Tuesday, October 30, 2007




The coiner of our motto is a better bird.

Dixon Smith underwent a hip replacement operation on Monday, October 22. We are happy to report that he is home and once again learning to fly, eager to be able to leave the nest and visit some of his favorite habitats, the rugby pitches of Northern California.


The All Blues qualified for the final four this past weekend in Austin, Texas. They defeated Glendale (Colorado) 58 -0 and then put away Philadelphia 31 – 10.

Aruna Ranaweera refereed in Austin.

The final two rounds will be played in Orlando, Fla, November 9 and 11. Good luck to the All Blues!


We have five referees for the Andrew Mittry Memorial Tournament in Redding and four for the women’s Slugfest in Santa Cruz. Each event could use at least one more ref. See if you can shake your schedule loose…


We have enough refs available to cover November’s games. Thanks for your responses. Assignments will be posted on the website as they are worked out. This weekend should be up today.

We have a lot of games already scheduled for December 1, including the first weekend of the men’s college D1 season. Let us know when you can ref the first three weekends in December and whether you can travel. (Travel means more than 1, 1 ½ hours from where you live each way.)


Baracus Tens

Report by Eric Rauscher:

The weather was perfect: cool with a little bit of overcast. The tourney started pretty much close to schedule and pretty much kept to it all day and we were done by 4:30, leaving time for a beer or two. I don't recall the actual number of teams that showed up, but I think it was about 12. Some clubs had enough players to field two teams, some were made up of who showed up. Some of the games were pretty lop-sided, some were close and competitive. Some of the teams played an open sevens style and others felt more like 15's. The halfs were 10 min, so many games were played, the first part of the day with pool play and the second with tiered play-offs. East Palo Alto had two full teams and as I recall took top places (actual results of the various teams can I am sure be found else-where). All in all a very enjoyable day and plenty of chances to get back up to speed as we approach the season.

Stanford Tens

It’s official: rugby balls are in the air again.

Forty games were played on two pitches, with both pitches kicking off a minute before the 8 AM hooter sounded as Sandy and Bruce both determined to be part of a tournament that started early.

Your writer can tell you that, after more than thirty years around this game, it is delightful to kick a match off early, especially the first match of the morning, the grass still slick with dew. If only the game in America had been taken more seriously by its participants and organizers all those years ago…

How do you keep a tournament on time? Especially, how do you maximize the use of a tournament’s scarcest assets, rugby pitches?

Stanford does it. And they do it while playing matches that last twenty-four minutes and are scheduled every twenty-five.

Their director of rugby, Jonathan Griffin, had two ingenious ideas that should spread like wildfire to tournaments everywhere: don’t play halfs, play one period straight through; begin and end the games with a hooter.

It’s really very simple. The ref gets the pre-match out of the way well ahead of time – like as soon as a team finishes its previous game. And you tell the teams: ‘The game ahead of ours will finish at 10:14. Our game will finish at 10:39. If you want to play twenty-four minutes, you need to run onto the pitch the instant the previous game is over. Our game will finish at 10:39 regardless of when we start.’

And guess what? After forty games, the final scheduled for 4:35 kicked off at - mirabile dictu - 4:35.

Not having half-time is a small price to pay for coaches, players, referees, evaluators and spectators knowing what time a particular game will be occurring, and for being able to complete forty games on two pitches in late October without having to turn on the lights.

What used to be opening week for the NCRFU season in all divisions, the Stanford Tens has evolved into a venue for mostly-college and even mostly-less-experienced players. As such, the NCRRS endeavors to have new and newer referees present: it’s a chance to get to know each other, to work shorter games with fewer players that approximate refereeing fifteens, and there are other refs around for moral support and feedback.

Fifteen teams took part, the SF Fog women being the only club side. They gave a good account, as did UC San Diego, but it was Chico State who had the best faculty for scoring tries and so took the trophy home.

In the men’s bracket, San Jose State had a mixture of strength and speed that the field could not match. Tom Martinez was very proud to point out that SJSU had ten players whom he had coached with Silicon Valley the past few years, five of whom ran-on for the final.

Jackie Finck refereed five matches, earning commemoration in these archives.

Steve Gray made an impression on his first hit-out. He could become the best referee ever to pick up a whistle at whatever his current age happens to be.

Anna McMahan, Roberto Santiago and Tom Zanarini all proved to be valuable additions to our society and losses to New England, Potomac and New England again, respectively. (We also hear that Preston Gordon, returned home after refereeing in Arizona and Switzerland, impressed at the Baracus event.)

Tevis Vandergriff showed off the charming Southern style that complements his New Orleans accent like red beans does rice.

Tony Redmond demonstrated that the referee corps in Ireland behind the familiar faces from the World Cup is plenty deep. He controlled the men’s final with aplomb.

Bill Gillies also had an easy and player-friendly manner that commended him to the allocators, who put him in charge of the women’s final.

‘Regular’ Pelicans: Jackie Finck, Sandy Robertson, Jim Crenshaw

Newly moved to Pelicanland: Anna McMahan, Tony Redmond, Roberto Santiago, Tom Zanarini

Fledgling Pelican: Steve Gray

Migratory Birds in Transit: Bill Gillies from Melbourne, Tevis Vandergriff from Charlotte, NC.

Referee coaches and videographers: Kat Todd-Schwartz, David Williamson, Tom Martinez and Bruce Carter

SILVERHAWKS 20 – SF Fog 10 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
This was a pre-season scrimmage between the San Jose Silverhawks and the San Francisco FOG, played under the lights at Calabazas Park in Cupertino. Even though it sported some well known older names in local old boys rugby, Fred Forster among them, the Silverhawks were a youngish, fit, and competitive side that had control of the match throughout. For a change the FOG traveled light, but a number of the players on the pitch were brand new to the side, a clear sign of good things to come down the road.

From kick off the Silverhawks grabbed on to the game & did not let go. They had big runs, a great mauling ability, and some ferocious tackling which spoiled some fairly effective breaks from the FOG's young guns. A bit of indiscipline kept the Silver's from a bigger score, and the FOG refused to give up scoring a couple of tries late in the match. A bit scrappy here and there, but a fun and competitive match enjoyed by all. Final score: Silverhawks 20 - FOG 10. As there were no posts at the park, conversions were not taken. Fellow Pelican Bruce Bernstein played number 9 for the hosts as warm up to his upcoming exchange to the New York 7s."

NEVADA 15 – Santa Rosa JC 5 Referee: Sam Davis
Saturday morning 8:00 I found myself on the Rugbyhg (HOG) on the way to Reno it was a bit cold going over the pass but the sun was shining and it looked to be a great day. Santa Rosa JC and UNR were warming up when I got to the field. (Changed fields, new one did not have posts).

Both teams had on blue jerseys that look almost identical. I knew this was going to be a fun game to ref. This was an important game for both teams they were working in new players and tuning up for the season.

The Wolf Pack drew first blood at the 20 min mark with a ball out to the wing with an overlap they scored in the corner. Both teams had fits of brilliance and a lot of much less than brilliance. Santa Rosa had a great run by the wing all the way down the sideline touching down in the corner after he touched the flag, he did that twice. The first half ended the Wolf Pack came up with their other set of jerseys which made the game much easier to ref and play. I gave a general warning at half time about talking and let them know that the yellow cards would be coming out.

Both teams scored in the first 20 min of 2nd half. With 18 min left in the game I sent a player from each team to the sin bin for talking the wolf pack scored another one with 9 min left in the game. Wolf Pack lost another player to sin bin just as first sinners came back on. Santa Rosa had a hard drive that ended short of the try line as the game ended. Final score Reno 15 Santa Rosa 5.

The wanted to play another 20 min for the rest of the guys that did not get in the first game Santa Rosa dominated that 10 – 0.

It was off to the bar for a beer great fun was had by all. I saddled up the HOG and rode into the sunset back to the bay.

Sunday game:
STANFORD Business School 19 – Haas Business School 15 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
The future gentlemen of the Pacific Union Club played the next generation of Bohemians on a beautiful Sunday at Stanford, and it was a closely run thing.

This was not PG Wodehouse stuff; it was a good tough match smartly played. Early season as it may be, both showed up with full rosters of experienced and generally fit players (Stanford has 60 on their email list!). Forward play was a bit choppy, but once out to the backline there was real pace, nice hands and excellent utilization of the regulation pitch.

In the last two minutes, Berkeley camped out on the Stanford 5 meter line, but could not dot it. Thanks to Stanford for the nice social.


This is absolutely enthralling.

The play we all remember from 1982 featured five laterals. This one has fifteen.

This game was also for first place in the conference, so a lot more on the line as well.

Imagine a rugby team being allowed to obstruct at will, in addition to moving the ball in the usual manner.

And the homer announcers! California sports fans are used to neutral announcers, even those employed by the teams. These guys are great, getting delirious and breathless as the play evolves.

And note that the announcers say, just before the snap, “They’ll have to throw the ball as far as they can, or perhaps…” “Start lateraling.”


Stanford Tens 10-27-07
The problem with rugby tournaments: you can never get all the refs together at once!

Here’s a partial sampling of the crew from the Stanford Tens.

Standing, L to R: Steve Gray, Tom Martinez, Kat Todd-Schwartz, Jim Crenshaw
Not standing, L to R: Jackie Finck, Bill Gillies, Tevis Vandergriff


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris