Tuesday, March 11, 2008




The NCRRS will be offering the IRB Touch Judging Courses, levels 1 – 4, on 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.


This Saturday, a Society dinner will be held at the historic Old Ship Saloon in San Francisco. Drinks at 6:30, dinner at 7:00 PM.


The Society will contribute $40 a person, which should completely cover the meal. We depend on our members to ensure that our exchange visitors are not able to pay for any drinks.

Bjorn Stumer has made these arrangements and needs to know how many to expect. Please respond to him if you will be attending and with how many guests:



CALIFORNIA 55 – Santa Clara 0 Referee: Preston Gordon
Touch Judge: Eric Rauscher

CAL MARITIME 63 – San Jose State 0 Referee: Dave Heath

Cal Maritime were too strong in all departments for San Jose State. The Maritime pack was dominant in the tight and they had a dynamic back row that cleaned up loose ball and made good ground with some strong running. To their credit, SJS never threw in the towel and kept their discipline through-out. In the second half SJS put on their gifted winger who went on some scintillating runs, although the Keelhaulers were always able to get numbers back to snuff out the threat.

A lovely pitch, great conditions and a good game - more please!

OLYMPIC CLUB 28 – San Mateo 5 Referee: Andy Canning (East Mids)

Touch Judges: Sandy Robertson, Frank Merrill

My first run out of the tour and once again the Pelicans have done me proud!

Stanford’s facilities are fantastic, a number of Pelicans had turned out to welcome me and even the Softball referees sharing the changing room took me to their hearts and entertained me whilst changing...they reveled in the fact that I had flown so far to do a game I wasn’t being paid for!! “That’s rugby” I said.

The game went off at a fair pace with both sides clearly up for the challenge, I had forgotten how committed some of the Islanders could be and fairly early on had to have a few words regarding the height of a tackle or two.

Towards the end of the first quarter I had had a few issues at the tackle so threw in a yellow which cleaned it up for a while. OC were clearly the better side overall and were beginning to stretch away but Sam Mateo never gave up.

The second half was disturbed a little by the almost constant cycle of replacements but the standard across the game remained quite high. An early yellow for a slap at a charge down saw SM reduced to 14 and then it was just a case of keeping it safe and enjoying the banter until the end.

My memories will be the awful feeling when about 15 minutes into the first half the jet lag and the Jamison’s kicked in, the look of intrigue on Frank’s face when he was watching those extreme Frisbee guys chanting and hopping up and down.

Quote of the game was from the OC sideline, following a messed up lineout call... "NO more Improvisation, stick to your drills!!"

A great game to start with...on with the tour!!

Seconds: OLYMPIC CLUB 24 – San Mateo 0 Referee: Sandy Robertson

The O Club loaned several players to San Mateo and then went and outscored the mongrel side 4 tries to none in an abbreviated match with uncontested scrums. The O Club was able to maintain possession for substantial periods, patiently waiting for advantages that led to breaks and scores.

Diablo Gaels 14 – SACRAMENTO LIONS 24 Referee: Scott Wood

Touch Judges: Tammy Cowan (MNRRS) and Gaels supporter
Evaluator: Dixon Smith
Location: Mustang Soccer Complex, Danville, CA
Weather: Cooling and dark supplanted by light standards

As my match was not until at least 7 p.m., S.O.--having arrived Friday evening--and I drove to Stanford to watch the venerable Andy Canning referee the Olympic Club/San Mateo match. Good thing we did as they were in need of a couple match cards. It was a good match to watch but I'll leave the report to someone else. We took our time driving through the south bay and eastern hills to Danville.

Mustang Soccer Club has built a very nice two-tiered complex with synthetic fields and a two-story clubhouse (still under construction). The owners are still apprehensive to the application of non-soccer markings on their pitch but hopefully the will come around. We arrived to find several girls' soccer matches underway. One parent was overheard asking a linesman about an awarded goal, "Was that good?" He replied, "Yes." She countered, "No, it wasn't." Some things don't change, regardless the sport...

We got off to a late start as we had to wait for the soccer match to finish. Both teams contested for the ball well but play generally stayed between the ten meter lines for what seemed to be a long period. Repeated infringements started to occur for both teams. Lions contested hard and low at the tackles and rucks but neither team wanted to release the ball or heed the offside line at rucks. Lions lost a man to the bin near halftime and just before the whistle had a Gaels player join him.

In the second half, the Lions increased the pressure and attacked hard scoring three tries, two converted, to increase the lead 24-0. During that same period, the visitors lost two more players to the sin bin for dangerous tackling (repeated offences).

With ten minutes remaining, the Gaels found its sweet spot and put together an impressive effort scoring two converted tries before the final whistle.

Kudos to both teams for playing a well-contested match. Thanks to Dixon Smith for taking the time to evaluate the match.

Seconds: Diablo Gaels 14 – SACRAMENTO LIONS 17 Ref: Wood

Touch Judges: Tammy Cowan (MNRRS) and John Compaglia

This session featured the Lions A-side with a handful of fresh legs and a Gaels' developmental side. Youth was the name of the game. Fast and fun. Both teams played on an even keel with the Gaels going into the half leading 7-0. The second half found the Lions on attack moving the ball through all 15 players scoring three tries. The first kicker missed and was replaced by the Lions' "small" prop who missed his first attempt (barely) but slotted a beautiful conversion on his third attempt. It is not often you get to see an interesting variation of Johnny Wilkinson. Go ugly early and often. The Gaels turned up and held onto the ball to score a break away try at full time.

SF/Golden Gate 19 – BA BARACUS 35 Referee: Chris Tucker

Assessor: Bryan Porter
A beautiful day down on Treasure Island for rugby, and I arrived early to find the Under 15 match under way. They seemed like they were having fun...I wandered inside to the clubhouse, got miked up so Bryan could listen to me, which he proceeded to do from a rickety scaffold on the halfway line on the East side of the pitch. Luckily it wasn't too windy, as the thing wasn't anchored to the ground.

BA started smartly, and some hard running and continual quick ball at the breakdown paid dividends with two early tries in the first 15 minutes. Both converted from difficult angles by the Baracus captain. A further penalty was slotted after SFGG were caught in front of the back foot for the third time. The offender had been in the game all of 2 minutes, coming on as a replacement, before sitting for 10. Such is life. SFGG answered with a try before the half (converted) and they went in with BA up by 17-7.

The second half started with a bang as BA stormed over for a try only 2 minutes in (converted again). Then the teams settled in to play longball with the boot, both teams showing strong counter-attack play by the back three. Around the 20 minute mark, SFGG were penalised for not releasing when tackled, and their touch judge just lost the plot. Exploding into a tirade of invective untainted by any resemblance to the Laws of the game, he informed me that I was somewhat lacking in mental faculty (amongst other more unprintable comment). In the words of Mr. Trump, "You're fired," and he was duly removed from the enclosure. Even the SFGG sideline didn't seem too upset.

A couple more penalties were chalked up by BA, before SFGG finally found their attacking stride out wide. Once denied by a forward pass, they bounced back with 2 tries (unconverted) to add some respectability to the score. However, the Baracus men had the final word, putting a try over from a scrum against the head as time expired. Sadly for the Baracus Boot, he missed the straightforward conversion, only slightly marring a fine 6/7 performance. Not often you have a better day than Wilko. Cipriani will get his break soon. But I digress. Fine game.

Shout out to the Baracus lock (nameless, my apologies) who picked up the whistle for the 2nds match which was unassigned. He did a creditable job.

Seconds: SFGG – BA Baracus Referee: Nameless Baracus Lock

Thank you to the fill-in referee for helping out. We hope you and the players enjoyed the run!

SEAHAWKS 47 – Santa Rosa 15 Referee: John Pohlman

San Jose hosted Santa Rosa at Cupertino High School this past weekend. Silicon Valley high school was playing San Mateo high School when I arrived.

Upon approaching the Santa Rosa coach I was informed that last week’s game had been called early due to Santa Rosa chatter. The coach, captain and pretty much everyone associated with Santa Rosa seemed to want to stop last week’s action from becoming a reputation.

Both teams seemed to have come to play rugby.

Santa Rosa got on the board first with a penalty kick. The rest of the first half was a hard and competitive rugby game. Both teams attacking with their forwards.

San Jose was rewarded with two tries. The first by my player of the game #8 Lucky.

First half score San Jose 14 Santa Rosa 3.

The first half was well tempered. With two fairly matched teams playing some pretty basic rugby. Neither team was trying to make plays they were not capable of finishing.

Good hard rugby. And very little chatter.

The second half started fast with tries by San Jose's #6 and #12 at five and eight minutes. Looked like San Jose was taking charge. Then in the blink of the eye Santa Rosa stormed back for two tries of their own at 13 and 17 minutes.

Santa Rosa's hard charging center scored the first. I remember refereeing him in his first season with Santa Rosa, this was four years ago and he was 18, thinking if he could stay healthy he would be a hand full. He has.

With 16 minutes left in the game the score was San Jose 18 Santa Rosa 15. James Hinkin’s foot was on today making all of his first four conversion attempts.

San Jose's prop took offense to Santa Rosa's flanker and a couple of fists few. Both were sent off at the 25 minute mark to cool down.

San Jose looked to have 40 players out. Santa Rosa had around 18-20.

San Jose started putting in some fresh legs and scored three more tries in the last fifteen minutes.

This was a fun competitive match to referee. I felt both teams focused on their opponent and not the referee.

Final San Jose 47 Santa Rosa 15.

Special thanks to the captains Dave from Santa Rosa and Jacko from San Jose.

Hinkin did miss one conversion to go six out of seven.

James Hinkin also volunteered to referee the second game. Santa Rosa was not quite as well disciplined in the second game.

I heard a comment about a first side opponent refereeing the game.

Easy solution. There is a referee clinic in San Francisco coming up. Every team should be sending someone.

Seconds: SEAHAWKS 29 – Santa Rosa 12 Referee: James Hinkin

Touch Judge: John Pohlman

With Santa Rosa only traveling with one side the A side gamely got ready for a second match against San Jose who had a full, fresh side ready. 20 minute halves were agreed upon and the game was on. Santa Rosa was fully warmed up after the first match and was more cohesive with their play and was able to get on the board first with a converted try. San Jose soon replied, however, with a try of their own but left the conversion wide to leave the score at 7-5. The middle period of the half was dominated by wasted possession and handling errors as the youth or San Jose and the fatigue of Santa Rosa started to show. The half ended with a flourish as the two sides exchanged tries with the opposite conversion results to go into the break tied at 12 apiece.

The second half was dominated by San Jose as the strain of playing a second game started to tell on the Santa Rosa men. The tackling started to go, the defensive coverage was not as quick and the handling errors increased. The youthful, rested Seahawk team took full advantage of this and started running rampant. Santa Rosa was able to string the occasional phases together but couldn’t sustain it and the move would be killed by a knock on or a turnover. The Seahawks were able to run in three more tries – converting one – to put the final score at 29-12 in favor of San Jose

FRESNO 40 – Arroyo Grande 17 Referee: Bjorn Stumer

A beautiful day full of sunshine at the wonderful Fresno Regional Sports Park, soon to host the PCRFU Division 2 & 3 championships. Both Fresno and Arroyo Grande fielded sides full of quality, fit players who gave the numerous spectators a wonderful afternoon of sport. The first half had Fresno written all over it. Full of running they scored 3 converted tries to Arroyo's sole penalty kick. The Arroyo lads bucked up on the second half scoring two converted tries. It was not enough though, as Fresno put in an additional 19 points. Lots of effective mauling, wonderful runs by both sides, and ferocious tackling throughout. A wonderful match. Fresno proved to be a wonderful host and I am sure that they will be just as hospitable at championship time.

Seconds: FRESNO 26 – Arroyo Grande 12 Ref: Stumer

Two twenty minutes halves for two sides which included many players who just concluded the A side match. Good run by both sides, lots of fun. Fresno walked away with this one as well. Some old faces in the teams, and a wonderful occasion for all involved be in touch with the sport.

Sacramento 17 – EAST PALO ALTO 27 Referee: Tony Kennedy (Cambridgeshire)

I've got this cracking idea. What you do is invite an English referee some 7,000 miles for a week's rugby and then give him a game within 24 hours of his jet lagged and travel ragged landing. Collected by your own Joe L, he was driven, a coffee stop aside, to a dust bowl of a public park and introduced to the teams. The common language barriers overcome, he started the game. It was then the culture shock kicked in, not for the referee but for the players. They'd never been spoken to like that, poor souls. However, after a while they bought into it and began to really play. The hosts were somewhat conservative while the visitors played the rugby you'd pay money to see, albeit not always with the success they may have hoped. A one try apiece half time score of 3-10 didn't reflect their efforts. The hosts battered the ball upfield in three-yard shunts until running out of numbers and losing possession only for the visitors to run it all the way back in seconds. The hosts were worth their second try but the visitors managed three, two of which were worth the ticket money alone except there was none. No-side had the players go to each other in the traditional, though this time well meant, handshake and the day was done. The players' behavior throughout had been exemplary. Coarse rugby it may have been but the spirit of this bizarre game limped on. Pity the hosts: they meet the same referee next Saturday.

Seconds: Sacramento 0 – EAST PALO ALTO 67 Referee: Joe Leisek

Touch Judges: Tony Kennedy, Ray Schwartz

A game notable for the pleasure with which the Razorbacks ran into contact and often over and through contact. There were all kinds of tries; a few that were solo efforts of 90 or more meters. The home side were keen to play and never gave up.

I took a spectacular fall in the first half, tripped from behind while chasing one of the breakaway movements. I fell forward, arms outstretched, and came in for a low landing on the hard tack surface. I got up quickly and chased, then attempted to award the try...only to find my whistle completely plugged. Knees bloodied, I blew hard into the opening atop the pea, then successfully--and loudly--awarded the try.

Thanks to Tony and Ray for running touch. I thoroughly enjoyed my day with Tony Kennedy. On the drive from Berkeley we talked about many things rugby and non-rugby related, and arrived early in Sacramento. With a little time to spare, I parked on the street next to the Capitol Building and we took a stroll around the grounds, then found a local cafe for a pre-match cup of coffee. His game was a pleasure to watch and he made many friends during and after the match. Tony is a guy who loves what he does.

As he might say himself: "It was a cracking good day."

VACAVILLE 104 – Mendocino 3 Referee: Chris Labozzetta

Evaluator: Mike Malone

Vallejo 7 – CHICO 20 Referee: Sam Davis

Saddle up the Rugby HOG and it was off to Vallejo I had to check schedule when I received this game. “When did Vallejo get a team?” I arrived on Mare Island to large football field in pretty good shape. Chico was there in Red jerseys with black stripes and Vallejo was in Red jerseys with white collars. I looked in my bag and pulled out the Red shirt and decided against doing that. ;-) Vallejo being a new club their youngest player was about 15 and their oldest player was about 60. The team has a lot of heart and played with hard hitting tackles. Chico kicked off the first 8 min was back and forth between the 20’s Vallejo passed the ball to the wing who made it to their 20 meter line and was tackled the ball spun loose one of the Chico defenders kicked the ball to go out of bounds instead it hit a player and bounced to middle of the field. The Vallejo wing scooped it up and touched it down between the posts. Chico came back at the 25 min mark with a rolling maul touching it down for the score. The half ended tied 7-7

The 2nd half was back and forth Vallejo being on the defense most of the time with short spurts of offence. Fitness came into play with 22 min left in the game Vallejo at their own 22 would not release (the players 3 game) Chico kicked for points. With 10 minutes left another penalty kick for Chico. With 3 min left in the game Chico had their final score under the post. Vallejo put on a great post game feed and party. It is good to have another rugby team to help the young kids find a place to play a great sport and learn that you can play a ruffians’ game and be a gentleman.

RENO ZEPHYRS 65 – Shasta 10 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Reno Zephyrs have a well-balanced and very strong team this year and it showed Saturday. It was 32 to 10 at half and 65 10 at the end. Reno was scoring at will in the second half and Shasta was regrouping for the post game festivities.

Berkeley – Fog Referee: Joe Androvich
No report received.

MARIN 27 – Petaluma 10 Referee: Mike Gadoua

Both teams came out to play that ye old sport in memory of W.W. Ellis and the game was actually closer than the score shows. Petaluma never gave up the fight and put up a good showing despite a number of rookie players making the mistakes that all rookies do. However, the Leghorns kept up a strong defense even when it seemed to bend just a little too much. The Reds simply overpowered their guests and managed to cross the try line a little more often. Marin managed to pull the win out of a good scrappy game.

MISSION 42 – Stanislaus 12 Referee: Bruce Carter

The Harlots were present with enough guys to play two sides about an hour before kickoff. Mission was represented by Fabio, diligently lining the pitch and doing a fine job.

I was able to inspect the Harlots' boots and talk with their front rows about 45 minutes prior to kickoff, and ask them to fill out the match card.

The Mission however, is a different set of equations. They don't have a coach. They don't practice. Some of the guys, stretching and warming up, were scolded by one of the team movers/shakers because they might, "peak and tire out", and not in jest.

They have difficulty filling in the match card because until the ball is actually kicked off they are not sure who's going to be on the pitch when it comes down.

And still they play some flowing and creative rugby.

Stanislaus opened strongly. A series of power mauls led directly up the center of the pitch to a try by #6, Brandon Yost. Things were looking good. I said to the captain, "Good start." What he said puzzled me at the time but proved prescient: "We'll need it."

Yost closed the first half with another try, but in between Mission scored two tries and a lovely Joe Domine drop-goal to lead 17-12.

The second half was all Mission.

Thanks, guys, for the reminder of what our newer referees face in dealing with some D3 and other lower division games: constant criticism.

Make a call, a chorus of discontent issues forth from fifteen guys who never seem to be out of breath from playing; don't make a call, a descant arrives from the other-color-clad lot.

Guess it helps to be as deaf as they think we are blind.

UC Davis 19 – Stanford 19 Referee: Don Barber (Vancouver Island)

Evaluator: David Williamson
Weather and field conditions:

Field was dry and in excellent shape. The weather was clear and sunny and the winds were light to variable and seem to be changing direction throughout the match. Wind was not a tactical advantage.

Touch judges were volunteers, one from each side.

The game started with Davis setting the pace of the game and scoring the first try of the day, followed by a difficult but successful conversion. Play continued back and forth until Stanford took the ball from their lineout and mauled their way down the pitch to score a try. They too, managed a challenging kick and were successful with their conversion to tie the game. Davis replied shortly there after quite near the half and led by 5 points but failed to make their 2 point conversion.

The second half started off with back and forth action with deep kicks by both sides to gain territorial advantage. On one such catch the Stanford fullback charged up the field fending off a couple of tackles and tried to link up with his supporting backs. Unfortunately his floating pass was snagged by an anticipating back who picked it off and ran with out difficulty to place the ball behind the posts for an easy conversion.

Within about 2 minutes of this steal, Stanford themselves were able to charge up the sideline and successfully score a try. Stanford failed to make the difficult conversion. Action continued back and forth until Stanford was able to control the rucks and mauls and were perched on the Davis 5m line. First noble attempt was spoiled by the good defense of Davis and the maul was held up in goal. The ensuing scrum again found good ball for the Stanford side and the snuck one in and down of the blind side. Their kick was unsuccessful and the score at this time was tied at 19 - 19.

The game became "very" spirited in the last 10 minutes of play both teams eagerly seeking the game winning points. Davis on two occasions kicked deep towards the end zone from about the Stanford 40m line and in both cases a competitive foot race resulted. On both of these occasions the ball overshot its mark and despite Davis efforts to ground the ball prior, the ball went through the dead ball zone. On both situations, Stanford took the "scrum up" gaining good field advantage but they too failed to further capitalize.

Both teams played a physical game with only one flare up behind the play. As well as one skirmish on the sideline for which both players involved were reprimanded. It was truly and excellent match with the final outcome always in question. Perhaps the final score, a tie or draw was the most deserved for both sides.

Yours in Rugby
Don Barber (Referee, British Columbia)

Seconds: UC Davis – Stanford Referee: Jackie Finck
No report received.

Chico State 7 – ST. MARY’S 62 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

On a sunny 70F day in Chico, St. Mary's and Chico State battled for position in the NorCal league. St. Mary's took no time to score two tries, but Chico's backs answered soon after to close within 12-7. St. Mary's then put on a clinic on open field rugby, running at will against the home team who could not keep up on defense. St. Mary's appeared to be playing sevens, not bothering to ruck and instead pop-passing beautifully to swarming support players. Their centers were particularly elusive. After leading 43-7 at half, St. Mary's scored a few more tries before clearing their bench midway through the second half. St. Mary's won this match 9 tries to 1, and made it look easy.

Seconds: Chico State 31 – ST. MARY’S 40 Ref: Ranaweera

Both teams had enough players for a full-length 2nd XV match, which was both competitive and entertaining. Chico stormed to a 0-10 half-time lead before the second half roller-coaster started: SMC scored twice to lead 14-10 before Chico score twice to wrest back the lead 14-24. A score for each team and Chico still lead 21-31, but in the last 10 minutes of play SMC rallied for three more tries to steal the victory. In the end, St. Mary's 2nd XV scored 6 tries to 5 by the home team.

Sac State 10 – NEVADA 12 Referee: Tony Latu

Nevada at Sac State, Great to be back on the pitch, unfortunately the season is winding down but other duties are catching up. Well, there is a next year, a next season.

These two teams have many similarities and differences. And one of them is; Sac State has 20 plus freshman and sophomore players. But that’s in the future.

Nevada owns the present as they did showed on Saturday by edging Sac State 12-10. Conversion is very important; just ask Johnny and the Britt’s.

Seconds: SAC STATE 50ish – Nevada 7 Ref: Latu

I did the first half of the B side game and Sac State was up 33-0 at the half. Bruce Anderson, a former South African referee and now coaching Nevada took over the second half. Sac State ran in 5 more tries.

UC SANTA CRUZ 19 – Humboldt State 17 Referee: Tony Redmond

A game of tremendous effort if not always marked by the same degree of skill started with a Humboldt try after 7 minutes that was responded by with a UCSC try from a blocked clearance. The two teams each scored another converted try before half time to make it 12-12 at the break. Not much happened until 31 minutes through the second half when a quick tapped penalty saw UCSC score under the posts against a defence that was slow to respond. The try was converted to leave the remaining 9 minutes tense as the visitors attempt to score to draw level. The score eventually came, but only in the third minute of added time and wide out on the left after sustained pressure by Humboldt. The conversion missed, the home team rejoiced in a narrow win, and both teams luxuriated in the knowledge that they had given all to the cause.

USF 46 – San Jose State 23 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

USF hosted SJ Sate at its beautiful artificial turf pitch. They also provided pre-game entertainment with a bagpiper, who also led their team out onto the pitch. The added motivation worked, since they jumped on San Jose State for a 31-8 halftime lead, accentuated by their #10 throwing a quick line out to himself & running 40 yards untouched to score.

The second half was a draw (15-15); with San Jose redeeming itself.

Santa Rosa JC 5 – CAL Frosh/Soph 40 Referee: Malcolm Currie (Scotland)

NEVADA women 24 – Humboldt State 22 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

It was a nice day in Reno Saturday, as I drove up past the ski areas and a still significant amount of snow.

I arrived at the UNR pitch at 10 for the 11 AM scheduled kick off. Both teams were already warming up and it was a little brisk as a slight north wind was blowing.

UNR scored first with Humboldt answering. UNR scored again and Humboldt kicked a penalty goal near the end of the half to make it 14 – 10.

The second half went back and forth for the first 20 minutes or so, with UNR scoring 2 unconverted trys, to go up 24 to 10.

Humboldt picked up the pace and UNR tried to hold on for the last 10 minutes. With 5 minutes remaining Humboldt score a try to get within 7 and then scored a final try with no time remaining. The conversion was a yard or so wide, with UNR hanging on for the win.

St. Mary's women 13 – UC SANTA CRUZ 32 Referee: Rob Hendrickson

St Mary's women hosted UC Santa Cruz to a great day for rugby at SMC's home field under clear skies and on a firm pitch. Santa Cruz dominated possession and position in the first half and were ahead 17 - 3 at the half. SMC came back in the second half to score 2 tries and made it a much closer contest. Santa Cruz appears to have its sights set on post season play. Unfortunately St Mary's had several injuries, two of which required trips to the hospital and a break in the game for the ambulance to cross the field.

CALIFORNIA 76 – Texas A & M 0 Referee: Tony Kennedy (Cambridgeshire)

Touch Judges: Mike King, Bruce Carter

Still jet lagged and travel ragged, more so by a cunningly dated clock change, the referee arrived at the Cal ground. He was already warmed up, his host, Dave Williamson, had considered his post-travel condition and walked him uphill to the ground. Rarely thrown, he was taken to the all-too-immaculate ground. His minimal pre-match went unremarked upon by both sides, one intent on victory, the other on survival. The speaker introduced the visitors as they ran out on to a warm round of applause. He introduced the hosts as they ran out to a rather loud 'Ride of the Valkyries'. A minute's silence for the recent passing of the field's benefactor was followed by the national anthem. That was the referee's 'pinch me' moment. The hosts went on to play a game the visitors were not familiar with. More of pace and speed of thought than power, it was regularly impressive and sometimes slightly scary. The referee knew the host's kicker quite well by no-side having stood next to him for twelve 'Go Bears' trumpetings and some ten per cent of the game. Again, no-side had the players do all that went with the game.

As for the referee, he slipped away from both games understated and quietly, happy to have played his part. No? All right, you've seen through him. He'd enjoyed both games and milked the players' reaction. But, then, he's like that.

Seconds: CALIFORNIA 96 – Texas A & M 0 Referee: Andy Canning (East Mids)

Touch Judges: Roberto Santiago, Chris Tucker

A short notice appointment! Hi Andy did you bring your kit? Oh never mind we can get something together for you.

So here I am stiff from OC’s on Saturday and relaxed ready to abuse my dear friend Tony all afternoon when suddenly I am thrust into action. Who would refuse the opportunity to referee at such a venue (and for me for a second time). Having stolen kit from Tony I was really looking quite smart until Texas turned onto the field with a white shirt that cashed directly with mine...a quick shirt change turned me from smart to clown with a shirt that not only clashed with every other colour I had but changed direction several seconds after the wearer did.

The game was a little one sided and soon turned into a drill practice for Cal, but credit to the visitors they never gave up and were committed to the end. Both teams seemed happy at no-side and I was to use an old English phrase “Knackered”.

Post match at the Williamson’s was greatly appreciated and a beautiful nighttime drive across the Bay Bridge back to the Merrill’s finished off another enjoyable day.

Meeting up with Roberto Santiago again having only just met in DC last spring reminds me what a small world we now live in


JV: ELSIE ALLEN 30 – Marin 5 Referee: Mike King

A hard-fought contest under the lights in Santa Rosa. The Lobos were able to take advantage of several miscues and run 5 unconverted tries in before half-time. The 2nd stanza saw a more even contest with each side dotting down one try. Both groups of young men were well coached, and played with the drive and determination representative of their respective programs.

VACAVILLE BLACK DOGS 18 – Cougar Rugby Club 14 Referee: Scott Wood

TJs: Team supplied
Videographer and all-around nice guy: Jim Crenshaw
Location: Willis Jepson Middle School
Weather: Brilliant

Another weekend brings more travel to enjoy the world's greatest sport. Cougar RC scored an early penalty goal and was able to move the ball in and around contact. Unfortunately, most movement was east-west. Vacaville's penalties in the first half provided Cougar the opportunity to move down the field scoring an unconverted try bringing their lead to 8-0. Continued penalties put Vacaville on report that they were in serious danger of having players in the sin bin. Cougar scored another penalty goal to enter into halftime leading 11-0.

Tale of Two Halves Redux

Vacaville must have some mind-controlling device because the second half had about the same number of penalties only they were in the host's favor. Additionally, mass consumption of Focusyn brought the Vacaville game plan together as they were able to put more phases together scoring quickly to bring the lead to within four points. Cougar collected themselves and took the attack downfield to score another penalty goal increasing their lead to 14-7. Player discipline began to wane. A Cougar player took umbrage to his leg being held onto by a Vacaville player and stomped at the Vacaville player's head. No need for cautioning, this was an automatic cause for a send off. Vacaville elected to tap-and-go running to the left side of the field. A Cougar dangerous tackle around the head resulted in a sin binning and put the visiting team down two players. Vacaville converted the penalty goal to again narrow the gap to four points. A two-man overlap is hard to compensate for and Vacaville was able to exploit the resulting gaps in defense scoring an unconverted try to take the lead 15-14. A final penalty goal by the home side at full time brought the game to a close finish 18-14.

My thanks to Jim Crenshaw for taking time to video the match and provide feedback.

JV: Vacaville Black Dogs 0 – COUGAR RUGBY CLUB 15 Ref: Wood
TJs: Team supplied

At the behest of Cougar's B-side coach, I agreed to referee a 25-minute period so the seconds could get a run. Cougar has some well disciplined and tactically proficient players in its ranks.

Christian Brothers 0 – RIO RUGBY 34 (Referee’s name lost in the editing process)

On the day Rio Rugby proved to be too much for Christian Brothers. Both frosh sides played with gusto but, after a scary incident 5 minutes after kick off when a tackled Rio player went into a seizure, Rio cranked it up and never gave up. They put in 5 tries, three of them converted, and a penalty which Christian Brothers could not answer. To their credit the CB kids never gave up and played hard. Two good natured teams, appreciative hosts, and a goodish crowd. A good afternoon of youth rugby in Sacramento.

SANTA ROSA 55 – Windsor 19 Referee: Cary Bertolone

On 3/7/08, I reffed Santa Rosa High School vs Windsor High School at night, under the lights at Cardinal Newman H.S. in Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa prevailed with a 55-19 score and at least 200 students watching. Should be a good match next Friday between Marin and Santa Rosa – Joe Leisek is going to ref and both teams have been winning their games rather handily!

DE LA SALLE 12 – Piedmont 8 Referee: Sam Davis

It was a beautiful Rugby day, short Rugby HOG ride to the pitch at De La Salle vs. Piedmont 9:00 am kick off for the Varsity. De LaSalle kicked off, both teams were up to win the first half was plagued with off side at all the breakdowns. Which gave Pitt its first scoring opportunity with 17 min left in the first half from about 30 meters out and to the side their kicker put one thru the uprights De LaSalle came back with 4 min left in the half with a fine multiphase play that the wing broke free and scored the kick was good. Second half was played between the both 20 meters most of the game at the 20 min mark De LaSalle gets one in the corner score now 12-3 Pitt comes back with 2 min left and score one of their own in the corner making it 12-8 Pitt tried to get within scoring distance but the time ran out De LaSalle 12 Piedmont 8

JV: DE LA SALLE 17 – Piedmont 7 Ref: Davis

The JV was warming up De LaSalle kicked off it was a better game to watch the players stayed on side at the breakdowns which allowed play to be more wide open. De LaSalle scored first at the 18 min mark which was the only score in the first half. 8 minutes into the 2nd half De La Salle kicked deep into Pitt’s territory it bounced in goal confusion among the young Pitt players and lucky De La Salle player touched it down for the score. Pitt came back and scored one of their own under the post. With 12 min left in the game De La Salle scored one more time in the corner to make the final score De La Salle 17 Piedmont 7.

Islanders 13 – MOTHER LODE 15 Referee: Chris Tucker

The players eventually gathered at Garcia Bend park (apparently 'Turn Right' doesn't mean much to the Mother Lode front row, who turned left and delayed the game 20 minutes) for a showdown of the 2nd and 4th-ranked teams in the conference. Mother Lode scored easily (converted) after only 7 minutes, surprising given the Islanders' strong defence. Sadly, the first yellow card appeared on the restart for tackling the player early and with no wrap. Mother Lode drove down to the 22 shortly thereafter to slot another penalty. The message of the first card hadn't sunk in, and another dangerous tackle, this time by the #8, the Islanders were down to 13. Both teams had their chances for the rest of the half, noticeably the Islanders wing just denied by the corner flag. A penalty by the Islanders #10 brought the half to a close, 10-3 to the visitors.

At the half I thought we had discipline back under control, but boy was that wrong. A mere 2 minutes in saw the 3rd yellow for a high tackle, and then the bell tolled. 4 minutes in and our old friend the #8 just about took the head off the runner with a wild swinging arm. By this time he'd have seen red anyway with or without his prior misdemeanour, and fortunately that was the last entry into the book until injury time. Less content was this ref, who was previously happy to go through life without being forced to go to the other side of the wallet. But needs must, and my red card cherry was duly popped.

But credit to the Islanders, with 2 men down they came close to a try after 13 minutes, the hooker knocking on in the tackle on the goal line. The Mother Lode scrum half then showed lamentably poor hearing when 'keep it straight this time' was digested as 'keep it straight to the second row this time'. The free kick was tapped quickly and the try was scored (unconverted). Another try (again unconverted) after 22 minutes gave the Islanders an unlikely lead, but poor ball discipline cost them soon after, with Mother Lode touching down for the decisive try (unconverted). Strong pressure on the Mother Lode goal line resulted in a penalty that should maybe have been used to kick at goal, but the tap was taken and the Mother Lode wing put in a fine game-saving tackle to force the carrier into touch a metre short of the line. Game time over, Beer time up...

All in all an exciting game played hard by both sides. Had the Islanders played with more than their average 14.06 players they might well have carried the day. An easy thing to work on in practice next week.

College Park 17 – LIVE OAK 19 Referee: Giles Wilson

Nice day, nice field at Willow Glen and kids learning to play rugby; not a bad start to the day. Live Oak didn’t seem to play to their capabilities while College Park played above what they might have expected. Live Oak led at the end of by 14 – 7 but then College Park came back with two to one second half try count leaving the game at 19 – 17 in Live Oak’s favour.

JVs: COLLEGE PARK 31 – Live Oak 5 Ref: Wilson

RIO RUGBY 17 – Golden Eagles 7 Referee: Mike Villierme

Rio rugby out scored Golden Eagles by a count of 17 to 7 in a brawl abbreviated match played at Del Oro High school Friday night.


SAN MATEO WARRIORS 22 – Silicon Valley 13 Referee: Chris Fisher

B Side: WARRIORS 5 – Silicon Valley 0 Ref: Fisher

Good natured games played in a good spirit.


March 7-8, 2008
Woodlands 16 – DALLAS HARLEQUINS 22 Referee tourist: Don Pattalock

Texas Division I
Assessor: Jeremy Turner

I arrived in Houston on Friday night, made my way to the Double Tree Hotel, had a bite to eat then settled in for a good night sleep. I was picked up Saturday at noon by Woodlands Director of Rugby, and Texas RU Chairman Dave Jenkins and his wife Pam. We had a nice chat on the way over to the pitch. Upon arrival at the pitch, Dave introduced me to Jeremy Turner who would be my assessor for the match. The pitch was located on the campus of Lone Star State, was well grassed, full-sized with perfect poles. Both clubs had 2+ sides and were anxious for the match. I had had conversations with several Texas referees and coaches who all indicated that this would be a one-sided match with the Quins doing all the damage. However, Woodlands played tremendous on defense and made great use of scrappy ball. The better team won in the end, but not before being significantly frustrated by the aging and cagy Woodlands team.

Following the match, Jeremy Turner and I headed to the airport in his Austin-Martin for the de-brief and post game chat. A quick bite at the airport and I was airborne again to return home. All in all, a great exchange with a quality rugby match and good coaching/assessing


I had the pleasure of attending the first annual Oahu U19 Tournament, on March 7 and March 8, having been asked by Kevin Perry, the President of Hawaii (who I met at December's Youth Conference On The Game) to "watch" some of the local referees. I was met my first day here by David "Ma'afu" Wendt, who had been around this game as long as most of us. He took me to "Ono Hawaiian", a truly local place and by the time I was done eating, movement was a difficult concept.

There were six teams, four from Oahu (Honolulu Barbarians, Kahuku, Waipahu and Kahala/Radford), a "select" side from the Big Island and St. Mary's from Ontario, Canada. The Tournament started with four matches on Friday afternoon and the finished with the rest of the matches on Saturday. The first match pitted Big Island against St. Mary's. The lads from Ontario were noble, but having arrived the day before, not seen grass for four months and having no real concept of sun, heat and humidity, they were overwhelmed by everything, including the Big Islanders.

Saturday was very interesting, starting at about 10:30 a.m. and ending at about 5:30 p.m. These kids are big, fast and hit real hard. Good hard running, clean play (mostly, as the referees had a "no tolerance" policy and used yellow cards and an occasional red card for any foul play they saw. A number of college coaches should come to these tournaments to find some real prospects as it is doubtful that a functional college division will happen here for a long time to come. I will not go into each match. However, the Tournament was won by the Honolulu Barbarians over Kahuku by a 12-7 score and the match was in doubt until the final whistle, although the Barbarians had a 12-0 lead at the half. The Canadians did get a try in their last game and can hold their heads high. This was a real pleasure.

I did four coaching reports. Three of the refs agreed to be "wired up", something that has not happened here before. Many of the referees are also coaches and were doing double duty at the Tournament. They all ran good, safe rugby matches. They talked well to the players, using the phraseology that we use. Some of the more recent theories about positioning have not taken hold yet and there were discussions with each of them about these concepts. These are wonderful, hardworking guys who are very dedicated to the sport. Great people to hang with. I hope I gave them some information they could use.

On a personal note, my son, Stefan, was at the pitch all of Saturday and ran a bit of touch. It was wonderful to watch him being recruited by both the representatives of the Hawaii Harlequins and the University of Hawaii Men's Team. Sounds like he will be putting his boots back on, if he can find them.

Dinner at Frank's
At Frank and Clarice Merrill’s home Saturday night, left to right:

Standing: Bjorn Stumer, Tom Martinez, David Williamson, Bruce Carter and his grandson Benjamin Bravo.

Sitting: John Tyler, Don Barber (Nanaimo, Vancouver Island), Tony Kennedy (Cambridge, England) and Andy Canning (Northampton), Frank Merrill.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris