Tuesday, January 22, 2008




The registration process for USA Rugby has been redesigned and implemented. If you have not yet signed up for 2008, you can do so now:



February is little over a week away. We’ve heard from 21 refs, which means we haven’t heard from about forty others. UNLESS YOU SAY YOU ARE AVAILABLE ON A SPECIFIC SATURDAY WE CANNOT RISK ASSIGNING YOU A GAME. And we cannot make a schedule at all from 21 refs, especially since some of them responded to say that they were not available.

Please reply whether you can referee each of the following weekends, and whether you can travel to a distant game:

Feb 2 Yes/No Travel? Sunday, Feb 3: Two games in Reno
Feb 9 Yes/No Travel?
Feb 16 Yes/No Travel?
Feb 23 Yes/No Travel? Sunday, Feb 24: Two games in Moraga


This past weekend we watched three different referees give yellow cards and send the miscreants to stand on the dead-ball line.

We have to ask: why? The Lawbook certainly doesn’t say so.

Entertain an analogy for a moment. Another referee gave a free kick because a line-out player of the non-throwing team was standing farther from the touchline than any opponent. Other refs thought this was funny.

Both situations are equally ‘funny’, and for the same reason: they have no basis in Law. The referee made something up.

“Oh”, but you rejoin, “The Law used to say…” The Law used to say trys were three points. The Law used to say you could have a standing tackle. The farther you go back the more it ‘used to say’. It probably used to be written in Latin if you go back far enough (ah – those were the days!).

The point is: the Lawbook says nothing about where players should serve their ten minutes. It only says that they interval is ten minutes. There are no USA Guidelines concerning this for the simple reason that there are no USA Guidelines at all. It has been some years now since the players had to go stand in the corner, as it were.

When you have a fourth official, send players who receive yellow cards to that worthy. When you do not have a #4, just tell them to leave for ten minutes. They can go wherever they want as long as they stay out of trouble and they don’t play any rugby.


Wednesday, January 16:
CALIFORNIA 99 – Humboldt State 5 Referee: John Coppinger
Touch Judge: Eric Rauscher

OLYMPIC CLUB 48 – Hayward 19 Referee: Paul Bretz
O Club defeated Hayward 48-19 @ the famed Polo grounds in Golden Gate Park. Up until the 75th minute the score was 48-5. O Club dominated most every facet of the game, particularly fitness. O Club had a few new faces including a graduate from SDSU who had a good outing as the # 7.

Seconds: OLYMPIC CLUB 39 – Hayward 17 Referee: Sam Davis
It was another beautiful day on the Rugby HOG going to the Polo fields to ref O club 2nd vs. Hayward 2nd. Upon my arrival I noticed that Hayward did not look like they had a 2nd team. I looked a bit closer and confirmed that they had a couple of people for the 2nd team and the first team would be playing again. It was decided that they would do 3 – 30 min periods with free subs to get everyone to play it looked like O club had 25 guys to play. Hayward had about 4 fresh ones.

O club looked very strong as they kicked off making their first score at the 26 min mark in the corner. Hayward came back on a break and scored at the 22 min mark. O club put a try in both corners with rolling maul at the 20 & 18 min mark. Hayward came back with a nice breakaway to dot the ball under the post and converted the try with 10 min left. The last score of the half O club was off a multi phase play that scored with no time left. Half time score O club 20 Hayward 12 Hayward scored first in the second half on a miss pass by O club at 26 min the rest of the game O Club controlled the tempo dominating in ruck, maul, scrum and lineout. O club scored at the 18, 14, & 8 min mark converting two. Final score O club 39 – Hayward 17 the third period I did not keep score.

SAN MATEO 29 – Sacramento Lions 13 Referee: Chris Draper
Videographer: Bruce Carter

The new San Mateo high school team was on hand to watch, having played Woodside earlier in the day. Coach Mahu Latu, who himself played at the Grizzly level as a teenager, was rightly proud of this new side.

Chris Draper flew out from Texas for a game to help prepare for his assignment refereeing at the IRB Sevens in San Diego next month. He wanted the ‘fastest game available’. At the last minute, he got it.

Both teams spent time retreating and recovering balls that had somehow ended up on the ground behind them, disrupting the flow of the passing game to say the least. After a back-and-forth half, it was 10-all.

The Lions took the lead with a penalty kick midway through the second half and that seemed to shake the rust off of the home team, who scored a try from the restart. Then another try.

To top it off, with little time left a very ‘fast game’ ensued.

Sacramento were attacking inside San Mateo’s 22. A mishandled pass allowed San Mateo’s #11 to cherry-pick a hanging ball. There was an eighty-meter dash among five people: #11, three Lions in hot pursuit, and the referee, all reaching the goal-line together. The ball-carrier was tackled just short but his arms were just long enough, all five players together in a very tight frame.

Seconds: San Mateo – Sacramento Lions Referee: Bruce Carter
The Lions did not have a second side, but promised more numbers as the season progresses.

SFGG SL 48 – Diablo Gaels 10 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Referee Coach: David Williamson
Touch Judges: Roberto Santiago

55F degrees and partly cloudy: about right for a pre-season tune-up. SFGG started with a bang and led 26-0 at half. Both teams experimented with personnel and set-plays, but SFGG's overall execution was more structured and crisp. Trailing 36-0 midway through the second half, Diablo scored a nifty drop-goal and converted try to close within 36-10 before SFGG's adventurous backs decided to step back on the gas.

Much thanks to Roberto for helping as TJ and Dave Williamson for providing post-match feedback.

Sacramento Capitals – Provo Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

SANTA ROSA 22 – Reno Zephyrs 19 Referee: Steve Gray
Referee Coach Jake Rubin

Shasta – McGeorge No Referee Available

Mission 29 – VACAVILLE 48 Referee: Giles Wilson

Well, Saturday's a rugby day and so this turned out. Travel with HS team to Morgan Hill to play a Live Oak team who should be pretty competitive this year and then hustle to Palo Alto for Mission and Vacaville.

Arriving much closer to game time than is advisable and seeing the visitors warming up with a decent size crew; the home team seemed to number 7 at that point. A little while later and Mission were up to 11 and with 4 borrowed players we got going on a decent field - El Camino Park.

Mission got on the board first with a prodigious drop goal from Joe Domine but that was to be their sole score for the first half. Vacaville were lively and everyone handled well - they put together 4 first half tries converting two. Over the course of the half the Mission Fijian contingent meandered in and joined play on the field. They managed to make the game ebb and flow more but this was their warm up time.

In the second half Mission started to work their way back from the 24 - 3 deficit and did an impressive job for 20 minutes; working their way back with 3 converted tries against a lone Vacaville penalty to a 3 point gap at 27 - 24. The teams then swapped tries (Vacaville converted while Mission did not) before the back breaker - a set play saw a Vacaville flanker crash through the middle at half way and feed off to the larger prop who demonstrated a side step and impressive speed to make 30 meters; as he was being caught the other prop arrived in support and a good pass put him in easily from 20 m. It was now 41 - 29 and with a final converted try for Vacaville we finished at 48 - 29.

SF Fog 17 – VALLEJO 33 Referee: Rob Hendrickson

Vallejo is the real deal in this their first season. They used their kicking game effectively to keep the Fog backed up and to create turnover balls. With a little more discipline, their athletic abilities are going to make them a contender. Missing some of their veterans, the Fog found itself struggling and just a little off from their usual crisp passes, and therefore had problems getting past Vallejo's hard tackling.

UC DAVIS 44 – Nevada 12 Referee: Joe Androvich

Seconds: UC DAVIS 40 – Nevada 12 Referee: Chris Tucker
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz

Two groups of fairly inexperienced ruggers formed up into a hard-fought and entertaining match. UCD had a few older heads who took the game in hand, with the defensive structure of the Nevada side too often lacking. 8 tries was the result, although some spirited play in the second half gave Nevada something positive to take away. UCD's 0 for 8 kicking performance by 3 different kickers gave this ref cause to reflect that maybe he still has something over the young guns...

CALIFORNIA 82 – Stanford 15 Referee: John Pohlman
Touch Judges: Eric Rauscher, Tom Zanarini

What a beautiful day for rugby. Driving up to Witter Field at University of California Berkley I reflected on how great it is to referee rugby in the San Francisco Bay area.

My first league game had Cal. hosting Stanford. Witter Field has to be one of the highlight pitches to run on. And the drive through Berkeley on a Saturday morning is at the least interesting.

The tradition of the Cal and Stanford rivalry. Division One Men's Rugby league match. What an honor.

The day was setting up perfectly. Fellow referees Eric Rauscher and Tom Zanarini had agreed to run touch. We all went down to the football field for boot check and coin toss at 12:30.

National Anthem, a few hundred fans, 1:00 O'clock kickoff.

Cal elected to kickoff. Cal won the ball and proceeded to start their drive to defend the National Championship. Cal looked like a high-power weed whacker, cutting everything down in its path on the way to the tryline. Cal scored their first of seven trys in the first half at 1 minute and 31 seconds.

Stanford gave a strong effort all day long. This looks like the best Stanford team I have seen.

Stanford slotted on a penalty in the first half. Half time score 45-3.

Cal received the second half kickoff and scored at 1 minute 31 seconds.

Stanford scored two second half trys.

Cal was simply overwhelming in all aspects of the game. Their forward and backs cleaned out rucks with numbers. Their back and forwards took turns finishing tries.

Final: 82 (fourteen tries)-15 (two tries)

I want to thank the players for playing the game in good sprit. No taunting or excessive celebration. Just class, discipline and toughness on both sides.

Seconds: CALIFORNIA 100 – Stanford 0 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Despite the score Stanford B's fought hard through the entire match, never backing down from the challenge. I'm looking very forward to Cal v. Stanford in 2010.

ST. MARY’S 46 – Chico State 11 Referee: Pete Smith
No report received. Score courtesy of eRugbyNews.com

Seconds: St. Mary's 21 – CHICO STATE 46 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

St. Mary's lovely field on a dry warm day: two fit, fast, and enthusiastic teams met the Object of the Game; ''...observing fair play and a sporting spirit, scored as many points as possible.'' They ran all day; a track meet/ marathon. (Also, thanks to Pete Smith for touch judging and good advice.)

At half it was 12 to 7 for Chico. And then the lads really opened it up for the final (and better) 40 minutes. With six minutes left, it was a Chico up by one point-26 to 27. Chico had a teaspoon more of gas in the tank at the end and scored twice to keep the win.

What we would like to see-the bull tethered to the bear. This is a variation on an old California tradition. Take the most loquacious coach from each team-say John Everett and Mitch Jagoe-and cuff them to each other. The resulting dialogue and bellows: priceless.

Sacramento State – Western Oregon CANCELED

U. of San Francisco 53 – SANTA ROSA JC 14 Referee: Cary Bertolone

My regularly scheduled game was USF against the visiting SRJC at 3:00 PM at the beautiful Negaesco Stadium in San Francisco. The USF coach mentioned he was lucky to have a full side as school hadn't started yet, etc.

For all of that and the fact that the USF team played one player down for 20 minutes of the first half (from two yellow cards-tackle in the air on kickoff and high tackle on non-ball carrier), USF hung in there and played valiantly throughout most of the game. The score was 26-7 at the half.

In the second half, SRJC found itself with only 13 players on the field for about 8 minutes (from two high tackles), but USF couldn't take advantage. SRJC was able to maintain a lot of possession and pound the ball in for a total score of 53-14.

DIABLO GAELS U23, 32 – UC Santa Cruz 11 Referee: Sandy Robertson

UCSC was able to keep the Gaels in check for a half--maintaining possession, making breaks and went into the break up 6-0. The 2nd half was a different story as the Gaels controlled the ball, got it wide and put 5 tries on the board.

SANTA CLARA 23 – Cal Maritime 18 Referee: Don Pattalock

The kicking was the difference in this match. CMA came out on fire and scored two trys within the first 12 minutes with the help of some suspect defense by SCU. SCU found their legs and managed a try before half-time. The second half was a mirror opposite of the first half; SCU had the possession and pressure early scoring 2 trys; CMA attacked hard in the last 15 minutes scoring one try from a tighthead steal. CMA left 2-3 trys on the pitch out wide when their handling let them down with space to burn. SCU kicked 2 penalties and 1 conversion while CMA managed only one penalty.

Seconds: Santa Clara University 0 – California Maritime Academy 15
Ref: Pattalock

Only one way to characterize this match: Handbags. The teams were more worried about pushing each other to show how tough they were rather than playing rugby.

High School jamboree, Will Rogers Middle School
Referees: Rod Chance, Mark Godfrey, Chris Young, Colin Wallace
Referee Coach: Sam Reagle

This was a fiasco, marred by disputatious team officials.


Stanford played mix-and-match with their roster Saturday, yielding a 1 – 2 record in the round-robin and eighth place out of twelve teams.

Sunday matters were put aright as they went through three knock-out games without ceding a single point.

Out-of-state teams were Oregon State, Western Washington and Colorado. SoCal was represented by UCSD, UCLA and UCSB.

The NorCal contingent was Stanford, two sides from Chico, Cal, Humboldt State. One team escapes memory at the moment…

Referees: Scott Wood, Bruce Bernstein, Bryant Byrnes, Steve Coakley, Preston Gordon, Sandy Robertson, JC Van Staden, Bjorn Stumer, and Matt Poteraj, an ERRRS referee visiting with his daughter, who plays for CU.

Referee Coaches: Mike Malone, David Williamson, Bruce Carter

If the name Coakley is new to you, it’s because Steve Coakley is new to us. Steve, his wife Tara and their due-in-March first baby recently moved here from Dubai.

Steve works for VISA and will be here for several years at least. He worked his first two games ever on Saturday and showed a lot of promise.

STANFORD 31 – California 0 Referee: Preston Gordon


SFGG 24 – Del Oro 15 Referee: Roberto Santiago

This was close game between two evenly matched sides. Del Oro took a 15-14 lead at 46:22 but the home team took the lead six minutes later and then scored an insurance try with two minutes left despite playing a man down for the last fifteen minutes. Overall the game was played at a high level though it was marred towards the end by some extracurricular activities.

JV game: SF/Golden Gate 12 – DEL ORO 20 Ref: Santiago

The game was spirited and well played. Both sides used heavy subs in each of the 20 minute periods. Both sides showed promise for the future of their clubs.

LIVE OAK 29 – Tri-Valley 0 Referee: Chris Fisher

Seconds: Live Oak 0 – TRI-VALLEY 5 Ref: Fisher

STANFORD FROSH 34 – Silicon Valley 5 Referee: Sandy Robertson

The Stanford group's greater experience and time together, coupled with player unavailability for Silicon Valley resulted in a match where Stanford dominated possession and was able to spin it wide and exploit overlaps, scoring 6 tries.

Stanford Invitational 2008
The NCRRS can always use more good referees. In fact, we kept a seat open just for you this weekend!

L to R: Preston Gordon, David Williamson, JC Van Staden and Sandy Robertson


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