Monday, December 25, 2006




Murray Felstead sent along this link to an endearing little Christmas puzzle that’s worth the modest effort required to solve it.


Winter does not come in on little cat’s feet in Minnesota: it hits with sledgehammer severity.

Some avifauna in the Land of the Lakes must have consulted a calendar as accurate as that we used last week to ask for January availability, a deadly error for a few among them. However, some extraordinary efforts in their behalf are paying dividends.

Thank you to Scott Wood (and Tammy Cowan) for this link:


The last half of December includes Christmas and New Year’s, and leads directly to the first half of January, which includes the re-birth of the perennial rugby year.

We here in Northern California are blessed to have generally amicable weather this time of year, skiing nearby if we wish, and rugby teams that are ready to go when the old calendar is tossed to make way for the new.

Although each new season greatly increases the workload here at Hail, Pelicus! Editorial headquarters, we look forward to it. Most of the year, in the average week we read several books and watch a rugby game on the computer. From January to May we generally read maybe a book a month and don't have time to see any rugby games except those we see in person, such is the press of administrative matters and over a thousand rugby e-mail per week.

But it’s well worth the investment of time to further The Game here in Pelicanland.

We are certain that all of our referees derive the same sense of satisfaction from the time they devote to their craft.


We still have about a dozen refs who have not sent in their availability to referee in January and more than that who have not signed the safety protocol. These folks will be contacted separately.

Remember also to update your CIPP registration for 2007. Do it this year if you want to be able to write off the expense.

And mark that new calendar to show our next society meeting on Wednesday, January 10.


Consider the Christmas Puzzle to be the photo of the week, and have a joyous week with family and friends.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, December 19, 2006




Forwarded from Bjorn Stumer:

My computer crashed over the week end and I lost all of the information stored in it. Could you therefore please send a message out to the flock and ask those who wrote me with their kit choices and sizes to write me back. Sorry about this, which happened just a couple of days after the deadline for the orders. All is well otherwise and I got quite a few checks already.


About half of our members have replied with their availability for the first five weeks of the imminent season. We have enough to assign January 6, but after that there are at least thirty games – often forty or more – each weekend.

Please let us know if you can referee each of the following Saturdays, and whether you can travel that weekend. ‘Travel’ refers to driving more than an hour or so from where you live.


If you do not answer this request, you will not be assigned games. We cannot run the risk of assigning people who have not positively averred; it is very difficult to change games around once the complex schedule is made.

Please use this format. Just cut and paste and fill in the blanks:

Referee Yes/No If yes, Travel Yes/No
January 6
January 13
January 20
January 27
February 3


Five at Treasure Island:

Fog 7 – EAST PALO ALTO 55 Referee: Lois Bukowski
The Job Corps field on Treasure Island has been upgraded. The Fog realized that if a rugby pitch were laid out oriented directly north-south (instead of what our grandmother would have called catty-wampus), it could be made very close to full size. This is a significant improvement at a site that sees a lot of action during the season.

EPA found their groove in the second half. After a slow-starting 12-7 lead at halftime, the boys from the Peninsula invoked their "creative" style of rugby to roll over the Fog in the second frame. Creative in this usage means: 7s style rugby but with 15 men playing. Through the legs, no-look passes, overhand cross-field tosses, juking and jiving, all were fair game. This resulted in an entertaining match that had the referee guessing as much as the opponent which way to run to keep up with these guys.

GOLDEN GATE HS 31 – Trinity College (Australia) 17 Referee: Chris Parkhouse
Some pre-season lack of understanding and/or indiscipline on the part of the players led to a flurry of cards, almost all for technical and repeated infringements, the referee showing a full house (three yellows and two reds).

Or perhaps that hand would be better declared as a royal flush!

SF Golden Gate D1 – ST. MARY’S Referee: Paul Bretz
Touch Judge: Chris Arnold, Jim Crenshaw
Video Coach: Bruce Carter

St. Mary’s is in, if not mid-season form, at least late pre-season form. Having played a number of friendlies and made it into the various national rugby rankings, they defeated Gate’s first division club side with a combination of fitness and pace.

A good crowd was on hand, what with the touring side in town and a Christmas party planned for the clubhouse in the evening.

Having an authentic rugby clubhouse and grounds has certainly added luster to the NorCal rugby crown.

And now the club is joining forces with a Gaelic football team. Two pitches for that sport will be built immediately to the west of Rocca Field.

SFGG U-23 36 – St. Mary's seconds 12 Referee: Bruce Carter
Touch Judges: Jim Crenshaw, Paul Bretz

Gate’s U23 team is turning into quite the feeder team for their club. They would certainly fare well in the men’s D2.

This year, the Diablo Gaels are also fielding an Under-23 side, the Lamorinda Gaels.

Both of these teams will be playing a full schedule, mostly against D2 colleges.

Berkeley RFC 10 – SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 85 Referee: John Coppinger


Baracus 0 – OLYMPIC CLUB 52 Referee: Pete Smith
Game on indeed! The O Club are a team to be reckoned with this year.

Jon Kohler, Tony Petruzzella and Chris Clever may be the best back row in the country. Carl Hanson has dropped 20 lbs and is fit and powerful from the second row yet is smaller than his second row mate. Toss Brian McClannahan in the front row and you have one of the best packs around.

Having a quality coach like Ray Lehner with the talent on that team is going to translate into a lot of wins this season.

If they have a weakness it is their backs. They are talented, but not outstanding and need to work together a little better as too many passes missed their mark. When they did string some passes together, they were very effective.

The BA Baracus are a very good division 2 club and my guess is they will make the playoffs again this year assuming their key players can stay healthy and they can integrate some of their young stars into the run-on 15.

As for the game itself, it was very entertaining and closer than the 52-0 score would indicate. The O Club were too much for Baracus in the first half, opening up a 37-0 lead with a blue-collar playing style.

The second half had Baracus playing 'downhill' and the game evened out with the O Club only managing two tries. Petruzzella converted one of the tries and added a penalty kick. Baracus would have scored had their winger not knocked on in the try zone while attempting to center and two other breakaways for Baracus where run down from behind keeping them scoreless.

The game was a wide open affair with very few penalties and no foul play. All in all it was the perfect end to a good preseason.

I do have to mention that Baracus did manage a try in the 'third' half, but it took 103 minutes of play before the O Club surrendered any points.

San Mateo 22 – SACRAMENTO LIONS 30 Referee: Joe Leisek
Fiesta Meadow Park, San Mateo

A pre-season scrimmage played with intensity and drive, with seemingly more at stake than bragging rights going into the new season.

There was lots of open, running rugby, many phases of play, hard tackling, and breaks after two 20-minute periods in each half to cycle players into the game.

Sacramento took a 13-12 lead into halftime, and then promptly fell behind early in the second half. However, the visitors came storming back to take the lead and held off some furious San Mateo attacks to earn the win.

Very impressive display by two excellent, well-coached teams.

Fresno 5 – SEAHAWKS 33 Referee: John Pohlman
Fresno hosted San Jose in a final preseason match. I loaded up the car around 8:00AM for the three hour drive to Fresno. It was overcast and around 50 degrees. Once on the road I wondered if I should have brought rain gear, but it turned into a beautiful day for rugby.

The drive to Fresno over the Pacheco Pass is certainly lovely. The Fresno Club is friendly and usually play a hard, clean game. So, the game had all the making of a fun preseason tune-up for the players and the ref.

When I arrived around 11:30 San Jose had about 20 players milling around. Checked in with Kevin Meeks who is back as head coach of the Seahawks. It was decided to play 2 40's and then we'll see.

Fresno had only 12 players at Thursday's practice, but Mark and Greg agreed to 2 40's and then we'll see. Like I said Fresno is friendly.

At game time both teams looked to have close to 25 players. Fresno was missing at least 5 or 6 of the starters from last year.

The first half started fast with a San Jose try scored by the #8 at 2 minutes. Fresno reorganized their defense and held on until the 20 minute mark when a Seahawk lock scored. Followed by two quick tries by San Jose's wings.

Fresno's fullback finished a nice back play before half. First half 35-7 San Jose.

Both teams substituted a lot of players at half time. The game was not played at the same pace as the first half. San Jose's conditioning was superior and they continued to take advantage of Fresno mistakes. Final San Jose 52 Fresno 7.

San Jose asked for another 25 minutes and Fresno agreed even though they only had 16 players still available to play, again that friendly thing.

The last 25 was dominated by San Jose who had more players. Final 33-5 San Jose.

James Hinkin kicked 11 conversions out of 12. Not too shabby.

Thanks for the tune-up.

[Editor’s Note: We should add that is has been a very good week for James Hinkin. He was recently announced as Employee of the Year for James Hinkin & Associates for the eighth consecutive year!

[However, the competition must have been keen as he only won by one vote.]

Marin 7 – SANTA ROSA JC 9 Referee: Sandy Robertson
The pitch was at most 50 yards wide, there was little space to be found so the teams played a match that consisted primarily of blasting it up the gut, kicks for territory and mauling. Santa Rosa took the opportunities it was given, making 3 penalties, the third coming after Marin put up a converted try.

SANTA ROSA 42 – Petaluma 17 Referee: Ray Schwartz
For Pete's Sake Field
Comstock Middle School, Santa Rosa

Completing my preseason tour of North Bay/Nor Cal DIII rugby... I went to Santa Rosa, somewhat oddly without Kat. I would be staying overnight at her Uncle Jim's ranch, but Kat was staying home to work (and shop) in anticipation of the holidays. I had arranged a Fungus Foray through the Sonoma Mycology Society to occur Sunday morning at Rancho Markwest. And so the trip shaped up, and included a match...

A local derby, with Petaluma barely scraping 15 together before kickoff, and Santa Rosa showing numbers and youth. The sideline ropes were discarded on the ground, as if dumped off the back of a truck just inside the gate to the field. Since the match started with few spectators I said nothing, by the end of the first 30, emotions were on the boil and a crowd had gathered, all along one sideline. I spoke quickly to the home team and they were kind enough to sort this aspect out.

Chilly but not too cold, moist but not too slick, the field was actually a pleasure to run on, and I would suspect to play on as well. Yet I seemed to get a lot of grousing from the players, rather than the joy I normally experience. At the end of the day, I realized that nearly 90% of this was spewing from one particular Leghorn. He was continually behind play, but somehow felt compelled to comment on it. I tried to let the match flow, and each side realized long periods of continuity. It felt good at times, but too many players were interested in slapping the ball at the ruck, coming in from the side, bridging, and leading with their head (rather than to fend a tackler w/ their hand or arm).

It didn't look good for Petaluma from the start; however they were neatly competitive, with the first 30 minutes ending 10-5 in favor of the home team. The Captain Adam, his brother, the young scrum-half, and Scott Dennison led their fight. Santa Rosa played a team game, doing a decent job of spreading the ball around. I asked Alan Petty, the Elsie Allen HS coach, for feedback after this first period, and he commented that it looked like a "Superman Contest," players leaving their feet, flying into piles. He wasn't wrong, but I had only ‘managed’ that aspect on the pitch, and it would improve a bit.

The next 30-minute period was similarly competitive, with Santa Rosa scoring 3 tries to the Leghorns’ 2, and ending at 27-17. But the final 20 minutes were all Rosa, with Gary Parsigian notching his 3rd try of the match.

The party was pleasant enough. Good to rework some old friendships (Afa Wongking gifted the ref a proper Samoan lava lava!) and build some new ones. Patrick Caraher is old friend of mine from days at Belmont Shore, and he coached Rosa last year. Patrick has moved on now to Colorado, but I was pleased to find Tim Gunderson, Rosa's Captain stays in touch, and misses him too.

The Fungus Foray was a lot of fun the next (frosty) morning. Just like my matches and match reports, I won the prize for quantity over quality, as I hauled in the most fungus off the mountain! In the end, the conclusion was, "most mushrooms don't taste very good!"


These are still good reads:

Cal Poly SLO 19 – ST. MARY’S 28 Referee: Pete Smith

It was a cold and rainy morning in San Jose, but I knew the 3 hr trek south to San Luis Obispo would likely reveal enough sunshine for Cal Poly SLO and St. Mary’s to play up to the pre-game hype that had made it the game of the week on the west coast. It is hard to complain about the 2 ½ hour drive through the Salinas Valley knowing that St. Mary’s would have to drive even farther.

Unfortunately, the ref for the B side game had fallen ill and the two teams would have had to find a volunteer until…my cell phone rang, it was JC Van Staden. JC’s game had been cancelled due to bad weather and he “dressed and ready for a game somewhere”. I told him the B side match in SLO was uncovered and with but a moment of hesitation, he was on the road from Lodi. The effort makes JC the early favorite for Pelican of the Year with the regular season yet to start.

The weather in SLO was cool and cloudy and fortunately the rain had passed through the day before leaving the field moist, but firm. CPSLO and SMC traded early penalties with SM converting theirs and taking the early lead 3-0. CP just poured it on from there and dominated the next 35 minutes. Their speedy winger broke through for what would have the first try of the game only to knock on 5 meters deep in goal. He atoned for himself minutes later dotting his next effort down and putting CPSLO ahead 7-3.

CPSLO scored again, extending their lead to 14-3 with just a few minutes to go. SMC pressured CPSLO on the ensuing kick off, forced a turn over and scored just before half time to bring the score to 14-10.

The second half saw CPSLO again take control of the game with another try and a second would-be try disallowed due to a double movement. The SMC fullback saved his team’s bacon not once but twice with try-saving tackles and hard work getting back on his feet and creating the turnover. SMC, to their credit, never gave up and continued to work hard, having their efforts payoff with a hard-fought try by the scrumhalf on a pick and dive around the base of the ruck tightening the score to 19-15. With about 15 minutes left in the game SMC converted another penalty making it a one-point game 19-18.

The game was fast and furious as it was, but it went into overdrive for the remainder and more than lived up to its advanced billing. With 3 minutes left in the game SMC had knocked on 10 meters from the CPSLO goal line, scrum to CPSLO. They won the hook and the ball was delivered to the flyhalf only to have his clearing kick charged down in goal and the speedy flanker dove on top of the fruits of his labor: try SMC! The conversion made it 26-19 SMC with just less than 2 minutes to go. The ensuing kickoff went deep into SMC territory only to have SMC run it out of their own 22, a Gael breaking the line and chipping ahead and being taken out by the CPSLO fullback well after the kick. Penalty 15 meters out in front of the posts. SMC converted the penalty as time expired, bringing the final tally to 28-19.

Seconds: CAL POLY 29 – St. Mary’s 12 Referee: JC Van Staden

My game SF GG and Chico u/23 got canceled on me 10 am Saturday morning. I have not got dressed for nothing, so I got hold of Pete Smith that invited me to do Cal Polly and St. Mary’s 2nd teams, in San Louis Obispo. What a drive…

Well, after 5 hours on the road, we kicked of @ 3h02pm. From the kick off the game was on. Starting with great pace CP move the ball through the hands and secure numerous malls and rucks. The 1st scrum came only in the 8th minute of the game. Have to confess; I knew that by looking at the clock, hoping it was halftime. The 1st half score got opened by CP, scoring a converted try. CP managed to run in another, but got answered back with some great composure and persistence by SM. St. Mary’s scored the equalizer with seconds to spare on the clock, after CP struggled to keep their composure and lost one of their flankers to a yellow card for repeat infringement.

The second half belongs to CP, who scored 17 unanswered points. With powerful scrums and turnover lineouts, CP had SM on their back foot, and the defense just could not keep up with it.

I’m sorry I missed the 1st game, because with two such second sides, the varsity does have to have great depths in their rugby.

Riverbottom Rugby Field

San Luis Obispo RFC 17 – Pasadena 18 Referee: Andy Doukas

The Rugby Gods gave us a pardon and stopped the rain, leaving the pitch in great condition and temperature for the day. A day that started out on a somber note with a few minutes of silence for the passing of Don Talley, our great benefactor to the field of which we have played on for many years, Riverbottom.

Pasadena with two sides traveling down on a tour bus were well organized and coached by Michael Bryant. The game started with good play and strong defenses from both sides, only a penalty kick to Pasadena separated the teams. Pasadena then started the trys, putting up 3 unconverted to SLO's 1 and we ended the half.

In the 2nd half, SLO found their stride and came back strong with two trys and left them just a point behind Pasadena. SLO battled for those few precious points to put them on top to no avail, many attempts at goal and plenty of ball possession came up short. A well-played match from both sides, except for an ungentlemanly punch after the match. A red card that brought down the great performance of his teammates.

2nd Match

SLO 2nd's/AG/Cal Poly 3rd's.17 – Pasadena 2nd's 0
Referees: Alan Jeffrey & Andy Doukas

Our new referee, Alan, shadowed me for the first half and then took the whistle for the 2nd. Many first-time players on this three-team combination had the benefit of some quality players to lead them in play. Pasadena's 2nd side played well, stopping any points for the first part of the match. Then fatigue started in and the depth of the other side had Pasadena on their back foot and the points started rolling in. The finish of the game saw Alan catching his stride as a referee and Pasadena making a good defensive stand. Great attitudes from all sides made this an enjoyable game to watch and referee. Many thanks to SLO, Pasadena, Cal Poly & Arroyo Grande players & coaches.


You can now register with USA Rugby for 2007 participation. The amount is $55. This will be tax-deductible if you are a member of the referee society:

You can complete payment on-line. You’ll need to print out the waiver, sign it, and get it to our Treasurer, Jim Crenshaw.

Delta Supply
1248 E. Oak Avenue #D
Woodland, CA 95776


The Pacific Coast RFU Operating Agreement for the Referees Society has been approved. Elections for a President and a Secretary/Treasurer will be held in the next few weeks.

All of our members who have CIPP and Level One certification will be eligible to vote. You will be contacted regarding nominees and balloting.


The Level 1 and 2 Evaluator courses are proving to be very popular – so much so that Dixon Smith has signed on to help Mike Malone conduct them.

These will be held beginning Friday evening, 12 January 2007, and continuing through Sunday, 14 January 2007, in San Francisco, CA. The fee for participation in this course is $150.00. This course will include a practical assessing and coaching exercise on Saturday, 13 January. Details of the requirements for participation in the course are found at

The registration fees will be paid by the Society for any NCRRS members.

Parties registering for the course should plan on a start time of the Friday evening session at 6:00 p.m. and running until 10:00 p.m. The Saturday session will run all day and require participants to prepare a Level 2 evaluation report Saturday night for presentation to the class Sunday morning. The Sunday session will be completed no later than 1:00 p.m. The exact location of the training site is still to be determined and will be disseminated at a later date.

Persons wishing to participate in the course should register with the course's lead trainer, Mike Malone, at or
(415) 472-2091


Saturday, January 6 in San Francisco – Dixon Smith

Sunday, January 14 in Sacramento – Matt Eason

Contact the instructor if you would like to take this course.

Pre-Christmas Cheer

Jim Crenshaw, Bruce Carter, Kevin Cramer (SFGG U23 Coach) and Mike Caravelli (Golden Gate High School Coach) relax after a good day of rugby at the SFGG clubhouse.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Monday, December 11, 2006




Please let us know if you can referee each of the following Saturdays, and whether you can travel that weekend. 'Travel' refers to driving more than an hour or so from where you live.

Realize that we have a new team in Mendocino. There are more out-lying games this year than ever before.


If you do not answer this request, you will not be assigned games. We cannot run the risk of assigning people who have not positively averred; it is very difficult to change games around once the complex schedule is made.

Please use this format. Just cut and paste and fill in the blanks:

Referee Yes/No If yes, Travel Yes/No
January 3
January 10
January 17
January 24
February 3


David Buckey, Andy Doukas and JC Van Staden have been promoted to C3.

Congratulations to these rising referees!


Twenty-eight attended the December meeting of the NCRRS last Wednesday at the Golden Gate clubhouse.

David Williamson organized and conducted a program covering Ruck, Maul and Re-start Kicks. This is in keeping with our syllabus, which will review all of the key elements on which referees are evaluated for promotion.

We were happy to see Barry Sheppard at the meeting. Barry is an old NorCal refereeing hand, now back in Marin after being in England the past dozen years. He hopes to watch a few games and help a few referees along the learning curve.


Maritime Academy 0 -SANTA ROSA JC 33 Referee: Paul Bretz
Friday 7:00 PM

I had the privilege of refereeing the Cal Maritime V Santa Rosa JC match Friday at the Maritime Academy. Santa Rosa's defense was the star of the match as they defeated Maritime 33-0. Santa Rosa easily defeated the Academy by committing bodies to the rucks at the breakdown and consistently winning the 50-50 balls. They scored 3 tries off of turnovers at the tackle/ruck. Of notable mention was the Santa Rosa hooker Josh Inong. Two years ago Josh was playing for the Elsie Allen Lobos and was shot at a graduation party. I am happy to report that Josh is once again terrorizing the pitch. The bullet that was removed from his leg does not seem to have hampered his ability to steal hooks at scrums; he stole three hooks on the day; nor has it slowed him down in the loose play.

Mendocino 10 - STANISLAUS 22 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Nokomis School, Ukiah

Always a fan of grassroots rugby and curious about the new side in Mendocino, I threw up my hand to volunteer when the chance came up. I was rewarded with a good game to handle, and fresh experience all around. Little did I realize this would be the Steam Donkey's first ever home game.

I began mid-week speaking with co-coach Vance Ricks, who was struggling to find an appropriate pitch. As Friday approached, I realized my truck needed some special attention going into the winter rains, and so arranged for a ($14/day!) rental. Stopped by The Beat to pick up some new CDs for the 6 hours of driving ahead, and neatly ran into an old friend and fellow open side flanker from the Sacramento Capitals (1982!), Jeff Poteet.

From the farmland north and west of Davis I took Road 27 off 113N. Then over I-505 to Road 89, to 23, to 85B, and onto Hwy 16 into the glorious Capay Valley! I visited a couple of jobsites where I had built pools, and continued on my lazy way. The drive got quite beautiful past Rumsey around the Upper Cache Creek, but I noticed some fallen rocks along the rugged canyon road, and sure enough, I would hit one on my way home later in the evening. 16 dead-ended into Hwy 20. It was then a beautiful 60 mile ride into Colusa, Lake and then finally Mendocino County, through Upper Clear Lake and numerous other small towns, and past many Rancheria casinos. A British band of four 21-year olds, named The Kooks, have a great new rockin' disc, and made the trip a breeze!

The day's off and on drizzle was now threatening to break into sunshine as I pulled into Ukiah, but the slivers of sun were not to last. I found a friendly gas station to change into my kit and was amused to find everyone knew about the game I was in town to ref. The mechanics all thought it was a little crazy. The Steam Donkeys had gotten an article in the local paper.

The town had perhaps 12,000 folks, maybe 60,000 total across the vast county. But they have a couple Fijians, a few Elsie Allen graduates, and a former Sac State #8, Liam Kidd, who put up his credit card and the energy to coach, all to help get this new club up and running. And the Harlots were willing to drive (even further than I) to help them get ready for the 2007 competition ahead.

It was 52 degrees as I pulled up to the small elementary school, an hour before the 2PM kickoff, there where perhaps 8 guys passing a ball around, and two small boys playing in the mud. Goalposts and pads were up, and paint was laid down. It looked like Vance had done a decent job of sorting things out. The try zones were short, the pitch just a little small, the midfield stripe was nowhere near midfield, but the lines where straight as an arrow. And stunning redwood covered mountains were just to the west.

The intermittent drizzle would keep the grassy field sloppy and slick. The Harlots only brought about 13 players (plus Kreg Nelson as coach, and several wives and girlfriends), and so Mendo's wings got to play against each other (and they would see a lot of action!). I had been told about Mendo's two Fijians, one with 3 caps from Fiji 7s, but Tukai Seru, their usual flyhalf (recently spent 3 seasons with Belmont Shore), could not make it this day. R-r-r-ush, a 47-year old hooker had fun helping the kids learn on the day. With Tukai missing, Jason Page, Mendo's usual outside center moved into 10. A big and talented runner, Jason would score a nice try, and single-handedly hold their backline together. He would later tell me of his days playing at Pepperdine and New Orleans.

The Harlots would assert themselves early, scoring the first try just minutes into the game. Their pack was more aggressive, their backs more skillful, but Mendocino made a nice game of it. They tied it up, and then minutes after Jimmy Mason joined the game at flanker for the Harlots, he score a converted try, and 10 minutes later a second unconverted. Just at halftime, the Harlots were to score again, but their last pass down the wing was deemed forward. And so we broke as the rain grew more steady, with the score 17-5. I hadn't really noticed, but a nice crowd was gathering to enjoy the spectacle, and so I fielded questions from a group of happily curious onlookers, as I sipped some water.

The second half saw lots of spirited play, end-to-end and side-to-side stuff, with the Harlots clearly in control, but no scores until past halfway. Prop Nick French ("I would have been a Clown, if was only old enough!") knocked on a double move at the tryline. A minute later, the Steam Donkeys kicked ahead, got numbers to the ball, and two quick phases later had drawn the match to 17-10. The Harlots soon scored again and truly dominated the last 15 minutes, turning the ball over several times with their powerful scrums and superior fitness (Yes, I did just say that!).

The match ended with great spirit, everyone exhausted, no one injured, rookies muddied. I enjoyed a rare experience then. I walked across the street (literally) to shower and change at Andy's house, a young lock enjoying just his 5th or so match (like most all of his teammates). I reflected on the odd fact that not a single penalty went to tackled players not releasing as I walked back to my car, parked just two doors down. A short drive to Harold's Club, a little private pool hall and whiskey joint. Here I enjoyed chatting with the coaches and captains.

Harlots' Matt Bradford (who played his typical solid game) told me of his brother Johnny moving to Scotland. Matt's outside center Brian Lynn I thought was a natural, showing great hands, a good sense of space, and a nice ability to change direction, but I was told he was playing his first game in the backs. At just 24, Brian may have found a home. Mendo's Geoff Drake, a 21-year old prop, showed a great spirit, and may be one of those guys who'll play rugby for the next ten or twenty years. I gave the nod to the Harlots' Jimmy Mason as Man of the Match, and was on my way through a rain that just got worse and worse, until a near whiteout the last 10 minutes between Davis and home.

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 66 - Reno Zephyrs15 Referee: Scott Wood
Referee Coach in the Rain: Matt Eason
Spectator/Coach in the Rain: Tony Latu

I know a referee who says he has an agreement with God that it does not rain during his matches. While I have seen otherwise, this match came close. The rain we received was a couple minutes of light drizzle at the first conversion attempt three minutes into the match and a deluge of biblical proportion with two or three minutes remaining in the match. The field at Florin Reservoir Park held up nicely due to a mixture of Bermuda thatch and sand.

Reno traveled with 17 players and Sacramento arrived with plenty of first and second side players. The Capitals scored two tries in the first four minutes before Reno was able to mount coordinated attacks. While both teams appeared relatively even in the forward pack, the Zephyr back line was outpaced by the Capitals.

This is the first match for the teams and referee to use the new IRB scrum engagement procedure. The only issue was getting the props to bring back their arms after "touch". The technique does not address (nor should it) front row "reindeer games" so don't be surprised to see the same reset issues in international play. The Capitals finished the first half up 36-0. The second half began much like the first with two tries scored within four minutes in the south goal as Reno was able to utilize its replacement backs. Sacramento was somewhat surprised but collected themselves and answered with several of their own tries. The match finished out after a brief deluge with the Capitals over the Zephyr 66-15.

Hayward Tournament

Report by David Williamson:
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue--traditionally describing wedding garb, would also describe this tournament featuring four first division clubs, plus Mission--which played like a first division club. Some of the teams--Hayward, San Mateo, Olympic Club, and San Jose had some old players, but they had plenty of new ones as well. Due to the proximity of the thoroughfare to the pitch, plenty of balls had to be borrowed when the wind carried kicks to touch over the fence. And San Jose had a patch of blue on their uniforms, to repeat one of the colors on the referees' kit.

The teams played a round-robin format in good spirits: Lots of fast breaks, heavy tackles, and nifty ball handling kept the refs hopping and the spectators entertained. Hayward won three games, but lost a close contest to San Mateo 7-5. At times, this match resembled a sumo-wrestling contest with its high impact. Perhaps the fastest match--with the most passes and long runs--was San Mateo v. O-Club--won by San Mateo. San Mateo won three matches, plus a forfeit.

We had two new touch judges--Chris Arnold and Eric Rauscher, plus an experienced one: Ed Barfels. Their assistance allowed us to have official touch judges for all nine 20-minute matches, and allowed Mike Malone and yours truly to coach. Our referees were all seasoned vets who managed the games with gusto and a smile: John Coppinger, Bryant Byrnes, Sandy Robertson, Chris Parkhouse, and Bjorn Stumer.

Plenty of fun for everyone, plus plenty of anticipation for the season beginning next month.

SAN MATEO 17 - Olympic Club 5 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
This was a fast open match in windy and cold conditions. San Mateo played fast "ball in hand rugby" and threw repeated attacks at the Olympic Club. It is a credit to the Olympic Club that they limited the damage to only three tries by never giving up. They were awarded a late unconverted try, but it was too late as San Mateo walked away 17-5.

OLYMPIC CLUB 18 - San Jose 0 Ref: Stumer
By the time San Jose and the Olympic Club entered the pitch for the last match of the Hayward Tournament, the rain had returned, all were tired, and darkness was looming. However, the "O-Club" seemed immune to all of that and put in a brilliant display versus a combative San Jose side. A bit scrappy here and there, but the Olympians played a tight one scoring three tries and one penalty. It was a delight to see them regain some of the discipline they lost in their earlier match against San Mateo, and this paid off - final score: Olympic Club 18 - San Jose 0.

Redding 25 - SAN FRANCISCO FOG 31 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
After reading Ray Schwartz's report about the boring drive up I-5 to Redding, I got up a little early and took 99 up through Yuba City, Live Oak, Gridley, Durham, Chico, Los Molinos and Red Bluff, i.e., the scenic route. Some interesting things along the way, including a stop in Chico to get a little Christmas shopping done at the Orient & Flume Glass shop. For anyone that enjoys glass artwork, Orient & Flume is a must stop.

This route is also full of all kinds of roadside stands selling fruit, vegetables and Christmas knickknacks.

Arrived in Redding around noon to find Redding at the SF Fog getting ready to play the 6th annual game for the Mark Bingham cup. Redding was in possession of the cup after winning last years match in San Francisco and after the first half, it looked like they would retain possession. The Fog won the second half, the cup and bragging rights for the year, final score SF Fog 31 Redding Highlanders 25.

We then played another 30 period, so all of the reserves and new players could get some playing time. That ended with a common score of 14 each.

We retired to the Dry Creek saloon for food and liquid pain killers. Redding put on a great spread with BBQ ribs salad and garlic bread. Redding turned over a slightly bruised cup to the Fog.

Another great rugby day!!!

Cal Poly 19 - ST. MARY'S 28 Referee: Pete Smith
No report received.
You can read about this game on either American Rugby News or Goff on Rugby (subscription required). Sounds like it was pretty exciting!

Seconds: Cal Poly - Arroyo Grande Referee: JC Van Staden
No report received.

Chico State - SFGG U-23 CANCELED

Univ. of Nevada - Humboldt State CANCELED


You can now register with USA Rugby for 2007 participation. The amount is $55. This will be tax-deductible if you are a member of the referee society:

You can complete payment on-line. You'll need to print out the waiver, sign it, and get it to our Treasurer, Jim Crenshaw.

Delta Supply
1248 E. Oak Avenue #D
Woodland, CA 95776


All referees (and teams) need to sign the safety protocol for the coming season. This is the same document that was in use last season.

Even if you have signed it previously, you need to do so again. If you did not sign it at the society meeting, you will be receiving a copy by e-mail.

Please read it, print the last page, sign and mail it to:

Bruce Carter
19235 Creekside Lane
Salinas, CA 93908


The PCRFU Board of Directors has approved a new charter for the Pacific Coast Rugby Referee Society. This document specifies procedures for election and removal of officers, defines their duties, and will provide a framework for the continued development and advancement of Grizzly referees.

The officers will be President, Secretary/Treasurer and Referee Education Officer (this is new terminology for was originally to be called the RDO - USA Rugby recommended the use of this title).

A plebiscite is necessary in order for the charter to be adopted. If 65% of the referees in the territory approve and sign it, it will take effect.

This needs to be accomplished within the next week or so for elections to be held and officers put in place for the coming season. It is absolutely imperative that they be able to chart the assignments and promotion opportunities for C1 and B panel referees during the competitive season.


John Coppinger
Donahue, Gallagher, Woods & Wood, LLP
300 Lakeside Drive, Suite 1900
Oakland, California 94612-3570

The board members and officers of the NCRRS recommend approval. Please contact any of them if you have questions or doubts.


The Northern California Rugby Football Referees Society will host a combined Level 1 and 2 Evaluator courses beginning Friday evening, 12 January 2007, and continuing through Sunday, 14 January 2007, in San Francisco, CA. The fee for participation in this course is $150.00. This course will include a practical assessing and coaching exercise on Saturday, 13 January. Details of the requirements for participation in the course are found at

Parties registering for the course should plan on a start time of the Friday evening session at 6:00 p.m. and running until 10:00 p.m. The Saturday session will run all day and require participants to prepare a Level 2 evaluation report Saturday night for presentation to the class Sunday morning. The Sunday session will be completed no later than 1:00 p.m. The exact location of the training site is still to be determined and will be disseminated at a later date.

Persons wishing to participate in the course should register with the course's lead trainer, Mike Malone, at or
(415) 472-2091

So far we have three members of our society signed up, and we are hoping that folks from other societies will take advantage of this opportunity.

The referee world definitely needs more trained coaches and evaluators. They provide the currency that referees exchange for promotions.

One of the goals that the current NCRRS president has been pursuing for some years is for NorCal to have one-third as many evaluators as we have referees. This is the normal ratio in the rest of the rugby world. It is an unheard of pipe dream in the USA.

With active society membership being around sixty, we need twenty evaluators and coaches. With three more scheduled to be trained in January, what seemed to be an impossible dream ten years ago is now within our grasp.


The Referee Development Committee discussed its own goals at their meeting last Wednesday.

Some of them included:

� Formally evaluating every referee at least once a year, for liability reasons. This includes referees who do not want to be evaluated

� Evaluating those referees who desire to earn promotion three or four times per season

� Re-evaluating any referee who earns an above-grade report within two weeks of receipt of that report

Bearing in mind that we are committed to evaluating all incoming exchange referees, and that several of our evaluators often receive appointments that take them out of the area, these are going to be difficult goals to achieve without twelve to fifteen 'watchers' working every Saturday in the season.


Saturday, January 6 in San Francisco - Mike Malone

Sunday, January 14 in Sacramento - Matt Eason

Need to get certified? Now's your chance! Plan to spend the day taking the IRB's Level One Refereeing Course.


Bicycle parts produce all of the sounds you will hear on this site. The video is mesmerizing in itself. You like bikes? Tune in and turn it up:


Brian Gildea, Propus Celtus, forwards this link announcing that the 2008 Mark Bingham Cup will be played in Dublin:


Brian and his wife will be visiting San Diego for the Sevens in February. It will be good to see the originator of NorCal Notes again, the harbinger of Hail, Pelicus!

Hayward Tournament Crew

A cool, blustery day produces a variety of expressions at Pepsi Park in Hayward.

Front Row: Referees Bryant Byrnes, Chris Parkhouse, Sandy Robertson, John Coppinger and Bjorn Stumer.

Second Row: Referee Coach Dave Williamson

Others present on the day: Referee Coach Mike Malone, plus Touch Judges Ed Barfels, Chris Arnold and Eric Rauscher

Photographer: Mose Timoteo


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, December 05, 2006




We are privileged to drive the well-engineered and scenic thoroughfares of California as we follow the bouncing ball. While technology, much of it created right here, offers us a wealth of content such as music on demand, podcasts, educational or literary CDs, or a chance to communicate with anyone via telephone while traveling, we can also entertain ourselves simply by looking out the window.

California comprises an incredible range of climate zones and eco-systems, deserts to tundra, mountains to swamps. The physical beauty of our home is astounding and never grows old.

There are a number of distinct regions within California, and they do not as a rule blend into each other. Transitions are often abrupt and undeniable.

We are especially enamored of some of these transitions that we experience as we pursue our rugby jones.

The City by the Bay

Who cannot remember driving into San Francisco for the first time? If this happened when you were of cognizant, memory-forming years, you recall with awe. Coming from the north, there’s the mind-blowing vista as emerge from the Waldo Tunnel and alight onto the nonpareil Golden Gate Bridge.

From the east, those who engineered the Bay Bridge were thoughtful enough to route in-bound traffic onto the upper deck, where bay views and an imposing, enlarging skyline greets visitors.

Even coming overland, up the peninsula on Highway 101, there are those first glimpses of distant high-rises, the first tendrils of fog dipping over the coastal hills, the increasing density of structures that informs even the casual wayfarer that something big is around the corner.

The Southland

Other transitions depend less on man-made artifacts. The trip to Southern California, for example.

Motoring down Interstate 5, after driving for hours through the lushest fecundity on the face of this planet, the irrigated miracle miles of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, there’s no denying that things are changing as you ascend the Grapevine. The terrain becomes a moonscape. Productive agriculture is merely a memory. A new state of mind lies just ahead: Southern California.

No less dramatic is the change if your route to La-La Land lies down 101. After passing through Santa Maria and the smaller tourist towns of northern Santa Barbara County, the divided highway dives through a rocky cleft and there, overlooking the broad Pacific and the Channel Islands, you take a hard left and find yourself on a coastal drive in the Land of Dreams.

The Central Valley

Another that brings smiles every time: crossing the Pacheco Pass on Highway 152, from the Santa Clara Valley to the Central Valley. On one side is the Casa de Fruta, orchard and horse country, fog and costal oaks. The road wends its way uphill and then does a long, coasting descent that semi-circumnavigates the San Luis Reservoir and slopes into the arid, irrigated, wonder world on the downhill side.

Steinbeck Country

Traveling down Highway 101, about ten miles south of Gilroy the road suddenly plunges down a chute through a mile-long density of stately eucalyptus trees. In the summer, the temperature can drop twenty degrees in this one mile as you transition from sunshine to fogbank.

You are changing as you drive down this stretch: from the greater Bay Area to the Central Coast; from one climate zone to another; from San Benito County to Monterey County; even, as you emerge from the trees, from the North American Plate to the Pacific Plate, crossing the San Andreas Fault.

Your Favorite Here

We have no doubt that readers will have their own favorite passages as they drive to Redding, Reno, or other points of the rugby compass. Which brings us to Saturday, December 2, 2006…


They were digging out from under snow across much of the nation. They might have been howling at the Moon in Cambodia for all the effect it had on the morning’s preparations in Pelicanland.

Rugby shorts – Check. No other pants needed.
Three short sleeve refereeing shirts, different colors – Check. No other top needed.
Sunblock – Check. Just had a couple more actinic keratoses frozen off the radar dome and need to minimize the afternoon’s photon storm.

The weather report was calling for 72° in San Luis Obispo. We didn’t know that it was going to be off by ten degrees, but it mattered not for the meteorologist had underestimated the intensity of old Sol’s winter vacations in California. It easily topped eighty.

But first the drive down, the prologue to a Rugby Day.

The Pelicanmobile was gassed and sassy – with its new “I’M WILD ABOUT PELICANS” license plate holder. The CD changer was booted up with the latest Teaching Company offerings in our never-ending quest to learn everything there is to know.

A quick Google outlined the Starbucks along the route, now more numerous even in remote sections of the El Camino Real than the missions the road originally linked.

And what a day it was! The Coastal and Gabilan Ranges that delineate the Salinas Valley, the World’s Salad Bowl, supported an inverted bowl of purest Pelican Blue. The first rainstorm of the season a few days earlier had scrubbed the sky, rendering it translucent to the degree that individual trees could be discerned on hillsides miles distant.

Tiring of improving our mind, we switched on the FM radio and scanned the dial for Christmas music. Several hours of seasonal tidings in early December are always welcome to our ears, simultaneously evoking echoes of Christmases past and increasing the anticipation of the Christmas most imminently to be, the nearest bright bead on a memorable string that stretches the length of our sentient life, bundling together our fondest memories of childhood, parenthood and grandparenthood.

The Salinas Valley rolled past as elevation increased, slowly so as to escape notice, marked only by the fact that the Salinas River flowed in the opposite direction as the freeway braided itself back and forth by bridge from bank to bank.

Past the renewable gold of produce. Past the black gold produced by the bucking donkeys of the pump jacks. Past Camp Roberts, home of the California National Guard, astride the Monterey – San Luis Obispo County line. Past the vineyards, past the new houses, past many of the mission bells on crooked staffs that commemorate the King’s Highway.

Past all of these, the transition: from the Cuesta Pass, a sudden and almost vertiginous drop from the spine of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Highway 101 uncoils in great sweeping loops as brakes overheat, ears equilibrate, and the scenery changes as if on a stage between acts.

And then you are in the lovely college town of San Luis Obispo!


Our newest society member, Andy Doukas, recently passed the Level One course and paid his NCRRS dues. Andy plays for Arroyo Grande, but has been involved with the Cal Poly team. He is the refereeing resource for teams in that area.

So it was that the annual Lin Price Memorial Match between two SoCal teams had a NorCal referee: Andy invited one down!

We have no greater pleasure than honoring those who have given so much to our game over the years.

Linn Price was an integral part of both Cal Poly and the local men’s club. Although he died in 1980, he has not been forgotten:

Some of those who played with him were on hand to reflect on a fine rugby man.

Earlier in the morning, the Cal Poly women’s team had played UCLA. The women’s team is not far enough along in certifying themselves as a club sport on campus, and this game had to be played at the Riverbottom Field in Arroyo Grande. Tony Broom, former Cal Poly men’s coach, refereed this one.

CAL POLY 59 – San Luis Obispo 7 Referee: Bruce Carter
Touch Judges: Andy Doukas, Steve Nishibata

Paul Cappellano, a long-time stalwart of Central Coast rugby, was heard to say after the match, “I’ve said I’m going to keep playing in this game until we win it.”

The first fifteen minutes it looked as though the club side might pull this one off – the Cal Poly side was entering the rucks one by one and not very effectively. Then, too, the usual pre-season early-game spate of penalties until everyone got used to having a referee led to a stop and start game that did not exactly play to the collegians’ strength.

But the rest of the game did. They rolled.

Cal Poly, despite having a center off playing for the Griffins in the National All-Star Championships, has at least three backs who never succumb to the first attempted tackle. They power into contact, they step, they drive and they move their torsos in such a way as to minimize purchase.

These guys are awesome.

The final try of the game belonged to the men. The referee, speculating on an advantage in their favor, allowed a couple phases of backward ball retention deep in their own end because the cover defense was disorganized and tired.

The futures market for advantages suddenly soared as two short passes committed the last two defenders within easy range and sprung a runner loose. However, the runner was a tighthead prop and he had sixty meters to go, chased every step of the way by a #7!

Although his gas ran out five meters shy, his momentum was more than sufficient for five points.

Seconds: CAL POLY 62 – San Luis Obispo 5 Referee: Andy Doukas
Touch Judges: Steve Nishibata, Bruce Carter

Another exhibition by Cal Poly’s ruggers, who reportedly have seventy-plus at training.


The first society meeting of the 2007 Northern California rugby season will be next Wednesday evening, from 7 to 9, at the SF/Golden Gate rugby clubhouse on Treasure Island.

RDO David Williamson has put together an interesting and educational program which will be heavy on hands-on activities: we’ll be working through referee situations with whistles in hand.

Food will be available from 6 to 7 for early arrivals, while the Development Committee is working.

See you there!


We have some outlying games that need referees this Saturday.

To wit: Redding, Mendocino, Chico and San Luis Obispo.

Let us know if you’d like a run.


We have vetted the process and found it to be simplicity itself, at least for renewals.

You can now register with USA Rugby for 2007 participation. The amount is $55. This will be tax-deductible if you are a member of the referee society:

You can complete payment on-line. You’ll need to print out the waiver, sign it, and get it to our Treasurer, Jim Crenshaw.

Jim will be at the society meeting Wednesday, December 6, or you can mail it to him at:

Delta Supply
1248 E. Oak Avenue #D
Woodland, CA 95776


Mike Malone taught the TJ courses to five students, none of whom are currently members of the NCRRS.

Two of them expressed as interest in running touch at the Hayward tournament this coming Saturday. We are looking forward to working with Chris Arnold and Eric Rauscher, and hope they enjoy it as much as the rest of us do!


SFGG U-23 – Cal Maritime Referee: Don Pattalock
This match was enjoyable to ref as both sides are well coached and disciplined. All the players listened at the breakdowns and the game flowed from start to finish. SFGG U23 showed exceptional skills and were clearly the better side on the day.

They should be in a league and competing for a National Championship. Collegiate DII, Men’s DII/III would all be appropriate for this team.

PS What can you say about the fantastic referee quarters at the SFGG clubhouse? It is a joy to work is such a professional setting.

MARIN 24 – Aptos 0 Referee: Joe Leisek
Marin City Community Field, Marin City

A pre-season match played in four 20-minute periods, with uncontested scrums, in brilliantly sunny conditions (sun screen in December!).

Aptos is in a rebuilding phase. Scrumhalf and Captain Kevin Miske spent most of the game coaching on the field in a very positive, encouraging style. Marin had more experience and organization, scoring a try and a penalty kick in the first half, and two converted tries in the second half.

An enjoyable day.

UOP Alumni 6 – STANISLAUS 42 Referee: Chris Parkhouse

Call it the art of coarse pre-season rugby.

They played 20 mins each way with uncontested scrums on a coned pitch with no goal posts. The game was well matched for 15 mins and then old age and lack of practice began to tell. Harlots ran in three quick tries to go into half time with an 18 - 0 lead. UOP scored a quick try at the beginning of the second half but that was the only time they managed to cross the try line. Harlots ran in another 4 tries to earn a comfortable victory.

RENO 32 – Santa Rosa 20 Referee: Dylan Gill
Warm and sunny in Reno. For a warm up game both teams treated this like a playoff.

Redding 5 – SANTA ROSA JC 22 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Santa Rosa JC 22 – Redding Highlanders 5
Foothill High, Palo Cedro
Referee: Ray Schwartz

The long, annoying drive up I-5 yielded only one egret sighting, this after a promise of bountiful waterfowl. Visibility was good, with the Sutter Buttes shimmering in the center of the vast valley. Some mountaintops stood dotted with snow. As Redding drew closer, Mt. Shasta stood massive and brilliant white, while the snow capped ridges to the East were clearly seen to be the ridges of an ancient and massive volcanic crater, Mt. Lassen National Park. Turning east off 5, onto State Hwy 44, and then up Deschutes Road a few blocks to the High School didn’t do enough to help me unwind.

The temperature read 66 degrees on the Foothill High greeting board, as I pulled into the school. Then the quote of the day: “Don’t tell me how rocky the sea is. Just bring in the ship! BE ACCOUNTABLE!” Words to live by, indeed.

Had a nice hello with John Tomasin, who was there to watch his young son playing 9/10 for the JC. He introduced me to his mom, sister, and young cousin. They live just around the corner. John had played one year with the old Shasta –Trinity side, in 1976, the year after graduating college and before med school.

I was told that the JC traveled a bit light, not much of the A Side, but 20 + players, all young, fit and skilled. Redding had better numbers, but several rookies and one or two who would play their first game on the day.

Brilliant sunshine and a cool day on mostly hard dirt mixed with some grass, we kicked off, and the tension of the long ride whittled away. The first half was played with a high spirit. It was great to see former Elsie Allen Captain Josh Imong back out ruckin’ around, though I teased that he must have been spending too much time at his favorite burrito shop.

The JC got on the board first and converted, then each side traded tries, as the half ended 12-5. Redding’s scrum could dominate the JC, and their centers looked to be able dominate, but never could breakthrough. The JC boys were just too well schooled and played hard. They brought some bad habits (I took exception to bridging and shoulder charges), but they corrected these flaws as soon as I pointed them out.

The second half saw a different tempo. Redding played down, and the JC boys seemed to play down to them. Santa Rosa truly dominated, but only scored when Redding suffered a mental lapse, knocking the ball on in their try zone. Pomo, a big strong runner for the JC broke through everyone, trotting under the posts, only to knock on rather than cleanly dot down. A few minutes later Bali, the JC Captain nearly scored, but came up an inch short. Redding put a few strong moments together here and there (they have a new hooker, a South Africa pharmacist, who was a fun addition to the mix).

From a little knock on by the JC, as Redding was probing just inside the JC’s 22, I called a scrum down to Redding. To everyone’s amusement, Redding’s Andreas Mittry tapped and took off for the try zone. I didn’t reblow my whistle, I was laughing too hard. He was the last to join the scrum, as it formed on the mark I had never moved an inch from.

The JC closed out the Highlanders convincingly enough, but really should have blown them away. The match formerly ended, thank yous were offered, but then (2) more 10-minute periods were played to get the rookies a sweat. And Redding had some greenhorns.

Out of the High School, we all turned up Deschutes Road about 4 miles to Hwy 299, just East to Dry Creek Station. This was truly beautiful country. Wow! And the food, drink and stories shared were nice indeed. I enjoyed chatting with Pete Ray, the Redding contact who told me at the age of 44 he was talked into trying rugby! He is an 8-year veteran today! The new Redding rugger, the SA druggist had scored the only try for his, and his first for the club. He thoroughly enjoyed his size 15E high top boot chug! The JC boys were all still keen to learn more about the game. They spent the last 20 or so minutes grilling me about this and that on the game and how to best improve. It was truly refreshing.

The mostly downhill drive was much easier to take, and though interminably long, the ride was made amusing by my getting to read “Exit 653, Jelly’s Ferry” a second time in the day!


Stanford men –ALUMNI Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Touch Judge: Dixon Smith, Sandy Robertson

I left Sacramento at 6:30 on a very crisp and clear Sunday morning for the Stanford Alumni game. I arrived to find Jonathan Griffin working in the Stanford clubhouse. He informed me the game had been moved from a 10 am start to a 12:30 pm kick off. Dixon and Christine Smith showed up around 9:30 and a little while later, Sandy Robertson arrived. Sandy started the woman's alumni game at 11 am, but I'll let him tell you about that one.

I was afforded the luxury on two excellent touch judges in Dixon Smith and Sandy Robertson, who both did an excellent job of keeping me out of trouble - Thanks Guys!!!!

We kicked off the men's match at 12:30, with a keen, young and fit Stanford side playing against the obviously older more experienced alumni side. The age of the alumni side ranged from new graduates to some who probably graduated in the 60's. Old age and treachery managed to win the day, but the youngster's will and fitness kept them in the game. Trys were scored by both teams in the first 30 minute period, with many long runs stifled inside their opponent's 22 and then repeated at the other end of the pitch. The alumni's kickers had been in this situation before and used as much time to kick as the law allows, so that their compadres could catch their breath and had a couple more opportunities than youngsters. The second 30 minute period proved to be an even match and an even score, with both sides exploiting the weaknesses of the other. The third and last period was a 20 minute affair, with all rookies playing for Stanford against a very experienced alumni side. Big fun was had by all on a warm spectacular day, with the combined total score of 93 keeping your reporter on his toes the whole game.

It was great to see Chris O'Brien helping coach Stanford.
I also saw a number of old friends, including Mike and Dave Yancy, Chip Howard, Denis Shanagher and Tom Pullens among the many Stanford alums.

Stanford 17 – ALUMNAE 51 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Great respecters of tradition, the Alumnae were hard to find as game time approached; player 15 was pulling jersey over head as the ball was kicked off.

The students who were at the pitch in force well in advance, raced to a 17-0 lead at the end of the first period. Periods 2 & 3 were a different story, as the alumnae, bolstered by reinforcements ran in 9 tries against the reserves.


Aruna Ranaweera was invited to referee at a tournament this past weekend.

Kevin McCaslin has taken up the reins of referee development. He invited a number of ‘focus group’ refs, young up-and-comers, to work under his tutelage.

There could be no better, more positive role model for our future national panelists.

Here is Aruna’s report:

Dec 2-3
Scottsdale, AZ

At Kevin McCaslin's invitation, a number of referees from around the country gathered in Arizona to officiate at the annual Wild West Tournament. This was a useful opportunity for some of the "younger development-level" referees (like me) to meet their peers and compare notes. Kevin McCaslin, Jerry McLemore, and John Curry were on-hand to provide referee coaching.

The tournament was played at an impressive new sports facility which featured 8 full-size rugby fields, each with a peculiar dry grass that was obviously well-suited to Arizona's arid climate. The 20-or-so rugby teams in attendance were primarily Division II (LARC, Red Mountain, Tempe) and Division III, but there were a number of social teams as well. All matches except the final were 20-minute halves, running time.

I refereed three matches on Saturday: Red Mountain beat Huntington Beach 13-3, Vandals B beat Landsharks 18-14, and Scottsdale beat Highwaymen 55-0. On Sunday, I refereed one of the mens semifinals, in which Tempe beat Vandals 29-10, that is, 5 tries to 2. Red Mountain beat Tempe in the final, refereed by Mitch Damm (Texas).

Overall, I think this was a fun, educational experience for all of the referees. It was pretty neat to see the different styles of refereeing on display. Kevin McCaslin and his family did an excellent job as hosts.


John Coppinger:

Ray and I did not win the prize for who came the furthest as there were referees from NZ (an American women named Erika Wolf [] from Otago, who is an allocator of Otago referees and who encourages NCRFURRS referees to contact her for gigs in Otago), Scotland, England and Spain present.

My family (my wife, Liz, son, Jack, and I) flew out the Tuesday to spend the holiday in Mamaroneck (20 minutes north of NYC).

It poured Thanksgiving Day, but the rest of the weekend was glorious.

Jem McDowell of NY Met RRS was the referee in charge and scheduled some 30+ referees to handle 190 or so matches. I was assigned four matches, three of which were men's college division games and the last of which was a women club match b/w a team from Montreal and a team from Toronto.

The college matches were played on one of the outer pitches and it measured no more than 45 meters by 70 meters, which was fine since all the sides (including the side that ultimately took the division cup) played 15s w/ multiple players committing to every ruck and maul. Kicking ahead and chasing was the favored tactic. Attached is a photo taken in one of my games taken by my wife. Red won the scrum and the ball was passed out to #15, who, despite being marked by one man and having his un-marked scrum half in support, decided to kick one ahead. He did...into my man zone...but I managed to sound the whistle (through inhalation) to stop play for referee obstruction. (This amused my son to no end.)

The college results:

Stony Brook Men 5 (F) Central Conn State Hooligans II 0
SUNY Brockport Doggies 33 UNH White (II) 0
Ottawa Lancers 36 Green Mountain College 12
Central Conn State Hooligans I 26 Green Mountain College 14

I also did the first half of the SUNY Brockport Doggies/Stony Brook match after being pressed into action by the NYRFC organizers in their zeal to keep the tournament somewhat on schedule. This explanation did not satisfy the assigned referee who showed up half way through the first period and took over at half. (He gave the cold shoulder the rest of the day and muttered in Polish a lot.) The end result:

SUNY Brockport Doggies 28 Stony Brook Men 5

The women's match wasn't much better as it was a series of rucks and mauls that wound up being 10-5 for the team for Toronto:

Pumas 10 Squirrels Gone Wild 5

I was then assigned the Plate Final of the Mens Over 40s featuring Morris (NJ) and the Village Lions. The Lions had beaten Morris 31-0 in pool play for the Lions' only win. Morris had managed to score only 19 points in its three matches--all losses. It took a great deal of persuasion from the Lions and the referee to coax Morris on to the sand (but full size) pitch. Despite their reluctance to play, Morris put on a good effort, but the bounce of the ball was such that Village duplicated their pool effort running out 31-0 winners.

I retired to the tent to remove my boots when Jem came running up to ask if I wanted another match, it turned out to be the Plate Semi-Final of the Mens Social:

PLATE SEMI Ottawa Fire Dept 0 Nomades 40

The Nomades are from Montreal and I heard one of them say (in French) "Thank-you sir...but you are an idiot." A first in my refereeing career, which I will treasure.

The assigned referee for the next match failed to turn up and the NYRFC organizers again asked me to handle the match. With fear that I was again displacing my Polish friend (who thankfully didn't show), I agreed and did the Brockport Robots/Brockport Robots Cup Semi. Being a Cup-Semi, the players were anxious and questioning calls, but all in all the best match I handled all day as the players had pace, some skill, and a commitment to play 7s.

CUP SEMI Brockport Robots 21 Brockport Robots 14

Kat T-S was a great coach during these matches (but if I'd have carded everyone Kat thought should be carded, it might have been 2 on 2 for a while).

Brockport went on to lose in the finals.

Everyone (except my family [8 adults and 7 kids], who went to Chinatown for dinner), wandered over to the Premier field for the finals.

I remember that Canadian teams seemed to win everything, except the Women’s Final, which I thought was the best match of the day, with the ball and the players just flying around the pitch. To Kat's disappointment, NYRFC won out over the Town of Mount Royal.

CUP FINAL New York Women 27 TMR Women (Yang) 17

A good post-match function at Connolly's and then up at 8 on Sunday morning to go sailing on the Long Island Sound with the family.

Thanks to the Society for the exchange. It was god fun.

Ray Schwartz:

40th Annual New York 7s
Saturday after Thanksgiving
Randall’s Island

Kat and I have made this trip three times now, but this was my first ever Society Exchange. I was friends and an old teammate to Tom Tani, the former Met-NY Ref Society Pres, but I’m now told he has moved on, following his kids into more mundane activities. Jem McDowell would be the head ref.

We caught the red eye out on Jet Blue and struggled to sleep. Took a rental car from JFK into Midtown where we eventually made our way to a tour of MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art. I enjoy art, in all its forms, and have been to the Getty, the Philadelphia, Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, each several times, to name just a few. But after seeing MoMA, I have to ask myself, “What have I been waiting for?” This collection of modern works was vast and stunning. In fact, we found it so stunning that we never got beyond the 4th and 5th floor, before Kat faded and we took off for New Jersey.

I enjoyed a new and higher understanding of Conceptual Art, for one. The audio assisted tour was of interest, and quite helpful at times. The Museum and its collection represented, to me, a laboratory of learning, a place where the most challenging and difficult art of our time can be measured against the achievements of the immediate past.

Vast collections of Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Dali, van Gogh, Cezanne, Rousseau, Chagall, Klimt, Monet (who knew Water Lilies is over 56’ long?), kept hitting me like relentless waves. The building’s architecture only enhanced every experience. More modern Warhol, Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns proved equally worthy, until I stood blown away by the power and skill of Jackson Pollack’s masterpiece of Abstract Expressionism, “One.”

I had no idea I’d enjoy this piece, or even his work at all. But as this is such a famous painting, I stood by and gave it a chance, inspecting it from all angles, including with my eyeballs just inches from the 9’ x 17.5’ canvas. From an ant’s eye view, if marching across the canvas, the ridges of paint appeared to create waves of mountains and valleys. Eventually, I struggled to leave the room it graced, it being truly difficult to draw oneself away from the painting’s magnetic pull. From MoMA’s Highlights, “Moving around an expanse of canvas laid on the floor, Pollock would fling and pour ropes of paint across the surface…. The way the paint lies on the canvas can suggest speed and force, and the image as a whole is dense and lush – yet its details have a lacelike filigree, a delicacy, a lyricism.”

Nice to be reminded that Kurt Varnedoe had been the Museum’s Director for nearly 20 years. The former NY rugger’s brother Gordon was the B.A.T.S. first President! Never did make it to the 2nd and 3rd floor, where vast works of Frank Lloyd Wright, and numerous others, await our return.

Our gourmet spread at Thanksgiving was worth the 14 hours of sleep I needed to catch up. I raked leaves for my sister in a constant drizzle (leaves and drizzle being things I see little of back home!), as she baked and toiled over the feast to come. Time spent with my mother and brother was too short. Didn’t overeat this year; no nap was needed.

Friday was spent shopping in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square area (I snuck off for a hoagie), and then back to Sout’ Jersey for a cheesesteak, before taking in the exciting new Daniel Craig version of James Bond. Early to bed, with the bags packed and by the door, before the head hit the pillows.

We left my sister’s home in Moorestown at 7:30am, pulling up to the 12 pitches at Randall’s Island just before 9. Games started at 8:20. New York Rugby Club has a great handle on just how to run this size of a tourney, but one field was too soggy, and so matches got shifted around. John Coppinger was already busy, as I kitted up and trotted out to handle White Plains v Morris Old Boys.

Surprisingly the even older White Plains ruggers easily prevailed, controlling possession for near all 14 minutes of play. The Morris guys complaining that, “They actually practice!” Funny how I had played 6 years back in the Met Union before moving to Nor Cal, but from this first game forward, I was routinely reminded that I am best know (in some circles) as, “Hey, you’re a Clown!”

The day was pretty darn nice, cool but sunny. Kat would go off with clipboard and keep herself busy coaching refs along. I was flabbergasted how they didn’t seem to treat 7s any differently than the 15s game out in New York. This might be understandable, as they have just completed about 10 weeks of continuous 15-a-side play, but most refereeing I saw wouldn’t have even been good for 15s. Extremely long advantages, no sense of urgency….

Fields were varying degrees of awful, featuring rocks, glass, an occasional boulder, and even some grass. Some pitches were full sized, while others were shockingly small, as in 50 x 80 meters. Even though there were 200 sides, and tons of games needing to be played, many fields fell way behind schedule, as most refs didn’t seem to care, were never in a hurry, and in fact, seemed to take long notes, rather than get play underway.

There was a Premier Division somewhere, but I got stuck handling 2 men’s, followed by 2 women’s collegiate matches. Players were mostly teenagers. I made the most of it. I then ran touch for Jem, who was handling a high-spirited Social Division match, only to observe a huge brawl break out within minutes, forcing Jem to hand out 3 red cards.

I ran touch for a few lower playoff games, but every match seemed to be a blowout. I didn’t notice a Hero’s Division this year. They have had many top police and firefighting sides compete in the past.

I enjoyed running across Ray Peterson, Managing Director for USA 7s, and shared a long chat with him, gaining much insight into their 5-year contract, and master plan for world domination! Don’t hold your breath, but the 7s Rugby World Cup has got to be played somewhere in 2009. Why not San Diego?! Also had a very nice chat with longtime New Jersey/New York ref Peter Simpson, who remembered me well from my playing days back home. I remembered Peter as a steady, reliable ref, then, and like Dixon Smith, hasn’t seemed to age since the day I met him!

New for this year, the championship games would be played on a field turf facility, and under lights. Thank goodness it was not too windy and chilly. We made our way over, and I finally saw some top rugby. I knew it was here somewhere! I watched the NYAC lose a close one to some Angry Canadians.

The sun set, but lights were slow to come on. With hundreds of people around the pitch, I found it odd that they did not bother to set up a scoreboard and time clock, especially in this otherwise modern day and age. Then I noticed one was built in and available, but ignored.

No one asked me to run touch, though I had offered, so I found the beer, and enjoyed watching, and catching up with some old friends. NY beat Town of Mount Royal (TMR) in a well-played women’s final. And two unknown (to me) Canadian sides faced off in the Men’s Final. The hotel, its showers, and the lobby bar were all adequate. Coppinger joined us for the cab ride to the after-party at Connolly’s Irish Pub, which was right across the street from MoMA, and was fun stuff for hours. Kat’s TMR buddies finally showed up late, but proceeded to help make certain she’d wake up with a hangover.

Sunday in Manhattan was relaxed, with a nice stroll in Central Park, followed by our enjoying the stunning Christmas displays of Bergdorf Goodman and other retailers on 5th Street. Back to JFK for an insufferably long flight home. Thanks go out to our Society for setting this up. Clearly the Met-Union needed help. Jem explained that they hadn’t had enough coverage the year before, and several incidents occurred in matches without regular referees. They wanted more than enough good refs there this time, with the hope that better refs would bring up the level of play. Hope that I helped! Scored a sweet dri-fit tourney polo!


Here’s the wording of the law we will all be struggling with, to one degree or another:

“The referee will call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch and using their outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “pause”. Following a pause the referee will then call “engage”. The front rows may then engage. The “engage” call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready.”


Referee Level 1: January 6, 2007, San Francisco, Dixon Smith, Giles Wilson

Referee Level 1: January 21 (tentative), 2007, Sacramento, Matt Eason

Please let the instructor know if you are interested in any of these. Late registrants and even walk-ins can generally be accommodated, but the proper course materials may not be available if you don’t let us know in advance.

Two Beautiful Birds

A purloined but nonetheless beautiful scene.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris