Monday, May 26, 2008




The Grizzly U23 team will host the Tonga U20 team at 6 PM on Tuesday evening, May 27, at Stanford.

The Grizzlies feature players from the Pacific Coast’s highly ranked collegiate teams.

The Tongans are on their way to the junior world championships in Wales and pasted the SoCal college all-stars on Saturday.

Jim Crenshaw has been appointed to referee this match.


The annual season-ending banquet of the NCRRS will be held at the Bull Valley Inn in Port Costa.

Cocktail Hour from 5:30 to 6:30, to allow everyone to arrive in time for dinner at 6:30.

RSVP to Paul Berman if you will be attending with the number in your party and menu choices:

Prime Rib
Smoked Chicken
Grilled Halibut
Pasta with Prawns in Marinara
Vegetarian Pasta

The restaurant will be completely ours for the evening.

House wine both red & white will be provided with dinner, and JC Van Staden has donated two cases of Peltier Station.


The longest-running Sevens tournament in the USA resumes next month at Cubberley. There will only be three weekends this summer because the national club finals will be hosted by SF/Golden Gate, August 9-10 at Treasure Island.

Mark your calendars and make your plans to attend. For referees, these are our days in the sun, the time we spend together running around and picnicking afterwards.

June 28
July 12
July 26


Don Pattalock to Ontario (Canada), June 13-15

Tom Zanarini to Cape Fear Sevens, July 4-6

John Pohlman to Alberta, June/July (dates TBA)

East Midlands, September 17-29

Bruce Carter
Preston Gordon
Tom Zanarini
Bruce Bernstein
Scott Wood


Let us know if you can referee on June 21:

NorCal old boys versus Nevada old boys in Dunsmuir – this one’s a party

Campbell Scottish Games


The IRB has sent a Guide to the new Laws which will be effective beginning after this summer’s Sevens season. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THESE WILL NOT BE IN EFFECT FOR SUMMER SEVENS.

It is also posted on the USA website in the Referee section.

The following is from Peter Watson, the USA laws guru and should be considered authoritative:

Pulling Down a Maul
* The explanatory notes refer to pulling down an opposing player. The actual wording of the Law simply refers to pulling down a player in the maul. While most of the time a player trying to pull down a maul will do so by grasping an opponent, it is legal to pull down a teammate who is part of the maul.
* I cannot emphasize enough that the maul can only be pulled down legally by grasping a player's torso (shoulders to hips). Any taking out of legs is still illegal and dangerous. The referee must be aware of how the maul is taken down.
* Safety of players is one of the major concerns of the IRB. The IRB has undertaken injury surveillance in NZ, Australia and South Africa. The IRB has taken advice from a risk management consultant. The results were such that the risk of injury as a result of the introduction of the ELVs was not increased. This injury surveillance continues. In four years of experimentation at the Cambridge Laws Laboratory under the auspices of the RFU there were no injuries as a result of the pulling down of the maul. The Law was framed around their experiences.

Quick Throw-ins
* Although the Law is not clearly worded, the throw-in must reach the five-meter line before being played, regardless of the direction it is thrown. This means that a player cannot throw the ball to a teammate who is standing five meters back, but only one meter from touch.

Please feel free to contact Peter with any questions.


JESUIT 20 – Christian Brothers 5 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Touch Judges: Jackie Finck and Scott Wood
Fourth Officials: Ray Thompson and Jake Rubin

Another excellent match played by up in the hotbed of high school rugby, as Jesuit hosted Christian Brothers to determine who would represent the Pacific coast in the singe school high school championships. Temperature at the 4pm kickoff was 104 degrees, certainly a little on the warm side for a 15-a-side match. A slight breeze may have saved the day, but we stopped every 10 minutes and any other opportunity I could come up with, for water. A large crowd encircled the pitch with slightly more Jesuit fans than Christian Brother supporters. CB pressured Jesuit from the opening kickoff, but couldn't seem to find the goal line. Jesuit took advantage of a CB turnover to score an unconverted try about 15 minutes into the match. Jesuit seemed to gain momentum from the try and the cheering from the sidelines, controlling the rest of the half. They scored another unconverted try at about the 30 minute mark to make it 10 zip at halftime. I told both coaching staff's and the captains we would be having a full 10 minute break to get water and cool off, but both teams lined up for the kickoff with only 6 minutes gone. Obviously they couldn't stand the wait, so we kicked off the second half.

The second half showed renewed vigor from the CB side. Jesuit was on their heels for a good portion of first 30 minutes, with CB scoring an unconverted try about 15 minutes in. Only a very strong defense by Jesuit saved them from giving up a couple of more tries.

The heat started taking its toll, with mistakes and turnovers coming a little more often by both sides. Jesuit kicked a ball deep and was touched down for a dropout by CB. A couple of CB player's gave each other the 'let's kick it to the weak side and have a run' look, but the captain and center for Jesuit read the signal, caught the kick and was in untouched. The conversion was missed, but the damage was done. One could see from the the body language of the CB players that they were in trouble. Jesuit took advantage of the momentum shift, and scored in the corner about 5 minutes later with a nice break and overlap. Unfortunately the CB fullback neck-tied the Jesuit player as the try was scored, earning the only yellow card of the match. On the last play of the match, frustration over losing and maybe for some remarks from the fans got to one of the CB flankers. He was spotted by one of the touch judges punching an opponent, earning him the only red card of the match. Jesuit kicked the ensuing penalty kick to touch as time expired.

Final score: Jesuit 20 Christian Brothers 5

Many thanks to Scott and Jackie for running touch and to Ray and Jake for their #4 duties and to all 4 of them for keeping me out of trouble, great job all of you!!

Congratulations to Christian Brother on a great season!!

And congratulations and good luck to Jesuit at the national championships!!

UCSC Women 12 – UCSC ALUMNAE 15 Referee: James Hinkin
A fun and spirited game saw the alumni win it with a try in injury time.

UCSC Men 26 – UCSC ALUMNI 43 Referee: James Hinkin/Scott Carson
After two 30-minute periods the alumni were leading 29 – 19. Both sides were eager for more so the whistle was given over to Scott Carson for a final 15 minute period. The alumni managed 2 more converted tries to a single converted try for the students for a final of 43 – 26.

Note: The devolution of the referee is complete. After starting his career as a winger he stepped on for the final period in the front row as hooker. I guess it had to happen as time marches on.


Last week we recounted the Olympic Club’s incredible victory over Aspen in the national playoffs. They were down by ten with two minutes left and won by thirty-three.

We wondered which referee was fortunate to have this match. And here’s a delightful and entertaining answer from an eye-witness:

Richard Parker was the referee for this match and as a Richard Parker fan, he did a great job with this game.

The person that saved O Club’s season is Dave Pelton. Dave was the TJ. This happened right in front of me.

There was no time left, the ball was spun out the Kamal Mokeddem on the wing who broke down the sideline. As Kamal was being taken into touch, he played the ball back inside to the fullback. The fullback was then tackled about 3-4 meters past where Kamal had gone into touch.

The fullback rolled the ball backwards, but it was also going towards the touch line. Kamal had gotten onto his feet and with one foot in touch, nudged the ball back in field before it had made it to the touch line. The crowd on that side was screaming that the ball was out because Kamal was ‘clearly in touch’, but Dave made the right call and did not raise his flag.

The crowd was right, the player was in touch. But Dave was even more right because the ball he played was not in touch.

The O Club scored the game-tying try on that possession, forcing overtime, and as they say the rest is history. If Dave blows that call, Richard blows his whistle and the O season is blown.


These will be decided May 31-June 1 at the only non-collegiate rugby stadium in the USA. Good luck to Reno and the O Club.

Reno - Michiana

Brandywine – Detroit
Wisconsin – Red Mountain

Olympic Club – Glendale
Pearl City – Life

Super League:
Belmont Shore – NY Athletic Club


No photo this week. The Senate adjourned to Hawaii for the past ten days and saw not one rugby ball nor one pelican to photograph.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Monday, May 19, 2008




The annual season-ending banquet of the NCRRS will be held at the Bull Valley Inn in Port Costa.

Cocktail Hour from 5:30 to 6:30, to allow everyone to arrive in time for dinner at 6:30.

RSVP to Paul Berman if you will be attending with the number in your party and menu choices:

Prime Rib
Smoked Chicken
Grilled Halibut
Pasta with Prawns in Marinara
Vegetarian Pasta

The restaurant will be completely ours for the evening.

House wine both red & white will be provided with dinner, and JC Van Staden has donated two cases of Peltier Station.


We have a need for eight or ten referees on June 21:

NorCal old boys versus Nevada old boys in Dunsmuir – this one’s a party

Campbell Scottish Games

Las Vegas Midnight Sevens – we usually get a last-minute call for half a dozen refs. Our services have been offered in advance this year but the response is ‘we’ll get back to you’.

It would be good to have a list of those who would like to attend. The tournament starts in the evening, so you could travel to Vegas on the Friday or Saturday and return any time Sunday.


UC Santa Cruz – Alumnae Referee: James Hinkin

UC Santa Cruz – Alumni Referee: James Hinkin
No reports received.



NYAC 19 – SF/Golden Gate 14 Referee: Tim Luscombe
CHICAGO LIONS 49 – Boston RFC 15 Referee: Ed Gardner
BELMONT SHORE 38 – Boston Irish Wolfhounds 8 Referee: Paul Bretz
DENVER BARBARIANS 39 – Charlotte 24 Referee: Davey Ardrey Touch Judge: Matt Eason


Division One:
Pool A
OLYMPIC CLUB 48 – Aspen 15
This is possibly the most misleading score in the history of rugby union.

Aspen was ahead 15 – 5 with two minutes to go. O Club scored an unconverted try and at the restart there was no more time left.

SIX MINUTES LATER Center Adam Mayer scored a try to tie the game but the conversion bounced off the crossbar! Six minutes of keep-the-ball-alive-or-go-home rugby – the ultimate test of a team’s mettle.

Overtime in USA Rugby playoffs is twenty minutes. Needing the first 78 minutes to score five points, the San Francisco side reached Olympian heights in scoring 43 unanswered points in the last 22.

And who was the lucky ref who had this tiger by the tail?

MARYLAND 40 – Palmer 15
Pool D
LAS VEGAS 23 – White Plains 20
Los Angeles 19 – LIFE 44 Referee: Pete Smith

Pool C
HAYWARD 44 – Austin 12
Mystic River 6 – PEARL CITY 48
Pool B
Park City Haggis 22 – SOUTH SIDE IRISH 27
Long Island 8 – GLENDALE 85

GLENDALE 29 – South Side Irish 21
OLYMPIC CLUB 43 – Maryland 20
PEARL CITY 17 – Hayward 15
LIFE 40 – Las Vegas 5

Division Two:
Pool A
BRANDYWINE 34 – Clinton Muddy River 20
SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 18 – North County Gurkhas 17
Pool D
DETROIT TRADESMEN 51 – South Shore Anchors 27
New Orleans 14 – TULSA 47
Pool C
RIVERSIDE 45 – Hartford 24
Charleston 22 – WISCONSIN 36
Pool B
JACKSONVILLE 32 – Albuquerque Aardvarks 17
Norfolk Blues 5 – RED MOUNTAIN 55

BRANDYWINE 10 – Sacramento 8
DETROIT 22 – Tulsa 20
WISCONSIN 33 – Riverside 7
RED MOUNTAIN 69– Jacksonville 10

Division Three:
MIDDLESEX 23 – Fort Worth 18
Eagle Rock 19 – MICHIANA 53
JERSEY SHORE 47 – Montgomery 5
Montclair 0 – RENO 52

MICHIANA 29 – Middlesex 22
RENO 31 – Jersey Shore 19


Single School Playoffs:
This consists of a single game, to be played at Jesuit:
JESUIT 25 – Christian Brothers 5 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Multi-school Playoffs:
These will be played Friday and Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Mother Lode 24 – UNITED 32
Lamorinda 17 – HIGHLAND 57 Referee: Andrew Ormsby

Both Highland and United advance to the nationals. United ‘ceded’ the championship and the #1 slot to Highland, and so they played inter-sectional friendlies on Saturday:

UNITED 19 – Lamorinda 12
HIGHLAND 62 – Mother Lode 14


Please cease and desist from calling penalties for "lazy runners".
The new operative term is "kinesthesiologically challenged".

Pelicans on the Pond
From Ed Todd:
I was walking the dog one morning around our pond here in Boulder, when out of the blue came waves of Pelicans. I couldn't believe it, so I ran home and got the camera.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 14, 2008




The annual season-ending banquet of the NCRRS will be held on Saturday, June 7, at the Bull Valley Inn in Port Costa. Not sure of the time yet – Paul Berman has not gotten back to us.

Please let Mr. Berman know if you will be attending and how many will be in your party:


In my game this past Saturday I managed to prove myself an up-to-the-minute referee: I found an unplayable. The ball wasn’t coming. I announced which player had made it unplayable by color and number, and what infraction it was that he almost committed but for my hipness.

Talk about full circle: many of our referee readers will recall being taught to ‘set your stall’ by calling a penalty when the kickoff came down, and at the first scrum, ruck and lineout.

(Younger refs can’t imagine this – how could you invent a call and have any credibility afterwards? It helps to know that referees did not speak in this era, beyond perhaps saying, “Penalty.” The whistle went, the arm went, and the players ran back ten.

(A captain might later approach and ask what that was for. The ref would say, “Offside” or “Collapsing”, no more.)

We can all agree that that was absurd. Many of us thought so at the time, and were happy when this practice went out of fashion.

Then about ten years ago someone besides the coaches of losing teams started counting the number of penalties. These were evaluators, and they held the referee accountable for all penalties beyond a magic number.

Long aside:

I am reminded of my days with the peacekeeping forces in the Sinai desert.

One of our couriers had driven in to Cairo – six hours each way – to pick up the diplomatic pouch on the bi-weekly flight from Rome.

He killed an Egyptian pedestrian with his official vehicle, drunk while on duty and in uniform. Our command group assembled and looked for options how to deal with this – what if Egypt wanted to throw him into a deep dark hole? Would he be allowed counsel? What to tell his family?

We were informed that he had been released and should be back at our camp in a few hours. It seems there were an average of 30 pedestrian-versus-car deaths in Cairo per month and this was only the 20th that month. Hence, this was to be expected and there would be no point in punishing someone for doing something that was inevitable.

But what woes would have betided this soldier should ten more people have already been killed that month! He would have probably paid the price for all of them. As it was he had ‘only’ the Uniform Code of Military Justice to face for his acts.

Such it is the twenty-fifth penalty that the referee blows, or the thirty-first – depending on what the running average is for that particular competition: that is the one that shouldn’t have been given, the one that proves the ref’s no good, that he has ‘too many penalties’ in his games.

The ref may reasonably protest, “But I don’t determine how many penalties the players commit! I try to prevent them, but have to react when I see them.” He may ask in exasperation, “Should I ignore some altogether?”

And the answer these days is – yes, you should.

Most penalties occur at the tackle. So the preferred solution is to focus on this area for penalty reduction. This is done by the simple expedient of recognizing which player has committed a penalty infraction in making the ball unavailable, waving one’s hand and, presto-chango, the penalty becomes an ‘unplayable’.

The tool of immateriality can’t be employed here because the ball is, in fact, unplayable. The offense is per se material. The whistle is blown, the player at fault is identified and spoken to, and a scrum is awarded.

Let us hope at least that these ‘unplayables’ are meant to be counted towards that player’s tally of repeat infringements. Advantages-gained count towards repeats, immaterial infractions count (probably about one-half), and unplayables certainly should, otherwise these players are getting off scot-free.

This new paradigm is not something invented here in the USA and it’s not something we’ve been asked our opinion of. I’ll referee it, but I won’t like it. And I’ll be happy when fashions change and this flavor of the month is no longer on the menu.

I think not calling material infractions that have been committed is precisely as absurd as making up infractions.

And here’s why: haven’t these players been playing rugby week after week? Haven’t they had a series of refs who adjudicate according to the same Laws and the same guidelines? HAVEN’T THEY ALREADY HAD OPPORTUNITIES TO REALIZE WHAT CONSTITUTES A PENALTY ON THE GROUND? Why should the first 3/5/7 infringers be cut slack every Saturday?

Someone will referee a national club semi-final at the end of this month. He’ll give out a handful of free passes for killing the ball until he deems that the players have had a chance to ‘learn’ what they can and cannot do.

And then the very next day, in the final – the same ref will give some of the same players exemptions from the same Laws just because it’s early in the match.


MOTHER LODE 10 – Jesuit 8 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Touch Judges: Jim Crenshaw, Nick Priscott (NERFU)
Fourth Officials: Preston Gordon, Chris Tucker

The NorCal High School championship was played in front of a significant crowd at the end of the first day's play at the PCIT High School tournament at Stanford.

Both teams were physical and committed, but frequent substitutions and wholesale knock-ons slowed down the match considerably in the first half. (Even the players started joking about the knock-ons: one requested that I penalize anyone who knocks-on).

Jesuit led 0-3 at half. In the second half, both teams improved their handling and spun the ball wide to create more space. Mother Lode scored to lead 5-3 and Jesuit scored to lead 5-8, but Mother Lode scored once more to finish ahead 10-8. Much thanks to Jim Crenshaw and Nick Priscott for their assistance as TJ's.


Under 17:
Liberty 12 – Sacramento 29 Referee: Eric Rauscher

So I showed up Saturday morning to see if I could help out, and I ended up running four games of touch. Then I showed up Sunday morning, but since there were only a dozen or so games, I thought "maybe I won't end up doing anything, but that's okay." So I helped set up fields and bring out water, but someone asked "so do you ref, also, or do you just run touch?" and I said, "Yeah, I ref." so they said, "Well, okay. We're going to give you a game." So I ended up doing the U.17 championship.

Sacramento came out strong and quick in the first half, and scored two tries within ten minutes. Then Liberty came back in the last part of the game, converted a try, so the half-time score was close, 7-10. I was told that the halves were supposed to be twenty-five, and this caused some consternation, so I called the captains and suggested to them that if they wanted to play a longer second half they could, but we ended up playing a twenty-five minute second half also. Once again in the second half, Sacramento came out very strong, and scored three tries in ten minutes. And then once again, Liberty came back towards the end of the half and scored another try. So the final score turned out to be 12-29. But the game seemed closer than the score would indicate. Liberty played very well, and never gave up. I was also impressed with Sacramento's kicker, who slotted several difficult conversion kicks. All in all, I had a very enjoyable time doing the game. And the tournament was fun.

Sierra JC 15 – WILLAMETTE OLD BOYS 51 Referee: Bruce Carter
The Sierra JC only formed in March after the D2 college season was over, but already they’ve played half a dozen games by keenly going after fixtures.

The Willamette Old Boys/Barbarians are a group of guys who played high school rugby together and still assemble for an occasional run.

This match thus met the definition of a ‘friendly’ in every sense: not a league competition, not between rivals or near-neighbors, no history in the fixture at all.

And so it went: spin the ball, take it into contact, help the opponent to his feet.

The Barbarians scored at 8, 14 and 17 minutes and it looked like the interval might continue to decrease, such was their organization vis-à-vis the defense they faced. But Sierra had a meeting in the in-goal during the conversion and came out a better-prepared team.

After that they gave a pretty good account; the subsequent scoring only had them down 30-15.

It is a real joy to work with players who clearly love the game and in many instances are still in the first blush of that love. Let’s hope they now have it as bad as their ref.

No other reports were received. There were just over a dozen teams and as many refs.


Pacific Coast U23 women:

Pelicans –Loggers/Utah Referee: Pete Smith
No report received.

Grizzly Probables – Possibles Referee: John Pohlman
No report received.



NYAC – SF/Golden Gate Referee: Tim Luscombe
Boston RFC – Chicago Lions Referee: Ed Gardner
Belmont Shore – Boston Irish Wolfhounds Referee: Paul Bretz
Charlotte – Denver Barbarians Referee: Davey Ardrey Touch Judge: Matt Eason


This weekend in Austin, Texas most of the best teams in US rugby will be gathering to winnow the fields.

Northern California will be represented among the competitors by Hayward, the Olympic Club, the Sacramento Capitals and the Reno Zephyrs.

There will also be Pelicans on the pitch in the persons of referees Aruna Ranaweera, Pete Smith, Tony Redmond, and Don Pattalock.

Division One:
Pool A
Olympic Club – Aspen
Maryland – Palmer

Pool D
Las Vegas – White Plains
Los Angeles – Life

Pool C
Hayward – Austin
Mystic River – Pearl City

Pool B
Park City Haggis – South Side Irish
Long Island – Glendale

Division Two:
Pool A
Brandywine – Clinton Muddy River
Sacramento – North County Gurkhas

Pool D
Detroit Tradesmen – South Shore Anchors
New Orleans – Tulsa

Pool C
Riverside – Hartford
Charleston – Wisconsin

Pool B
Jacksonville – Albuquerque Aardvarks
Norfolk Blues – Red Mountain

Division Three:
Middlesex – Fort Worth
Eagle Rock – Michiana
Jersey Shore – Montgomery
Montclair – Reno


There are two separate playoff systems leading to national championships this year, one for single-school teams and the other for multi-school teams:

Single School Playoffs:
This will consist of a single game, to be played at Jesuit:
Jesuit – Christian Brothers Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Multi-school Playoffs:
These will be played Friday and Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Mother Lode – United
Lamorinda - Highland

(The Pacific Northwest has chosen not to participate in high school playoffs above the local level.)


These are taken from eRugbyNews:

Women D1:
1 Stanford
2 Penn State
3 Navy
4 Texas
6 Chico State
9 UC Davis
22 California

Women D2:
1 Shippensburg
2 UC Santa Cruz
3 Norwich
4 Delaware
22 Sacramento St.

Men D1:
1 California
2 St. Mary's
4 San Diego St.
12 UC Davis

Men D2:
1 Radford
2 Coast Guard
3 Salisbury
4 Utah Valley
9 Santa Clara
16 Cal Maritime

NorCal placed eleven college teams in the top one-hundred by this reckoning.


Those of you who remember poring over Google Earth when it was released, watching the hours fly past as you sat mesmerized, well – you are in for another treat!

Microsoft has released WorldWide Telescope. It’s free. As the universe is to the Earth, is it that much more fascinating. Stargaze into an endlessly deep and self-explanatory sky...

For the uber-nerds among us, those who know will want to find the Mandelbrot Planet and there they can lose themselves in endless self-symmetry.

Committee of Voyeurs
The referee no longer struggles alone.

Andrew Ormsby, Jim Crenshaw and David Williamson man the cameras on the terrace at the Doyle Family Rugby Clubhouse at Stanford.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, May 06, 2008




The annual season-ending banquet of the NCRRS will be held on Saturday, June 7, at the Bull Valley Inn in Port Costa.

By popular demand, we will be returning to the restaurant that hosted us last year. Mark your calendar and make your plans!


One of your scribe’s old friends from East Coast days was at Stanford for the college finals. Among other envious comments he said, “You are lucky to live where there’s so much good rugby.”

Regular readers of Hail Pelicus will have encountered the rhetorical question ‘Aren’t we lucky?’ here often enough to consider it something of a tag line. But our friend’s comment engaged a train of thought.

On a personal level, I worked very hard to excel in medical school back in Georgia to earn acceptance into my first-choice residency program in San Francisco. And that was specifically because the Bay Area was where the good rugby was in the seventies. Everyone who read Rugby magazine knew that! And I’m sure I’m not the only one drawn to live in this area by the bouncing ball.

But more than that – ‘good rugby’ does not spring up out of the ground anew in Northern California simply because the calendar flips its pages. It’s not like living near Yosemite or Yellowstone or in Hawaii, where the primary attraction can be taken for granted.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

The fact that this remains the epicenter of ‘good rugby’ decade after decade is not as a result of some birthright. It is the result of endless work, unswerving dedication, sweat, hard miles and long hours on the part of thousands of players and hundreds of administrators.

Consider: Is Jack Clark ‘lucky’ to have coached his twentieth championship team? Have the many NorCal players at every level who have achieved the goal of playing on a team that won a national title just been ‘fortunate’?

While the Pelican Refs may indeed individually consider ourselves lucky to have so many good teams to referee, I do not believe it is a stretch to say that we and our predecessors have had something to do with this fortuitous state of affairs. In allowing players to attain their dreams by facilitating safe, fast and fair contests consistently throughout their careers, providing them the same level of officiating that they will face as they progress through the post-season, we have kept up our corner of the constantly-rising ziggurat of Northern California rugby.


Santa Monica 10 – SF/GOLDEN GATE 70 Referee: Paul Bretz

Golden Gate qualified for the playoffs by shellacking the Dolphins in SoCal this past weekend.

The two teams began the season on opposite tacks, Santa Monica going 3 – 0 and SFGG opening 0 – 2. But all that is forgotten now.

SFGG will be a wild-card team. They will play on the road May 17 but their opponent is yet to be determined.


MOTHER LODE 26 – Lamorinda 19 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Touch Judge: Ray Schwartz, Ray Thompson
The first semi-final if the high school playoffs Friday night in El Dorado Hills between Mother Lode and Lamorinda was expected to be a very exciting match. In fact, it exceeded all expectations, with many exciting moments provided by both well coached and well disciplined teams.

Lamo came out of the gate charging, surprising ML with their intensity. ML seemed to be unaware that they, indeed, needed to tackle their opponents. Lamo's backs ran through a number of ML tackler's attempts and led to the first try of the match about 5 minutes in.

During the setup for the kick from the corner, the ML captain had a 'come to Jesus' meeting under the posts with his team. The kick was short and after the ensuing kickoff, ML seemed to have decided that tackling was an integral part of the game.

The effect was some big hits by both sides, with both sides testing the other's mettle. ML was being pressured about half way through the half, but an errant pass and some great open field running and passing gave ML its first try just a little outside of the right post. Conversion good, game on!

For the next few minutes ML's defense pressured Lamo, but Lamo kept possession and then broke free with some nifty open field running and passing of their own, to score and convert, taking back the lead.

The next 10 minutes provided many probes by both teams, but ML ran another try in just before halftime and converted to make it Mother Lode 14 Lamorinda 12 at the break.

The first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half was an intense affair with a couple of goal line stands, followed by forced turnovers and long possessions by both teams. ML prevailed first, with an unconverted try in the corner.

Lamo stepped up the pressure and after at least 3 held up in goals, ML committed an offside at the goal line. The very alert captain and #10 for Lamo quick-tapped at the mark and dove in under a couple of ML players for the try. The kick was good and we were tied up at 19 with about 5 minutes to go.

Both teams again showed great intensity, but with about a minute to go, ML prevailed scoring a converted try. We had about 10 seconds left in the match when the Lamo captain kicked off.

What followed in the next 5 minutes was the most intense and highest paced moments of the match. Lamo maintained possession and kept pressuring ML, a couple of times getting well within ML's 22, only to have some excellent defense by ML push them back out of the 22 towards mid-field. An errant pass by Lamo and a heads-up kick to touch by ML kept us from having to have a kick off to determine a winner.

An excellent match, well played match, with very few penalties and no cards, just wide open rugby!! Both sides should be very proud of their accomplishments this year!!!
Final score: Mother Lode 26, Lamorinda 19

Christian Brothers 8 – JESUIT 31 Referee: John Pohlman
Touch Judges: Phil Akroyd, Tom Franzoia
Let me start by poising a question: Why does Northern California High School Rugby only get one berth in the National Playoffs? In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to referee loads of high school games. Golden Gate, Lamorinda, Jesuit, Christian Brothers, Santa Rosa. I would bet any of these would make it to the national final eight. Jesuit did not even qualify for one of the top two spots in their conference, but looks to qualify for the nationals. By my count 40 of the players on Cal's 51 man roster come from the Northern California high school system. O.K. you got my point.

Eileen rode out with me to Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento. We arrived around 3:00 for a 4:00pm kick-off. The field was getting its final touches. It looked like CB had put up new goal posts and lined a fully regulation field next to their football field. It temperature was heating up to around 80 at kick off.

The fans were three-deep surrounding the pitch. It was a great Catholic rivalry. Some called it David verses Goliath. Jesuit has about three times the enrollment of Christian Brothers. But CB had won the earlier match. I had refereed both teams’ semi-final match last week. It looked like a coin toss to me. Jesuit looked bigger and played a very structured game. CB had three deep-strike backs who believed they could score from anywhere.

I'd be missing the collegiate finals at Stanford for the first time in six years. But at kick off, three minutes early, there was no place I would rather be. Thirty players psyched to the max. Coaches, fans, relatives and school supporters lined the field. Two quality TJ's. As the American Express commercials says "priceless."

Jesuit won the toss and wanted the ball. Jesuit's tight five were bigger to a man that CB's. The Jesuit forwards controlled early possession and Captain and inside center Kellen Holmes finished off the first try ten minutes in.

Both my touch judges said there was a bit of scrappy, jersey tugging, pushing going on after the ball moved away. I pulled both captains aside and asked them to urge their players to be positive and stop the knickknack stuff after play.

Well at 23 minutes I saw my 26 year old English TJ Phil with his flag out. CB's #13 had been grabbed by his jersey after a play, he responded by pushing the Jesuit player. But then as he ran back to play he took a side step and stomped a Jesuit player on the ground. This was done in front of the Jesuit sideline and within a minute of me talking to the captains. Yellow Card.

Two minutes latter Captain Kellen finished off another try. Kellen scored three tries throughout the day. All with weaving steps which shifted would be tacklers allowing him to power through. But what really made these scores possible was the field position the Jesuit forwards worked so hard to gain.

#13 came back onto the field at 33 minutes and scored at 34 minutes. #13 James Jones had scored four tries last week against Santa Rosa. This time he chipped over a defender the ball bounced two inches from touch and three feet from the try line. It then bounced over the try line flag into goal where Jones beat the defenders to the ball.

Half time score Jesuit 14 Christian Bothers 5.

Jesuit's forwards were bigger than CB's but just as athletic. CB strength is in tackling and aggressiveness. Well they tackled very well. But CB's forwards could not counter ruck aggressively against the big large and athletic Jesuit front five. Jesuit started to dominate the lineouts. Forcing CB to go for goal or run penalties rather than kick for touch and lose a line-out.

The first twenty minutes of the second half saw CB attempt three penalties converting one. At twenty minutes in Jesuit just wore CB down for another score. Jesuit scored two more in the last ten minutes, with captain Kellen getting his third.

Final score: Jesuit 31 Christian Brother 8

Thanks for allowing me to run with two tremendous high schools. I also graduated from a Catholic grade school and Catholic High School. I appreciated the discipline needed to control your emotions in a high charged rivalry. Thanks to the fans for their positive energy. Thanks to the coaching staff for their control.


May 10:
The Northern California high school final:
Mother Lode – Jesuit Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
This will be played this Saturday at Stanford at 6:15 PM, as the featured match at the Pacific Coast High School Invitational Tournament.

Mother Lode has already qualified as the NorCal’s representative to the multi-school team playoffs.

May 10-11:
Pacific Coast High School Invitational Tournament at Stanford
All day, both days.

May 17:
Pacific Coast single-school championship game:
Christian Brothers – Jesuit Referee: Tony Redmond
These are the two top single-school teams in the Pacific Coast.


For the third year in a row, the finalists of D1 men and women were the same four teams: Cal, BYU, Stanford and Penn State. In fact, Stanford and Penn State have now met in the final four years in a row. As there has been a lot of turnover among the players on all of these squads, it is clear that coaching is the difference for these elite programs.

Friday - Division I semi-finals:

PENN STATE 41 – Brown 7 Referee: Chris Draper
Touch Judges: Matt Eason, John Coppinger

STANFORD 40 – Navy 20 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Touch Judges: Pete Smith, John Pohlman

CALIFORNIA 41 – St. Mary's 31 Referee: Dana Teagarden
Touch Judges: Mark Ormsby, John Coppinger

BYU 42 – Colorado 13 Referee: Ed Gardner
Touch Judges: Bruce Carter, Pete Smith

Saturday – Finals:

Division II:
SHIPPENSBURG 47 – Minnesota-Duluth 0 Referee: Dana Teagarden
Touch Judges: Tony Redmond, Bruce Carter

RADFORD 25 – Utah Valley State 14 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Touch Judges: Jim Crenshaw, John Coppinger

Division I:
STANFORD 15 – Penn State 10 Referee: Ed Gardner
Touch Judges: Jim Crenshaw, John Coppinger
This was the only close game of the weekend, and former Pelican Zinzan was fortunate to be the referee. He had a tiger by the tail.

Stanford brought out their band, their Tree, and their cheerleader/dancers for this one. It was loud and raucous throughout, like college sporting events should be.

Stanford scored two tries in the first half to go up 10-0. The second try was under the posts, so when the kick was taken the crowd assumed it was good. The roar was such that it was impossible to tell whether the referee’s whistle had gone. Certainly those of us who watch for such things didn’t see the TJs raise their flags. But two points went up on the scoreboard.

The perspicacious Zinzan noted this discrepancy at the next lineout and had it corrected.

This proved critical to the drama when Penn State came back in the second half to tie the game with about ten minutes left. Nobody wanted to face overtime on such a hot day, already playing their hearts out.

The intensity rose. The crowd was brought up out of the seats repeatedly with near-breaks and saving tackles by both teams.

Stanford worked the ball patiently downfield through intelligent kicking by their #10, multiple phases by their forwards, and smart containment and handling by their backs.

Finally the ball found the weekend’s star player, wing Jessica Watkins, who scored just as the clock rolled over to all zeroes.

CALIFORNIA 59 – Brigham Young University 7 Referee: Chris Draper
Touch Judges: Tony Redmond, Bruce Carter


Lady Pelicans U19 (trialists) vs. UC Davis Women
Pioneer Park, Davis, Sunday, 2pm

On the same weekend the Amazons travelled to the Pacific Northwest to take the Pacific Coast qualifier for the Girl's HS National Championships, the remaining NorCal Girls HS coaches and players were busy preparing for their post-season ahead.

Last weekend saw two matches played at TI's Job Corps Field. The Amazons played a final tune up game that day. This Sunday saw an open tryout camp held in the morning, followed by (4) 20-minute periods of spirited play vs. UC Davis (a National quarterfinalist), who fielded about 6 of their A Side players.

Throughout the first period, the Lady Pelicans held their own nicely giving up only one try, making plenty of big hits, and creating lots of turnover ball. But the floodgates opened in the next period, as subs were made and Davis was now fully warmed up. The last period saw some players swap teams and a few young ladies played new positions. Tonya, a former Davis High star and now at UCD, scored at least 4 tries on the day. But this was all about the youngsters.

Adrianne Rubiaco of Mother Lode (A U19 Lady Eagle who played at Budd Bay last year), Jennifer Sever of Alameda and Sarah Towne of Fortuna High all played outstanding rugby, and may make for a devastating back row combination in the weeks ahead. Jennifer played her first minutes ever at #8 and yet looked like a natural. Many other girls did quite well, and all played with increasing confidence and intensity as the match wore on. A growing experience for all.

The selfless effort put forward by coaches Tina Watts (Fortuna), Suzanne "Tank" Iwatate (Davis) and Rod Chance (Mother Lode) is matched only by Pelicanland's own Paul Berman, last year's Alameda coach, and this year stepping back in to serve as Director for this new Lady Pelicans program.

To everyone's best knowledge, there has never before been a Girls U19 select side, but with opportunities to compete ever-increasing, these stalwarts are doing their best to extend the season and create Elite Player Development pathways. Some Amazons may choose to join the three sides to be entered this weekend ahead at the 4th Annual, but that remains to be seen. Regardless, these ladies will be tested versus an Oregon Select Side, and Alex Goff's Budd Bay Steelheads, who will travel to Stanford with two full sides!

In the weeks ahead they play another trail match at St. Mary's, and then travel to Portland June 27-29 to compete in a large Select Side tourney. These young ladies, and their coaches, need all the love and support we can muster. Direct any donations toward program director Paul Berman at

They have to start from scratch, but by this time next year the Lady Pelicans U19s will have in place a well-worn and battle tested set of jerseys, a lot of wonderful memories, and probably more than a few youngsters who will go on to make the USA Rugby Age Grade Select squads.

Phil Akroyd’s Big Day:

Thought I’d send brief reports regarding past weekend games:

Sat 5/3 10.30am – All Star selection game held at Will Rogers Middle School.

Approximately 35 potential All Stars showed up early at Will Rogers Middle School to run drills in the early morning heat. The players took the extremely firm pitch in their stride and played a fast, open expansive game, resulting in an abundance of tries.

The overall atmosphere was of fun and enjoyment with many of the boys sharing jokes at scrums and taking the opportunity to throw caution to the wind and keep me running from end-to-end. As the game progressed, the teams became more balanced with a total of eight tries scored in the first half. The pace didn’t die down as a further seven tries were scored in the second half. Although the final score was irrelevant, it’s worth noting that 87 points were scored in total. Great stuff!

Sat 5/3 12.00pm – Sierra Junior College v. UC Davis II at Will Rogers Middle School.

I believe that this was Sierra’s seventh or eighth game since forming a team and as I took charge of their first ever game, it was interesting to see their progress. It was clear to see that they have progressed significantly, both in defense and attack, but still need to gain match experience. The Davis team included a few first-teamers and their player/coach, with their “old-heads” proving superior. Some creative backs moves also helped and they put four tries past Sierra in the first thirteen minutes, without repost. Sierra scored a try in each half but went in 32 – 5 down at half-time.

Davis held the gas-pedal down in the second-half and ran in a further five tries. Final score: UC Davis II 56-10 Sierra Junior College.

Sat 5/3 4.00pm – NCRFU Playoff Jesuit @ Christian Brothers

I had the privilege of TJing this game. I’m sure John Pohlman sent a full report but I wanted to say what an enjoyable game it was. Great weather, big spectator presence and two good teams. A fantastic way to end a full day of rugby.

Now looking forward to Stanford this weekend.


April 26:
Señors 31 – Hayward Old Boys 31 Referee: Dave Heath
Bjorn had originally been assigned this game, but in a moment of madness had decided to play, so he asked me whether I could cover the game. So at the scheduled kick-off time of 10:30 on Saturday the game would have been 7-a-side, but by 10:45 the two sides were able to muster 30 hale (and some very hearty) players between them. The second old boys game was on the pitch at 12:00 so the two teams agreed two twenty minute halves with a bit added on 'if there was time'.

In near perfect conditions we had an excellent game. The first half saw 2 tries apiece, with SFGG shading it by a conversion to lead 14-12. The players were complaining that there was too much advantage being played, but it made for a fast flowing game that saw every-one grateful for the half-time whistle.

The 2nd half continued in the same vein, with another 6 tries being shared evenly between the two teams, except this time with Hayward taking the kicking honours by two conversions to one, making the final score a very creditable 31 all.

Bjorn played a sterling first half at hooker, and was the epitome of politeness and correctness. His absence was very noticeable in the 2nd period as he absented himself to ostensibly 'manage the bar'.


As the rugby season is over for most referees, except for watching the big dogs do the playoffs, how to utilize all of our free time?

You get to the Internet the same way you get to Carnegie Hall – practice, practice, practice.

This is a fellow who must have nothing but time on his hands, but at least he has something to show for it:

Suffering for the Sport
Frank and Clarice Merrill hosted the tournament officials from the college finals at their home on Friday night.

L to R: Ed Todd, Scott Wood, Tony and Deidre Redmond, Frank Merrill


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris