Wednesday, March 04, 2009




There are rugby referee shortages everywhere – but this Saturday, here in NorCal, even with a number of referees doing two, three and even four games (see below), we have one college game with no ref.

There are a number of folks who seem to have fallen off the radar screen, who were refereeing regularly just last season. We count eight. We’ve kept your seat at the table – just drop an e-mail and you’ll have games. And new refs – we’re not hearing from you. Just say the word…


A bird-loving benefactor set up a fund to help fledgling referees in Northern California a couple of years ago.

Basic Outline:
- Fund to offset the expenses of rugby refereeing, and provide per-match fees for current students (6 units or more).
- Applicants for funds will self-report student status (institution and # of units), USA Rugby CIPP membership, NCRRS membership, number of "local" high school matches (teams and date), and number of Referee Society-appointed matches (teams and date).
- Qualifying expenses include CIPP and NCRRS membership fees.
- Match fees: $20 per "local" (youth or high school) match; $30 for Referee Society appointed match

If you qualify, contact our Treasurer, Jim Crenshaw:


USA Rugby has issued guidelines for referees to apply in all matches below the Super League. These are meant to help standardize referee decision-making across the country and across the grades.

Such consistency would of course enable rugby teams to train and play better, knowing that there shouldn’t be any big surprises come Saturday.

These are available on:
Click on Referees, and then just below the big logo you’ll see
Download the USA Rugby Community Referee Game Management Guidelines


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 (Bryan Arciero) and from Eastern Pennsylvania (Bill Bowen). 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.


Arroyo Grande 17 – DIABLO GAELS 40 Referee: Bruce Carter
I always enjoy the drive down to the Arroyo Grande, and this year even more so because my wife and our grandson, whom we are raising, accompanied me.

Ben is in the fourth grade, which means California Mission Project, so we left early to allow time to visit the fine Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, right in the middle of downtown. It was most informative and enjoyable, and we happened to meet a Chumash Story-Teller who was tracking her roots.

The Chumash were the folks living in the area when the friars arrived, after which European and North American narratives began to intertwine, creating the vibrant tapestry of cultures that comprise the fabric of modern-day California.

We couldn’t linger, for the slow pace of Alta California days had to yield to the fast pace of twenty-first century rugger.

It’s always a good day to visit the exemplary pitch at Talley Farms, but February 28 was particularly nice: mid-seventies, no breeze, crops prospering all around. It was a sun-block day, perfect for significant others on beach chairs.

Arroyo Grande arises Phoenix-like, losing players and starting their team half from scratch each season it seems. This year they haven’t gotten off the schneid, and having suffered some early hammerings and facing the Diablo Gaels, things might have been pretty grim. But the new players continue to train and learn; hope springs eternal.

Matter of fact, well into the second half the home XV was behind only 12-14. The final result provided confidence to them for the weeks to come.

Diablo opened the scoring in the first couple of minutes, John Koontz giving one of his Greganesque inside drop-passes as he took the ball from a ruck on the AG line for an undeniable forward crash-over.

All three AG tries remain in memory, undiluted by the several dozen match accounts I’ve read since then.

The first was conceived and produced by Captain Mike Draper, who arrived only after the match had begun and departed immediately at the final blast of my freshly-boiled whistle. Just before halftime he fielded a non-clearing kick and with two men to beat, beat them by chipping over their heads.

But there were two more men to beat – which the bounce of the ball did, before he collected it at the gallop – and then only the ref to beat, which seemed to tax Draper not at all.

AG’s two other tries came in the second half.

The first was by the rookie #12, playing in his second game, and having been the subject of a conversation between his captain and me about repeat infringement not five minutes into the match. (I have to apologize for not having recorded the names before mailing in the match card.) This fellow was chasing a Gael down the pitch when a big hit by a covering teammate sent the ball directly his way, direct from the contact (so no knock-on – backwards from the ball-carrier). #12 pulled a quick uey (that’s how they spell it in crossword puzzles), tip-toed down the touchline, and earned his ticket to shoot the boot.

[By the way, Arroyo Grande has a cowboy boot complete with aluminum studs on the sole and a handle on the side to facilitate first-try reward ceremonies.]

Their last try also came courtesy of a big hit. The AG #10, who had been distributing most of the day, took off running about forty meters out and got within about an inch of the line when he was pancaked by the only defender. The ball popped back where three supporter runners did a quick Rochambeau and the winner picked it up to score.

This is not to denigrate the six tries scored by the Gaels, with a nice interplay of forwards and backs once they got received their scourging at halftime. #12 Mone was the key force that couldn’t be reckoned with.

The post-match festivities were pleasant, Bo Kelly of AG saying some nice things about the referee. My wife later said, “You know how you embellish things – I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me what he said.” [EMBELLISH THINGS??!!]

On the drive north via Highway 101, the mission bells that shepherd travelers along El Camino Real gently rang young Ben to sleep, leaving Linda and me in respectful silence, holding hands, grateful for what the years and the miles in California Rugby Land have meant to us.

Report by Rob Hendrickson

SFGG packed 4 games into Saturday’s schedule, starting with the old boys v O Club at 11:15, Piedmont HS f/s v SFGG f/s, Piedmont HS gold varsity v SFGG, and finally SFGG super league v O Club at 3:00. I did the old boys game and the first half of the Piedmont f/s game, with Chris Labozzetta finishing that game and running the varsity game. Aruna finished the day with the super league game. SFGG started slow (having only 10 players there at the nominal 11:00 start time, they decided to go for uncontested scrums), but quickly scored 2 penalty goals, before the O Club found their stride and scored 3 tries in each half. The only complaint came from Chris Labozzetta, playing prop, who didn't like my obstruction call (he was following 2 blockers ahead – no wonder he thought he scored so easily) which ended up calling back his try and instead resulting in a PK the other way. Oh well. It was a fun game in which it seemed like most of the players knew most everyone on the pitch.

SFGG SL 39 – Olympic Club 29 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
This charity match was part of a fund-raiser for breast cancer, so although $10 admission was charged at Treasure Island, there was a large crowd, all on one side of the field. Teams were announced before the match and there was a moment of silence after the national anthem. Olympic Club wore pink. SFGG are two weeks away from their first Super League match, while Olympic Club are in the middle of the Division 1 season.

Ground conditions were soft, so players (and the referee) had trouble running in some areas of the field. Even then, the physicality and athleticism of the competitors more than compensated to provide an entertaining match. SFGG's backs scored three quick tries to lead 15-3 early on before Olympic Club scored two tries and a penalty to lead 15-18 at half. SFGG scored off the kickoff in the second half to retake the lead 20-18 before Olympic countered with a penalty to edge back ahead 20-21. Olympic Club seemed more committed in the forwards, but SFGG's backs looked dangerous every time they touched the ball. SFGG scored another try to lead 25-21 before Olympic countered with another penalty to edge within 25-24. With the crowd getting into the match, SFGG put the game out of reach by scoring two converted tries. Olympic scored a consolation try at full-time. In the end, SFGG's backs were too good, but everyone seemed to enjoy the back-and-forth, physical contest. SFGG scored 7 tries and Olympic scored 3; the pink team had the better place-kicker.

After the match, a large reception was held in the SFGG Clubhouse where trophies were awarded to the winning team and best player on each team, so this has the makings of an annual encounter.

San Mateo 14 – SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 16 Referee: John Coppinger
Assistant Referees: Rich Anderson, Frank Merrill/George O’Neil
Evaluator: Mike Malone
Sacramento Capitals fought back from a 14-11 deficit at the break to score the only try of the second half and win 16-14 while San Mateo temporarily was playing shorthanded because of a high tackle.

Both sides played good defense to deny points under pressure, however, the combination of playing short and a 10-man style of rugby was San Mateo's undoing.

Despite two cards given to San Mateo, the match was played with discipline and kudos to the captains of both sides.

The match was played at San Mateo's new grass pitch at Fiesta School in San Mateo. The pitch has a nice crown and good footing generally, but not along the touch lines. Serious tragedy was narrowly avoided when Assistant Referee Frank Merrill hit a soft spot and went down as if he had been shot. George O'Neil, slated to referee the second match, stepped in for Frank. An examination of Frank indicated a mild sprain of the forelock, averting the need to put the big fellow down, and he limped off to the St. Mary's/Stanford match down on the farm.

My thanks to Frank, George, Rich Anderson, the other AR, and Mike Malone for his evaluation/coaching.

Seconds: SAN MATEO 35 – Sac Capitals 17 Referee: George O'Neil

SACRAMENTO LIONS 17 – Reno 15 Referee: Joe Androvich

Seconds: SAC LIONS 22 – Reno 7 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
These were two fast, fun filled 30 minutes halves played with spirit and fun, and clearly Sacramento was the better team. Just fresh from their recent A side victory, and with their fitter senior side players on duty, the Lions proved two strong for a Reno side sporting a number of older players. A lot of running and much tackling throughout, but the Lions ran victorious with four tries, one converted. Reno never gave up, and got their consolations converted try right before the final whistle. A great crowd, no rain, and fun all around. Final score: Sac 22 - Reno 7.

Seahawks 17 – EAST PALO ALTO 31 Referee: Preston Gordon
This game deserved a much bigger pitch than the one we ended up with after the city of San Jose forced a late venue change to Calabazas park. As it was laid out, the pitch was about 85m x 60m with very shallow in-goal areas. However, the grass was in decent shape, and we got on with it and kicked off at 16:20.

The first half was very evenly matched. EPA scored 2 tries but narrowly missed the conversions, while San Jose scored one of their own, converted it, and added a penalty goal to go into halftime at 10-10. If memory serves, there were a couple of missed penalty kicks on each side as well.

The second half was another very close contest. By about 60' we were still level at 17-17, and as the match wound down, the tempo just got faster. EPA managed to turn over the ball in their own 22, and went all the way back to score (and convert) a try at 78'. San Jose looked more determined than ever, and attempted to get the equalizer, but EPA grabbed another opportunity 2 minutes later and ran in the closer right at the death. They converted that try as well and we ended up at 31-17.

The short, narrow pitch was no help - several balls kicked over the dead-ball line would normally not have gotten near it. I think both sides would have liked to spread the ball wider too, but instead they had to keep it close. I believe the tackle/ruck count was a lot higher than normal in this game. Aside from one EPA player binned at 31' for a (probably unintentional) dangerous tackle, there was nearly no nonsense to deal with. I had spoken to the players about that beforehand, and gave them the "same as last time?" short speech, and they all knew the deal. Thanks for listening so well during the game too!

Seconds: Seahawks 7 – EAST PALO ALTO 29 Ref: Gordon
After a short break to let the players get themselves organized and the ref get a drink and a little rest, we started the second match around 1815. This pitch has lights, which work OK, but they're all on the north and west side of the pitch. There are definitely dark spots on this field when the sun goes away. The B match was another good game, and although we could only get two 30’ halves in, there were 6 good tries (5 to EPA and 1 to San Jose). The rest of the points came from conversions.

Unfortunately I had to go to my pocket twice more for dangerous tackling; 1 yellow to EPA at 46' and another to San Jose at 55'. That was really the only unpleasant thing about this game. The ~100 San Jose and EPA fans stuck around to see the whole second match, creating a great atmosphere on one side of the pitch with music and cheering.

I was a little wiped out afterwards, but felt pretty good on Sunday morning. The rain held off, and it was a great day of rugby in the south bay.

SANTA ROSA 40 – Baracus 28 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Assistant Referee: Mike King
Evaluator: Dixon Smith
For Pete's Sake Field
After much rain it was sweet to see the lush grass, high crown and outstanding drainage of For Pete's Sake. What a field of rugby dreams! I was surprised to find two dandelions on this otherwise pristine pitch. All the more surprising to see the field markings not quite perfect.

By all accounts Santa Rosa has been growing stronger of late, and this was my first up-close look at their resurgence. Pat King's side came out far more aggressive than their opponents from The City in the first half, successfully converting this pressure into points, repeatedly. I was surprised it was only 21-0 when I saw a few ticks left on my watch and announced, "Last play of the half." A thrilling span of play ensued, with Baracus finally scoring some 5 minutes later, the ball never having been made dead once by either side.

Rosa's coach came over (across the pitch) at halftime. As I sat, hydrating and preparing to chat with my coaches, I looked up and was surprised to see him there, but was happy to answer anything I could for him. He asked about the penalty count, and why so many were called against his side. I answered I pay little attention during a match to actual counts, but sometimes one team is just more the aggressor/transgressor...he added, "But the count was 19 against my side?!"

This was funny because both Kat and Dixon were carefully watching, taking copious notes, and right next to me when he asked this. Both confirmed the count to have been 9, not 19, which tells us all how distorted the info coming from a coach can be...still 9 penalties to 1 against Baracus in the first half is a number worth addressing.

One basic truth, Baracus was less aggressive for much of the game. I offered there is nothing wrong with winning but also collecting more penalties, and in fact I often see it that way. When I was a starting flanker for 10 years (back in the Dark Ages) I drew about three penalties each match. I wanted my side to know what the ref might let us get away with. The only way to find this out is to stretch the limits of the game. I offered that frankly, Santa Rosa took control of the match early in part because they were willing to take aggressive risks.

I felt Rosa adjusted quite well to how I was going to call the game about midway into the first half. The count reversed somewhat in the second half. If I was more on my game, though, I should have at least warned Rosa Captain Pat King about the possibility of a "repeat team infringement" yellow card after the 4th tackle related offense occurred in the first 8 minutes, as Dixon was kind and correct to point out after the match.

I've been away from the game too long, am rusty in the middle, and just hope to regain my fitness and form. This game was a stretch for me, but I appreciated opportunity and the challenge. In the second half Rosa rolled as Baracus seemed to nap, until a yellow card to Rosa late in the game woke the Baracustani up to the possibilities of scoring some points, and score they did, racking up three tries in the game's last 13 minutes.

Thanks to all. This was one game I really wished I had been playing in rather than reffing. Looked like fun from where I was standing!

Seconds: SANTA ROSA 45 – Baracus 0 Referee: Mike King
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz
My gratitude to Kat Todd-Schwartz for her coaching assistance for this match. I also want to mention my thanks to Dixon Smith who is always willing to help me out with ideas how I can improve my facilitation of the contest.

FRESNO 74 – SF/Golden Gate 7 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Fresno – 12 tries, 7 conv
SFGG – 1 try, 1 conv
This was a pretty one sided game all the way with not much to report on. Fresno scored early and often by utilizing their best players at 10, 12, 13 and fifteen by cutting through the many holes in the SFGG backline. San Francisco became frustrated and petulant as they were clearly second best and the game was over before half-time.

Fresno added 50 points in the second half and enjoyed the wonderful pitch and warm spring weather to play some fast, open rugby. The Fresno fly-half (Vaughan Holdt?) was outstanding and appeared to see lines even before they emerged, enabling him to feed his capable back line. San Francisco on the other hand, appeared slower to the break down and lost the contest at nearly every ruck.

Seconds: Fresno 10 – SFGG 74 Ref: Akroyd
Fresno – 2 tries
SFGG – 12 tries, 7 convs
For this match report, read the A game report but reverse the team names.

This was a mirror image of the A side game. Played in great spirit and with Fresno adamant that they wanted to play a full 80 minutes.

The San Francisco fly-half (Spencer Cameron) was a stand-out player with about four or five tries and it is unbelievable that he wasn’t in the A side team.

Vallejo 7 – MISSION 19 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Aptos 31 – Vacaville 31 Referee: David Pope
I must say, I thought this game was over ten minutes into it. Vacaville, the visitors, had a dream start. They scored three converted tries just about the first three times they touched the ball, to go up 21 to 0 less than 10 minutes into the game. Vacaville had made it look very easy, and Aptos had lost a couple players to injury. Vacaville has a center, who weighs under 170lbs who hits like a truck and has speed.

Then Aptos settled down and shut down the midfield breaks that led to the easy tries. Each team scored one unconverted try during the rest of the first half. Significantly, when Aptos scored they chose to take a lazy drop kick in front of the posts and missed wide. Halftime score 26 - 5 to Vacaville.

Aptos made a couple substitutions at halftime, bringing some more experience onto the field. Play in the second half started very differently than the first. No tries were scored by either team in the first 20 minutes. At this point Aptos moved one of the halftime subs from wing to flyhalf. They scored two tries in the next 10 minutes to make the game close. Vacaville responded by scoring a well worked try in the corner that was not converted, which appeared to have iced the game. Aptos were not to be denied, however. Vacaville also did their best to help. After an Aptos clearing kick, a Vacaville player who has watched too much professional rugby, made a diving save to keep the ball in play. Unfortunately for him the only player running for the ball was an Aptos back who scooped it up and scored under the posts. Then as time expired, Aptos forced a turnover at a tackle when Vacaville didn't engage at full speed, spun the ball and scored. The conversion tied the game and the game was over.

Berkeley 12 – CHICO MIGHTY OAKS 38 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Referee Coach: David Williamson
I expected rain, but had only overcast skies at Job Corps Field out at Treasure Island. The pitch was a bit muddy in spots, but just fine for playing on. Both teams were there warming up when I arrived at noon for the 1pm game. Chico had the smaller squad as far as number of players there, but their experience in the back line paid off in the long run for them. Both teams were evenly matched up front and play was lively and spirited.

Thanks to David Williamson for his great coaching.

HUMBOLDT over Stanislaus by forfeit.

MARIN REDS 27 – Fog 10 Referee: Joe Leisek
Marin City Field, Marin City
Touch Judge: Carl Fortney
A very intense, fast game between two rivals. Played on soft ground, including a large muddy patch in the middle of the pitch. Prior to kickoff, I predicted a forwards-oriented game, but I was quickly proven wrong. Both teams showed their determination to run the ball whenever possible, and in fact there was very little pick-and-drive at all. The Fog backline was led by their crashing inside center Michael Estis, whose punishing runs often crossed the gainline and set up another phase of possession. Marin's experience showed, especially on defense. The difference in this game were missed tackles that led to two first-half Marin tries, and two Fog near-tries that were held up in goal. The better team on the day won this game, but the two teams were very competitive. The game drew a larger crowd than usual to the Marin City venue, with Fog supporters outnumbering the hosts. Captains Jeremiah Bornstein (Marin) and Dany Samreth (Fog) were good leaders and excellent players. Special mention and thanks to Carl Fortney, Fog Chief Officer and one of the gentlemen of the game (and a very good touch judge).

SHASTA HIGHLANDERS 85 (16T, 5C) – Mendocino Steam Donkeys 0
Referee: Scott Wood
TJs: Shasta coach (Dave), Mendo coach (Steve)
Location: Foothill High School, Palo Cedro

This match coincided nicely with my week long stay in the Greater Redding Metropolis. Having experienced a large amount of rain, I was curious to see if the studs on my boots would be long enough. Fortunately, the field drained nicely and was well marked (only missing the 15 m lines).

I last saw Mendocino in Stanislaus six weeks ago. At the time they had ten players (including a player-coach). This time they had 12 players and an actual coach! Forward progress! Not only that, Shasta also has a coach. What's next? End of global warming? Expansion of my bank account? Faulty lenders and borrowers will go to jail? Okay, maybe I'm a bit out of line. We know there's no such thing as global warming...

Both teams worked well in the scrums. And, believe it when I say they had plenty of opportunity. This match was a knock-on fest to say the least. I tried almost everything to play out advantage. Shy of ignoring ALL knock ons, we scrummaged and scrummaged. It's amazing that in the midst of it all, Shasta was able to put up 16 tries.

Despite the scoring and incessant knocks, Mendo kept up good spirits and managed some possession of its own. They were able to steal a couple lineouts and scrums and put up a relatively good defense. If both teams improve on their backline plays, they will present formidable challenges to their opponents.

The social was held at a player’s house where we enjoyed great conversation, food and beverage (even if one novice try scorer managed to exhibit a massive gag reflex...)

UC DAVIS 24 – Sac State 19 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
AR: Eugene Baker; TJ: Ron DeCausemaker
This was a money game. Both teams are nationally ranked and both are in the hunt for a playoff slot. The anticipation and the tension were palpable.

With all respect to two fine back lines, this was a forwards game; furious tackles by the big guys and multiple phase rucks. Davis had more ball and scored first in early times, but Sac used what it got to advantage for two tries and led 12-7 at half.

Davis re-organized in the second half and made it even more of a Somme-like match-even when the backs got the ball the inside backs crashed it straight up for a tackle and ruck. But it worked-they took the lead with two converted ties.

Sac, unimpressed, scored one of the toughest tries I can remember-over five minutes inside the Davis 5 meters, the ball was held up in goal twice before they finally found a gap to touch it down. It was thus a two-point game, 19 to 21, with about 10 minutes left. Davis then kicked a penalty and spent the last 5 minutes working hard to keep Sac beyond its 22.

I thank very much my sideline officials, TJ Ron DeCausemaker and assistant referee Eugene Baker.

Seconds: UC Davis 5 – SAC STATE 22 Referee: Eugene Baker
Referee Coach: Bryant Byrnes

Seconds: Stanford women – UC Davis NOT PLAYED

STANFORD women 41 – UC Davis 22 Referee: Paul Bretz
Stanford women defeated Davis women 41-22. Stanford jumped on the board first and continued to keep Davis scoreless for the first half. Stanford continues to acquire Kenyan backs that can flat out fly. Davis was able to mount attacks however they were unable to stick to their attack plan and lost possession frequently. This changed in the second half. Davis opted to keep the ball tight and use their forwards with much better success. They maintained possession and scored 4 trys in the second half. The peanut gallery in the stands consisted of James Hinkin and Tony Redmond.

Seconds: Stanford men 29 – ST. MARY’S 58 Referee: James Hinkin
With the rain holding off and the cloudy sky keeping the temperature in the 60s the B siders were ready to perform for the Stanford Parents Day crowd. The Jay Vees were intent on following an exciting A side match with one just as fast paced and exciting and they didn't disappoint. From the opening whistle everything was done at a furious pace, with the sides exchanging long distance tries within the first two minutes. In open field play, lineouts, rucking, mauling and just about every phase of the game Stanford match St Mary’s in an exciting contest. The lone exception was the dominance of an awesome St Mary’s scrum and that spelled the difference in the game. St Mary’s were pushing Stanford off their own ball and making life difficult all around for Stanford at scrum time and they turned their advantage into points. When Stanford had the ball in open play they were very dangerous and they were able to hit back, just not often enough. Half time score: Stanford 17 - St Mary’s 43.

As a side note, there were no penalty kicks at goal in this game. The pervading philosophy was "Try or Go Home". This made for a fantastically exciting game.

The pace went out of the match a bit in the second half due in part to the furious pace of the first half and in part due to the fact the lights had not come on (for a 5:00 kickoff). As the second half started I called the captains together and told them I would play as long as possible but with no lights the half may be shortened. About 10 minutes into the second half I told the captains it was getting time to make a decision and that we needed light.

And lo! The Judge In The Middle sayeth unto the Leaders of the Tribes of Stanford and St Mary’s "Let There Be Light" and verily, there was light. And there was much rejoicing for the Tribes of Stanford and St Mary’s were able to continue to do battle and cover themselves in glory.

I think I might be able to start my own religion. Just need a few more miracles.

Back to the action. Both sides were giving their all and Stanford were able to change their tactics to better deal with the St Mary’s scrum dominance and that made the second half much more even. Long breaks were saved with fantastic tackles and the commitment was strong until the end. The second period went to St Mary’s 3 tries to 2, with St Mary’s scoring on the final play of the game off of (no surprise) a scrum that they were able to turn over and run the length of the pitch.

Stanford men 24 – ST. MARY’S 41 Referee: Tony Redmond
Assistant Referee: George O'Neil
Stanford and St Mary’s served up a game that always provided entertainment even if the execution of some of the plays broke down. Eleven tries were scored, seven by St. Mary’s and four by Stanford, in a game that stayed reasonably competitive throughout although the stronger St. Mary’s pack always ensured that they had the upper hand, especially at scrums. Stanford survived on scraps to trail 17-24 at half time but their problems in keeping up with St. Mary’s were compounded right at half time when their hooker was sent to the sin bin after he came into the side of a ruck and smothered both ball and scrum half 3m from the line when St. Mary’s had a two man overlap. As the second half went on, St. Mary’s steadily tightened the screw and only for two knock-ons close to or over the line would have stretched their lead considerably. As it was, they had to be content with three tries, the last scored by their captain (#12) between the posts on the stroke of full time. Stanford gained some consolation with a goal in the 77th minute but in truth they were always scrabbling for scores and St. Mary’s won reasonably easily in the end.

Nevada 10 – CHICO STATE 59 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Seconds: Nevada 15 – CHICO STATE 47 Referee: Scott McConnell

Humboldt State 12 – MARITIME ACADEMY 34 Referee: John Pohlman
The last week of February took me to Humboldt County to referee the Humboldt State Woman's and Men's teams. This is usually the longest drive of the year, which although I enjoy, I always wish it were a bit shorter. Well, this year the games were played in Eureka about 30 minutes shy of campus.

I arrived around 10 to do the woman's game, which got over around 12:30. Then off to get rosters for the men and pregame chat completed. That gave about 15 minutes to rest and refuel.

Both teams have been playing good rugby coming off wins.

Maritime had come up in a bus with good numbers and Humboldt was nursing some critical injuries looked to have two full sides.

This game was very physical from start to finish. Maritime’s forwards controlled play by winning 75% of the scrums and lineouts.

Maritime’s back three kept pressure on Humboldt all game. #7 Rufus Walker was my player of the game. His partner Bobby Rather was a all over the field. And #8 David Vanderhogh scored a try off a scrum.

Maritime started with a try by winger Kevin Randell 7 minutes in. Randell scored another try in the second half. At 21 minutes Humboldt could not hold off the pressure as Vanderhogh plowed over.

Half time score Maritime 12 Humboldt State 0

Humboldt came out blazing for second half. Prop Jacob Veigel scored 3 minutes in. Then the fastest player on the field Humboldt winger Kevin Handell broke free to reach the try zone. Handell is new to rugby and did not ground the ball, which was then knocked out of his hands and out of the end zone.
Well he won't do that again.

Maritime collected themselves and scored two quick trys within the next five minutes.

The game was played hard to the end. Maritime captain and prop Chris Flannery was rewarded with the last try of the game.

U. of San Francisco 5 – SANTA CLARA 36 Referee: Sam Davis

Seconds: U. of SF 0 – SANTA CLARA 22 Ref: Davis

Sierra JC – San Jose State CANCELED

UOP 31 – San Francisco State 24 Referee: Sam Reagle
Conditions: Overcast & warm
I'm having a hard time finding the words to give justice to this battle between these two evenly matched sides, evenly matched because UOP slid in a couple of ringers from Stanislaus to fill out their roster. SFS came with a full side and a publicity crew of 3 conducting interviews. From a technical standpoint, neither of these teams is ready for prime time, but from an enjoyment factor, they both played in good spirit. There were 4 different times the game was tied.

After about 9 minutes of some feeling out and dropped passes by both sides, the Gators scored an unconverted try due to missed tackles by UOP. The Tigers answered back about 9 minutes later with one of their own. Then the Gators scored a converted try with about 10 minutes left in the first half only to give up the same to end the half. Halftime score: 12-12.

The second half pretty much mirrored the first. SFS scored a converted try about 5 minutes in with UOP answering back about 10 minutes later. Then, the Tigers took their first lead about 5 minutes later only to be tied again with about 10 minutes left in the half. UOP took the lead for good with about 7 minutes to go, but the outcome was in question right up to full time when UOP could have ended the game by kicking for touch, but instead chose to attack, lost the ball in a tackle, acquired it again and kicked it out to the disdain of teammates.

This was industrial rugby at its finest. There were a couple of grayhairs and more than a couple of players new to the game. I talked a bit more than usual, but they were receptive and eager. I enjoyed the day and sensed that both sides felt they walked away winners.

Chico State women 0 – CALIFORNIA 32 Referee: Craig Lusiani
The strength of the California Women's pack showed through and dominated this match which included an excellent pushover try midway in the first half.

Although the Chico State women were able to gain good ground by swinging the ball wide to their backs, the breakdowns belonged to the stronger and more aggressive Bear women who consistently brought the Lady Wildcats down short of the try line.

Seconds: CHICO STATE 39 – California 0 Ref: Lusiani
The Lady Wildcats forwards seemed to have more experience and a renewed sense of commitment to the rucks and mauls, consistently creating wave after wave of attack against the California Women backline.

As dominant as the A side women of Berkeley pack were in their match, Chico State Women forwards returned the favor in this match, shutting out the California Women with a half-time score of 22 to nil.

The second half was much the same.

Humboldt State women 0 – NEVADA 36 Referee: John Pohlman
Humboldt State woman hosted the University of Nevada at the Adult School field in Eureka. The field was being set up and players warming up when I arrived around 10:00 AM.

The Nevada women were just too much for Humboldt.

Five minutes in #15 Niki Donahoe scored the first of her three trys. Two minutes later center Arianne Smith scored again. Throughout the game the Nevada backs got clean quick ball which they used well.

The Humboldt backs seldom got good ball and were caught making passes to players standing still.

Nevada scored six trys in all. Final Nevada 36 Humboldt State 0.

Santa Clara women 5 – SAC STATE 49 Referee: Roberto Santiago
The match went the way the score indicates. Sac State was stronger in the rucks and the scrums. Santa Clara faced some injury issues towards the end of the match and had to play short handed. Sac State traveled well and had good numbers on hand for a happy birthday win for their coach.

UC SANTA CRUZ women 33 – St. Mary's 6 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
St. Mary's was winning both at the half 3-0 & again in the second half 6-5 due to their kicker who hit 2 out 3 from 45 meters out.

Their defense broke down in the second half & UCSC's backs (especially a center & wing) scored 4 nice long team tries after an initial botched ball by St. Mary's in their try zone. Plus St. Mary's only came with 18 players & needed more as the match wore on.

By the way, the field at UCSC is got to be the nicest anywhere--sod is perfect, view of Monterey Bay even more perfect; good turn out with around 100 fans & it was 72 degrees!


SAN MATEO 51 – College Park 12 Referee: Chris Fisher
Nine tries to two. First half was close with San Mateo narrowly leading 10-7. In the second half, College Park fell to pieces allowing 41 points.

Note to all: there are six junior clubs (children) playing on Sundays in the Bay Area: Stanford, Silicon Valley, Lamorinda, Danville, Diablo and San Francisco Golden Gate. There are two clubs that have teams but are not officially in the competition- San Jose and East Palo Alto. Everyone needs to support junior rugby. In last week's game, Lamorinda beat Silicon Valley Under-10's by 14 tries to 10. Silicon Valley has more than 30 Under-10 players in its club.

Peninsula Green 3 – EAST PALO ALTO 21 Referee: John Pohlman
Touch Judges: Greg Lundell and Moses
Peninsula Green hosted East Palo Alto High School team at Woodside High School’s artificial turf football field.

Lacrosse had the field until 7:30, thus a relatively late start. There was a good crowd, with northern California luminaries Frank Merrill and Tony Redmond.

This may have been my third time doing this rivalry. East Palo Alto is always big and physical with some stunningly large and athletic players. Peninsula Green always has good numbers and very well coached.

As the teams warmed up it seemed PG had gotten bigger and EPA looked disorganized with players showing up as late as 7:15.

EPA kicked off and PG claimed the kick and started crashing up with their forwards. PG crashed with their forwards all game long. This kept the ball out of EPA's hands, but PG seldom broke down the big EPA defense.

Five minutes in EPA poached a crashed ball and their #4 broke a couple of tackles earning the first try of the game. EPA's #4 was a stand out player all game. He won numerous PG lineout balls, had a good work rate throughout the game and was very well disciplined.

Most of the rest of the first half saw PG maintaining possession and crashing it up in the forwards.

With a minute left in the half EPA #10 Will Holder looked like he had enough. He took a clean quick ball from captain and #9 Uli started to slide across the field only to dart into the gap as it opened. Will then stepped a defender and turned the corner on another for a great individual 65 yard effort.

Half time EPA 14 PG 0

PG's captain and #10 Jared made a drop kick from 30 yards out 2 minutes in. As we ran back for the restart numerous EPA players remarked they had never seen a drop kick completed before.

The rest of the game was well balanced. EPA's big players trying, unsuccessfully, to break tackles. PG trying to control possession. EPA scored the final try at 29 minutes, one man down due to a repeat infringement yellow card.

Some great tackling form both sides. Good discipline.

PG lost many lineout balls and seldom broke down the EPA defense. They made EPA work very hard for go-forward ball.

I hope to see the EPA San Mateo game, it should be a blinder.

Thanks for my assistant referees Moses and Greg. And thanks to Tony for some very specific feedback after the game.

MARIN HIGHLANDERS 64 – Montgomery Vikings 0 Referee: Joe Leisek
Redwood High School, Larkspur

Marin is a well-coached, talented team. They are big and strong and very well-organized. Combine those qualities with composure, and they are a very impressive side. They had their way with the Vikings, who, to their credit, played a much better game in the last 20 minutes than they had in the first 50 minutes. Marin scored early and often, mixing up forward pressure with slashing runs from the backline. A great effort by the hosts and a good showing by the visitors, who are much less experienced but who played hard for the full 70 minutes.

A great rugby day in Marin, with three high school games at Redwood High and a men's club match just a few miles south.

ELSIE ALLEN 79 – Humboldt County 5 Referee: Cary Bertolone
On Sat., 2/28/09, the Humboldt County High School Club Side kicked off to Elsie Allen High School at the Lobo Stadium in Santa Rosa. The new team from Humboldt had the formidable task of trying to contain the very well drilled Elsie Allen team and although they tried hard (no pun intended) and never gave up, were way over their heads. The first try was scored at the one minute mark and on Elsie went until it was 35-0 by the 20 minute mark. At that point, in the interest of having nobody hurt, I made the scrums un-contested. I believe Humboldt learned a lot on Saturday and coupled with getting some ball from the uncontested scrums, started playing better. Everyone played like gentlemen, no one got hurt and the final score was 79-5.

Seconds: ELSIE ALLEN 54 – Santa Rosa 5 Ref: Bertolone
Immediately afterwards, the Rosa Rugby High School 2nds team played the Elsie Allen 2nds in another 70 minute sprint match (as it seemed to me, as I was getting tired by the 2nd half) and it was much more closely contested, but for one player. The forwards were fairly evenly matched, but the Rosa team could not tackle one or two superior backs from Elsie (especially one named "Wilson") and the score became indicative. The final score was 54-5 in favor of Elsie Allen, but it was very encouraging to see so many underclassmen playing at quite a high level. Pretty clean rugby for so many freshmen and sophomores!! The future looks promising for those two programs!

Varsity: HAYWARD GRIFFINS 27 – DLS Spartans 14 Referee: Edward Barfels
Hayward started out fast scoring two tries in the first 10 minutes to take a 10 to 0 lead. The DLS defense stiffened and Hayward did not score for another 15 minutes. Then just before the half, DLS managed to push one over for a try. Halftime score 17 to 7.

In the second half, DLS fought a harder game. Hayward managed two scores in the corner and missed both conversions. With about 10 minutes left, DLS score a try and converted the kick to bring the final score to 27 – 14.

DE LA SALLE Frosh/Soph 17 – Marin Freshman 14 Ref: Barfels

JESUIT 31 – Cougars 7 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Jesuit – 4x Converted Tries, 1 PK
Cougars – 1x Converted Try

The field was half mud-bath, half perfect rugby pitch but both teams were determined to play a hard and attractive game. The Cougars were up for this game and their aggression in tackles and at the breakdown showed that they really believed that they had a chance to win. Jesuit scored first, but it did not come easily as they opted to play uphill. Cougars aimed to stay in the game and reacted by scoring only four minutes later. The scoring exchanges continued and Jesuit led 14 to 7 at half time. Both teams were clearly not going to back down in the physical contest and clearly showed this in the ferocity of tackles, which resulted in a yellow card for each team in the first half after warnings to captains. The rest of the game continued without any incident.

This game was not going to be given away. One team had to stand up and take it from the other and Jesuit began to creep ahead with two converted tries. For Cougars, the combination of being behind and playing uphill began to wear them down and the likelihood of them venturing into enemy territory became less and less. The Fair Oaks boys sealed the game with a last minute penalty kick to the side of the posts but both teams can be confident that they pushed their opposition and gave them a stern examination. An interesting side note was that the game had a 100% kick success rate, with only the last penalty kick being more of a chip-shot than the others. None of the conversions were easy and their second conversion from Jesuit was taken by their fly-half wide out on the right, on the 5m line, in about 3 inches of water-logged mud with the Cougar supporters giving him a hard time. It sailed over with ease. Well played kickers!!! The best place kicking display I have seen all season from any team!

Varsity: LAMORINDA 19 – Diablo 14 Referee: Nate Housman
Assessor: Bryan Porter
I had many a game Saturday, here's the recap: (I am also keeping my own log)

9:00 Lamorinda v Diablo
11:00 Lamorinda Frosh Soph v SFGG JV
12:30 Lamorinda Intersquad v Diablo Frosh Soph
7:00P Danville Oaks U14 v Peninsula U14

Getting lots of great experience, Having a blast!

Berkeley Rhinos 5 – PLEASANTON 35 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Berkeley Rhinos 10 – Danville Oaks 32 Ref: Zanarini

ALAMEDA 27 – Oakland Warthogs 5 Referee: Mike Spencer (Warthogs coach)
(Alameda by forfeit, technically)
The Warthogs visited Alameda for the first league match of the season for each club. The Warthogs had 12 or 13 players, could not field a full side and had to forfeit. Then, the Warthogs borrowed a couple Alameda players, pressed Coach Ryan Burke into service and the game began.

It was my real game reffed since taking the ref certification class in the fall. Alameda stormed to a quick three-try lead in the first 20 minutes and never looked back. Alameda has a lot of big forwards and some speedy backs. Rucking cohesion by Alameda and lack of tackling by the Warthogs determined the game. The Warthogs were missing some players due to academic reasons but Alameda was by far the better side, with about 22 kids raring to go.

All things considered, inexperienced players with inexperienced ref, the scrums went well. Yours truly let a lot of hands in the ruck, diving over and other aspects slide. The down side was too much high tackling, resulting in a yellow card to a young Warthog 2 minutes into the second half. An Alameda forward was yellow-carded for dissent, dropping an F-Bomb on said ref right in front of his own bench and sidelines.

I came off the pitch with a whole lot more respect for good refereeing, knowing how hard it is to not just stay atop action around the ball but to try to keep an eye on other aspects of the game.

Rohnert Park 12 – SANTA ROSA 28 Referee: Mike King
Santa Rosa scored first and consistently throughout the first half, in a contest with many talented newer players on both sides. Both sides had some decent running near the rucks, but the Santa Rosa backs were able to spin the ball wide to create better scoring opportunities. 0-21 at half.

The second half started in a similar fashion, but Rohnert Park was bound and determined to keep playing. Some strong running broke through the line, setting up a penalty opportunity and try on a quick tap, then a breakout run along the touch line. Final 12-28.

MOTHER LODE girls 17 – Davis 5 Referee: Mark Godfrey
Assistant Referee: Rod Chance
Touch Judge: Devon

With a large number of supporters for both teams on hand for the 3pm kickoff the weather was cloudy and perfect. The Rolling Hills pitch in both name and topography was challenging littered with ponds, mud bogs and hard pan. Within minutes of kickoff Mother Lode’s captain kicked down field and from then on both teams freely applied boot to ball. (Me watching where I put my head). The score does not reflect the numerous hard fought contests for possession of the ball within 10 meters of the try line at both ends of the pitch. Scrums were well played with evenly matched forwards. Numerous mauls were formed and several covering 25+ meters. A very well played game by both teams. Thanks to the ladies coaches and supporters
P. S.: J.C. worked on positioning, secondary signals, did my best as the “old man” to keep up.

The plentiful rains and increasing hours of daylight have brought some floral company to our backyard mascot.


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