Tuesday, February 19, 2008




Start spreading the word, especially to the high school teams that need a certified ref:

The NCRRS will offer the IRB Level One Referee Course on Sunday, March 9, on Treasure Island.

The course will not be offered again locally until the autumn. Please make every effort to attend if you need to course to referee competitive games or you’d like to take it to be able to help your club, college or high school when the refs are short.

The cost is $35. If you have refereed or do referee five games by appointment, the NCRRS will pay for the course or reimburse you, respectively. Plan on an eight-hour day learning the basics that you need to embark on a fulfilling and satisfying career helping to facilitate the best rugby in the USA.

If you are interested we need to know this week in order to obtain the course materials. Please contact:

Bruce Carter


Remind yourself of the Society dinner to be held at the Pyramid Brewing Company in Berkeley on Saturday evening, March 15.

A centerpiece of the East Mids exchange has become the winter hike in Yosemite. In 2004 we enjoyed glorious sunshine and shirt-sleeve weather, but in 2006 it was strictly snow-plow conditions.

Whatever nature throws at us, the most beautiful setting on Earth is a magnificent place to encounter it.

So here’s the plan: we’ll take our visitors to Yosemite on Tuesday, March 11 and spend the night at the Yosemite Lodge at the Society’s expense. The route of Wednesday’s hike will be determined by the conditions but it will be spectacular and memorable.

We’ll return to regular life later that day.

If you can only spare one day during the week, work on the Tuesday and drive up afterwards (doable from the Bay Area, Sacramento, or points between).

Please let us know if you would like to join the crew. We need to reserve the rooms.

This hike will be one of the highlights of your refereeing career!



March is proving to be the heart of our incoming exchange program this season. In particular, the next four weekends we have two-four visitors per weekend.

This includes March 6-16, when we will be hosting Andy Canning and Tony Kennedy from the East Mids.

If you would be able to host, please let Bjorn Stumer know:



Some people see a lot of new and unfamiliar names on the assignments roster and know just how lucky we are to have folks joining the ranks of the NCRRS. New Pelicans are always welcomed!

But what you don’t see is the list of those who are no longer doing games. Some will be back, but most will not.

Here are some people who did at least a game or two last year and, for whatever reason, have not refereed this season. We apologize if you have worked a high school game or some other fixture of which we are not aware:

Paul Berman
David Buckley
Chris Busch
Lois Bukowski
Rod Chance
Matt Eason
Michael Gadoua
Dylan Gill
Debra Hart
Geordie Hawkins
Mike King
Tony Latu
Rachel Lawton
David Miller
Chris Parkhouse
Sam Reagle
Joe Saccomanno
Ray Schwartz
Dixon Smith
Paul Smith
Kat Todd-Schwartz
Mike Villierme

Most referee societies do not have twenty-two members. We have had to replace that number in mid-stride.


It was Founders’ Day weekend at the SF/Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island. The epicenter of NorCal rugby quaked with seven games.

There were also several matches on the nearby Job Corps pitch, with participants and officials dropping by the clubhouse to watch the rugby on the pitch or on Setanta, have a burger and a beverage, or just enjoy the warm sunny day and the camaraderie.

SF/Golden Gate freshmen 5 – PIEDMONT frosh/soph 32 Referee: Rob Hendrickson

In the 8:00 AM opening game of a long day at TI, PITS frosh/soph had a strong showing against SFGG on their home field, racking up 4 first half tries to SFGG's one. SFGG had quite a few new faces, as it had to play following JV and varsity games as well.

Varsity: SF/GOLDEN GATE 65 – Piedmont 0 Referee: Bruce Carter

Golden Gate has a wealth of very good players, more than this referee has seen on one high school team. I don’t want to slight anyone not named, but #7, #8, #12, #15, #22 and a very nifty scrumhalf look like all-stars to this observer.

The Captain and #8, Danny, had an NBA-quality play wherein he leapt to catch the bounce of his own pop kick near the goal line – but it bounced away from him. No problem: he reached back like Dr. J and one-handed it at arm’s length, alit and scored the try.

And the scrumhalf closed out the scoring and the match by wrestling the ball from the grasp of a player twice his size and scampering thirty meters untouched to pay dirt.

SF/GOLDEN GATE JV 34 – TriValley Varsity 17 Referee: Giles Wilson

TriValley HS played a good first half against the SFGG JV turning around ahead 17 – 12. SFGG introduced a couple of very large players and TriValley didn’t manage them very well defensively in the second half leaking 22 points for a final score of SFGG 34 – TriValley 17.

SFGG – Santa Rosa Referee: Steve Coakley

Touch Judges: John Tomasin, Mose Timoteo
Videographer: Bruce Carter
No report received.

Seconds: SF/Golden Gate 10 – SANTA ROSA 17 Referee: Giles Wilson
Touch Judge: Jackie Finck

A game that featured a number of young SFGG players who have come through the HS team playing against an older more experienced Santa Rosa side who had a noticeable Fijian contingent. Quite a decent game in spells, some back and forth play mixed with some big hits. At half time Santa Rosa led by 12 – 10 and stretched this to 17 – 10 for the final.

SFGG SL 22 – Olympic Club 16 Referee: Phil Griffiths (Northeast)

Touch Judges: Jackie Finck, Bruce Carter
Assessor: Dixon Smith

Vacaville – Olympic Club seconds Referee: Joe Androvich
No report received.


Sacramento Lions 14 – HAYWARD 24 Referee: Joe Leisek

Seconds: Sacramento Lions – Hayward
Not played.

SAN MATEO 41– Diablo Gaels 27 Referee: Mitch Damm (Texas, West)

Touch Judge and Reporter: JC Van Staden
Assessor: Bryan Porter

With the sun warming up all the winter bodies, the plate was set for some great rugby. With San Mateo making there their presence felt with some hard hitting right from the start, but it was Diablo that impressed on the scoreboard. At half SM had to score 2 times too keep up with a young, but impressive DG. Needless to say SM half time pep talk paid off, by doing just that. Leveling the score with another 28 min to go.

The inexperienced of the young DG team showed in the second half, by getting 2 penalties reversed against them, after trying to coach the ref, after receiving the penalties. SM on the other hand, still applying a lot of pressure and playing the offside line so tight, that they ended up with 2 yellow cards. Diablo seemed to lose their wheels a little and could not take advantage on the 15 against 13 players, in fact they conceded a try while 2 men up. With a game that could swing any way, San Mateo walked away as winners, with 41-29.

Seconds: San Mateo – Diablo Gaels
Not played.

SEAHAWKS 31 – BA Baracus 10 Referee: Tony Redmond

A reasonable game with lots of physical contents marked by a couple of interesting refereeing points and lots of mishandling and turnovers. Seahawks are a stronger team with more penetration in the backs and the back row, which eventually took its toll on Baracus as the match unfolded. Forward passes and dropped passes meant that Seahawks didn’t score a try until late in the first half but they subsequently scored three more in the second.

The first interesting issue were touch judges that awarded two penalties (one at either end) in the first half that obviously were not successful. In both cases, the touch judges failed to stay on their posts and didn’t notice that the kicks curved outside late. A quick chat at half-time on the basics of touch judging cured the problem. The second issue came about when Baracus were under pressure from a 5-metre scrum. A hurried pass from the scrum-half led to an equally hurried attempt to clear from the out-half, resulting in a scuffed kick that went up in the air like a sick duck, barely making 10 feet in altitude and going forward the same amount to the Baracus left-wing, who was ahead of the kicker in goal. He jumped into the air to take the ball but made a complete hash of his attempt to catch it and only succeeded in knocking it backwards towards the dead-ball line for Seahawks to gratefully accept the chance to score. The question is – what decision would it have been had Seahawks not cleared? Penalty (where), penalty try, or other decision?

[Editor’s Note: Sounds like the only thing this ‘clearing kick’ cleared was the ground, and only just!]

Seconds: SEAHAWKS 38 – BA Baracus 7 Referee: Rob Hendrickson

With some help from the Seahawks, Baracus put up a respectable B side, although the Seahawks proved too much for them. The first half saw both sides drive to close to the try line on several occasions, only to turn the ball over within 5 meter line. The Seahawks led 14 - 0 at the half. Baracus fans were finally given something to cheer about late in the second half with some great open field running on a breakaway which resulted in their only try.

SACRAMENTO 30 – Fresno 7 Referee: Scott Wood

TJs: Phil Ulibarri/Steve Seifert
Location: Danny Nunn Park, Sacramento
Weather: Perfect for a sunny rugby match
Field conditions: Cheese grating clay with bits of sod. Chalk was used to mark the field lines (this comes to play later)

[Editor’s Note: Wasn’t it Chekhov who said you don’t hang a sword on the wall in the first act unless you are going to use it in the fifth?]

Both teams spent the first ten minutes testing each other out. Then Sacramento found its stride and was able to piece a number of phases together culminating in a rumbling try by their loosehead prop. Eight minutes later he was back again to score a try as bodies bounced off him. Fresno was penalized several times for a lack of understanding the Laws of the Game (really just one player who was a bit confused in this regard). With 13 minutes remaining in the half, Sacramento slotted a penalty goal from midway on the 22. Sacramento crossed the try line one more time to close the half 20-0.

Fresno opened the second half with improved cohesion and communication scoring with relative ease at the 47th minute (20-7). The hosts were undeterred and answered back ten minutes later as they threaded past missed tackles to bring the score to 25-7. From that point, open play settled down to more rucking with the occasional scrum. Sacramento had one scoring attempt go to touch with a scant meter to run as the ball carrier stepped into touch. Well, step into touch is not the best description. His cleat scrapped enough line chalk to create a small cloud which provided a perfect indication that, much to his chagrin, the ball carrier had stepped into touch. With four minute to go, Sacramento's loosehead achieved a hat trick as he again barreled across the try line. The conversion put Sacramento's lead up 30-7. Fresno again turned up the heat and attacked Sacramento's sideline. Settling into pick-and-go movements, Fresno worked its way to within ten meters of the try line prior to Sacramento being penalized for offside. The tap-and-go from five meters out led to a try-line stand. The ball was visible but Sacramento bodies were impeding access. Not wanting to blow up for a scrum as the match was at full time, the referee got the body parts to move allowing Fresno access to the ball. Unfortunately, Sacramento's scrum half decided to grab onto the ball (still in the ruck) earning him a trip to the bin for a professional foul. Harsh? Perhaps. Warranted? Yes. Fresno again attacked off the penalty kick but Sacramento was wily enough to get hands on the ball that the ball carrier did not want to release. Sacramento was awarded the penalty and kicked to touch to finish the match.

Seconds: SACRAMENTO 28 – Fresno 5 Referee: Phil Ulibarri

Touch Judge: Scott Wood
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz
Clouds of dust. Dehydration. Knock ons. Forward passing. Sprints along the outside. Not pretty but definitely enjoyable.

Arroyo Grande 6 – EAST PALO ALTO 50 Referee: Sandy Robertson

The Razorbacks had too much speed and youth for Arroyo Grande, running away with the game in the second half when they scored 31 unanswered points. Arroyo Grande spent most of the last 5 minutes of the match within 10 meters of the EPA try line, came within inches of touching the ball down, but in the end were denied.

Seconds: ARROYO GRANDE 33 – EPA Razorback 29 Ref: Robertson

Unable to field a full 15 the AG 2nds pulled out a wide open, 10 try, 10-a-side victory by converting 4 of 5 tries.

Vallejo 13 – RENO 34 Referee: Chris Tucker

Evaluator: David Williamson

Thanks to referee coach Dave Williamson for the many pointers that came my way before, during and after the game.

A glorious sunny day greeted the assembled players, refs, family and friends who gathered to play the inaugural competitive match at Vallejo's new pitch on Mare Island in the old naval base. The pitch is fast and flat, if perhaps a little longer than regulation -- it used to be a gridiron field, and the posts are concreted into the ground 120 yards apart (8 metres longer than the 100m standard). This was made a little more interesting by having the 22s painted only about 15m from the goal line, which the Reno fullback found to his cost when he called for the mark early on in the game.

Spirits were high, the pig was roasting away, the USA flag was raised from the mast just before kickoff, and then the game got underway at a later-than-usual 1.30pm, with the Reno team champing at the bit to get started. They drew first blood, as a Vallejo infringement in front of the posts led to an easy 3 points after 14 minutes. The Vallejo team quickly shot back with some hard-charging centre running leading to a try (unconverted) shortly after. Another penalty to Reno and a responding try to Vallejo led to a score of 10-6 to the hosts at the half. It would have been 12-6 had the kicker asked before approaching to adjust the ball on the tee -- the Reno fullback charged, stole the ball and that was that.

10 minutes into the second half, Vallejo stretched it to 13-6 with another penalty, but soon they were down to 14 after an ill-advised punch right in front of the ref. At that point, Reno took over, spreading the ball wide past a tiring back line, and running in 2 tries with their man advantage. A third try was nearly scored when the winger stepped out just before going over, but it just delayed the score as Reno snaffled the ball at the lineout to score. The winger then got his revenge and put one over in the corner just before time, and the fullback earned 5 bucks off his #6 by betting on the kick that he proceeded to slot down the middle of the uprights to cap a 6/7 performance with the boot.

34-13 the final, but credit to a much-improved Vallejo team who had the upper hand for the first 60 minutes, and who provided one heck of a spread in the clubhouse afterwards.

MARIN 50 – U. of San Francisco 14 Referee: Chris Labozzetta

CALIFORNIA 78 – St. Mary's 22 Referee: Pete Smith

Seconds: CALIFORNIA 98 – St. Mary's 3 Referee: Preston Gordon

Evaluator: Mike Malone

CHICO STATE 17 – Stanford 10 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Saturday I left for Chico around 10 under perfectly blue skies and great rugby weather.

I arrived at the pitch to find Chico in force and Stanford MIA. Seems the Stanford bus neglected to stop at the truck scales in Cordelia, got pulled over by the CHP and had to turn around, go back through the scales and then submit to a rigorous safety inspection, ouch!! I, like the Stanford bus driver, thought it was a TRUCK scale, but oh contraire, not so!! They finally showed up a little after 1, more like 1:20.

We kicked off at 2. The game was an evenly matched affair with Chico scoring a converted try and Stanford scoring a penalty kick in the first half.

The second half was more of the same back and forth with Chico scoring an unconverted try and a penalty kick and Stanford scoring a converted try.

Seconds: CHICO STATE 43 – Stanford 7 Referee: Dan Wilson

Mentor watching: Jim Crenshaw

What a beautiful day it was driving up from Sacramento. Coming from Fresno, it’s easy to forget how clear the air can seem in the north end of the valley. Being that it was my first time on Chico State’s pitch, I was impressed with the regulation size as well as the prime location. It was hard to believe that the game against Cal a few weeks ago was played on a “torn up field” on the same pitch. After the fervent pitch finish of the ‘A’ game with CSU winning, their B side picked up the pace scoring quickly with a converted try within 6 minutes. CSU controlled tight ball well, with some great hitting going on by the forwards by both teams. Chico seemed to have more talent due to experience which they capitalized on several times. Half-time score: CSU B 19 - Stanford B 7.

The second half seemed to find Chico in rhythm. They dominated in both the forwards and the backs with the quick transition from Stanford mistakes resulting in scores-a-plenty. Even with the game decided early, Stanford still worked on its fundamentals. It was evident that experience was the major difference in the game, but the talent pool for both sides is exciting to see. Final score: CSU B 43 - Stanford B 7.

Nevada 15 – SACRAMENTO STATE 20 Referee: Don Pattalock

Seconds: Nevada – Sac State

Humboldt State – Santa Clara Referee: Sam Davis
No report received.

SANTA ROSA JC 100 – San Jose State 0 Referee: Cary Bertolone

Referee Coach: Jake Rubin

I handled the match between San Jose State Univ vs Santa Rosa J.C. held at For Pete's Sake on 2/16/08. The kick-off at 1:15 (some of visiting team arrived late) was followed by a fast paced game with a lot of break-aways, kicking and inevitably, a lot of tries by Santa Rosa. The score was 48-0 at the half and an even 100-0 by the final whistle. Despite the score, SJSU never gave up and kept a good attitude and SRJC also acted like gentlemen as good winners should! Jake Rubin was my evaluator and gave me some good half-time and post game advice and I appreciated it.

UC Santa Cruz 10 – CAL MARITIME 59 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

Field conditions at UCSC were close to perfect on a sunny day overlooking the scenic Monterey Bay. What a location!

Cal Maritime established forward dominance right from the start and went into half-time leading 24-10. UCSC scored two opportunistic tries through their backs, but as the game wore on, the home team could not keep up with the visitors who controlled both possession and tempo. Cal Maritime conducted a clinic in rolling mauls with efficient ball retention and disciplined set-pieces.

Seconds; UC Santa Cruz 0 – CAL MARITIME 42 Ref: Ranaweera

In the 2nd XV match with 30-min halves, Cal Maritime won 42-0.

STANFORD Women 43 – Chico State Women 19 Referee: John Coppinger

(Stanford 36, Chico 7 at the half)

Two teams fairly matched went at it hard on a beautiful afternoon on the Stanford campus.

The first half score line flatters Stanford a bit. The teams were fairly matched in the pack and both threatened to score from inside the defenders' 22 a number of times. The difference was in the back-line where Stanford showed power and pace and turned Chico turnovers into long scores a number of times. (Stanford #15 Jessica Watkins can flat out fly.)

Chico battled hard until the end.

Stanford: 7 tries, 4 conversions.
Chico State: 2 tries, 2 conversions.

Seconds: Stanford 44 – CHICO STATE 53 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Thank God I've been doing my sprint drills. Lots of 40m + breaks for tries.

California women 5 – UC DAVIS 20 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

A great game played by two well drilled and competitive sides in front of a goodish crowd assembled at the hastily readied Job Corps field at Treasure Island. The Davis ladies came out firing on all cylinders putting 10 points on the board on the first half. Although Berkeley had the tendency to slow the ball down, Davis kept the pressure on at the second half scoring two more unconverted tries. Berkeley refused to give up though and made a number of good breaks on top of their fierce defense. Their last break resulted in a try on the very last play of the day. A fantastic match enjoyed by all involved, yours truly, and the vocal crowd.

St. Mary's women 17 – SACRAMENTO STATE 19 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

A pleasant day in Moraga and a close match won by the visitors (Lady Hornets?) on the last play.

A slow first half; St Mary's 5-0. But with tacklers finally rolling away and scrum halfs aggressively extracting ruck ball, the second 40 minutes saw five tries. On the last play in injury time, St Mary's won the scrum but turned it over. From about midfield Sac State spun the ball wide, broke the back line and touched it down between the posts. The conversation kick gave them the match.


SOUTH BAY EXILES 17 – Humboldt 0 Referee: Chris Fisher

Biggest winner was Tina Watts who has started up the first girls and boys high school rugby teams in Humboldt this year.

MONTGOMERY – Windsor Referee: Sean Peters

Checked in with both coaches at the beginning, to see if everybody was CIPP, Montgomery was up to date, but Windsor was not no CIPP no pics. I asked if any were he said some I asked him if he any illegal players and he said yes, the team was full of un legal players, both coaches agreed to have Windsor to a forfeit.

Montgomery looked strong on the first half leading 10-5, second half the Windsor boys, spun it wide and scored 2 unanswered trys, 10-15 Windsor, Montgomery played hard and had 2 knock-ons in the 2 and 3 meter mark .....

Second game (25)min game, 10-5 Windsor note; this is high school rugby and Windsor had a lot of out-of-school players, I know they want to be able to play, but there is a men’s club and we’re dying for players, I think by their next game they should have to have paper-work ready. Thanks for the game!

Oakland Military Institute 0 – BERKELEY RHINOS 15 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

A tale of experience vs. inexperience as the Berkeley Rhinos easily dispatched the Oakland Military Institute 15-0. The Oakland side, augmented by a few players from another school and late for kick off, had the clear disadvantage from the get go, but this did not keep them from playing with spirit and dedication.

The Rhinos benefited from more cohesion and an apparent longer time with each other, but were made to work hard for their victory. The hits came hard and fast, but as Berkeley kept their composure the match stayed clean, safe, fun and for them victorious.

LANCERS 26 - Cougars 5 Referee: Chris Tucker

A well-organised Lancer unit dealt comfortably with a Cougar team that played hard but made too many mistakes to put together consistent phases. Apart from a couple of dubious incidents which left the young bloods involved in the bin, the match was played hard and in good spirit by both teams, and the home team came out victors by 4 tries to 1.

Seconds: Lancers 0 - COUGAR 10 Ref: Tucker

SAN MATEO 17 – Live Oak 14 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Both teams played a very competitive match. Live Oak ahead at the half 7-5 & 14-5 in the second. San Mateo came back & was driving at the try line again as time expired. Beautiful pitch in Morgan Hill overlooking hills & across from an old winery, Guglielmo (est. 1925), which I recommend--probably the best winery across the street from a high school that I've ever been to.

Peninsula Green 13 – EAST PALO ALTO 50 Referee: JC Van Staden

With a great pitch and about 74ºF, Peninsula won the toss, and decided to kick. Right from the start both teams made their presence felt with some monster tackles. But it was East Palo Alto that opened the score bored with some aggressive running by the 8th man right through the middle of the field.

PG had no answers for this strong running, and conceded another converted try before answering back with a penalty kick and an 80 yard turnover play, that ended up in a try in the right corner by PG. EPA just took that as a little rest, and hit back with another 2 tries before the half.

With the score 22 to 8, EPA turned on the pace again, with the captain running holes through the middle with excellent support on his outsides. By adding 4 converting tries in the second half, and PG only able to answer back once, the end score was 50 – 13.

CHRISTIAN BROTHERS 29 – Vacaville 12 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Friday afternoon I took off work a little early to ref the Christian Brothers vs Vacaville high school match. It was another match of contrasting halves. CB scored early and often in the first half, with no answers from Vacaville. CB tallied 4 tries in the first half and led 22 to 0 at half. The second half was a different match with Vacaville scoring 2 tries to one for CB.

Davis Rugby Club 7 – JESUIT MARAUDERS 36 Referee: Scott Wood

Location: Pioneer Park, Davis
Weather: Sunny (directly in my eyes) open skies

I arrived around 3 pm to find Mike Purcell and John Shorey, Davis and Jesuit coaches respectively, installing flag posts and solving the world's problems. We discussed the upcoming match prior to inspecting boots and giving front row instruction. Both teams feature big boys on the brink of manhood. Jesuit kicked off the match and Davis quickly drove up the field. The home side attacked and defended extremely well keeping Jesuit under constant pressure. Ten minutes into the half, Jesuit recovered a knock on, passed the ball around and sprinted down the pitch to score an unconverted try. Davis knuckled down and continued its attack and defense. Just prior to halftime, Jesuit scored a penalty goal to bring its lead to a tenuous 8-0.

Davis kicked off the second half with its continued attack on Jesuit. Seven minutes in the home side was able to break the defense and scored a try. The conversion was successful bringing Davis to within one point of Jesuit. For 16 minutes the two teams settled down around mid field passing the ball left and right, exploring potential holes only to become flesh magnets. With 12 minutes remaining, Jesuit's loosehead prop scored off a barreling rumble over the try line. Davis continued with the its attack and defense holding to Jesuit's similar moves. An intercepted pass by Jesuit provided the opportunity for an agile wing to score with five minutes remaining to increase Jesuit's lead to 22 points. With full-time at hand, Jesuit attacked up the middle, passed wide and, despite a dangerous tackle, scored in the corner. The kicker slotted a difficult kick to close the match with Jesuit winning 36-7.

Unfortunately, I was unable to provide referee coaching for Mike Purcell as Jesuit did not have the numbers for a B-side match.

DIABLO Frosh/Soph 29 – DLS Frosh/Soph 5 Referee: Edward Barfels

The first half was close with Diablo leading 12 to 5. The second half, Diablo's defense stiffened and their offense played good second & third phase play. Diablo scored three times in the second half to close out the game with a 29 to 5 score.

Visitors and Hosts
Mitch Damm from Texas, Bjorn Stumer, Jackie Finck and Phil Griffiths from New England enliven the Golden Gate clubhouse on Saturday.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris