Tuesday, January 23, 2007




For purposes of record-keeping and tie-breakers, we would like to be able to record how many tries each team scored in first-side matches.

We know that you are already listing this on the match report cards which are mailed in. Please start to include it in your e-mailed match reports as well.

Thank you!


It will almost certainly be to your advantage to file for actual expenses for distant games instead of mileage. To do this, fill your tank before leaving and again on your return and submit the annotated receipt.

Here is the governing document:

IR-2006-168, Nov. 1, 2006

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2007 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (including vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

48.5 cents per mile for business miles driven;
20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and
14 cents per mile driven in service to a charitable organization.

The new rate for business miles compares to a rate of 44.5 cents per mile for 2006. The new rate for medical and moving purposes compares to 18 cents in 2006. The primary reasons for the higher rates were higher prices for vehicles and fuel during the year ending in October.

The standard mileage rates for business, medical and moving purposes are based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. Runzheimer International, an independent contractor, conducted the study for the IRS.

The mileage rate for charitable miles is set by statute.


We have not heard from at least twenty normally-active referees for February availability. Nothing is assumed here: if you do not specifically say you are available to referee on a particular Saturday, you will not receive an assignment.

We have more than enough to cover our games on February 10. Please let us know which of the following days you can referee, and whether you can travel:

February 17
February 24
March 3


Bjorn Stumer submits the following:

1. The ties have arrived and are quite nice (especially the bow ties)
2. I have received orders from 15 referees and placed them with International Athletic. Breakdown is as follows:
a) I have received checks for $886.60
b) I am still due checks for $364
c) Society is to pay $550 for jerseys for those refs who refereed 5 or more matches by assignment in the past year

I am awaiting the final bill from IA (including S&H charges) and will submit all checks (which I had made to the Society) to Jim Crenshaw, so that we can pay with one check.

All is going smoothly, albeit quite slowly (2 refs put in orders after my submission to IA). The good thing is that from now on individual orders can be placed directly with the supplier.



Wednesday, January 17, 6:30 PM

CALIFORNIA 22 – UC Santa Cruz 0 Referee: Joe Androvich
Referee Coach: David Williamson

Saturday Games:

San Jose State 22 – LAMORINDA GAELS U23, 58 Referee: Rob Hendrickson
The Lamo Gaels U23 team came out strong and fast in the first half at Watson Bowl scoring their first try in under 2 minutes and went on to score 7 tries in the first half. San Jose made corrections over the half time, the most significant one being to drop their tackles down to the legs, which resulted in a much closer second half, with Lamo scoring only 3 additional tries to San Jose's 2 in the second half. All in all, a well played with consistently good sportsmanship shown on both sides.

Seahawks – SFGG SL CANCELED. The Seahawks had some injury issues to deal with.

SACRAMENTO LIONS 84 – SF Golden Gate 17 Referee: John Pohlman
Referee Coach: Matt Eason

I was pretty excited to have my first Division 1 first side game of this season this weekend. Went over the last two weeks of coaching reports. Reviewed the digital recording from last week’s game. Dug out previous evaluations. Reviewed my law book. Did some extra sprint work. Polished my boots and ironed the touch flags.

I arrived at 11:45 for the 1:00 kick-off. The field was lined and one of the goal posts was up. As I walked the field I saw the 22 meter line was actually the top of the soccer goalie’s box. Short, but the same for both and safe.

The game started right at 1:00 PM. A beautiful 50 degrees and partly sunny. Great rugby weather.

I had never seen the Sacramento Lions. They looked to have close to thirty players ready to go. Golden Gate traveled with around 20-25.

Game on. Both teams started out crashing the ball up with the forwards. The Lions had more possession and wore down the Gate forwards. The first try was sevens minutes in by #11 Wayne Koi. But it was really a forward driving score. Lions center John Finau scored the next two tries.
The Lions were off and running.

At 30 minutes winger Arona Palamo scored his first of either four or five tries. I called one back due to a knock on in-goal while grounding the ball.

Golden Gate never gave up. They scored one try in the first half and two in the second. The last coming at the 73rd minute.

But the Sacramento Lions are for real. They are going to compete for the Division 1 lead.

Thanks to all. Both captains and both teams were well behaved and tried to play fast flowing rugby.

I had trouble adding up the score after the game. Thought it was 81-17 but after filling out the match report this morning realized math mistake.
Final Sacramento Lions 84 Golden Gate 17.

By the way just joking about the touch flags.

Seconds: SACRAMENTO LIONS over SFGG by forfeit.
Chris Busch drove to Sacramento for this match and it did not materialize. If this ever happens to any of our other refs, please let us know. We will be taking steps to try to prevent recurrences of this sort.

OLYMPIC CLUB 35 – Diablo Gaels 23 Referee: Tony Latu
Venue: Treasure Island-SFGG field
Side line coaches: John Coppinger and Dan Hickey
Temperature: Great

After refereeing at sub-zero (well it was COLD) the week before, the OC versus Diablo was a bonus. I was looking forward for this game all week; great weather, great field (SFGG TI field) and great team. But crossing the bridge almost ruined my day...$4.00 toll, come on Arnie do something.

The came started well and ended well. OC drew first blood by a penalty in less than two mins into the game. But Diablo came back and scored on a great play by their backs. OC controlled the first half and it seemed that they might cross the line before the half. But a knock on and a long run by Diablo brought the score to 16-15 OC at the half.

OC stepped up another notch at the second half and they prevailed 35-23. I hung around to watch Joe Androvich controlling the second game. It was a good game and a great job by this young ref.

Seconds: Olympic Club – Diablo Gaels Referee: Joe Androvich
No report received.

SAN MATEO 33 – Hayward 23 Referee: Paul Bretz
Touch Judge: Rich Anderson and Mose Timoteo

San Mateo hosted Hayward @ San Mateo High school's turf field. No barriers, no problem: everybody in the stands. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience for all. I was able assisted by Rich Anderson and Timo. Fortunately for the referees Timo is rehabing his knee and is currently unable to play. I'll pay for his referee course if he decides to take up the whistle full time. Aruna Ranaweera volunteered to take some statistical data on the match and observe the proceedings. Aruna is currently also rehabing an injury.

As always this game lives up to the hype. Both teams are playing exceptionally well and are dynamic both in forward and back play. The first half was a bit slow with both teams choosing to keep the ball tight.

They traded penalty kicks. Mid-way through the 1st period Hayward # 4 Daniel Towers was sin-binned for a professional foul, offsides, on the 5 meter line. Latter in the first half Hayward # 1 Paula Fukofuka was also sin-binned for professional foul, again in the red zone.

The second bin resulted in a try from San Mateo. Half time score 9-11.

The second period opened up with a flurry of tries from both sides. San Mateo drew first blood to take the score 18-9. This sparked Hayward to action and resulted in 2 trys and 2 conversions to pull the visitors ahead 23-18.

Hayward's back line is as fast as San Mateo's and several years younger. If Hayward's backline can stay fit and work together for the entire year they are going to develop into a national contender.

Five minutes later San Mateo's # 5 finished off a multiple phase play to tie the score @ 23-23 with 11 minutes to go. 5 minutes later San Mateo was pressuring the visitors but Hayward's defense turned the ball over. The ball was dished out to Hayward # 1 who rumbled through the defense.

Unfortunately for Hayward his support left him isolated as all watched the 300 pound prop rumble through San Mateo. When they finally got him to the deck Mr. Fukofuka found himself alone surrounded by 3 San Mateo defenders all trying to pry the ball from his hands. The ensuing penalty kick sent San Mateo into the lead 26-23. They later sealed the victory on the last play of the game to make the final score 33-23.

Both teams should be pleased with their performances. From a refereeing viewpoint the game was fantastic. 6 trys, 13 penalties, and no issues of dangerous or foul play. Not a bad day at the office. The second round of this match-up should be a cracker of a game.

From an observational standpoint Northern California division 1 club rugby is as strong as I have seen it in several years. I anticipate that no one is going to go into playoffs undefeated. However I contend that all of the Nor cal teams need to get better at scrum time. No one team has proven themselves to be dominant in this facet of the game. National championships are won and lost at the scrums.

Seconds: San Mateo 5 – HAYWARD 31 Referee: Rich Anderson
As dusk settled late on Saturday Afternoon, the second sides of San Mateo and Hayward were ready to play rugby. The late starting First Side match, which I had the pleasure to TJ for Paul Bretz, started late, for many reasons. Both sides wanted to play a second game before the sun went down.

I was so anxious to blow the whistle that I didn't notice that San Mateo was playing with red jerseys and Hayward was playing in red jerseys with a tiny black stripe near the waist. As Paul told me at the first stoppage of play, I could not make a wrong call. Advantage Red. Red not rolling away. Red scrum. Red, red, red.

Play in the first half went reasonably smooth. Players were wondering how I could call a knock-on when they threw the ball backwards. I wondered also. More than a few decisions were overturned as we played re-set scrums. 10 minutes into the second half, the sun was too low in the Pacific for my eyes. Rugby was over for the day.

The final score was Red/Black (Hayward IIs) 31- Red (San Mateo IIs) 5, I think...

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 34 – Santa Rosa 15 Referee: Sam Reagle
Weather: Noticeably warmer than last week

The pitch had some of everything except mud. There were some nice grassy patches, some deep sandy areas and some areas reminiscent of the Arizona desert (caliche). My point is that there were plenty of skinned knees and elbows, not typical in most NorCal games.

The game itself was fast and cleanly played by both sides, a tribute to both coaching staffs. Sacramento has recruited well from the college ranks as several Sac State and UC Davis alumni were in the game.

Sacramento used a pick and run tactic on the opening kickoff to quickly score down the left side. A few minutes later they did it again for another try down the right side and about 10 minutes later they broke the Santa Rosa line for a third unanswered try and a rout appeared to be in the making. However, in the span of 6 minutes just before halftime, Santa Rosa made a penalty kick, poached a pass for a try and drove over another try to end the half only down 17-15.

The intensity definitely picked up in the second half. Both teams drove up and down the pitch, but when inside the 22, the defenses stood their ground .... legally. This went on for 30 minutes. It was awesome. Remember, this was a 2-point game at this point.

Finally, during a Santa Rosa attack, the ball carrier lost the ball which was picked up by a Sacramento player who scooted down the left side for an unconverted try, beating the fullback in the open field. It's hard to say whether this inspired Sacramento or deflated Santa Rosa, but Sacramento scored twice more in the closing minutes to finish 34-15. This was a great game.

Seconds: SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 54 – Santa Rosa 19 Referee: JC Van Staden
Santa Rosa scored 3 good trys but did not have any defense in the middle field to stop Sac’s centers.

Arroyo Grande 22 – BARACUS 41 Referee: Pete Smith
It was yet another great weekend of rugby. After a quick 3 hr drive down California's central valley, through old Arroyo Grande, past the vineyards to 'The New River Bottom' park. Arroyo Grande has it GOING ON! They are well along with their new home facility and it will be spectacular very soon. They have two full size fields that are flat and level and are working on seating, AND a new two story club house with changing rooms and a wrap around deck that allow viewing of both Fields. They plan to host tournaments a hopefully some playoff games.

The game itself was quite fast paced with both teams making long breaks only to be tracked down by the opposition just short of pay dirt or worse yet, self inflicted damage-DROPPED PASSES. I expected the game to be spirited as both teams are aware they play the game with cleats, but it was only hard hitting a solid defense that dominated the first half. Baracus took an early lead with a penalty kick followed up by a converted try, 10-0 Baracus. AG dug deep and after some very strong running from their #12, they managed the same scoring line of a converted try and pk for a 10-10 half time score. Baracus took off the training wheels in the second half and and put a couple of tries on AG, but the host would not give up scoring a few of their own the keep the game in reach. Ultimately, AG ran out of gas and Baracus tacked a few scores on at the end to pull away with a 41-22 victory.

CAL POLY SLO over Baracus seconds Referee: Andy Doukas
Baracus insisted on a B side game for their new players as they traveled with 35 and Andy Doukas made sure they were given one. Cal Poly SLO had the weekend off, so they brought out their squad and hammered Baracus's B side. Andy reffed the game as I had to leave before it was over, but needless to say, it was over before I left. I am sorry I had to leave because as always Arroyo Grande know how to put on a feed. They had the grill loaded with Tri-Tip and garlic bread, side dishes galore and a few cold beverages were made available. Bo Kelly, the heart of AG rugby, has known for years that if you are going to have to travel that far for a game, his club is going to make it worth your while and you leave wanting to come back. Safe to say-Bo knows rugby! It is a real treat to be invited to AG for a game and when my game was canceled the assigned ref was unable to do the game, I was happy to make the drive.

Humboldt 15 – CHICO 19 Referee: Joe Leisek
Manila Community Park, Manila (Humboldt Bay)

A trip to Humboldt County is a highlight of the rugby season. The trip up the North Coast offers beautiful country, friendly people, a gracious rugby community...and the opportunity to referee a good, competitive game. This weekend offered no exceptions.

Chico and Humboldt are two rivals that play each other hard but respect each other tremendously off the pitch. Both teams feature a blend of youth and experience that works well. This weekend provided sunny, cold, and breezy conditions and a very well-marked pitch. Veteran flyhalf Jeremy Drakeford captained the hosts, while Chico State grad Sean Bolduan led the visitors.

The first 20 minutes of the game were a bit choppy, with penalties called against both sides for various offenses, though no clear pattern emerged. However, in the 20th minute, a Humboldt player earned a caution for putting his team over the referee's penalty limit ...and for the next 20 minutes, players responded beautifully. Both sides retained the ball over several possessions and drove downfield through forward drives and backline movements. Humboldt led at the half by two tries to one, all unconverted. In the second half, Chico was stronger and more consistent with ball retention, and tallied two converted tries for the come-from-behind win.

In the last moments of play, Humboldt's blazing fullback Montrell Anthony scored a try, which put the hosts within striking distance. With less than a minute remaining, Humboldt attacked furiously from the restart. They were awarded a penalty about 20 meters from the Chico goal line with seconds remaining. Knowing a penalty goal would not be enough, they tapped and ran, but could not score the game-winner before full-time.

Intense and competitive; another thoroughly enjoyable rugby day in Humboldt!

Shasta 5 – VACAVILLE 36 Referee: Chris Parkhouse
Three hours to get there and 4 hours to get back, thanks to an accident on 80 that closed the freeway for part of Saturday evening. In between however a thoroughly enjoyable game of rugby played in good spirits with two teams eager to run the ball. Vacaville opened up the scoring within three minutes of the start of play with Steve Salmon (3) driving in coupled with the conversion to open up a 7-0 lead. If one thought this would be a rout, one was sorely mistaken. The game was well contested with end to end rugby the difference being Vacaville making the most of their opportunities. Two more tries were added in the first half including another one from Steve Salmon, and Vacaville went into half time with a 19-0 lead.

In the second half Redding continued to pressure and although Vacaville added another three tries, Redding finally got a deserved try right in the corner following a sweeping back row move. A real pleasure to referee.

East Palo Alto 19 – APTOS 28 Referee: Bruce Carter
The third division certainly features some hard-hitting rugby!

East Palo Alto opened the game playing fast and fiercely. They scored two tries and seemed to have the run of play in the early going, with a straight-ahead, hard-mauling style.

But Aptos kept their composure, scoring one try on a speculator kick into the in-goal, another on a blind-side nip by scrumhalf Kevin Miske, and another on a burst up the middle by a fellow called Nitro who dislocated his shoulder in scoring.

(The shoulder was reduced by the referee immediately after the final whistle.)

Each team had three tries and very vocal supporters. It was loud, rowdy and a ton of fun. The difference was three penalty goals by Aptos.

PETALUMA 18 – Marin 11 Referee: Mike Gadoua
Evaluator: Mike Malone

MISSION 52 – Berkeley 21 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Mission proved too much for Berkeley Saturday, winning 52 to 21.

Mission scored the first two tries and led 21 to 7 at half.

Mission scored the first five tries in the second half, with Berkeley scoring the last two tries of the game.

UC Davis Aggies 15 – CHICO STATE WILDCATS 18 Referee: Scott Wood
A well-contested match by both teams. There were periods when play was a bit shoddy as the players did not want to fairly compete for the ball. For the most part, when players listened to their captains and communicated with each other, continuity and multi-phase play made for an exciting event. Both teams had problems with tactical discipline as they played the ball from the floor and repeatedly did not properly enter rucks. Near the end of the first half, Davis was down 10-13 and attacking off ruck-things from five meters out. Chico was maintaining a positive defense until its loosehead prop disrupted things by entering the side of the ruck earning him a trip to the bin. Davis tried to capitalize off the overlap only to finish the half with a knock-on.

The second half opened with a flurry of activity as both teams attacked and defended well. Nine minutes into the period, Chico returned to full strength. Eleven minutes into the period, Chico permanently lost their freshly-returned prop to a second yellow card for further repeated transgressions. Despite the 15-14 man advantage, Davis and Chico each scored an unconverted try apiece to finish the match with Chico winning 18-15.

After the match, I was greeted by a former Society stalwart, Don Walsh. You can thank Don and his contemporaries for developing the Law book as we know it today. Don asked about the Society and looks forward to attending future meetings. Don and Bryan Porter were later spotted swapping war stories on the side of the pitch during Mike Villierme's B-side match – while paying close attention to the referee’s game, of course.

Seconds: UC DAVIS 31 – Chico State 0 Referee: Mike Villierme
Evaluator: Bryan Porter
Venue: Russell athletic field...sunny, steady breeze out of the north to mess up a couple of kicks and lineouts.

Thank you to Scott Wood and Bryan Porter for their advice and critiques, before, during and after the match. Davis B's played well at all phases and scored from long range as well as from close in. As was the case in both halves, it took about twenty or so minutes to score but then it seemed to come in rapid succession. The sun-drenched, wind-whipped and mostly well-played match was marred at the 76th minute when a Davis player, Mike Belsaritas (sorry if that is spelled wrong Mike) had his ankle rolled up on and Davis FD was subsequently called to transport the young man to hospital. All of us in the community wish you a speedy recovery and recuperation.

NEVADA 24 (4) – Humboldt State 7 (1) Referee: Don Pattalock
Touch Judges: P. Ulibarri/L. Bryant

Nevada came out on top in this match by taking advantage of some poor tackling by HSU on a couple of occasions and capitalizing on some fortuitous kicking and strong pursuit. Humboldt owned the scrums while Nevada dominated the lineouts. This was not a classic match by any means. In this pre season friendly, both sides were lacking in fitness and cohesiveness; however, what the teams did not lack was a desire for extremely physical rugby. Unfortunately, most of the physical play was non-productive.

SFGG U-23, 15 – SANTA ROSA JC 19 Referee: John Coppinger
Discipline and fitness ultimately paid dividends for SRJC as SRJC moved past SF/GG U23 19-15 on the SF/GG Rocca Field. The score at half was 12-6 in favor of SF/GG and SF/GG's domination of possession in the SRJC end of the pitch should have meant a bigger lead for SF/GG. In the second half, SRFC scored a converted try and 2 penalties to SF/GG lone penalty kick.

4 penalties

2 Tries
1 conversion
1 penalty

CAL MARITIME ACADEMY 32 – Santa Clara 15 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
This was a spirited affair between two well drilled and committed sides. While Cal Maritime proved effective at mauls and at scrum time, Santa Clara proved to be ferocious tacklers.

After a fairly even first half, Cal Maritime found a fifth gear and ran away with the match. Final score: California Maritime Academy 32 - University of Santa Clara 15.


The Second Annual Stanford Women's Collegiate Tournament featured 30 matches on two pitches from 8 am on Saturday through 2:45 pm on Sunday. The weather was picture-perfect: spring-like, with clear skies. The rugby was first-rate, with about half of the 11 teams ranked in the top 25 in the US. Fair play, a sporting spirit, and dramatic finishes highlighted the play. UC Davis narrowly edged Cal for 3rd place, and Stanford prevailed over a tough Chico State team for the championship.

The Referee Society assembled three referee coaches (Bruce Carter, Kat Todd-Schwartz and Dave Williamson) and two video cameras on Saturday. Kat and Dave returned for Sunday.

On Saturday, the referees were: Bruce, Ray Schwartz, Deb Hart, Sandy Robertson, Paul Berman, Dave Buckey, Isaac Caselis, Paul Smith, and Bruce Bernstein.

On Sunday Sandy, Dave Buckey, and Ray returned, joining JC Van Staden and Pete Smith. Pete put the final touches on the tournament with three matches in a row: 5th Place, 3rd Place, and the Championship, while JC and Dave Williamson provided touch judge support.

STANFORD 41 – Wyoming 3 Referee: Bruce Carter
Saturday’s 8 AM match kicked off precisely at 8 AM, with frozen dew still glazing the pitch. A Wyoming player commented, “This is like a June morning for us. And what’s with the heavy air?”

For Stanford it was more like early May, the day of the Kentucky Derby: the horses in their backline ran wild. There were four tries from #11, two tries from #14, and one from #15.

Games refereed by Sandy Robertson:

Humboldt State 5 – Oregon State 5
Both sides kept the ball in hand, but neither was able to make ground consistently through multiple phases.

CALIFORNIA 17 – UC Los Angeles 12
The two teams supported well and generated numerous multi-pass, multi-phase attacks. Berkeley managed to get the extra try.

BYU 17 – UC Davis 0
An end-of-the-day match, with no tourney position consequences, both sides gave rookies a chance to play mixed in with more experienced players. BYU controlled the ball and had a bit more in the attacking repertoire.

(QF) CHICO STATE 33 – UC Los Angeles 12
Chico came out hard and provided a bit of a clinic in rucking, thus dominating possession. UCLA stayed game and came up with may have been the try of the tournament when a UCLA back, from inside her 22 kicked a loose ball ahead, chased it and kicked again (a Chico player was in close pursuit). After at least 5 kicks and the Chico player was only able to pounce just as the UCLA player touched it down for a try.

(Semi) CHICO STATE19 – UC Davis 0
Chico was too quick to the ball and was able to move it wide quickly en route to 3 tries.

Report by Pete Smith:

Sunday I was lucky enough not to have to work and took advantage by going to Stanford's Collegiate Invitational. I did three 40 minute games back to back and all were a treat. I started with the 5th place game between Oregon and UCLA which Oregon won.

The next game was bruising affair between UC Davis and Cal for 3rd place. Despite the low score it was a barn burner. Cal had the game in hand with a 5-0 lead when the hooter sounded, but the game continued until the next stoppage which was at the equalizing try, 5-5, with a tough conversion to follow. The kick sailed wide, but I was told there would be 5 minutes of sudden death. Five minutes later neither team had scored when the hooter sounded, but alas we play until the next stoppage. A Cal player was caught holding on in a tackle and I awarded the penalty 25-30 meters out and to the left of the posts. UCD elected to have a shot and this time her kick was true. The UC Davis kicker slotted the walk off penalty kick to seal the improbable comeback victory.

The last game was the final between Chico St and the hosts and defending National Champions Stanford. Having run touch for last years women's collegiate final, I would easily put both teams in the top four in the US with Stanford not appearing to have lost anything from last years championship team. This game was faster than I expected for this time of year and both teams were up to the pace. There was a stretch of about 10 minutes of non stop action. I probably had four penalties during that stretch with both teams tapping and going as fast as possible. Stanford managed an early try, 5-0, a second about half way through, 12-0 and one late for a 17-0 victory. If the seeding works out right these two teams may well meet in this year’s championship game. Anybody that can't appreciate women's rugby has NEVER seen a string of games like the three I refereed. The commitment of these athletes is obvious and it was a privilege for me to be a part of the game.


No report received.


Live Oak 10 – PENINSULA GREEN 22 Referee: Chris Fisher

JV:Live Oak 0 – PENINSULA GREEN 48 Ref: Fisher

LIVE OAK 19 – College Park 17 Ref: Fisher

Editor’s Note: We wrote to Chris to ask, “Did Live Oak play three games on the same day? They must be growing.”

His response:

"Yeah, they are. They are a model for all emerging high school programs. They have two full sides, the support of the school and a new rugby field on campus with impressive goal posts.

"If more schools were like Live Oak, rugby would quickly become a mainstream sport within the USA.

"And yes, there were three games and I did all of them. After the last game I was stuffed."


Rob Perle visited from Gotham January 13/14 and sent back a lovely word-picture postcard:

To the Pelican Refs –

Thanks very much for the assignments this past weekend. I had a great experience in San Fran and I look forward to returning soon.

I’m a huge fan of Jet Blue, but I’m a fool for checking the bag with my rugby kit, which apparently sat in NYC and/or Boston for an extra day. Some might say that I had terrible luck, but this is not the case! It might have been bad luck if I had been visiting elsewhere. As it happened, I was on exchange with a ref society made up of some truly generous souls who thought nothing of stepping up to help a desperate referee in need. Not only did they do a wonderful job helping me with my game as touch judges, but John Coppinger and Rich Anderson loaned me cleats, socks, shorts, a NorCal society ref jersey (which John insisted I keep!), whistle and card wallet. (The only thing I wore that belonged to me was my boxer shorts which are totally ill-designed for running and left me with some discomfort that I’d rather not expand on for this missive.) After the game, I eagerly sought to return the favor by picking up the tab for a round of beers for John and Rich, but my offer was denied and summarily rejected. These are some good folks and represent all that is right about our community.

Diablo Gaels 29 – SFGG 18
SFGG controlled the game early with disciplined, if unimaginative, play and took their points when the opportunities came for a 10-point first half lead. However, the Gaels had much more explosive potential in the backline which over 80 minutes was too much for the slower team to handle. Gaels managed to pick off a sloppy SFGG ball to streak the length of the field and earn a cheap 7 in the first half which put them right back in the game. SFGG could not hold its 12-13 halftime lead as the Gaels exploded for two quick tries, answered with only one of their own. Gaels played ferocious defense in the last 20 minutes in their own 22 as SFGG, down 22-18, pounded one ruck after another and looked as though they would take back the lead. But the Gaels held and managed to not commit penalties in the clutch. After they finally cleared out of their end, the Gaels found a huge gap after a midfield maul against SFGG’s tiring defense and scored another long-break champagne try to put the game away 29-18. SFGG played three backrow players in the backline, and its scrumhalf was much less talented than his opposite on the Gaels who had a monster game scoring two tries. Given the difference in athletic talent, the game should not have been as close as it was which is testament to SFGG’s resolve. I thought play flowed pretty well for 80 minutes and the players didn’t get out of control with tempers or infringements. The pitch at Diablo Valley and the windless “winter” Cali weather made for perfect game conditions.

In 15 years of playing rugby, I cannot remember ever seeing 17.6(h) being applied (unsuccessful maul after a caught kick, catching team puts in the scrum). Then, the day after I read it on the plane, WHAM, there it happens. The players didn’t believe me, but I swore to God that it is a law and the game continued without incident.

I’m told SFGG is protesting the game because of a willful infraction of laws 3.7 and 3.12 regarding substitution. Gaels #8 left the game and was substituted for in the second half. He later came back in the game and set up the Gaels’ final try which put the game out of reach. When he returned, it was amongst several other substitutions that were coming fast and furious from both sides, and I did not make note of his jersey number. This is a clear failure on my part, especially considering this was a league match. I got sloppy because I was enjoying the fast clip of the game - lesson learned! The Gaels claim that he was put back into the game because he left the game as a blood substitution. The Gaels may have believed this, but I did not grant any blood substitutions in this match. John Coppinger asked me to comment on this as a matter for your executive committee to consider. If you have any other questions about it, please let me know.

I had a very worthwhile and insightful coaching talk with Bryan Porter and I look forward to reading his report.

Berkeley All Blues 29 – SoCal Griffins 24
When I showed up to the nicest rugby pitch I’ve ever seen in my life at Stanford University, I wasn’t expecting to referee a match between the women’s perennial national club champion and an ITT select side composed of players from other top club teams. I was also pleased to learn that the format of the weekend changed and the teams would be playing a full 80-minute match. So after 20 minutes of glorious rugby, where both teams played beautifully and traded four tries while my whistle stayed cold, I thought I was in rugby referee heaven. But it is times like these when we are punished for our sins, and this game was no exception. Out of nowhere, the terrific game I was refereeing was suddenly replaced with a Met NY Division III men’s beer-league nightmare between the Newark Swamp Slugs and the Stamford Knock-ons. The tackle/ruck infractions came from both sides in copious buckets. I worked very hard with preventative talk and then words with the captains, but to no avail and the first half saw 4 yellow cards for repeated infringements. The captains and I had another chat before second half KO, and things were better for a while, but then deteriorated again and we had another yellow and a red-card send-off, all for ruck/tackle situations (not rolling away, playing the ball on the ground, hands in, et al). In between penalties, Berkeley scored three second half tries, two of them playing one-down, and kept the game entirely in the attacking end for the last 20 minutes. SoCal put away two tries in the second half with some exciting ruck play, but they simply did not get as many scoring opportunities as Berkeley did. Berkeley could have made this more of a track meet on the wide field because they appeared to have a much faster and more skilled backline, but SoCal generally stuck their tackles and was able to maintain possession with multiple phase play. The score was 29-24 but it should have been 52-35. Set pieces on both sides were clean.

Usually, a game starts out sloppy and then gets cleaned up, but this was the complete opposite. I don't think I've had a game go pear-shaped like this so dramatically. Early in the season, even top well-coached players get chippy after 20 minutes if they aren't fit - lesson learned! I was later told that there were probably 10 Eagles on the field, and that the player I red-carded was the 2005 National Player of the Year.

While I was not scheduled to be coached this game, I had some very helpful conversations with Pete Smith and Berkeley coach Kathy Flores. My conversation with Kathy was not like one of those bitch-and-moan sessions coaches give as they pretend to give constructive feedback – she genuinely gave me some excellent tips on some things to consider in tough situations when a game deteriorates, as this game clearly did. I think she’d be a terrific referee coach/assessor. Pete also gave me a good game recap. I dig his philosophy and I appreciate the time he spent with me.

In both games on the weekend, all scrum participants appeared to be comfortable with the new engagement procedures. I’m getting there myself.

Again, it was truly a terrific weekend and I’d love to come back again any time. My only regret is that I didn’t get to meet the Head Pelican. Good luck in 2007.

Regards –

Team of Three

A proud team of three, surrounded by lesser admirers.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris