Tuesday, April 03, 2007




The last monthly meeting of the 2007 season will be Wednesday, April 4 at the Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island from 7 to 9 PM.

With playoffs, super league games and championships forming the bulk of our remaining games, we will focus on touch judging at this meeting.

Our members have plenty of opportunities to support high-level rugby over the next month as touch judges, and this session should help prepare them for the task.

The Referee Development Committee will meet from 6 to 7. Food will be provided beginning at 6 PM for early arrivals for the general meeting.


There was a day, not too many years ago, when the NCRRS did not have enough depth to adequately cover the many high-level games that we are fortunate enough to officiate.

This has changed.

Through the end of March, nineteen different referees have worked NCRFU men’s D1 first-side games. Three of these referees were here on exchange.

That means SIXTEEN Pelicanrefs have worked at the top end of the assignments tree: Rich Anderson, Joe Androvich, Paul Bretz, Lois Bukowski, Bruce Carter, Jim Crenshaw, Mike Gadoua, Tony Latu, Joe Leisek, Don Pattalock, John Pohlman, Dave Pope, Aruna Ranaweera, Sam Reagle, Pete Smith and Scott Wood.

There also appear to be at least a couple of referees who will be in a position to join this list next year!



Seahawks 11 – OLYMPIC CLUB 78 Referee: Lois Bukowski
Referee Coach: David Williamson

Seconds: Seahawks 25 (3) – OLYMPIC CLUB 27 (4) Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Olympic looked the more polished side early-on, leading 17-3 at half-time. In the second half, a more even contest was achieved because Olympic emptied their bench and San Jose inserted some experienced players. After Olympic had established a 27-6 lead midway through the second half, San Jose stormed back with three tries to pull within 27-25 with 1 minute remaining. Much thanks to Dave Williamson for providing referee coaching feedback.

SACRAMENTO LIONS 15 – San Mateo 10 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
I think it was a little too warm to play rugby last Saturday in Sacramento. The Lions scored less than 5 minutes into the game and I thought we were in for track meet. San Mateo could only manage a penalty kick about half way through the half, with the Lions answering late in the half with a penalty kick of their own.. It was 8 to 3 Lions at halftime. There were lots of long breakaways, but some great open field tackles and a few inopportune knocks ons kept both teams out of the try zone.

The defensive struggle continued until the 36th minute of the second half, when San Mateo scored a converted try to take a 10 to 8 lead. The Lions fought back with a try in the corner in the 39th minute that they converted to win the game 15 to 10.

Seconds: Sacramento Lions – San Mateo Not Played

SF/Golden Gate forfeited to HAYWARD

Fresno 34 – SACRAMENTO 77 Referee: Tony Latu
Many moons ago Sacramento vs. Fresno used to be one of the best game in Norcal, fifteen or sevens. But both teams had to go through few transitions. And now, Sacramento is a different team. On the other hand, Fresno is trying to get new and young faces to renovate the team. This was a tune-up game for Sac before the playoffs. It was a pride thing for Fresno, the last game, the last stop. A chance to beat the unbeatable.

Fresno was sleeping at the first half as Sac score 45 points on them. The second half, Fresno rambles back at Sac, unfortunately, for only twenty minutes. The last twenty, Sac score more points. The final score Sac-77, Fresno-34.

Baracus 10 – SANTA ROSA 17 Referee: Rich Anderson
This was a tough, hard fought match which saw Baracus take a 10-3 lead at the half. Santa Rosa converted some Penalty opportunities early in the Second half and scored a late try to win 17-10.

Seconds: Baracus 12 – SANTA ROSA 37 Ref: Anderson

ST. MARY’S 50 (8) – Stanford 26 (4) Referee: Mike Gadoua
Assessor: Bryan Porter

Tim O'Brien's pack had little trouble dominating the set pieces, rolling in 38 points and keeping Stanford scoreless. A serious injury stopped play for a good period of time as paramedics responded to a player knocked unconscious. However, Jonathan Griffin, the Stanford coach, must have lit a fire under his team during the halftime pep talk - Stanford seemed to be a different team in the second half. The maroon jerseys spent a good portion of the clock in Blue territory, scoring four tries to St. Mary's two. Had time continued, the story may have had a different ending. However, St. Mary's 38 unanswered points in the first half proved fatal for Stanford.

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 46 (8) – Stanford 25 (4) Referee: Sandy Robertson
St. Mary’s got the early advantage with a couple of quick tries. Stanford came back and led 18-17 at half time. In the 2nd half St. Mary’s began to dominate play scoring 5 tries. Both sides used the ball well and used every inch of St. Mary’s fine new pitch.

Chico State 15 – UC DAVIS 38 Referee: John Pohlman
Touch Judges Scott Wood and Mark, a self-appointed semi-professional touch judge.

I had circled this weekend after I'd seen my assignments for March. I was hoping my drive to Chico to call the Chico State versus University of Davis men's Division 1 game would be rewarded with a playoff-type game. As they say watch what you wish for.

Both teams are headed for the playoffs and this game was for important seeding.

I arrived at 11:30 to see the Chico State women finishing their practice. Both teams were present and kitting up. It was a beautiful but a bit hot of a day.

I had the good fortune of talking Scott Wood into touch judging for me. Scott had called their previous game in January. He explained a close game and referred to it as "holding onto a tiger by its tail".

The game started fast and clean. The first couple of tackles were so well disciplined...maybe a tiger can be domesticated.

Chico forwards controlled early ball and were rewarded with a try by #13 Mickel Libaele. Chico continued to control possession for most of the first half.

Chico's scrum half Katsurada started a great 60 meter run which looked like a for sure score. As he neared the try line he was caught and offloaded a forward pass. Davis controlled the scrum and relieved the pressure.

I had to warn UC Davis #1 Reynolds for repeatedly not being behind the last foot.

Chico slotted the penalty mid way through the half. Chico 10 Davis 0.

I mention Davis's #1 because he stood out among some very talented athletes.

Just before half Reynolds blocked and gathered a clearing kick by Chico's scrum half. He then finished the play with the try. First half Chico 10-Davis 7.

The second half was controlled by Davis. Davis's forwards gave their backs enough clean ball to start to breakdown the Chico defense.

Davis started the second half with a quick score.
Chico 15-Davis 14.

Two of Davis's second half scores were from long kicks turned over by great support. It seemed the heat was not effecting any of the Davis players especially Reynolds. Davis's #1 poached at least three balls one that turned into another Davis try.

In the last four minutes Davis scored two more tries to put the game away.

Final Davis 38- Chico 15.

Good luck to both teams and thanks it was definitely worth the drive.

Seconds: CHICO STATE 33 (5) – UC Davis 21 (3) Referee: Scott Wood
A fun match in the warm Chico sun. After running touch for John Pohlman in the first match, I took to the field for the Second XV match. Both teams played well with good intensity and discipline. Chico scored two tries (one converted) to shut out the Aggies 12-0 in the first half. The visitors regrouped at halftime and whatever Davis has in its water seemed to raise their spirits and abilities as both teams scored three converted tries apiece to finish the match 33-21.

Nevada 20 (4) – SACRAMENTO STATE 22 (4) Referee: Don Pattalock
Touch Judges: P. Ulibarri, G. Walsh

The conversion was the difference in this great game of rugby. With no playoff implications left in either season, both teams played hard enterprising rugby with Sac making space out wide and Nevada grinding up the pitch with pick and drives. It was a moderately windy day and the kicking suffered. With 3 minutes left on the clock, Nevada was awarded a penalty on the 22m in front of the poles, pride and the suspect kicking spurred the captain to push for the try; which never came.

Seconds: Nevada 0 – SACRAMENTO STATE 35
Referee: Blake Crowley
Touch Judges: G. Walsh/team representative

Santa Rosa JC 10 – HUMBOLDT STATE 12 Referee: Joe Androvich


USA Rugby established the Division 3 championship in 2000. In the seven years that it has been contested, NCRFU teams have finished first or second five times.

The 2007 playoffs were held at El Camino Park in Palo Alto to determine which two teams will advance to the Pacific Coast playoffs.

Three of the eight teams competing were recent National Champions: Chico won in 2002, Reno in 2003, and Mission in 2006.

Mission and Chico will both move on to the Pacific Coast playoffs in Bend, Oregon, April 21/22.

Saturday’s Games:
MISSION 84 (14) – Berkeley 0 Referee: Bruce Carter
Touch Judge: John Coppinger, Pete Smith
Mission certainly looks prepared to defend their national title. What separates them from not only the other D3, but from most of the teams at any level that this writer has seen, is their deftness passing in traffic and off-loading in the tackle.

The ball just never dies. Even when a player is tackled in isolation, they have a knack for passing to a spot where a supporter and a hole in the defense are going to coincide a second from now.

Berkeley would tackle until there were no more defenders left, when Mission would end up in goal.

VACAVILLE 42 – Aptos 10 Referee: John Coppinger
Touch Judges: Chris Arnold, Frank Merrill
Evaluator: Dixon Smith
Videographer: Bruce Carter

Reno 21 – EAST PALO ALTO 46 Referee: Pete Smith
Touch Judges: Chris Arnold, Bruce Carter
In what may have been the most entertaining game of the weekend and if not, easily the hardest hitting, EPA surprised Reno with a 46-21 win as the 3rd of four NorCal D3 playoff games. This game was open, hard hitting and a despite all that very clean game to referee. My guess is a penalty count under 15 for the match. It was a real treat to be part of a game as well played this one was.

CHICO 31 (4) – Petaluma 14 (2) Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judge: Chris Arnold

Chico had more possession and spent more time going forward with the ball in both halves, and certainly had opportunities to score more points. Petaluma had a few chances that could not be converted. Fast game in spots, a bit of a grinder in others. Chico kicker Derek Brown was perfect on the day: one penalty kick and four conversions.

Special thanks to Chris Arnold for running touch, and very happy to have met Linda Carter!

Sunday Finals:

CHICO 40 (6) – East Palo Alto 19 (3) Referee: Joe Leisek
More of an open running game than the previous day, especially in the first half. Chico took a four-tries-to-one lead at the half. However, the second half slowed a bit, as East Palo Alto, a bit thin in numbers, suffered through a few injuries. Second-day fatigue began to emerge a bit on both sides. The second 40 minutes was an even 12-12 draw. Chico kicker Derek Brown actually missed a conversion late in the second half! His weekend tally: nine conversions and one penalty kick, with only the one missed conversion.

Best wishes to Chico in the Pacific Coast playoffs.

MISSION 32 – Vacaville 3 Referee: Pete Smith
Sunday saw a hotly contested match for the first 40 minutes with Mission taking the 15-3, but Vacaville just didn’t have the depth after having to fight hard the day before against Aptos. The last 20 minutes, Vacaville used many new players and the score swelled as a result as Mission pulled away for a 32-3 victory. I would hazard to guess the match between Chico and Mission may well be a prelude to this year’s National Championship game, if the brackets permit. Both of these teams are looking primed and ready for whoever comes next.



March 29:
MONTGOMERY 36 (6) – Sonoma 17 (3) Referee: Mike King
A hard fought contest, with the bigger Montgomery side able to overpower Sonoma at times. Montgomery showed improved knowledge of the game as their players have seen more match time. To their credit, the Dragons did not give up. They roared back at the end to knot 2 late tries and continued to challenge to the end.

March 30:
TNT 17 (3) – Barbarians 10 (2) Ref: King
Both sides showed great improvement over the season both as to knowledge of the rules and the teamwork necessary to prevail in this game. The game itself was slowed by a number of dropped balls and infractions, but the players kept the pressure on each other throughout the game. After a close half, TNT pulled away to establish an insurmountable lead, but Rancho was able to score in injury time to draw a bit closer.

March 31:
JV: Golden Gate 33 (5) – Live Oak 0 Ref: King
Both teams came out firing at the beginning of the game. Live Oak had 7 players on the JVs, plus fill-ins from the Varsity who had already played, and a couple from Golden Gate. They showed grit and determination, but were overcome by a more experienced side. After much of the half without a score, GG started an onslaught that led to 3 tries by half. Although Live Oak got close on several occasions with some nice runs, they came up short and were not able to punch through. Continued pressure led to 2 more tries for GG to complete the afternoon affair.

Tuesday, March 27:

SOUTH BAY EXILES 31 – Los Altos 17 Referee: John Pohlman
The South Bay Exiles, formerly Valley Christian, hosted Los Altos in a 5:30 match Tuesday evening. The Exiles play their games on the synthetic, hilltop, football field. It was very windy but surprising had little effect on the game.

The Exiles scored first with a try at the 8 minute mark with a nice run by their outside center #12.

Los Altos came right back with a try by Mitch their #8. Mitch can bring it. He led all players in tackles and took over as captain after Bobby their outside center left with an injury.

#12 again broke a number of tackles to finish off his second try ten minutes after his first.

28 minutes into the first half two of Los Altos's props scored a try. I say two because #1 drove the ball to the 2 meter mark. Then #3 picked up and scored. From my angle I could not see his number and he looked from behind identical to his front row mate. I started to call a double movement and then realized it was a legitimate score.

The Exiles backs were just too fast and experienced for Los Altos scoring two more tries prior to the half.

First half score Exiles 26-Los Altos 10.

Los Altos had the wind in the second half, but could only manage one more try.

This was a close game with two well matched packs.

But the Exile backline was the difference.


LOS ALTOS 39 – Aptos 7 Referee: James Hinkin

Aptos traveled over the hill to play a Friday night match at Los Altos. The teams were ready and eager to play on the all weather football field at Los Altos High School and with the referee forgetting to bring flags the touch judges were poised to indicate touch with t-shirts donated by Los Altos for the purpose. The game started with Aptos kicking off and immediate pressure. This started a 20 minute period of back and forth rugby with neither side gaining an advantage. The deadlock was finally broken by Los Altos with a well worked back move and support garnered a classic wing try in the corner. Los Altos put another try down with 30 minutes gone in the half with a rather unusual bit of opportunism. Los Altos was attacking near the 22 when they tried to set a ruck but lacked commitment. The Aptos #3 hit the ruck with power and blew 3 Los Altos players off the ball but in the process kicked the ball out the Los Altos side of the ruck. The alert winger scooped up the loose ball and charged down a wide open weak side to score. The half ended with A scrum being put down with no time left on the clock and a Los Altos put in. They won the ball and proceeded to string several phases together and steadily march down the field until finally breaking free and scoring in the corner. Half time score was 17-0.

The second half was more of the same as Los Altos put down 3 tries – with a highly unusual one sandwiched in the middle. Midway through the second half Aptos was penalized near midfield for not rolling away and the Los Aptos captain said “We want to go for points, sir”. I then indicated points and when he realized his mistake he said that he really meant to say he wanted to go for touch. Unfortunately it was too late as points were called and indicated. So the Los Altos kicker lined up a 53 yard attempt with the whole team ready to chase. After reminding the kicker that he must make a genuine attempt at goal the kick was taken and fell, unsurprisingly, well short. The surprising bit was that no Aptos player elected to catch it and the ball bounced back directly into the hands of an onrushing Los Altos player who dove over for a try. Aptos was able to get on the board after this with a very clever grubber through the line by the #10 that bounced kindly for the Aptos captain and center who never broke stride and outpaced the cover for the touchdown. Final score: Aptos 7 – Los Altos 39.


SOUTH BAY EXILES 43 (7) – College Park 5 Referee: Chris Fisher

EAST PALO ALTO 81 (12) – Silicon Valley 0 Referee: Joe Saccomanno
EPA came out and scored seven tries and five conversions to take a 46 to nil lead at the half. The second half was just as impressive with five more converted tries.

DE LA SALLE 66 (12) – Antioch 0 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Dominating throughout De La Salle scored 6 tries in each half. They controlled the set pieces, spun the ball quickly, and ran aggressive lines. Antioch competed throughout but lacked experience and depth.

Saturday, March 31
Site: Pioneer Park, Davis, Calif.
Referees: Giles Wilson, Chris Tucker
Report by Giles Wilson:

With short games of only 15 minute halves, the day was dominated by ties – the first game being 0-0 and then won by a single DG in the kickoff. Davis became eventual finalists with this game and their game vs Amazons won by DG kick offs.

Seven teams competed with very strong sides from Amazons, Davis, Alameda, Elsie Allen and Mother Lode joined by less experienced sides from Humboldt and Berkeley.

Amazons were seeded 1st, receiving a bye into the semis where they met Davis who’d snuck by Elsie Allen. Both teams defended hard with good low tackles and some very big hits on occasion. Davis scored a breakaway try at the end of the first half. Amazons attacked hard but weren’t able to score until 10 mins into the 2nd half. With 5 minutes to play, Amazons were stymied by a solid Davis defense and their own errors. In the kick off, the first 2 Davis players scored while the Amazons couldn’t, giving Davis a 2-0 victory.

In the other semi, defense also ruled the day with Alameda scoring a tying try as time expired and made the conversion for a 7-5 victory over Mother Lode. Subsequently Mother Lode decided to forfeit the 3rd/4th place game – efforts were made to make a combined team to play Amazons with players willing but time and organization preventing the effort.

In a tight final, Alameda were able to overcome Davis in a tight game.

Scores (Unofficial):
Santa Rosa Lobos 0 – Davis Lady Devils 0
Mother Lode 41 – Berkeley Yellow Jackets 0
Alameda Riptide 23 – Fortuna Huskies 5
Sacramento Amazons 5 – Davis Lady Devils 5
Santa Rosa Lobos 44 – Berkeley Yellow Jackets 0
Berkeley Yellow Jackets 0 – Fortuna Huskies 35
Mother Lode 5 – Alameda Riptide 7
Sacramento Amazons ? – Mother Lode ?
Santa Rosa Lobos 19 – Fortuna Huskies 0
Davis Lady Devils 5 – Alameda Riptide 17

Berkeley Rhinos 0 – PIEDMONT 27 (5) Referees: David Williamson/Paul Berman Touch Judge: Rob Hendrickson
Venue: Gabe's Field, Berkeley
Weather: Warm evening
Comments: The pitch was hard

I arrived 8 minutes in, with the game in full flow, in the capable hands of David Williamson, with Piedmont up 1 try to nil.

This local derby saw two teams charging at each other ball in hand at a frenetic pace. Each team took the ball at pace probing for weak points, turning open play into rucks & mauls if no gaps were found.

To this observer the style of play somewhat resembled 7's lines, without quite as many passes changing hands. Piedmont intermingled their backs & forwards to good effect in both attack, punching holes & defence, through fierce tackling.

Overall a clean fast paced game, stopped 3 minutes from regular time through a bad re-injury.

Sunday, April 1:

Under 15’s:
STANFORD 20 – Lamorinda 0 Referee: Isaac Caselis
Sunday, April 1st, a sunny day at Treasure Island was Lamorinda vs Stanford under 15's. Two established sides played a game that was marred with a red card that lead to the ejection of a player from each side.

The game started with both sides feeling each other out with no clear advantage for either team. Stanford scored first with Lamorinda having to tighten up its defense. Even though Lamorinda was able to move the ball, their mistakes allowed Stanford's physically larger backs to break thru the tackles of Lamorinda's gamey and smaller backs, which allowed Stanford to score two additional tries in the first half.

The score at the end of the half was Stanford 15 & Lamorinda 0.

The second half was a much different story. Lamorinda's adjustments were able to stop Stanford’s attacks thru the backs. It then became a forwards game with
Lamorinda moving the ball forward well and Stanford being penalized for playing the ball on the ground. Even with Lamorinda moving the ball forward they were still not able to score.

With one minute left in the game, and the score Stanford 20 & Lamorinda 0, much to my astonishment and dismay-and what this game will be remembered for is the fisticuffs between Stanford's captain and Lamorinda's #10 which led to a red card for both players.

I would like to thank the coaches and the two red carded players for their apologies.


This is from Ray Thompson:

I know Sunday is normally a day of rest, at least for some of us. But the Dixon U-15 Tournament is a great opportunity for some brand new, young ruggers to experience both the demands and delights of tournament play and also experience good refereeing. Please check your calendars and, if at all possible, find some time to come out..... all day, or only for a match or two.

The weekend should be something of a breather for NCRFU rugby anyway, particularly on Sunday. So make some room to come out and help bring off a memorable first tournament experience for the 8 teams of youngsters that will be playing throughout the day.

I figure we'll need the equivalent of 4-5 refs throughout the day, more at the end for running touch on the semi-finals and final. Whether you can come out for a big or a small block of time doesn't matter. We can use your help. Let me know and I'll put a schedule together... to be adjusted as needed.

I look forward to seeing you in Dixon.

Two pitches, from 10 to 5.

Contact Ray at rsthompson3@sbcglobal.net


Help forget the pain of paying taxes:

April 15 is also the first day of the season for Sacramento Area Youth Rugby, which is flag rugby for 8 – 15 year olds. Their website is at:




Mark Kottke visited Pelicanland the weekend of March 24 and sends along this report:

Here is a quick recap for my weekend visit to Sacramento/Chico:

I ended up covering three matches this past weekend, the weather and field conditions were great for playing rugby. Friday afternoon had me center field at Rancho Cordova High School against Rio Vista. Rio came out ready to play and started off quickly to gain control of the match. Although, I believe Rancho Cordova had better talent on the pitch, Rio played better as a team, which is why the final scored heavily favored Rio. I am secretly jealous of these kids for getting involved with rugby at such a young age. Also wanted to say thank you to Ray Schwartz and Jim Crenshaw for the advice and video recording they provided.

I was able to do a double header in Chico on Sat. The Chico men hosted Shasta, and I was able to cover the Chico State/Stanford B side. The men’s match was not too exciting and dominated by Chico. The forward packs on each team were well matched for the entire game, but the backline and fitness was greatly in Chico’s favor. The game had many break away tries and I saw Chico gain possession at many 2nd and 3rd phase due to late arrival at Shasta breakdowns. The final score was Chico:50 (8 tries, 5 conv), Shasta: 15 (2 tries, 1 conv, 1 pen). I was able to keep the players chatter down and the players respected the fact I let them play while keeping them safe.

I finished up my weekend with Chico St/Stanford B-side match. This proved to be the most enjoyable game for my weekend. Chico dominated over Stanford and outscored them by almost 50 points. Both teams played very hard, played well together, and played good rugby. It was apparent that Chico was a better coached side, as seen by the final score. I appreciate Scott Wood for staying around to watch this match and provide me with helpful pointers. I would like to thank everyone up in the NorCal Referee society for helping me out this weekend. It was a great weekend and I'm glad you gave me this opportunity.


SFGG is hosting the 2nd annual Grand Rugby Banquet with Dean Richards as the keynote speaker. Richards, the legendary England #8, had 48 English caps, 6 caps for the Lions, and played in the 1987, 1991 and 1995 Rugby World Cups. He was the director of rugby for the Leicester Tigers from 1998-2003, and is the current directory of rugby for the London Harlequins RFC.

When: Friday, July 13th 7:00 PM
Where: San Francisco Italian Athletic Club, San Francisco, CA
Who: SFGG members and friends of the club, as well as other members of the NorCal Rugby Community
Cost: $120 for three course deluxe meal and open bar; table of 10 is $1,200
Benefiting: Bay Area Youth Rugby

This event will benefit our strong Youth Rugby programs. It is sure to fill up fast, so reserve your spot now by contacting Robbie Flynn at 415-235-1819 or robbie@nzunion.com

Any referees who are interested in attending should reply to Bruce Carter. If there is enough interest, we will buy a table.

We had two tables of referees at the inaugural event, in November of 2005, when Rueben Thorne was the guest speaker.

D3 Playoffs 2007

Bruce Carter, Dixon Smith, Joe Leisek, Pete Smith and Chris Arnold enjoy the day at the D3 playoffs in Palo Alto.


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