Tuesday, October 28, 2008




The pre-season is heating up. There are three tournaments this Saturday, plus three stand-alone games. Each tournament has two fields in use all day. Simple math: (3 refs per pitch X 2 pitches X 3 tourneys) + 3 other games = 21 refs. We have 11. Ergo: we need ten more!

There are also two games Friday evening and five games on Sunday. It’s like this, excepting Thanksgiving weekend, from now until mid-December.

We are especially disappointed in the absolute lack of participation by recent attendees at level one referee classes. The autumn in the perfect time to get in some low-stress whistle time, even if you plan to play rugby with your club this season. We welcome new blowers this time of the year. Please reply to this e-mail if you would be able to referee some over the next seven weekends.


The Pacific Coast Grizzlies will be hosting the New Zealand Heartland XV this Sunday, November 2, at Rocca Field on Treasure Island at 3 PM. Admission is $10.

The Heartland competition is the top tier of amateur rugby in the Land of the Long White Cloud. This is the all-star team from that league. They will also be playing a USA XV in Utah the following weekend.

See you there?


The Hawaii Harlequins Invitational was played in Waikiki this past weekend and the event was refereed through the combined efforts of the Northern California and Texas societies: Hail, Pelitex!

Scott Wood and Bruce Carter were joined by James Summers, Jim Wolfinger, and Jim’s wife Carolyn for five lovely days in paradise. The tournament ran Friday and Saturday.

The referees were hosted by the Harlequins at the brand-new and lovely Wyland Waikiki Hotel. You know Wyland – he’s the artist who does the building-size murals showing underwater scenes. He also did the paintings and sculptures which adorn the rooms and the grounds of the hotel.

The tournament was a round-robin featuring five teams, one of which came from Australia. There was also an old-boys division of four teams, with one from Oz and one from Vancouver. All of the games were played in Kapiolani Park at the foot of Diamond Head.

The four intrepid refs provided teams of three for all of the games using the newest technology, the EarTec duplex radios with allow for simultaneous conversation between a ref and assistant ref with the ref remaining hands-free. This kept the nonsense to a minimum and was much appreciated by the players and organizers.

The tourists spent a day at Pearl Harbor and got in some hiking time well up into the mountains. Training table consisted mostly of sushi and mai-tais, with the Spam musube featuring prominently in late-night fare.

It is a mystery to your writer why more Pelicans did not avail themselves of the opportunity to enjoy rugby in such a fabulous location. Perhaps next year – all signs point to our being asked back.


Report by David Williamson:
Lots of teams, and lots of smiles, described the spectacular Stanford 10s. Twelve women's teams (including many rookies) and six men's teams started the tournament at 7:45 am and concluded at 5 pm, after 41 matches. The Davis Double-Deckers won the women's trophy over the San Francisco Fog, and the Stanford Business School won the men's final over San Jose State University.

Much appreciation to the refs who braved the 49 F dewy first matches (Bruce Bernstein and James Hinkin), the refs who arrived early and left late (brand-new ref Brian Schnack and Chris Labozzetta), those who handled matches during the 80 F heat of the day (John Coppinger, Preston Gordon, Ray Schwartz, and Eric Rauscher), and to Tony Redmond for both early-morning referee coaching and the late-day final matches. Your combined efforts kept the tournament on schedule, with just one-minute breaks between matches. Well done!!

Eric Rauscher reporting
Had to work Sat morning so was not able to make it down until about 11 am. I ended up reffing two games and running touch for the men's and women's finals. The weather was great and the gathering of people was fun.

First game
DAVIS DOUBLE DECKERS 34 – UC Los Angeles 0 (womens)
The total time for the games was 24 min as sounded by an air horn. I was really impressed by Davis #12 (Sharon) who scored four tries and converted two, so all in all she scored on average of a point a minute. It wasn't that the UCLA team played badly, but Davis was just head and shoulders above.

Second Game
UCLA 26 – Cal Blue 17 (womens)
This was a much closer game. Both teams traded scores and kept me running up and down the pitch. We had a minor injury and a little time was lost which make the combined total of 43 points in 24 min impressive.

Report by Ray Schwartz:
Just a quick report from the Stanford 10s. Warm day, lots of running rugby, good spirits all around. I showed up mid morning to help spell the early risers and ran three matches, all women's. I had reffed three matches the weekend before in Reno as well. It's good to be back at the whistle, after being out for nearly 18 months, but the knee is doing fine, and I just keep chipping away at my fitness.

It was great to see Brian Schnack ref 7 matches! The youngster has springs for legs and a great demeanor. With Labo and Dude reffing as well, that made 4 Speed Freak Clown refs on the day, a new record! It was also great to see San Jose St. field two competitive sides and reach the tourney finals on the men's side. Could Spartan Rugby be back?!

In the matches I ran, the FOG dominated Stanford Red, winning 43-0 in just 24 minutes of play, Stanford Red then smashed Stanford White, then before I reffed Stanford Red once again, I traded with Preston and handled Chico St. vs. UCSD.

I had reffed Chico last weekend in Reno, and I can report they seemed twice as good in just one week's time, due in part to their #17 who apparently came out to try rugby on Tuesday, and yet was playing hard-nosed and flawless rugby Saturday. All Chico players seem confident going into contact, passing easily out of it, and with lots of support. They overmatched a game UCSD squad, who lacked some depth, but featured Julia, their #13 and captain. Julia was a good leader, working tirelessly to help her teammates out in support and with good passes, and making lots of tackles. I predict a World Cup may be in this young lady's future, whereas a march to the National Championships may be in Chico's!

Report by Brian Schnack:
The day started with me waking up late, too late to pick up Bruce Bernstein at 0700 to get to the first match.

Or perhaps the day started 13 years ago on my second day in California after driving West from Iowa. I had the number of a certain guy named Griff Lacey, who was running the Paxos in what sadly turned out to be their last year. So I called him.

But a different guy (if I only knew how truly different) answered. While sincerely appreciating my interest in playing with the Paxos, I promise you that Ray Schwartz’ 3rd or 4th question to me (after what do you play, you’re not married are you, have you had your shots) was, “Do you want to meet up at the British Bankers Club? It’s full of cute old ladies with husbands out of town.” With that promising start, 12 years of fun and occasional Clowning ensued, with me catching more diseases from Ray & Dude & Crew than I did rugby balls.

Or, rather, the day started last year, the morning after Dude’s 50th birthday party, when Ray’s salesmanship with Dude’s persistence (over morning food and drink in Capitola) got me to agree to admit I’m not playing much, so why not ref.

But a year passed, with me actually playing more Old Boys and Mission than reffing. So maybe the day started after Ray kicked me verbally in the shins and Dude volunteered me for the Slugfest. Which was a fun time, all things considered.

So, that brings me back to 10/25/2008. The day started with me waking up a few minutes too late to pick up Dude, but early enough for me to squeeze in 7 games of fun, active rugby under the helpful eyes of David, Tony, and the others who were all too eager to remind me to:

1. Be more North / South
2. Get in shape (okay, that one’s a lie)
3. Focus on whistle / signal and verbal
4. Get in position better; anticipate
5. Tuck my shirt in
6. Keep having fun

So with a little help from my friends new and old, the players were up for a long day of fun, fast, competitive rugby, and I was up for doing my part to help them have a go at it.

Game 1: The Cherry: UC Davis Women vs Cal White Women
15 minutes after showing up, I’m hunting down the teams. Surely UC Davis is in Blue and Yellow? No. Surely they are at least wearing UC Davis jerseys? No. But surely they can play. Davis won 42 – 0 over a Cal squad loaded with rookies who played a spirited match but could neither retain the ball, take it away, nor catch up to it as it travelled through and down for 8 tries. To their credit, Cal’s rare Berkeley winds blew foul all but 1 of Davis’ 8 conversion attempts, although I’d give some due to Mary’s rusty boot. Joking aside, Cal kept at it and played through, using the game as a great experience for their next matches. Much like their ref...

Personal Highlight: Dave running onto the pitch 2 minutes in to swap out my red jersey with a Pelican’s. Wolf calls from both Davis and myself. Ray’s no longer the apple in this ref’s eye.

Game 2: WTF is the call here? You mean I’m miked?: Cal Gold Women vs SF Fog Women
Dave and Tony were good sports (Dave NEVER was this nice while reffing Mission), with focused, apt coaching after my first game. I figure they only loaded me with a mere sample of what they REALLY could have told me, not wanting me to roll myself up in a big ball and die. So they miked me in order to let me hear from myself what not to do. Fog won 60-0 with 10 tries in a game against another green Cal squad largely overmatched in terms of ability to ruck, maul, hit, and break through for scores.

Personal highlight: My highlight will be when I watch the DVD of my game, audio off so I don’t hear myself go, “Hmmm...I think that’s okay...”

Game 3: You Again?!? Version 1: SJSU Blue Men v Stanford Red Men
I like Dean White. They must like him too, because his guys (SJSU) play hard, run hard, and hit hard. Stanford was up for them, getting down 0-10, evening it up to 10-all, only to lose 10-15 with a few final lost charges into the 22. A good, tough, well-fought game with action in both directions that got a little sloppy on high-tackles and a few non-wraps near the end, one that either team could have won. Speaking of could have won, SJSU could have taken away a few more scrums if I’d have called Stanford on their feeding.

Personal highlight: Players being appreciative about having a nice, fun game.

Game 4: You Again?!? Version 2: SJSU Yellow Men v Berkeley MBA Men
I’ll throw in my last plug on the support Dave, Tony, John, etc. provided, ensuring each game was a growth experience rooted in the rotten, failed harvests of prior games (wait; that came out wrong). And I took this accrued advice into another competitive match which saw two pounding SJSU scores and conversions make the difference. SJSU hit first with some nice forward play, scoring off a pick & go. Berkeley evened it up, only to see SJSU’s high-tackling-but-thigh-pumping #12 take the ball 20 meters through Berkeley’s belly, pinballing into a combination of players, post, pads and pay dirt for a try. Third-best try of the day from my view at least (Stay tuned for Humboldt v Stanford Alum). That was followed by SJSU’s ruby-shoed, earring-studded #10 going in for a long score, then showboating on touching the ball down for a try. (Word of advice – be careful during the season) Berkeley closed the game with a score, which ended in SJSU’s favor, 19-10.

Personal highlight: Remembering the “Kick here at your 5 meter, scrum up there at mid-field” call on a penalty to SJSU on which the kicking team charged the ball down offsides, and having to explain “why the hell I called that” to the team receiving the call (Hat-tip to Bryant from the Slugfest on this call from the prior week, when I called it “scrum where it was played, kick where it happened”)

Game 5: You Again?!? Version 3: SJSU Blue Men v Stanford Red Men
After rolling his eyes and introducing me to his parents in anticipation of making our relationship official, Dean and his guys took the field for a rematch with Stanford Red. Warning both teams in advance (particularly SJSU) to keep the tackles clean and below the neck, the game started like the other game ended – with hits & sprints. SJSU got up 12-0, many thanks to a wonderful SJSU rolling maul, seeing SJSU peel off and feed it to part-time Mission Wing Koby (#16) for a well-earned score. Stanford answered with a beautiful series of rucks & mauls, ending the sequence with a converted try for 12-7 score. From a scoring perspective, SJSU took the rest of the game, ultimately winning 34-7. I’d blame it largely on the heat, not to mention the pace of the games these guys were playing all day. Both sides ran & hit at full clip, so nothing was left on the pitch. Speaking of leaving the pitch, this game saw me get out the Yellow for my first Sin Binning (as a ref at least). SJSU blasted through an obstructing player; while not intentionally dangerous play, the tone of the game if not the Laws asked for that call. Many thanks to the binned player for taking it in stride despite his annoyance.

Personal highlight: Tie: SJSU’s and Stanford’s scores off of continuing forward play. Me uttering the words, “Gate, gate”.

Game 6: Play to the Final Whistle: Stanford Alum Women v Humboldt Women
Let’s start by saying Stanford made a point of telling me and the opposing team’s captain that they were here for fun, so let’s not get injured and have to miss work on Monday. Part of me thought this was a misdirection, as Stanford scored four rather easy, long tries to get up 24-0. (I’ll insert, as editorial within editorial, that there were anywhere from 3 to 6 forward passes I didn’t call against Stanford. I’ll admit on the stand that I recall quite a few that made me go, “Hmm; it’s sideways; play on”, and I guarantee I was wrong on several, and that’s an area to work on. But also let me say that I’ve seen guys lean too much toward making “sideways” equal “forward”. But I’m a good person, I swear; ask Dude) So we’re at 10 minutes left, and Stanford’s winning, largely thanks to my forgiving “forward pass my ass” eye (I kid). Frankly, up to this point Humboldt wasn’t doing themselves any favors, since they were taking the ball into tackles far too often, neither getting the ball to numbers nor doing much from the rucks & mauls. But something clicked. Humboldt gets the ball into the 22, then starts a series of rucks and mauls, ending with two pick & go’s and a score. That series shined light on why people should love rugby, and you could see it in the Humboldt players’ eyes. Down 5-24 with time running out, Humboldt gets possession inside the 22. The horn blows, signaling game end, and this is last ball. Humboldt attacks and draws a penalty – play on. Humboldt taps and goes, pounding the ball inside the 10. We get a tackle, then a ruck, then...a Stanford player on the ground plays the ball. Penalty to Humboldt, back ten, quick ball through mark, pounding it through and down for a “penalty time” score. Stanford Alum won 24-10, but Humboldt won the last 10 minutes with a spirited ending.

Personal Highlight: I enjoyed Humboldt’s last two scores from a rugby-fan’s perspective. I enjoyed them from the perspective of a rugger missing the hitting on Saturdays. I especially enjoyed the final try because it was allowed to happen thanks in part to a prescient call from this bald, somewhat sunburned ref.

Game 7: AKA, “Dave, anyone else want a game? No? Okay. Gimme”: Stanford Alum Women v UC Davis Women
It was great to see Davis playing in the semis (Spoiler Alert: They ultimately won, and it’s a cookbook), and it was great to see Mary, Davis’ captain, nail 5 out of her 7 conversion attempts for the game, with Davis winning 45-0. This game was 50 minutes after both teams’ previous matches, on a hot day full of 24-minute sprints. Stanford was up for the match, but the game’s tone was set off the first scrum, with the Davis scrum half taking the ball 50 meters for a weakside score.

Personal Highlight: Taking my boots off for the day and enjoying a drink out of John’s shopping bag, then another from the bounty Ray scored from somewhere. Cheers to everyone who kicked off, nudged along, and closed out a great day. The day started early, went quickly, and ended with a cold beer and an hour’s drive back home, where I ended up falling asleep spooning my kid, him booting me in his sleep like a player rucking away at a player in the way, unseen by his dad’s rookie eyes. I’ll call him on it next time.


SILVERHAWKS 45 – San Francisco Fog 25 Referee: John Pohlman
The San Jose Silverhawks hosted the FOG in the Mike Sammon Memorial Game at James Lick High School on the corner of White and Gay.

Mike was a local high school rugby star who went to Chico State. Unfortunately, Mike suffered from mental illness, which lead to an early death at 39.

Ken Bousfield, Seahawk, Silverhawk and current coach of the FOG has helped keep this game alive. Fellow Kiwi Matt Jackson made a beautiful trophy which was presented to Mike's parents at the after party.

The Silvers are currently led by Tory Galino and his east San Jose mates. Over ten of the starting players on the Silvers played high school rugby together. And competed with and against Mike in high school.

It was decided to play four 20 minute periods.

The first twenty was all San Jose. The Old Boys looked fit, organized and finished trys. Forwards taking contact, dishing off passes as going to ground. Just enough support to finish scores. They looked like they could compete in Aspen.

The second period the heat and subs slowed the Hawks. The younger FOG came roaring back with three trys to San Jose's one. The FOG are coached by two ex San Jose players. Welshman Ian Binding and Kiwi Kenny. The Fog have good numbers, some experience and look to be capable of competing in Division three this year.

Half time score San Jose 4 trys FOG 3.
Just one small outburst prior to halftime between a couple of front rowers, marred a very well played half.

The second half started with the FOG having much of the early ball. The Silvers tackled and consistently fell on the tackled player, or the ball, or the wrong side or all three. On the third penalty in five minutes I brought San Jose's captain over to explain the tackler must immediately move away. The tackler should look like a spring moving quickly. Of course I had called this penalty on AJ the 67 year old host of the after party. AJ tried to explain he just didn't spring anymore. As I told AJ, if I expect him to spring away after the tackle, I obviously expected everyone else to follow.

San Jose finished of the third period with three unanswered trys.

The last period the FOG put in their rookies and San Jose put in their older guys. This was still well played with two scores each for a final score of 45-25.

One of the FOG rookie props was wearing brown fingernail polish. Not sure if this was part of a Halloween costume, maybe he passed out the night before, I didn't check his eyebrows. But it totally clashed with the kit for the day. My suggestion would be a blue or aqua.

SANTA ROSA J.C. 19 – UC Davis 7 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
Perhaps it was not a good idea, after a week attending a conference in New Orleans where after hours "networking" is not only encouraged but required, and shortly after returning home on a red eye flight, to referee a couple of Seven matches before my main match. Yet, arriving at the pitch the customary hour before the match, and with UC Davis barely arriving, I was tempted to officiate my first Sevens when two sides of mainly Islanders asked me to partake.

As a former front rower, I have never done Sevens before and I always looked askance at the abbreviated game. I was however surprised of how fun it was! It is easy to have the game come to you, and rucks and mauls afford a visibility rare in the 15 matches. What I did not account for however was the impending heat of the day.....

It was hot indeed at the beautiful "for Pete's Sake" pitch in Santa Rosa. I therefore declined to officiate the third Sevens match, and concentrated on preparing for the Santa Rosa Junior College vs. UC Davis match. Without a doubt, these are two fit, promising, and dedicated sides. Tackling and determination were on tap for the duration, with a closely contested first half. Due to the heat, there were water breaks after 20 minutes of each half, but the young players continued to hammer at each other tirelessly. Davis closed the tight first half with a converted try to the JC's sole unconverted one.

The second half had the Santa Rosa lads written all over it. Benefiting from the local strong high school scene and continuity in its coaching staff, the JC continues to perform well above expectations, and again they did not fail to do so. They kept UC Davis scoreless on the second half, while adding two more converted tries. The final score does not do justice to the Davis players. They fought hard and played well, but they are obviously a team building up with new arrivals.

A good time was had by all, the pitch was a delight, but it was way too hot for late October.


November 25/26 2008
Exchangee: Don Pattalock

GLENDALE RAPTORS 8 – Denver Highlanders 7
Infinity Park, Glendale Co.
Referee: D. Pattalock
Assistant Referees: Joe Zevin, Marc Nelson
Referee Coach: Tom Coburn

Infinity Park is a great facility with all the amenities any rugby fan could want. This match was taped for broadcast on FSN Rocky Mountain so all the wires and timing were well coordinated. The rugby was not nearly as great as the facilities. Neither team was particularly fit nor efficient with the ball. Both teams rucked TO the ball as opposed to OVER the ball resulting in countless pileups, slow ball and a frustrated referee the entire match. Glendale had better possession and attacking opportunities but could not convert. The Highlanders chose to pick and drive all day, unfortunately they did so with upright body positions allowing Glendale to tackle the ball. This story played out over and over throughout the game. With the teams not responding to the referee’s commands, the penalty count was a personal best. Not the television debut I was hoping for.

Following the match, we retired to Marc’s house with the game DVD in hand to finish my prostate exam. Tom Coburn was great and we discussed my match in painstakingly frame by frame detail. The match was better to watch the second time, as it was determined that the players had some liability in the disaster. So I picked up what was left of my self-confidence, grabbed a burrito and headed off to bed at Joe’s house for what was to be a night of heavy reflection and endless tossing and turning.

University of Wyoming 29, Colorado State University 24
Laramie, WY
Referee: D. Pattalock
Assistant Referees: Larry Johnson, Vanessa McMaher
Assessor: Martin Brown

Sunday morning arrived and I had a quick bowl of cereal with Joe just as Martin arrived to give me a lift up to Laramie for the match. The match was scheduled for noon, so as I warmed up and dropped my warm up suit with 10 minutes until kickoff, neither team had even begun their warm up. As I approached the coach, he then informed me that the game was rescheduled until 1 pm. Important bit of information that never made to me or my host. I guess I could have gotten a cup of coffee and a bottle of water for the 2.5 hour ride up. So back I went into my warm ups to keep the winds from freezing my skin off. The pitch, which sloped noticeably from north to south (which I was informed was only 43 inches different from one side to the other!) with the wind howling down slope, I thought to myself, “This is a 15 point wind”. Well it turned out to be a 14 point wind and fortunately for WYO (with the wind at their backs in the first half) that they managed a 19 point differential at halftime. WOY played a wide open attacking pattern in the first half using the wind to play the match in CSU’s half. Some well worked tries as well as some opportunistic tries put WYO up 29 -10 at half. With the change in field came the change in momentum. CSU scored 2 converted tries and then WYO went into lock down and ground out the last 15 minutes of the match with slow pick and drives. Better game than the day before, but still had 10-12 unsuccessful mauls which resulted in turnover scrums.

Following the match, Martin swept me back to Denver where I sat for 4 hours and contemplated my weekend. Thanks to the NCRRS for the opportunity to participate in the exchange.


Rumor has reached the Senate that there is resentment afoot in the land, resentment that Northern California should be so well-represented at the territorial, national and International levels in rugby refereeing, evaluating, coaching, administration, touch judging, fourth/fifth/sixth officiating and in the judiciary realm with citing officers and match commissioners.

Let there be no mistake: it is our policy to feed such resentments.

Our latest initiative should provide a hearty meal to those who would dissipate their time and energy in envy rather than enterprise.

The NCRRS Board of Directors would like to announce sponsorship of a referee-specific professional fitness training program overseen by a licensed professional trainer for our members.

Daniel Kemenetzky has spoken to us at our meetings about the physical requirements that are placed upon rugby referees. Daniel, who played the game in Argentina and once refereed a bit here in Pelicanland, has developed a plan to help any referee achieve maximum potential.

The evaluation phase involves an interview, a medical, athletic and injury history, some physiologic measurements, and video analysis of the trainee’s running and refereeing style. This last utilizes a GPS tracker, enable time-and-motion studies, with simultaneous heart-rate monitoring to determine cardiac responses to different paces and distances.

Daniel will then make recommendations for training and correction of identified problems, and will monitor progress with on-going sessions.

Follow-on studies will entail at least ten monthly sessions to gauge progress and make adjustments to the training regimen.

The NCRRS is willing to pay half the cost of this training program. Let us know of your interest to discuss fees and scheduling. The cost will be within the range of a gym membership and/or a personal trainer.


If you would like to go to Victoria, British Columbia, on exchange next month, please let us know.

This five-day trip over Thanksgiving weekend (Wednesday-Sunday) is one of the highlights of our exchange calendar. The rugby and the hosting are top-drawer.

Those who have already been are welcome to go again. Spouses would be welcome. Two exchangees will be selected from those available.


All of you who might find yourself refereeing a game in the next year need to take the time to sign and submit the NCRFU Safety Protocol.

This can be downloaded from our website:


You may sign it electronically and send it in via e-mail, or print out, sign and snail-mail in the signature page.


18474 Deertrack Place
Salinas, CA 93908

Stanford Tens Refs
End of day photo, with libations: Dave Williamson, Brian Schnack, John Coppinger, Tony Redmond, Ray Schwartz, Eric Rauscher, and Preston Gordon.

Refs departing earlier: Bruce Bernstein, James Hinkin, Chris Labozzetta.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris