Tuesday, April 11, 2006




College playoffs at Cal:

Four games Saturday
Two games Sunday

Other games Saturday:

Super League:
SF/Golden Gate – Denver

Competitive Region One (National first division)
Two games, hosted by San Mateo and Olympic Club


Lois Bukowski will be traveling to the Eastern Rockies for their U-19 championships in mid-June.

Bjorn Stumer and Bo Rodman will go to the Pacific Northwest for their U-19 championships May 6-7.

Good luck and happy whistling!


Golden Gate U23, 12 – CALIFORNIA 35 Referee: Rachel Lawton

Ra, the ancient Egyptian sun god, woke up from it's lazy slumber on Saturday to shine upon the young men from Cal and the host, Golden Gate. A bit of a pleasant surprise for everyone, even if it wasn't enough to dry the pitch. But rugby players like mud, right?

Cal broke the ice, so to speak, with a quick break from the outside center between the posts about 6 minutes in. This would set the scene, but this was not apparent until the second half. A penalty kick brought Cal to 10, but the hard fighting Golden Gate forwards pushed back, and brought the backs into Cal's red-zone. A few exciting
charges later, the ball was touched down and GG was on the scoreboard with 5. Not long after, the boys in green would charge back in a similar fashion to put it down in almost the same spot, but the kicker (the captain in this case) lined up his kick more carefully and converted the try for a score that would remain tied for fifteen
minutes. Cal spent a good portion of the rest of the half keeping GG on their heels, and finally made good on a hard hitting battle of the forwards by splashing the ball in the mud (just in in-goal, as it happened). The first forty minutes would end with a clean uniform nowhere to be found.

Cal was given some zippy juice at half time (and didn't share with the Defenders of the Golden Gate, who warmed up in their swanky new clubhouse), and blew out of the gate with a try that left us all blinking for a minute. The rest of this story sounds very similar, with three more unanswered tries from Cal. The mud slowed everyone down, but the Bear's fitness was clearly evident. As they often do, Cal took the game in the second half where their discipline and efficiency dominated play. Though many of Cal's tries were scored between the posts (by number 13, I might add), the kicker for blue and gold hit his target on all seven attempts. Impressive to watch from a university underclassmen.

The field battered and bruised and the players muddy (and vice-versa), we all went to clean up in the afore-mentioned club house and were treated to a fantastic feast of barbequed beast and beans. Jovial words were exchanged and from what I overheard, all had fun, most especially Yours Truly.



UC DAVIS 20 – Oregon State 13 Referee: Tony Latu
Touch Judges: Chris Parkhouse, Sam Reagle
Fourth Official: Ray Schwartz
Formal Evaluator: Dixon Smith
Referee Coach: Matt Eason
Informal Advisors: Paul Bretz, Scott Wood
Location: Solano College, Fairfield, CA

The forecast called for showers, on/off rain throughout the day. Fortunately they mis-calculated the rain and it went some place else. Thus, Saturday was sunny and warm, just like the week before in Richmond, Virginia.

The game kick off at 11:00 and both teams knew the situation. The winner will have a chance on Sunday to represent the Pacific Coast. The not-so-winner...it's always next year. Oregon State used their packs and Davis used their backs. Davis drew first blood on an up-and-under to the full back. And it looked like they will control
the game, but OSU had other plans. There were some great runs, great tackles, but at the end, Davis prevailed. OSU-13, UCDavis-20.

WASHINGTON STATE 17 – Sac State 10 Referee: Paul Bretz
Touch Judges: Dixon Smith, Ray Schwartz
Fourth and Fifth Officials: Sam Reagle, Chris Parkhouse


Oregon State 21 – SAC STATE 26 Referee: Tony Latu
Touch Judges: Ray Schwartz, Chris Parkhouse

Seniors played their last college games for both teams. They played for pride and seeding for next year. Sac State ran in three tries in the first half. And as soon as they relaxed, OSU rumbled back and tied the game (21 all) at the final minute.

Sac was attacking within ten meters of OSU's goalline minutes into the injury time. OSU stood their ground with their defense. Unfortunately, they got penalized for hands in the ruck with no time left. Sac took a quick tap and scored, 26-21 to Sac.

I would like to say thank you Dixon and the rest for keeping me on my toes. Thanks to Britt and his lovely wife for cooking the Lu. This is a Polynesian dish, taro leaves, corned beef and coconut milk. By the way, Britt is not a Poly, but he cooked like one.

Until next time!

UC DAVIS 36 – Washington State 8 Referee: Paul Bretz
Touch Judges: Sam Reagle, Ray Schwartz
Evaluator: Dixon Smith

Final Pacific Coast seedings into the USA Rugby playoffs:

University of California
Brigham Young University
University of Utah
UC Davis

These first two will be playing at Witter Field in two weeks. The others will be at West Point, NY, at the US Military Academy.


At Stanford's Steuber Family Rugby Stadium


STANFORD 47 – Nevada 0 Referee: Bruce Carter
Touch Judges: Deb Hart, James Hinkin
Referee Coach: David Williamson

Stanford began their national title defense with the first game on a gloriously sunny day. There were concerns about the pitch: like the rest of Pelicanland, it's been drenched for the past six weeks. It is due to host four national college championships in less than a month. And the forecast had called for rain all day.

The forecasts were off, stalled by some high pressure that kept the clouds at bay, actually kept them out of the Bay. So the sun shone on the ruggers all the livelong day.

If you look through the scores from Steuber this weekend, you'll see that Stanford, Chico State and Cal crushed their opposition. The only close game was when Stanford met Chico State. And Stanford set the pattern in the first game of the weekend, controlling the ball and the flow of play.

As dominant as the Cardinal backs can be, they still preserve possession in close for long stretches of time. But when they spin it out, it's time for the referee to get on his horse.

The second half was horseback riding time.

Oregon 13 – CALIFORNIA 52 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Touch Judges: James Hinkin, Sandy Robertson

Cal was the superior team, tallying a 20-3 halftime lead. Oregon played well in spurts, particularly in the forwards, but they could not keep up with Cal's backs, whose offense was more disciplined and sophisticated. Final try count was 9-2.

CHICO STATE 71 – Oregon State 3 Referee: Lois Bukowski
Touch Judges: Deb Hart, Paul Berman

UC DAVIS 31 – Reed College 5 Referee: Giles Wilson
Touch Judges: Paul Berman, Sandy Robertson

The last game of two pools of the women's college was UC Davis vs. Reed College from Portland.

UCD came out hard and looked as though they'd dominate but Reed were scrappy and Davis didn't commit enough players to safely secure quick recycle ball. Reed used their feet intelligently to "poach" ruck ball legally and thus keep themselves in the game. The half ended 7 - 5 for Davis.

Davis' size and overall speed advantage began to tell in the second half, when they managed to run in 4 tries for no reply from Reed. It could have been many more if the backs would have exploited several 2 on 1 overlaps instead of turning back in to contact.


STANFORD 33 v. Chico State 28 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Touch judges: Deb Hart, Paul Berman
Evaluator: Dave Williamson.

Two high calibre teams + no rain = excellent rugby match. The first half was a battle as both teams ran at each other at full pace, with plenty of hard hits. Stanford had numerous individual breaks, but their uncharacteristic lack of support was a liability as the Chico defense intelligently handled the isolated ballcarriers, earning
turnovers and penalties. Neither team could break loose and Chico took an 8-7 lead into the half, 1 try apiece.

Stanford started the second half with authority, scoring 4 open-field tries while Chico could only manage a penalty. Stanford's right wing was unstoppable out wide, while Stanford's #5 had a brilliant match all over the field. Leading 33-11, Stanford looked to have the match in the bag, but Chico suddenly started clicking on all cylinders, mounting an enthralling comeback. Chico displayed team play at its best with their backs and forwards combining to storm through the Stanford defense, quickly recycling ball through numerous phases, not giving the defense chance to regroup. Led by their irrepressible #3 and experienced half-backs, Chico scored three well-crafted tries to close within 33-28 of Stanford's lead. Stanford curiously spurned a penalty kick opportunity late in the match and Chico--with all the momentum--was able to mount one last attack at the Stanford goal-line. Under severe pressure within their own 22, Stanford's forwards showed character, held firm, and forced a knock-on that ended the game.

Stanford deservedly won the Pacific Coast Championship (and USA #1 seed at Nationals), but runner-up Chico State should fancy its own chances at nationals. This was an exciting game from start to finish. Much thanks to Dave Williamson and the touch judges for their help throughout the weekend.

CALIFORNIA 41 – UC Davis 0 Referee: Lois Bukowski

Stanford and Cal will be in the USA playoffs in two weeks in Gainesville, Fla. Chico State will be in State College, Penn.


At Hayward


HAGGIS 34 – Hayward 22 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Touch Judges: Joe Saccomanno, Bruce Carter
Evaluator: Bryan Porter

This was an amazing game. The current national D2 champions came out like they had something to prove, scoring three unconverted tries to go up 15 – 0 in the first twenty minutes or so.

Unfortunately for Hayward, Mose Timoteo went off with a knee injury in the early going. He might have been able to organize the defense a little better. Haggis had two runners who proved well-nigh unstoppable, #8 and #13, both keen to seek contact and shed tacklers.

Hayward played a patient game and took the lead by converting their own third try, 17 – 15, with about ten minutes to play.

But Haggis scored two more tries, both from long range with some remarkable pace on the wings.

Diablo Gaels 19 – OLYMPIC CLUB 34 Referee: Pete Smith
Touch Judges: Bruce Carter, Joe Saccomanno/Jim Crenshaw


HAYWARD 22 – Diablo Gaels 10 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

OLYMPIC CLUB 37 – Haggis 24 Referee: Pete Smith
Evaluator: Bryan Porter

Pete Smith's report on the weekend:

Saturday and Sunday I was fortunate enough to get assigned to the division 1 men's playoffs in Hayward. The games were every bit as tough and entertaining as you would imagine a men's playoff game to be. Saturday I was in charge of Olympic Club and the Diablo Gaels and on Sunday the game between Haggis from Utah and Olympic Club. There are reasonable write ups on both Goffonrugby.com and Americanrugbynews.com. Olympic Club won over Diablo Gaels on Saturday by a score of 34-19 and the Olympic Club over Haggis on Sunday 37-24.

Sorry I am not a big try-by-try writer when it comes to my games, but I have a hard time remembering who scored and when. I do however remember elements as a whole and want to focus on what was and has been a major portion of my games over the past few seasons-working with the captains. The main reason I have isolated the Captain for this weeks report is that I worked with three excellent captains over the weekend.-Andrew from Olympic Club, Ryan from Haggis and Darren
from Diablo Gaels. All three are excellent captains in the traditional role as a leader and decision maker. Before my Sunday match, in my pre-game conversation with the captains, I noted one issues that I had had with Olympic Club and asked Andrew to talk to his team about it. Likewise, I had noted an issue from the sideline in the Haggis game that I talked to Ryan about and low and behold I had virtually no problem with either issue from the previous day. I give full credit to the captains!

When I was a new referee, I had not work much with the captain beyond the coin toss and any direct decisions that needed to be made by the captain. It took a few bad experiences with coaches to make me realize that it is the captain that I need to work with to be a more effective referee. Almost everything I do as a referee goes through the captains. I empower them at my first contact. I let them know that I will be working with them to help us produce a better game. Anytime I have an issue on or off the field it is the captain I go to. Working with the captain helps me to de-emotionalize the situation. In the past, when I had a problem with a player, I dealt with the player-now I deal with the captain and have the player present. I must have a working relationship with the captain and hopefully I have developed
some rapport and earned their confidence and respect so that we can work effectively together.

If I have problems with the sidelines or coaches-it is the captain that I empower to handle the situation. At the highest levels of play, the coaches are in the press box or stands and it is solely the captain's responsibility to handle the team. In fact, the law book references captains but makes no reference to coaches. Too many teams
do not put enough importance on their selection of a captain-it tends to be a reward of sorts rather than appointing the player that is best suited for the job. Domestically, the sport may be better served to take the lead from our international counterparts as I think it will help to improve the sports image and potentially head off any possible conflicts. I think if this custom is adopted here is the US, then you will see better choices made for selecting captains.

A good captain is not necessarily the 'best' player on the team. Unfortunately, many coaches pick their best player as their captain and not the best person for the job. A good captain is someone that must have the respect and confidence of their teammates first and foremost. Secondly, a good captain needs to make correct tactical
decisions throughout the game. And most importantly to the referee, the captain needs to maintain a level head regardless of the circumstance. There is nothing worse than to have a problem on the field and it IS the captain that is the problem. Not to say that the captain can never be penalized, but the captain should not be in the
center of an un-sportsmanlike situation. Personally, I like a tight five player as the captain-you know the 'strong-silent' type. I would much prefer a player who just wants the facts and/or a brief explanation versus a chatty player that questions everything and is always 'working' the referee for calls.

I hope that if you are a referee and am reading this, if you don't already empower and build a relationship with the captains at your games, start doing so immediately. If you are a coach, please choose your captain wisely, likewise empower them to carryout what they perceive to be your wishes and game plan. I know it is a lot to ask a coach, but let go of the things that you can't control (what is happening on the field) and trust your captain to handle the issues as they arise. If you are a captain, take your responsibility seriously, make an effort to work with the referee as the referee should be making an effort to work with you and try to work on the areas that
will make you a more effective captain because your team needs you. A good captain can make the difference between winning and losing.

Final Pacific Coast seedings into the Competitive Region One playoffs:

San Mateo
Olympic Club

Each of these teams will play home and away matches against top four SoCal finishers, April 22 and 29.


The Northern California high school playoffs begin on April 22, with each of the four conferences sending their first two finishers into Tier One and their third and fourth place teams into Tier Two.


Tier One Playoff:

LIVE OAK 8 – Silicon Valley 3 Referee: John Pohlman

Live Oak of Morgan Hill hosted two important games for high school playoff seating. The first game was Live Oak versus Silicon Valley, the winner hosting Burbank and loser playing at Jesuit in the first round of the NCRFU HS playoffs April 22.

It was a perfect day for rugby: 60 degrees, partly cloudy and a soft, well-marked field.

Live Oak dominated possession throughout the game. It was a testament to Silicon Valley's tackling that the game was so close.

Live Oak scored in the first minutes of the game. The kick was unconverted. 5-0. Live Oak followed with a penalty. And right before half time Silicon Valley got on the score board with their own penalty. Half time Live Oak 8- Silicon Valley 3.

Live Oak had a large, lively crowd. At the start of the second half the fans screamed their support for the home town men. I was a bit moved by the enthusiasm.

The second half was filled with big hits and loads of scoring opportunities by both sides. Late in the game Silicon Valley had a break which could have tied the score but alas: a forward pass.

Thanks for some good rugby. These are both well coached teams, with good supporters. A joy to officiate.

Tier Two Playoff:

Peninsula Green 5 – APTOS 10 Referee: James Hinkin
Touch Judge: John Pohlman
Just Hanging Around and Watching: Bruce Carter

A high school playoff game played to determine seeding Saturday afternoon lived up to expectations as a fast and determined contest. Both sides were committed in the tackle and ran with determination but handling and the occasional ill discipline let the sides down.

The game remained scoreless until late in the first half when PG finally was able to break through the center and the resulting support garnered a try out wide. The conversion was unsuccessful to leave the score at 5-0. Aptos began applying pressure as the half was winding down and an appeal for a try went unanswered as the Aptos flyhalf lunged towards the line. The referee was in poor position to award a try so instead awarded a scrum, but his bacon was saved when the Aptos
captain and 8-man picked up the ball from the base of the scrum and powered over for a clear try. The conversion was once again unsuccessful so the half ended tied at 5 apiece.

The second half saw much of the same as both sides tried to break the deadlock. Goal kicking at both ends was poor as both sides missed makeable penalties so it looked like a game to be decided the old-fashioned way: tries. The scrums, which had been stable for three quarters of the match suddenly started getting wobbly as both sides tried to gain an advantage but that nonsense was soon sorted and the real game of rugby commenced in earnest. Peninsula Green looked likely to score late in the second half when a pass was thrown ever so slightly forward ended the run. The stalemate continued and the referee was looking a round of beers in the face when time was stopped to allow treatment to the PG scrumhalf who went off with an injured shoulder. Both sides were informed at the ensuing lineout that there
were 2 minutes remaining. Aptos won their own throw and started charging ahead with determination. The ball was eventually spun wide to the right but turned over by an enterprising PG defense. The ball was then hacked forward and the chase was on with the Aptos fullback winning the race followed closely by the PG captain and #13 who unfortunately decided that this would be a good time to play the ball while on his knees. Aptos tapped the penalty quickly and was
immediately hit giving them an advantage as the recycled ball was spun back to the right. The beep signaling time has run out sounded as Aptos knocked on but was saved by the not 10 penalty advantage being played. Realizing that time was out Aptos quickly tapped and ran back to the right and slick passing through several hands finally garnered the winning try as Aptos dove over the line to steal the game. A well played match and a finish that couldn't get any better.

DE LA SALLE 29 – San Francisco Golden Gate 7 Referee: Chris Parkhouse

This was an extremely hard fought game with the score not truly reflective of the passage of play and evenness of the game. It took nearly 10 minutes for the first try to be scored. A breakdown at a ruck saw DLS go blind side and go all the way to score in the corner from about 20 m out without any opposition. A similar blind side try
was followed by a late score in the first half and DLS going in with a 15-0 lead.

From the kick off in the second half it was all Golden Gate. Wave after wave of attack, staunch defending and solid tackling by DLS. Had their handling been more assured and their game less error prone Golden Gate could easily have been tied within the first 10 minutes. As it was sustained pressure for 25 mins eventually lead to a Golden Gate try and with the ensuing conversion we were in for one hell of a last ten minutes. It was a piece of individual brilliance that eventually decided the game. Tim Maupin the De La Salle Captain picking up from 30m out went on one of his jinking runs carving through three defenders and then breaking through two more before touching down under the posts. With two minutes left De La Salle made the most of a defensive penalty and scored again to finally seal a very hard fought victory. The score certainly did not reflect the passage of play and territorial possession of Golden Gate - but that's Rugby!

Thursday: Berkeley/Tri Valley-rain cancellation
Friday: Alameda/Lamo-rain cancellation

Tri-Valley 10 – ANTIOCH 34 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

At the rather fascinating Contra Costa Fairgrounds in Antioch. It is a bit like the Field of Dreams – in the most unlikely venue of a (presently) decrepit public grounds there is a well lined, freshly mowed regulation pitch. Good on Mike Sagehorn.

A lively game with a markedly low penalty count-these boys knew where the off sides line was. Antioch was a well oiled machine, very opportunistic. While not in the hunt after the half, Tri-Valley never quit; indeed, two nifty 2nd half tries. And the money NorCal has spent on anger (angst?) management for Giles has paid off. It was as if he wrote the Guidelines himself.

ALAMEDA RIPTIDE – Motherlode Referee: Sam Davis

Great game sun was shining for once this month. Both teams were moving the ball between the 22 meter lines. Motherlode scored on the 20 min mark with a nice multi-phase movement that scored in the corner. The half ended with Motherlode ahead 5-0. Alameda came back in the second half with a penalty on their 22 which the Motherlode flyhalf did a very nice drop kick to go ahead 8-0. Riptide came back with a score that was set up by a very long run by their center who was run out of
bounds. Motherlode mishandled the ball on the line out and took it into there in-goal and Alameda touched it down. Alameda was driving to score as time ran out, the ball carrier was striped of the ball and Motherlode player went into touch and end the game. Very nice game and looks like all had fun.

Friday 4/6/06

Windburg 0 – ELSIE ALLEN 42 Referee: Bo Rodman
Venue: Piner High School

At kickoff there was sideways rain pelting the field. Luckily we were on an all-weather pitch so there was no mud; but, I could not see my watch and I was starting to lose feeling in my extremities. Remind me again why I moved here from Seattle...

My obviously water-logged match card shows Elsie Allen prevailing 42 -0. Windburg is a new team in the Redwood league this year and taking on the Lobos was a daunting task. Nonetheless, the Windburg side did not give up and showed a lot of effort against a team that will be competing for state/nationals.

Prop Craig Manno scored 4 tries, 8-man Mike Phipps scored 2 tries, and Prop Terrence McCarter scored his first try of the year.

As I bundle my rain-soaked body into the car for the ride home all I can think of is "These are the times that try (pun unintended) men's souls." Oh well, at least the boys seemed to have a good run!



In Utah:

In Washington:
UTAH – Washington
Central Washington – ST. MARY'S

UTAH 22 – St. Mary's 20


In Oregon:

Pacific Coast Playoffs
College Division II Men and Women
Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Oregon

Saturday, April 8
HUMBOLDT STATE 39 – Western Oregon University 8 Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: Craig Parish (PNRFU), Jim Kautz (PNRFU)

The first men's semi-final of the weekend pitted the home team against the undefeated Lumberjacks of Humboldt State. The game took some time to settle, but Humboldt State scored first and never really were challenged. WOU has talent and athleticism, and are well-coached, but were starved of ball and unable to defend against the more experienced, bigger team. Humboldt State are a very strong side again this year.

Later in the day I ran touch for Craig 'Wags' Parish in the other men's semi-final. In that game, Santa Rosa Junior College came from behind to defeat Utah State 15 - 10, setting up an all-California final on Sunday: two NCRFU teams and a Pelican ref.

Sunday, April 9
HUMBOLDT STATE 39 Santa Rosa Junior College 10 Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: Craig Parish (PNRFU), Eric Zimmerman (PNRFU)

The teams were fired up for the final. It was hard to hear my own whistle to start the game, with all the yells and screams from players and supporters. The first 40 minutes were a cracker, with both sides running the ball and retaining possession well. Humboldt State scored first with a penalty kick, then at about the 25 minute mark, flyhalf Trevor Payne took charge. Santa Rosa's young flyhalf is an Elsie Allen grad and a soft-spoken guy. But he is focused, very skilled, and the leader of his team. Trevor took a pass from scrumhalf Balamcab Guitierrez (also an Elsie grad) and, holding the ball in both hands in front of him, dashed about 40 meters through traffic for a try near the left post. Absolutely thrilling stuff and winner of my vote for Try of the Tournament. Mike Rodrigues, yet another Elsie grad, calmly
slotted the conversion. I had refereed these three players throughout their high school careers doing the same thing.

Humboldt State also scored a try in the first half, which ended with Santa Rosa on top, 10-8.

The second half was all Humboldt. They put on a massive display of forward power and backline organization. They scored five unanswered tries, I believe by five different players. Santa Rosa began to tire. They moved backwards most of the time and they met swarming defense whenever they did have the ball. Humboldt powered their way to the try line via a pushover scrum, rolling maul, backline distribution...you name it. The Lumberjacks' ball retention was vastly superior in the
second half as well.

A great weekend of rugby in a beautiful setting.

Best wishes to Humboldt State and UC Santa Cruz (winner of the women's bracket) at the Elite Eight in Sanford, Florida, in two weeks.


In Oregon:

WESTERN OREGON 22 – St. Mary's 0
UC SANTA CRUZ 45 – St. Mary's 5
UC SANTA CRUZ 34 – Western Oregon 24



Sunday found a fine flock in Fairfield for the playoffs:

Left to Right, Standing: Scott Wood, Dixon Smith, Jim Crenshaw, Paul Bretz, Matt Eason, Tony Latu, Jackson (extra credit for finding him)
Kneeling: Ray Schwartz, Bo Rodman, Chris Parkhouse, Sam Reagle


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris