Sunday, December 30, 2007




Here’s a present to you from some incendiary geniuses. These guys have figured out how to characterize the music that appeals to you from a list of your favorites, and to deliver an endless variety of songs by other groups, many you’ve never heard of, that you will almost certainly enjoy.

It’s free. Here’s hoping you don’t own any stock in satellite radio – it just became worthless…

So here’s the deal: create a new channel, and name it for your party. As your guests arrive, ask them for their favorite group or song, and then enter this information.

You’ll have a custom-designed evening of music, every song of which will appeal specifically to someone in the room.

If it’s a dance party, simply limit the choices to dance bands/tunes.

(We’re assuming everyone has a computer providing input into a stereo system or a wireless home network that includes powered speakers.)


There are no games this weekend (January 5-6) of which we are aware.

Referee appointments have been made for January 12 and 19. These have been forwarded to our webmaster and should be up in a day or two.


Please check the Club Contacts ( and notify Scott Wood of any changes:

Without current information, referees (and opponents) will have trouble getting in touch with you.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.


The dominance of Northern California rugby teams in national competitions and the prominence of NorCal players in national teams were well-established at the outset, with the first championships and select-sides in the 1970s featuring the Old Blues, Cal, and lots and lots of Pelicans.

Other areas have had successful and legendary sides. But the multiplicity of champions in the NCRFU is incredible.

Let’s look at the colleges:

California has won 23 of 28 division 1 men’s titles. Stanford went to the final four three years in a row. UC Davis also memorably joined Cal and Stanford at the final four – at Witter Field, no less – in 1997.

In men’s D2, Stanford and Sacramento State have won national championships.

Chico State and Humboldt State have come in second. Nevada has also been to the final four.

Women’s D1: Stanford has three titles and Chico State has one. Stanford has four more appearances in the final four, and UC Davis has one.

In division 2, UC Santa Cruz has a championship and a runner-up. Nevada has been runner-up and San Jose State has also made the final four twice.

For those scoring at home, that’s thirty out of sixty-three national titles. That’s six different university teams winning national champions, and thirteen earning appearances at final fours (Stanford men in two different divisions).

Or boys high school:

Four different titlists with seven titles over 27 years: Jesuit (3), Redwood (Marin)(2), Lamorinda and Burlingame. Del Campo and Elsie Allen have finished second. Los Gatos has also been to the final four.

You can play this game at home, given the various websites that list these champions.

These facts attest to the concentration of dedicated rugby folk in Northern California, to the hours and the years they devoted, the practices and the pitch-lining, the work and the washing of kit. The Pelican Refs come from a well-feathered nest, indeed.


…would be a breakdown of the number of different teams (clubs, schools) that have produced national players at the various levels. Here’s guessing that there are probably at least forty such in Northern California, and it could easily be fifty.

These ruminations are inspired by the selection of Milemoti Pulu from East Palo Alto for the USA Sevens side that participated in the IRB event in Dubai.

Thinking back to our own playing days, there were two players who captained the Eagles who came out of Monterey: Mike Saunders and Brian Vizard. Others who played for the club include Junior Eagle Mike Minafo, Sevens Eagle Greg Teliczan and women’s World Cup player, Eagle Betsy Hill, not to mention almost a dozen military members who made the national Combined Services team over the years.

Got some time to devote to research?

In fact, we’re willing to bet that a majority of all the colleges and clubs that have fielded teams in the NCRFU over the past thirty years have produced at least one Eagle. There’s no way that any other LAU comes close.


Paddy O’Brien sits down and gives you twenty minutes on the ‘new Laws’:

Enjoy learning about them if you will, but remember these are not in effect in the USA.

Thanks to Bjorn Stumer for forwarding the link to this three-part series.


Tony Latu sends this in:

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A Malaysian referee took out his gun and fired warning shots in the air after a local soccer match turned unruly following the suspension of a player, a newspaper said Tuesday.

The referee, who was also a policeman, ran to his patrol car to get his gun after players mobbed him for showing the red-card to one of them, the New Straits Times said.

"We are investigating as to whether the policeman was justified in taking out his firearm and discharging it, and also why he had it with him during the match," it quoted Hussin Ismail, police chief in the southern Johor state, as saying.

The policeman was taken into custody for suspected misuse of firearms.

Five players, aged between 23 and 40, were also being held for questioning and could be charged for rioting, the paper said.


Now is the time to register for 2008. You need to renew your CIPP through USA Rugby and pay your NCRRS dues.

When you pay CIPP on the USA Rugby website, list your ‘team’ as the Northern California Rugby Referee Society. Print out the liability waiver, sign it, and mail it with your $10 annual dues to:

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


All NCRRS referees need to sign and submit the NCRFU Safety Protocol prior to the beginning of the season, in order to receive appointments.

Representatives of all of our teams agree to abide by its provisions by signing it, as do we.

The protocol may be found on our website:

This needs to be done each year by every referee.

The form can be signed electronically if you have the software to do this and forwarded via e-mail, or you will need to print and sign the last (third) page, then mail it to:

Bruce Carter
18474 Deertrack Place
Salinas, CA 93908

Thank you.

Xmas 2007
Pelicus Epicurus, his wife Kate and Ron Myers V spent Christmas week in Carmel and took in the always-new Monterey Bay Aquarium with Scriptoris.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, December 18, 2007




The Pelican Society is making some of the presentations from our Society Meetings available as podcasts. Paul Bretz has the wizardry to make this happen.

This first installation includes talks by Bruce Carter about Dealing with Injuries and Paul talking about Advantage and Materiality.

You need iTunes to view these videos. This is a free download, and it happens to be the best music-management software you can get whether you have a portable music player or just want to use a computer as a jukebox. We can certify it as idiot-proof: the Fact-Checker uses Apple software and products without the slightest catastrophe.

We would like to think that referees in parts of the oval planet who do not belong to active teaching societies may benefit from these efforts.


You might save a few bob if you already have CIPP for 2007 by waiting until next month to renew for 2008. They are going to pro-rate the fee to the new fiscal year, which is August 1 to July 31.


So far we’ve heard from 23 referees as to their availability in January. That leaves about 50 who have not responded, less than a one-third strike rate from our end.

We’d like to do the January assignments in the next week or so. But it’s tough without responses: for example, we have 31 league games and two tournaments on January 26. Of the 23 refs who have responded, only 20 are available that day.

We have no way of knowing who is available without you responding to this e-mail. IF YOU DO NOT RESPOND YOU WILL NOT BE ASSIGNED ANY GAMES – IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

There are tournaments with Sunday games the weekends of Jan 19 and 26.

We also need to know whether you can travel to a game. ‘Travel’ means more than 60-90 minutes each way from your home. Don’t worry: if you say you can travel every weekend, you won’t get remote games every weekend, but you will allow much-appreciated flexibility in the scheduling.

Here’s the suggested format to reply:

Jan 5 Yes/No Travel?

Jan 12 Yes/No Travel?

Jan 19 Yes/No Travel? Sunday?

Jan 26 Yes/No Travel? Sunday?

Thank you!


There aren't any rugby games scheduled in NorCal the rest of the year. You'll have to spend time with loved ones, work for yourself, or do something for someone else in this holy season of giving.

Things could be worse: you could be intimately involved with a lesser sport.


Now is the time to register for 2008. You need to renew your CIPP through USA Rugby and pay your NCRRS dues.

When you pay CIPP on the USA Rugby website, list your ‘team’ as the Northern California Rugby Referee Society. Print out the liability waiver, sign it, and mail it with your $10 annual dues to:

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


Wednesday, December 12

Silicon Valley Alumni 12 – NEW SOUTH WALES COUNTRY U19 62
Referee: Pete Smith

Silicon Valley 0 – NEW SOUTH WALES COUNTRY U19 seconds – 51
Referee: James Hinkin

Silicon Valley ran out against NSW County B U19 side Wednesday night and put up a respectable fight in spite of the scoreline. The point total was more indicative of the finishing ability and support than the general run of play as NSW were generally forced to work for their points, but work they did and it paid off. NSW showed their superior teamwork in the 3rd minute when a penalty led to an attacking lineout 5m from the line. A throw to the front came back to the hooker who strolled unmolested in for the try. He then calmly slotted the conversion from the sideline – a fact he let every NSW kicker who missed know about throughout the evening. SV had several rookies playing who haven’t quite made the change from football yet so the armless tackles were in evidence and the rucks were entered from the side. The penalties kept coming and SV never had a chance to get off the back foot. The half ended with NSW up 24-0.

The second half started poorly for SV as yet another shoulder charge with no attempt at wrapping produced a yellow card. The man advantage was used well by NSW and three more tries were run in. SV seemed to finally get the message and the tackling was much better which produced and even spell in the game. Ten minutes from time, however, NSW broke free again and scored another two tries. The SV team was getting frustrated with the scoring and started infringing some more. NSW was getting frustrated with the infringements and were giving the referee opinions and interpretations of the law as applied to the match, resulting in some penalties for back chat. The game ended, however, with both sides tired but smiling as they shook hands and prepared for the A side match.

Saturday, December 15

FOG 29 – Shasta 18 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A pretty winter day at TI. And Division 3 is getting better. The Fog, which has always had the numbers, is now fielding a stronger first fifteen. The Highlanders are finally getting the numbers, including some young legs.

The first half, particularly the first 20 minutes, were all Fog (post-match I heard a lot about the rust of the long drive from Redding.) But after that, a very nice and evenly played match broke out. After straightening out the offside line at rucks, mucho multi phase play. And the young wheels in the Redding backfield ripped off some sweet long runs.

I was sorry to miss the Fog drink up; always great fun. A must for our new refs.

SFGG DEV XV 5 – Berkeley 3 Referee: Steve Gray
Evaluator: Dixon Smith
Videographer: Bruce Carter
Thanks for all the help the Society is giving me, by the way. Being a ref is very difficult & I do appreciate all the help I can get. I do believe we learn more from our disasters then our victories & so I think I learned a great deal yesterday.

Seconds: SFGG DEV XV 22 – Berkeley 0 Referee: David Heath
Referee Coach: Sam Reagle
Videographer: Bruce Carter

Competitive game played in great spirit. SFGG had some great back play but Berkeley defended doggedly - good game.

Editor’s Note: Dave comes to us from Wales, sent to Pelicanland for five years courtesy of his employer, Chevron.

Dave had to get a hall pass from his wife since they have family in town from across the pond. They have already discovered what many of us found out years ago: if you move to Kansas loved ones will call and write; but if you move to the Bay Area they will come to visit.

SANTA ROSA JC 17 – Santa Rosa 15 Referee: Joe Leisek
For Pete's Sake Field, Santa Rosa
Touch Judges: Chris Bustamonte, Trevor Payne

In what was billed as the first ever match between these two clubs, the outcome surprised most of the spectators and perhaps most of the players as well. This was a nail-biter than wasn't decided until about 78:30 into the match.

It was a cool, cloudy day, perfect for rugby, on one of the best pitches in the Pacific Coast. The volunteers who built this field have now installed a long wooden bench along the entire length of the pitch. The game drew one of the largest crowds I have seen at FPS.

It would be easy to assume this was a match between a raw, youthful side and an experienced, older side. Yet the JC side featured a couple of older players, and the men's club has its share of youth. But nearly everyone on the field had lots of rugby experience.

Basically, it was a Redwood Empire Conference alumni game, with Elsie Allen High School players figuring prominently on both sides--including both captains, Balamcab Guitierrez (JC) and Ian Davis (men's club). Lobo coach Alan Petty watched from the sideline, as did former Elsie assistant Terry Brennan. One of the men's club's new coaches is Sean Peters, who also assisted Coach Petty at Elsie. Dennis Bruno, who coaches the Santa Rosa/Cardinal Newman team with Lynn Meister, was also present.

There were players from all of the North Bay high schools on the field, including Dominic Patrick, who played center for the Santa Rosa/Cardinal Newman team and has now shifted to front row for the JC.

(Both touch judges were Elsie grads who played for the JC and the men's club. Thanks to Chris and Trevor for their excellent help.)

The game itself was fast and hard-hitting, with the first 17 minutes featuring very few stoppages of any kind. The first half ended at 5-3 to the senior side, but each side missed scoring opportunities due primarily to hard defense.

With the start of the second half, it looked as though the men's club might start putting the game away. They scored a try very early in the half and seemed to be moving forward more often. But the JC kept right with them, retaining possession well and not allowing the men's club backline too many opportunities. Finally, with time running down, JC forward and Elsie grad Manny Lopez scored a try that was converted by fullback Will Cooper.

Santa Rosa had the kickoff, which was knocked on, ironically, by Lopez, but they kicked away possession at the whistle.

Congratulations to both teams for giving the spectators an exciting game. I hope it was as much fun to play as it was to referee.

Humboldt – Aptos Not sure if this game happened. They didn’t ask for a referee.


All NCRRS referees need to sign and submit the NCRFU Safety Protocol prior to the beginning of the season, in order to receive appointments.

Representatives of all of our teams agree to abide by its provisions by signing it, as do we.

The protocol may be found on our website:

This needs to be done each year by every referee.

The form can be signed electronically if you have the software to do this and forwarded via e-mail, or you will need to print and sign the last (third) page, then mail it to:

Bruce Carter
18474 Deertrack Place
Salinas, CA 93908

Thank you.

Rocca Field Flock
At Rocca Field: David Heath and Dixon Smith, the Chevron wing of the NCRRS, are accompanied by Sam Reagle, Steve Gray, Bryant Byrnes and Bruce Carter.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, December 11, 2007




The Referee Development Committee of the NCRRS is pleased to announce the following promotions:

David Heath to C3
Dan Wilson to C3
Preston Gordon to C2

Congratulations! It is particularly pleasant to have some new birds in the flock.


Please send in the Saturdays you will be available to referee in January, bearing in mind that there may only be one or two games on Jan. 5.

We have no way of knowing who is available without you responding to this e-mail. IF YOU DO NOT RESPOND YOU WILL NOT BE ASSIGNED ANY GAMES – IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

There are tournaments with Sunday games the weekends of Jan 19 and 26.

We also need to know whether you can travel to a game. ‘Travel’ means more than 60-90 minutes each way from your home. Don’t worry: if you say you can travel every weekend, you won’t get remote games every weekend, but you will allow much-appreciated flexibility in the scheduling.

Here’s the suggested format to reply:

Jan 5 Yes/No Travel?

Jan 12 Yes/No Travel?

Jan 19 Yes/No Travel? Sunday?

Jan 26 Yes/No Travel? Sunday?

Thank you!


Now is the time to register for 2008. You need to renew your CIPP through USA Rugby and pay your NCRRS dues.

When you pay CIPP on the USA Rugby website, list your ‘team’ as the Northern California Rugby Referee Society. Print out the liability waiver, sign it, and mail it with your $10 annual dues to:

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



This was pretty cool – being able to watch the games live, for free, on the Internet.

The National Guard sponsored the competition and USA Rugby streamed the games through its website. This writer has been privileged to watch Mose Timoteo play rugby a number of times, including more than ten years ago in a military championship in North Carolina, but this was the first time he got to sneak a peek at his laptop in the office and watch another clever reverse pass or perfectly-timed feed.

To add to our satisfaction, we got to see the Pacific Coast win two games and re-claim the title, of which they’ve held the Grizzly’s share since its inception.

Congratulations to Coach Mike Saunders (a former Monterey rugger) and all the Grizzlies!


NEVADA 23 – Chico State 22 Referee: Max Marsden (RFU)

Where do you start ... I turned up to a game on a synthetic pitch with a covering of about an inch of snow hiding all but a few choice lines that had be groomed. The adjacent synthetic pitch (the football practice field) had been totally cleared of snow but apparently as the UNR football coach doesn't think much of the rugby game he'd made sure that our game pitch was still under a healthy layer of snow. That plus the -4 degrees C and howling wind didn't do any thing to spoil a great game. I thought I was walking into a friendly match but I was soon put right by the home captain who first words where "Ref I want you to know you're walking into a grudge match - I'll do my best to control the boys - but it is what it is". This warm welcome most certainly focused the mind in the cold.

The game was a great one - played with passion and big hits amongst what was for the most part a very well natured contest with little agro from either side. The forwards hit up well and the big Chico pack probably had the beating of their opposite numbers for the first half (or ‘period’ as it read on the score board!). The Chico possession allowed some dangerous runs from their backs and they went into half time winning by about 10. In the second half as it looked like Chico could easily close the game out, one moment of insanity which lead to a penalty try (without yellow card; IRB shock horror!) brought about a spirited come back from the UNR wolf pack team - lead impressively by their hard working scrum half and captain. In the dying seconds of the game UNR went over to score a final try and won the game 23-22.

As a guest to Nevada/Californian rugby I was hugely impressed by the spirit in which the game was played. There was great support for the match and both sides were gracious in victory and defeat.

It was a fantastic experience and one I'll remember for a long time back across the pond.

Also I had to come back on to referee the second team game as Phil injured himself running touch in the first game and Russ who stepped in - did the same thing in the second half of the second game. I was offered gloves to ref in and giggled at when I took my tracksuit off to referee the game (apparently referees don't have to wear shorts!!)

Seconds: Nevada – Chico State Referee: Phil Ulibarri

A cold, snowy and icy field met Chico State at Nevada-Reno Friday night, but British panel referee Max Marsden was up for the game as were both collegiate sides regardless of the treacherous conditions. "We'd never play this game in the UK," Marsden intimated, "but both sides want this grudge match to play on, so off we go."

First game touch judges Russ Wilkening and Phil Ulibarri (scheduled second game ref) both came up lame with hamstring injuries so Marsden was forced to call approximately 50 minutes of the second game as well. Ulibarri slipping on ice in goal during the first match and Wilkening chasing down a 50 meter try by Chico's Eric Heiden in the first twenty minutes of the second game. Marsden's ability to keep pace with the collegians is obviously attributed to his young age, trendy hair style (see photo), and practice outrunning snow bunnies at Lake Tahoe hot after the British physio's accent!

Chico State dominated most of the first game play with a powerful pack pushing UNR off the ball at a majority of the scrums, but Nevada kept it close with penalty kicks and eventually pulled ahead in the last quarter with some opportunistic breaks when a cold and frustrated Chico side failed to close out the full 80 for the win.

UC Davis – Vacaville Dogs Referee: Paul Berman
Touch Judge: Donal Walsh
No report received.

Reno – Sacramento Capitals MOVED TO JANUARY 12

Arroyo Grande 12 – SAN LUIS OBISPO 14 Referee: Pete Smith
Going into this game, I knew it was going to be a referee challenge not for the speed of the game, but for the temperament. Safe to say these teams have a mutual disliking for each other.

Arroyo Grande is 20 minutes south of San Luis Obispo, but they play in the NorCal league and SLO plays in the SoCal League. Read that as these two teams don’t even want to be in the same league as the other club. My hope was that we would have a high scoring game and my fear was that it was going to be the war by the shore.

Unfortunately my hopes were dashed and my fears realized as these two teams went after each other for all 80 minutes. I had to pull every management trick in my bag out for this one and still felt like this game was always one incident away from an all out brawl. The game was close at halftime with SLO in front 7-0 behind a try resulting from a charge down.

AG, as you can guess, never let up and continued to pressure SLO. SLO scored again on a break down and an overlap to put them ahead 14-0. AG’s pressure finally paid off with an unconverted try 14-5 and again with minutes remaining to pull it to 14-12. AG had a chance with a break by their winger down the far side, but SLO was able to track him down, find touch and that was that.

I lost track of the penalty count, my guess is that it was higher than the combined scores. It is tough to tell what kind of season either of these teams is going to have because the game was so choppy neither really had a chance to show what they can do other than tackle and get testy. I can’t remember a game where I spent more time talking to players/captains as that game. How the game didn’t erupt into more than boys being boys causing me to hand out more cards than Hallmark, I’m not sure.

Oddly enough, at the end, both teams were reasonably happy. They both knew what this game was going to look like and in the end, no injuries, no cards and no fights. I will say that having refereed both of these teams in the past, this game is not typical and not representative of the type of game they are both capable of playing.

BARACUS 57 – Stanislaus 12 Referee: Bridget Tannian (New England)
Touch Judge: Anna McMahan
Videographer: Bruce Carter

Bridget Tannian was in town on business. We are nothing if not empathetic with referees who wish to pick up a game while on the road, having done our fair share of it over the years.

It was a glorious day on Treasure Island until the sprinklers came on. And of course they came on at 1 PM.

But – they play rugby in the rain, even when it’s coming up out of the ground, and so the match proceeded.

Baracus had a nice multiple-phase attack that usually eventually found one of the two guys who could outrun everyone else on the pitch, and there the tale was told.

Seconds: BARACUS 3 – Stanislaus 0 Referee: Anna McMahan
Videographer: Bruce Carter

This was an abbreviated game won on a penalty-kick drop-goal with no time remaining. The skeleton crew from Modesto were very good sports to allow the Baracus seconds a run.

DIABLO GAELS U23, 65 – San Jose State 5 Referee: Paul Bretz
Touch Judge: Eric Rauscher

DIABLO GAELS 53 – Fresno 7 Referee: Tony Redmond
Touch Judge: Eric Rauscher

Despite a very heavy pitch that reminded me of many grounds in Ireland, a better-drilled, more skilful and fitter Diablo Gaels team exerted pressure on Fresno from the start and continued all through the match. The only break came just before half-time where some defensive errors allowed Fresno to score beside the posts, but apart from that it was all one-way traffic.

Fresno’s cause wasn’t helped by the fact that they were short of competent front rows. The game was pretty easy to referee and the only real problem was a yellow card in the second half for the Gaels #6 for “careless use of the boot” on an opponent’s head – the card would have been red in a more serious game or if I had thought that there was malice in the action rather than incompetence.

The only other issue to report was some “help” from Paul Bretz, who had refereed the previous game and stayed to watch the first half... after the Gaels’ second try, Paul commented that my whistle could have been louder. My retort was that at my age, I am so happy if I can get there to award scores that occasionally my whistle tone suffers! Enjoyable all round…

Maritime Academy Alumni Game
STUDENTS – Alumni Referee: Randy Boose
Evaluator: Sam Reagle

Quoting Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times". Taking into account nobody was hurt more then usual cramping everybody came out ok. It was also a blast on my end; I definitely look forward to doing this again.

(Editor’s Note: This was Randy’s first match, and he never played the game. We are happy to read that his trepidation was mastered!)

UC SANTA CRUZ women 57 – Fortuna HS SoCal 11 Referee: Rob Hendrickson
Fortuna High School girls drove down to Santa Cruz for a campus tour and friendly against the Slug women minus their seniors. As this is still pre season for the Slugs, and soccer had not yet released their lower pitch, the match was played on the upper field opposite the pool which was hosting a regional youth swim tournament.

Notwithstanding the score, the Fortuna girls played hard and well, consistently exhibiting the best open field tackling this ref has ever observed in HS girls play. The Slugs got a good run and a chance to hone their kick-and-chase game.

Marin – USF Canceled


All NCRRS referees need to sign and submit the NCRFU Safety Protocol prior to the beginning of the season, in order to receive appointments.

Representatives of all of our teams agree to abide by its provisions by signing it, as do we.

The protocol may be found on our website:

This needs to be done each year by every referee.

The form can be signed electronically if you have the software to do this and forwarded via e-mail, or you will need to print and sign the last (third) page, then mail it to:

Bruce Carter
18474 Deertrack Place
Salinas, CA 93908

Thank you.

New England Reunion
Anna McMahan and Bridget Tannian renew their acquaintance from Boston days on Treasure Island, where Anna played for Beantown until Bridget’s whistle any number of times.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, December 04, 2007




In this busiest of months for evening and seasonal events, don’t forget to set aside next Tuesday evening for the regular meeting of the NCRRS.

We will be meeting at the Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island from 7 to 9 PM. Dinner will be provided beginning at 6.

Society REO David Williamson has put together another informative and entertaining syllabus for the 2008 season. This session will cover During the Game, Laws 7-12 and 22.

Bruce Carter will be talking about the referee’s role in dealing with injuries, especially those that are potentially serious. He would like attendees to prep for his presentation by reading the article entitled Play On, Eternally, which comprises the second half of this week’s HP.


The NorCal college men's D1 began this weeknd. St. Mary's, UC Davis and Chico State won. Cal had the bye.

MARITIME ACADEMY 65 – Stanford seconds 5 Referee: Paul Bretz

ST MARY’S 53 – Sacramento State 12 Referee: John Coppinger
Touch Judges: Eric Rauscher, Tom Zanarini
Led by captain and #13 Kevin Swiryn, who scored four tries on the day, St. Mary's ran past Sac State 53-12 Saturday in Moraga. (St. Mary's 17, Sac State 7 @ 40 m.)

St. Mary's demonstrated that the side has taken training very seriously as they simply wore out a game and committed Sac State side as the match progressed.

The match was played in generally good spirits with relatively few penalties, a tribute to both coaching staffs.

Thanks to Tom Zanarini and Eric Rauscher for running touch. Also present were Jim Crenshaw and Rich Anderson. Thanks to Jim and Rich for their coaching of the referee.

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 30 – Sacramento State 27 Referee: Tom Zanarini

BERKELEY 61 – U. of San Francisco 7 Referee: Dave Heath
Assessor: Bryan Porter
Game was played in good spirit and Berkeley's forward power and slick back play eventually overwhelmed a spirited USF side.

Very much appreciated Bryan Porter's presence on the touchline to give me support and advice.

Berkeley B Side 10 – SAN FRAN STATE/MISSION 50 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
What started as a pretty competitive game turned out to be a blowout by some moxie Fijians who are tabbed to play for the Mission, assisted by a very fast new winger for State who scored almost every time he touched the ball but not before outrunning or juking half of Berkeley's 2nd side.

(In retrospect this combined team should have played against Berkeley's first side; but who knew!)

East Palo Alto 19 – SACRAMENTO LIONS 26 Referee: John Pohlman
East Palo Alto Razorbacks hosted the Sacramento Lions this last weekend.

Bruce asked me on Thursday if I could do the game. I already had a game on Sunday at Stanford and was planning a relaxing day of gardening and honey-do's. (By the way, fellow ruggers, December is the honey-do month which should make the others into rugby months. We can dream).

I thought Razorbacks hosting the Lions versus Honey-Do's.

I arrived around noon at East Palo Alto's field. Sacramento was caught in traffic so the game was pushed back to 1:30.

Dave Topou is running the E.P.A. high school program and since Rob Holder was in Florida at the ITT's Dave took over the men's team for Saturday. The Razorbacks have been promoted to D-2 for this year. They had over thirty players warming up when I arrived.

One of the fans asked who I thought would win. I explained that Sacramento being a current D-1 team and EPA just moving up to D-2, I thought EPA may have a hard time with the speed of a D-1 opponent.

The Lions arrived with good numbers, probably close to thirty. I talked with the coach Nam and he said they were just getting going on the season. Nam went on to say how proud he was of the Hayward team and how their national championship had inspired all the Polynesian teams, especially Sacramento.

It was decided to play four 20 minute periods. The Lions started fast with a try in the first five minutes by one of their massive props. The rest of the first period was hard running and harder tackling. The lions controlled most of the next period. A yellow card to EPA's prop for repeated hands in allowed Sacramento to score another try right before half time.

Both teams made some subs. EPA's seemed to be younger and faster. EPA scored. Sacramento scored. EPA scored two more. If you ever wanted to see what it would look like to have a 300 pound razorback fight a 300 pound lion, that was the last twenty minutes.

Sacramento's leadership and discipline allowed them to score the last try and mostly control the end of the match.

A fun game to watch, play and referee.

The players from both teams gathered together after the game. They prayed. They wished each other good luck. They made a commitment to show and gain respect in THE Northern California Rugby Community.

Thanks, it's great to see the spirit of rugby.

Fresno: OVER 36 – Under 29 Referee: Bruce Carter
The defining age seemed to be about 35, with exceptions made for props. The older guys included three or four who used to play against the ref, who is now in his twentieth year refereeing full-time.

Fresno has a new pitch and plenty of commitment. The Fresno Regional Sports Complex is 110 acres of athletic fields, parking and picnic grounds. Two of the fields, which are adjacent, are full-size for rugby and one of these has rugby lines burned in.

The bathroom building next to the field includes male and female referee changing rooms with showers.

More than fifty players took the field in the course of the game, which was a see-saw affair.

The old boys scored from the kickoff after a series of quick rucks and then a spin to the wing. They did this again immediately after the water break at twenty minutes.

(Yes, while the Midwest was being paralyzed by a snow storm and our East Coast friends were preparing for their turn, rugby players in California needed a water break. It was in the low sixties, bright and sunny, no breeze. The sidelines featured skin.)

Meanwhile, the young boys scored two tries from the base of the scrum on missed defensive assignments – no post, pillar or guard dog.

The seniors scored again in the second half but then appeared to run out of gas: three tries were run in by the youth within about six minutes.

However, what had happened is the really old boys had been on the field all at the same time. ‘Balance’ was restored with the insertion of players like Dan Wilson and JoJo McKenzie. JoJo called for the ball, flyhalf Jeff Annas got it to him, and JoJo ran in under the posts for a famous victory.

UC Santa Cruz – Aptos Referee: Pete Smith
No report received.

Women’s College Round-Robin at UC Davis
Referees: Bjorn Stumer, Rob Hendrickson

Report by Bjorn Stumer:
"Saturday is a rugby day! And so it was at UC Davis were the Davis women hosted a mini rugby fest with Sacramento State and University of Nevada-Reno in attendance. Fellow ref, Rob Hendrickson and I handled the whistle for the four one-hour matches from 11am until 5pm (with some breaks in between).

UC DAVIS 12 – Sacramento State 5 Ref: Stumer
A very even match between two impressive and capable sides. There was no score in the hard fought first half, marred at the 29th minute when Sacramento's number 10 grabbed a ball runner by her pony tail - quick whistle and a yellow card for dangerous tackle. The guns came out in the second half with Davis scoring two tries, one of them converted. Sac was equal to the task, but could only respond with one unconverted try. A great match between two strong and committed sides. Great forward work by both teams with Davis' loosehead and Sac's propping captain and number 8 particularly impressive.

UC DAVIS 27 – Reno 0 Refs: Stumer/Hendrickson
As Rob had to leave, he and I split halves. The Davis ladies showed their power and depth by dispatching Reno 27 (17) - 0. A one sided match which spoke more of Davis' strength, than of Reno's weakness. To their credit the Reno ladies never gave up and gave the hosts a good run.

UC Davis seconds 0 – SACRAMENTO STATE 25 Ref: Stumer
Although tired, the Sacramento women were too much for Davis' B-side. Sacramento's running and cohesion were truly impressive, and it was only due to Davis' determined defense that the score was not higher.

Overall a great day of rugby. As usual it is a delight to officiate for women, who always seem to display good skills and sportsmanship. Davis were great host on their scenic pitch. A goodish crowd of supporters in attendance and plenty of sun on tap. Fun was had by all!"

Report by Rob Hendrickson:
UC Davis women hosted a friendly round robin tournament with Sac State and Nevada women on saturday. The weather was cool, and at times breezy, which led to some interesting clearing and up and under kicks almost becoming up and back kicks. Kickoff was at 11, and the games were 30 minute halves. Davis started against Sac State (Bjorn's game), followed by Nevada v Davis, a lunch break, and continuing (I did first half, Bjorn completed).

NEVADA 12 (2) – UC Davis women 0 Ref: Rob Hendrickson
Davis played back to back matchs and had the depth to face off against Nevada and come close to tying it up at two tries apiece, but for being held up and knocking-on in goal. What really impressed me was both team's ability to recycle the ball at rucks and then swing the ball out wide to their wings. While both teams have some work to do on their scrums, it looks like this will be a competitive season.


Stanford women seconds 0 – ALUMNAE 72 Referee: Sandy Robertson

A rookie-laden Stanford Women's second side took on an alumni team consisting of Stanford stalwarts from the '80's through their recent championship sides. The current Stanford team had a close-up view of the skills and open play support that have been Stanford's trademark.

Stanford men seconds 0 – ALUMNI 14 (tries) Referee: John Pohlman

STANFORD women 83 – California 5 Referee: Chris Tucker
Videographer: Bruce Carter

A speedy and well-organised Stanford team ran rings round a Cal team that is still a work in progress. The partisan crowd of Alums gathered to watch a try fest that wasn't even slowed by the reduction in Stanford's force to 13 players, the first for some dubious "rucking" and the second for repeated disdain for the location of the back foot at the ruck. To their credit, the Cal women put together some sustained pressure for 15 minutes later in the game which resulted in a second half try. However, generally speaking, a rush defence where only 2 out of 4 of the backs are rushing is not going to end well, and the score tells the tale.

(Videographer’s note: Chris is right. A ‘half rush’ defense gives the team with the ball a four-on-two, followed by another four-on-two.)

Stanford Men 14 – CHICO STATE 24 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Touch Judges: John Pohlman, Bruce Carter

Stanford took a 14 - 0 lead but could not hold on to it. Chico State worked out the kinks in their kicking and found some hands in the backline in the second half.

Nevada 19 (3) – UC DAVIS 27 (5) Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: Phil Ulibarri, Russ Wilkening
John Sala Intramural Field, University of Nevada, Reno

A sunny, cool day on the UNR campus, with breathaking views of the mountains to the east. And speaking of views, in the distance approaching the pitch, I saw a man wearing what looked like an NCRRS jersey. It was Russ Wilkening, there to play for the UNR second side. Russ also graciously agreed to run touch for the first match. He and new ref Phil Ulibarri formed a set of referee TJs, which we all appreciated very much.

The game was played on a very fast all-weather surface, which of course led to many fast breaks and some interesting bounces and rolls of the ball. Davis had the early advantage, both in terms of possession and territory, and in fact went into the half with a 17-0 lead. Their scrummaging, ball retention, and backline had UNR on their heels for much of the half. That being said, the hosts' defense was very good. They are tenacious and quick.

UNR came back in the second half and made the most of their opportunities to score three tries and pull within eight points at full-time. Davis seemed to ease up on a gas a little late in the half. They also lost a player to a yellow card for last 10 minutes. Much credit for UNR's comeback is due to their scrumhalf and captain, Carl Zmaila.

After the match, I watched Phil referee a very exciting game that ended in a one-point victory for the visitors. Seeing me watching and taking notes, a man approached and asked: "Were you here to also critique the referee for the first game?" When I informed him I was in fact the referee for the first game, he said: "Ohhh, then I guess I won't be too critical."

This was my introduction to Chris Nolan, former Hastings teammate of many NCRRS referees and a former referee himself. His son played fullback for Davis in the first game.

Seconds: Nevada 30 – UC DAVIS 31 Referee: Phil Ulibarri
Referee Coach: Joe Leisek


A camp for developing Pacific Coast referees was held in conjunction with the Scottsdale tournament this past weekend.

Jacqueline Fink, Joe Androvich and Don Pattalock attended from NorCal, along with our REO David Williamson.



Paul did not submit an exchange report, so now he is fair game as this ‘music video’ will show:


I wrote this after witnessing two fatal head injuries in rugby games. It is re-printed here as a companion piece to my talk at the NCRRS meeting Tuesday, December 4. I would also like to think that rugby folk everywhere might benefit from reading it.

By Bruce Carter
From The Pelican's Beak
Volume VII, Issue 4
November 1999


Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.

Ulysses, Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Two Men of Rugby

My friend was a prop, an outdoorsman, a naval officer. My friend loved rugby. My friend played for Monterey. My friend was there for his mates. My friend had his last conscious moment on the pitch, betrayed by his own flesh, and went home the next day. His loved ones had the heart to know that life support was not part of his plan.

My friend was a wing, a family man, a churchgoer. My friend loved rugby. My friend played for Reno. My friend was there for his mates. My friend had his last conscious moment on the pitch, betrayed by his own flesh, and went home two days later. His loved ones understood that God was calling and that life support was not part of the plan.

A hundred miles and six years apart, they lay upon the grass. “Play on” suddenly was not to be. Pulse and respiration, basic functions of the most primitive ganglia, continued apace. Their faces shaded from the sun by caring teammates, their pupils slowly dilated as other brain centers felt the incipient, inexorable building up of pressure. One of them had a seizure, billions of neurons railing in concert against the dying of the light. Life was sublimating back into the ether.

Counting the minutes to the screaming arrival of the professional messengers of hope was all that I could do. Ambulances and medical centers were the last hope on this mortal coil for these two men.

My friends had had a fatal attraction to the game they now are playing in heaven: they both played despite serious previous head injuries. Fate then dealt them a final concussion.

A Fatal Attraction

Rugby players are notorious for disregarding their own safety. Like soldiers under fire, they are willing to sacrifice themselves for their teammates, to help the side at their own expense. Then too, the pressures of another week in the working world want release come Saturday. As battle looms, the loins gird and the body’s humors rise. Once more unto the breach, indeed.

Compounding the potential for foolhardiness is the fact that concussion, the most common serious injury of rugby players, first ravages the very faculty upon which the player’s survival now depends: his judgment.

Jeopardizing a trick knee for the old school is one thing; wagering one’s life for the Siren of athletic success is another matter entirely. In this world, all that we have are life and each other. The forces of physics can converge on the cranial vault and steal these away in the closing of an eye.

A second concussion, one that occurs before the disruption of a previous head injury has been repaired, finds the blood vessels of the brain especially vulnerable. The second concussion, perhaps otherwise only a minor blow, can lead to bleeding. There is no room for the accumulation of blood within the skull except by compression of the spongy gray and white matter. The brain literally cannot function under this pressure and may die.

We referees are charged with keeping the game safe for the players. We occasionally have to evaluate whether a player should be allowed to continue.

The only specific guidance with respect to injury that the Laws give is an instruction from the IRB:

“A player who is suffering definite concussion should not participate
in any match or training session for a period of at least three weeks
from the time of injury, and then only subject to being cleared by
a proper neurological examination.”

A vital part of every referee’s kit bag then is the knowledge of how to tell when a player has been concussed.

A Key Question

You should consider concussion whenever a player may have had a head injury, which includes broken noses, black eyes and dangerous tackles. Ask him if he hit his head, if his head hurts, if he was ‘dinged’. Did he see stars; was he woozy; was he knocked out? Does he feel steady on his feet?

It is good to establish that he knows who he is, where he is, and what he is doing, but players with significant brain injuries can deduce the answers to these questions intellectually even while their memories are not functioning properly. They look around, see people in striped jerseys, see the graceful eucalyptus of Golden Gate Park and say, “I’m playing rugby at the polo field.”

I recommend one key question in addition to the others. Ask the player, “How did you get to the game today?” This tests recent memory, the most sensitive indicator of cognitive damage. Remote memory (“What is your name?”) and immediate memory (“What are you doing?”) may be deceptively normal in a person who will struggle for words and look to his teammates for help in knowing how he got to the pitch. If he says he drove, ask him who was with him. Ask him where his car is.

Incorrect answers or bluffing in response to any of these questions mandate that the player leave the game.

The American Academy of Neurology Guidelines

This is a brief summary of the best data available, presented for the on-the-spot use of lay (non-medically-trained) referees. You can easily access the source materials on the internet, starting with the Academy’s site at or from any search engine. Concussions are graded from 1 to 3 for the purpose of determining when an athlete should be allowed to return to play.

Grade 1 and 2 concussions do not involve loss of consciousness. Both of these are players who were ‘dinged’ or ‘stunned’ or ‘knocked for a loop’. They had an interval wherein they were aware that their own brain function was not normal. THIS IS THE ONLY REQUIREMENT TO ESTABLISH THAT A PLAYER WAS CONCUSSED: IN RESPONSE TO A HEAD INJURY, HE HAD ALTERED AWARENESS. The force or nature or angle of the blow need not be considered. THE PLAYER SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE PLAYING.

When he can resume playing then varies according to the severity of the injury.

GRADE 1: If the player’s symptoms are completely back to normal within five minutes and he is fully functional, this is a Grade 1 concussion. This player can return to activity after fifteen minutes of rest. As a referee, you have to trust someone on the sideline to determine whether the player is back to normal, but the player could take part in a subsequent game the same day.

When I suspect that a player might have had a head injury but lack evidence, I ask the coach or trainer to keep an eye on the player and to sound the alarm at any abnormal behavior.

If a player has had more than one Grade 1 concussions, he needs to be out at least a week. When you hear that this is the second ‘head shot’ of the tournament or that he ‘had one of these earlier’, require him to leave the game. Strongly advise him and the responsible members of his team that he should be formally evaluated by a physician prior to practicing or playing again.

GRADE 2: If any symptom or finding persists more than five minutes this is a Grade 2 injury. This means that if the player feels ‘off’ or ‘different’ or anything at all besides normal, or appears unsteady or unfocused after more than a few minutes have passed, the situation is worse than in Grade 1. This player should not play again for at least a week, subject to a professional evaluation. If he has had multiple Grade 2 injuries, or a Grade 1 followed by a Grade 2, the recommended rest interval will be longer.

GRADE 3: ANY LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS, HOWEVER BRIEF, CONSTITUTES THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF CONCUSSION. This player is out of the game and should be seen by a doctor prior to resuming any physical activity. This applies even to the player who is sitting up and seems to be thinking normally when you talk to him, but who admits, “I think I was out for a second.” No athlete has ever falsely believed he lost consciousness during a match.

If a player is unconscious for more than one or two minutes, call for an ambulance. Lie him flat on his back and do not let his head move relative to his body – that is, stabilize his neck. As he starts to come around, restrain him from sitting up suddenly. Have someone familiar to him talk to him reassuringly as you await the EMS response.

To summarize what is already a very brief precis, ANY alteration of mental function after a head injury means the player has been concussed and should go off. If the player did not lose consciousness and is back to normal within five minutes, he can resume playing after fifteen minutes of rest.

All of those with more pronounced and/or prolonged symptoms should not be active for at least a week. If you are refereeing them in a tournament, try to ensure that they don’t play again. Beyond that, you can strongly advise them to seek medical attention before resuming any exercise.

Direct this advice at the player’s friends and his coach as much as at the player.

Play On, Eternally

I want to emphasize enlisting others on the player’s team in order to see to it that he obtain medical follow-up. I have learned that it is largely pointless to educate players about conditions and symptoms that should keep them from playing. Your average rugger will play anyway.

It is more effective to focus on educating players about the conditions and symptoms that should keep their TEAMMATES from playing. They care more for each other, in some ways, than they care for themselves.

Rugby is family. The circle draws tighter when one of us leaves. In a moment of grace we know our own mortality. We pause and ponder this enchanted spark of life, experiencing awe normally denied us.

Then the discomfit of self returns and we cease to muse. We want to play on. There is a game on next Saturday.

My two friends understand that we wish to play on, but they already have all the company they need for now.

Look out for your mates.

December Kickoff
For decades, the NorCal rugby season began at Stanford on the first weekend in December with the Stanford Tens.

This year the regular season kicked off for the men's colleges in early December, and one of the three games was played down on the Farm.

At the end of a four-game Sunday of rugby Chris Tucker and Jim Crenshaw flank Stanford assistant coach Josh Sutcliffe on one side, while John Pohlman takes the other.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris