Tuesday, March 25, 2008




It gives us great pleasure to announce two more promotions for deserving Pelicans: Anna McMahan and Tom Zanarini have earned the grade of C2.


NorCal will be hosting Pacific Coast playoffs on Friday/Saturday April 4/5.

Women’s college D1 playoffs will be at Stanford, with four games each day. The teams will be Stanford, BYU, UC Davis, Nevada, Chico State, Oregon State, California and the University of Oregon.

Men’s college D1 playoffs will be at either Davis or Moraga, depending on who wins this Thursday’s St. Mary’s – UC Davis match. There will be two games each day.

PLEASE let us know if you can run touch.

We definitely won’t have enough on Saturday, because we have so many games of our own to cover. But if you can only run touch for FRIDAY, that’s fine too: let us know.



The NCRRS will be offering the IRB Touch Judging Courses this Sunday, March 30.

The course will begin at 11 AM and should be done by 5 PM. It will be held at the SF/GG clubhouse on Treasure Island.

Bruce Carter and Mike Malone will be the instructors. Please contact Mike Malone if you are interested in attending:


This course is necessary for club members who wish to run touch for their own teams and also be empowered to flag and report foul play. It is also a requirement for referees who wish to be promoted to C1 (or above), and it would be an excellent refresher for those who wish to work the many upcoming playoffs that NorCal will be hosting.



CALIFORNIA 4 – St. Cuthbert’s (Durham Univ.) 33 Referee: John Pohlman

Touch Judges: Eric Rauscher, Mike King

Wow what a game!

Mike, Eric and I walked down to the teams’ training area around 3:20 for the boot check. Both teams were warming up. Cal was asked to play their reserve side. The Cal reserves still are big and athletic.

St. Cuthbert's (SC) looked a bit smaller than the Cal team. SC is the fourth team at their University. Their captain, Anthony, explained the first three sides played for and in the University division. They were the first college team.

Witter Field is a great place referee. National Anthem for both countries, fans and great pitch.

Well SC started fast. Winger Holbrook from SC scored his first of four tries eleven minutes in. This try was a bit controversial. SC kicked over the Cal defense and #11 took off. No one knew what pace he had, yet. As he was about to overtake the defender and gather the ball, the Cal defender slowed down and stepped into his path. SC #11 kept his running line and the Cal defender went down. Holbrook picked up the ball side stepped a defender and scored. I guess I never started refereeing to make friends. And it didn't seem I was making many at Cal.

SC fullback Ward scored next followed by Holbrook's second at 14 minutes.

Score SC 21 Cal 0.

Cal's size and power started taking control, led by flankers Law and Klaas. Cal scored three tries in twelve minutes. The first by Klass and the third by Law at 32 minutes. Cal finished the first half with a penalty and another try to lead at halftime Cal 29-SC 21. CS made three consecutive tackles in goal holding the ball up with about five minutes to go in the first half.

Mike, Eric and I discussed strategy at half time. Cal needed and wanted to keep the ball in the bigger stronger forwards. SC wanted to kick for field position and spin the ball to speedster Holbrook. We wondered how long SC could keep up the outstanding tackling against the physical Cal side.

SC poached a ball off the kickoff and spun wide to Holbrook for a 60 plus meter dash. Cal 29 SC 28.

Cal started keeping the ball tight and SC kept up their tackling. Cal's Captain #9 Mase picked up a rucked ball on the two meter line and snaked in for a try at 15 minutes. Cal scored their final try of the day two minutes later. Cal 42 SC 28 with 23 minutes to play.

Cal's coaching, discipline and game pattern looked to be too much for the English. Cal made a couple of substitutions. One was a prop who in his first scrum engaged early and got the first scrum penalty of the game. The reason I bring this up is the next scrum his mark left the field injured and we had to play unopposed scrums the rest of the game. This really depowered the Cal team. Holbrook got free again at 25 minutes for his fourth try of the day. Cal 42 SC 33.

SC kept tackling and put pressure on Cal. Most of the last ten minutes Cal was defending. To Cal's credit they rose to the competition and made their tackles to finish off the win.

At 40 minutes I looked at my watch. Thought ‘would anyone care if I played another 10 minutes or so’. Probably, thus the whistle for the end of the game.

Final Cal 42 SC 33.

St. Cuthbert's is a team coached by players. They have no non-player coaches. The students set up the trip and seemed to be supervising themselves.

Cal Maritime – USF Rescheduled for March 27


Petaluma Leghorns 6 – STANISLAUS HARLOTS 38 Referee: Mike Gadoua

[Editor’s Note: We received a call from the home team at 10:15 AM Saturday morning saying that while the opposition knew this game had been rescheduled, no-one bothered to tell the referee society.

[Both of the folks who were called were preparing to referee 11 AM games of their own. So we named a few refs who lived in Sonoma-Marin and suggested he practice his sweet-talk.

[As you can see, Mike Gadoua rose to the occasion.]

The Leghorns were able to scrape 15 players prior to kickoff, and drawing first blood with a penalty kick it appeared that the hosting side would put on a Game, but the Harlots simply wanted the ball more and were willing to pick it up when it was available.

Under grand weather, Petaluma’s only points were in the first half (6-12) and it appeared that a fight was under way. However, the fighting in the second half was mostly extra-curricular and the captains were advised to counsel their respective teams into focusing on Rugby.

The Harlot backs proved just too overpowering pretty much dominated play in the second half. Their pack even demonstrated a few good rolling mauls that proved difficult for the Leghorns to stop.

After it was over, the players made up, and retired to the pub.

Chico State 20 – SAC STATE 29 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Referee Coach: David Williamson

A beautiful day in Chico, about as warm as I've experienced in California so far (a nice break from all the shaded redwoods of Mill Valley, life is so tough here).

Arrived at the pitch plenty early enough to watch Dave Williamson ref the CSU U-19's v. Live Oak HS. My hat's of to Dave who reffed the first game then stayed on his feet to evaluate the A & B side referees. Many thanks.

CSU v. SSU was a great match, the first half score being 13-12 in favor of Chico. It seemed they ran out of gas in the 2nd, and Sac had some wheels in the backs to dot down a few breakaway tries. Great game to officiate and spectate.

Good luck to Chico St. in the playoffs.

Seconds: Chico State 0 – SAC STATE 33 Referee: Jim Read

Touch Judge: Tom Zanarini
Referee Coach: David Williamson

The rather warm game following the 1st side showcased hard running and good buildups from both sides. Good tackling and reasonably efficient ball recycling made for good open play. In the first half, the two teams were pretty evenly matched. With ten to go in the second half though, after repeated infringements, the Wildcats found themselves a man down. Following the yellow card, the Chico defense began to make small mistakes which the Hornets capitalized on.

Nevada 12 – STANFORD 46 Referee: John Pohlman

Touch Judge: JC Van Staden

University of Nevada Reno hosted Stanford in the last D-1 league game of the year. Stanford is in the playoffs and UNR is playing for pride.

I flew into Reno Saturday morning and was picked up at the airport by UNR coach Pat Swift. A beautiful day for rugby. UNR plays on an artificial turf field marked for soccer.

The game was fast with pretty good defense. Both teams seemed to be settling in for a close competitive game. The first score came 18 minutes in by UNR captain and #10 Chad Guireri.

Stanford started taking control of the game half way through the first half. They seemed to have all the ball and kept pressure on the UNR side.

Stanford scored two tries in the next ten minutes. The first by winger #11 Jon Hofius. Hofius scored two more in the game and knocked one on in the try zone. Half time score Stanford 12 UNR 5.

Stanford totally dominated the second half. They had 70 plus ball possession and scored 34 points.

We had a minor dust up seven minutes in. JC explained the third man in from Reno and fourth in from Stanford should be excused for ten minutes. Thanks JC.

By the way players, referees may allow two players to push and shove a bit, but we have no tolerance for the third and forth into a situation.

With fifteen minutes left. UNR #15 was sent off for repeat infringements. Otherwise this was a fairly clean game.

One of the UNR players returned me to the airport after I ran touch for the first half of JC's game.

Seconds: Nevada 10 – Stanford 10 Referee: JC Van Staden

The game started out good, with both teams doing constructive rucks and mauls, and swinging it wide. Unfortunately because of spring break, unfit players were taking the field and we ended up in 2 red cards for punching and head-butting, and the game got called 15 min into the second half, with the score level at 10 all.

HUMBOLDT STATE 18 – Santa Rosa 3 JC Referee: Scott Wood

TJs: Team supplied
First half spectator of note: Mike King
Location: Humboldt State, Arcata
Weather: Comfortably warm

This is the third iteration of the Culley Shield of which the Lumberjacks have won on the previous two occasions. This year, SRJC was in second place with eyes on the playoffs while injury-plagued HSU was missing the playoffs for the first time in many years. The teams were a bit slow to realize they were not going to be allowed to infringe at breakdowns. SRJC scored a penalty goal early and contested tenaciously. Unfortunately, 99% of their patterns off rucks involved running to the weak side. Predictable patterns notwithstanding, the visitors were able to come within scoring distance on numerous occasions but lost the ball to knock ons and tackle/ruck penalties. HSU countered with speed in the backs and driving runs by the forwards to take the half time lead 8-3.

The second half was much the same with infringements lessening (some). Nonetheless, HSU scored a penalty goal then lost a man to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle. SRJC was able to mount pressure on the hosts but still were unable to cross the goal line. Humboldt scored a short-handed try and conversion to extend its marginal lead to 18-3. SRJC continued to attack--even down a man to the bin--with predictable running lines infused with excellent passing in contact.

Thanks to both teams for a well-contested match.

San Jose State 10 – DIABLO GAELS U23, 107 Referee: Anna McMahan

Referee Coach: Dixon Smith

Despite weather forecasts for overcast skies in San Jose, SJSU hosted the match with beautiful sunny skies and a well-lined pitch. I wasn't sure what to expect from the match since I had not seen either team before, and watching the pre-game warmups did not clarify my expectations any. Diablo's warm up seemed extremely casual, while SJSU was more focused but struggled to have 15 before the kick-off.

Once the game started, it was quickly clear which team would dominate. Diablo scored within two minutes, and never looked back. They racked up 10 tries in the first half from 5 different players, and converted 4 tries. SJSU played with persistence, but had a difficult time containing the hard running Diablo players, who offloaded extremely well in the tackle. SJSU slotted one penalty goal for their only points in the half.

The second half was rather more of the same, with the Diablo line up changing throughout (non-league match = open subs). They again scored within the first two minutes, and managed nine tries from five different players in the second half. They only converted two of the tries, for a full time score of 107. SJSU persisted in their play, and were rewarded with their only try of the match, scored on a break by their outside center and then converted. Tempers stayed surprisingly even during such a one-sided 80 minutes, with only one altercation of note. Kudos to Jad and Ben, SJSU and Diablo captains respectively, for communicating with me and their teammates effectively.

Thank you to Dixon Smith for coming to watch my game and for the coaching - as tired as my feet were after the game I was happy to talk through your valuable feedback. Thanks also to Bruce for coming by and providing helpful pointers and radios.

HUMBOLDT 59 – Mendocino 5 Referee: Mike King

Location: Samoa
Preamble by Scott Wood:

This match kicked off late as the college and men's clubs share goal posts, albeit in different locations. It's cooler on the peninsula but that did not thwart a relatively good-size crowd of 30+ spectators from the previous two games to attend. I'll let Mike describe the game but wish to thank the spectators for providing refreshments and Old Growth for the post-match feed at the newly remodeled Humboldt Brews.

Report by Mike King:

On a glorious day at Manila Community Park, the home town side welcomed the visitors with a deluge of tries, not the more customary rain. Mendocino started short-sided and by agreement, recruited a player from Humboldt. It was not enough to diminish the attack of the hosts, who amassed most of their tries on brilliant runs from their centers, sometimes finishing off team movements and sometimes solo efforts. The kicking game was also generally quite good with 7 for 9 converted goals. Mendo capitalized on a driving series of rucks and a banging last move to come up with 5 points near the end of the match. Despite having no subs, they acquitted themselves well by playing hard through the entire match.

SF/GOLDEN GATE 48 – St. Cuthbert’s (Durham Univ.) 10 Referee: Tony Redmond

A social game of rugby (uncontested scrums) played between a mixture of players from SFGG (including some of their RSL team) against a physically inferior English team who were tired after their game against Cal two days previously resulted in an emphatic home team win. SFGG’s physical advantage was about 30 pounds per player and this factor, combined with their extra experience, was more than enough to overcome the English visitors.


PELICANS – Loggers Referee: Pete Smith

It seemed like all the refs that are striving to make the National Panel had a coach/mentor they could turn to for advice/motivation. I am well beyond needing one so having one at this point is critical. I had talked to Bruce Carter about my situation and he suggested Tony Redmond. I can’t tell you how grateful I am he did; he is just what I need. Someone who will be brutally honest with me and tell me what I need to do/how much work I have to put in to get to the next level, the level I have been striving for since day one.

Tony showed up at my game with enough time to offer up his son as a TJ, who did a fine job. Eric Rauscher was there as well, who learned rule one in TJing-wait for the ball to land before raising your flag as the wind or spin may bring it back into play. Before the game, the Pelicans started with their version of the Haka, which struck fear into the hearts of the Logger women-LOL! Despite the light-hearted opening for the Pelicans, they started out the gate like a house on fire. It took a few minutes for the Logger women to collect themselves, but once they did-it was game on! It was a hard fought contest with a few individual breakdowns and some hard earned luck that paced the mighty Pelicans to a 27-7 halftime lead.

Tony met with me at halftime and told me exactly what I needed to hear-the TRUTH! He ripped me for being effectively lazy. Despite the fact I had the game well in hand, I looked slow and apathetic around the field. My work rate and attention to detail were shocking-the honest truth. I had far too many penalties and despite the pace of the game, I looked out of shape and slow, again the truth. Most of my penalties were either a result of my lack of presence at the tackle or were not material. I needed to work harder, ref every game to the best of my abilities and give 110% for 80 minutes. Likewise, my attention to detail wasn’t there-‘holding backs when the lineout maul had moved inside 5 meters’, etc...He was beyond not impressed, he was disappointed. Again the truth-period!-Exactly what I need.

The second half was much like the first with the Pelicans dominating all phases of play. Tina Nesberg came on in the second half and showed glimpses of her world class talent after her knee surgery (and she makes a mean rice crispy treat). She scored a try picking up off the back and did a swerve move that left the defender standing clueless. As of 22 minutes into the second half I had 3 penalties. I was putting in the work and making the game better for the players-ISN”T THAT WHAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO DO?! My presence at the tackle seemed to prevent players from taking chances that I wouldn’t see something. The game really opened up and it was the guy on the sideline that made it happen. The Pelicans won- the score ultimately not critical as these players are showcasing their skill to the National Team coaches for selection to the next level.

I learned a lesson that I had been taught in the past, when you walk onto the field, the players not only deserve, but demand the best game you can referee. They work far too hard during the week and there is more at stake than you realize to try and just go through the motions. I am both embarrassed and inspired, I know I have the talent, but need to put that talent on display each and every time I step on the field AND I need to work hard to not only look fitter and faster, but BE fitter and faster. I owe it to myself, but more importantly, I owe it to the players. There is no substitute for hard work, sprints and just plain sweat.


LAMORINDA HS 42– Piedmont HS 15 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

Touch Judge: Rob Hendrickson.
Referee Coach and Videographer: Dave Williamson

Evening kickoff on the artifical turf at Miramonte HS in Orinda. Piedmont played well to tie 10-10 at the half, and stayed within 17-15 early in the second half. After that, Lamorinda's centers found gaping holes in the Piedmont defense to score 5 unanswered ties. Lamorinda won going away, 8 tries to 2. Much thanks to Rob Hendrickson as TJ and Dave Williamson as ref coach.

SILICON VALLEY 33 – South Bay Exiles 31 Referee: Bruce Carter

Friday night my wife and I were guests of Pete and Leah Smith at the Sharks-Ducks game. The Sharks scored after only 40 seconds but needed a double-power-play goal to win it 2-1.

My wife commented how much she, knowing little about hockey, enjoyed the game. Which led us to a discussion about the joys of close contests, the ebb and flow, the narrative feel of an interestingly-plotted competition.

Saturday morning I was to experience this anew from the referee’s cockpit.

Silicon Valley hosted the South Bay Exiles at Cupertino Middle School in Sunnyvale. It was good to see old friends coaching both teams: Norm Boccone and Tom Martinez with the hosts and Roland Maitland with the visitors.

It didn’t start out so promising; the first fifteen minutes consisted mostly of penalties and scrums. The players seemed to be in doubt about what they could do on the ground and as to the general location of the offside lines.

So I employed my Acme THUNDERER: Take Heed of Undeniable Noise: Doubt and Errant Repetition Emphatically Removed.

As a result, SV converted a penalty while the Exiles narrowly missed one.

Next ensued fifty-five minutes of quality rugby: enterprising, skilled stuff.

In what remained of the first half, SV scored and converted a try while the Exiles did the same twice, 10-14 to the visitors at the break. I commented to my touch judge what a good game this was, and it hadn’t even started yet!

Silicon Valley scored their tries with a combination of powerful running and offloading in the forwards and a backs corps that could quickly move the ball from touchline to touchline. The Exiles tended to have more of a big-play offense, particularly the #8 who simply picked up two balls and ran forty or more meters to score each time.

Silicon Valley scored first to go up 15-14. Exiles answered with a converted try, 15-21.

Then SV was awarded a penalty within range for their captain, Paul Martinez. As the sideline staff called for a shot at goal, some of the Exiles relaxed and moved into ‘kick at goal’ defensive positioning and posture.

That’s when Martinez quick-tapped and fired the ball way out on the right wing where their #11 made three tacklers miss and scored a fine try. 20-21 and another razor-thin margin.

SV took the lead when their #10 dropped a goal, 23-21.

With about fifteen minutes left, the Exile #8 made the second of his solo efforts, picking up from a scrum far out on the left and scoring in the right corner, 23-26.

With ten minutes left, the Exiles did a kick-and-chase. The SV #12 fielded the ball but was isolated. Three Exiles converged and grappled for the ball with him. When #12’s knee touched the ground I called out, “RELEASE, RED.”

As much as it pains me to say so in a public forum, this would have been a good time not to listen to the referee. His mates were only arriving. When Red let go of the ball the Black player who was on the ‘wrong’ side of Red, still on his feet and with his hands already on the ball, did a quick about-face and ran ten meters to score.

Now it was 23-31. Unfortunately, this centered conversion was missed.

SV needed to score twice. Their #11 got his second tally, again running through a crowd, to bring it to 28-31. Exciting stuff and less than a minute to play!

The Exiles kicked off, won the ball, and worked it downfield. We ended up in touch with just enough time to restart, SV throw-in. I informed the players that the next dead ball would end the match.

SV won the throw and worked through several phases, up to the Exile ten-meter line. The ball was dropped and an Exile picked it up. As the defense swarmed he responded to cries of, “Get it out, get it out!” by throwing the ball into touch.

Well, now: that’s not a dead ball. That’s a penalty.

SV conferred over this: forty meters out, fifteen meters in from the left touch. Kickable to tie the match?

The decision was to trust the right winger again. After all, he had the two tries already. Martinez tapped, the ball skipped to the right, the winger made three more people miss but others were ready for him. Tackle. Layback. Ship it left.

Martinez got the ball again in mid-field and took a notion – what better way to celebrate his recent acceptance to UCLA than by scoring a match-winning try? – but met resolute defenders just short of the line. The ball wasn’t so much passed as it dribbled out to the left where the Silicon Valley hooker collected it, stretched out at body’s length and into legend, recording a famous victory.

TRI-VALLEY 28 – Lamorinda JV 19 Referee: John Coppinger

At Livermore, a solid team effort and a commitment to win the ruck ball saw Tri-Valley overcome three long try scoring runs by Lamo's wing Chase Herring. It was tied 14-all at the half.

PENINSULA GREEN 36 – College Park 15 Referee: Chris Fisher
Seconds: Pen Green 0 – College Park 0 Ref: Fisher

Humboldt girls HS 0 – DAVIS 17 Referee: Scott Wood

TJs: Team supplied

A cold morning on a dew-soaked field at Fortuna High School. The marine layer had yet to burn off as we kicked off at 9 a.m. Davis arrived with 15 players while Fortuna was on hand with several more. Both teams have some very good skills that they use to their advantage when they do not bunch up around the contact point. Fortuna's tackling featured superb double-teaming--one tackler for the torso and the other for the legs. Unfortunately, this can create an overlap and a savvy ballcarrier can easily off load the ball for further advancement. Davis went into half time leading 12-0.

The second half had both teams playing with more discipline.

Davis lost a player to injury to a possible dislocated shoulder while putting on a bone-crushing tackle to her opponent. Side note: ALL TEAMS SHOULD HAVE TRAINED MEDICAL STAFF PRESENT!!! Relying upon a spectator who coincidentally is a veterinarian (no offense, F.M.) is not the best solution. This applies to all levels of play.

Shortly after the injury, Davis lost another player, this time to the sin bin for dangerous tackling. Regardless the overlap, Davis was able to score an additional try. Fortuna was never out of this game. Kudos to both teams, coaches, and supporters for another enjoyable match.


March 15

HAYWARD 46 – Diablo Gaels 17 Referee: Tony Kennedy

This visiting referee was delivered to the field and, there, learnt it was to be played on an artificial surface. Even at his age, some things are new. The soccer players left the field, the rugby players took it over but the game waited for the arrival of the posts. They did so on the back of a pick-up in the form of 6" plastic plumbing, looking as tired as the referee after a week of wining, dining and mountain climbing. The game began.

The hosts were large Polynesians, a 300 lbs apiece front row, and the quick boys out in the backs. Little English was spoken but they all knew the game well. The visitors were a mix that included a stray English prop. The hosts racked up the scores steadily through the first half but were given nothing by the visitors who tackled anything that moved and were unlucky not to have scored by half-time. The second half had the hosts fade as they gave a game to their substitutes and managed only a penalty. The visitors, however, came alive, scoring three tries, one the best of the match. The referee enjoyed the backchat between the hosts and the visitors' Polynesians who ran at each other, flat out, and tackled like trains.

This referee judges his game on the reaction of the players at no-side. He wasn't let down. Both sides knew they'd been in a real match. The handshakes went on for some time. Even the coaches were happy. The highlight was the visitors' coach, Harry, a big, been there, done that, South African. He offered his hand and, admitting the words were sticking in his throat, thanked the English referee for a very good game. In truth, with all the players looking to play in the spirit they did, all the referee had to do was keep them within the laws and hang on as they ran around the park.

If this is Californian rugby, give me more.


Taking a Break
Chris Tucker, Tony Kennedy and Andy Canning take five alongside the base of Upper Yosemite Falls, a sliver of rainbow promising clear skies above.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris