Thursday, April 30, 2009




We are on the cusp of out-growing the room set aside for us by Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek. It’s time to fish or cut bait: we’ll be locked in over the next few days.

If you’ve been thinking of attending now’s the time to commit. At present we’re in a room that holds fifty. Next week the larger rooms will be given to other uses June 13. If we don’t have additional responses to justify the larger facility we’ll foreclose that option.

Pelican Banquet 2009
Denis Shanagher Award presentation to Donal Walsh
Gathering of Glitterati
Scott’s Seafood, Walnut Creek
Saturday, June 13, drinks at 6, dinner at 7
Pelicans free; Guests $50
Contact: Bjorn Stumer


The Reno tournament has expanded to two days and moved to May! It will be played May 9-10.

If you’d like to get in some post-season rugby, let us know. We’re negotiating the hotel rooms at the moment.


East Palo Alto has taken the top Pacific Coast seed into the D2 nationals. Congratulations to the Razorbacks!


Friday, May 1
Mother Lode – Elsie Allen Referee: Phil Akroyd

Saturday, May 2
Marin Highlanders – Cougar RC Referee: Bryant Byrnes
Hayward – East Palo Alto Referee: Ryan Luis
San Mateo – Diablo Referee: TBA


These will be played Friday and Saturday. We’re needing to wrench a couple of refs away for those high school playoff games – bear with us.

Best of luck to Cal and Stanford!


Wednesday, April 22: NorCal U19 Semi-finals:

San Mateo 20 – HAYWARD 21 Referee: Pete Smith
ARs: James Hinkin, John Pohlman

SF/Golden Gate 17 – LAMORINDA 20 Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: Preston Gordon, George O'Neil
4th: Eric Rauscher
Very close game, should have been closer. The first half was dominated by Lamorinda, who put in 2 tries and a penalty goal, all kicked by a very able #10. SFGG responded with a lone try, a result of pressure from the #8 who charged down a kick, collected the happy bounce and touched down under the posts. After checking with the ARs, it was agreed he was onside and so the try was given.

The conversion missed. At least that's what we ruled.

[Editor’s notes in brackets: Now: pay close attention] The conversion was a line-drive from in front of the upright that bounced off the upright at almost exactly 90 degrees to the direction of travel, still rising as it ricocheted off.

I knew it hit the post above the bar but thought it bounced back into the field of play. [i.e, crossed in front of the opposite upright]

George knew it bounced into in-goal [i.e, crossed behind the other upright], but thought it hit the post below the bar.

So we both thought it missed for different reasons, but between us we knew the true story. My assumption, which led to the screw-up, was that George ruled it unsuccessful for the same reason I did.

At half time I asked George what happened. He said the ball went under the bar. This is one of those moments that you find out what everyone else in the place knew already: I just screwed up. I had assumed that he ruled it unsuccessful because it bounced back out i.e. it did not go between the posts. The ball had clearly gone over the bar from my vantage point, so between us we had all the information to get it right. Why then, when I know to check with my ARs that a try is good, do I not use the same discretion on the conversion? Well for sure I will in future.

My blushes were spared in the second half when, with the score tied up at 17 after 2 further SFGG tries, I gave a scrum to Lamorinda under the posts for a forward pass. The passer took exception to my call, and rather vocally, so the scrum became a penalty. The Lamo #10 was not going to miss that one. Late pressure by Gate came to naught as the final pass went forward and the game was done. 20-17 to Lamo, should have read 20-19, but the result is the same.

On the drive home I did figure out that the result would have been OK in the end, had it remained 17-17. Given this is a knockout in the U-19 competition; the tie-breaker goes to the team with the most tries. This would have been SFGG, by 3-2. So although I would have altered the match, the spoils would have gone to the rightful team. This helped me sleep better, if not making me proud of myself.

[As with most things rugby, this reminds your editor of a story.

[The most difficult thing to judge is whether the ball goes over or under the crossbar when it is moving fast, especially if it is rising. The ball is white. The bar is white. Vision only seems continuous to us for the same reasons cinema appears to move: our eyes sample the optical environment frequently enough that we don’t ‘see’ the gaps. But the ball can subtend the arc represented by that crossbar during one of these lacunae.

[We were at the old North American Challenge Cup at the University of British Columbia, 2000. Josh Tameifuna was referee, Bob Woerner and Scriptoris the TJs. The conversion was taken dead center maybe fifteen meters out and followed a frozen-rope trajectory, like a laser beam through smoke. Looked to me like it went right through the crossbar.

[Josh stood patiently with his whistle at his side awaiting our call.

[I looked at Bob awaiting his call – we were both belly-up to the posts.

[And Bob looked at me awaiting my call. My call would have been quantum tunneling: award the kick for the degree of difficulty it represented.

[Ah – but there stretching and warming up for the following game, behind the corner flag in my field of view, was Tom Coburn, a fellow with a very quick mind. He read our three minds, found the pages blank, and gave me a thumb’s-up.

[Bob and I raised our flags together, the whistle went, it all transpiring so smoothly that Josh didn’t realize that his TJs had had no clue.

[You see now that the best place to call a low riser is way out to the side, from where it is obvious whether the line of flight is above or below the crossbar.]

Final: U-19 NorCal Championship for the Nationals
LAMORINDA 17 – Hayward 10 Referee: George O'Neil
Evaluator: Mike Malone

Pacific Coast Challenge Match for the USA Single-School Playoffs
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS 36 – Snow Valley 10 Referee: Chris Tucker
Thanks to ARs: Mason Gunn and Donal Walsh

A beautiful day for rugby on a pitch lightly softened by rain the night before. This was my first match actually at Christian Bros School: normally they beg borrow and deal a pitch from the city, but today rugby triumphed over baseball (as with 15 big guys vs. 9 scrawny ones you'd expect it to?) and we had pride of place for the Pac Coast High School playoff, to the victor going the #2 seed and a trip to Pittsburgh.

Snow Canyon made the drive down from St. George, UT in around 12 hours, and were going to be going straight back after the game. This is dedication! A couple of bystanders and I chatted about them as they warmed up, in particular the colossal gentleman whose name I later found out to be Jim, a 6'7" prop, tipping the scale at 413 pounds. His height hampered him slightly in the scrum, which merely meant he didn't dominate utterly, just never moved!

The first half was an even affair, with numerous handling errors, and some problems with tacklers not clearing (Snow Canyon) and entering through the side (CB) but a few stern words later in the half and this seemed to clear up. Both teams touched down for a try, leaving CB up by 2 at the half. After the interval, traffic went one-way for a while, as the CB backline got into their groove. The strong tackles and cover play from the first half began to fade, and some wayward kicking gave too much opportunity, with 4 tries coming in the span of 20 minutes. As one try was run in down the wing, a dumb photog was nearly flattened while blissfully snapping away a metre behind the goal line, 15m in from the touchline. I wonder why we painted the line around the in-goal? Decoration?? Those who know me will not be surprised to learn she received a blistering dressing-down.

Undaunted by the score, Snow Canyon put together a period of pressure late in the game, and were rewarded when Jim received the ball at full speed 2 metres out. The CB captain made a valiant effort to hold up the ball, but 413 pounds + 410-460 grams was too much to keep up, and the best he could do was an arm partway under the ball. This didn't stop contact with the ground, and the try was given. CB finished it off with one as time expired, and that was pretty much that.

The Snow Canyon team is in its first year, and features a majority of sophomores, so these guys will go from strength to strength. Always good to see a well-coached team out enjoying themselves. Welcome to rugby!

In Stanislaus: Son of Harlotfest

Referees: John Coppinger, Rich Anderson, Phil Akroyd
Teams: Harlots, Fog, UOP, Sierra, Berkeley, USF, Baracus, Gators

3 referees, but 4 Pelicans, went to Turlock for the revamped Harlotfest on Saturday morning.

A couple of teams canceled about last call-time early Saturday morning and one team not slated to play arrived and played.

As the result, a total of 9 40-minute games were played w/ each of the referees (Rich Anderson, Phil Akroyd, and me) getting 3 matches. (Someone had a shameful tie.)

Although no finals were played, Sierra College seemed to be the class of the day and had the most players on the day. Host Harlots played well and were generous with their food (pulled pork sandwiches) and beverages (although the keg did run out before the referees had finished their work). Also present were USF (which arrived in a chartered coach), UOP, a Berkeley/Fog amalgamation, and surprise guest San Francisco State.

The fourth pelican was Chris Labozzetta, who played tighthead and mentor for USF.

Hopefully, this event will be repeated w/ a bit more organization.

Pacific Coast Inv. Tourney

Pat Wickman (NY), Paul Phillips (SoCal), Tony Redmond, Pete Smith, Bruce Carter, Greg Lundell, Brian Schnack, Eric Rauscher, Mike King, Bruce Bernstein, Ryan Luis, Rob Hendrickson, Preston Gordon, Dave Richards, Paul Berman

Tournament Organizer: Ray Schwartz

Sunday, 2009-04-26
Cougar RC 17 – CHUCKANUT BAY 51 Referee: Preston Gordon
ARs: Mike King & Paul Berman
Assessor: Bryan Porter

After doing a couple of games at the Pacific Coast Invitational Tournament (U19) on Saturday, I had the opportunity to ref the varsity gold final match Sunday afternoon. The teams were Cougar RC (up near Sacramento) and Chuckanut Bay (near Seattle, and the tournament winner last year). The Cougars looked to be a lot bigger, but their warmup was somewhat lackadaisical.

The game seemed fairly evenly matched. The Cougars used their size advantage, while Chuckanut did a more effective job of playing together - offloading in the tackle, making the passes, moving the ball around, etc. For the first few minutes the score was close at 0-3, then 5-3, then 5-10. Soon after, Chuckanut was reduced to 14 players when I saw punches being thrown and subsequently sent one of their players off. Oddly, this seemed to lift their game: they went into halftime up 5-32, having scored 5 tries vs. 1.

The second half had lots of good open play and some excellent forward and back tries (by both sides). Cougars made some great plays towards the end of the game, scoring 2 tries, but ultimately they were outclassed by Chuckanut, who added 3 tries in the second half. The final score was 17-51.

Thanks to both teams for traveling to San Jose, thanks to the crew that organized the PCIT, and thanks very much to Mike and Paul who did a great job on the touchline.

Tournament Finalists
The team for the final at the Pacific Coast High School Invitational, which was won for the second year in a row by Chuckanut Bay:

Paul Berman, Mike King, Preston Gordon and Bryan Porter


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, April 22, 2009




The Reno tournament has expanded to two days and moved to May! It will be played May 9-10.

If you’d like to get in some post-season rugby, let us know. We’re negotiating the hotel rooms at the moment.


RENO 21 – Park City/Haggis 17 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Phil Ulibarri Touch Judge: Adam Mick
Mira Loma Park, Reno

A beautiful, warm spring day in Reno, with a good crowd on hand to watch a match that would help determine Pacific Coast seedings in the national men's D1 Round of 32. The hosts finished second in NorCal in their inaugural season in D1 and feature forward strength and blazing speed in the three-quarters, while Park City, led by fullback Jason Pye, seems to always be in the playoff hunt. The match started out with Park City on attack, pushing into Reno's half and spending a fair bit of time near the 22-meter line. Both teams exchanged deep kicks and did their best to create opportunities. But it was Reno, featuring the speed of fullback Chase McQuillen, that scored first. Park City answered with a penalty kick. But the hosts kept up the pressure and scored two more tries (including another by McQuillen) the half while keeping the visitors from scoring. In the second half, Reno settled in and played defense. They also received two yellow cards for repeated infringements by the team. Park City scored two tries while Reno played short-handed, the second right at full-time. This was an intense game played at pace in the backline, with tactical kicking used by both sides. Reno had the better of the forward battle, which was intense as well. Big thanks to Phil and Adam for their assistance. And it was good to see and talk with fellow Pelicans Bruce Anderson and Russ Wilkening after the match.

Played in Utah:
PROVO 47 – Sacramento Capitals 27

Salt Lake City 31 – SACRAMENTO LIONS 40

These three winners, along with Olympic Club, move on to the USA round of 32 beginning May 2. O Club and Provo play at home, while Reno and the Lions travel to SoCal.


National Single-School Track: NorCal Final:

Friday , 4:30PM
JESUIT – Christian Brothers Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Assistant Referee: Phil Akroyd
Not sure of the score, but we have been told that Jesuit won.

National U19 Track: NorCal Quarter-finals:

East Palo Alto 26 – HAYWARD 31 Referee: Rich Anderson

SFGG 38 – Islanders 29 Referee: Chris Labozzetta
Overall a well-played match. SFGG stormed ahead early, but the Islanders kept grinding and worked their way back to make the match competitive. However SFGG had a bit more polish on the day and pulled off the victorY. Very fun game to be a part of.

LAMORINDA 37 – Rio Linda 0 Referee: Tony Redmond
The high school playoff game between Lamorinda and Rio Linda was played on St. Mary's pitch on a very hot afternoon, which may have contributed to a certain amount of fatigue that led to a high number of handling errors during the game. Lamorinda started at a fast tempo and scored a try after 21 seconds. Three other tries came along during the first half, one of which was converted, as Rio Linda struggled to make headway against a Lamorinda side that was faster and more competitive at the breakdown and more organized at the line-out, where they forced several turnovers. Rio Linda's best player was their scrum half and captain, but his focus on the game suffered - possibly through frustration with his team - and he received a formal warning (and was penalized twice) early in the second half for dissent. Some players just can't get it into their head that a referee hardly ever reverses a decision (and that only after an intervention from an assistant referee) and that a captain's role is not a license for whining.

Their captain's woes seemed to afflict Rio Linda as two players were subsequently yellow carded, one for not using their arms in a dangerous diving tackle (this followed a warning after two previous non-tackles), the other for a late charge on an opponent following a kick, so Rio Linda had to play from the 10th to the 23rd minute of the second half down one or two players. This wasn't a recipe for success for a team that started the half 22-0 down and they proceeded to concede three further tries to make the final score 37-0. On the upside, Rio Linda did finish the game on the Lamorinda line but they could never quite make it through to score a consolidation try.

San Mateo BYE

Semi-finals, to be played Wednesday, April 22:
SFGG – Lamorinda Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: Preston Gordon, George O’Neil

San Mateo – Hayward Referee: Pete Smith
ARs: John Pohlman, James Hinkin

Final, to be played Saturday, April 25, at San Jose State at 2:30 PM:
Wednesday winners Referee: George O’Neil

In Vallejo at Mush Morton Field

Vallejo has a very nice facility for rugby games and playoffs, on a field that formerly was home to a Rose Bowl winning team: the Marine Detachment from Mare Island appeared in the Rose Bowl twice (yes, THAT Rose Bowl, the one in Pasadena on New Year’s Day) winning it once.

John Kelly is the club administrator. He and the team are doing a fine job, bringing up the standard of D3 rugby.

There are grandstands, plenty of parking, a press box that videographers appreciate, large Canary palms providing shade to windward and a ship’s mast that serves as a support for Old Glory.

We look forward to future playoff events at Morton Field.

CHICO 26 – Vallejo 25 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Assistant Referees: Preston Gordon, Chris Tucker

MISSION 80 – Vacaville 14 Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs Tom Zanarini, Preston Gordon -- thanks chaps!
The second D3 playoff match of the day didn't live up to the nail-biting finish that the first match had produced. Mission's back line made excellent use of the hard work their forwards were putting in, to run in 12 tries on the day. Their comprehensive victory was somewhat marred by an ugly trip by their winger after Vacaville had made an excellent break down the right wing which was certain to score. Penalty try was duly given and the culprit lucky to get just 10 minutes. His captain was smart enough to sit him down to make sure he was available the next day. A trick he then repeated for himself while driving forward in a maul, ball in left hand, right hand punching away. Grade A for multitasking, F for referee location awareness.

In spite of this, Vacaville played with a genial air, and managed another try when a wing forward got low enough to burrow under the defenders and touch down at my feet. It's good to be back in the middle :-)

NorCal D3 final
MISSION 33 – Chico 21 Referee: Preston Gordon
Assistant Referees: Tom Zanarini, Chris Tucker
Videographer: Bruce Carter

At Witter Rugby Field

LSU 47 – Utah 5 Referee: Nick Ricono
Assistant Referees: Davey Ardrey, Bruce Carter

Bowling Green 12 – SAN DIEGO STATE 55 Referee: Pete Smith
Assistant Referees: Aruna Ranaweera, Chris Tucker

Fourth Officials: Mike King, Mike Gadoua

Air Force 10 – CAL POLY SLO 61 Referee: Davey Ardrey
Assistant Referees: Bruce Carter, Jim Crenshaw

CALIFORNIA 67 – Minnesota 0 Referee: Nick Ricono
Assistant Referees: Rich Anderson, Eric Rauscher

Bowling Green 17 – UTAH 29 Referee: Pete Smith
Assistant Referees: Rich Anderson, Eric Rauscher

SAN DIEGO STATE 44 – Louisiana State Univ. 30 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: Bruce Carter, Jim Crenshaw

Fourth Officials: Mike King, Rob Hendrickson, Ray Schwartz, Ron DeCausemaker

AIR FORCE 29 – Minnesota 12 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: Nick Ricono, Rich Anderson

CALIFORNIA 76 – Cal Poly SLO 10 Referee: Davey Ardrey
Assistant Referees: Pete Smith, Jim Crenshaw

Fourth Officials: Mike King, Eric Rauscher

In Atlanta:
St. Mary’s season ended with a victory over Tennessee, 20-15.

Unfortunately, the only way your post-season can end with a victory in April is in a consolation game: the Gaels had lost to Army the day before.

The men’s D1 final four at Stanford will feature Cal – Army and BYU – San Diego State.


Round of sixteen:
STANFORD 79 – Univ. of California, Los Angeles 10
STANFORD 29 – Army 15

CHICO STATE 17 – New Mexico 15
NAVY 32 – Chico State 12

The women’s D1 semi-finals at Stanford will be Stanford – Brown and Navy – Penn State.


In the Men’s bracket, Cal Maritime lost to Georgetown in the quarters, missing a trip to Stanford for the semis. Cal Maritime had a very good season, entering the playoffs ranked #1 nationally.

Humboldt State lost in the opening round.


Frosh/soph: SFGG – De La Salle Referee: Ed Barfels
Assistant Referee: John Pohlman

Old Boys: Señors 22 – SILVERHAWKS 41 Referee: John Pohlman
Saturday saw a full day of rugby on Treasure Island. I started by running AR for Ed Barfels in a freshman/sophomore game between De La Salle and Golden Gate. Both teams had at least thirty players to run in and out of the game. Looks good for their futures.

The Señors were hosting the Silverhawks. The Silver had traveled with close to thirty players. The Señors had around 18 at kickoff.

This game had very few players over 40. Except for Freddy, Jimmy and the ageless Mike Comstock. The seniors featured some ex-national players. The big difference in this game was the Silvers depth. They just ran more than the Señors.

The Silvers scored three trys in the first half to two for the Señors. The second half the Silvers scored four more to the Seniors 2.

All in all, a very competitive high level game for over 35.

Final Silverhawks 41 Señors 24

Next I watched David Pelton referee the GG - Diablo match to see who goes to Tempe this weekend.

Next up Chris Labozzetta did a scrimmage for the GG junior varsity teams. They had a scheduled match the other team never showed.

Then Paul Bretz did what many thought was the featured match of the day, GG's Super league team verses San Monica's Super League game.

Chris was up for his high school playoff game between GG and the Sacramento Amazons.

Wow a long day in the sun. Tomorrow Pacific Coast playoffs at Cal. Must be April in the Bay.

D2: SF/Golden Gate 15 – DIABLO GAELS 32 Referee: David Pelton (PNRRS)
In typical Pelican fashion, a travelling referee was taken care of; in this case I was provided with a match (SFGG v Diablo Gaels) and transportation (courtesy of Chris Labozzetta picking me up and John Pohlman bringing me back) when I was coming in to run touch for a RSL match.

This was my first time to experience the SFGG clubhouse’s referee facilities. Not only was it nice to have a place to change, but the jerseys and memorabilia up in the room also added to the feeling of being someplace unique (although someone may want to talk to them about an outlet for us computer geeks ). The enjoyment continued as I stepped out to bright sunshine and a full size, flat, well marked pitch (the Puget Sound will get to experience one of those starting this week when our own pitch opens up -

We started out strong with both sides running from everywhere and we continued at that pace throughout the match with only a small spell of slow rugby. The Gael’s scrumhalf Kunz started the scoring 6 minutes in when he nailed a penalty from about 10 meters out. Some teammates wanted to go for the try, but Kunz was adamant that SFGG was a worthy opponent and the Gaels needed the win.

The way things went the rest of the first half, his teammates didn’t need to worry. Loose Head prop Papalii found himself on the wing and he bulled his way over after a multi-phase passage of play. The Gael’s outside center, Pahulu, was able to take advantage of a SFGG knock and played through to score at the 23 minute mark, with the second missed conversion it was 13 – 0 Gaels.

With 10 minutes left in the half SFGG tried to clear, but the kick went awry and the Tighthead prop (Muomua) scooped up the last pass and cross the try line. Kunz’s conversion was good and it was 20 – 0. Just three minutes later the centers showed the props wouldn’t be the only pair that could score, when inside center McKenzie intercepted a pass at the 7 and waltzed in. Kunz’s conversion took us to a score that would last until half – 27 – 0.

The Gaels came out flat in the second half, but SFGG couldn’t complete breaks they made. It looked like the Gaels might eventually run away with the match when the blind side flanker took the last pass of a weak side scrum movement and scored. At 32 – 0 things were looking bleak for the home team.

SFGG felt like they had plenty of time with less than 30 minutes left and were not about to just roll over on the Gaels. It started with a long kick by SFGG and the lock Sean McLoughlin touched down at the 63rd minute. Then Outside center Andrea Bola Asuega capped off some nice moves he had been having all day with his own try to cut the lead to 22 points.

SFGG added another when a nice pop kick by their Asuega went in-goal where the scramble for the ball and a good bounce saw SFGG touch down. No conversion, but the lead was down to 15 points.

Unfortunately, that was as close as they could get, and we ended 32 – 15 Gaels.

Oh yeah, I ran as the Assistant Referee for some guy named Bretz and we managed to get 16 tries in the 80 minutes of his match. Not a bad day, 24 tries in two matches in the sun – thanks Pelicans.

HS Playoff: SFGG over Islanders Referee: Chris Labozzetta

Super League: SFGG 79 – Santa Monica 12 Referee: Paul Bretz
Assistant Referees: Dave Pelton, John Pohlman
Golden Gate clinched a playoff spot and possibly a home game in the first round. There are two games remaining in the regular season.


D2 make-up game: EAST PALO ALTO by forfeit over Arroyo Grande

College D2 friendly: SIERRA COLLEGE 64 – U. of San Francisco 8 Referee: Sam Reagle
Weather: Hot (high 80's)
I arrived at the pitch a little before noon for the 1pm scheduled start as it is only a few miles from my house. I hoped to kick off asap as it was getting hotter by the minute, but since USF hadn't arrived yet, I was not optimistic. We all sat in the little shade available and waited for USF.

Not only didn't we kick off early, but USF didn't even arrive until 1:30 so we adapted, finally kicking off at 1:50pm.

As I said the last time I saw SC play, they play a solid game of rugby with a good combination of size and speed. After about 8-9 minutes of jockeying for position, SC started scoring systematically about every 3-4 minutes against a game, but out-matched USF team where the forwards and the backs were roughly the same size. As seems fairly common in D2, there was a lot of scrumming and this also played into SC's size advantage. Half-time score 38-3.

It's hard to tell if USF stepped it up a level or if the heat began to take a toll on SC in the second half, but USF had some good attacks that lasted for many phases inside the SC 22. Unfortunately for USF, SC held strong and only allowed 1 unconverted try while scoring 4 more of their own. This was a game clearly played in great spirit. Everyone enjoyed the day and the pizza and the only complaining was about the heat.

Berkeley Rhinos 0 – DIABLO 60 Referee: Phil Akroyd
On Friday afternoon, I A/Red at the Jesuit V C.B playoff game at Jesuit. This promised to be a good game with two of the best high school teams in the area, going at it in what one Pelican coined “The Holy Bowl”. Frankly it was a bit of a letdown, as the close competition never materialized. Jesuit blew C.B away.

Oh well, I thought, at least I get to be in the middle for a Bay Area high school playoff game on Saturday morning. It was an early kick-off – 10am at the new turf fields at the Gilman St. exit in Berkeley. Does it get any better than this? A beautiful early morning drive down from Sac, the sun was shining over the bay, with light winds taking the edge off the above average temperatures and a perfect pitch.

At kick-off, while scanning the field, there appeared to be a bit of a size difference between the two teams. The travelling Diablo boys looked to have about a year in age and twenty pounds on each Rhino. Unfortunately for the home team, this was their Achilles heel as the Diablo boys played simple, hard rugby, making it very difficult to tackle the strong running backs. Again, it looked as though the promise of a close and competitive game was gone.

Diablo scored five tries in each half. While lining up for conversions, the Diablo kicker and captain let me know that they are made up of a number of football players. They showed all the running moves of running backs, half backs, tight ends and wide receivers, while also having fantastic rugby knowledge. This was very impressive stuff. I was also informed by their captain that two of their best players were unavailable for the game as they were away on USA age-group rugby duty.

While the visitors were very impressive, the best set move of the game came from the Rhinos. A tapped down lineout gave fast ball to the Berkeley backs who passed it out to the inside center. Just when it looked like a straight forward attack was going to emerge, a looping Berkeley back came from nowhere and completely changed the angle of attack back toward the lineout. He was released down the field like a shot and was just about brought down by one of the remaining defenders.

Special mention goes to the Diablo right wing who scored several tries and set up others. Also to the Diablo number eight, who was a football convert, playing in his first game and scored two tries before being yellow carded for an overzealous tackle. Although this was a slightly miss-matched game, the Rhinos did well and hopefully they can stick together to develop into the team that they show promise of being.

April 10 HS
Montgomery 14 – MARIN 44 Referee: Mike King
An improving Montgomery side was able to stop the initial attack by Marin, but ultimately the visitors dominated in the scrum and loose play enough to swing the ball wide for 4 first half tries. The second half looked like more of the same when Marin scored soon after the start of the stanza. Momentum shifted as the Montgomery defense stiffened and its #10 scored twice on nice individual effort. Seemingly awakened by the opposition scores, Marin completed the scoring with a penalty goal and another 2 tries.

Friday, April 17
ELSIE ALLEN 61 – Rohnert Park 10 Referee: Tom Zanarini

April 20 HS Frosh/Soph
Piedmont 26 – LAMORINDA 33 Referee: Mike King
Exciting see-saw contest in the heat of a hot day. Lamorinda had more numbers and were able to get everyone some experience. PITS gamely played with 15 and then dropped to 14 in the second half. Very nice play by all.


Dixon, Sunday, April 19
Ref reporting, Ray Schwartz
Ref coaches, Donal Walsh and JC Van Staden
Refs in the middle, Phil Akroyd (4), Craig Lusiani (3), 2 each for Rod Chance, Mark Godfrey, Nick and Tristan Boyer, one each for Scotty Griffin, Rich Boyer, and Jeff Richardson. (18) 30-minute matches were played. Most games went off with a team of three refs, as Robert Burgwitz ran touch a lot, along with many of those on the list above.

Nice day, a bit warm, great turnout, lots of youthful rugby. Rob Salaber, the Tourney Director reports the event, in its 3rd year, has grown a lot, nearly doubling in size each year. SFGG beat Land Park in the Green Division final, while Marin beat Granite Bay in the White.

Both sidelines for the Green Division Final were way too heated. Calm down people! Let the referees do their jobs, and let the kids have some fun.


Last week we had a report of this New York school’s victory over Jesuit. They made it a sweep of NorCal powerhouses:

Monday, April 11
Elsie Allen High School, Santa Rosa
Elsie Allen 12 – XAVIER (NY) 49 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Mike King, Cary Bertolone
Two of the country's best-known high school programs produced a fast-paced, very physical game played on the host's new all-weather turf field. The tourists, who had defeated Jesuit in Sacramento on Saturday, were in command throughout. Elsie defended valiantly, but could not contain Xavier's attack and constant go-forward. The visitors were well-organized on offense and defense, and played at pace for 70 minutes. Xavier ball-carriers ran with great body positioning and in good lanes, and went into contact very well. They were adept at ball distribution and retention, and were committed at the breakdown. And it seemed as though every time Elsie took tactical kicks behind the Xavier backline, the ball landed in the hands of a Xavier player who immediately started a strong counter-attack. Elsie's best multi-phase action came in the forwards, with the pick-and-drive working in their favor at times (including both tries). Xavier scored four tries in the first half and five in the second. Elsie scored one in each half. Xavier is big, strong, fast, and extremely well-coached. A very impressive performance. Special thanks to Mike and Cary for their help. It was a pleasure to work with them.

Wednesday, April 15
SF/Golden Gate 10– XAVIER 55 Referee: Paul Bretz
Xavier 55 SFGG Gold 10. Xavier successfully completed their 3 game tour with a dominating performance. This trip should serve them well with the upcoming nationals. They play a very open, controlled match.

Changing Room
It was well into the nineties all around the Bay Area this past weekend.

Here are Chris Tucker, Preston Gordon and Tom Zanarini in the referee changing room for the D3 championships.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, April 14, 2009




Nate Housman has earned advancement to C2.

Congratulations to Nate, who will soon be finishing college and going to sea with the Merchant Marine. There are going to be some seaport sides benefiting from the unexpected arrival of a keen and capable young ref!


The special occasion of this year’s Pelican Banquet on June 13 will be a presentation of the Denis Shanagher award.

This is the most prestigious honor in USA Rugby refereeing. Denis was one of the founders of USA Rugby and one of the first top-flight American referees. He was also one of Northern California’s own.

The Shanagher Award is only given after someone has compiled a lifetime of achievements within our field that merit it.

Previous honorees are Keith Seaber, Ian Nixon, John Mellish, Don Morrison, Jim Russell, , Bryan Porter and Don Reardon. All of them will be attending our banquet save Mr. Mellish, who has departed this mortal coil.

Also attending will be two new honorees: Peter Watson, who will have received the award in May at the New England Society banquet, and Donal Walsh.

Other invitations are out to various referee luminaries, including you. Please join us to honor Donal on his night.

Let Bjorn Stumer know if you can attend. Society members’ meals will be covered; guests are $50.


Two big tournaments will be taking place April 25.

The latest version of the Harlotfest, featuring eight actual teams, will be held in Turlock. They plan on twelve abbreviated games on two pitches, running from 10 until 3.

Six refs would be perfect: four games each. Let us know if you would like to work this event.

Then, too, we’ll be providing most of the referees for the Pacific Coast High School Invitational on four pitches at San Jose State. This event will be Saturday and Sunday.

Let us know if you are interested in either of these post-season tournaments.


The Pelicanmobile pulled up at the corner of California Avenue and Avenue I on Treasure Island and there was nowhere to roost. This has never happened before!

Four games between two top high school programs will do that do a parking lot.

Freshmen: SF/Golden Gate 19 – LAMORINDA 40 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
The lovely TI venue, with a big crowd, unlined fields, blimps, squawky sidelines, the breathtaking SF and Bay views. This was the first of four high school matches-but the best of the three I watched. Boy, can these kids play- they were great!

SFGG sophomores 53 – Berkeley Rhinos 0 Referee: Craig Lusiani

Varsity: SFGG 22 – Lamorinda 15 Referee: George O'Neil
Videographer: Bruce Carter
The schedule made sense this year: the two best teams met in the final game of the season, both undefeated.

Gusting winds swept away every kick save the last one; the game was tied at 5, 10 and 15. A tie would not have been a surprise – except that seeding for the playoffs hinges upon who is first and who is second!

George managed to find a relativistic effect that slowed time in the second half. What seemed like a winning try in the fortieth-plus minute must have been in the thirty-fifth.

JV: SF/Golden Gate 22 – LAMORINDA 23 Referee: Bruce Carter
Assistant Referee: George O’Neil
On the heels of game that was a deadlock to the very end came this exciting encounter.

Early on, Lamo had a try and a penalty kick to Gate’s converted try. From there on out they traded unconverted tries for a see-saw battle that featured a constant refrain, “How much time is left, sir?”

The answer in terms of the regular rugby season is unfortunately, none at all. Lesser sports will be the only outlets for most of these players the next eight months.

But rugby referees – we go all year!

Skyhawk Final
SAN MATEO 19 – East Palo Alto 15 Referee: John Pohlman
San Mateo High School 19 East Palo Alto 15
Touch Judges: Rob Holder and Frank Merrill

Last weekend I got a Pacific Coast Assignment to referee at Stanford for the D2 Woman’s Playoffs. So doing a high school game this week to some might be a bit of a letdown.

But this was a high school playoff game for seeding between two very strong programs. Yes, San Mateo High School Warriors were hosting the East Palo Alto Razorbacks. I believe San Mateo coach Keala Keanaaina stated it best when he wrote me a follow up e-mail thanking me for my work. Coach Keala said “it is no easy task to referee a physical and intense championship match with such a documented history of cultural pride on the line.”

Back to the game and what a game. The warriors won the coin toss, scratch that they won the odd or even finger call, I’ll explain that later. OK San Mateo elected to kick off and EPA controlled ball possession for the first ten minutes. They were rewarded with a converted penalty seven minutes in. Both teams were tackling hard and playing high energy, disciplined rugby.

First half score Razorbacks 3 Warriors 0.

San Mateo came out inspired, with the wind at their back and ball possession to start the second half. The Warriors maintained possession leading to a penalty advantage. As I played the advantage EPA committed another penalty seven meters down field, which I stated. San Mateo was granted the penalty at the mark of the second infraction about seven meters up field. San Mateo captain Patrick Latu, for my money the best player in N. Cal. high school rugby, took a quick tap and scored from 40 meters out. Latu broke tackles, fended off defenders and out-sprinted the backs for the score.
Score San Mateo 7 EPA 3.

The Razorbacks kicked off and San Mateo again controlled possession. A penalty was awarded, this time from half way. The Warriors faked going for touch and spun the ball wide. Eventually Captain Latu got the ball in his hands finishing off another great run caring tacklers with him as he dotted down the try.
Score SM 12 EPA 3.

Four minutes later San Mateo scored their last try of the game bringing the score to SM 19 EPA 3.

To EPA’s credit there was no look of desperation. Razorback #10 William Holder, who will be on scholarship to play football at West Point (I would bet half the seniors on the field had football scholarships, thus the caliber of the players), asked how much time on the clock. Over 20 minute, 16 down, let’s play. And play they did. Ten minutes later the Razorbacks scored their first try of the game. I didn’t get the number of the player who scored but loads of phases, ball handled by at least half the team. SM 19 EPA 8.
Five minutes later Razorbacks wing R. Nosh finished another multi phase try.
Wow SM 19 EPA 15.

For the first time the Warriors came to the restart with different looks on their faces. The feeling was the Razorbacks were going to score again...if they had ball and time. EPA worked the ball down field only to be pushed into touch. Enough time for a line out. San Mateo won the line out and kicked directly in to touch. I blew the final whistle.

Relief and celebration were on the San Mateo player’s faces. The Razorbacks looked down, but with a confident look saying we will see you in a few weeks.

Final San Mateo 19 East Palo Alto 15.
Thanks to Frank and Rob for their help. Thanks to captains Patrick and Uli for a well disciplined game.

After talking with coaches, players and getting my Outback chicken sandwich, I walked to the car. I could not locate my cell phone. Looking everywhere I started to head back to the field. Before I could even close my door coaches Keala and EPA coach Dave Tupou were walking by in a friendly chat. I asked if either had heard of a lost phone. Dave dug in his pocket said one of his players found the phone and gave it to him. One of my silver dollars I use for the coin toss had also fallen out of my pocket. I hope whoever found my phone was rewarded with the silver dollar. If not, let me know who did find my phone and I will be happy to give you one. Now that’s some good karma.

Jesuit 20 – XAVIER 22 Referee: Tony Redmond
Assistant Referees: Ray Thompson, Danny Kaufman
I haven't had the chance to referee much high quality HS rugby since I have been in the US, but this deficiency was amply addressed on Saturday when Jesuit met Xavier (NYC) in Sacramento. Both teams had a strong track record of success over the years and it was quickly obvious that both were well-organized, well-led, and well coached. The game was played at a terrific tempo and only featured 11 penalties, which was a tribute to the way that both teams played. Jesuit started very strongly (possibly because Xavier were still slightly affected by the journey) and almost scored under the post after 3 minutes. However, the last pass was forward. Jesuit did manage to score a try after 10 minutes and a penalty after 18. In between, Xavier woke up to score a goal and then scored a try to lead 10-12 at the break. Jesuit again started strongly and scored another try 2 minutes into the 2nd half, but then had to take a back seat to the pressure exerted by the Xavier forwards, who ground out two tries to take a 13-22 lead with 8 minutes to go. The last period was all motion and Jesuit managed to get in at the corner with a minute left; the try was converted with a kick that split the uprights to leave the score at 20-22. Despite their best efforts, Jesuit couldn't win the ball to force another score and Xavier ran out winners of a tremendous game.

Monday, April 13
Elsie Allen – Xavier Referee: Joe Leisek

Wednesday, April 15
SFGG – Xavier Referee: Paul Bretz

Wednesday, April 8
Vacaville 0 – 46 Christian Brothers Referee: Phil Akroyd
This was a mid-week make up game that I conducted before heading down to the monthly ref meeting at Treasure Island.

Vacaville conceded two very early penalties for using their hands in the ruck and CB scored a try from the resultant infringements, with less than two minutes played.

The home team got back into the game quickly and played some very workmanlike rugby, but seemed incapable of putting in the critical line break. They held out CB for a further thirteen minutes, concede another try and then got back to threatening the CB line. CB scored again just before half time, posting a score of Vacaville 0 – 17 C.B at the break. Vacaville were still very much in the game.

The same format continued for the first fifteen minutes of the second half, but CB’s superior fitness seemed to win out as they ran in a total of five unanswered second half tries.

The score flatters CB as Vacaville played some great, physical rugby and at least deserved a try or two.


USF 72 – U. of the Pacific 14 Referee: Greg Lundell
Referee Coach: David Williamson

SAN JOSE STATE over their Alumni Referee: An assistant coach
On one of the slowest rugby weekends of the year we could not find a referee for this one...We hang our heads.

AMAZON HS girls 41 – Stanford frosh/soph 22 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz
Forecasting the winner of this game before kick-off was a challenge. The Amazons had the benefit of greater size, experience and a great winning record. The Stanford women were...well, Stanford women, although this was their F/S team and the visitors appeared well coached during warm up and were practicing set moves.

The idea of a close game disappeared after the first minute when the Amazon brute force smashed over for a try with less than a minute gone. Stanford were shell-shocked and took some time to get into the game, but they did after conceding their second unconverted try. Stanford remembered that one of their fastest players was out on the wing and they shipped the ball out to her twice in ten minutes, resulting in two 50 meter run ins, one of which was converted. Ten minutes to play in the first and Stanford had taken the lead by 10 – 12. Game on!!

The Amazons had a similar moment of enlightenment as experienced by the visitors and remembered that their best player was their number 13 who literally smashed her way through defending tacklers. One particularly memorable moment of contact was when she only had the Stanford full-back to beat. The 15 was set close to the ground, lining up the oncoming ball carrier, aiming to take the legs but 13 simply dropped the shoulder of her non-ball-carrying arm into the defender and rocked her back into the dirt. Ouch! Thirteen was also the kicker, who managed to injure herself while scoring and could not take the kicks for the rest of the game, for some reason, hence no conversions.

Half time: Amazons 20 – 12 Stanford

With the lead regained, the Burbank ladies never looked back but Stanford also never gave up and scored two tries in the second half to the Amazons’ three converted tries.

A good game with lots of flowing play and many phases and only ten penalties in the whole game.


Pacific Coast Women's Collegiate Championships
Steuber Family Rugby Stadium, Stanford University
Division 2

Friday, April 3
Sacramento State 15 Utah State 10 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Mike King, Eric Rauscher

The first game of the tournament kicked off in front of a sparse crowd, and ended in front of a fairly boisterous crowd after a little more than 80 minutes of rugby and a thrilling finale. The two teams were very evenly matched and competitive and in fact were deadlocked at 10 with about 15 minutes to play. Finally, after some extra time that featured no dead-ball stoppages, Sac State's captain scored the try that won the D2 semi-final.

Saturday, April 4
Washington State 24 Sacramento State 5 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Mike King, Sandy Robertson

The Division 2 final featured passages of rugby between injury stoppages. The may have been the longest game I have ever been involved in. Several players from each side were injured, hopefully not seriously enough to miss any national playoff action. Washington State was clearly the better team, though Sac State did not give in at all. Washington's backline featured the running skills of two sisters, who punched through the gainline frequently. Both ran straight up and straight at people, but also knew when to sidestep with agility. Very impressive performance and good luck to both teams in the nationals. In the something-I-have-never-seen-before category, a Sac State ballcarrier somehow wrapped the ball in her jersey, which was pulled off by a would-be tackler. Fortunately, this happened during advantage.

Throughout the weekend I really appreciated the help of Mike, Eric, and Sandy...all excellent guys to work with.

Division 1

Stanford 52 Chico State 5 Second Half Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Mike King, Sandy Robertson

While relaxing and watching the end of the first half of Jim Crenshaw's Stanford-Chico State match, I saw AR Mike King trying to get my attention. I figured he needed something, maybe water, for the team of three. When I jogged down from the top of the stadium, I saw Bruce Carter talking with Jim. Bruce then turned to me and said, seriously: "We need you." I was being called in from the bullpen. The only problem was that I had already put my kit bag in the car, which was parked outside the football stadium. Fortunately, we were able to convince a skeptical Stanford student to loan me his bike, with Eric Rauscher as collateral. So off I went at speed, pumping the pedals to my car and back. A very quick change followed, and then a jog out onto the field, and we were ready for the second half.

I refereed 40 of Stanford's points. Chico battled valiantly, but Stanford turned up the power in the second half. They were able to consistently link up bewteen the midfield and the three-quarters, where they had all the speed in the world. They were also able to create some serious pressure on Chico's defense through the boot of center Melissa Smit and a well-timed chaser who put everyone onside quickly and bore down on the ball. Chico was able to maintain possession at times, but were going uphill for the nearly the entire 40 minutes. A very impressive performance by Stanford.

My goal in the half was to not embarrass Jim. Good luck to both teams.


Hi Bruce
Don't want to be seeing correcting you in the Saint Mary's game, but my son, Kyle Batten scored the winning try. He actually scored two: the opening and the winning. We were very proud of him.

Just thought you should know.

Proud Mom
With thanks


Last week George Will reviewed a book about umpiring by Bruce Weber, titled,
"As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires".

One sentence caught our bird’s-eye:

“Umpires, baseball's judicial branch, embody what any society always needs and what America, in its current financial disarray, craves -- regulated striving that, by preventing ordered competition from descending into chaos, enables excellence to prevail.”

That last dependent clause reveals why a referee has to be so active, and why when a high-level match has few penalties it’s not because it was easy, it’s because the referee was up to the challenge of working very, very hard.

Night Crew
We had a lovely photo of Tony Redmond after his talk at out society meeting last week – with forty in attendance! – with David Williamson and one of the jerseys Tony presented to our Society. But the computer ate it.

Here are some likely lads at Stanford watching Jim Crenshaw get injured while chasing college women on a perfect pitch April 4.

Left to Right: Scott Wood, Chris Brown (Vancouver Island), Roberto Santiago, Joe Leisek, Bjorn Stumer, John Pohlman, Stuart Willis (Virginia), Bruce Carter.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Thursday, April 09, 2009




We'll be meeting at the Golden Gate clubhouse tonight from 7 until 9 this evening. Don't miss the entertaining and informative program which will include Tony Redmond's valedictory address.



Referee: Joe Leisek

UC Santa Cruz 12 – WASHINGTON STATE 37 Referee: John Pohlman
Assistant Referees: Roberto Santiago, Stuart Willis
This past Friday and Saturday Stanford hosted the first round of Pacific Coast Woman's Championship.

My first game was at 4:00 PM and saw Washington State WS playing UC Santa Cruz. WS had been winning their matches by some big point spreads. UCSC has made the final four the last two years winning the D-2 championship two years ago.

WS was led by twins. These two played flyhalf and inside center and totally dominated the game.

WS was strong in the forwards winning most ball in set pieces, tackling hard and controlling the breakdown. The twins scored 5 of the WS 7 trys. Both were capable of fending off tackles, hitting gaps and finishing trys.

UCSC gave a hard fight but the twins simply had too much clean ball. Final Washington State 37 UC Santa Cruz 12.

STANFORD 33 – Brigham Young Univ. 12
Referee: Jim Crenshaw

California 7 – CHICO STATE 27
Referee: Scott Wood
Assistant Referees: Roberto Santiago, Stuart Willis (Virginia)

UC SANTA CRUZ 28– Utah 10
Referee: John Pohlman
Assistant Referees: Eric Rauscher and Roberto Santiago
The Division 2 Woman's consolation was played on a absolutely beautiful day at Stanford. Kick-off was 2:00PM. Both sides were trickling in when I arrived at 1:00 PM.

Having a couple hours free in the morning allowed me to show Virginia President and exchange referee Stuart "Boomer" Willis around the bay area. Of course Treasure Island and GG's field's were our first stop. The Gallic football fields toward the job corps field are now open and a lacrosse tournament looked to be taking place.

Boomer was quite impressed with TI and looking forward to his game, Baracus versus Fresno, slated at 2:00 PM at the Polo Fields.

OK back to rugby. Utah looked a little thin in the numbers when I did my pre-game chat. Due to the gorgeous weather many of the players were warming up wearing running bras. This exposed numerous belly button rings. I asked my assistant referees Eric Rauscher and Roberto Santiago if they would explain the no jewelry policy of the IRB. It is truly wonderful to have all the benefits of AR's.

UCSC started fast. This game was played in a wide open style. Since both teams were knocked out of future competition, let's play was the mantra. UCSC #14 scored eight minutes in. UCSC was too physical for the Utes. Around 30 minutes into the first half the second Utah player went off with an injury and no more reserves. Utah played well with only 14, but the Slugs scored another try before half time. Both scores were converted.

Most of the first half was played in the Utah 22. Good defense kept the game close.

Half time score UCSC 14 Utah 0.

Utah came out inspired and scored a try 2 minutes in. This seemed to wake the Slugs up. The best try UCSC scored all tournament followed: A perfectly timed crash ball was received and scored by UC's #13.

UCSC scored another try 7 minutes later to put the game away. Utah never gave up and scored a final try right before the end of the game. Final UCSC 28 Utah 10

Sacramento State 5 – WASHINGTON STATE 24
Referee: Joe Leisek

California 7 – BYU 17
Referee: Scott Wood
ARs: Roberto Santiago, Eric Rauscher

STANFORD 52 – Chico State 5
Referee: Jim Crenshaw/Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Mike King, Eric Rauscher, Roberto Santiago, Sandy Robertson


Noon: ST. MARY’S 50 – U. of Washington 3
Referee: Pete Smith
Assistant Referees: Bryant Byrnes, Chris Tucker

2PM: UC DAVIS 50 – Chico State 15
Referee: Tony Maphosa (PNW)
Assistant Referees: Bryant Byrnes, Chris Tucker

CHICO STATE 66 – U. of Washington 13
Referee: Tony Maphosa
Referee Coach: David Williamson

ST. MARY’S 30 – UC Davis 25 (Overtime: 25-25 after 80)
Referee: Bruce Carter
Assistant Referees: John Coppinger, Chris Tucker
This was the 1,693rd game that I have refereed and yes, I have a list (includes Sevens). These games date back to my first time, the women’s final at a tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, in April, 1978.

But this game – this one makes it into the thinnest sliver of a percentage that can be sliced off the top of the memory tree.

When I resigned from the national panel almost eight years ago in June 2001, I thought the best games were behind me. But old ruggers try never to get completely out of shape despite the ravages of free radicals and regular laps around the solar track; and so it was that an appointment arrived from the Pacific Coast RRS to boil my whistle and polish my boots.

Making the NorCal appointments myself, I was surprised to realize I hadn’t refereed a single D1 first side this season in club or college. My usual priority is to watch another ref, so I generally cover a B side. What a season debut!

St. Mary’s-UC Davis has become the traditional season closer for one of them – this is the third year in a row that they’ve met in the PCRFU playoffs to see who will stay and who will go, and it’s always close.

I was at the game two months ago where the Gaels won 78-3. Davis said they were carrying a lot of injuries at the time and were better than that, a supposition we can now consider proven QED.

Where do the fans come from? A few minutes before kickoff I was admiring the blossoms on the trees and the birdsong, easily carrying over the breeze, as there weren’t many people around to disrupt it. A few minutes after kickoff and I found myself having to take four separate breaths to generate sufficient decibels to make my scrum cadence audible to players three feet in front of me.

Let me say right off the bat – good Assistant Referees are the way to go. And EarTec Radios are the best way to go with them. These are the Holy Grail of referee radios:

You want the 24G-4/Cyber kit. When you’ve got perceptive and hard-working guys like Tucker and Coppinger on the line and their voices in your ear, it’s like having hammerhead shark eyes. You can talk to each other simultaneously, like real conversation, and the ref is hands-free.

The game! What a game! St. Mary’s has become accustomed to scoring fifty on a bad day. Their backs merge and diverge and someone unexpectedly has the ball beyond the gainline. But not today: rarely did they manage to generate a one-on-one even after breaking the line. Davis seemed to be playing defense in pods.

(In this season of NCAA basketball playoffs such swarming reminds me of Jerry Tarkanian’s ‘Amoeba’ defense at UNLV and Fresno State years ago.)

Here’s the statistic that reveals the effectiveness of Davis’ open-field defense: of the four St. Mary’s tries, two were scored from 5-meter scrums and two from asymptotic ruck series. No collars-up backs showing their heels.

At one of the five-meter pushovers the peanut gallery beyond the dead-ball line called out, “Use it or lose it!” I thought, “At a ruck? Have I missed a Law every time I’ve read the book these three decades?”

Lots of sons in this game. Of course, they were all someone’s sons, but I knew at least half a dozen proud papas at the pitch, old mates none of whom I wanted to disappoint. And how does a ref not disappoint? By doing the best he can – which I almost achieved.

St. Mary’s established an eight-point lead on an epic pushover try by #8 Brandon Vedder late in the second half. The pressure was consistent and gradual; I found myself thinking about when my dry cleaning could be picked up. But this may have had an almost-unfortunate result: St. Mary’s may have felt that eight points put them clear.

When they were awarded a kickable penalty minutes later, with the sideline shouting “Points!”, it was a tap and go that didn’t go. Three points were sacrificed to over-confidence.

Davis came back to score a nice try off advantage in the centers. Three-point game. However, the chip-shot conversion bounced off the upright!

Minutes later, as my watch was going beep…beep…beep, a St. Mary’s player held on in the tackle.

We were on the ten-meter line, dead center. Slight gusts of variable wind. While the kicker set up, I took the time to recount to the Gael’s captain which three of his players had held on in the tackle over the course of the eighty minutes and at what points on the pitch. Because they were so spread out over time and space, no card, just a warning.

Referencing the universal penalty for tie games that all referees incur, John Coppinger radioed, “Are you nervous?” But my thoughts were of the last time I kicked a key goal at the end of a match, back in the Pleistocene Era.

Blow this whistle, exalt the arm. Overtime: the only thing better than playoff rugby is more playoff rugby.

Two minutes into extra time, St. Mary’s’ Vedder scored again off another glacial attack, this one at about a three-rucks-per-meter pace. I took a few moments to reset the alternate time zone on my watch from London to Hawaii. Then it was time to award the try.

For the remainder of extra time Davis attacked. They had some good ball and some numbers situations, but either the bounce of the ball or the hustle of the Gaels denied them pay dirt.

I do have one regret, a less than elegant finish to this match. I devote multiple hours a week to putting Hail, Pelicus! together primarily to project the game we love through referees’ eyes. But it’s not all bright primary colors. Darkness creeps in around the corners sometimes.

“Last play!” We were near touch, near midfield. Davis had a scrum. They were down by five. They won the hook and the ball. The halfback was instantly pressured and when he was tackled, released the ball to a St. Mary’s player who picked it up and booted it into the record books.

All I could hear was the combined screaming of hundreds of fans. Something said, probably the Davis bench but maybe my ref instinct, “That Red halfback may have been offside.”

I sought the advice of my assistant referee and asked him the wrong question. Not to get into the exact details here – that is for a referee talk – I didn’t practice positive communication. He answered my question correctly according to how it was phrased and I mistook his answer to mean that no, Red did not deserve to be penalized; they deserved to be awarded a penalty.

Why award the winning team a penalty when the game is over? So I blew full time and saw my AR’s face fall, now realizing Davis should have had one more crack to score a try and tie or win the game.

That’s my confession. Davis partisans may say I’m not the first to admit I was wrong – they knew it already.

But let me say to them: you have the best college rugby team in the USA whose season is over. Four of five teams will get crushed at the USA playoffs in two weeks, any of whom you could have spanked. I wish you could be there to do so.

And St. Mary’s certainly had the best warmup imaginable for the pressures of the nationals.


The four winners advanced and will next play in Vallejo, with semi-finals on April 18 and the final on April 19.

Semis will be Chico – Vallejo, Tom Zanarini, and Mission – Vacaville, Chris Tucker. Preston Gordon will blow the final.

CHICO 38 – Marin 17
Referee: George O’Neil

MISSION 62 – Aptos 15
Referee: John Coppinger
In a MD3 playoff match, Mission ran by Aptos 62-15 showing power and pace that Aptos couldn't, with one exception, match.

The exception was Zeke Saunders, an U-19 player, headed to Oregon State on a football ride in the Fall, who scored two tries to give Aptos a 10-zip lead before at least two of the Mission starters were out of the parking lot. Zeke added a third try in the second half.

Nonetheless, despite Zeke and the hard work of his team mates, the 15-man rugby of Mission proved irresistible and Mission ran away w/ the match easily.

Dan Smith (one of my former Mission team mates from the early 80's and father of Pelican Pete Smith) was on hand to watch his younger son, Eric, play for Aptos.

Humboldt 0 – VALLEJO 23
Referee: Phil Akroyd
See report below.

Berkeley 10 – VACAVILLE 47
Referee: Preston Gordon
Venue: Job Corps field, Treasure Island
I was expecting a pretty close contest in this first round playoff match, based on each team's results during the season and their standings. I had had Berkeley before, but not Vacaville, so on Saturday morning I read through all the old match reports I could find on both teams to get the low-down. These two teams met previously this season, with Berkeley winning 27-21 in Vacaville in January.

The weather was great, and the pitch (which is one of the weirdest I've ever seen, in that it can change states drastically from one week to the next) was very hard, with lots of dirt blowing around whenever a ruck, maul, or set piece formed. We started right at 1300, and in the 2nd minute Vacaville scored their first try. Berkeley answered with one of their own at 9'. Vacaville added 2 more tries at 12' and 23', one of which was a result of opportunistic play by their flanker after the ball popped out the back of a Berkeley scrum on their own line. Berkeley added a penalty goal right at the end of the first half, and since all the tries were converted, we went into the break with Vacaville up at 21-10.

I was expecting an even closer contest in the second half, given how evenly matched up these two teams were so far, but Vacaville put that assumption, and probably the game, to bed by running the kickoff back for a try, and then doing the same thing on the ensuing restart kick. The second of those was the only unconverted try in the game.

Now at 33-10, Berkeley put together about 20 minutes of really good rugby, but couldn't quite finish their moves. There were 2 full-field breaks that resulted in knock-ons within a few meters of the goal line - one to each side, if I remember correctly. (An aside to the spectators who howled at either of them: I'm pretty sure I had a better view than you did, especially since I was standing there when they happened in front of me and you were on the side of the pitch.)

Vacaville's defense held their line, and their 6th try at 60' locked up the game at 40-10. This was when a bit of silliness crept in, and 2 Vacaville players and 1 Berkeley player earned 10-minute rests for their parts in 2 separate unnecessary incidents. Vacaville added another try at 74' to run out winners at 47-10.

Thanks to Berkeley for the hospitality at the end of the match, and the compliments, and also to both sides for playing an almost perfectly clean game. There are some pictures here (courtesy Berkeley RFC):


We believe that the top three finishers are East Palo Alto, Fresno and Diablo Gaels. The top three advance to the Pacific Coast playoffs in Tempe the weekend of April 25-26.

HS PLAYOFF MATCH, Skyhawk Conference

SAN MATEO 83 – College Park 5 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Played at San Mateo HS artificial turf field. Halftime score 45-5.

San Mateo was very strong in the backs & College Park helped by not finding touch & losing a lot of their scrums & line outs. In particular San Mateo's #12 center sliced through & down the sideline to either score or set up a number of scores & their hooker & line out jumper stole a lot of College Park's balls. San Mateo could have played better if they didn't make a few unnecessary penalties. If they do that in the next round of playoffs they will be tough to beat.


Congratulations to the California Maritime Academy Keelhaulers who won the Pacific Coast championship in Bellingham, Wash, this past weekend.

Report by Eugene Baker:

Except for an Alameda girl whisked away by ambulance (nasty concussion) - It was a GREAT day of rugby, sportsmanship, and barbecue!

The Amazons won their first match 42-0, and the championship match 31-0. They will be the top seed at the PCRFU finals in Redding (winners go to nationals in Pittsburgh, PA)

The runners-up, Mother Lode, also advance, but will be a lower seed.


Granite Bay 34 – 39 CHRISTIAN BROTHERS (F/S)
Ref: Akroyd
Although I was informed that this was a Varsity game, it appeared to be more like a Fresh/Soph game, with a few Varsity players here and there.

The game was played in Granite Bay, on a field which is slightly on the small side, hence a total of 12 tries scored. The quality of tackling did not help either.

Having said that, this was a highly entertaining game that GB was leading at half-time by 29-13. Most people in attendance thought it was game over at half-time, including the CB coach. However, CB exploited the Granite Bay tiredness and their poor discipline, in relation to giving away penalties in their own 22m.

GB only managed to add one unconverted try in the second half, while CB scored four. With less than a minute on the clock, and after just scoring a try, CB were still down by two. GB knocked on the restart in their own half, setting up a scrum with only a few seconds left. They executed a perfect set-piece move and the backs scored in the corner with my watch chiming for the end of the game. They even knocked over the conversion.

A great way to start my long-weekend of rugby!

Sierra Foothills 10 – 36 ISLANDERS
Ref: Akroyd
The first half was tight, but some great rugby was played. Sierra Foothills played like a seasoned team – making smart choices – while Islanders were keen to spin the ball out as quickly as possible and thrive on broken play.

The SF try was an absolute gem. Quick tapped-down ball from a line out on the opposition 22. The fly-half stabbed a grubber through the Islander blitz defense which bounced up perfectly for the on-rushing outside center who dodged past the full-back to score under the posts.

In the second half, SF came out like a completely different team. A number of players, new to rugby, came on the field for the Golden Eagles who just didn’t know the laws. While I asked their captain to deal with the repeated infringements, he could not teach them the game in 35 minutes. Hence the penalties and yellow card that made the rest of the afternoon easy for the Islanders. Five second-half tries flattered the Islanders in what was a very close game in the first 35 minutes.

High School: Humboldt 5 – WINDSOR 34
Ref: Akroyd

[Long report redacted. The concern was in the final paragraph: a player who had just received a red card for his second yellow in the match pushed the referee with both hands. The proper folks have been apprised.

[Note to sports fans out there: assaulting an amateur sports official is a felony in California, as it is in most States.]

Later Saturday:
Humboldt 0 –VALLEJO 23
Ref: Akroyd
This D3 playoff game was set up perfectly. Vallejo had traveled with approximately 26 players and Humboldt were determined to defend their home turf. While both teams utilized deep reserves of energy due to the physical battle that took place, the game never really blossomed into the potential feast of rugby. As the Humboldt scrum half said, the ball just didn’t fall their way. While I’m sure he meant this figuratively, it was also true in a literal sense. Humboldt were suffering from a severe case of the dropseys all afternoon, leading to scrum after scrum after scrum.

Vallejo looked the sharper, more dangerous team throughout and they pressed the goal line early. When a Humboldt prop had his hands on the ball at the bottom of a ruck in front of the post, the option of a shot at goal was not a difficult one. Vallejo went three up.

They scored their first try with half of the first-half gone and the 40 minutes came to a close with the game still up for grabs – Humboldt 0 – 10 Vallejo.

The visitors put in a near fatal blow with two minutes of the second half gone by scoring their second try but not converting. By this time, fatigue was setting in to Humboldt and the heat of the day appeared to be affecting their forwards. Vallejo had Humboldt pressed down in their own half for the remainder of the game. Vallejo attacked the line for two or three phases and whipped the ball out. A retreating defender intercepted the ball-from an offside position and was given ten in the bin. Vallejo kicked the penalty goal then added one more try in the last minute.

Well done to both teams for playing this game in great spirit and an ambition to play rugby. I hope the players enjoyed it as much as I did.


HAYWARD 33 – Olympic Club 25 Referee: Paul Bretz
Assistant Referee: Tom Zanarini
Hayward finished their season on an upbeat note defeating 1st place club Olympic club 33-25. Tom Z. provided excellent support as the AR although the Touch judge on the opposite side had all of the difficult calls to make, several of them against his own club.

He even called a try back because the ball carrier had stepped on the line as he was grounding the ball.

Seconds: Hayward 10 – OLYMPIC CLUB 31 Referee: Tom Zanarini

SAC LIONS over San Mateo by forfeit.

Reno 12 – SAC CAPITALS 24 Referee: James Hinkin

Seconds: RENO 61 – Sac Capitals 27 Referee: Sam Reagle
Weather: Beautiful
On days like this, the 100 mile drive over the Sierra Nevadas is to be envied. The sun is warm, the roads are clear and the peaks are still covered in snow.

I arrived in time to run touch for James who returned the favor for my game. As I looked around before the start of the B side game, it was pretty obvious that there were more players on each team from the first game than there were second side players. This probably explains why both captains asked to play 20 minute halves. On another day, I probably would have blessed this request, but I had multiple reasons why I wanted/needed a good run.

Reno started strong scoring a converted try off the opening kickoff and an unconverted try about 8 minutes later. Sacramento got on the board with an unconverted try 17 minutes in only to give up 3 more tries to end the half down 27-5.

The second half was much more competitive. Both teams settled in and played good clean rugby. There was plenty of recycled ball and some amazing passing. All in all, 10 tries in the second half that was so enjoyable that it seemed like it was only 30 minutes long.

East Palo Alto – Arroyo Grande Rescheduled to April 18

Baracus 5 – FRESNO 79 Referee: Stuart Wills (Virginia)
Evaluator: Mike Malone
Fresno scored in the first 8 minutes and then it was on. Half time was 41-0. The lone try for Baracus was from their 8 man who picked up from a ruck and continued forward. It was a nice 35 meter break.

The weather was outstanding.

John Pohlman was a awesome host. Arriving at 11:00 PM on Thursday, he picked me up and had food ready to eat. The next day we made our way up the scenic highway on the outside of the bay going by Stanford and through East Palo Alto. I had a chance to AR some of the women’s matches at Stanford on Friday before my match on Saturday. I truly valued my time being able to see the quality of the D-1 women in Nor Cal. And for all who knew of Q-Tip, that is the stuffed dog my daughter gave me before I left to keep me company. She was very pleased for all of the pictures I took with him. I am up for the Dad of the Year Award!!!

Many thanks to:
John Pohlman
Joe Leisek
Jim Crenshaw
Mike Malone
Greg Lundell
Bruce Carter
Roberto Santiago
Fresno and Baracus for the way they played the game, like gentlemen.

Seconds: Baracus 15 – FRESNO 35 Referee: Greg Lundell
At the end of the first half it looked like the visiting Fresno team was heading for a shut out, but Baracus’ second side put together some amazing handling through the back line to get on the board in a respectable way in the second half.

DIABLO U23 by forfeit over San Jose State Referee: Bruce Carter
The 300 Spartans at Thermopylae had nothing on the eight post-spring break Spartans who nonetheless defeated the Gaels squad.

Of course, they were loaned a few players who were on hand to play later in the day against the Seahawks and, in time-honored rugby fashion, the loaners beat the their own team.

The final score was 24-17 to the, let’s call them, Diablo Spartans. While the SJS regulars did a lot of the gaining of ground, I believe all of the points save one 5-pointer were scored by Gaels.

Of note was the final conversion at no-side. One DG Spartan teed the ball up, stepped back, and addressed it. While he went through his imaging or visualization or whatever term is au courant, a teammate ran up and booted the points through.

Having finished my own game shortly after noon, I got directly into my pre-match for video coaching (as detailed by our Canadian visitor below).

The Traveling Referees
By Chris Brown

DIABLO GAELS 26 – Seahawks 25 Referee: Chris Brown (Vancouver Island)
Video Coach: Bruce Carter
It was only 3 weeks ago that I was walking out of the local shopping mart in Victoria BC when my cell phone rang with our society president on the other line saying: "Chris, pack your bags, you're going to San Francisco." - Much better news than the usual which would be "Chris, you're yellow card report is late. You're reffing div 3 Sunday at 11 am."

Nearly all the credit for organizing this exchange goes to my gracious and hospitable host Bjorn Stumer, who initially reminded me of a young Al Pacino in "A Scent of a Woman", with his nice sports car, ray ban sunglasses, and silk handkerchief. I quickly learned that Bjorn was a cultured man indeed. Driving around town listening to foreign music and snapping pictures of fancy houses was certainly a highlight and memory I will not soon forget. Fortunately Bjorn isn't quite as blind as Al Pacino was in Scent of a Woman (although the Diablo 2nds may have thought so yesterday) - Just kidding Bjorn. All and all my time here has been top notch thanks to Bjorn's hard work. I think we must have seen it all; San Francisco, Sonoma, San Jose, Stanford, San Rosa, Berkley, Golden Gate, and all the other sites in the city. My highlight here was having an Irish coffee downtown in the first ever bar that served Irish Coffee - A little pride for the liberal state of San Francisco, I'm sure the Irish would agree ;)

Reffing down here was sort of like being part of a super hero duo. Each day Bjorn and I woke up we ate a solid breakfast and threw our tracksuits on, packed our kit bag and headed out. Cruising down the highway for a decent hour drive was like Batman and Robin riding the Batmobile after seeing the Bat Signal in the sky. Of course our callout was through email, but you can't discredit our preparation and tenacity. By the end of the day both of us felt we had done a service to the game of Rugby. And on top of that, the streets were safe too.

My first game was Montgomery vs. Santa Rosa high school had Santa Rosa coming out on top. These two teams played decent rugby and it was exciting to see the sport develop at that age down here. The next day I reffed St. Diablo vs. San Jose Seahawks 1st. This game was well fought on both sides and after a goal line stand at the end Diablo won by 1 point, 26 -25. I also met Bruce during this match as he was videotaping and ref-coaching me. He had a Cuban cigar and a Pacifico when I showed up - my kind of guy I told him.

Special thanks to the Northern California Referee Society for hosting an awesome tour and exchange. I hope I will get to return soon to referee again down here.

Yours in Rugby (Reffing);

Chris Brown

Seconds: Diablo Gaels 12 – SEAHAWKS 20 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
Friday is a rugby day, or evening: After a day of sightseeing in San Francisco and Marin, I took visiting Vancouver Island referee Chris Brown to Santa Rosa for some high school action. Under the light at Cardinal Newman High School, we both had a match with his starting at 7pm, and mine to follow. I officiated the B-sides of Cardinal Newman vs. Rancho, a very one sided affair which saw Rancho put in 52 unanswered points against Cardinal Newman. The score poorly reflects the action which was quite spirited.

Diablo Gaels B 12 (5) vs. San Jose Seahawks B 20 (10): On Saturday Chris Brown and I drove to Diablo Valley College where Diablo Gaels and the San Jose Seahawks held two matches. Chris did the A side (Bruce Carter at the camera perched atop a pickup truck), and I did the B side. My match was great fun, between two equally capable and fast teams. The Seahawks were just a bit too much on the day though, and put in two unconverted tries in the first half, answered by a sole unconverted one. The players settled in the second half, became less chatty and fought quite hard for a result that could have gone either way. The Gaels put in a converted try, but San Jose scored two more, both unconverted for a final score of 20-12. Fun match, great facilities, a goodish crowd and fun for all.

After the match Chris and I repaired at the local watering hole where we were treated to food, Guinness, and frolic. Chris officiated the boat race, handsomely won by the hosts. A big thank to them for their great hospitality and sportsmanship. Chris and I then drove to Stanford to meet up with fellow refs and watch a bit of the women's championship action. A few brews and pizza afterwards, and in bed by midnight. A great week end.

SANTA ROSA 39 – SF/Golden Gate 12 Referee: Ray Schwartz
For Pete's Sake Field

On a brilliant, sunny day, Santa Rosa moved their A Side match vs. SFGG up to Noon, to make room for a For Pete's Sake fundraiser, the world-famous luau at Suki's ranch. SFGG brought only one side, however, and told only the referee society.

The match was an exciting affair, 14-12 to home team at the half. Both sides were feeling each other out, as well as the ref. The SFGG captain, Westie, clearly frustrated, aproached me at the half to ask how the game I was calling could be so one sided. I reminded him of the scoreline, and offered that, "I only call what I see." Unfortunately for him, I saw Rosa score again and again in the second half, though Rosa #8, Chris Reynolds, was somewhat embarrassingly held up in goal.

Rosa lock Tyler Alborn then borrowed my watch and whistle to ref a friendly between the Rosa B's and the Faded Roses, in a match featuring one spirited SFGG straggler.

Seconds: Santa Rosa – SF/Golden Gate NOT PLAYED

San Francisco State 60 – U. of Pacific 5 Referee: Nate Housman

STANFORD BUSINESS SCHOOL 33 – O Club seconds 32 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A beautiful Sunday match at Stanford and its perfect pitch. The O Club had played the day before and Stanford had not played for a bit-but no excuses were muttered and this was a firecracker of a game.

The O Club had a much larger pack (and more subs), but it was the hard running and excellent tackling by Stanford's backline that won the match. Even then, it was a closely run thing-the Os scored the last two tries but only converted one. Thanks to my Williams College TJs.


Tuesday, March 31
ELSIE ALLEN 51 – Montgomery 5 Referee: Mike King
Under the lights at the Fabulous Lobodome, this cross-town rivalry pitted the top local program against the improving rivals. The Vikings initially showed they were up to the task. The relentless pressure of the home team resulted in the Lobos increasing a narrow margin to 22 to 5 by half-time. The second stanza saw more of the same. Elsie Allen scored often with passing to the fleet exterior backs, but only after constructing overlaps by domination in the rucks. For much of the contest it also controlled the lineout. Montgomery seemed to tire, but they still were game near the end of the match. The Vikings show promise for the future as they continue to compete and differentiate between this brand of football and the more uniquely American one.

JV: Elsie Allen 17 – Montgomery 0 Ref: King
With few reserves, many of the Montgomery first side suited up again and gave it a go. Once again, the continual pressure and phase rugby of the Lobos, led to the scoring in this single stanza. The Vikings had some spectacular individual efforts, but just need to support a bit more to finish the threat. Good effort by all!

Friday, April 4
COUGARS 57 – Davis 10 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Davis scored early on a long break down the Cougars sideline to put their coaches and fans on edge. Cougars then notched one of their own, a well worked team effort, before Davis scored on a 90+ meter break. Little opportunity would come Davis' way from then on. Cougars took a 19-10 lead into the half, but the tide was turning, as Cougars kept up relentless pressure at the tackle area, creating turnovers, and displayed good skills with ball in hand.

MARIN LIONS 41 – Berkeley Rhinos 10 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
Breezy afternoon game at Berkeley's spiffy new Gilman Fields. It was a veteran and larger side versus the younger Rhinos-and the score reflected this. But good spirited and good fun.

PITS 17 – Hayward 39 Referee: Nate Housman

Marin Highlanders 17 – ELSIE ALLEN 21 Referee: Roberto Santiago
It was another beautiful day in the North Bay as the Marin Highlanders hosted the Elsie Allen Lobos. This match featured two of the better if not two of the best U19 teams in the Bay Area and lived up to its billing. The Highlanders always set up a great atmosphere starting with the five foot tall sideline barrier and ending with the grill and souvenir tent on the hill overlooking the pitch.

The game was a bit of a contrast in styles with Marin relying on their strong quick backline and Elsie Allen preferring to crash close to the breakdowns with their forwards. Even while playing to their strengths both sides were strong in the rucks and produced fluid backline play. Though both teams were able to move the ball between the 22s the defenses tightened up and didn't break. Play went back and forth until the Lobo's number 3 put one over redeeming an earlier knock on in goal at 27:00. With the conversion Elsie Allen led 0-7. Marin came back quickly with an unconverted try at 31:30 to close the gap to 7-5.

The second half featured the same hard play as the first. Marin scored another try at 38:00 and hit the extras for a 12-7 lead. After another round of hard runs and fantastic defense Elsie Allen re-took the lead 12-14 with a converted try at 51:00. It was short lived. Marin stormed back with an unconverted try just three minutes later for a 17-14 advantage. It looked for all the world like that score would hold up, even after an unsuccessful penalty kick at goal Marin had the lead and the ball with a little more than a minute to play. Marin had the throw in at a line out just outside of their own five meter line. Elsie Allen stole the line out and set out for one last desperate series. With time running out one of the Lobo backs broke the Marin line from about three meters out. At the goal line stood no less than three memebers of Marin's pack. This kid form Elsie Allen, and I say this with respect and admiration, had to be 5'6" and about 110 pounds but he found a pocket in the Marin defense right at the line and dove over for the winning score. Converting the extras provided the final margin and ran out the clock on a phenomenal game.

Both teams should be proud of their efforts. Even though Elsie Allen came in with a clear size disadvantage this was no David Vs Goliath story. From their opening win over Jesuit to their closing win over Marin the Lobos have shown that they belong among the U19 elite in northern California. The skill on display from both sides reflects great coaching and support from these programs. So much so that I may have to contemplate a move to the North Bay in about 13 years. I look forward to the future as I'm sure we'll be seeing many of these kids playing in high level college programs and possibly beyond.


California Junior Classic, Dixon, Sunday, April 19,
Contact: Rob Salaber:

Referees lined up for 18 Junior High matches: Ray Schwartz, Craig Lusiani, Phil Akroyd, Nick & Tristan Boyer, Brian Schnack, Nate Housman, Mark Godfrey, and Scotty Griffin, w/ Matt Eason, JC Van Staden, Skip Neibauer and possibly Dave Williamson to ref coach.

The 5th Annual PCIT, April 25/26, at San Jose State
Referees Needed!

The Pacific Coast will provide some refs, 2 more are expected on exchange from SoCal, but we'll need at least a dozen local whistle blowers. At the present, Eric Rauscher, Brian Schnack, and Greg Lundell have chimed in, a good start. Please contact Ray Schwartz to get on the list.

Over 40 sides are expected for this two-day event, in addition to the NCRFU Single and Multi-School HS Championship matches. Shade, a cooler of fruit and beverage, and a sweet jersey will be on offer for the lucky refs.


I am a Cal Poly rugby alumnus who, along with some fellow ruggers, has created a news and social networking website for the rugby community,

We are five rugby players (a US Eagle, OMBAC's Captain, and three Cal Poly SLO alums) who share a similar pursuit of connecting the greater rugby community in order to grow the game and drive it to a higher level of play in the US.

rugbyUNITED is a user generated site and that gives a voice to every rugby enthusiast. So if you are a player, referee, coach, team, union or rugby supporter post your news, pics, videos, blogs, forums and events.

We at rugbyUNITED realize that the referees are the glue to the game and would like to invite you to be among the first to join the community. Please check out rugbyUNITED and pass the word on to any rugby clubs and supporters. Below are a few highlights of rugbyUNITED and how it can be used to benefit clubs, players, coaches, refs and supporters:

Refs: (Get your Ref on!)
- Blog about the game and give the much-needed refs’ point of view
- Report match reports
- Discuss all facets of the game on the forum

Clubs: (Get your Club's name out there!)
- Keep your alumni and fans up to date by posting match reports and blogs about your team
- Share pictures, video, and game schedules
- Recruit and grow your club by creating a team page
- Easily manage club events, games and car pools with the event system
- Get your alumni, fans and supporters involved by giving them a voice on the Forum and the team's home page

Players: (Get your name out there!)
- Create a player profile to highlight your rugby career or to get recruited by coaches (add game/season stats such as trys scored, balls poached, etc.)
- Connect with ruggers in your area, across the nation or on the other side of the globe
- Discuss upcoming matches and all other facets of the game on the Forum

Coaches: (Recruit and build your program!)
- Search for players to recruit
- Blog/discuss about coaching strategy, practice and games
- Easily communicate with your players and parents about practice, games, etc.

Parents/Fans: (Follow your team!)
- Create a profile highlighting your rugby background as a parent or fan
- Easily find your team's schedule and maps to games
- Add news about the team that you support
- Plan for pre and post match socials
- Add photos/videos

Please feel free to send us any suggestions, comments and feedback. We hope to grow the site in the image of our users and are interested in hearing how rugbyUNITED can be improved.

We hope that you will check out rugbyUNITED and join today. Enjoy and continue to grow the game!


Ryan Fry and the rugbyUNITED Team

Friday Afternoon
Friday afternoon at Stanford for the D2 playoffs found Eric Rauscher, Stuart Willis of Virginia, John Pohlman, Q-Tip, Joe Leisek, Roberto Santiago and Mike King on the pitch.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, April 01, 2009




No, not that inordinately catchy B-52s song from 1990, but NCRFU teams that have ignored dunning letters and e-mail about referee fees for their 2009 fixtures.

Our expenses have not gone away but our income stream has dried up.

This is the week when we begin to take action: our members may not referee teams listed as not current on their fees as of reading this. A list is kept on the homepage of Pelicanrefs.

Note to teams: the dues you paid to the NCRFU are not for referees. Separate organization. If you have a receipt from Bill Dent that is for union dues, not referee fees.

Referees: have a look. If you are going to be refereeing a team on this list, INCLUDING IN THE PACIFIC COAST PLAYOFFS, make certain they know that they will not have a referee if they do not pay.

Bear in mind that the list cannot be up-to-the-minute. If a team assures you that they have complied, check with our treasurer, Jim Crenshaw. But DO NOT REF a team not in compliance.

Note: high schools do not pay referee fees. Never have. So you don’t have to worry about those matches.


The 2009 Rugby Season will someday draw to a close. Our annual awards banquet of the Northern California Rugby Referee Society will be held on SATURDAY, JUNE 13, at Scott’s seafood in Walnut Creek. Drinks at six and dinner at seven.

So far only thirteen have responded that they will be there. Not a lucky number for dinner, and not an auspicious sign for the camaraderie of our Society.

The Society will pay for the dinners of our members. Guests will be fifty dollars. Drinks are on your own. It will be well worth it: Scott’s is known for excellent comestibles and potables, having ably hosted us a number of times over the years. Pelicans everywhere agree: their seafood is to dive for.

Get out the glad rags and spiff up your appearance. The Pelican awards will be presented, and a Special Commemoration will be made that you will not want to have missed. (We have been asked to keep the nature of this a secret but we fear this is working against attendance. As soon as we get clearance we’ll reveal the occasion.)

If you are going to be able to attend, RSVP to Bjorn Stumer with name and number of guests.

See you there?


Women’s college Pacific Coast playoffs in D1 and D2 will be held this weekend at Stanford. The times should allow folks to drop by and help out as fourth officials or just watch before or after their own matches:

2PM: Sac State – Utah Referee: Joe Leisek
4PM: UC Santa Cruz – Washington State Referee: John Pohlman
6PM: Stanford – BYU Referee: Jim Crenshaw
8PM: California – Chico State Referee: Scott Wood
Assistant Referees: Mike King, Eric Rauscher, Roberto Santiago, Stuart Willis (Virginia)

2PM: D2 Losers Referee: John Pohlman
4PM: D2 Winners Referee: Joe Leisek
6PM: D1 Losers Referee: Scott Wood
8PM: D1 Winners Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Assistant Referees: Mike King, Eric Rauscher, Roberto Santiago, Sandy Robertson

Men’s college D1 Pacific Coast playoffs will be held this weekend at St. Mary’s:

Noon: St. Mary's – U. of Washington Referee: Pete Smith
2PM: UC Davis – Chico State Referee: Tony Maphosa (PNW)
Assistant Referees: Bryant Byrnes, Chris Tucker

Noon: Losers
2PM: Winners – the winner gets the USA #3 Seed
Referees: TBD
Assistant Referees: John Coppinger, Chris Tucker

NorCal Men’s Club Division Three quarterfinals, home teams listed first:

Chico – Marin Referee: George O’Neil
Mission – Aptos Referee: John Coppinger
Humboldt – Vallejo Referee: Phil Akroyd
Berkeley – Vacaville Referee: Preston Gordon

The semi-finals and final will be played in Vallejo on April 18 and 19. The winner advances to the USA playoffs in Austin in mid-May.

High School Playoffs

The high school playoffs are complex this year: there are three separate tiers.

Teams that wish to compete for national honors will enter either U19 or ‘single-school’ playoffs beginning the weekend of April 18. Any necessary semi-finals will have to be played mid-week, because the finals for both events will be at San Jose State in conjunction with the Pacific Coast High School Invitational April 25-26.

Teams that are not able to commit to traveling to Pacific Coast finals and then nationals (were they to win either of the above events) will instead be eligible for the Northern California high school championship. The top two teams from each of the four conferences who are not otherwise advancing in the post-season will compete along this track.

This will be played over the first three weekends in May.

By Phil Akroyd

Final Score: Old Rishworthians 2nds, 3 – OLD MODERNIANS 2nds, 36

I was on vacation in England last week, visiting family and friends, as well as going to see England’s final game of the 6 Nations against Scotland on the first weekend. On Saturday I returned to my home town to where I had arranged to pick up a game with Yorkshire Rugby Referees Society. The game assigned was a lower division second team game at the club that I have been a member of for pretty much all of my life.

There was a large amount of significance surrounding this game for me. The last time I set foot on this pitch in anger was when I broke my ankle and dislocated my foot while playing for Old Rishworthian’s first team, in June of 2003. This injury signaled the end of my playing career and made me start thinking about reffing. It was also the location of my first injury – a broken and dislocated finger whilst training, in age-group rugby. It was also the place where my dad began playing in 1966 and my parents met at a post-match party several years later. My dad still follows the first team almost every weekend.

I arrived about an hour before kick-off, knowing that the luxury of a referee changing room awaited and showers after the game. The club house has been developed over the years and is now a quite modern facility, with a new bar, four changing rooms, kitchen and a large projection screen airing live games on TV.

The weather in the morning provided hail storms, but the clouds had blown out by the afternoon to leave a largely cold and dry afternoon. The game was on the first team field (as they were playing away), which is a long, wide level pitch that is well lined and in great condition, given the snow, rain and frost that has beset it this season.

The visitors (Modernians) pressed early and threatened the Rish line often. They showed invention and a desire to run the ball in the backs which paid off with a try after three minutes. The Rish team was warned several times regarding killing the ball in their own 22 which seemed to have an effect, as Modernians scored a total of four tries in the first half. Rishworthians answered with only one penalty kick at goal. Half-time was 3 – 24.

A minor fracas in the second half meant that each side was playing a man down for 10 minutes, but this did not open the game up any. Modernians thrived on Rish mistakes and scored two second half tries. Late in the game, the home team crafted a well worked move from broken play, releasing their young back line to a three-on-one, but the last pass was fumbled a few meters short and the defense cleared.

After the final whistle I returned to the referee changing room to find a tea-tray with a tea-pot, milk and sugar, followed by pie and chips (fries) in the bar afterwards. I think we should make this mandatory in NorCal! Of course, I had to check up on the standard of the hand-pulled beers on selection, while friends from the first team returned from their travels and I caught up with the guys that I’d just reffed – they stopped calling me “Sir” as soon as I blew the final whistle!

It was a good afternoon and evening and I look forward to being back in the area.

By James Hinkin

I was given the honor of hosting Kurt Weeder all the way from Omaha, Nebraska last weekend and had his flight schedule memorized with plans for the weekend all set up. What a waste of time that was. Kurt called me Friday afternoon to tell me that his flight into Houston was delayed due to weather and he was going to miss his connection. He had a couple of stand-by options available and he would let me know if and when he got on an airplane heading west. He was eventually accepted as a passenger on a flight from Houston to San Francisco and called to give me the good news. So instead of landing at the reasonable time of 8:37 pm at San Jose International (total distance from my place: 2.71 miles) he landed at San Francisco International at 11:49 pm (total distance from my place: 35.01 miles). Cursing and complaining, I managed to pick him up after midnight without his checked baggage which was supposed to be in San Jose at 11:00 the next morning. I met Kurt and he turned out to be friendly and apologetic about his flights (as if it was his fault...) and we got back to San Jose where I poured a Guiness down his throat and put him to bed ready to face a rugby Saturday.

Being a seasoned rugby professional Kurt had his rugby kit with him (NEVER CHECK YOUR RUGBY KIT!) so we drove down to Los Gatos for breakfast at Lou’s Coffee Shop (best Eggs Benedict in California, if not the world) and then we swung by SJC to grab his checked luggage.

The flight was delayed. Again. It wasn’t to land until 11:48.

So knowing that we had to be in San Mateo for his match (San Mateo v Hayward) at noon we decided to grab his bags after the match. So, with a quick stop at Rite Aid to get some essentials, we headed north. Now there are 2 ways to get to San Mateo from San Jose. You can take Hwy 101, which is faster but heavily industrialized the entire route or you can take Hwy 280. Kurt expressed amazement on how green and pretty the drive was up to the pitch. So with perfect 75 degree weather and a stunning drive along the San Andreas fault I helped introduce Kurt to California rugby.

The match he had control of was San Mateo v Hayward. This has always been an intense rivalry and didn’t disappoint. The hitting has hard and the commitment total and was played in the clean, hard hitting spirit we hope for in all our matches. Kurt was being watched by Mike Malone and he “did the West proud”. After his match and debriefing he was kind enough to run touch for my B side match where he provided some key input on a critical call I was screened from. Well done.

After the match we had a beer with the teams and then traveled back to SJC to get his clothes. I dropped him off at baggage claim and started circling the airport ready to pick him up. And circled. And circled. And discovered new ways to circle the airport. And circled some more…

His bag was there, but there were no employees of Continental Airlines to release his bag to him. So we left without it and decided to make do. I had arranged for tickets to the San Jose Earthquakes/Houston game at Buck Shaw (future site of USA/Ireland) that night and we went back to mine to get ready.

Yes, soccer. Any problems with that?

So after a shower and a steadying beverage we cabbed our way over to Santa Clara and watched an exciting 3-2 Earthquakes victory. We met up with some friends of mine at the game and we all piled into a truck to head back to mine for another steadying beverage and then out to Los Gatos again to meet up with the Earthquakes team themselves, specifically my younger brother’s best friend, goalkeeper Joe Cannon. Any further discussion of the night is purely hearsay.

We eventually made it back to San Jose and I set my alarm for 5:00 am in order to get him to the airport in time for his 6:40 flight.

I slept through the alarm.

At 7:30 I woke Kurt up and we called the airlines. There was another flight later that afternoon that had room for him and yes, there was his bag right behind the counter, would you like us to deliver it, sir? Kurt eventually made it to the airport and retrieved his weekend bag just in time to check it back on the plane for his flight home. He made it home safe and sound at the crack of midnight with bag in tow. Gotta love rugby tours and exchanges – the expected rarely happens so why bother expecting anything?

Tuesday, March 24:
STANFORD women 52 – Dartmouth 5 Referee: Pete Smith
On a perfect evening in one of the US's best rugby facilities, Stanford women hosted Dartmouth under the lights. The scoring was balanced in that the halftime score was 26-5 and the final was 52-5. Predictably Jessica Watkins accounted for at least 4 tries maybe 5 or 6, I lost track. I will say that the score was a bit flattering to Stanford as Dartmouth controlled territory and possession, but when Stanford did get the ball, it was a thing of beauty as the Cardinal wove their way down-field to multiple long-distance tries. Defensively, Stanford were the epitome of bend but don't break, time and time again stopping Dartmouth just short of several tries.

From a referee perspective, my goal was to work hard and try to be as close to mistake free as possible. Having just come back from injury, I made sure I was not only warm, but got some additional fitness work in before kick off. The players responded and I think my penalty count was around 10 which was probably 5 more than there should have been for that level of game. One I was too quick with the whistle and had I waited that half second, I definitely would not have blown my whistle. The second additional penalty was the classic knock on to an offside player. I had plenty of time to use my voice to prevent the offside player from playing the ball, but was too slow to get the words out and had to use the whistle instead-my fault, no excuses. Coach Griffin from Stanford can rightfully be quite critical of the officiating and on this night he had little more than the look of "I have no complaints" which to me is success.

Thursday, March 26:
ST. MARY’S 33 – Dartmouth 19 Referee: George O'Neil
Assistant Referee: Mike King

Seconds: St. Mary's 31 – Dartmouth 31 Referee: Mike King
Assistant Referee: Ryan Luis
A tale of 2 halves with the Big Green making its mark early and setting St. Mary’s back on its heels. Both sides played similar styles, not afraid of taking the ball wide, but also capable of the attack around the ruck. The Gaels seemed somewhat surprised with this similarity and did not seem ready to tackle at key points allowing 4 first half tries for Dartmouth. Half-time St Mary’s 10 – Dartmouth 26. With some fresh players, St. Mary’s started to dominate in the scrum and took advantage of the occasional lack of organization by Dartmouth in the loose. The tables were turned and only an unfortunate knock-on kept St. Mary’s from a final score as the match concluded. Well-played and exciting contest. Thanks to Ryan Luis for assistant reffing on one side.

Saturday, March 28
OLYMPIC CLUB 34 – Reno 10 Referee: Pete Smith
Sometimes bad luck has its rewards. Had I not pulled my hamstring a month ago, I would have been in freezing weather in Chicago and not sunny San Francisco at the timeless polo grounds (timeless in that the condition of the field hasn't gotten any better in the 30 years I have been going there). I knew going into this game it was far all the marbles in Div 1. The last meeting had Reno finishing on top and the rematch was sure to be a heated affair with an almost instant rivalry between these two clubs. Unfortunately for Reno, they lost their captain and arguably best player 5 minutes into the game with a badly twisted ankle. Without their leader and star player, you could feel the field tilt in O Club’s favor. The crowd was vocal, numerous and right or wrong seemingly always focused on my decisions. O' Club jumped out to a 3-0 lead after a penalty in front of the post for offside/lazy runners. They scored a try about 15 minutes later to go up 10-0 and finished the half with another try 3 minutes before the break. All hard fought and well earned by O' Club. The second half saw Reno get on the board first with a 5 pointer of their own making a game of it at 15-5. O Club scored again to go back up to 22-5 and Reno again answered back to make it 22-10. At this point depth started to become apparent as O Club scored 2 more tries from Reno mistakes and pulled ahead for a comfortable victory. O Club were the better team on the day and it showed, but I wouldn't count Reno out if these two teams face each other again.

Again, I was in front of a coach with a keen eye for the finer points of refereeing and I got the rare praise on the day. I felt my penalty count was far too high at roughly 25 and could have had another 5-7 if I had been as strict on the bridging/sealing as I would otherwise. Reno struggled more trying to stay on their feet than O Club and as the teams progress through the playoffs, those penalties may make the difference in who advances. Despite being quick to every breakdown, the teams were determined to make me penalize someone for hands in/off your feet or not releasing. The main thing I did was got those calls 99% correct and was consistent throughout. Several Reno players, despite their opinions during the game, all felt that I was spot on in refereeing the breakdown. Personally, I felt great and was quick around the field, but my penalty count was way too high and I was far too lenient on the bridging to give myself any better than a 'B'. The players and coaches were far happier with me than I was and in the end, they along with the spectators, are the ones who matter most, so I guess mission accomplished.

Seconds: OLYMPIC CLUB 48 – Reno 0 Referee: John Coppinger
Assistant Referee: Pete Smith
Most of the Reno players were doing double duty to fulfill Reno's obligation to play a second match. O Club fielded mostly a fresh side looking to show the coaching staff that they are worthy of selection to the first side. (A notable exception was long-time O Club and Eagle 7s player, Kevin Barth, who made a cameo and needed to be cautioned about the wisdom of challenging 4 opponents to some extracurricular while by himself well off away from play.)

O Club scored 24 points in each of the 30-minute periods to win 48-0.

My thanks to Pete Smith for staying around to act as AR.

San Mateo 8 – HAYWARD 14 Referee: Kurt Weeder (West)
Assistant Referee: James Hinkin
Evaluator: Mike Malone

I had a fantastic rugby experience while in Northern Cal. Weather was perfect....70's not a cloud in the sky and very little wind.

The two sides were very physical rivals that spent the entire first half "feeling each other out" with few long breaks and several tremendous defensive stands by both sides.

0-0 halftime score

2nd half was similarly played with several possessions of many phases before a defensive stand would cause the turnover. San Mateo added a converted penalty kick to an unconverted try in the second half while Hayward was able to convert two tries, and withstand an end of the game flurry from San Mateo to seal the win.

Final score
Hayward 14
San Mateo 8

Seconds: SAN MATEO 36 – Hayward 33 Referee: James Hinkin

SAC LIONS 32 – Sac Capitals 3 Referee: Don Pattalock
An 80 degree day was on tap for the “inner city” rivalry. One team came to play, the other came to shout at the ref.

Seconds: Sac Lions 7 – SAC CAPITALS 14 Referee: Phil Ulibarri
Assistant Referee: Craig Lusiani, Don Pattalock
Both sides were scoreless in the first half. Lions scored first in the second half and then their fitness waned at which point Capitals put in two trys and two conversions closing out the contest 14 to 7.

Thanks to Don and Craig for their AR help.

Fresno 26 – EAST PALO ALTO 36 Referee: Joe Androvich

BARACUS 45 – Arroyo Grande 9 Referee: Joe Leisek
Polo Fields, Golden Gate Park
To appeal to our younger referees and players, here is this week's match report as a Tweet:

"OMG Baracus totally had the ball and scored 7 tries, AG kicked 3 penalties, some sideline tool said ref wut game r u watching LOL"

OK maybe not.

The basic facts are correct: The hosts had the ball most of the time and scored seven tries (four in the first half and three in the second) -- and could have had more if not for several unforced errors. Starved for ball and often moving backwards when they had it, AG could not establish a consistent pattern. Their best result came when the inside center came crashing into the Baracus backline. He was not the biggest or fastest guy on the field, but he knew his purpose. (Arroyo Grande are a young team in development and should improve if the roster can stay together. I very much appreciated the rapport on the field with both captains and their players.

Had a really nice post-game conversation with Arroyo Grande coach/manager Bo Kelly, while we watched the Baracus squad, bruised and dirty, play a joyful, late-afternoon game of touch rugby.

SEAHAWKS 45 – SF/Golden Gate 20 Referee: Bruce Carter
A sports story almost always leads with the final score and the result. Good drama almost requires that the outcome not be known. This game was drama.

Adverse conditions added to the storyline: a week ago many of us stood shivering on the touchline at the Golden Gate – Belmont Shore super league game but the temperature this day was in the mid-eighties. It was 88° by the Pelicanmobile’s in-dash thermocouple at game’s end.

The artificial surfaces so many teams play on now both contain and radiate heat. The ground-up automobile tires that make them so forgiving act like that black sand in Hawaii.

With fifteen minutes left it was 24-20. We’d had several lead changes and it looked like every decision I made would be both critical and criticized until full time, and probably afterwards. Both teams were contesting ball, disrupting possession, and lobbying for every call at the breakdown. It seemed like the next turnover might tell the tale – Golden Gate had already scored on a long intercept and knocked-on or thrown-forward three other tries.

But the Seahawks dynamic trio of their 6-8-9 players took over and put a three-try stamp on this game, #6 scoring two himself: game over.

Seconds: Seahawks – SFGG Referee: Nate Housman
Videographer: Bruce Carter

Diablo Gaels 23 – SANTA ROSA 31 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
Assistant Referees: Roberto Santiago, Greg Lundell
Another spectacular spring day in Northern California, as the poppies, lupine and redbud were all in full bloom.

Thanks to Roberto Santiago and Greg Lundell for helping out as the AR's and to Kat Todd-Schwartz for keeping an eye out.

Santa Rosa visited the Diablo Gaels in Concord on day that was almost too hot to play rugby, with the temperature around 80 at kick-off. The first half was mostly Santa Rosa scoring 3 trys, with knock-ons and turn-overs keeping the home team out of the end zone. Score at half 17 to 6. The second half featured another penalty kick by the Gaels followed by a converted try by Santa Rosa to make it 24 to 9. The Gaels finally scored a converted try about 24 minutes in, to make it closer, but Santa Rosa answered with one of their own with about 8 minute left. Santa Rosa seemed to sense the victory, but the Gaels scored another converted try to get within 8 with about 3 minutes left. The Gaels kept up the pressure, but it was too little too late, as the Final score was 31 to 23 Santa Rosa.

Seconds: DIABLO GAELS 35 – Santa Rosa 7 Referee: Greg Lundell
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz
Diablo Gaels beat visiting Santa Rosa in the B-side game 35-7. Tough forward play around the rucks by the Gaels wore down and outlasted the Rosa side in an unseasonably hot afternoon game.

DIABLO GAELS U23, 22 – Santa Rosa JC 19 Referee: Roberto Santiago
This match had everything. Solid physical play, scoring, gorgeous weather and a breathtaking finish. Santa Rosa came out fast scoring an unconverted try just 3:18 into the game. The game see-sawed for the next thirteen minutes until the Gaels put one over to tie it up. The Gaels came back with a converted try just before the half.

Diablo stated the second half like they ended the first. After a few fits and starts on attack the boys in blue put another one down at the 49:00 minute mark for a 17-5 lead. Santa Rosa wasn't done, the boys from up north found their early game form answering the Gaels try with back to back tries at 51:00 and 57:00 converting both for a 17-19 lead.

Rosa held the lead and had Diablo under pressure for almost the entire rest of the game. Rosa had a shot to put the game away late put their last trip over the try line was held up. Then with under two minutes left the home standing Gaels won a scrum at their own five meter line. The halfback passed to the flyhalf who chipped a beauty into a hole behind the on rushing Santa Rosa backline. The Diablo #13 caught the kick on the fly and out ran everyone for the game-winning, game-ending score.

Mission – Humboldt Referee: George O'Neil
Strange doings – the lights went out after only about 15 minutes had been played, and kickoff had been at 8:30 PM.

Although Mission was up by twelve, they hadn’t played enough innings to make the game official. As this was already a rain-delay makeup match and playoffs start this Saturday, it cannot be rescheduled.

So: it’s a draw. Both teams will host quarter-finals on April 4.

BERKELEY 20 – Mendocino 0 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Job Corps Field, sunny and windy
Pitch: sketchy but dry
I gather that Mendocino has been playing pretty much all of their games this year without full teams. Kudos to them for showing up and playing.

It was agreed that they would play Berkeley under strength (14 men) until Berkeley had a bonus point (four tries). At Mendocino’s suggestion we started the game with a moment of silence in honor of the four slain police officers in Oakland.

Berkeley scored at 3 min, 6 min, 9 min and 12 min, just like clockwork. At that point, Berkeley lent them some backs and we finished the rest of the time with a "friendly". And it really was a friendly but intense and well played game. Mendocino held their own in the forwards, but could not match the backs of Berkeley.

After the match we all went over to a lounge in Berkeley for a social. It was very enjoyable for me to see two clubs that upheld and practiced a rugby spirit.

VALLEJO 55 – Aptos 25 Referee: Mike King
A bright, sun-shiny day on Mare Island was a treat for all who played. The pace was fast and the play was an excellent contest by 2 determined sides. Vallejo looked particularly sharp with its passing, although Aptos mounted some long attacks itself. Half-time edge Vallejo 29, Aptos 12. The second stanza was more of the same with the scores coming fast and furious. Overall a good-natured, mix-up between 2 well-matched sides who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the Saturday afternoon contest. The ref was unable to stay but the host side finished in the true spirit of the game, with a BBQ at field side.

VACAVILLE 46 – Fog 19 Referee: Scott Griffin
The Vacaville Old Dogs were too much for the visiting SF Fog on a beautiful day in Cowtown. Even the home team seemed to be uneasy in the 75 degree heat. The game started with a quick try by VV, after which the visitors woke up and made the game a competitive affair. Refereeing is truly the best seat in the house. Final score 46-19 for Vacaville with the SF Fog scoring a try just before full time that made the after game festivities not quite so bitter for them.

Stanford 22 – DARTMOUTH 81 Referee: John Pohlman
Stanford Men hosted Dartmouth this past Saturday. The temperatures are starting to heat up in the Bay area, 75 plus at kick off.

This made for great spring break weather for the Dartmouth Big Green or is it the Jack-O-Lanterns or my favorite 'Keggy the Keg'. Both Stanford and Dartmouth needed to change their mascot names in the early 70's due to political pressure. Both had Indian Mascots.

A few years ago Big Green was voted in as the new mascot, but after further review it was decided no mascot. Then came Keggy the Keg a tribute to the cult classic Animal House. I am not sure where Jack came from. Excuse me; I digress.

Dartmouth was in full swing of a very competitive spring break tour. Playing games against San Diego State, Cal Poly, St. Mary's and Stanford. Dartmouth has qualified for the D-1 playoffs making the top 16.

Stanford on the other hand is at the end of their season, many injuries and a few on spring break.

Well Dartmouth scored 13 tries in all. Lead by Captain #10 O'Leary and fullback Kolouson.

Stanford missed first tackles all day. The Big Green were too fast and organized to be given second chances.

One of Stanford highlights was Captain and #10 John Clark playing in his last game. A couple of times I heard Stanford players saying it was Clark's last game and pick it up. Almost on cue Clark scored the last try of the game with one minute left. The Stanford players were excited for John to finish his last game with a final minute try. I looked at him after he missed the conversion and said "we only have about forty seconds left, if you want, that can be the last play." Being the team captain, he stated play on.

Dartmouth was the seventh top 25 team in Division 1 Men's rugby I have been able to referee this year: Cal, BYU, St. Mary's, Dartmouth, UC Davis, Stanford and Arizona.

If you want to get close to great rugby join the Pelicans and become a referee.

ST. MARY’S women 22 – Humboldt State 10 Referee: Bruce Bernstein


Wednesday, March 25
ELSIE ALLEN 71 – Linn Benton Youth (Corvallis) 15 Referee: Cary Bertolone
On March 25th, a Wednesday evening, at 7:00 PM, a traveling Oregon team from the Corvallis area, kicked off to Elsie Allen High School and the fun began, mostly for Elsie Allen.

Oregon played tough defense for the first ten minutes, keeping Elsie out of the try zone, but then Elsie opened up the floodgates w/ 6 first half tries to none for Linn Benton. We went to uncontested scrums and Elsie had few first side players and in fact, had no first side players when Linn Benton finally scored a couple towards the end. The final score was 71-15, but everyone had a good time, no one got hurt and there was a good social afterwards.

Thursday night:
HAYWARD 31 – Elsie Allen 5 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

RANCHO COTATI 34 – Humboldt 10 Referee: Cary Bertolone
On 3/28/09, at For Pete's Sake field in Santa Rosa, Humboldt High School Club took on Rancho Cotati High School. Rancho started out w/ an awesome haka and Humboldt countered w/ their two Samoans defending their side w/ an intense haka of their own.

Rancho had size and speed on their side, but a lot of inexperience led to many penalties against them, giving the visitors a lot of ball. Rancho finally put it together and powered over for three tries in the first half to take a 17-0 lead. Humboldt's pack scored a quick second half try to close the gap, but Rancho's backs scored a couple more. One of Humboldt's fierce Samoan loose forwards scored a try in the corner and the final score was Rancho 34-10 over Humboldt.

MARIN 33 – Santa Rosa 7 Referee: Mike King
Quite a contest in the first half with Marin running the ball well and being met by strong defense from the visitors. There were several thwarted opportunities, but Marin was able to run in 2 tries in the half. Santa Rosa drove down close itself a few times, finally scoring on a penalty tap. Halftime Marin 12 – Santa Rosa 7. The second half started in a similar fashion, until Marin started to assert itself. Play was a little sloppy at times as the players tired, but some fine breakaway runs and good passing allowed the home team to forge a lead. Final score reflected the excellent play of Marin, but does not diminish the hard-hitting and hard-running displayed by the Santa Rosa team who continues to improve with each match.

JV: SFGG 19 – Diablo 12 Referee: Eric Rauscher
SFGG field, cool and breezy, pitch fine
This was really one of those games of two halves. Diablo scored all of their points in the first and SFGG scored all of theirs in the second.

Both teams showed fairly good skill levels with a little bit of first-year-playing mistakes. High school games can be quite enjoyable when the players have enough skill to put together multiple phases and show that they will improve with experience.

At Steuber Family Rugby Stadium:
JESUIT 35 – LA Cougars 17 Referee: George O'Neil

EPA 90 – Live Oak 5 Referee: Chris Fisher


Alameda Islanders girls 0 – SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 59 Referee: Bjorn Stumer
The Sacramento Amazons were just too sturdy and fit for a young, but spirited Alameda Islanders side. Alameda kept on fighting, keeping the first half score to a relatively low 26-0.

However, the Sacramento ladies found an extra gear at the second half, while the hosts were tiring rapidly. As usual, the players and coaches were courteous and disciplined - it is a real pleasure to be involved in girls’ rugby!

Small, but good natured crowd, plenty of sun on tap, and a number of familiar faces here and there. Overall a great day of Rugby. Now the Amazons go to the NCRFU finals - best of luck to them!

Mother Lode Frosh/Soph 27 – Granite Bay 14 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Fiest Park, Granite Bay, Thursday, March 26
AR: Mark Godfrey

My first visit to Granite Bay, a new club (near Roseville) started by John Kimble, but luckily also enjoying great support from the parents and assistants. Their field was small but quaint (short and narrow), sloping and rolling like the Scottish moors, the goalpost stands dangerous (but corrected now I am told), and the match well-attended.

GB has attracted some athletes and will become a force to be reckoned with in the near future, but the experience of the ML players proved too much. ML took a 5-0 lead into haltime, but tentative play by GB combined with decisive actions by ML led to some key scores early in the 2nd half. It was neat to see Chris Lujan score and convert his own try, as I learned he's the nephew of former PAXO and Speed Freak Clown teammate Mike.

GB came back and acquitted themselves over the last 20 minutes, but continued to let ML find the try zone as well. Fun game, two spirited, well coached and competitive sides. With greater depth and maturity, GB will become another strong Varsity club in Sacramento. Many thanks to my AR, Mark Godfrey, who's son Marshall played great at prop and in open play for ML.

PITS 26 – De La Salle 17 Referee: Ray Schwartz
De La Salle, Friday night, March 27
AR: Nate Housman

Coach Michael Sagehorn kindly asked if I could come down to ref in Concord on a Friday night. Lined up a sales call in Green Valley along the way, sold a pool remodel, and made it to the locker room for a quick change with minutes to spare. DLS was playing a F/S and B Side match first. As I approached the pitch, I was amazed (and pleased) to find Kick Off RDP refs Ryan Luis in the middle, Nate Housman running touch and George O'Neil standing in as advisor to Mr. Luis, who had just shaved off his fearsome fu manchu.

The matches were running behind schedule, and there would be a ceremony for the fallen Oakland police officers before the varsity match, so I had plenty of time to observe, chat, and conduct the proper pre-game protocols. PITS would be playing without their hooker, captain and Jr. Eagle Travis Mascone, who was off at a National Assembly. Pelicanrefs Rob Hendrickson's son Carl would be throwing line out ball for the first time in his life, so he informed me.

"Trailer" Cullom shared an amazing story with me about a small tribute to his former PITS player, John Hege, one of the four fallen officers from the tragedy the weekend before. His starting side sported jerseys embroidered with his shield, initials and badge number. Mike Sagehorn pointed out one of his assistant coaches used to partner with another of the officers. George O'Neil added that two of the fallen were St. Mary's alum. An incredible, wasteful loss. The B game ended, our National Anthem was sung, Michael offered a few choice words, and the Stars and Bars were flown at half staff.

As the match unfolded I enjoyed observing two very different sides. Both were athletic and skillful, but DLS was more aggressive, whereas PITS appeared perhaps a bit better coached but certainly more disciplined. Both sides tackled hard and played fast, but as DLS collected penalties, PITS played sound defense, turning over most rucks they committed to, while choosing to stay out of others.

Overall, a very fun and face paced game, with PITS stepping out in front first, and never really being challenged. Much to my delight, Rob's son Carl was clearly the "Man of the Match", and in this his second game back from injury at the KOT. He routinely would gain 5 meters from a pick and go at the base of the scrum. I couldn't help but wonder why the DLS flanker never adjusted to challenge him. Trailer later added his boys played their best game of the year only when their leader Travis was away! Very helpful AR work by Nate.

Nate and I then retired with Michael, Trailer, John Highland and his son, to Roccos for some frosties and pizza. Well worth the trip down!

SFGG U19, 44 – Elsie Allen 15 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Rocca Field, Saturday, March 27
With another sales call for a potential pool buyer tucked into my morning drive down to The City, I reached TI in time for the kick off, only to get stuck behind a giant and slow moving rig hauling an oversized beam. A few minutes to change in the fabulous clubhouse ref room, and off to the pitch I went to find two sides eager to go. I knew this was only a friendly, but learned later that this was also the end of the EA spring break "tour" which saw them play 4 matches (San Mateo, Hayward, and an Oregon side) in 7 days.

SFGG was, like DLS the night before, more aggressive and collecting penalties, but they were also disciplined enough to take advantage of lapses and missed tackles by a game EA crew. EA rarely contested at the tackle zone, but had success when they did. SFGG put 22 points on the board in each half, with EA scoring once just before the break (when SFGG's captain was running a lap of shame for multiple silly transgressions), and twice again early on in the 2nd half. The SFGG lapse passed, EA grew too tired, I don't know, but SFGG finished firmly in control, just as they had started. A brilliant, sunny day in the Bay!

I then was joined by the PCRFU President Frank Merrill in the SFGG Clubhouse, where we sat and sorted out the many details for an upcoming U19 post-season tournament, the 5th Annual Pacific Coast Invitational, April 25/26, to be held for the first time not on Mothers’ Day or at Stanford. The San Jose State sports complex, adjacent to Spartan Stadium (10th & Alma), provides us with 4 excellent pitches, and the opportunity to expand to more in the future. Plan to attend! We need teams, refs, volunteers, spectators...the two NorCal Boys HS Championship matches (Single School and Multi-School club championships) will be played late in the afternoon there on April 25th.

Virtual Rugby
We like to say that the referee has the best seat in the house. It can also be an interactive experience to be so close to the action.

Matter of fact, some referees let the game get into their blood, and vice versa.

Thanks for Westy of SFGG for technical assistance in making this photograph possible.


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