Wednesday, February 25, 2009




Hard work leads talent to recognition. The Promotion Committee of the Referee Development Committee is very happy to acknowledge the progress made by an octet of Pelicans:

Promoted to C3: Nate Housman, Danny Kaufman, Ryan Luis, Greg Lundell

Promoted to C2: Phil Akroyd, Chris Labozzetta, George O’Neil, Roberto Santiago

Promoted to C1: James Hinkin

The Committee is always looking for more work of this nature. Take us up on it!


We are always looking for an excuse to feast as a flock in March.

On March 21 we’ll have exchange referees in town from Alberta and from Eastern Pennsylvania. Please respond if you would be available to meet for dinner after the day’s run.

The Society will of course pay for our guests; the rest of us will be on our own. We would like to propose the Dead Fish in Crockett for the festivities.


Monday, February 16:
Nevada women 5 – STANFORD 52 Referee: Sam Reagle
When I heard that this game had been rescheduled from Saturday afternoon to Monday afternoon (Presidents Day) because of weather over the Sierras, I wondered if 2 days was going to make much of a difference. Monday morning, the weather channel said there were clear skies in Reno with possible afternoon snow flurries so I headed out into a light rain on my side of the mountains. It took me an hour and 45 minutes door to pitch to get to Reno and a little over twice that to get home. Having lived in Denver for 20 years, they rarely got it right, but apparently it's different here.

The first half was played under clear skies. The Cardinal announced their presence with authority, dominating most rucks and controlling most scrums by driving the Wolfpack off the ball even when they appeared to be in control. It seemed like Reno was on the defensive all half and did very well to only yield 4 tries. Halftime score: 26-0.

Right about halftime, the temperature dropped and soon afterward it started snowing. The weather changed, but the gamed remained the same. For a short while, Reno's try about 8 minutes into the half looked like the beginning of a comeback, but Stanford shook it off and went back to work scoring another 26 points this half. This was a good clean game with good attitudes by both clubs. There were very few penalties and no kicks at goal attempted.

NOTE: Ono Nseyo (#21) scored a hat trick for the Cardinal. More impressive is that she was one of the touch judges for the entire first half.

Friday , February 20:
CHICO STATE women 15 – Brigham Young Univ. 12 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Chico St Women played BYU Friday afternoon in Chico.

It was a hard fought match, with both teams failing to capitalize on some opportunities.
Chico led 3 to nil at halftime.

The second half was back and forth with BYU scoring a converted try, followed by an unconverted try by Chico to regain the lead. Chico then added to their lead with a converted try well into the match. BYU scored an unconverted try at fulltime to end the match.

Saturday, February 21:
OLYMPIC CLUB 24 – Hayward 17 Referee: Pete Smith

Seconds: Olympic Club 14 – HAYWARD 17 Referee: James Hinkin
Evaluator: Kat Todd-Schwartz

SAN MATEO 20 – Sac Lions 10 Referee: Scott Wood
ARs: Joe Leisek, Dave Pope
Evaluator: Dixon Smith
Fiancé braving the cold: Danielle Vervais
Estimated attendance: 50 (my vision may have doubled when I took a look)

Location: College of San Mateo
Weather: Barometer and temperature dropping, threat of rain

Originally, the match was to be played at Fiesta Meadows Park with a foul weather backup field at San Mateo High School. Unfortunately both were closed Friday afternoon so the hosts had to scramble for a alternative to the backup. If you get an opportunity to referee at CSM (College of San Mateo), grab it. There are some great vistas and the all-weather pitch is knee-friendly. Just watch out for the rail that runs along the side of the track and blends into the surface.

Unfortunately there is not a net to stop balls from going over the side and down the hill. Additionally, the posts were not installed. However, both teams entered the match at 1-2 in the standings and need bonus points more than points scored so elected to play on. Rugby wins!

The teams played with positive attitudes and were highly competitive. Unfortunately the scrum count was astronomical but I take solace in the fact that penalties were very low. One player went to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle.

Many thanks to my Assistant Referees, Joe Leisek and Dave Pope. Their input and assistance was very helpful. Further kudos to Dixon Smith for sitting in cooling temperatures. His feedback is greatly appreciated.

Seconds: SAN MATEO 25 – Sac Lions 0 Referee: Dave Pope
In a very abbreviated second side match that saw plenty of tired players from the first side match, the Sacramento Lions had more energy than San Mateo and won easily 25 - 0. I think this game, even with the minimal minutes played, will set the year's record for the amount of laughter during a game. I believe everyone had a fun time.

Sac Capitals 8 – RENO 33 Referee: Don Pattalock
Assistant Referees: Ray Schwartz, Mark Godfrey
Florin Reservoir was soft under foot but not nearly as bad as it usually is this time of year. Sacramento chose to play 10-man rugby and play directly into the teeth of the Reno pack. Although Sacramento controlled a majority of possession, Reno absorbed most all of the pressure and managed to counter-attack off turnover ball. When Reno did move the ball wide, the class of their backs resulted in trys. Physical match, played in tight with 30+ scrums.

Seconds: Sac Capitals – Reno Referee: Unknown

EAST PALO ALTO 12 – Santa Rosa 10 Referee: Tony Redmond
A tough encounter where the back skills of EPA eventually broke down the well-organized Santa Rosa team.

SR opened up with an early penalty but couldn't exploit the advantage that they gained when EPA #8 was sin-binned in the 22nd minute for a dangerous tackle. EPA nearly had another player in the bin soon afterwards for a tackle that was only slightly better but things soon settled down into a controlled and competitive game.

EPA's back line conjured two tries in quick succession, one of which was converted, to lead 12-3 at the break.

The second half was dominated by SR in terms of possession but their pick and drive play seldom generated ball of sufficient quality or speed to open up the EPA defense. Several times during the half SR recycled possession ten or more times but never gained much ground for so much physical effort.

The SR team gained their reward when they forced over a try from a series of rucks close to the line. The try was converted to bring the score to 12-10 with 5 minutes to play.

Despite putting the kick-off direct into touch, EPA managed to play out the last few minutes comfortably and ended up as close winners.

The coaches of both teams raised interesting points after the game. The EPA coach felt that the opposition were coaxing EPA into making dangerous tackles by "jumping" into tackle situations. In other words, players raised their feet off the ground as they went into the tackle to cause the tackler to automatically raise the tackled player up in the air before depositing them onto the ground (not always gently). Maybe it was me, but I didn't observe players behaving like athletic wildebeest and thought that the EPA tackles were simply careless rather than malicious. We agreed that the yellow card was well justified. The SR coach queried the decision not to award a penalty attempt in the first half (a critical decision as it turned out, given the tightness of the final score). The kick went wide to the right but was close enough for many players to believe that the attempt was good. Both assistant referees and myself deemed the kick wide. However, after the match, the SR coach talked to one of the assistant referees who said that the kick failed because the posts weren't big enough! The lesson here is that if a kick is deemed wide, it stays wide after the game too and nothing good comes from introducing complications such as musing that things might have been different if the posts were bigger/wider/in a different place/painted a different color or so on.

All in all, an enjoyable and competitive game

Seconds: EAST PALO ALTO 39 – Santa Rosa 5 Referee: Rich Anderson

Baracus 14 – SEAHAWKS 27 Referee: John Pohlman
It has been years since I have been to the Polo Fields for a game. So when I got the call Friday night letting me know the game had been moved from a 3:00PM start at the Treasure Island Job Corps Field to a 1:00 start at the Polo Fields, I was pretty excited. Then I realized I had a game in San Mateo at 11:00 another in San Francisco at 1:00. Fortunately both teams were willing to work with me. San Mateo started fifteen minutes early and Baracus started 15 minutes late.

I arrived at 12:45. Both teams were in the middle of their pregame warm-ups. A quick filling out of game rosters and pregame chat gave me a few minutes to organize TJ's.

I quickly inspected the field which was well marked. The Polo Fields do not seem to have the ground keeping crew of years past. Although still a great place for rugby the field was uneven with spotty turf.

Then kick off.

San Jose scored first with a penalty kick by Greg Mihrman. These teams were very well matched. Strong defense and hotly contested tackles kept me moving. San Jose has a former Tongan national player, Soni Poni, playing outside center. Soni scored the first try of the game at 18 minutes. He was able to side through tackles feeding winger Andy Trapani for a try at 37 minutes. Baracus lost a bit of focus at the end of the first half allowing the Trapani score and another one minute later. This one an intercept try by #13 Poni. These two trys were the only ones not fully earned and proved to be the difference in the game.

Half Time score San Jose 22 Baracus 7.
San Jose's #14 Trapani scored his second of the day set up by Poni 9 minutes in. The rest of the game Baracus controlled most of the possession. Two strong goal line stands kept Baracus out of the try zone.

At 35 minutes Baracus scored the final try of the day.

Seconds: Baracus 12 – SEAHAWKS 41 Referee: Cary Bertolone
On Saturday, I worked the San Jose Seahawks 2nds vs. Baracus 2nds at the Polo Fields. A hard hitting match with quite a bit of good humor in between scrums and the Seahawks superior pack won out with a half time score of 19-0 and a final score of 41-12. Not even one yellow or red card was needed as everyone played rugby as they should!

DIABLO GAELS 14 – Fresno 13 Referee: Paul Bretz

Seconds: DIABLO GAELS 64 – Fresno 7 Referee: Jackie Finck
Referee Coach: Paul Bretz
Great team management was displayed by both teams. After the first half, the point spread between the two teams was small enough to be anyone's game, and Fresno held that enthusiastic spirit after they scored their first try in the second half. However, the Gaels forwards rucked strong and with an elusive scrum half, the Gaels pulled ahead to secure a lead. The overcast weather held dry for the game, no serious injuries occurred, and each player was still smiling at the end of the game, so it turned out to be a great day for rugby.

SFGG 38 – Arroyo Grande 7 Referee: Rob Speers (Arizona)
Evaluator: Mike Malone

Seconds: SFGG 38 – Arroyo Grande 0 Referee: Chris Labozzetta

MISSION 64 – Aptos 15 Referee: Preston Gordon
We got underway a few minutes late at the Palo Alto sports complex. It didn't take long for Mission to get on the board, and by halftime they were up 36-3. In the middle of the second half Aptos put together a solid 15 minutes of rugby and scored a try, and added another in the last minute, but this game was pretty much all Mission.

It did take a few minutes for the players (from both sides) to figure out that the game would flow more smoothly if they concentrated on their game and not on talking. Once we got to that point, however, the game was fast, open, and a lot of fun.

CHICO 43 – Vacaville 36 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Saturday I drove back to Chico to do the Chico - Vacaville match. Chico stared off the scoring with a converted try in the first minute of the match and it looked like it might be a long day for Vacaville. After the kick off, Vacaville started to get going. Vacaville kicked a penalty goal and scored a converted try to take the lead. Chico figured out that Vacaville wasn't going to roll over and scored an unconverted try and them a converted try. Vacaville answered with a converted try to get within 2, but Chico answered right back with a converted try to extend their lead back to 9. Vacaville intercepted a Chico pass and scored a converted try between the posts to again get within 2, but Chico scored at the end of the half to lead 31 to 24.

The second half settled down a bit, but about half through Chico scored an unconverted try and then a converted try to go up 43 to 24. Chico seemed to think they could coast on home for the win, but Vacaville had other ideas and scored a converted try and then, with a couple of minutes to go an unconverted try to get within 7. Chico held on for the win in the last couple of minutes, but Vacaville never gave up. Great match Final score Chico 43 Vacaville 36.

Stanislaus 0 – BERKELEY 26 Referee: Roberto Santiago
The weather was cool, the grass was green, and the pitch was full size. The rugby was competitive and talkative. Over the course of the day Berkeley had better athletes in the forwards which opened things up and made the difference in the game. Stanislaus did have some good play from their back line but in the end could not finish the opportunities they had. Thanks to Stanislaus for their hospitality.

FOG 23 – Vallejo 5 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
A surprisingly determined FOG side used forward play and the muddy pitch to keep a fit and fast Vallejo Barbarians side at bay. The FOG got on the scoreboard early with a penalty and never looked back. Frustration and indiscipline proved costly to the Barbarians, to include a yellow card for foul play. At the close of the first half the FOG was 16 unanswered points ahead, a fact not lost on Vallejo which came back hard and fast in the second. The day however had FOG written all over it and, although the Barbarians scored a fine try, the FOG kept composure and put in another converted try with minutes to go. A bit scrappy here and there due to the soft pitch underneath and the occasional flaring of tempers. Overall however a fine day and a well deserved victory for the FOG.

Mendocino 12 – MARIN 81 Referee: Sandy Robertson
An experienced Marin side gave a young Mendocino team an excellent view of running rugby. Marin ran straight and hard, passes were well timed to players running excellent lines in support. Mendocino's success came when they were able to put some pressure on Marin and capitalize on the disruption.

SHASTA over Petaluma by forfeit.

CALIFORNIA 31 – U. British Columbia 15 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: Bruce Carter, Preston Gordon
Referee Coach: David Williamson
I enjoy refereeing at Witter Rugby Field: field conditions are impeccable and the level of professionalism at Cal is first-class. For the first leg of this year's (Vancouver) World Cup match, the stakes were raised to another level: USA Rugby and ESPN were on-hand to tape the inaugural National Guard Game of the Week. My pre-match preparation was no different than usual, but during warm-ups, I could not help but notice the feat of mechanical engineering that had a TV crew hoisted high in the sky to capture the event: best seat in the house, without doubt! The bay area's recently fickle weather was also cooperative with perfect conditions for fast rugby.

And fast it was! Both teams had speed to burn in the backs, but they also kicked a lot up-field from within their 22 (possibly due to the ELV's), which meant the ball frequently changed direction. Both fly-halves used the big stage to marshal their teams with chess-like tactical skill. Forward play was intense but even: lineouts were fiercely contested and scrums were locked tight for the most part. UBC seemed more efficient in the rucks, while Cal was overpowering in the mauls. Cal took a narrow 11-8 lead into half-time: 1 try, 1 penalty and 1 nifty drop goal against 1 penalty and 1 opportunistic try by UBC. Cal also spilled a certain scoring opportunity (knock-on in goal after a 50m break with support), whereas UBC missed a kickable penalty. Both teams, especially the forwards, appeared to be physically stretched by the intensity and stamina shown by their opponents.

In the second half, the intensity and pace picked up as both teams threw the kitchen sink at their opponents. UBC came out the gates aggressively, running straight at Cal from within their 22 like there was no tomorrow. Cal defended bravely and earned another penalty to edge ahead 14-8. Soon after, UBC's backs kicked their game into an even higher gear and twice narrowly missed scoring due to desperate cover tackles by Cal. Off an ensuing phase, UBC's fly-half sauntered untouched to score under the posts to the joy of the extremely vocal UBC supporters. 50 minutes into the match, UBC lead 14-15 and seemed to have established control of the match flow, but their fly-half missed another kickable penalty. UBC kept attacking vertically using mid-field pick and drives, but Cal was disciplined under pressure and managed to earn scraps of possession, which they used to gain territory. Midway through the second half, Cal's right wing changed the match dynamics by scoring a spectacular individual try out of almost nothing. Taking a regulation pass from his center, the wing appeared to be trapped near mid-field before he shrugged off and side-stepped at least 4 defenders to jubilantly score near the posts. Leading 21-15 and with the home crowd back from the dead, Cal seemed energized and scored several minutes later through their left wing. Cal's fly-half also narrowly missed another drop-goal. Despite controlling most of the match, UBC suddenly found itself down 28-15 and Cal showed that they had wrested the momentum by attacking with more flair in the dying minutes. Cal earned one last penalty with no time left in the match and their fly-half almost kicked it out before his teammates frantically reminded him to kick for points since there was a second leg to be played in Vancouver. [Editor’s Note: The World Cup is decided on aggregate points of the two matches.] The kick was good, which gave Cal a hard-earned 31-15 victory, 3 tries to 2. UBC looked to be in control after 60 minutes before Cal found their edge in the final quarter. What a match!

Much thanks to assistant referees Bruce Carter and Preston Gordon for their excellent support: it is always reassuring to have calm, professional feedback from the sideline. Also, much thanks to Dave Williamson for his coaching advice and constructive comments. I understand this match will be shown on ESPNU in April, which is great news for rugby fans around the country, especially some of my friends who were at the match but missed the key tries because they were having too much fun in the beer garden! (Some things never change.)

UC DAVIS 31 – Stanford 5 Referee: Sam Reagle
Assistant Referees: Tom Zanarini, Phil Ulibarri
Referee Coach: Matt Eason
Note: If you have the luxury of owning more than one pair of "shoes" that you wear when you referee, either always carry them all with you or be sure you know which ones are in your bag. As I was in Reno last Monday for their game against Stanford, I wore nubbies because of their artificial turf. Those same shoes in the mud at Davis do not provide the same level of traction.

The game started off well enough with the Cardinal scoring just 2 minutes into the game even though they kicked off. But after that, it became penalty after penalty despite my best attempts to manage the issues. At the 22 minute mark, I binned the first Cardinal player 5 meters from goal, but did not feel a penalty try was warranted. The game really improved (penalty-wise) after that with UCD scoring one converted try during his absence and one just after his return before the penalties resumed again closing out the first half. Halftime score: 14-5.

Feeling frustrated that both teams weren't getting the message, I called the captains over at the end of halftime and told them how unacceptable the penalty count was and that I would be quick to yellow-card "stupid" penalties. That worked for about 12 minutes until Stanford started fringing again so off went another Stanford player to the bin. 4 minutes later and right in front of me, a new Cardinal sub (he was still clean) dives under a ruck and bats the ball. I didn't really want to bin him with another player still off, but it met the criteria so off he went. This half, the Aggies scored a try with one in the bin, a try with 2 in the bin and a try with none in the bin. Somewhat interesting is that there were no penalty kicks attempted. There was also no foul-play whatsoever.

I haven't had a game like this in years. The players ignored me and the assistant referees. On several occasions, I could hear Phil telling players to get back, yet they stayed put. I may try spending more time on the defensive off-side line if I see this happen again.

Thanks to Matt for offering your time on my behalf. Your commentary was insightful.

Seconds: UC DAVIS 43 – Stanford 10 Referee: Phil Ulibarri
Stanford B played tough and came out early in both halves with quick scores; however, Davis B was better disciplined and more consistent on the day outscoring the Stanford side 7 trys to 2.

St. Mary's thirds 33 – Sierra JC 41 Referee: Mike King
In a spirited contest, the home side was more organized in the first half, creating numerous scoring opportunities through strong attacking by excellent passing and running. Only sure tackling and some creative counterattacks kept the score relatively close at half. 19-12 for St. Mary’s. The Gaels opened the 2d half in similar fashion and seemed to be in control of the outcome. Instead, some punishing running from the Wolverines, particularly from #12 and #8, reversed the course of the match. The visitors came roaring back and scored with abandon to sweep into the lead. Final count in this exciting contest was 33-41 marked by improved play around the rucks from both sides in the second half.

ST. MARY’S 104 – Nevada 5 Referee: George O'Neil

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 44 – Nevada 32 Referee: Bruce Anderson
Game was played in good spirit with play going from one side of the field to the other. St Mary's powered Reno back in the scrums while both teams had good line out ball. Open play was great and both teams wanted to play open running rugby. St Mary's scored most of their tries through running the ball wide and Reno was effective in the close encounters. Reno could be a much better side if they just came to practice.

Cheers to Rugby....what a great game.

Chico State 27 – SAC STATE 39 Referee: Joe Androvich

Seconds: Chico State – Sac State Ref: Androvich

DIABLO U23, 12 – Maritime Academy 8 Referee: Sam Davis

Santa Clara 24 – HUMBOLDT STATE 43 Referee: John Coppinger
Humboldt State ran by Santa Clara 43-24 on Santa Clara's Mission Campus on a gray day in font of large crowd of students (which has become the norm) and parents on Parent's Weekend. At the half, HSU lead 17-10.

HSU took an early lead scoring a pick-off try from deep in their own end as SCU threatened to score. This became the pattern as SCU controlled possession and the set piece, but was unable to prevent HSU from scoring from turn-over and loose ball.

Some-time Pelicans Larry Freitas and Chris Fisher were spotted in the crowd.

UC SANTA CRUZ 43 – San Jose State 24 Eric Rauscher
Overcast sky and cool temperature, but an amazing view of Monterey Bay and snow on the mountains above Monterey. Quite an amazing sight. It was quite an amazing game. Both teams played with a determination never to give up, and in a friendly manner with both sides enjoying the game. There were stretches of play at least 10 phases between stoppages. The Slugs advantage in this game seemed to be a better use of their backs. They were able to quickly move a ball away form a breakdown crossfield and either score a try or gain a lot of ground. The forward packs were pretty much evenly balanced. SJSU defiantly has the athleticism so with a little more experience they should be a very good team.

SF State – Sierra JC CANCELED

U. of the Pacific 7 – SANTA ROSA JC 118 Referee: Scott McConnell
A great facility at UOP, and the weather held up for the event thankfully. UOP only managed to rally together 8 live bodies, therefore Santa Rosa loaned them 2 of their 25-strong outfit to make a fast paced 10-a-side game. Santa Rosa bolted out the gate and scored within 30 seconds and looked very polished. Given the circumstances they were obviously trying some moves and working out some wrinkles while UOP were just trying to learn a few laws and compete any way possible. The first half came to a close with Santa Rosa running in 81 points but much to UOP's credit they did put up a solid effort for a few minutes and scored a nice try under the sticks.
The second half was much the same.

UC Davis women 10– CALIFORNIA 22 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Seconds: UC DAVIS 57 – California 0 Ref: Zanarini

Nevada women 5 – CHICO STATE 24 Referee: Craig Lusiani
The strength, persistence and commitment of the Chico State Women forwards, resulted in two tries from pounding at the Nevada try line, from close in and a 12 - Nil half time lead.

The Chico State ladies showed great skill and grit in their mauling and rucking which kept the Nevada Women pinned in their own half for much of the first 40 minutes of play.

Only the valiant defensive play of the Nevada Women kept the match close, with the Wolfpack Women repulsing wave after wave of the Chico State Women barrage.

The second half opened with a series of attacks by the Reno ladies, swinging the ball wide with precision pass after precision pass resulting in a score very early in the second half. The conversion was unsuccessful.

Score: Nevada Women 5 - Chico State Women 12

Despite several very good 3 and 4 phase movements by the Pack Ladies, utilizing their passing skills and speed, the size and experience of the Wildcat Women were able to turn the Wolfpack away from further scoring while tacking on two additional tries and one conversion in finishing off the scoring for the day.

Final score: Chico State Women 24 - Nevada Women 5

STANFORD women 17 – Brigham Young University 15 Referee: Joe Leisek
Steuber Rugby Stadium, Stanford University

This was easily the most intense match I have refereed in a while. From the kickoff, both teams signaled their intent to run the ball and keep it in play. And although they were playing the defending national collegiate champions in their home stadium, BYU showed no signs of being intimidated. In fact, they ran right at the Cardinal and made things very difficult for them at the breakdown. And BYU did one thing very, very well: they tackled. This was a battle, played at pace. Over the years, I've not seen Stanford challenged so strongly before the gainline. BYU scored first and in fact took an 8-7 lead into halftime. In the second half, the hosts scored two unconverted tries while the visitors scored a late try and mounted sustained pressure before full time. One player comment: Stanford captain Melissa Smit is such an impressive player, and her leadership qualities on the field are equally impressive. She balances a high work rate with a focused intensity and the presence of a coach. Congratulations to the BYU coaches and players for providing such a great display of rugby and for their conduct on the field. The same goes to the Stanford players and coaching staff of Jonathan Griffin, Heather Smith, and Tina Nesberg. A good crowd enjoyed a dramatic, entertaining game.

St. Mary's women 17 – SANTA CLARA 24 Referee: Rob Hendrickson
Because Saint Mary's men had a home game scheduled for Saturday at 1:00, the women's team had to travel down to Santa Clara for an 11:00 kickoff at Bellomy Field, which is usually well marked, but on this day included an odd extra solid line for the adjacent soccer field angling in from about 6 - 10 meters from the rugby pitch's touch line, which led to several mix-ups. The game was well played by both teams and a game of 2 halves, with Santa Clara scoring 3 first half tries (including 2 break-aways by their winger), and Saint Mary's getting the better of the second half scoring two tries. While both teams successfully moved the ball wide and aggressively contested for the ball at rucks and scrums, there were more pile-ups than there should have been, as neither team would consistently push the ball back or roll away, leading to an increase in the number of penalties as players got tired.

UC Santa Cruz women 5 – U. of San Francisco 5 Referee: Brian Schnack
Fun, energetic match as always with The Slugs, welcoming an injured and young USF squad. The game was played with mixed squads, with the Slugs giving USF several pack and backs. The first half had some good series full of hustle, and were it not for some ticky-tacky knock-on and fwd pass calls (thanks Scotty) USF would have scored earlier.

But USF put together a good long series at the end of the half, scoring a try at 41:30 to go up 5-0.

Then the second half went forward, with fun open play, great rucks and mauls, and few whistles (not by omission, mind you). After several deep but empty excursions inside USF's 20, the Slugs broke through with good back play and a try.

5-5. Several minutes later the game ended, with me evidently owing beer and running late for my kid's first tee ball game.


SAN MATEO 60 – Live Oak 5 Referee: John Pohlman
San Mateo High School hosted Live Oak at the College of San Mateo artificial turf football field. I arrived around 10:00 AM for a scheduled 11:00 AM start. Lots of activity at the field. Flag football practice, track and field practices along with rugby players warming up created a buzz. The College of San Mateo is off Highway 92 with some stunning views of the bay. Unfortunately the field was marked for football. Only one goal post was up. And luckily we only lost one ball due it being kicked over the fence and possibly ending up a couple of hundred feet below.

Both teams were ready and willing to kickoff a few minutes early to accommodate my second game scheduled to start at 1:00PM at the Polo fields.

San Mateo has size, speed and some great individual talent. They are led by captain and #8 Patrick Coto. Live Oak continues to play good rugby led by #8 and Captain Mason Lammon.

Due to only one goalpost it was decided to be a kick-free game. No penalty kicks or conversions. This led to a lot more playing time.

San Mateo started the scoring at 5 minutes. Captain Patrick scored one of his tries three minutes later. The Live Oak team is well coached and made loads a good tackles. But San Mateo's power and size simply proved too much for Live Oak. After the third try at 13 minutes the Live Oak #10 commented he just could not stop the San Mateo front row from 5 meters out. I agree. 170 pounds versus 270 pounds at a full run with five meters to go. The physics just don't work out.

First half score San Mateo 20 Live Oak 5.

Patrick scored the try of the game in the second half. Breaking two tackles and out sprinting three Live Oak backs for a 50 meter try. Patrick in the USA under 19 program. He looks to have a great future in rugby. Athletic, strong and fast with a rugby family backing him.

One area Live Oak won was counter rucking. They frustrated a few San Mateo possessions, stealing a few balls.

San Mateo scored 8 trys in the second half. Live Oak got a morale booster try with ten minutes left.

Final San Mateo 60 Live Oak 5, and off to the Polo Fields.

ELSIE ALLEN 42 – Cardinal Newman 7 Referee: Cary Bertolone
On Friday afternoon, I had Cardinal Newman High School vs Elsie Allen H.S. Kick off at 4:00 PM. Both teams had a fast pace and twenty minutes into it, Elsie was only up 5-0, but their superior fitness prevailed and it was 20-0 at the half. Similar circumstance in the second half wherein Elsie Allen scored two times near the end of the match to make it 42-7. It was fairly evenly matched for much of the match, except for the breakdowns near the end of each half. I noticed that Elsie had most passes caught on the full sprint, showing the benefits of a lot of work from practice.

Frosh/Soph: LAMORINDA 19 – De La Salle 7 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
A fast fun match between two well drilled sides played at the superb sports center of Campolindo High School. The players proved surprisingly skilled for their age, and seemed evenly matched with the firs half closing with a converted try for each. Lamorinda however found another gear in the second half, scoring an additional two tries, one of which they converted. A good crowd in attendance, a cadre of coaches for both teams, and a great artificial pitch added to the pleasure of the day.

Varsity: LAMORINDA 61 – De La Salle 0 Referee: Bruce Carter
Assistant Referee: Edward Barfels
Lamo lost to Jesuit earlier in the year when they were feeling the effects of graduating most of last year’s backs. Those effects seem to have worn off.

A good crowd, already in place for the early frosh/soph match, grew for the second of three games at Campolindo’s football stadium.

What they saw was a scrummies-try from a maul about a minute in, and then nearly a point a minute overall. Lamo’s #8 and #12 scored two trys each, while De La Salle’s #10 looked to be their best, even with bad ball.

Great sportsmanship was the order of the day. These kinds of teams climb the learning curve quickly and I look forward to refereeing them again.

Lancers 3 – ISLANDERS 22 Referee: Phil Akroyd
It’s still early in the High School season and both teams showed it. There were plenty of basic mistakes, but Cordova Lancers never looked like troubling the Islanders’ try line. The South Sac boys did enough to win the game in the first half with three unconverted tries, while The Lancers could only manage a penalty kick in the last minute of the first half, made easier by Islanders not being back 10 at the first penalty.

The second half stagnated, but Islanders scored one more try, making it a victory by nineteen points. Both teams did a tremendous job of listening to safety instructions and putting my requests into action (staying on feet at rucks, scrum safety etc). I look forward to getting both these teams again at some point in the future.

EAST PALO ALTO 32 – College Park 14 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
What started out as a very close match with College park beating EPA at the half 7-5, turned into a one-sided affair mainly due to EPA's #8 who missed the first half. He was twice as big, fast & bad as anyone any other HS has – let alone College Park had.

Thanks for Rich Anderson's help with touch & not stealing my touch flag.

AMAZONS 71 – Mother Lode Rugby 0 Referee: Rod Chance
Touch Judges: Mark Godfrey and Leka Green
The score really does not do this game justice, because it does not explain the unparalleled good sportsmanship from both teams.

The Mother Lode girls were short some players, so the Amazons graciously lent some “A” squad players and we were off. Motherlode played with heart but the Amazon’s are once again in good form and have great talent in both the forwards and backs. They continually blasted through the Motherlode secondary with hard determined running requiring two or three tacklers to bring them down. The score would have been much higher if not some precision kicking by Mother Lode’s #10.

The girls played a physical game but at the end everyone was all smiles. The Amazons finished the day off in true Rugby style, hosting a buffet on the field. The Rugby Gods surely were looking down from the heavens with great joy for what they saw.


Thanks to Scott Wood for sending in this link.

Remembering how we fell in love with rugby:


Brian Zapp of the Eastern Rockies society served as an official at the recent IRB Sevens in San Diego. During play on the Saturday, he handed a subs form to the Welsh team whereupon he had written a more familiar homophone for the name of their nation.

All Hail Pelicus Orcus - The Erroneous Prince of Whales!

Preston Gordon, Aruna Ranaweera, Bruce Carter and David Williamson enjoyed the day at Witter Rugby Field with ESPNU in attendance.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, February 17, 2009




Please respond with your availability to referee in March, and whether you can travel that weekend (more than a hundred miles each way).

Available? If yes, can you travel?
March 7
Mar 14
Mar 21
Mar 28

We’ll be running about forty club and college games each Saturday through March 21. It starts to slow down after that, with fewer than half as many games on any particular weekend. But of course the high schools will still be going strong.


We will be meeting this month on Wednesday, Feb. 18, the usual time and place: SF/Golden Gate clubhouse, 7 – 9 PM. We’ll be covering Laws 11, 19 and 20.

The Development Committee will meet from 6 till 7 and food will be on hand for early arrivals. So, allow time for traffic. Traffic: you won’t be late; no traffic: plenty of time to talk rugby over a bite.


The IRB Sevens in San Diego improves every year. Not just the crowd, and the amenities at the stadium, but the Eagles’ performance on the pitch.

You probably heard: on Saturday we lost to South Africa by one, beat Australia and pole-axed Canada to move to the quarterfinals.

Sunday the boys took down Kenya and then were leading Argentina in the semi-final until a late score put the South Americans ahead by five.

Finishing tied for third in a sixteen-team event is a wonderful thing but we can plausibly dream of what might have been. Argentina went on to win the final and the USA should have had another play to tie or defeat them.

This was fairly straightforward. There were twelve seconds left went Argentina took the re-start kick. It went directly into touch. The ref and the assistant ref stood there looking at each other until the twelve seconds expired and the horn sounded. Then the ref blew full-time.

All we can possibly imagine is that both of them were waiting for the other to tell them what just happened. There were about ten thousand fans in a position to SEE exactly what had just happened, any of whom could have told them: it’s a free kick to the USA at the center.

But that’s not what happened and explanations are of course meaningless after something like this transpires. It’s just a fact. A chance to help cement the game into the American consciousness was denied – presumably if we’d won the tournament it would have made the mainstream news. But, no. Just another anonymous event on a weekend that included Daytona and Pebble Beach.

Saturday night featured a dinner of the US Rugby Football Foundation in honor of Doc Hudson and Pat Vincent, two of the leading lights in American rugby through the middle part of last century, both NorCal stalwarts. The NCRRS was represented by Dave Williamson and Helen Marcus, Dixon Smith, and Bruce and Linda Carter.


ESPNU will be broadcasting three rugby games over the next month, and one of them will be right here in Pelicanland: Saturday, February 21, Cal hosting the University of British Columbia at 1 PM.

This is always a great game, often Cal’s toughest of the year. And this year, we’d love to show viewers across this land that doesn’t know it loves rugby yet just what they are missing.

If you are not going to be refereeing or playing rugby elsewhere, please consider attending this match, adding your face and voice to the crowd and the chorus that has always supported rugby in this, the best blest part of the country.


U. of San Francisco 13 – MARITIME ACADEMY 55 Referee: Chris Labozzetta

Stanford – Chico State RAINED OUT
Seconds: Stanford – Chico State

UC Davis 21 – ST. MARY’S 50 Referee: Joe Androvich
Assessor: Bryan Porter

Seconds: UC Davis 7 – ST. MARY’S 63 Referee: Chris Labozzetta
So after the nonsense going back and forth on both games, the SFGG HS side cancelled!! Even worse, they cancelled and didn’t tell anyone, so I along with another ref showed up only to find out the game was off.

Anyhow, I got to Davis with plenty of time to spare and reffed a nice match between Davis and St Mary’s B-side.

Davis has a very good side, but on the day, St. Mary’s was just bit more fit and won out. But I will say without a doubt that the boys never gave up and that’s what rugby is all about, never quitting, so they deserve a ton of credit. Especially the try they scored late in the game. Great stuff. It’s always fun to ref well coached teams, and this was one of the better coached teams I’ve seen. Good luck throughout the season.

In the end it was St. Mary’s 63- Davis 7.

SAC STATE 19 – Nevada 12 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Seconds: Sac State – Nevada CANCELED

San Jose State 6 – HUMBOLDT STATE 12 Referee: Sam Davis
Clouds in the sky with scattered sunshine and snow on the hills two rugby teams warming up! Is this San Francisco Bay area?

Saturday is a rugby day! Humboldt had made the drive down the night before everyone was warming up at 9:00 am. SJSU looked like a budding team with a number of new players filling in their ranks. Humboldt won the toss and elected to take the morning sun and breeze to their backs. Humboldt played in SJSU side of the field for 12 minutes on attack. SJSU just would not let them cross the goal line. So the quick witted #10 drew first blood by a beautiful drop kick. This surprised the new players who did not understand that Humboldt had just scored 3 points.

SJSU kicked off the ball which was passed out to the fullback who was a great runner driving deep into SJSU end of the field but was stopped short of the 20 meter line the ball was recycled and Humboldt was back on attack. SJSU never gave up Humboldt drover over the goal line but was held up in goal. The ball out to the backs who knocked it on SJSU was able to get the ball out of their end of the field SJSU was in Humboldt's end of the field attacking when a high tackle/dangerous play provide their first opportunity to score. With a very strong wind blowing the SJSU kicker kicked a 30 meter kick straight thru and well past the goal post.

Both teams were plagued with off sides. After a number of warnings Humboldt's new lock drew a yellow card. Humboldt still on the attack and SJSU still holding strong the #10 did another drop kick bringing the score 6-3 at the half.

The 2nd half had much more open play since everyone had figured out how to stay on sides (most of the time) Humboldt capitalized on a quick penalty it was out to the sidelines and a foot race which Humboldt one hitting the corner flag as he put the ball down (thank goodness for the new laws) The strong wind and being on the side line the kick came up about 5 meters short. Humboldt plagued with a number of penalties gave SJSU two shots at goal making one of them.

SJSU was on the attack inside the 5 meters when Humboldt's strong defense and a knock-on ended the game. Final Score Humboldt 12 SJSU 6

Nevada women – Stanford Referee: Sam Reagle
Stanford @ UNR Women has been postponed until 1pm Monday at UNR. I will head up Monday morning.

SAC STATE women 56 – St. Mary's 0 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
The final score of this match - Sac State Women 56 (29) - St. Mary's 0 pretty much sums up the one sided affair. The Sacramento ladies were just too fit, big, and skilled for a youthful St. Mary side which, to its credit, continued to soldier on throughout the match. The tries came in fast and furious in the first half, a number scored by Sacramento's sturdy but deceivingly fast No. 12, who appeared to cut through defenders at will. Five more tries were scored in the second half for a total of ten, three of which converted.

The only item of note is that, due to a number of collapsed scrums of unclear source, I called the scrums uncontested from the 16th minute of the second half.

As usual the ladies ruggers were polite, played in the spirit of the game, and refrained from the back talk that is frequent in the men's game. A wonderful dedicated pitch and a smallish but friendly crowd in attendance contributed to the good day.


COUGARS 36 – Lancers 0 Referee: Sam Reagle
On a rainy and cold Friday afternoon in Sacramento, 2 good high school rugby teams met to play on a pitch with an area named Lake Cougar. I imagine it was rugby as the creators at Rugby School in England envisioned. The game stayed in the forwards most of the day.

In the first half, the Cougars had the wind and managed 3 tries and a conversion against a pretty solid defense. The Lancers did well to recycle the ball and attack into Cougar territory, but never managed to get into goal. Any turnover by the Lancers allowed the Cougars to either attack or gain territorial advantage thru the air. Halftime score: 17-0.

Though I expected the wind to give an advantage to the Lancers in the second half, the stronger Cougars pack continued to dominate the day with 3 more tries (2 converted), one of which was a spectacular diving try into Lake Cougar. There were very few penalties and no kicks at goal attempted. I commend both sidelines for their professionalism. I hope the players enjoyed it as much as I did.

Frosh/Soph Game: Elsie Allen 13 – JESUIT 53 Referee: Roberto Santiago
Both teams played hard but Jesuit had more athletes and more size. Despite being undersized Elsie Allen played hard and never hung their heads. Elsie's hooker and scrum half played with particular distinction. Both sides showed the benefits of solid coaching.

Varsity: ELSIE ALLEN 8 – Jesuit 5 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
Referee Coach: Joe Leisek
Santa Rosa. This may be the best game I am assigned all season. All of the positive sports clichés apply to these programs and this game. These are two of the heavyweights of American high school rugby. Both have been national champions.

Because it is a varsity sport, Jesuit starts the season later that many teams. It also had a game the night before this traditional preseason match. The swagger of their players warming up was unmistakable, but the pregame focus of the Elsie Allen Lobos was also obvious.

Play was intense and generally disciplined from the opening kick. The first half was mostly the Lobos, who had more of a game plan-keep it in the pack and pick and go- and executed it to perfection. Several times they took it to nine phases before spinning it out to backs who crashed and then started it again. The fact that it was only 5-0 for the host team was a credit to Jesuit; although their attack was a bit unstructured their defense was not.

The second half saw a more organized Jesuit force turnovers at the ruck and then the backline swing it wide to its advantage. It was Elsie Allen's turn to tackle and dig in. Jesuit scored at about 15 minutes in, only to see its conversation kick bounce off the goal post. With 10 minutes left, Elsie Allen kicked a penalty (just barely inside and over the bar). Full time found Jesuit pressing and just outside the Lobos' 22, but losing its throw-in prior to the game's final re-start.

Low scoring? Yes, but these are early days; two weeks from now the ref will need a CPA on the sideline to keep up with the points.

My complements to both teams. And thanks to Joe Leisek for his perceptive, constructive coaching.

JV Game: Elsie Allen 0 - JESUIT 12 Ref: Santiago
Jesuit came back to win the bookend game and end the day on a good note. The end of a long day of rugby in the cold rain and wind ended about the way one might expect, sloppy. Knock-ons were the story of the game with repeated infringements around the tackle as a sub-plot. Even with the slop both sides played solid defense and made tactically sound decisions when pinned in their own halves. Both sides again reflected well on their coaches and their schools.

Berkeley Rhinos – Lamorinda Referee: Rob Hendrickson
After receiving word late Friday night that the rains meant TI was no longer available, Berkeley and Lamo were able to shift gears and go back to their original Gilman Field venue to play a shortened f/s scrimmage followed by a varsity run for one period within their 9-12 field reservation. The rain managed to lift long enough to make for a great morning of rugby, with only one ball going over the fence and the Gilman on-ramp and onto the freeway shoulder. The f/s scrimmage was close, with Lamo scoring 2 tries in the first half and 3 in the second, and the Rhinos coming close but held scoreless. The Varsity side scored a lot.

Late score from last week

UCSC 34 – U. of San Francisco 17 Referee: Sam Davis
It was a beautiful day in Santa Cruz with a great clear view of the bay perfect temperature for rugby. USF and the Banana slugs were warming up ready for rugby. I had refereed the Slugs on their trip up to Humboldt and was impressed with the come from behind win. They would be on their home turf I was wondering how they would play on such a nice field vs the pothole invested field that Humboldt had available.

The Slugs kicked off and both teams came to play it took 8 mins before USF surprised the Slugs and scored between the uprights. The Slug had their wake up call their first score was 3 points after USF came into the side of the ruck at the 21 min mark three min later they doted the ball down and added the two extra when the kick was good. The Slugs dominated the scrums but had trouble getting the ball to the wings. The half ended with Santa Cruz scoring one in the corner the kick was short Slugs 15 USF 7 2nd half it took the slugs 5 min to score their first try at the 21 min mark USF put one down the kick was wide. The slugs came back the next min to score and two mins after that they scored again 9 min pasted with no one scoring USF had not given up with 10 min left in the game they scored their final try. The game ended UCSC 34 USF

St. Valentinus
The first day of the IRB Sevens in San Diego falling on February 14, a certain personage dropped by to validate the festivities.

Here is St. Valentinus with James Hinkin and his friend Elisabeth.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, February 11, 2009




Relatively speaking, this is a busy weekend for the NCRRS. The clubs have a bye weekend, but the colleges and high schools do not. And with many of our members traveling to San Diego for the Sevens, there is a referee crunch.

If you are not going south and you would like to help out with a high school game, let the coordinator for your area know.

They are:
Sac Valley – Ray Thompson
Redwood – Joe Leisek
Bay – Bjorn Stumer
Skyhawk – Sandy Robertson

This is true in general: the Society does not assign high school games until the playoffs. Let the conference coordinator know of your interest and availability to help out over the next couple of months.


Let us focus on only one aspect of the Kick-Off Tournament from this past weekend: twelve referee coaches generated almost fifty reports on about thirty referees.

New guys, just out of the chute, benefited from as many as six formal coaching sessions and feedback.

You want to know why the NCRRS is going to have the pelican’s share of the national panel for the next generation or so? It’s not because of people being in a position to use their influence. No, it’s because of planning, commitment, hard work and execution.
You want to get your guys there? Lay the groundwork.


We will be meeting this month on Wednesday, Feb. 18, the usual time and place: SF/Golden Gate clubhouse, 7 – 9 PM. The Development Committee will meet from 6 till 7 and food will be on hand for early arrivals. So, allow time for traffic. Traffic: you won’t be late; no traffic: plenty of time to talk rugby over a bite.


ESPNU will be broadcasting three rugby games over the next month, and one of them will be right here in Pelicanland: Saturday, February 21, Cal hosting the University of British Columbia at 1 PM.

This is always a great game, often Cal’s toughest of the year. And this year, we’d love to show viewers across this land that doesn’t know it loves rugby yet just what they are missing.

If you are not going to be refereeing or playing rugby elsewhere, please consider attending this match, adding your face and voice to the crowd and the chorus that has always supported rugby in this, the best blest part of the country.


Wednesday, February 4, 7 PM
Santa Rosa JC 15 – SANTA CLARA 28 Referee: Mike King
Santa Clara seemed to be playing on fumes at the beginning of the match, having already played on Saturday and Sunday over the weekend and studying for mid-terms. Santa Rosa JC was certainly ready to take advantage of the flat start by the visitors and scored after some nice second phase moves. Not to be outdone, the visitors came storming back and tied the game a little later. The rest of the half remained a seesaw battle until a try for Clara right at the close of the half. SCU 10-5 at halftime.

Santa Clara came out more energized in the second half and early pressure led to a penalty goal. Later in the half, the SCUTS connected on another penalty, but only after they scored a converted try on a nice pass and run sequence. The home team seemed to be the less energetic side for awhile, but the locals came roaring back and ran in a try, and then the #8 picked up from the scrum and took it to the corner for another. However, Santa Clara attacked once more for another try. Hard fought match which was a bit sloppy at times, but the lads from both sides deserve credit for their determination.

Thursday, 5:30
Maritime Academy 3 – CALIFORNIA 24 Referee: Phil Akroyd
The rain decided to pour down until 15 minutes before kick-off, then the rugby gods allowed for the game to be played under clearing but cool skies.

The vast majority of the first-half suited Maritime as the ball did not make it out past the half-backs. It was very much a forwards dominated game, however, there was a lot of flow and continuous play but the backs could not execute. It took until the 36th minute of the first half for points to be scored as Maritime slotted a penalty in front of the posts.

Half-Time: Cal Maritime 3 – Cal 0

The Berkeley boys were obviously given a good talking to at the break and took less than three minutes to score in the second half. They then rotated in subs at what appeared to be every five minutes, while Maritime stuck with the same fifteen throughout. Cal also started an effective kicking game which kept Maritime running back to their 22 and kicking ball away. The fresh legs seemed too much for Maritime and Cal scored tries in each ten minute quarter of the second-half. The game continued to be crisp, fast and highly enjoyable and I had very little to do other than award points, keep time and blow for the odd penalty here and there. I can’t wait to get these teams again!

Friday in Sacramento

CALIFORNIA 51 – Univ. of Calgary 5 Referee: Paul Bretz

Sacramento Capitals 17 – SACRAMENTO LIONS 22 Referee: Joe Androvich
Assistant Referee: Chris Tucker
Videographer: Bruce Carter

Report by Chris Tucker:
The first meeting of Sac's two top men's teams took place under lights at Granite Park as part of the opening festivities for the 2009 KOT. Those who decided that Cal v. Calgary was a foregone conclusion were treated to an entertaining evening, even as the rain came down and caused more than a few handling problems. Andro ran a tight ship, keeping the contest hard but fair. The Lions were 3 scores up halfway through the 2nd half, when the Caps' fitness began to tell. A series of defensive penalties became a series of defensive yellow cards for the Lions, culminating in a try out wide to the right. The resulting conversion missed as it went straight over the top of the upright: just keeping me on my toes! Another Lion disappeared after a penalty try with 5 minutes to go. The Capitals' late break down the right ended inside the Lions' 22 when the ball was knocked on and the match was done.

Seconds: SAC CAPS 17 – Sac Lions 10 Referee: Rich Boyer
Many of the A siders from West Sac played for the B side. It was a spirited game, and opponents recognized each other and called (heckled, good naturedly) one another on a first name basis.

The hitting was ferocious and relentless. Capitols went up early with good defensive momentum and scored the first try. Things tightened after that until Nate Gallow bulled through a number of defenders and carried three defenders into goal off a lineout play. 12-0 at half.

The second half brought more hitting and a beautiful back link up for a West Sac try. Bo, captain of the Lions and former Capitols player, imitated Zinzan Brook in the 1991 (?) World Cup by attempting a running drop kick from 40 meters, missing only by a hair as the trajectory was flat. Nonetheless impressive.

The Lions scored another try on a flanker breakaway, closing the score to 12-10. Nate Gallow did yeoman’s work at the scrums and breakdowns. He and the 340 pound Lion fullback turned forward had many, many collisions, with neither man backing down. I have not seen collisions of this sort in 30 years of rugby. Gallow finally scored on a maul from 20 meters. Game called on account of impending lights out. Capitols won 17-10.


SFGG SL 56 – Hayward 5 Referee: Pete Smith
SFGG hosted Hayward at Treasure Island in front of a spirited crowd on Saturday. My Assistant Referees were Isaac Casillas and Bryant Byrnes and Co-Referee was Mose Timoteo. I say that in jest, but Timo has a way of identifying number, color and infraction better than most referees. I have been trying to recruit him as a referee for the past several years because of his high rugby IQ. I think he may be the first referee to have been on the National Team then the National Panel. I tease him that he will start as C1 because of all the game he has reffed and played in at the same time.

Hayward is young and BIG. They are probably the biggest team I have ever refereed. Across the board, they have size and speed with a large helping of youth. They played SFGG even for 36 minutes at a pace I haven’t seen since last year’s Collegiate ITT’s. They were down only 10-5 with the ball flying around the field to the delight of the crowd. I was one pass and about 10 meters away from seeing the most amazing try ever. It was the type of game that both teams needed as SFGG were tested in tackling Hayward’s sizeable powerful runners and learned how to structure a game out of moderate chaos, how to not let the opposition dictate the pace and style of play. Hayward, conversely understandably made some youthful mistakes that SFGG were able to exploit, but most notable it exposed their lack of fitness. All that size couldn’t keep up with the pace that SFGG kicked it into in the second half and they ran away with the game posting 7 unanswered tries in the second half.

From a referee perspective, I had three things I wanted to excel at on the day. First and foremost, work rate. I needed to know where I was heading into the SL season with regard to my personal fitness. Based on the way I felt, the speed of the game and the feedback I got, I am about 95% of midseason form with 4 weeks to go to the start of the season. The second thing was the new hot buttons for this year’s SL season, which are ‘roofing’, ‘stacking’, ‘sealing’, ‘bridging’, whatever you want to call it, but stop that from occurring. Likewise, continue to make arriving players come through the ‘gate’ and not in a hazardous way or without binding. And prevent players from using the ‘helping hand’ in rucks. Although I had issue with all four infractions, I felt I did a good job of either managing or penalizing the occurrence. My last goal was to keep a lid on a potentially volatile game without being excessive or ruining the flow and continuity of the match. There were extremely talented players on both teams, who are large, aggressive and proud. The possibility of a flair up or worse is always a possibility at this level. I worked very hard to maintain control, more with my voice than my whistle, and earn the confidence of the players. I always spoke directly and respectfully to the players at all times. In all circumstances, I never lost personal composure; explain all decisions to the captains and players when necessary. I felt I used down time effectively to talk to players about immaterial offenses to let them know I had seen the occurrence. I wanted the game to simmer, but never boil over and I think that is the way the game was played. I asked the SFGG coach for feedback and other than a specific question/incident, his response was that ‘he liked the way I addressed his players and other than that he didn’t notice me’ which enabled him ‘to focus on his team’ and what they were trying to accomplish. In my world, being invisible is the best compliment possible.

San Mateo 14 – RENO 17 Referee: Dan Hattrup
Assistant Referee: Chris Tucker
I warmed my legs up with the East Palo Alto v Diablo [high school] game, which was good, as it reminded me that a voice is better than a whistle for preventing negative play. The two squads ran out in a well-defended match. Both of the squads appeared well coached, as they held some shape and form, which was successful in keeping the opposition out of the in-goal. Working from memory, EPA won the match 12-10.

Reno v San Mateo promised to be a bit of a bigger affair. Both squads turned up and seemed in good spirits, with what I assumed to be friendly banter between some of the players. The players seemed rather interested in playing a physical match and providing a great spectacle for the onlookers. The first disciplinary action was taken at the first ruck after some ill-advised boots went flying in, and the first try was scored shortly thereafter when a pass was intercepted and taken 80meters to below the goal posts.

The game was a bit polarized -- both sides would smash around the ruck for a bit, only to suddenly interrupt this forward dominated lull with paroxysms of passing, looping, crashing through the center and scrambles of 7s like play, followed again by the lads (backs and forwards) just smashing it off the side of the ruck. The players truly did not seem to care (and a few to know) what number was on their back as they went out and played 15 man rugby.

The only card of the match came after a dangerous tackle by the Reno 8man. He took it with good spirits, even suggesting the card would be appropriate before I had reached in my pocket. His return in the second half marked a revitalized Reno side -- the halftime break was enough to refill the tanks, and both teams played some fast rugby for the next ten minutes. As fatigue began to set in, leaders on both sides spoke with hot-headed teammates and ensured that the game remained rugby rather than something more pugilistic -- their help with keeping the game at a simmer allowed us to continue enjoying the flowing rugby they could produce. Reno scored two tries bringing the game to 17-7 before San Mateo took the ball in to leave the difference at 3. Solid attacks from the Bay players were repulsed time and again, and the final ruck was marked by ill discipline again -- a penalty on a San Mateo player relieved the pressure on Reno, who cleared the ball to the half and wore down the final minute of the game.

I rounded out the weekend with 3 games on the touchline and look forward to double doubles from In & Out next year.

Seconds: SAN MATEO 28 – Reno 25 Referee: Tony Latu

Arroyo Grande 0 – EAST PALO ALTO 86 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Colleen and I decided to make a weekend out of my assignment to Arroyo Grande by leaving Friday afternoon and staying in Pismo Beach. Here's my tourist's report for anyone else thinking of doing the same.

We stayed at the Quality Inn on Five Cities Road. $69 a night, clean and comfortable. Right next to an outlet mall and Huckleberry's, a great place to have your morning fuel. Eggs, toast and potatoes were only $6. Friday night dinner was a great plate of Penne Bolognese at Rosa's on Price St. Colleen's Baked Salmon would melt in your mouth. Great bar atmosphere, which was packed for happy hour when we walked in that emptied out towards the middle of our meal. Excellent local wine list, but you'll pay for it.

Saturday during her walk while I was tending to the match, Colleen spotted the Pelican Point Restaurant. We couldn't pass this up for our Saturday dinner and glad we didn't. Great sunset views from the bar. I imbibed in the Pelican Point Pale Ales with a Grilled Pork Chop. Colleen again enjoyed fare from the sea with a wonderful Sea Bass. The band started playing at 9, but since we had been there since 5:45, we decided not to stay for the whole set. Sunday breakfast was a great egg, bean and guacamole burrito at the Honeymoon Cafe on Price Street. As big as your face and only $5. Good fuel for the drive home.

As for the match, the score tells the tale. EPA scored early and often. Credit to AG for not getting discouraged and nearly scoring a try late in the 2nd half. The weather was perfect; cool and cloudy, until 20 minutes to go when the clouds opened up with a nice drenching downpour. As I'm sure you've heard before, AG's fields are wonderful and picture perfect. Add a club house and it's as good as any in England, with better scenery.

Should your next assignment find you driving 4+ hours to Arroyo Grande, do not fret. A great time awaits on the Central Coast.

See you this week in San Diego!

Seconds: Arroyo Grande – East Palo Alto
Not played.

FRESNO 31 – Baracus 19 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Seconds: Fresno 19 – COMBINED FRESNO-BARACUS 32 Ref: Crenshaw

SEAHAWKS 29 – Diablo Gaels 23 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
The match was played under sunny skies on artificial turf at Leland HS in south San Jose. In the first half, both teams recycled the ball efficiently with San Jose leading 19-15 at half. With more substitutions, the match became sloppier in the 2nd half, but San Jose pulled ahead 29-15 with 15 minutes left. Diablo mounted pressure to edge within 29-23 with a few minutes left, but they mishandled the ball on attack with San Jose's try-line in sight to end the match. San Jose held on to win, 4 tries to 3.

Seconds: Seahawks – Diablo Gaels
No report received.

SFGG 25 – Santa Rosa 17 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
Assistant Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Another miserable Bay Area winter's day at TI-blue skies, mid sixties. These premier D2 teams have lots of talent and came to play.

Evenly matched, the first 20 minutes were a chess game (and sorting out the off sides line). Lots of pressure by Rosa, who scored first, but also initial bad hands. Half was 8-5 for SFGG.

The second half was more constructive and productive, with the lead changing hands several times. Thanks to Bruce Bernstein for being assistant ref/TJ.

Seconds: SFGG 26 – Santa Rosa 20 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Referee Coach: Bryant Byrnes
Score wise the difference was SFGG made all 3 conversions in the second half to come from behind at the very end of a fast paced, exciting, well played game. SFGG had a few more players & their 2nd half replacement fullback seemed to give them a slight advantage, which could have gone either way. Thanks for Bryant Byrnes formal coaching & advise (& Pete Smith's informal 2 cents).

MISSION 29 – Chico 3 Referee: Preston Gordon
Going into this match, I was expecting a very close contest, based on the two teams' prior performances. Each side had played 2 matches and put up a points difference of 72 (97-25 and 95-23). I hadn't seen or refereed either of these teams before, so the previous results as reports were all I had to go on.

The match took place at the fairly new sports complex in Palo Alto, which is right on the corner of El Camino Real and Page Mill/Oregon Expressway. The playing surface is the latest-generation artificial turf, and there are 2 fields laid out with a warmup area and bathrooms in the middle. We were on the north pitch, which is the larger of the two. The match was scheduled to kick off at 1700.

Chico was actually the first side to show up and get themselves organized. They had a full roster of 22 and it appeared that they had a few more than that warming up. Mission's side, by contrast, wasn't fully assembled until about 1650.

The first half was a great contest, although a series of penalties for hands in the rucks and players being off their feet necessitated a discussion with the captains. That seemed to clean up the nonsense for quite a while. Both sides were keen to take points whenever they were on offer, and after 40 minutes Chico had scored a penalty goal while Mission scored a converted try off a chip over the defense, about 10m from the line.

In the second half I was expecting things to continue the way they did, but a lack of focus, fitness, or both seemed to let the air out of the visitors. Perhaps the 45th minute yellow card to a Chico player for leaving his feet (again) had something to do with it. Either way, Chico wouldn't score again, whereas Mission put together 3 more tries.

The game was pretty much over with 10 minutes remaining. At that point it started to get a little sloppy, with another Chico player leaving his feet and drawing a penalty, which then turned into a yellow for backchat (71'). Mission didn't miss out either, with one of their players shown yellow while still lying on the floor after making a dangerous tackle at 77'.

There was a pretty good crowd on hand, and the game was enjoyable, if somewhat one-sided during the last half hour. Both of these sides played pretty good rugby on Saturday evening, and should do very well the rest of the season.

VACAVILLE 55 – Stanislaus 29 Referee: Mike King
The visitors arrived en masse shortly before the scheduled kickoff time and seemed to need a half to shake out the cobwebs. The Dogs put the pedal down and moved to a seemingly secure 33-5 halftime lead. They also struck early in the second half, but the Harlots roared back to make the second half very exciting indeed. Special kudos to Vacaville’s #14 who poured in many of the team’s tries, both on his own effort, but also with some nifty feeds from teammates. #3 for Stanislaus showed that props can handle the ball and score tries too.

Berkeley 29 – HUMBOLDT 35 Referee: Joe Androvich

APTOS 24 – Fog 18 Referee: John Pohlman
Aptos hosted the Fog this past Saturday. This was a game I looked forward to. I played rugby with the coaching staff of both teams. Aptos is lead by Eric Amos and the Fog leaders are Ken Bousfield and Ian Binding, all of us ex-Seahawks. I wonder how many times both coaches and the match official all came for the same team.

Both teams were trickling in at noon when I arrived.

We kicked off at Santa Cruz High School at 1:00.

This was a well-played game. Both team showed good defense with some furious tackling. The Fog are playing the best I have ever seen. Better talent and numerous field leaders led to a nice pattern of rugby. Aptos is fielding a young team. I only recognized a few players from last year.

The Fog led early with a penalty kick. The Fog maintained most of the possession in the first half and rewarded with another try 17 minutes in by scrum half J. Amgott Kwan. Aptos was able to power over for a try by prop Carreon Gray at 30 minutes. The Fog spun the ball out wide for another try by winger Chris Martin right at half time.

In the first half the Fog looked better-organized and when they spun the ball out to the wings gained good ground. They unfortunately preferred to take on the strong-tackling Beach Dogs in the forwards.

Half time score Fog 13 Aptos 5.

Aptos has a couple of standout athletes. Flanker Greg Van Meter and fullback Scott Hunter made a big impact.

Hunter scored the first try of the second half with a strong run. Hunter has great running skills but likes to palm the rugby ball like a basketball while making his moves. Score Fog 13 Aptos 10 at eleven minutes into the second half.

There were numerous scoring opportunities missed by good tackling pursuit and mishandling.

At 35 minutes one of the Fog backs intercepted a pass and scored what looked like the game winning try, Fog 18 Aptos 10. With 5 minutes left Aptos needed at least two scores.

Fog #10 Sullivan kicked the restart out of bounds. Aptos choose a scrum midfield and after numerous phases scored a well-worked try. I looked at my watch and noted about 90 seconds left in the game.

The Fog won the restart only to turn the ball over. Aptos felt pressure and kicked an up and under fielded by the Fog. Again a turnover. Aptos this time had less pressure and spun the ball out to high school senior Ezekial Sanders.

Sanders is going to Oregon State on a football scholarship as a wide receiver. He is about 6'4" and 220 and has a couple of gears most of us have only dreamed of.

O.K., so he gets the ball sheds an tackler and kicks into warp 4 for a try at 40 minutes. Both of Aptos's final trys were converted. Aptos 24 Fog 18. Thanks for an exciting game. Good discipline from both teams.

VALLEJO 26 – Mendocino 0 Referee: Phil Akroyd
As at Chico two weeks ago, Mendocino travelled short to Vallejo. They arrived with eight players and the coaches agreed to play eight against eight (with a tight five in the scrums) until Vallejo got their four tries for their bonus points. This took thirteen minutes, at which point the coaches agreed to mix players and play fifteen on fifteen, over three periods of twenty minutes.

The scrimmage was good fun, with all players (and me) taking the opportunity to work on fitness in the dry, sunny and warm conditions on Mare Island. Some of the passing and running by the Vallejo players was quite stunning at times and I hope that this team can realize their potential.

MARIN over Petaluma by forfeit.

St. Mary's seconds/thirds 29– HUMBOLDT STATE 34 Referee: Bruce Carter
Assistant Referee: Rich Anderson

It’s amazing the games you can referee that don’t look so hot on the schedule.

UC Davis has suffered a rash of injuries and announced that they would not be able to field a second side to face the Gaels. This was the game the referee was anticipating.

But the Gaels coaches, having been bitten by the injury bug the past few years, have stepped up their efforts to recruit and sustain three sides as insurance. As part of this effort, they have been scheduling three matches most weekends.

This weekend their prescience paid dividends, particularly for one superannuated referee who once feared that his best games were behind him.

This was one of those.

Before the toss, it was agreed to open subs: St. Mary’s planned to swap out the side at the half. Humboldt State had about twenty players to choose from on what was otherwise a bye weekend for them.

Let’s talk about the love of the game for a moment: were you willing to drive 300 miles each way for a friendly when you were in college? I know that I was, and I was overjoyed to be in the company of like-minded folk all those years ago. Saturday those feelings were revisited and requited in me, full circle: I had also driven 300 miles, from Salinas to Moraga via Sacramento for a Friday night video gig.

I’m going to make a guess here, not having seen the Gaels this year, but it would appear that St. Mary’s fielded their seconds in the first stanza. This was the one that they led four trys to three, going into the breather at 22 – 17.

A comment on St. Mary’s style: the ball is spread. The closer a set piece is to the touchline, the sooner it will be on the far touchline. This is not necessarily true of second-phase ball, unless you as the referee notice that numbers 1-5 are absent from the piece – in which case the advised position at the ruck is wide. No, not that wide, wider. Gravitate towards the center of mass; the ball will find itself there in short order.

Humboldt State were not quite as patterned but their backs were industrious to the point of penetration and had some nice breaks.

At twenty minutes in the second half and down by seven, HSU were required to get by with only fourteen players when Kevin Scott earned a time out for his tackling technique.

In these reports, I normally edit out the names of players earning yellow or red cards, in keeping with my general editorial policy of promoting the game, downplaying rugby-associated shenanigans, and providing sustenance to tort lawyers across the fruited plain. However, in this case the reason for the exception to policy will become clear anon.

Despite the handicap, the visitors managed to score and convert a try tying the score at 29s just at the expiration of the sin bin. I addressed Mr. Scott and asked him to play clean here on out.

Did he ever: taking up his position on the right wing he received the re-start kick, beat a player to the corner, beat two more down the sideline, then cut back in to beat two more. He was tackled at the line but scored nonetheless, and those were the winning points.

Three rousing cheers from either side at the final whistle included mention of the referee, who hereby returns them with interest to the legions of rugby players who have so enriched his life.

ST. MARY’S 78 – UC Davis 3 Referee: Rich Anderson
Assistant Referee: Tom Wright
Assessor: Bryan Porter
Videographer: Bruce Carter
In a dominate performance over a injury-depleted UC Davis team, St. Mary's overcame their own early injury to roll to a 78-3 victory.

CHICO STATE 103 – Nevada 0 Referee: Don Pattalock
Assistant Referee: Phil Ulibarri Touch Judge: Beau McSwain

Seconds: Chico State – Nevada Referee: Phil Ulibarri
No report received.

UC Santa Cruz – USF Referee: Sam Davis
No report received.

San Jose State 14 – SANTA ROSA JC 15 Referee: Roberto Santiago
Referee Coach: Dixon Smith
The game was every bit as close as the score indicates. Santa Rosa came out early with an unconverted try at 4:32 and added another one at 19:00. It looked like they might run away with it but a couple goal line stands by San Jose kept the visitors at 10 points. It's funny when a coach 20 meters away yells "If you could get on the right side you'd see the grounding damn it!" If the coach had been closer, say where the ref was, he'd have seen that not only was the ball held up, the SRJC ball carrier wasn't even on the ground, neither was the defender holding up the ball carrier, they were both lying on top of two other guys. If some people coached as well as they complained their teams would be unstoppable. Back on the field SJSU tacked on their own converted try on a nifty run from their #8 Nolan Verga. The half ended with another goal line stand by the home team for a score of 7-10.

The beginning of the second half see-sawed with both teams playing well but not able to score. Then after a Santa Rosa player was sent off for foul play State pushed across another converted try for a 14-10 lead. However not long after taking the lead San Jose had a player temporarily suspended for dangerous tackling. Playing at even strength SRJC's #5 Matthew Pepper finally beat the impressive goal line defense by the home side and eked one just on the line for the final score of the day with just 5:00 left to play. Despite a solid effort by San Jose in the closing minutes Santa Rosa held on for a thrilling win.

Kudos to both teams for the effort and to both captains for keeping things relatively clean despite the two incidents.

U of Pacific – San Francisco State CANCELED

California women 0 – STANFORD 35 Referee: John Coppinger
This match was played under a blue sky with perfect weather conditions for rugby--cool with a slight breeze. Although the setting, Memorial Stadium on the Cal campus, was impressive, the venue was not rugby friendly. Extending the touch line to the boundary of the football technical zone still resulted in a pitch uncomfortably narrow and the old-style field turf could not have been a comfortable surface upon which to fall and a number of players finished the match with nasty looking abrasions caused by sliding on the pitch surface.

Stanford rotated players between the A and B side and were frustrated by the narrow pitch, but still managed a 28-0 halftime lead. Cal battled hard, but could not take advantage of scoring opportunities, particularly in the second period during which Stanford managed only a lone converted try. In fact, all of Stanford's tries were converted. Cal seemed pleased by their efforts.

Tina Nesberg was pressed into service to referee the B side match and did a fine job.

Seconds: California – Stanford Referee: Tina Nesberg
No report received.

Humboldt State women 5 – CHICO STATE 73 Referee: James Hinkin
I got up REALLY early Saturday morning to make the drive up to Humboldt and was rewarded with a spectacular drive north. Bands of early morning fog separated by brilliantly clear sunshine defined measured gaps in a trip that reminded me of the hoops on a rugby jersey. The predicted weather stayed away and the 11:00 kick off came about under dry skies.

Chico started well and kept possession for long periods but Humboldt tackled well and frustrated the visitors. Chico St finally broke through for a try under the posts, duly converted. Humboldt responded with their best period of play of the day and constant pressure on the Chico goal line was eventually rewarded with a penalty 5 meters out directly under the posts. Humboldt elected to tap the restart and pass it back to their fly half who dropped a goal. Unusual, but effective. After that it was all Chico.

Humboldt has a very young team and the inexperience showed as they mis-handled two balls in the try zone and gifted Chico two tries within 5 minutes. As the game wore on the Humboldt tackling became less and less effective and Chico started scoring almost at will.

Seconds: Humboldt Start 14 – CHICO STATE 17 Ref: Hinkin
With both sides having not quite a full complement of players for a B side match (Humboldt especially), the coaches decided on an abbreviated game with 30 minute halves. Several women did double duty and Humboldt was able to pull a few women from their alumni so the game was on. A back and forth affair that was decided knotted 7-7 at halftime. When Chico scoring an unconverted try to take the lead Humboldt responded with a converted try of their own to take the lead back. A try at full time to Chico stole the victory back from Humboldt in an exciting match.

USF women – Sac State Referee: Chris Labozzetta
No report received.


SACRAMENTO STATE 5 – Univ. of Calgary 0 Referee: Jack Rosenhammer (Met New York)
Industrial-grade rugby as an art form? Two physical teams went hammer-and-tongs for a slightly-abbreviated match of around 75 minutes. The tactic of crash ball, recycle, repeat, worked well for both teams, if the goal was to give their opposite numbers tackling practice. Both defensive units played extremely well, and the sole score came late in the second half when a goal-line ruck was touched down by a diving home-team player. The referee handled it well, checked with his assistant who had a clear view of the grounding, and gave the try. The conversion was wayward.

Stanford men 7 – CALIFORNIA 58 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: Bruce Carter, Dave Pope
Referee Coach: Tony Redmond
Stanford and Cal played under overcast skies in front of a large crowd of mostly Cal supporters. The match was physical and started a bit sloppy, but Cal was more disciplined in finishing their attacking moves, leading 19-0 at half. The match opened up more in the second half as both teams found their rhythm, especially Cal with the pick-and-drives. Cal won comfortably, 9 tries to 1.

Much thanks to Bruce and David for their help as assistant referees and Tony Redmond for his post-match advice.


By Brian Schnack:
Quick notes on a wonderful Kickoff Tournament in Sacramento.

Ray Schwartz, the man that introduced me to the wonders of Paxo Rugby, mountain biking, and (with Bruce "The Dude") Clowns and reffing, ran a great show with much support from a bunch of people he'll gladly pimp. But I'll pimp him and Kat for assigning me 6 games with a great set of new faces. What a treat to referee 6 high school and junior high games played with gusto, guts, intensity and, yes, plenty of fun and enjoyment. Maybe I'm not supposed to have so much fun on the field, but I had a blast, and I enjoyed seeing the players have equal fun while still playing good, tough, fast matches.

The crowds were usually loud and appreciative, the coaches were good spirits (although some knee-jerked between "Call nothing" and "Red-card that jerk"), the ref-coaches were great and on-target (Matt, JC, Steve, Dave, thanks), the players played, ran, hit, occasionally griped (and hence were subbed before being sent off) and frequently grinned.

My takeaways:
• Hat tip to Berkeley's Hooper who was a beast stealing balls on mauls with a big, broad grin all the way. Keep it up.
• Rugby is played younger and younger, by more and more, and doing that needs refs. And thanks to folks like the Pelicans, they're making a fun rugby environment for guys like me to stop playing and start giving (albeit not as frequently as I'd like) to the game. Cheers
• It took a few games for me to get used to having the help of a referee on the sideline running touch
• I had a charming date Saturday night. A tall blond. We wined, we dined, we slept under the same roof, and despite all that I woke up with my dignity intact. Here's to my date, Ray Schwartz.
• Kat thinks there's something funny about hair growing in red
• Sacramento, in dire need of revenues, nailed me with two parking tickets at the pitch
• The tourney attracted young referees (in comparison, I'm ancient) from Portland, Alabama, NY, and, yes, The Greater Bay. The event didn't let them down.
Again, it's great to see young kids play rugby, and often play it well. It's one of billions of examples that, yes, there are things on the upswing around here.

By Ray Schwartz:

25th Annual Kick Off Tournament
Granite Regional Park, Sacramento
Feb 6/7/8
Tournament Co-Directors: Ray Schwartz (competitions) & Jerry Ahlin (facilities)
Masterscoreboard: Ray Thompson
Referee Director: Ray Schwartz, Manager: Sam Reagle
Ref Coach Coordination and Scheduling Assistance: Kat Todd-Schwartz
Event Coordinator: Carrie Johnson

134 rugby matches were scheduled and played, across 6 pitches and over three days. An amazing undertaking. The featured match, Friday Night Rugby under the lights, Cal v U. of Calgary Dinos was quite a spectacle, reffed very well by Paul Bretz. Calgary was well organized, scoring an early try, but couldn't stop Cal's relentless pressure, eventually falling 51-5. A curtain raiser saw 21-year old Jack Rosenhammer (Met-NY) ref defending National Champ Jesuit Varsity ass they easily beat a hard-nosed Liberty (WA) side.

4 matches were played prior that, three offered as special thank yous to touring sides from Canada and Washington State, and included the first ever grade-school match in Sacramento, managed by rookie ref Robert Burgwitz. The crowd at kick off for the Cal game was in the thousands, filled with plenty of faces who would not otherwise be out to see a high school rugby tournament. Mission accomplished!

Mother Lode Girl's Emily Ruff, a sweet little 16-year old rugger, was poised to sing the Star Spangled banner, but it was quickly pointed out we can't sing one without the had totally slipped my mind: One team was Canadian, and to sing only our anthem would be disrespectful. As I went around the crowd to find and tell Emily the bad news, I stumbled across 4 Calgary Dino alums. They were on tour to support their boys, and more than willing to sing themselves. It was a pretty funny moment when one of the four kept singing the wrong words in the second verse, but then Emily stepped up, and through the booming sound system, brought chills to even Canadian spines with her "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave!"

The KOT has grown over 20% each of the last three years. 93 sides came to compete, and upon arrival found a stadium assembled, with stands surrounding the pitch, brought in (by volunteers) from City Parks nearby, a 100' foot long tent at midfield, an amazing professional sound system that clearly reached across the park, and a "vendor village" which saw brisk business, including an ATM machine that ran out of money each day!

For the Friday night feature with Cal, eight towable light towers were brought in, donated for use by Granite Construction's Ray Navarette, a Christian Bros alum, and rugby fan. The towers did a highly credible job, were relatively quiet, and bright enough. Jerry Ahlin put in an amazing amount of work dialing this lighting system in. The Dinos, as it turned out, had extensive experience playing "Ninja rugby," coming out of the shadows to make tackles, but it wasn't too bad at all. The Main Tent became the "KOT Pub" on Friday only, with a special liquor license (bar managed by Bob Luttrell), and provided much needed shelter as rain came during the second half. Thank goodness it lasted but a few minutes. The weather on the weekend was pretty wonderful.

Over 30 referees attended a free day of class and field education earlier on Friday. Training was led by Paul Bretz, assisted by Dave Williamson, and Don Whidden of Rugby Alberta. John Tesar was videographer. Ed Todd came in from the airport midday. Ed had jumped on this expanded three-day opportunity for referee development months earlier, and sent us several 'emerging' young refs from across the US.

Attendees went outside to do some fieldwork using Dinos players as dummies for the refs. Dr. Steve Gray arranged the room, and made certain a little rain wouldn't keep the outdoor clinic from shutting down. Chipotle provided free lunch burritos for all the Dinos and refs! Later, Mother Lode rugby mom Sherry Hammer provided a yummy buffet dinner piitchside, under the 20' x 20' ref tent, as the teams of three came and went from the tent.

Some 20+ refs checked into the plush luxury of the Residence Inn - Cal Expo (whose Manager Norm Bechler is now a rugby dad himself, his son playing first matches for Mother Lode just weeks before). The hotel lies two miles from the class and three from the Park. It was also walking distance to the fabulous annual Saturday Referee banquet at Buca di Beppo.

Moving on to Saturday, 62 matches were played, including Jesuit winning the Varsity Gold v Hayward, with Tony Redmond in the middle. Paul Bretz reffed Rio Linda over Peninsula Green in the Varsity Silver (Paul was going to ref the Gold Final, but Tony's son coaches at the Green!).

Dan Hattrup (Denver) enjoyed the ride as Reno prevailed over San Mateo in a Men's D1 match (Tony Latu reffed their B Side). San Mateo had asked to relocate their home match to Sacramento three weeks earlier, so to be able to support their U19 side entered in the Varsity Gold. The Warriors scored the only try against Jesuit on the day.

Sierra College, desperate to play more games, were given two shortened matches, vs. Sac St B and McGeorge. Plus an old boys match with the SOBs v CA Bald Eagles went off. Don Pattalock was seen kitting up, but didn't ref on the day. But there were tons of U19 rugby on the day, led by 28 varsity sides. Midday Saturday the sun burst out. The entire afternoon was like a sweet dream.

At the Banquet, JC Van Staden provided a yummy case of Peltier Station Gold Medal Award winning wine. Robert Burgwitz, who had reffed his first match Friday, and then ran touch for 8 more Saturday, was awarded a Calgary Dinos jersey.

Sunday was a bit chillier for a while, but no rain, and the crowds just kept pouring into the Park. 66 matches were played. The final day was more youth oriented, with 12 Junior High Sides, 6 U12s and 4 U10 sides. Amazing, absolutely amazing to see in person. The stuff of our dreams coming true before our very eyes.

Some refs who had flown in were whisked off the airports one by one. The younger refs who had populated the landmark Level 1 ref class in November, Riley Snider, aged 14, Nick (15) and Tristan Boyer (17) and Robert Burgwitz (16) reffed plenty of age-appropriate matches. 21-year old Jack Rosenhammer, the finest product to date of a Met-NY RDP run by Jem McDowell in the Fall, capably reffed a tense 5-0 Sac St. victory over the Hornets. At the end of the day, Chris Tucker, slowly back from injury, reffed an amazing display as the Amazons smoked Mother Lode girls 46-0 in just 30 minutes of play! Terry Helmer of Minnesota helmed Christian Brothers over Liberty in the Varsity International Final, which unfortunately ended a few minutes early.

Just a few more mind boggling numbers: Lamorinda brought 8 sides, Marin 6, Jesuit and Mother Lode 4, Danville, who I had never even seen before, was one of several clubs to bring three sides. The Oakland Warthogs, recently on the cover of The Sporting Green via Scott Ostler's article was an invited guest, and teaming up with Alameda, played some spirited rugby. All of U18 Junior Eagles who appeared played great, as expected, and included, Jamie Borup, Christian Brothers Falcons, Jason Fry and Brandon Kraft, Jesuit High Mauraders (Tyler Colin was out injured), Patrick Latu, San Mateo Warriors, Jacob Wrobel, Rio Linda Knights, Will Holder, EPA Razorbacks, Cole Huntley, Lamorinda, and T.J. Staladi, Liberty Patriots.

The KOT ref list included 34 names: Phil Akroyd, Nick, Tristan and Rich Boyer, Paul Bretz, Wayne Couch, Ross Devonport, Tom Galante, Kevin Gaw, Mark Godfrey, John Goodwyn, Terry Helmer, Rob Hendrickson, Nate, Housman, Danny Kaufman, Mike King, John Lawson, Tony Latu, Greg Lundell, Ryan Luis, Craig Lusiani, Scott McConnell, Mike McCarty, Ryan McCarthy, George O’Neil, Eric Rauscher, Tony Redmond, Jack Rosenhammer, Brian Schnack, Riley Snider, Dodson Thompson, Chris Tucker, and Jordan Weiss.

12 referee coaches watched a mind boggling total of 50 matches. The list includes: Paul Bretz, Matt Eason, Wayne Couch, Jim Crenshaw, Mike Malone, Skip Niebauer, Sam Reagle, Tony Redmond, Kat Todd-Schwartz, JC Van Staden, Dave Williamson, and Don Whidden.


Contrary to reports given our imprimatur, the Mendocino-Aptos game of January 31 was refereed by John Coppinger, not by Rich Anderson.

What's Up Pelicans
Something’s got these guys excited.

Must be almost one o’clock on a Saturday!


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris