break to recharge and open up with a fierce display of hitting and running. The only issue they ran into was that knock-ons and missed passes were immediately punished by Golden Gate. Two of the tries from GG came when a pass went to ground, and the counterattack was simply too fast for the cover defense of DLS. As the game wound down and the boys got tired, they each conceded a try to close the game out at 31 to 10. After briefly visiting with friends and recruits, it was time to head down 101 to Stanford.

It's always a joy to walk onto the field at Stanford, and it's made even better when it's a friendly match, played in the spirit of the years before professionalism in rugby. LA Cougar Coach Chip Howard showed off his sartorial sense, donning a sports jacket and bringing a level of professionalism to coaching that I'll never be able to equal. This year, the teams were playing for the California Cup, which seemed perfectly sized for a soda pop or root beer can.

JESUIT 67 – LA Cougars 17 Referee: Dan Hattrup

Jesuit was quick out of the gate, scoring a succession of converted tries. They played a territorial game, kicking to the corners and effectively contesting the lineouts. The raw power of their forward pack was evident as they were able to smash the ball through the rucks and mauls, and took a considerable number of tightheads in the scrums. LA never took a backward step though, putting in tackle after tackle, and effectively poaching the ball any time Jesuit was slow to arrive to a breakdown. In the end, the score line stood at 67-17 in favor of the Northern Californians.

Saturday night was spent visiting with the parents of a player at Cal before making the journey back to Sacramento. It seemed to be a good weekend for scalawags out of the Rockies, as I ran into Tim Luscombe returning to Denver on the same flight. Again, thanks for the great hospitality of all the clubs, who seem to view referees as a necessary evil, rather than simply evil.



Elsie Allen 15 – LIVE OAK 17 Referee: Sam Reagle

Conditions: Cloudy & muddy

I negotiated the drive from my earlier game on Treasure Island to Santa Rosa with time to spare for their 5pm kickoff. The weather cooperated nicely, but the earlier rains left the pitch very wet which soon turned into very muddy. This fact didn't seem to slow either team down. The game was played at a playoff pace with each side possessing speed and size.

I don my hat to both coaching staffs. These high-schoolers played with poise and control. Live Oak scored first with a blistering scamper down the right sideline by their fullback. He then kicked the only conversion of the day. This is noteworthy as it was the margin of victory. By halftime, Live Oak had built up what seemed like a commanding 12-0 lead. But Elsie Allen came alive in the second half, scoring 2 tries of their own to make it 12-10 with about 20 minutes to go.

Live Oak scored again to make it 17-10, but Elsie Allen slid into the left corner at full time for the chance to tie. The difficult conversion sailed wide right to seal the victory for Live Oak. I suspect we will see these teams around, I hope so as it was a pleasure to referee two well-coached, enthusiastic teams.


Oakland Military Institute 0 – SFGG JV’s 55 Referee: Michael Sagehorn

The cadets of the Oakland Military Institute have entered their first high school side this season and made the short 10-minute hop from the Oakland Army Base school site to play City’s JV side at Treasure Island in a Thursday afternoon rugby match on the main field.

The OMI Warriors were given a rugby education by the more experienced and well-drilled SF/GG side. SF/GG used their back line in multiple phases to place try after try in the corners. With each minute of play the Oakland cadets gained more skill and knowledge and the City had to work harder and harder to keep replicating their success. OMI’s tackling becomes surer and more determined with each City attack.

Center Stephan Thomas and flanker Joseph Bryant gave impressive performances fresh off the basketball court for the Oakland Military Institute side. Edmond Murphy of SF/GG tested the courage of the cadets multiple times with his tank-style running prowess. The boys had a great time and enjoyed the camaraderie of the post match with their former opponents.

ANTIOCH 29 – Alameda Islanders 7 Referee: Michael Sagehorn

There’s a frequent debate going on in high school rugby circles. Some say it’s not fair to referee your own team. Others say unless we start creating and training five youth referees each year per team, our referee society will crater with all the kid rugby we are creating in NCRFU. Chris Parkhouse was slated to referee but had to back off because of injury.

I had no queue of referees beating the door to drive to Antioch to referee our scheduled match, so again I broke out the baby blue NCRFU shorts and my red Positive Coaching Alliance polo shirt and picked up the whistle. The Antioch boys are a student led team. They didn’t need me on game day anyway. On Antioch’s Worth Shaw Park in freshly refurbished natural grass we faced blustery skies and sprinkles. Loyal fans, families, and replacements were 10 meters away atop a slight hillock next to the field. It gave a great field view and the trees at the hills’ base provided a natural visible limit line and barrier. The fans and coaches for both teams were polite, friendly, and supportive and understood the NCRFU protocols. Both clubs had polite but no-nonsense team moms in charge.

Alameda has some skilled football athletes playing our code. They played hard but the lighter weight Antioch club put together a couple of sneaky moves off the line-out that put them on the board with two unconverted tries in the first 5 minutes. Alameda spent a few penalties figuring out the last foot and offside business in the breakdown. Antioch, a scrappy bunch of underclassmen mostly, were punching it up a little bit. Both captains when taken aside and the law laid down. To their credit and Coach Bill DeMar’s support, they demonstrated top-notch leadership and the monkey business stopped. Off a bobbled ball of Alameda, advantage was played, and Antioch put in another try and finally converted with the score 17-0 at half.

In the second half, Alameda cleaned up their mistakes and came out more tuned. They led four forward led attacks to within 1 meter of the try-line but failed to punch it in.. Antioch stole their line-out and ran 90 meters for another try and a conversion.

Alameda didn’t give up and continued to dominate the second period with forward-led attacks and good wet weather rugby tactics. (It was raining cold and furiously now) After plenty of Islander hard work and an Antioch mental mistake, the Alameda boys punched in a try with a penalty run. The converted and the score was now 24-7. Antioch rallied and put in another, failed to convert at minute 65 and the score at final whistle was 29-7. In the rugby spirit, a short third quarter match was played so all the replacements could have a go. Antioch won 27-0.

Tuesday, February 28

For Pete's Sake Field, Santa Rosa

Sonoma 5 – SANTA ROSA 10 Referee: Joe Leisek

Kevin Brown's Sonoma Dragons have improved immensely this season, and came to the newest rugby pitch in Northern California with high hopes of putting their mark on the Redwood Empire Conference. And as they do every year under the coaching of Lynn Meister and Dennis Bruno, Santa Rosa played with a purpose of their own.

Conditions precluded any sort of wide open, expansive rugby. This hurt Sonoma, a team with blazing speed in the backline. This game was played very tight throughout. Santa Rosa's two tries was just enough, though Sonoma had several opportunities.

Thursday, March 2

Elsie Allen 5 – SANTA ROSA JC 25 Referee: Bo Rodman


In what was essentially an alumni game, experience and guile won out over youth and enthusiasm. The visiting JC club played consistent ball through their backs and got out to a 15 -0 lead at half - which ended with a nice drop kick by the JC's.

The second half featured much of the same with the final coming at 25 - 5. Elsie Allen showed a lot of effort in their backline and loose forwards and should look forward to another league schedule of high school matches.

Friday, March 3

Jacobs Park, Santa Rosa

Rancho Cotate 5 – SONOMA 25 Referee: Joe Leisek

Sonoma, having played only two days earlier, were much sharper than Rancho. Had Sonoma played this game on Tuesday, they would have been 2-0 for the week. They retained the ball much better and used it to their advantage. Tactical kicking, skilled passing...most of it worked. One try was a beauty: a full backline movement, all passes right at chest level, resulting in a wonderful try in the corner. Afa Wongking's Rancho team features some good athletes, and will improve with playing time.


Report by Tom Martinez:

On a pretty mucky field at Aptos Hi on Friday nite it was mostly a forwards game on the slippery surface. Silicon Valley won most of the lineouts and Aptos held their own in the scrums. There were a few thrusting attacks by both backlines, but it was hard to get anything going consistently given the field conditions. The Aptos forwards played good defense against the constantly attacking Silicon Valley forwards but in the end Silicon Valley came out on top with a 10 to 5 win.

BERKELEY RHINOS 63 – Oakland Military 0 Referee: Rob Hendrickson

Berkeley Rhinos ran away with 6 first half tries and 5 in the second half to defeat Oakland Military in their first ever rugby match at Berkeley High School's Astroturf field on Saturday morning. While Oakland never put their heads down, they had problems trying to tackle Berkeley's backs too high, leading to a number of long breakaways for Berkeley.

ALAMEDA ISLANDERS over Lamorinda Silver Referee: Bruce Carter

I remember when I used to play rugby. The anticipation a match on Saturday was so great, the hours from awakening until kickoff interminable. This is still true for me, to some extent, now that I referee the game.

So what better way to start a winter’s day than to arise at six, be on the road shortly thereafter, and be ready to blow the whistle, boots inspected, front row instructed, field monitors entrusted, and touch judges empowered, at nine AM?

That was the case on the cold, clear and sunny day of March 4, 2006. A first for this well-traveled official: I had never refereed on Alameda before, now closing in on two thousand matches.

The field is small but not nearly big enough to contain the enthusiasm of the players. Each team had thirty-plus kids suited up.

Lamorinda did not have numbers on their jerseys. In some ways this puts a team at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their opponents, in others it favors them. In both cases, it works against efficient refereeing and is frustrating for the referee.

Namely: the players are relatively anonymous to the ref in terms of repeat infringements. The same players are more likely to escape notice for having committed the same violation twice, especially given that NorCal high school rules allow in-and-out substitution, and less likely to receive yellow cards.

The flip side: the referee cannot call numbers to help prevent having to whistle infractions. The team is more likely to be penalized over all.

My solution on this day was to ask repeat Lamo offenders for their name. I would then address them by name when they were offside, loitering with intent, lying about or just plain being in the wrong place.

Alameda’s number eight scored at least three tries. He breaks through, hands-off would-be tacklers, and outruns the cover. Quite a player.

PENINSULA GREEN 35 – College Park 0 Referee: Sandy Robertson

Peninsula Green attacked well and ran in 5 tries on Woodside High's artificial turf. Players showed reasonable patience with the referee who once or twice got confused by the plethora of lines (football, soccer, lacrosse) that cover the field.



Full-service Referee Coach:

Tom Martinez came out to coach Chris Fisher, but he brought food for everyone.

Jon Moore, on his third refereeing visit to NorCal this season, graciously accepts a barbecue plate.


For the Senate

Pelicus Scriptoris