Thursday, January 15, 2009




‘Tis the time of year when you need to know how to get in touch with rugby teams and they with you. But if your contact information is outdated on our website, this ain’t happening.

Have a look:

If your information is not current, let Scott Wood know of any corrections soonest:


Be aware that when you enter the name of a team or individual in the Membership search function on the USA Rugby website, it defaults to 2010. We believe that this has accounted for a lot of heartache and possibly even some missed rugby.

Select 2009 from the drop-down menu and you’ll be up-to-date.


Our monthly NCRRS meeting will be on Wednesday, January 14, from 7 to 9 PM at the Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island. The Referee Development Committee will meet from 6 until 7.

There will be food available at no charge beginning at six. Plan to arrive early – if you get there early you can eat and visit with other early arrivals, while if traffic is bad you won’t be late.


Please let us know which of the Saturdays in February you can referee, and whether you can do a road trip:

Y/N If Yes, Travel? Y/N
Feb 7
Feb 14
Feb 21
Feb 28


OLYMPIC CLUB 35 – San Mateo 10 Referee: Joe Androvich
Olympic Club and San Mateo faced off in late Saturday afternoon at Crocker-Amazon Park. The weather was ideal: sunny, warm, with a slight wind. The field turf was well maintained and could handle all types of shoes, cleats. Rich Anderson and John Coppinger arrived unannounced, 5 minutes before kickoff, and relieved my worries of not having touch judges. They did a fine job.

San Mateo came out fast, fit, and physical. They scored the match's first try, taking a 5-3 lead. After OC converted two penalties, the score at the half was 6-5. The second half was a different story. OC went on the offensive, despite San Mateo's continued physicality. Multiple penalties near the goal line caused a penalty try and subsequent yellow card to the San Mateo #9. Playing 15 on 14, OC scored consecutive tries. Both sides showed flashes of brilliance, but OC ultimately topped San Mateo on the scoreboard. Final score: 35-10

Seconds: OLYMPIC CLUB 10 – San Mateo 7 Referee: Rich Anderson

HAYWARD 17 – Sacramento Lions 12 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Assistant Referee: Chris Tucker
It was all Hayward in the first half, as they were able to keep control of the pace and the ball. Both teams were a little short of players, but Sac was missing more than Hayward having only about 20 CIPP'd players making the trip. It also seemed that Hayward had been having practices and were much more organized, especially in the first half.
Score at halftime 17 to 0.

The second half, the Lions seemed to regroup and Hayward seem content to sit on their lead. Sac scored an unconverted try about half way through the half and then a converted try about 10 minutes later to get within 5, but Hayward took control after that to finish it.

Seconds: HAYWARD 58 – Sacramento Lions 10 Referee: Phil Akroyd
This game followed the A team game at Sunset School in Hayward, however Sac Lions had only traveled with 17 players in total. This resulted in their ‘A’ team (minus several injured players) playing the ‘B’ team game against a fully fresh set of legs from Hayward. Needless to say the game descended into a farce at an early stage as Sac did not want to play, nor showed any real commitment – ducking out of tackles, etc. Hayward scored early and often and the game finished at 58 – 10 after a total of 55 minutes of play.

SAN FRANCISCO GOLDEN GATE 52 – Sacramento Capitals 15 Referee: Scott Wood
TJs: Club supplied--several visiting and domestic referees volunteered their services but permission was denied at the highest levels...

Fast paced game. SFGG's first try was quickly answered in kind by Sacramento. Both teams seemed a little off their stride but willing to play rugby. Sacramento defended well and stripped the ball twice as the hosts attacked from five meters out. Halftime: 19-5. The second half had a more opportunistic SFGG trying various attacking strategies. Capitals again defended well and were able to exploit some hole in SFGG's defense but it was for naught. While the visitors managed two tries in the second half, SFGG opened up the scoring dotting down three tries in the waning minutes of the match.

Fortunately, it was a brilliant day of sunshine so we retired to the patio area for food, beverage and conversation. The clubhouse was hijacked by poobahs, alakazoos, muckety-mucks and other nefarious ilk of the Super League Referee Society. On the other hand, they were not released to turn the match into a fish bowl (although some managed to catch a couple minutes of the first half). Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to see those friendly faces.

Seconds: SFGG – Sacramento Capitals CANCELED

DIABLO GAELS 26 – Baracus 10 Referee: Preston Gordon
Referee Coach: Bryant Byrnes
There was a little pre-season rust all around, but nonetheless this game had some good action. Diablo got out to a 19-5 lead at halftime. The second half was a much closer affair, with a good amount of multi-phase play. Each side scored an additional try, with the final result standing at 26-10 in the home team's favor.

The weather was a pleasant surprise, which perhaps shouldn't have been a surprise considering the match was played in Pleasant Hill. The pitch is slightly undersized but well marked. Also, thanks to Bryant Byrnes for the coaching feedback.

Seconds: DIABLO GAELS 27 – Baracus 24 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A pretty day in Contra Costa and lots of scoring in a close match. Six unconverted tries (out of nine)-a good kicker would still be caging free drinks.

A shifty and grizzled Baracus was up 14 -5 first half, but the Gaels then put in just enough rested ringers to pull it out. The game ends with a desperate Baracus charge on the Gaels-thwarted by a forward pass. Props to both teams for a fun game.

MISSION 45 – Vacaville 5 Referee: James Hinkin
Starting the season off with style at the site of the Palo Alto 7s I had the Mission/Vacaville clash. Vacaville looks to be short of numbers this year but coach Chris Motes had a full 15 plus subs warming up a half hour before the game. Unfortunately Mission was missing a large contingent who were “all in one car and on their way”. This mystery car showed up with 10 minutes to spare and both sides were able to field a full team to kick off the season. Mission had a size advantage from (nearly) 1 through 15 and it showed in the game play. Vacaville tackled hard and with passion but could not counter the lbs that Mission was putting into the contact. Mission finally broke through with a try at the 7 minute mark and never looked back. They were running with power and pace in the forwards and the backs and were not to be denied. Four tries (two converted) unanswered in the first half left the score at 24-0 at the break.

The second half was more of the same as Vacaville struggled to get out of their half. They had some good phases and some line breaks but could not find the try line. Their most dangerous moment was when their fly-half kicked excellently over the top and put the ageless Mission fullback Tom Mell under pressure and gained a penalty 5 meters out when he threw the ball into touch while being tackled. But the ensuing tap-and-go resulted in a maul that Mission turned over and kicked to safety to relieve the pressure. Vacaville got a deserved consolation try at full time when their quick and elusive #13 scooped up at loose knock on at his own 22 and outpaced everybody to score under the posts. As a summary of how the game had gone, the conversion hit the post and bounced out.

Fog 10 – BERKELEY 32 Referee: Mike Gadoua
The Fog lost to Berkeley 32 to 10. Messy play and poor execution caused the lopsided first half. However, had the third half occurred on the pitch, the winning checkpoint may have been given to the Hosts. As the game progressed, the Fog improved. The Fogs defense got tighter and the offense moved the ball forward. Berkeley’s Rugby was consistently good throughout the match.

Mendocino apparent forfeit to HUMBOLDT Referee: Tom Zanarini
Tom reports that Mendocino had only seven registered players as of Friday morning, without the prospect of a sufficient number by kick-off. Not wanting to drive to Ukiah only to have to turn around and come home, he found something else to do: training for an in-season half-marathon.

Petaluma 12 – STANISLAUS 34 Referee: Roberto Santiago
As the players said a few times during the match this was Div III rugby at its Div-Three-est. Though neither side was proficient at the detailed technical aspects of the game (being able to successfully tap the ball on a penalty, having the ball touch the ground on a drop kick etc) they were very good at vocally pointing out the opposing team's faults. Each side became more adamant and strident inverse to their knowledge of the laws. "SIR SIR THEY DID MATCH IN THE LINE OUT!!!! SIR! THREE PHASES AGO, THEY DID NOT MATCH IN THE LINE OUT AND YOU DIDN'T CALL IT!! SIR!!!"

That said the captains did their best to control their teams despite everyone having had a full pot of Constant Comment prior to the match. Rugbywise there were positives during match. The teams were rarely offside or infringing at the breakdowns. The one law needing the most reinforcement on the day was the requirement to wrap or bind during various types of contact resulting in a yellow card.

In the end Stanislaus was a little more organized for this first tilt of the season and it showed in the result. Thanks to both teams and all the coaches who were, in the great rugby tradition, upstanding gentlemen as soon as the final whistle sounded. "Sorry for all the chatter sir." was heard more than a few times. Another thank you to my touch judges, I'm sorry the names have slipped me but they were an asset. And so another happy Saturday is in the books.

CHICO 50 – Shasta 8 Referee: Sam Reagle
Weather: Perfect

My heart goes out to those around the country who are suffering thru bad weather this weekend. I left Roseville Saturday morning under clear skies for my 75 mile drive up the NorCal countryside to Chico. When I arrived just before noon, both teams were at full strength and already warming up for the 1pm kickoff. I don't think it was 70 degrees yet, but it was a beautiful day, indeed.

The Highlanders kicked-off and pinned Chico deep in their territory until a not-releasing penalty kick provided the first points of the game. With Shasta ahead 3-0 and driving again, Chico's defense was giving ground until about 5 meters out when another not-releasing penalty kick pushed the ball out to midfield. Chico scored their first try on this possession about 7 minutes into the game. Chico would score 4 more tries before the half ended. Halftime score: 29-3.

The second half was more of the same, Shasta playing and tackling very well for a couple of phases and then Chico breaks thru for a score. Shasta has some new recruits who can play. Both teams came to play as the last try of the game was scored by Shasta with less than 2 minutes to go. This was a gem to referee. At the Oasis afterwards, rugby songs filled the air. The Highlanders won the Boatrace.

APTOS 8 – Marin 5 Referee: Chris Labozzetta
Typical first game of the year spectacle. Hard, passionate play from both sides, but unfortunately very sloppy play as well.

Both teams scored unconverted tries, with Aptos pulling ahead around the 65th min with a penalty kick from the 27 meter mark. Marin had a very strong opportunity with only a few minutes to go, as they came up a foot short at the tryline. They were awarded the ensuing scrum, lost it, but had a great opportunity as Aptos’ kick went out at the 5 meter line. Unfortunately, Marin lost the line out, and Aptos kicked the ball down field. The Marin back, who must have been new to the game, fielded the kick on Aptos’ 25 meter line, only to kick it himself through the end goal line, where the game ended.

Overall a fun match to ref.

CALIFORNIA 99 – Humboldt State 0 Referee: John Pohlman
Touch Judges: Eric Rauscher and Tom Wright

UC Berkeley started their 2009 season by hosting Humboldt State this past Saturday. And what a day, temperatures in the high 60’s, blue skies and the famed Witter Rugby Field home the defending Collegiate Rugby’s Division 1 Champion.

The Witter experience never gets old. Reserved parking, national anthem and the last thing you hear prior to your opening whistle is your name being announced as referee for the day.

Cal is celebrating their 127th year of rugby. Coach Jack Clark is honored as 2008 Coach of the year by American Rugby News. The Bears went 24-1 last year. In Clark’s reign the Bears are 440-66-5 for a .861 winning percentage. Coach Clark is only the 6th coach in Cal’s 127 years.

This year’s Cal roster features 66 players: 54 from NorCal High School rugby programs, two from SoCal and two are foreign born.

The scoreboard at the end of the game had Cal with 103 and Humboldt with 0.
My official score card had Cal at 99 and Humboldt at 0.

This was the first game many had played since May. And the boys were excited to get back on the field. The Cal First side scored five trys in the opening 22 minutes. Coaches Clark and Billups made a fifteen-man substitution putting in the reserve grade. All in all, 9 trys in the first half, 8 trys in the second half.

The Cal Forwards would drive, ruck, recycle until the pressure broke the Humboldt defense.

Humboldt to their pride made tackle after tackle. Humboldt has some very good talent. But they had only 6 or so possessions all game.

I think my penalty count was 8 in total. Two against Cal.

Humboldt’s captain and #10 Brendan Leigh commented on only four unpressured opportunities.

Humboldt’s #13 Traban Pleasant looks to be a strike player.

Special thanks to Eric and Tom for running touch.

Chico State 7 – UC DAVIS 54 Referee: Don Pattalock
Chico made Davis work for every point.

Seconds: CHICO STATE 19 – UC Davis 7 Referee: Craig Lusiani

STANFORD 64 – Nevada 12 Referee: John Coppinger
Touch Judges: Rich Anderson, Frank Merrill
At the half, it was Stanford 19, UNR 12, which makes it seem closer than the match actually was at that point. UNR's captain Chad Gielow (#10) scored a 90 meter try from a Stanford turn over and scored the second UNR try grounding a charge down of a Stanford attempt at a clearing kick. Mr. Gielow accounted for all of the UNR scoring by converting his second try.

Stanford played adventurous rugby attacking at all times from everywhere on the pitch showing a lot of movement of the ball and flat, accurate passing. UNR didn't give up, but couldn't match Stanford's pace and ball movement as Stanford ran in a number of easy tries in the latter stages.

My thanks to Rich Anderson and Frank Merrill, who acted as TJs/ARs on a beautiful and unseasonably warm winter day down on the Stanford farm.

Rich and I left Bruce Anderson getting ready to control the Stanford/UNR reserve grade match to hustle up to Crocker Amazon in order to help Joe Androvich with OC/San Mateo tilt and where Rich had the second side OC/SM match.

In the first side match, San Mateo had the best of it early, but OC won going away 35-10. San Mateo hit hard and looked to run at every opportunity, but fitness and focus seemed to be problems, although San Mateo's game had more shape once Coach Vuka Tau came into play scrum half at the start of the second half.

(The City redid Crocker Amazon w/ Field turf pitches--5 or 6 pitches.)

Seconds: Stanford 27 – NEVADA 35 Referee: Bruce Anderson
The majority of Reno's A side had to play in a second game and appeared very tired, however, in the true spirit of rugby the teams played open rugby with many plays going from 22m to the other 22m, the first stoppage coming 9 minutes after the kick off. Both side took advantage of advantage play and scored tries. The sides were disciplined and played structured rugby. Only one of the 12 tries was converted.

ST. MARY’S 56 – Sacramento State 19 Referee: Joe Leisek
Pat Vincent Field, St. Mary’s College
Assistant Referees: David Heath, Matt Heafey

A brilliantly sunny day at one of Northern California’s best rugby pitches. Having refereed the same two teams in a physical, competitive contest at Sac State in December, I knew I would have a lot to look forward to this time. From the kickoff, Sac State seemed to want to make a statement by going fast and hard into tackles, playing a phase or two of pick-and-drive, then moving the ball out into the midfield, then repeating the pattern. They retained possession very well in the early going and played much of the first 10 or so minutes in the home side’s half. Sac State also drew first blood, scoring a try close to the 10-minute mark after a prolonged, multi-phase attack. St. Mary’s struck back soon thereafter. For the first 30 minutes, the two teams played a very competitive game. But St. Mary’s started to wear the visitors down, taking a three-tries-to-two lead at the half. The second half was all St. Mary’s, as they scored seven tries to Sac State’s one. The hosts scored from set play and from broken play opportunities; they kept the ball moving and confused the defense by switching the backline and running in different patterns, all at speed. A dominating second half, but a very good showing by Sac State. This game felt very fast-paced, as evidenced by the fact that no penalty goals were attempted by either side. Thanks to David and Matt for their help.

Seconds: St. Mary's – Sacramento State Referee: George O'Neil
No report received.

ST. MARY’S thirds 26 – Santa Rosa JC 12 Referee: Dave Heath
Assistant Referees: George O'Neil and Matt Heafy
Santa Rosa set the early pace with some strong forward play and deservedly took the lead after 9 minutes with a well worked try. St Mary's gradually worked some field positions and took the lead with a converted try mid-way through the first half. The game then took another twist when the St Mary's fly-half, who up until that point had been controlling the game with good decision making and kicking, was yellow carded for foul play. Santa Rosa duly took advantage of the extra man and scored a goal just before half-time to turn around 7-12 up.

St Mary's regained the lead early in the second half with a well worked goal, but the game was finely balanced, with the Santa Rosa backs always looking a threat with some strong running and St Mary's edging the forward exchanges. The game was decided when the Santa Rosa flanker was sent off for foul play 15 minutes from the end. St Mary's scored a try and a goal to wrap up the game.

This was a good game, with both sides competitive at the breakdown, strong forward play and some good individual displays in the backs. St Mary's were stronger and fitter and were already beginning to shade the exchanges in the 2nd half before the dismissal, but their superior organisation and discipline gave them the edge.

My thanks to George O'Neil and Matt Heafy for running touch and assisting in keeping the game under control, and Joe Leisek for providing some impromptu coaching.

SANTA CLARA 36 – UC Santa Cruz 12 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Santa Clara controlled possession from the start, scoring two converted tries in the first 20 minutes. Santa Cruz fought back responding with two tries before the break. At the half it was 14 to 12 for Santa Clara.

Santa Clara again had the majority of possession in the 2nd half and scored 3 tries. Santa Cruz continued to compete and were pushing for a score when the game ended.

UC Santa Cruz women 24 – CALIFORNIA 34 Referee: Mike King
A brilliant day for a social match overlooking the Monterey Bay on the hill at UC Santa Cruz. The contest was preceded by an innovative skill session mentored by the combined coaching staffs. A mixture of experience and rookie enthusiasm took the pitch, with a battle between 2 balanced teams. The contest was not decided until 2 long tries by Cal near the end of regulation.

High School round-robin at Larkspur
Marin, Tri-Valley and Piedmont
Report by Eric Rauscher:

It was a high-school round-robin with Marin, Pits and Tri-Valley in attendance.

The three refs on hand were Eric Rauscher for the first game, Matt Heafey for the second and Rich Boyer for the third. Joe Leisek was on hand to run a little touch and do some good coaching. One of the highlights of the day for me was seeing a group of four pelicans flying over the field with four pelicans on the ground.

First game MARIN 28 – Pits 0 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Assistant Referees: Joe Leisek and Matt Heafey
The game was a friendly of two 20 min halfs with both sides still in development.
Marin had the luxury of more experienced players and just more players to choose from. Pits put up a good fight but wasn't able to score. Since it was a pre-season friendly it was a good chance for both teams to put into practice what they have been learning in practice. The second game was a shortened 20 min total of Marin vs a combined Pits/Tri-Valley side and the third was a frosh/soph game of the same combo. I leave the reports of those games to others.

BOOK REPORT by Eric Rauscher

This is not a game report, but a report on a book I just finished which may interest others in the society. The Title is "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation" by John Carlin, Penguin Press. It is a well-written book tracking the political career of Nelson Mandela and the role rugby played in bringing together a nation on the verge of civil war. I highly recommend it to those of you with time to read.


The day after Christmas your writer left the house at dawn in order to drive to work. Ice was on the ragtop.

Around the first corner there was an adult male pelican, standing serenely in the middle of the street, barely waddling to avoid the on-creeping car. He looked healthy – no obvious marks or injuries – but the Hail Pelicus editorial offices are about a dozen miles inland and the nearby Salinas River certainly supports no fish to tempt a piscatory waterfowl.

The bird had to have been ill. Penelope Pelicus called the SPCA who came and rescued him.

Over the next few weeks it has become clear that this might have been merely the index case in a deadly outbreak.

MONTEREY, Calif. -- A mysterious illness is continuing to kill brown pelicans along the Central Coast, but officials from WildRescue said Thursday they are compiling data about dead or sick pelicans found in other states.

A young pelican was found in the snow at an elevation of 7,200 feet in New Mexico on Dec. 14, which is something that has never been observed before, said Rebecca Dmytryk, of WildRescue.

To date, wildlife officials have received reports about 250 dead or dying pelicans from places such as New Mexico, Oregon and Baja California.

But most of the dead or sick pelicans, however, have been found along the coast of California. “After speaking with many colleagues, I can say that there is shared concern among wildlife rehabilitators that something odd is going on. This is not a typical die-off,” said Dmytryk, a 27-year veteran of WildlifeRescue.

The pelicans are being found in farm fields and wooded residential areas, roads and even highways.

“I can say without doubt, we have never seen this combination of things, ever,” Dmytryk said.

Another sick pelican found on a doorstep in Catalina Island on Thursday will be admitted to the International Bird Rescue Research Center. The center operates two aquatic bird hospitals in California and is taking in most of the ill birds found along the coast.

Officials believe there are more sick or dead pelicans that have yet to be found.


Your intrepid reporter spent last weekend in New Orleans for the Training Committee meeting of USA Rugby’s Referees and Laws committee.

This constituted the kind of tour, photos of which have to stay on tour. Plus, we forgot our camera.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris