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