Monday, January 08, 2007




Special Report by VC Van Staden:
With Friday Night Lights starting up, I officiate the most spectacular game of my life. The game was kind of clean, with not too many punches through at me.

Have to confess that I had to bring the family-crowd under control by sending them to the cooler to wait. Going into injury time after having too much problems with the new engaging law, and collapsing scrums for 48 hours, a “C-Section” penalty was awarded 15 minutes before the end of the game, which ended in a beautiful converted try, at 16h13, January 5th:

Weighing in at 8.2 lb, the end score, Boys 1 – Girls 0.

Special thanks to Bruce for helping me out at my game in Santa Cruz, and all the other friends who phoned in support.


There will be a high school Tens tournament at Elsie Allen from 10 AM until 2 PM that could use your help.

We also need four more referees for the women’s college tournament knock-out games and championship at Stanford that day. This a high-level event with several national-caliber teams.


We have several referees doubling up on this day, and one very tasty matchup which doesn’t have a referee available to be assigned at all…

Please let us know if you could help out on Jan. 27 and have not previously said you were available.


David Williamson will direct our focus to the scrum and lineout at the Society Meeting on Wednesday, January 10, at the SFGG clubhouse on Treasure Island.

The development committee will meet at 6 PM and the society at 7 PM. We will finish at or before 9.

This time we really will have food and beverages on hand between six and seven, ready to serve and eat, provided by the fees you earn by refereeing week in and week out.


California is blessed to have the best January rugby weather in the USA. This not only means that we begin the pursuit of refereeing happiness before our national brethren; it means that the domestic rugby press focuses on our competitions.

You can read about the games we are fortunate enough to referee by visiting Goff on Rugby, American Rugby News and/or Kurt Oeler’s

We here at Hail, Pelicus! headquarters love the anticipation for the weekend that builds with reading these articles. They are salve to soothe the busy working week.


Eight students attended the USA Referee Level 1 Certification Course in San Francisco Saturday. They were Bob Benson, Cary Bertolone, Michael King, Christian Mattie, Petrie Quigley, Eric Raucher, Paul Smith, and Mark Villa. All plan to join the Society and assist in refereeing.

Course leaders were Mark Neice of the Rio Grande Society, and Pelican Refs Dixon Smith and Giles Wilson.


SF/Golden Gate 15 – OLYMPIC CLUB 50 Referee: Paul Bretz
Touch Judge: Rob Hendrickson, Lois Bukowski

It's good to be back in season. SFGG played host to O club on a fantastic spring-like day. The first half was highly contested with O club winning by 1 point 13-12. However it was a tale of two halves as O club's superior fitness resulted in 6 tries to SFGG's single penalty kick to finalize the score @ 50-15.

Seconds: SF/Golden Gate 5 – OLYMPIC CLUB 46 Referee: Lois Bukowski
Touch Judges: Rob Hendrickson, Paul Bretz

SACRAMENTO LIONS 35 – Diablo Gaels 33 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Touch Judge: Mike Villierme, Scott Wood

One heck of a match!

I left the house around 11:45 for the long drive to Florin Reservoir. I arrived about ten minutes later, just ahead of Scott Wood, who was refereeing the second match and running touch in the first match. Mike Villierme, our third member of the team of three was already in the parking lot along with most of the Sacramento Lions and the Diablo Gaels.

We started promptly at 1:00, with both teams feeling each other out for the first 20 minutes or so. Both teams would make some ground only to lose possession. The Lions kicked a penalty kick about 10 minutes in to break the ice. About half way through the first half, the Lions winger Seta Paloma got a little room and a little room is all he needs. The conversion was good and Lions had a 10 point lead. About five minutes later the Lions fullback broke free and scored an unconverted try in the corner, to put the Lions up by 15. The Gaels came to life a couple of minutes later, with their half back scoring a try. The conversion was good, but the Lions kicked another penalty kick a couple of minutes later to make it 18 to 7. The Gaels came back with a converted try, only to have the Lions match it with one of their own at the end of the half.

Score at half Sacramento Lions 25 Diablo Gaels 14.

The second half started much as the first, with both teams testing each other and each teams defense meeting the challenge. The Gaels scored first about half way through the second half, with a converted try to pull within 4. The Lions kicked a penalty kick with about 10 minutes to go, to make it 28 to 21.

The Gaels scored another try a couple of minutes later, but missed the conversion to pull within 2 and then with only a couple of minutes to go, the Gaels scored a converted try to take the lead for the first time 33 to 28. The Lions got the ball back with less than a minute left in the game and their forwards just kept pounding forward, picking up the ball and driving into the next tackle over and over until they finally surged in for a try. The conversion was good, with the final score Sacramento Lions 35 Diablo Gaels 33.

Seconds: SACRAMENTO LIONS 41 – Diablo Gaels 10 Referee: Scott Wood
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz

HAYWARD 28 – Seahawks 16 Referee: Pete Smith
Touch Judge: John Coppinger
Evaluator: Bryan Porter

Hayward hosted San Jose to start the 2007 regular season in what was a better than expected match. Hayward had to move to a different the usual field due to a conflict and after cutting the soccer goals loose on the sideline so that the field was safe enough to play on.

The game opened up very sloppy with a penalty on the opening kick off, Hayward penalty kick 3-0. The ensuing kick off was knocked on, scrum, penalty at the first scrum, San Jose penalty kick 3-3. Two more quick penalties in the next few minutes and I was worried this game was going to be mess, but a word to the captains and the game began to flow. Some sustained pressure by Hayward saw them rewarded with a converted try. 10-3, but San Jose can right back with two penalty kicks 10-9. Hayward answered with one of their own, 13-9. With under a minute in the half, Hayward had an injury that was off the field. I could think of no reason not to continue the game, Hayward tried to stall, so I opted for the free kick for time wasting, after 3 phases San Jose’s #10 chipped ahead and recovered in the try zone. James Hinkin (who was 4-4 with 11 points) converted for a 16-13 halftime score. Hayward came out on fire in the second half and opened with a try by Paula Fukofuka putting them back on top 18-16. I have two words to describe Paula Fukofuka, FIRST CLASS! I am floored that Paula is not in the Eagle pool or otherwise on the national radar. He is a 24 year old, Tongan-born, New Zealand-trained 280 lb wrecking machine. He may be the best prop I have ever refereed and is class player on and off the field. Hayward managed two more unconverted tries to put the final score up to 28-16. San Jose were over for a would-be try late in the game, but alas the winger dropped the ball much to the delight of the San Mateo team who were in attendance scouting their future D1 opponents.

Seconds: HAYWARD 55 – Seahawks 7 Referee: John Pohlman
Touch Judges: Pete Smith and Mose Timoteo
Referee Coach: Tom Martinez

The first league games for D-1 started this weekend. Hayward was hosting San Jose and the Pepsi Fields were unavailable. This was unfortunate because the field at Sunset School was not up to Hayward's usual standards. After we moved some soccer goals the field was safe, but poorly marked and angled to make the onside line a bit of a challenge.

My game was the seconds and I was able to have two great touch judges Pete Smith and Timeo, Eagle and Hayward scrum half rehabbing an ACL replacement. I highly recommend asking him to run touch.

Both teams had a few first side players filling out the fifteen. Play was scrappy and sloppy at time, partly due to strong confrontation tackling. Ten minutes into the first half a San Jose second row had a nasty cut which looked like a compound fracture. An ambulance was called. But before it arrived the doctor on hand had cleaned the cut and the player walked off to everyone's pleasant surprise.

The game itself was mostly big Hayward players rambling through tackles. And even in the early season a missed tackle on a Hayward player starts a swarming drive down field.

This was the first day I have seen two tries run out of the touch zone. Once in the first side game and once in the seconds.

SANTA ROSA 62 – Redding Highlanders 19 Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: Trevor Payne, DJ Hunt
For Pete's Sake Field, Santa Rosa

The final pre-season tune up for both sides, played in four 20-minute periods. For the second year, Shasta is coached by longtime Redwood Empire rugby community member Dave Ellis. Always great to see Dave, who actually got into the scrimmage near the end, playing halfback.

Santa Rosa's new coach is former Wallaby and Fiji international Acura Niuqila. A quick Google search produced this 2005 article from, about past test matches between Australia and Italy:

1988: Hat-tricks a plenty on the wings in Roma

Wallaby wingers David Campese and Acura Niuqila both scored hat-tricks in Australia’s nine tries to nil, 55-6 victory over Italy in Rome.

While Campese, playing his 42nd Test for Australia, continued to be recognized as a try scorer of note after an incredible solo effort against the Barbarians at Cardiff arms a week earlier.

His wing partner Acura Niuqila was a tour debutante in 1988.

Having played five Tests for his native Fiji, Niuqila settled in Sydney playing flyhalf and fullback for Randwick before being picked for the Spring Tour of Italy and the UK as a winger.

He played a total of three Tests for Australia, and his hat-trick against Italy means he’s one of few Wallabies to average a try in each Test.

Saturday, the hosts scored five tries in each half and showed a lot of flair with passes thrown among backs and forwards. Shasta played with purpose and dedication, with strength displayed in the forward pack.

Special thanks to touch judges Trevor Payne and DJ Hunt; Trevor is Santa Rosa JC's accomplished flyhalf, while DJ plays fullback for the Elsie Allen Lobos.

Monterey – RENO by forfeit

Stanislaus 10 – APTOS 15 Referee: Tony Latu
The boys from the Beach traveled with numbers to play the Harlots in Turlock. And the 2007 season just begun, Aptos won 15-10.

Fog 15 – PETALUMA 27 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Referee Coach: David Williamson
Treasure Island Job Corps field, SF

Petaluma dominated the scrums to lead 15-5 at half-time. The Fog mounted a comeback through their backs to tie the match 15-15 midway through the second half. At this stage, Petaluma appeared to lose focus, but after their captain was sent off for misconduct, their new captain/coach established better discipline. Petaluma played their best rugby with just 14 men to win 27-15, or 4 tries to 2. Much thanks to Dave Williamson for coaching and videotape feedback.

Additional reporting by David Williamson:
On a sparkling Saturday, the SF Fog opened their tents next to a fully-marked nearly-full-sized pitch on Treasure Island. The Fog's excellent management secured an area from the Job Corps large enough for two nearly-full-sized fields, plus a smaller one. Everything was in place an hour before the match, including sideline ropes, 4-inch wide lines, goal posts, a medical tent, plus players and a coaching staff headed by Ken Bousfield. Very impressive.

Petaluma scored the first try and led 15-5 at halftime. Fog leveled the score half-way through the second half at 15, but Petaluma secured the win with another two tries.

Marin 7 – BERKELEY 11 Referee: Mike Gadoua
Berkeley at Marin: 11 (1 try, 2 pty) – 7 (1 try, 1 cvr)

The score appears to show that Berkeley squeaked a win over the Marin Reds under perfect weather conditions; however, the play boiled down to the visitors simply outplaying the Reds up to the last 10 minutes of the game. With a one minor exception, the Blue’s discipline was exemplary even with a severely blown call by the referee. Marin’s game was plagued by penalties for killing the ball, lack of fitness, and backs simply outrunning the support. The Blues suffered when their captain, Charlie, caught a knee in the brow, which opened up a gash and required a few stitches. Adrian, the Blue’s flyhalf played well along with teammate, Juan, who’s play kept him on the cutting edge of the printed statutes. Berkeley’s try came fairly early in the match but as Marin’s defense tightened up, they were held to only two additional penalties resulting from fundamental mistakes. Other penalty kicks were missed. Marin’s try came late in the match, cashing in on Berkeley’s fatigue and loss of the captain. In summary, both teams played good Rugby. While Berkeley scored more points, Rugby, itself, was the winner today.

Humboldt 12 – VACAVILLE 24 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Vacaville was able to get 16 players to make the drive to the North Coast and were able to come away with a victory in the first regular season match for both squads. Vacaville had a bit more pace and variety and were able to dominate the lineouts, posting 3 converted tries and a penalty. After being outscored 17-7 in the first half Humboldt played Vacaville pretty much even in the 2nd half.

CHICO MIGHTY OAKS 87 – Mendocino Steam Donkeys 5
Referee: Ray Schwartz
Chico Jr. High

A beautiful but chilly day, crystal clear, with gopher holes and ruts surrounded by bits of grass. Our HP readers may recall I had reffed Mendocino in their first home game ever last month, but now again, in this their first league match ever. They traveled with 18, but not their 2 Fijians (still haven't met Tukai), and they have somewhat sadly lost their strong young Captain, Geoff Drake, who had just moved down to the Bay Area where he will turn out at Mission RFC. But good for them: They traveled, played and learned a good handful of lessons on the day.

And Chico's Mighty Oaks, led by player/coach John Fox, and by their young Captain/scrumhalf Sean Boldvan, were more than happy to apply the teachings, again, and again, and again! And good for them! For a proud club that won the DIII National just in 2002, they nearly folded just this last winter, but now the Oaks are back! John and Sean assured me that three of the best players in town would be coming out to play this year as their success builds.

Mendocino, led by Captain Jason Page from flyhalf and player/coach Liam Kidd at 8, put up a fight, and really never gave up, but for one breakaway try with 10 minutes left. But Chico started scoring converted tries after Sean dotted down left of the posts 2 1/2 minutes in, and didn't let up for some time, keeping a 1.5 points per minute pace till near 30 minutes in. The first half ended at 54-0 with Chico admittedly running short of gas.

Coach Fox switched tactics to work on ball handling and fitness, which made for a good fun in the second half. One of Mendo's big locks punched in a single try. Two Chico backs scored 3 or more tries on the day, and big Steve Williams was dominant (and clearly enjoying himself!) at flanker/#8. I would give the nod to Sean as man of the match, just for pressing the pace and keeping his boys on task.

The consensus was that Chico is back, and on the rise. With luck, and a low injury count, they have what it takes to make another run at the Nationals.

And Mendo will be just fine. They are enjoying nice support in Ukiah, and have the luxury of a very big, young pack. They actually enjoyed some opportunity on the day. They won their lineouts and scrums, and even stole one from Chico. But with no Tukai at flyhalf, Jason, normally a center, often was handed the ball with three defenders in his face. With their huge pack, and if coaches Vance and Liam can keep them together, raising their fitness and skills, these boys will win a few games before their first season is out.

It was great to speak at length with Chico State Men's head coach Mitch Jagoe, who came out to watch, but then also to talk business at the party. Chico State hosts Cal February 3rd, but Mitch plans to follow his family and his heart down to Sacramento that weekend. His 10-year old daughter is involved all weekend in a dance competition, while his 7-year old son will be able to enjoy a run at the Kick Off Tournament's Tyke's Clinic, to be ran by Eagle Hooker mark Griffin ( And Mitch will be able to spend much of the day on site at Granite Regional Park to recruit Sacramento Valley High School Rugby talent to his lovely campus. He was admitting to be blown away by the skills and quality of his rookie lock, who came his way from Jesuit High.

Special recognition must go out to the Mighty Oaks! They tried out a new bar for the post-match fun, the End Zone off Cohasset. Nice sports bar, fairly crowded with regulars there to watch the NFL Wild Card games. We walked on through to a nice outdoor patio and proceeded to enjoy what was flat out the best post-match feed I've ever enjoyed! Lovely waitresses served each player and supporter their own plate of massive char-broiled burger and crispy, crunchy golden brown fries. The beer flowed, boots were filled and drained, life was good.... the season has begun!

UC Santa Cruz women 22 – UC DAVIS 29 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
A beautiful day at the gorgeous Slugs Rugby pitch, above Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay, saw two determined and closely matched sides come together for a fine day of rugby.

A not yet in form UC Santa Cruz women's side hosted a determined UC Davis team who gave their hosts a run for their money, finally winning the match 29 to 22. As the score reveals, this was a high scoring affair with plenty of running, mauling, and aggressive forward play.

Santa Cruz had the forwards, but Davis had the runners. The three thirty minutes periods culminated in a last one with two superb tries, one from one side of the pitch to the other, and another aided by a gust of wind from the 22s.

A great day for all involved, including the numerous supporters. A bit scrappy here and there, but Santa Cruz had moments of brilliance reflecting their status as Division 2 National Champions. However Davis gave all it had and more. A great match and a great day.

UC Santa Cruz 10 – BARACUS 73 Referee: Bruce Carter
Touch Judge: Roland Maitland

I went to work Friday morning excited about having a home game on Saturday: I was scheduled to referee Monterey hosting Reno on a pitch barely seven miles from my home.

Bearing in mind that my three-year-old car has over 70,000 miles on it, and my drive to work is five miles, easy math shows that about ninety percent of those miles have been discretionary. Those who know me know my discretion these days: RUGBY.

But then a call came in from the Monterey scheduler: the team was going to forfeit. It seems many of the players had not taken seriously admonitions to obtain CIPP registration for 2007 prior to Thursday’s training.

In the time it took disappointment to register, a quick check of the schedule showed that there were two games at UC Santa Cruz. Weather Bug said all would be well, and my seven-year-old grandson has been itching to see some rugby. That lovely pitch adjoins a hillside which provides excellent video vantage allowing me to pursue my ‘other’ rugby job: passing on what was so selflessly given to me by Bryan Porter and Ed Todd, among many others of course.

Within an hour an e-mail appeared from Pete Smith: one of the refs couldn’t make it – I would have a game!

A celebration was in order, so plans were made to take young Benjamin to the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot on the way up. His grandmother was to accompany us, the most compatible of ex-wives who can be imagined.

The Mystery Spot has to be seen to be disbelieved. The distortion of time and space is first evidenced by a large billboard that says, “As Seen in LIFE Magazine and Featured on ‘You Asked For It.’”

Google will tell you enough to make you want to plan your own trip, I am sure!

On to the pitch.

The Slug women were playing UC Davis in front of a large and vocal crowd. What a way to begin a new season: high-decibel excitement echoed seemingly all the way back from the other end of Monterey Bay, clearly visible on a day made in Rugby Heaven. Bjorn Stumer had a tiger by the tail as the game went from end to end.

Baracus and the Banana Slugs had agreed to play three forty-minute periods. Hmm. Holiday season fitness work was to be put to the test. But fitness doesn’t seem to be my main limitation these days – it’s the fact that the calendar keeps getting bigger numbers at the top.

This was a game of two halves, although the first half only lasted five minutes. UC Santa Cruz scored a converted try from the opening sequence, then nearly scored another and settled for a successful penalty shot shortly thereafter.

Their ten points were on the board and then Baracus came up to bat.

#8 Kevin McCaffrey has to be singled out. If total yards from scrimmage were reckoned, he’d be on his way to the Hall of Fame.

One thing of note – there were very few mauls of any description and only one turn-over maul, which came near the end of the match. I commented on this to the front rows as we set the scrum.

A prop said, “Nobody mauls any more.”

I said, “Have you ever played San Mateo?”

To which replied, “No, thank you.”

In many of these pre-season friendlies, the ambition of the teams to have extended minutes and extra periods is not matched by the abilities of the players to sustain committed and productive play. This was not the case on the day: competitive rugby lasted until the final blast of my freshly-boiled Acme Thunderer.

I love this game!

Bakersfield – Fresno Referee: Sam Davis
No report received.


If you’d like to see and match and/or run touch, let the refs know. We are certain they would appreciate it!

3:00 PM California – Humboldt State Referee: Chris Parkhouse
Referee Coach: David Williamson

7:00 PM Maritime Academy – Lamorinda Gaels U23 Referee: Bryant Byrnes


A dinner will be held at Hoppy Brewing in Sacramento on Saturday, February 3, in conjunction with the Sacramento Valley High School Kick-Off Tournament.

All society members and their dates are invited.

We will be hosting a number of visiting referees, including four of our friends from Alberta.

The dinner last year ran about $26 a person. Arrive early for happy hour, at seven or so to be seated for the meal.


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

Pelicans in Oz

Two Pelicans in Oz.

This fellow on the right has an unusual history. He is a memorial to a pelican who was found to have died from ingesting discarded waste plastic trash. The statue was erected by the locals to serve as a reminder to all to not discard any plastic garbage. They care deeply about our friends down in Oz.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris