Wednesday, September 02, 2009




We need a referee for a game in Sacramento this Sunday, September 6. Let us know.

Time to update your PDAs, day-planners, diaries and significant others:

The Scottish Games are covered. All of these others want you!

September 5: Pleasanton Scottish Games
October 3: Chico State alumni games
October 10: Reno (fifteens) tournament – four pitches, all day. Lots of refs needed.
October 17: Society training meeting at AGM at St. Mary’s
October 23-24: Hawaii Harlequins Invitational
They need four referees for this one. You pay the air fare, they cover the rooms. This is one of the benefits of being a NCRRS member. Take advantage! Let us know if you are interested.
October 31: Stanford Tens, and the Baracus Tens on Treasure Island. We’ll need every available ref this Halloween
November 7: Mittry Memorial Tournament in Redding
November 14: Level One referee course at Sacramento State
November 15: Touch Judge and Assistant Referee courses at Sac State
November 21: Chico Holiday Classic


August 22:
Triple Threat hosting Fog in Chico.
We’re not sure whether this was played. We’d be happy to be enlightened.

August 29:
NORCAL TRIPLE THREAT 55 – San Francisco Fog 5 Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: Eugene Baker, Phil Akroyd
OK, back to 15s. Longer, slower game. Slightly different laws. Completely different set of priorities. Suffice it to say it took me 20 minutes to stop positioning behind the back line, but other than that the adaptation was mostly smooth (according to my assistants anyway, and both coaches seemed annoyed in equal measure, so by one estimate it was at least fair.)

My positioning was helped by always knowing where NorCal were going -- Missile Left and Missile Right were crash ball, and when they got bored of that, Texas signaled that the ball was to be spun out. This didn't help the defence much -- the NorCal side dominated the first half, with 5 tries (3 converted) and would have had another had the scrum half finished her elusive 40 metre run with a proper grounding. Instead as she arrived untouched under the posts, she got close to the ground, then dropped the ball the last 3 inches. Not good enough, scrum 5. It did little to change the momentum.

As it was, the temperature was too darn hot (95 at kickoff on a plastic pitch which was over 110) and the air quality was poor, and so players got subbed early and often. NorCal lost 3 in the first half, two with trouble breathing, and by the end had run their bench dry, mostly with injuries rather than tactical replacements. This did even things up some, and the Fog got on the board early in the second half as they stole ball at the lineout and fed their back line who tore the defence to bits in one move. This spark was seen infrequently and there was no doubt to the better side.

Thanks to Phil and Eugene for keeping me straight, although the first conversion attempt merits a quick mention. Avid readers of my reports will remember last year my team of three messed up a simple kick at goal. Well, good judgment comes from experience (which comes from bad judgment, thanks Jim) and when Phil and Eugene disagreed on the kick we got together. Phil said good, Eugene (who wasn't quite in line with the ball-post vector) said no (wide left) and I said maybe (straight, but did it have the distance?) We had a quick chat, and figured it out. Definitely inside the posts, definitely over the bar, definitely 2 points. And definitely better than guesswork.

August 30:
SF FOG – Amazons Referee: Ryan Luis
The game was a forfeit to Fog, but they played 3 20 minute periods of ten-a-side.


The Arroyo Grande Sevens were held on August 29th at the admirable Talley Farms pitches.

Only the second of the full-size fields was needed for this five-team event. AG, SLO, Baracus, Kern County and Fresno met in this north-south crossover tournament.

It was one hundred degrees on the nose when the Pelicanmobile arrived in a cloud of dust precisely at ten AM. That was the cool part of the day: it hit 113° in the afternoon by the in-dash thermometer. The only shade was under the posts. And with no wind to dissipate perspiration, running felt cooler than non-running.

Of course, two of the five teams wore black jerseys.

The referee corps comprised Paul Phillips and Paul Cappellano from the local area, along with Pelicus Scriptoris, alternating games with binge-drinking of bottled water. When you drink three pints an hour for most of the day without nature once calling… well, then you should have been drinking four pints.

The teams were keen, perhaps warming up for the Tri-Tip Sevens in two weeks. The tri-tip was also warming up, slow-cooking, offering aromatic enticements, just behind the concessions tent.

The local teams had the better of play on the day, but your scribe had to leave just before the final in order to keep a date with Penelope Pelicus to see the Pretenders at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.


The Level 2 referee course is needed in order to be promoted from C1 to B3. The course is generally only given once or twice a year within easy migration range.

This year’s Pacific coast entries will be held in Vancouver, Wash. (near Portland), 19-20 September, run by Jim Kautz and another at Cal State, Long Beach 26-27 Sept, run by Mark Aitkenhead, with Dixon assisting.

You may register for these on the USA Rugby website. Plan ahead – if you’ve got the B Panel in your sights, why wait?


Our membership for 2010 has grown from five to ten in the past two weeks. You need to renew your relationship with USA Rugby – 2009 memberships expired August 31.

Go to
Click on Registration ’09-’10 just below Welcome in the column on the left.

Take the first option: Create/Renew Individual Membership. Go from there.

REMEMBER to print out the liability waiver. This needs to be signed and submitted in hard copy to our treasurer, Jim Crenshaw, with your $10 annual NCRRS dues.


The San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club presents: The Grand Rugby Banquet
Featuring Guest Speaker: Wallaby Legend John Eales

Eales played lock for Queensland Reds and Australia
55-cap reign as captain of the Wallabies
Won the Rugby World Cup twice in his illustrious career, first in 1991, and later skippering his country to victory in 1999

St Gabriel’s School
2550 41st avenue
Saturday October 17
6:30 PM
Proceeds to benefit Bay Area Youth Rugby

Tickets include three course dinner, wine and entertainment
To Purchase a seat or table
Tickets: Individual $125 or Table of Ten $1200
Contact: Paul Keeler (415) 362 1010

This will be in the evening after our AGM. If you’d like to attend and sit at a ‘referee table’, let us know and whether you’ll have a guest. It’s for a good cause!


Thank you to REO David Williamson for cluing us in:

August 27, 2009
By Peter Watson

There have been seven Rulings so far this year. There was also a decision made regarding the Experimental Law Variations that went into effect on August 1, 2008. All were accepted as full Law, with the exceptions of:
• Entering mauls with head/shoulders below hips (no longer allowed = FK)
• Pulling down mauls (no longer allowed = PK)
• Numbers in lineouts (team throwing in sets the maximum and opponents must have the same number or fewer in the lineout = FK)
The Rulings issued last year regarding when a maul ends (General Ruling # 4 and ELV Rulings # 1 and # 5) remain valid.
• If opposing players leave a maul voluntarily the maul continues to exist and may be driven forward without sanction for obstruction.
• If opposing players leave a maul involuntarily the maul has ended. The referee should communicate this and the team in possession is liable to sanction for obstruction if they continue to move forward (PK).

Ruling 1 – Knocked into touch
The question asked was about playing advantage from a knock-on that subsequently went into touch with the throw belonging to the team that did not knock-on. Can advantage continue so the non-offending team can take a quick throw-in if they so choose?
The Ruling is that once the ball has gone into touch, it has become dead. If advantage had not yet been gained, then the scrum should be awarded.

Ruling 2 – Grounding in In-Goal simultaneous with touching the Dead Ball Line
The scenario posed was one where a player touched the ball down in In-Goal and at the exact same time stepped onto or over the Dead Ball Line.
The Ruling was that the game was stopped with no evidence to award either a try or a 22 drop out. Therefore Law 20.1 (c) says there should be a five-meter scrum and 20.4 (d) awards the scrum to the attacking team. This is very similar to a “held up in In-Goal” situation.

Ruling 3 – End of Time at scrum or lineout
If a scrum or lineout has been awarded and then time expires, the referee must allow play to continue until the scrum or lineout has been completed and ball next becomes dead. The question asked concerned a scrum that collapsed or was lifted without penalty. Should this scrum be reset or should the half be ended?
The Ruling was that since the scrum was stopped for safety reasons without reaching a successful conclusion, the scrum had not been completed and must be reset.

There was a similar question regarding a lineout that is awarded and then time expires. If the ball is thrown unfairly (e.g. not straight), the referee should end the half. The original lineout has been completed and there has been an infringement that made the ball dead.

[Note that if there were a penalty or free kick offense committed during the lineout, the kick should be awarded and play allowed to continue until it next becomes dead.]

Ruling 4 – Formation of Ruck
This Ruling addresses the dividing line between a tackle and the formation of a ruck. At a tackle players who have complied with Tackle Law (on their feet, correct zone entry) may attempt to gain possession of the ball with hands. At a ruck players must not play the ball with their hands.

Since the definition of a ruck carries the direct implication that no player has possession when a ruck forms, if a player has possession of the ball prior to contact with an opponent (which would otherwise form the ruck) then that player may continue to play the ball.

This Ruling was accompanied by a video illustrating acceptable examples of players gaining possession and continuing to play the ball.

Note that in all examples shown the outcome is immediate production of the ball. If the actions of the first arriving player do not result in the ball becoming immediately available, then those actions should be viewed critically. “Protective” is not the same as “productive”.

Ruling 5 – Front Row Replacement
In the situation presented, a team started the match with the required number of front row replacements. The team had used its entire list of nominated replacements and due to injuries was no longer able to scrummage safely, resulting in uncontested scrums. The question asked was could the team bring in one of their other players who had been substituted to replace the front row player whose injury necessitated uncontested scrums (per Law 3.12)?

The Ruling was that the purpose of 3.12 is to allow contested scrums to continue. If there were no available front row players AND all other reserves have been used, then the team is not allowed to bring in some other player for the purpose of keeping fifteen on the field.

Note that the question asked and the answer given were quite narrow. Do not read more into this than there actually is, and don’t try to extrapolate.

[Editor’s Note: If a team has used up all of its replacements when another player gets injured and has to leave the pitch, they have to play short whatever the position of the last-injured player.]

Ruling 6 – U19 Reduced Numbers in Scrums
This Ruling clarified that under U19 Variations, Law 20.1 (f), which requires matching numbers and formations in scrums, only requires reduced numbers in scrums if either team is short a forward.

• If either team loses a back (for any reason – injury, send-off, etc.) then scrums can continue with eight players.
• If either team loses a forward, then scrums must be reduced to seven for both teams.

Ruling 7 – Joining a Ruck
This question addressed the manner in which players may join rucks. Law 16.2 (b) requires that a player join by binding onto a teammate. The Ruling stated that players joining a ruck must bind before or simultaneously with contact by any other part of the joining player’s body, including the shoulder. This is a safety issue. Players cannot come in like a missile and then bind as an afterthought. The Ruling also recognized that in some cases a ruck turns such that a player coming from an on-side position to join as required by 16.5 (c) will bind onto an opponent. That is acceptable, keeping in mind Law 10.4 (j) [no dangerous charging].

In addition to the Rulings, the IRB also issued two directives requesting increased attention to two areas.

Dangerous Tackling
The IRB reiterated a 2007 Ruling regarding tackles in which the ball carrier is lifted and tipped horizontally and then dropped or forced to the ground. The sanction for this should start at Red Card and work backwards only if there are extraordinary extenuating circumstances.

This was accompanied by a video example

Maul Obstruction
The IRB issued instructions for increased referee vigilance regarding obstruction at mauls. The three specific areas addressed are:
• Formation at a lineout, particularly by supporters of the jumper.
• Formation in open play, primarily from kicks.
• Ball carrier detaching at the back and continuing to move forward.

There is a video containing examples.

Please contact me with any questions.
Peter Watson
Chair, USA Rugby Laws Committee

Tom Zanarini forwards this:

Just doing a little browsing and came across this fitness test for collegiate soccer referees, thought it was interesting...

The most interesting thing is conclusion 5, which hasn’t always seemed to be a consideration in fitness testing for rugby referee officials.

Pelican of the Year Award
Mike King accepts the award as the Society’s top bird from Pete Smith at the men’s national Sevens championships.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris