Tuesday, January 29, 2008




Our newest member, Steve Coakley, has been promoted to C3 after having refereed a grand total of two matches in his young career.

Congratulations, Steve.


The NCRRS does everything it can to cover all of the club and college games played in the NCRFU. However, just like all referee societies in the world of which we are aware, we do not have enough members available on the average weekend to cover every game.

We try our best but we will not promise what we cannot provide.

It is common for a referee to do two games on a Saturday, or even three if the high schools are playing early morning. But such games obviously have to be in close proximity.

EVERY TEAM SHOULD HAVE A QUALIFIED REFEREE. The NCRFU has been consistent in supporting this policy for many years now and the Referee Society would like to reiterate it.

When you do not have an assigned referee, or the referee gets lost or gets injured, if you have a referee from your club the match can proceed and the results will count in the standings.

This person can be a player, a coach, a family member, friend or fan. If they have taken and passed the Level One refereeing course, have CIPP, and pay $10 a year to be members of the NCRRS, they are in fact a referee in good standing.

This is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing that a referee no-show will not ruin your season.

Contact our recruitment officer, Rob Hendrickson, with the names of those who are interested in taking a course. Once we get enough who can travel to the same location for a day-long course, we’ll schedule one.

Teams really should have a qualified referee among their membership.


This happens every time they change the USA website. They announce something is available and it is not. And we fall for it every time.

The registration system did not allow referees to register last week. Now it does – we know because we ‘registered’ the Fact Checker under the fictitious name of Dick Nibbler, bogus credit card number and all.



A six am wakeup call pulled me from my slumbers to clear dark skies. The weather was predicting rain for the day so the RugbyHog stayed in the barn. I borrowed my wife’s Prius for the 3 hour drive up to Chico with 3 games on the docket.

CHICO STATE women 19 – UC Davis 10 Referee: Sam Davis

We kicked off at 10:30 Chico women and Davis women’s first sides. The field at Chico JH is not the best field in the world but it was a field that we could play on so it was a “good” field. Both teams moved the ball the first 10 mins with Chico scoring on a break away run touching down in the corner with 30 min left in the half. One min later Davis from the kick off drove to Chico’s 22 off sides on Chico gave Davis the opportunity to kick it became 5-3. Davis stayed in their end of the field for the 20 min attacking but not being able to score. From a multi phase play with 10 min left in the half Davis scored and converted under the post. The half ended Davis 10 Chico 5. The 2nd half was a different story Chico scored at the 35 min mark just left of the post and converted Chico played in their side of the field for the next 20 min scoring on a fine multi phase play that broke the center to score under the post. The Kicker converted again with the final score Chico 19, Davis 10

A drink of water and on to the next game

CHICO 24 – Shasta 10 Ref: Davis

Both teams came out to win this game Shasta controlled the first few scrums and were mauling very well. The first ten minutes we were up and down the whole field several times. An off side by Chico on the 22 gave Shasta 3 points. Chico came back five min later to put 7 on the board with a fine multi phase play that went to both sides of the field to score under the post. Shasta fought back getting close to scoring but Chico’s back field came up with the clearing kick that caught Shasta on it heals Chico drove down to the five meter line to scrum down off that scrum scored in the corner. With 9 min left in the half. 2 min later Chico touched it down closer to the post and converted. Shasta was not to be out done and scored with no time left in the half. Chico 19 – Shasta 10 The 2nd half was a battle up and down the field with Chico finally scoring with12 min left in the game final score Chico 24, Shasta 10

A drink of water a change of fields and off to the next game.

SANTA CRUZ Women 36 – Chiavis 0 Ref: Davis

(Chiavis stands for Chico & Davis Combined Side)

Both teams had a number of rookies with some of them this being their first game. Santa Cruz dominated the game by the scoreboard but the play on the field was very competitive. SC scored first with 25 min left in the half, 15 min later they put one under the post the final score of the half went to SC at 2 min. Both teams changed a number of players although it still was very spirited SC scored on three break away runs @ 22, 7,and 5 min marks. Final Score: Santa Cruz 36, Chiavis 0

Great hospitality I was able to get a very cold shower at the JH locker room, change my clothes have a burger with the ladies then off to the End Zone for another burger and beer with the men’s club. I got home about 10 so it was a great rugby day.


Please go to the Society Contacts page on the NCRRS website and make certain that your contact information is up to date:


If you are not there, or your information is not accurate, both the referee society and the various teams will not be able to reach you.

Thank you for taking a moment to check this. If something needs changed, let Scott Wood know:



Some fancy footwork and rapid recovery were necessary to secure appropriate level matches for two exchange referees from Minnesota this past weekend on no-notice.

Three matches at Stanford were laid on, one for each exchangee and one for their videographer. These were confirmed on Thursday morning.

Imagine the surprise of the visitors and the consternation of their hosts when all arrive to a dry pitch on a beautiful sunny morning, 66 degrees – and all three matches apparently having been canceled with no notice to anyone but the opponents.

Three referees volunteered to give up their own matches without a second thought: Pete Smith, Dave Pope and Roberto Santiago. It proved not to be necessary for Dave to forego his game, and our friends both got in a good run.

We are very proud that our society has such selfless members and are happy to recognize them by name.


Last week showed some glaring defects in our systems. We had, at the same time: Sam Davis doing three full games; several games played with no ref at all; the high school tournament in Sacramento having to press coaches into refereeing to cover almost a hundred game; probably six or eight available referees with no game at all.

When your game is canceled, even at the last minute, call Pete Smith or Bruce Carter. You will be directed to a game that needs a ref. Please, don’t ever assume that because your game got scrubbed there are no others. There are always rugby games that need refs, and more and more teams have discovered the wherewithal to play despite the elements.

Especially on a day like last Saturday, when it was warm and dry and games were canceled anyway.



CALIFORNIA 84 – UC Santa Cruz 3 Referee: Pete Smith
Touch Judge: Eric Rauscher


Cal Maritime – San Jose State CANCELED
This was not because of the weather; SJSU has just returned to classes this week and did not have numbers at training.


SFGG Super League 14 – HAYWARD 31 Referee: Tony Redmond

A bruising encounter at times where the greater physical impact of the Hayward pack eventually ground down the lighter SFGG team. The score was 14-14 at half time with the game bubbling up, which resulted in two yellow cards in the last three minutes of the half. The second half saw Hayward turn their forward dominance into scores and they eventually touched down three more times to run out comprehensive, if not easy, winners.

San Mateo 0 – OLYMPIC CLUB 26 Referee: Brad Dieringer (Minnesota)
Touch Judges: Roberto Santiago, Pete Smith
Assessor: Bryan Porter

Minnesota is understandably well out of season. Brad has been Nordic skiing to stay in shape and had planned on refereeing Stanford and Sac State.

On short notice he was given charge of two of the best men’s clubs in the country, San Mateo and the Olympic Club, with Bryan Porter there to observe.

On the bright side, he had no time for nervousness!

It was a pleasure to watch a referee do well with an unexpected opportunity.

The Olympic Club is working together well. They attack at pace and from many angles and seem to be in good early form to make another run at the nationals.

Seconds: San Mateo 7 – OLYMPIC CLUB 36 Referee: Leah Berard (Minnesota)
Touch Judges: Roberto Santiago, Brad Dieringer

If Brad was thrown into the deep end, his wife Leah was dropped far out at sea without any survival gear.

She is a new C2 whose highest-level men’s match prior to this was Midwestern D3.

By all reports she did a fine job and by the evidence on her face she enjoyed the experience.

These two will have a good story to tell in the future, how the Pelican Refs sand-bagged them on their assignments.

SACRAMENTO LIONS 29– Diablo Gaels 8 Referee: Don Pattalock
Touch Judge: Jim Crenshaw

Florin Reservoir (aka Danny Nunn Park) looked better than it actually was. The pitch was slippery everywhere where there wasn't standing water. Lions simply wore down the Gaels in tight. Neither team seemed overly excited about the less than coveted "NorCal Cup"; instead both are focusing on the second half of the season which will count towards the CR1 playoffs.

Seconds: Sacramento Lions – Diablo Gaels CANCELED

SEAHAWKS 60 – SF/Golden Gate 12 Referee: Dave Pope
Touch Judges: Pete Smith, Bruce Carter

The field was moved a couple of times. I was on, then off, then on again as the referee, and we had to change fields at halftime. Good thing, because we had a game of rugby. I'd like to thank the Hayward team for allowing the teams to use the Hayward fields.

In the game itself, the experienced Seahawk side proved too much for the young but game SFGG team. The Seahawks managed 10 tries, 6 converted to 2 tries, 1 converted for SFGG. Maybe the most notable incidents were one terrific pass and one terrible pass, both thrown by the same player, PelicanRefs own James Hinkin.

On the terrific pass, James was stopped about a meter from the line, in contact with several defenders and inches from hitting the ground for what seemed an inevitable ruck and recycle. Suddenly the ball appeared in the hands of an oncoming Seahawk who scored untouched, and mostly unnoticed. For the terrible pass, James attempted an off balance 30m skip pass that only managed to go about 20m straight into the hands of an SFGG center. The SFGG center then performed a perfectly executed kick and chase to score under the posts. Unfortunately for James, this pass was seen by everyone.

Seconds: Seahawks – SF/Golden Gate CANCELED

Fresno 5 – EAST PALO ALTO 45 Referee: Paul Bretz

EPA visited Fresno and provided them with lots of opportunities to tackle.

Unfortunately they failed and allowed EPA to score 45 points. EPA capitalized on turnover ball and spun the ball wide with abandon. EPA's scrum also did well taking 3 tight-heads in the first 3 scrums of the match.

Fresno did manage to find the try line once off of a lineout and rolling maul. Final score EPA 45, Fresno 5.

Seconds: Fresno 12 – EAST PALO ALTO 24 Ref: Bretz

EPA's seconds also won their match.

EPA has a young side and have bolstered their ranks with 5 former Mission players.

EPA could destroy the division 2 competition if they can find a way to play with composure and discipline. Too often they spun it wide and isolated players. Had Fresno's defense been more organized they could have capitalized on the choices EPA made.

Arroyo Grande 7 – SACRAMENTO 65 Referee: Tony Broom

Report by Mason Gunn:

Mr. Ranaweera was out due to injury so Arroyo found Tony Broom a SoCal ref that only lived an hour away to do the game. No B-side game due to field conditions although the weather and the field couldn’t have been in better shape (60 mph winds the night before helped dry it out). Arroyo had to make the call on Thursday and after getting their annual rainfall in the 4 previous days decided to err on the side of caution. 10 tries for Sac 1 for Arroyo no cards for either team. Tony gave the match card to Bo Kelly to give to me and said the winning team needs to send it in because they’re less likely to change it, where do you want me to send it?

[Editor’s Comment: Note incomplete redaction augments verisimilitude.]

Seconds: Arroyo Grande – Sacramento Capitals CANCELED

SANTA ROSA 20 – BA Baracus 7 Referee: Joe Leisek
Touch Judges: Bjorn Stumer, John Tomasin
For Pete's Sake Field, Santa Rosa

The first league match for both teams was played on a pitch that held up very strongly through torrential rains. No rain today, though, as the hosts started off well. A halftime score of two tries and one conversion, plus a penalty kick, was evidence of their performance. They would have had a third try had it not been nullified in favor of a penalty. The second half was a more defensive-oriented period. Overall, Santa Rosa proved very adept at creating opportunities out of broken play. Baracus ran and tackled hard, but could not make much headway against the host's tough backline defense.

Thanks to Bjorn and Doc for their excellent help.

Seconds: SANTA ROSA 24 – BA Baracus 17 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

The gods of Rugby smiled again and not a drop of rain fell on two matches hosted by Santa Rosa at their "For Pete's Sake" field. The Santa Rosa vs. Baracus A side matches were ably conducted by Joe Leisek, while I refereed the B-sides, two competitive teams hungry for work. At first it seemed that Santa Rosa would walk away with an easy one, but Baracus begged to differ fighting hard throughout the match and giving back all that Santa Rosa threw their way.

The soft pitch underfoot make ball handling hard, but did not preclude some fine runs by both sides. Had Baracus brought a few more players along the story might have been different; as it stood Santa Rosa put in four tries, two of which converted. Baracus was not far behind with three tries, one of which converted, and of which scored right before the final whistle. Final score: Santa Rosa B 24 - Baracus B 17.

Vacaville – Humboldt CANCELED

Vallejo – Reno CANCELED

Petaluma – Stanislaus CANCELED

Marin 11 – MISSION 32 Referee: Dan Wilson

Evaluator: Mike Malone

After many urgent, last minute emails between Marin and Mission on Friday trying to determine if and where the game was to be held, Marin finalized the all-weather field at Tamalpais High School. In what turned out to be a beautiful day, the field itself could not have been any better. Under partly cloudy skies, Marin kicked off and controlled things in the early stages of the game. Marin had an unconverted try in the fifth minute, and then a penalty kick in the ninth minute. Mission got on board with their own unconverted try in the twentieth minute. Neither team seemed to have the ability to stay onside at the rucks and mauls and Marin’s backs seemed to think that the ten-meter spacing at lineouts was a foreign concept. They each had a few line breaks but closer to the end of the first half, Mission started to put its maul to good use. Even though Marin added a penalty kick in the thirty-sixth minute, Mission spend the last three minutes inside Marin’s 22-meter line, pushing over an unconverted try in extra time. Half-time score, Marin 11 and Mission 10.

The second half started with a bang for Mission. In the 49th minute, they added a penalty kick, but then scored a converted try just a minute later after they took advantage of their overlap on the outside. Three minutes later, Missions winger was able to pick up loose ball and had a good 60-meter sprint for another converted try. Mission finished off the scoring in the 60th minute with an unconverted try from a maul by their number 5. While Mission showed that their pace and fitness was a big difference at times, their strategic kicking and poor ball handling or decision making with those kicks by Marin was the overall difference. Things started to get difficult for Mission in the last quarter due to repetitive high tackling which resulted in three yellow cards. For a three-minute span, Mission was down to 13 players on the pitch. Unfortunately for Marin, they could not get the game to be played in Mission’s side of the field even when a man up in the last quarter. Final score: Marin 11, Mission 32.

Thanks need to be sent out to Mike Malone for his half-time commentary and suggestions as well as realistic and practical comments and suggestions overall. Positioning suggestions immediately helped in the second half allowing flow to be more fluid.

BERKELEY 28 – Aptos 3 Referee: John Coppinger
Job Corps Pitch, Treasure Island

To everyone's surprise, there was no rain and the field, although slippery in spots, was generally free of standing water. (The northern portion of the field between the 22 and goal-line was flooded to an inch, may be two inches, of standing water, but no one drowned.) The only real complaint about the field was the lack of end-lines. I used the end of the grass as the end-line. Of course the first Berkeley try was scored on a turn-over and break-away-behind the sawdust bale covering the grate in the south in-goal [you can't make this stuff up] and Aptos was not happy with the try being awarded. Good news is that Fog are going to reseed this week and no one will use the field for 3 weeks. Hopefully, Fog will get grass from their efforts and they will remember to add the end-line.)

Aptos struggled with discipline giving up penalties at a rate of two to one and resulting in two yellow cards (one for professional foul and one for stamping), five of which were converted for points via penalty kicks.

Good day, fun all around.

Thanks to Rich Anderson for running touch.

Old FOGgies – Silverhawks Referee: ???

CHICO STATE 15 – UC Davis 7 Referee: Scott Wood

Location: Chico Jr. High School Gopher Jamboree Grounds
Weather: Threatening but no rain falling
Pitch conditions: Narrow, uneven, reminiscent of California's highways with its numerous subterranean rodent holes

This is always a highly contested and exciting match. Both teams are so evenly matched, albeit with different styles, that the outcome is rarely apparent until the final whistle. I am amazed at the number of times I hear or read that the result was an upset. Two weeks ago, UC Davis beat Chico State by five points. This outing resulted differently but by nearly the same margin.

The match featured inventive play by both sides but overall managed to stay between the 22s. Both teams suffered from penalties at tackles and rucks. Chico scored from a lineout ten meters from the goal line prior to going into the half leading 7-0. The second half opened with Chico in possession but Davis containing the home side to near midfield. An offside penalty by Davis' back line led to Chico's converted goal to bring its lead to 10-0. Davis was not deterred by the scoreline and mounted several valiant attempts coming within meters of scoring. Chico was able to turnover the ball and sped down the field scoring off a selfless act of passing to bring the lead to 15-0. With ten minutes remaining, Davis again attacked through its forwards and backs. The narrow pitch did not help the Aggies as they were forced to touch on several potential try-scoring runs. Five minutes to go and Chico ended up losing a man to the sin bin for repeated infringements. The overlap gave the visitors the necessary advantage to score off a nice scissor pass. The converted kick cut the Wildcats' lead to eight points. Davis remained on the attack until the final whistle.

Seconds: CHICO STATE 42 – UC Davis 20 Referee: Dan Lacko

Stanford 2 – Olympic Club 3 CANCELED

Stanford – Sac State CANCELED

Stanford women – Belmont Shore CANCELED

Humboldt State – USF Referee: ???

We also do not know who refereed this match. John Pohlman could not keep the appointment due to an injury and a replacement could not be found on a few days’ notice.

SANTA ROSA JC 31 – Diablo Gaels U23, 7 Referee: Preston Gordon
For Pete's Sake Field, Santa Rosa

Luckily the rain stopped early Saturday morning, so the pitch wasn't waterlogged, but just a little slippery underfoot. Diablo's full team only turned up about 10 minutes before kickoff, whereas SRJC was ready and warmed up much earlier.

There was lots of back-and-forth rucking, forward drives, and pick-and-goes in this game. In the 5th minute, one of the Diablo backs picked off a floating pass at about the halfway line and scored untouched. It took SRJC 10 more minutes to open their account, scoring a converted try from a forward move. They added two more converted tries and a penalty goal in the first half (halftime score 24-7, with one yellow card on each side).

The second half was more of the same, except that the ball was being chucked around in the backline a bit more. SRJC notched one more converted try in the 49th minute (an interception much like the one at the beginning of the game) but that was to be the end of the scoring.

The final 30 minutes were marred by sloppy play, knock-ons, and errant passes as the players got more tired. The pitch was getting a little bit torn up by then too, which didn't help much. Tempers flared on a couple of occasions towards the end but there was nothing more serious to deal with than a bit of handbags. Final score: 31-7 to SRJC.

UCSC – Santa Clara Referee: CANCELED

Seconds: UCSC – Santa Clara CANCELED

UNR women 5 – CALIFORNIA 38 Referee: Anna McMahan

It was a bright brisk day in Reno for the UNR vs Cal women's league match, and the turf field was clear and well set up. UNR had to start the match down one player, and quickly was reduced to 13 players by a serious knee injury. Despite their depleted roster, UNR played with heart, and both teams played with discipline. Cal dominated the game with three tries in each half, primarily scored through their speedy outside backs due to numbers overloads. UNR's cover defense played admirably, and their scrum dominated Cal's a few times in spite of fewer players in. UNR's only score came after a long phase of staunch goal-line defense by Cal, when the UNR scrumhalf scooped up a bobbled ball from the Cal scrum and scored.


Report from 24th Annual Kick Off Tournament
Granite Regional Park, City of Sacramento
January 26 & 27

by Ray Schwartz, Kick Off Tournament (KOT) Director,

Referee in Charge: Sam Reagle
Ref Coaching: Dave Williamson, Kat Todd-Schwartz, Sam Reagle, others
Visiting refs: Andrew Petti, Dion Roach, Cam Wilton (all Alberta), John Lawson & Dan Hattrup (ERRFU).

Pelican refs in attendance included Jim Roberts, JC van Staden, Chris Tucker, Matt Eason, Don Pattalock, Bryant Byrnes, Jackie Fink, Mike Villierme, Rod Chance, Steve Gray, Russ Wilkening, Jim Crenshaw, Bruce Carter and relative newcomers Chris Young, Mark Godfrey, Dave Heath, Phil Ulibarri, plus Jim Reed, who apparently did quite well, and Brian Schnack who reffed his first match ever, a muddy 25-minutes of girl-on-girl action!

Waves of rain wreaked havoc on plans for an enormous High School Rugby tournament, held over the weekend at Granite Park. 72 teams were expected to attend and play over 100 matches. KOT Event organizers met with City Parks people at Noon on Friday to receive a blessing to move ahead with the event. However, one of 5 fields was removed from availability. Two sides from San Francisco choose to not chance the weather and pulled out of Saturday’s competition. Competitions Director Ray Thompson stayed up half the night and carefully reworked the schedule.

Early arriving refs, including our three from Alberta, enjoyed dining Friday night at a neighborhood gem featuring fine Italian cuisine, Mamma Susanna’s, located near Sac State. Rain stopped failing at about midnight Friday.

Saturday’s sunrise was a brilliant omen, as the day turned out to be lovely, chilly at times, and certainly a bit muddy in spots. Two-time defending KOT champs Jesuit beat Mahu Latu and Murdo Nicholson’s new club San Mateo, 21-0, in the Finals of a thrilling Varsity Gold 8-team competition. Jesuit fields a second varsity side locally, and it was Jesuit II who beat a well-organized Santa Rosa side in the 8-team Varsity Silver Final. Marin Highlanders took the 6-team Varsity Bronze. A 6-team Varsity International competition played off into finals for Sunday. Saturday also featured some B Side (JV) games, one collegiate exhibition (Willamette v McGeorge), an Old Boys game (SOBs v Bald Eagles).

Age-Grade Eagle coaches Paul Barford and Salty Thompson were on hand to scout talent, encouraging them to attend the coming Skills Clinic at TI March 15/16. Eagle Mark Griffin of www.playrugbyusa.com led free clinics for Junior High and U12s. Eagle Chris Osentowski, recently named the USA Rugby West Coast High Performance Scrum Specialist, offered, in conjunction with local coach Ben Parker, hi-tech scrum coaching sessions. Several TV stations were on site filming features. Pat Guthrie of MediaZone brought Matt Brown up from LA to film the next installment of “Brownie’s Bunker.” A virtual village of food concessionaires, vendors and Universities hoping to recruit area ruggers rounded out the scene.

More rains fell Saturday night, as the Pelicans retired to Hoppy Brewing for the 3rd Annual KOT Referee’s Banquet. Conditions forced Parks and Event organizers to make some hard decisions early Sunday. Another field was removed from play, while the Championship Field was shortened and re-configured. Of course this meant the schedule needed to be modified again. Early Sunday morning was a scramble.

Many clubs in the scheduled B Side, Girls, Frosh/Soph and Junior High competitions had to give up one of their three scheduled matches, and so were unable to play to expected championships. Priority was give to clubs traveling in for the event from across Northern California. The sun cracked the sky twice, but waves of wind and chilly rain were more the norm. Spirits remained high as fun was shared by all in attendance.

Varsity International (VI) Finals saw Beaverton (Ore.) beat PITS for the Bowl, Edmonton Celtics beat locals Rio Rugby in a hard fought Plate Championship, while Christian Brothers defeated a challenging side from Kearns, Utah, 23-17, in a thrilling VI Cup Championship match. Kearns appeared to be capable of physically dominating play, but fielded no substitutes, as a well-coached Christian Brothers side broke through to score several tries, and held strong with a long goal line stand near the end of the match. Former rugger and San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl winner Dan Bunz, no stranger to goal line stands, was on hand to award CB’s Eric Litchenberger the VI MVP medal, hard-earned through his role in the game’s best defensive plays.

KOT Organizers, all local clubs, and indeed the entire Northern California rugby community are eternally grateful to City Parks for helping us get this event off. To have pulled the plug on the KOT would have saved the fields much “repairable stress” but would have proved a tragedy to organizers, as well as a disappointment to attending teams. The positive messages sent to parents and young athletes throughout the weekend were more than a fair trade for the patches of grass in need of being reworked.

A special thanks goes out to the Sacramento Area Managed Marriott Hotels who put up event referees, on the promise the KOT would put traveling sides into their beds. This worked out very well for all concerned!

Should anyone in Pelicanland like a dry copy of our referee-friendly, wonderfully reviewed KOT Program (64-page, full color, with centerfold pullout poster of the iRB “Try of the Year!”), please email your ship-to address to vanillagorillaray@sbcglobal.net

Minnesota Visitors
Pete Smith, Steve Coakley, Brad Derringer and Leah Berard from Minnesota, Bruce Carter, Roberto Santiago and Dave Pope smile for lensman Mike Strain at the Mt. Eden Park pitch in Hayward.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris