Tuesday, November 14, 2006




We are chagrined to admit that a good rugby match in NorCal had to proceed without an assigned referee this past weekend.

Stanislaus hosted the Sacramento Lions. They notified us and asked for a referee in plenty of time. A referee was appointed, but he found out Friday that he absolutely could not cover the match.

There was no-one else to be found. You will notice as you read on that several referees had more than one match Saturday.


This coming weekend is a case in point: there are fifteen full games plus the Chico Holiday Classic, with games on two pitches from 8 AM until dark (twelve teams).

If at all possible, please try to lend a whistle:

One or two who could ref a match in the South Bay.

Several who could go to Chico. There are only three refs for this one so far. The tournament will be happy to provide motel rooms Friday and/or Saturday nights.

We anxiously await replies.

And the following weekend – we don’t need anyone. No games are scheduled on Thanksgiving weekend, although four of our members will be out on exchange.


Bjorn Stumer has been arranging for new kit order.

However, there is a minimum order necessary to set up production and allow for reasonable pricing. We need at least eighteen orders of a basic load:

Package to cost $118 - for those who did at least five matches last year the cost is $63.

Package includes:

1 Jersey with logo
1 Pair of shorts with logo
1 Pair of socks
1 Set of flags with logo
1 Society tie – either traditional or new BOW TIE

Of course, you can order additional of any or all of these, assuming the minimum totals are met.

Please let Bjorn know:


It has been proposed that our Society meetings all occur on Wednesday evenings, one each month December through April.

If this would affect your ability to attend, please let us know. So far, one such response has been received. We want to encourage attendance and make allowances if necessary.


(Craig Parish, known as Wags to most rugby folk, is President of the Pacific Northwest RRS. He often refers to referees as ‘blowers’. We heartily approve of this turn of phrase and have adopted it from time to time; we now accredit its provenance.)

Joe Leisek was recently in Virginia on exchange.

It was the perfect exchange: not only did Joe have fun and make new friends, he returned with an above-grade evaluation from a territorial evaluator!

Report by Joe Leisek

Friday, November 3: On the 5 a.m. airport bus from Petaluma to SFO, I fumbled for my iPod and dialed in a selection of You Bet Your Life radio episodes. A Marxophile since the age of 14, I had discovered .mp3 nirvana on eBay two weeks prior: 200 episodes of Groucho Marx’s radio program on one CD. Listening to probably a half-dozen of them throughout the day helped pass the time traveling to Richmond, VA, on a new Pelican exchange to the Ed and Sandy Lee Cup.

The plane touched down right on schedule at 6 p.m. in Richmond, where I was met by smiling Jeff Anderson, President of the Virginia Rugby Referees Society whose motto is Solus Judis Legis. A short time later, the two of us welcomed Peter and Marianna Simpson arriving from New York. An English expat, Peter is a former referee who is now an evaluator.

After checking into our hotel, we drove into downtown Richmond for the captains’ meeting. Shortly afterwards, our group of four (Peter and Marianna, David Metcalfe, an evaluator from Florida, and me) took a cab to a district of converted tobacco warehouses. We had dinner in a restaurant housed in one such brick building built in the 1860s. What a great evening it was…meeting new friends, telling rugby stories, talking about families; all the while eating good food and drinking good wine. After dinner we listened a bit to a very good R&B cover band (similar to Price and Joy) before taking a cab back to the hotel.

Saturday, November 4
Pole Green Park, Richmond, VA
WASHINGTON IRISH 22 – Richmond Lions 12 Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: VRU referees Bob Underwood and James Ivory
Evaluator: David Harwood

In the early morning I ran touch for Stuart Willis, a new ref from Virginia. The other touch judge was Bob DeStafney, a Marine Corps Colonel who once captained a Combined Services touring side to England that featured Bruce Carter at hooker.

The game I refereed was a VRU D2 men’s club match, and not officially part of the tournament. There was a good crowd and a very good game ensued. Both teams had obviously intended to play open, running rugby.

The Irish had most of the ball and most of the territory for about the first 35 minutes, but Richmond came roaring back with several attacks, culminating in a try at halftime which pulled them to within five points (7-12). The second half was very even, and may in fact have been an even more entertaining half.

Richmond scored one more try and held the Irish to just a penalty kick, until the end of the game, when Richmond, desperate to attack, turned the ball over and Washington scored a runaway try at the whistle.

The late afternoon was spent staying warm in evaluator Dave Harwood’s van, discussing the game. The referees’ dinner was held that night in a restaurant next to the hotel. I sat next to Dave Metcalfe again, one of my dinner companions from the night before (it would be three nights in a row before the exchange was over). I was appointed to the college D1 final the next day: the University of Virginia v. Virginia Tech. I also learned the two teams were rivals, to say the least.

Sunday, November 5
Ed and Sandy Lee Cup
Pole Green Park, Richmond, VA
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA 32 – Virginia Tech 12 Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: VRU referees Peadar Little and Matthew Robinette
Evaluator: Steve Verna

Once again I ran touch early in the morning, this time for Steve Myers, a B1 referee. I really enjoyed watching him. Then it was time for the main match, which was expected to be a barnburner between two excellent sides.

Bill Burch of Lineout Video set up his ladder and taped the proceedings. I was mic’d by a local production company that is trying to break into the rugby market. They stationed four cameras and even had an announcer.

While parts of the game did feature open running and multi-phase play, there were just too many penalties and not enough continuity. A better job of managing this by me might have helped produce a more entertaining game.

That being said, Virginia was clearly the better team, jumping out to a 29-0 lead at the half. Ranked #14 in one recent poll, UVa scored four tries and one penalty goal in the first 40 minutes. The second half was more in VT’s favor, but they never seriously contested the game.

I had a good debrief with Steve Verna, a MARFU evaluator and former referee. It was great to see Steve again; he had evaluated me two seasons ago at the Pat Vincent Cup at St. Mary’s.

Earlier in the day I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Gauthier, an evaluator and a retired Navy man. Paul is known for his distinctive whistle style: He holds his index finger over the top opening, blows to start the pea rattling, then gradually lifts his finger to produce a very unusual sound. At least two VRU referees use his style—Steve Myers and Bob DeStafney—Paul’s disciples. Paul had open-heart surgery just three weeks before the tournament and was proud to be standing on the sidelines, “looking down at the grass.” A widower, Paul noted his appeal to single women of his age (or younger), even in the hospital. “I’m a play-YA” he joked, in his deep, sandpaper voice.

Later in the evening I had a beer with Dave Harwood and Dave Metcalfe, then had dinner with Dave before preparing for the early Monday morning flight home, then crashing to sleep.

It was a wonderful weekend in a beautiful setting. Many thanks to Jeff Anderson and the VRU referees for their hospitality.


Report by Aruna Ranaweera
St. George, Utah

Saturday Nov 11: Grizzly Shield 2nd semifinal
ARIZONA ALL-STARS 19 – NorCal Barbarians 12 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Touch Judges: Rich Wartner (URRS), Sam Madsen (URRS)

Since the Pacific NorthWest did not field a team this year, Arizona played a Barbarian team comprised of mostly NorCal players (Div I-III) and a few others from Snake River. This match was started an hour late as the previous match between Utah and Northern California was delayed by an hour until the Northern California All-star team arrived.

Both teams recycled the ball well, with numerous multi-phase possessions. On offense, the Arizona backs were more organized than their Barbarian counterparts, but the forward exchanges were even. Arizona led 7-5 at the half. The Barbarians had several individual breaks, but lacked the support to mount sustained pressure. Arizona played tactically wise rugby to win the match, 3 tries to 2.

Sunday Nov 12: Grizzly Shield Final
UTAH ALL-STARS 34 – Arizona All-Stars 12 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Touch Judges: Rich Wartner (URRS), Sam Madsen (URRS)

As the two NorCal teams scrimmaged in the consolation final, Utah and Arizona prepared for a championship battle under sunny skies. Arizona fielded mostly Red Mountain players, while the large Utah team featured players from Haggis, Provo, and former players from BYU and Las Vegas.

The match was played at a frantic pace with plenty of open-field running and multiple-phases. The rucking was very efficient and intense on both sides of the ball. Utah created large gaps in the first half and scampered to a 24-7 lead. Arizona's speedy backs mounted a number of attacking moves, but were thwarted often by Utah's back three who were solid in both attack and defense. Utah's fly-half (US Eagle), scrum-half, and openside flanker were prominent.

In the second half, Utah appeared to take the foot off the pedal and Arizona looked the more aggressive team, scoring out wide once more to close within 24-10. Arizona's coach/captain/fly-half ran a tactically intelligent match, while the Arizona full-back enjoyed a number of long, darting runs through the Utah defense. However, silly forward penalties in the red zone negated Arizona's momentum. Utah decided to create some breathing room by playing controlled, run-straight rugby, which yielded two more breakaway tries. At the final whistle, Utah had earned the Grizzly Shield by scoring 6 tries to 2.

Overall, this was a fun match to referee with good skills and fine athleticism displayed by both teams. I would like to thank the Utah Referee Society representatives (Jon Moore, Rich Wartner, and Sam Madsen) for their hospitality during my first visit to that state.


STANFORD women 96 – SF Fog 0 Referee: Sandy Robertson
A competent group of Fog women came to Stanford to play rugby and like many women's teams over the last few years they discovered that the Stanford women play the game a bit differently. With a solid core of veterans the Stanford women attacked from anywhere on the park, threw the ball around with abandon, and kicked for advantage, forcing the Fog to defend in ways and places not common in the women's game.

The Stanford 22 included a number of first year players, and the fact that, on the pitch, several were essentially indistinguishable from their veteran teammates, bodes well for Stanford.

Seconds: STANFORD women 43 – Santa Clara 17 Referee: John Pohlman
I had the pleasure of working three games of rugby at Stanford this past Saturday. On a day thought to be rainy and miserable the weather gods smiled on us and it turned out to be perfect for rugby.

I did a couple of Santa Clara and Stanford games last year and it's great to see tremendous improvements in both programs.

The Stanford second side was hosting Santa Clara's seconds for a noon kick-off. When I went over to do the pre-game chat I counted about 20-25 players warming up on each side. Wondering if this would be a full game, 25 players for two sides and two games. I was pleasantly surprised when the coaches said no our first side players are in the stands. That's right both Stanford and Santa Clara have close to 60 players.

This was a very fast game. Santa Clara scored the first try at the 3 minute mark. Followed by a Stanford try at 6 minutes. The first half was very competitive. The difference being the Irish standoff who scored two of Stanford first half tries. The first half ended 26-7.

Lots of substitutions in the second half and many of the players were playing of the first time. The quality of play wasn't up to the first half but everyone learned a lot. Final Stanford 43 Santa Clara 17.

Keep getting in shape. Make your tackles, listen to your coaches and both teams could be playoff bound.

STANFORD 31 – Santa Clara 26 Referee: Pete Smith
Pete typed up a nice report but forgot to periodically hit ‘Save’. His computer burped and that was that…

BERKELEY RFC 47 – Univ. of San Francisco 25 Referee: Lois Bukowski
Treasure Island
Good numbers for BRFC, USF gamers and pretty green.
It was 28-15 Berkeley after the 1st 30 min period, with USF closing the gap to 28-25 after the second.

BRFC ran away in the 3rd. It was a pre-season contest; rugby broke out quite often.

On an unfortunate note, the All Blues have lost for the first time since 1996 with NY scraping by 22-17. Ah, it will merely light the fire for the Blues for next year…all good streaks must come to an end. Clearly, this has to be one for the ages. Berkeley still leads all Women's clubs with 10 total National Championships!

[Editor’s Note: Paul Bretz refereed this national championship match. Paul called to say that this one reminded him of high-level games he’s done for the RFU: every ruck was contested with vigor, velocity and skill. He thoroughly enjoyed it, was proud to be on the pitch, and hopes that any unpleasant associations the All Blues might understandably make with him and this historic defeat will be short-lived.]

Santa Clara women 5 – SAINT MARY’S ~60 Sandy Robertson
Saint Mary's had more bodies and more experience and it showed in a scrimmage that was enthusiastic and positive. Santa Clara stuck with it throughout and were rewarded, near the end, the result of perseverance through several phases after a penalty 5 meters out

MISSION a lot – San Jose State not so many Referee: Pete Smith


It was a light and drizzly morning. Rod Chance picked me up and after an early morning drive in the rain (described as a light mist by wunderground.com), past the golden hills of Sun City, through the choke point in Lincoln, and along the Upper Sacramento Valley orchards and rice fields turned duck blinds, we arrived at Chico Junior High School. Bjorn Stumer was already there preparing for the first match of Chico's pre-season college tournament. Jim Crenshaw arrived with Tony Latu to enjoy the festivities and the climatic nuances.

The day started as a cold, wet, muddy affair. Overall, the tournament was a success. Chico State, Humboldt State, Oregon State, and Saint Mary's College arrived with more than enough numbers. Each team played an A and B side match on Saturday and Sunday.


Seconds: CHICO STATE 27 – Oregon State 10 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
A three-hour drive up to Chico in the rain was rewarded by an exciting and hard fought match between two evenly matched Chico State and Oregon State B-Sides. Due to the rain, the venue was moved to Chico High School in conditions that can be gently described as soft under foot. Yet neither rain, mud, or the fading lines of the pitch could dampen the enthusiasm of two sides determined to play hard, have fun, and stay within the laws and ethos of our beloved sport.

This was Chico's day as they scored five tries (one converted) to Oregon's two, both unconverted. Although the ball remained slick throughout, the many expected knock-ons failed to materialize and what naturally ensued was a match of rucks and mauls ably handled by both sides. Chico found space on numerous occasions, a fact reflected in their 27 to 10 victory, but Oregon State fought throughout thus providing their hosts with capable and aggressive competition. A clean, fun, and hard match thoroughly enjoyed by all involved.

Chico State 14 – Oregon State 14 Referee: Scott Wood
Touch Judges: Rod Chance, Jim Crenshaw
Understated Field conditions: Wet and muddy
The drizzle ceased during Bjorn's match but the sod was suitably conditioned for an autumn slip-and-slide. Chico came out strong and worked hard to score two converted tries in the first half. Both teams had difficulty keeping their feet, some of which was attributed to field conditions. At half I changed out of a well-soaked long-sleeve jersey. In retrospect, that was a great idea for the clouds broke and the temperature rose. In the tale of two halves category, Oregon State collected itself at halftime and came out charging for the second half. They scored an early converted try before losing a player to the bin. Chico tried to advance but was unable to capitalize off the power-play. With seconds remaining and the Beavers knocking on Chico's door, a penalty was awarded to the attackers. They elected to scrum from which an additional penalty was awarded for Chico's flanker unbinding early. A tap-and-go and subsequent passing to the wing scored a try mere inches from touch-in-goal. The pressure mounted as Oregon's Chase McQuillen lined up for the conversion. Chico charged as the ball was kicked, fading just inside the upright to tie the game at full-time.

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 17 – Humboldt State 7 Referee: Tony Latu
St. Mary’s won the game but it was a good game considered the field situation. Both teams are well disciplined and well coached.

Unfortunately I called off the game with 15 mins to go. One of the St. Mary players was taken by ambulance, broken ankle.

But the highlight of the game happened when this ref ran faster than any player trying to avoid the falling goal post. Not one, but both goal posts.

Now I have to avoid the players and the goal post running lanes.

Humboldt State 0 – ST. MARY’S 12 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
I ref'd the St Mary's Humboldt game on Saturday. Both teams hadn't played much this year and it showed. The first half was a constant struggle to keep them on their feet, coming through the gate, rolling away and not playing while off their feet. It took 2 yellow cards, but the second half was much better, with a much more open and running game. St. Mary's won 12 to 0.

Chico State hosted a spaghetti feed on campus for the four colleges and two referees (Jim and Tony returned to the Mother Ship). Kudos to Oregon State arriving in Number 2s consisting of khakis, dress shirts (many with ties), and OSU Rugby vests. Thanks go out to Beau McSwain for hosting Rod and me for the evening.


Woke up and grabbed breakfast before heading off to the pitch. The skies were grey but it did not look like rain. In fact, it felt too cold to snow. Fortunately, the Chico State Athletic Director authorized the use of the pitch on campus. We arrived in plenty of time to warm up. The pitch was well marked, unfortunately, those responsible for field preparations did not arrive in a timely manner so the first kickoff was delayed 20 minutes so the posts could be erected.

SAINT MARY'S COLLEGE 47 – Oregon State 26 Referee: Scott Wood
Temperature at kickoff: 57 F
Temperature at halftime: 55 F
Temperature at fulltime: 54

This was a fast-paced affair with SMC providing the forward speed and OSU backpedaling most of the first half. OSU was repeatedly off their feet at rucks but managed to get it together after the captain was instructed as to possible outcomes if such behavior continued. Both teams played well but Saint Mary's backs were able to outmaneuver OSU throughout the first half. Halftime score had SMC leading 26-7.

As with the previous day, OSU must have had an epiphany as they came out strong in the second half. Attacking play and scoring seemed to switch back and forth with SMC scoring three tries to OSU's two tries and a penalty goal before fulltime. With less than a minute remaining, OSU kicked for touch from a penalty and had a lineout between SMC's 10 and 22. The ball ended up being kicked into in-goal with two defenders and one OSU player giving chase. Both SMC players arrived first. Both managed to touch the side of the ball knocking it towards the dead ball line. Both did not successfully ground the ball before the OSU player dove on it scoring the try. Again, I found myself at fulltime with OSU attempting a conversion just inches from touch. Unfortunately, the conversion was unsuccessful.

Seconds: ST. MARY'S COLLEGE 17 – Oregon State 10 Referee: Rod Chance

CHICO STATE 28 – Humboldt State 5 Referee: Sam Reagle
I drove up to Chico on Sunday to referee a preseason game between last year’s Division 2 Champions, the Humboldt State Lumberjacks and the Division 1 Chico State Wildcats. The lumberjacks showed a lot of promise, but were hamstrung by a lack of continuity in their offense.

The Wildcats made better decisions and fewer mistakes to get the win. This was a full 80 minute contest with the score 14-0 at halftime. The Wildcats’ defense thwarted one strong Lumberjack attack by preventing the ballcarrier from "downing" the ball in goal and another by poaching the ball from a Lumberjack who outran his support. The Lumberjacks’ persistence finally paid off with a score at the 70 minute mark to bring the score to 21-5. Chico State scored at full time to end the game.

Seconds: CHICO STATE 31 – Humboldt State 5 Referee: Dan Lacko
Lots of talking and diving by players. Dan did very well, especially considering he has never taken the Level 1 course. Humboldt struggled for continuity and possession.

CAL POLY SLO 80 – University Nevada, Reno 3 Referee: Andy Doukas
(Note: Andy is our newest level one-certified referee. He lives in San Luis Obispo and we are happy to have him as a Pelican!)

Experience and depth took the day. An overcast and sometimes dreary day led to good conditions in the first half to wet conditions and a lot of knocked-forward balls in the second. Cal Poly's experience controlled the match and led to committing defensive players to the rucks, leaving open back line players for through the hands, good decision making, trys.

Cal Poly forwards worked hard all day, with good running off the scrums by their #8, and a pushover try from a scrum on the 5 meter attacking line.

Kudos to the Reno side, well coached for this inexperienced and no subs side. They played hard and with passion, which made for a great day of rugby.

Thanks to both sides for giving me the opportunity to improve my refereeing skills. Captains, Chris, fullback for Cal Poly, and Carl, halfback for Reno, led their teams to a welled played match and treated the ref with great respect in the tradition of the game!

Sunday, 3PM
Cal Maritime Academy Intra-squad Scrimmage Referee: Ray Schwartz
Ref coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz

Coach Ed Roberts is back and putting his young Keelhaulers through the paces. They held a 2 day minicamp, concluding with a spirited Intersquad match. I had all players in for a common chat. By show of hands, I asked, "Who will be playing their first match today?" Half of the 28 players present raised a hand! I offered how proud I was to have the honor, and hoped they would have fun giving it a go. I quickly went over my expectations for the match ahead, and suggested they recognize that all refs will seek the same in the coming season.

Scores didn't exactly matter, adding up to about 48-27 after (3) 25 minute periods. It seemed no matter who wore the blue jerseys, Blue just kept pulling ahead, with perhaps a few dominant forwards in blue making the difference.

Ed is assisted by an energetic Argentine "Maximo," and World Class trainer Jeff Ward. Their players' willingness to get the ball wide, to pass before contact, and even out of contact was truly impressive. Scrums and lineouts showed no imagination, but should improve as the season approaches. But decent continuity from contact, and exceptional passing and pace, all made for a rewarding day. Some good decision making and unselfish play by the experienced players helped show the youngsters the way.


We have three new Level Two certified referees in Pelicanland: Rich Anderson, John Coppinger and Don Pattalock.

Dixon Smith and Bruce Carter taught the course Saturday and Sunday at the excellent facilities of the Bay Club in San Francisco. Thank you to all of the students and to Joe Saccomanno for arranging the venue.


Touch Judging Levels 1-2-3: November 18, Sacramento; Bruce Carter

Touch Judging Levels 1-2-3: December 2, San Francisco; Mike Malone

Please let the instructor know if you are interested in any of these. Late registrants and even walk-ins can generally be accommodated.

We are looking into offering another Level 1 Referee course. January 6th or 7th are possibilities.


The game refereed by Aruna Ranaweera on November 5 between Stanford and San Jose State was a men’s game, not women.

Metcalfe, Gauthier, Leisek, Simpson

Two Pelicans and three East Coast referee stalwarts:

L-R: Dave Metcalfe, Paul Gauthier, Peter Simpson, with a happy Otis B. Driftwood in the back.


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Pelicus Scriptoris