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.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris