Saturday, October 31, 2009




John Tyler went to join the NCRRS and entered Coach. He was listed as the Coach of the Northern California Rugby Referee Society. So pay attention to what he says!

Mike Gadoua got his fingers crossed at the keyboard and was charged $150 to sign up for CIPP. (It should be $60.)

It turns out that Mike is registered not as a member of the society but as THE SOCIETY ITSELF.


It’s a weekly ritual: we abase ourselves and beg for more referees for the upcoming Saturday.

For Halloween, we now have three tournaments and three additional 80-minute matches besides. Seventeen Pelicans have confirmed their availability – about five fewer than we need.

Let us know your pleasure: tournament fifteens, tens, or a regular game.

The next big crunch weekend will be November 21. Plan ahead and try to be available to referee on that date.


CHICO STATE 48 – Southern Oregon 5 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Southern Oregon travelled with 18 players, while the home team had a sideline packed with players in this pre-season friendly. Unfortunately, nobody emphasized the “friendly”.

It looked like it would be a blow-out before the game started. Chico looked lean and mean, while S.O looked lethargic after a day of travelling. Chico were peppered with Sacramento area high school talent while S.O looked physically inferior. It was a bit of a shock when S.O got the first try after just five minutes – a lineout 5m from the opposition try line went straight to the front, was caught and the back-rower dropped over the line. I heard the Chico front man say “Sorry guys, I just took my eyes off him”. Pre-season indeed, but game-on.

It seemed like coach Jagoe’s comment before the game had some pertinence. He was “concerned over which Chico would show up”.

No panic though. He reassured his team, told them to take their time and not be in a rush to score. The Wildcats played controlled phases. Rucking, picking and driving to the blind-side and opening up the back on the open side. They killed Oregon at the rucks and seemed to have found their rhythm with a try on 20mins. It also helped that the S.O lock was in the bin for a no-wrap hit. They made hay while the lock sat and got another try to take the lead five minutes later.

A couple more late tackles from either team meant more yellows and more open spaces, which Chico took advantage of.
Halftime: Chico 17 – 5 S.O

The second half continued as the first finished. Power play from Chico and more outstanding work from Jesuit grad and number eight, Zeke Sulzen saw him get his second try.

High tempers continued through the second half and Chico sustained a red for a dangerous tackle on the S.O center. Think back to the video examples of case studies of the new dangerous tackle law amendment that we watched at the ref AGM last week, and this tackle was more clear-cut than those.

The home team were still powerful with 14 and got a penalty try with the last play of the game. A wonderful phase of rugby put the winger in on the try line with 7m to go, two supporting players and only the opposition winger to beat. The defender went way too high, bringing the ball carrier to ground. Penalty try, one final yellow card.

I look forward to seeing more from these teams later in the season as they both put together some tremendous, powerful rugby, with skilled, fast backs

STANFORD Women 49 – California 30 Referee: James Hinkin
With much of the country struggling with rain and snow - even to the point of delaying some meaningless baseball games - I arrived at Stanford Sunday with both teams prepared to struggle with temperatures in the high 70s and clear blue skies. We somehow found the courage to go on.

For an early pre-season match both sides had combined their rookies for a camp/scrimmage which was just finishing up when I arrived. The veterans were warming up and the captains decided on three 20 minute periods of 10 a side rugby and (much to Cal's dismay) uncontested scrums. Stanford elected to defend the right half (facing away from the clubhouse) and when Cal kicked off, made one pass and sprinted the length of the field for a try. Cal replied within minutes with a long breakaway of their own and Stanford took their turn for a third 60+ meter breakaway try in the first 5 minutes. After that the teams decided that some defense is also part of playing rugby and the game settled down. The play seesawed back and forth with Cal finishing the first period up 15-10.

The second period saw much of the same with both sides evenly matched. The game suffered for rhythm as subs were liberally brought on and teammates got used to each other again. The second period finished with 2 tries apiece and brought the day's tally to 25-20.

The third period was a completely different game as Stanford brought in their speed players and Cal had no counter. Four tries to Stanford and the first conversions of the day against one try to Cal brought the total to a lopsided 49-30. Both teams showed some of the character that could define them for the season with Stanford using speed to outflank opponents and Cal using power and ball control to dominate. But then again, things can change a lot in a few months. It will be interesting to see how these team match up in the winter.


The captains’ meeting was called for 7:30 AM, with kick-offs set for eight.

Your writer arrived at 7:15, having driven most of the way around Monterey Bay in dense pre-dawn fog, headlights and windshield wipers a-working. Ascending the hill to the pitch the road emerged atop the marine layer.

Four teams were warming up, doing passing drills, running to and fro. Four college rugby teams were eager to begin their Rugby Day ahead of Sol’s arrival.

At 7:26 the sun stuck his nose over the horizon, sensed a beautiful clear day ahead, and climbed out of bed. What was a dark gray, forbidding fog from the inside became from above a brilliant white bed of matted cotton insulating the waters of the Monterey Bay.

Play ball!

Ten college teams played in two pools while five B sides were separated. The tournament did not keep scores or standings but of course the referees did: the only undefeated teams were Long Beach State, Sierra College B and San Jose State B.

Earlier in the day it looked like Sierra College and San Jose State’s A sides were the class of the tournament, so a match was arranged between them at the end of the day, which San Jose State won, 24-12.

However, neither of these teams played Long Beach, who went home 3-0, and when San Jose State heard about this fourth added match, they played their B side as their A side and dropped one.

Is this confusing? Maybe that’s why the Slugs didn’t want to track the results.

The men’s college D2 should be very competitive this year, with Reno dropping down and these other teams improving.

The tournament provided two athletic trainers, capable and delightful young women with the enchanting names of Mercedes Evangelista and Aphrodite Daphnis. Two angels on a rugby pitch from heaven!

The referees, a solidly terrestrial crew, were: Mike King, Pete Smith, Eric Rauscher, Sandy Robertson, Mark Godfrey, Rod Chance, Bruce Bernstein, Chris Labozzetta and Bruce Carter.

Mike King’s report:
UC Santa Cruz Slugfest

General comment: it was exciting to see so many new players to the game, in their early learning phase with obvious potential and a great interest in improving.

SF STATE 14 – Santa Clara B 7
Early round match with a solid showing by both sides. SFSU controlled play for most of the first half, with the novice Santa Clara side coming into its own in the second.

UC SANTA CRUZ 28 – UC Davis B 0
The hosts were more experienced with the flow of the game and struck quickly to send the message to the brand new players of this young UC Davis side. To their credit the visitors did not back down or give up. When they trade some of their American football instincts for the freer-flowing pace of rugby, they undoubtedly will see improvement in the score.

UC Santa Cruz 7 – SF STATE 12
The host side sent a less experienced group of players into this match, but they held their own. Again, SF State seemed to keep the attack in tight, but occasionally sent the ball wide. Both sides counterattacked with some success gaining ground.


ALL BLUES 82 – Oregon Rugby Sports Union 10 Referee: Joe Androvich
ARs: John Coppinger and Rich Anderson
On a rare sunny, windless morning on Treasure Island, the All Blues closed out their undefeated season with a victory over visiting ORSU.

The All Blues scored five tries in the first half but missed all their conversion attempts.

In the second half, the All Blues dotted the ball down closer to the goal posts, netting six conversions in their nine tries. ORSU scored two well-earned tries with strong, consistent pressure on the All Blues goal line at 50 minutes, and a long run by its fullback at 63 minutes.

The observers, which included Bryan Porter, Dixon Smith and Dave Williamson, noted a spirited competition between the ARs to see which one could raise his touch flag the highest.


The first round and quarterfinals for D1 were played in Boston this past weekend.

The NorCal Triple Threat lost to the Glendale Lady Raptors 20-0 on Saturday but came back to defeat Chicago North Shore 10-7 in the consolation game Sunday.

The four top-seeded teams all won and will advance to the semifinals.


Treasure Island will host the best rugby clubs in the USA the first weekend in November when the Women’s Premier League and D1 competitions decide their champions.

In D1, San Diego will face Atlanta and Seattle will take on NOVA. These games will be played on Friday, November 6.

The WPL teams will play off for a Cup and a Bowl. Cup teams are the All Blues, Beantown, New York and Minnesota Valkyries. Those contesting the Bowl will be Keystone, Twin Cities Amazons, ORUS and Washington, DC.

Six games will be played each day on Friday, November 6, and Sunday, November 8. Paul Bretz and Joe Androvich will be among the referees for the event.

With this schedule, ideally we should have four or more Pelicans on hand each day to serve as Assistant Referees. Two have raised a feathered appendage so far. Let us know if you can take that Friday off and/or migrate out for some Sunday rugger.


The season takes on a proper length with the addition of the South Bay Barbarians. League play will commence on January 9, with the final week of the regular season being April 24. There are off-weeks for Presidents’ Day and Easter.

Each team will play twelve league matches. SFGG’s super league side will have friendlies against all of the teams except the Barbarians and the Sacramento Capitals.

The league leader gets a bye into the CR1 playoffs May 8, while second, third and fourth playoff against Utah teams on May 1.

Olympic Club
San Mateo
South Bay Barbarians
Hayward Griffins
Sacramento Lions
Sacramento Capitals
Reno Zephyrs

There are an even dozen teams with several having moved up from D3. They will play a round-robin schedule beginning January 30 and ending April 24, with St. Valentine’s Day and Easter weekends off.

The top three teams advance to the Pacific Coast playoffs May 1.

East Palo Alto – defending USA Rugby champions
Diablo Gaels
Santa Rosa
BA Baracus
Arroyo Grande

D3: Eleven teams will play a round-robin in the third division. Two new teams join the league: Redwood Empire out of Sonoma County, and the Saints from San Bruno.

They start on January 9 and finish on March 27, with the Las Vegas Sevens weekend off. Then, after taking Easter weekend off, the top six finishers will have playoffs over the next three weekends which lead to the PCRFU playoffs on May 1.

East Palo Alto U23
Diablo U23
Berkeley RFC
San Francisco Fog


The NCRRS offered some courses at the California Maritime Academy this past weekend, courtesy of new Commandant Bob Destafney, who is a member of our Society.

On Saturday, Dixon Smith and Mike Malone presented the Level One referee course to nine students. On Sunday, Bruce Carter and Mike Malone held the Touch Judging and Assistant Referees courses to seven attendees, some of whom had spent the day before in the same room.

If the past holds as a guide to the future, we’ll hear from half a dozen folks this week who want to know when we’ll be teaching these courses. The answer is: November 14 and 15 in West Sacramento.

If you see a new face at a game or tournament, introduce yourself and make our fledglings feel at home.

From Pat McNally:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we all know, USA Sevens has packed up shop and moved to Las Vegas. Now, after meeting and talking with the folks at USA Sevens, I am pleased to invite all referees to the 2010 Las Vegas Invitational Rugby Tournament on February 11th, 12th and 13th (Saturday morning), preceding the USA Sevens. This year’s event will include all the divisions we have come to know and love (Men’s and Women’s, Sevens and Fifteens, Youth and Masters), but will also include the Championship Cup Series playoffs. The LVI Tournament will be held on the pitches outside Sam Boyd Stadium, location of the USA Sevens. More Tournament information can be found at:

All referees who will be in the Las Vegas area on Thursday, February 11th and/or Friday, February 12th are welcome to join in. Last year, there were over 70 teams in attendance and this year will be even bigger. The move to Las Vegas has also attracted the interest of some international touring teams. An expanded Invitational Tournament and the Championship Cup Series playoffs (no word on an International Women’s Sevens Tournament, yet) means we will need all the help we can get. All are invited and there will a place for EVERYONE (including touch judges and number fours).

While I doubt that Las Vegas would ever run out of hotel rooms, it would be a very smart move to look into accommodations as soon as possible. The Hard Rock Hotel will be the Tournament HQ Hotel, but USA Sevens has arranged discounts at hotels throughout the Las Vegas area. Hooter’s has rooms as low as $49 a night and even The Palms has some rooms for $79. Wherever you seek reservations, make sure you ask for the USA Sevens Tournament rate (see for more information).

I will be passing on more tournament information as it becomes available. Please feel free to pass this email onto anyone you think might be interested.

Please contact me by email, telephone, or snail mail if you are interested and available, or just need more information.

Hope to see you on a pitch somewhere soon,
Patrick McNally
National Sevens Referee Manager, USA Rugby

If you would like to referee or AR at this event, let Pat know:


From the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine:
“Pertinent in this regard is a study by Liu and colleagues,3 which suggests that a single precursor cell is responsible for generating metastatic disease. These researchers initiated the Project to Eliminate Lethal Prostate Cancer (PELICAN) in 1994, in which men with prostate cancer were asked to donate their bodies in the event of death from their disease.”

Coaches and Captain Panel
At our recent annual training meeting, Joe Leisek moderated a panel discussion with St. Mary’s Captain Andrew Cook, the California Maritime Academy’s Coach, Edward Roberts, and Elsie Allen’s coach, Alan Petty.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, October 21, 2009




Sixteen teams are signed up to play all day on two pitches starting at 7:30 AM.

At present we have four refs – that’s six games each spread from dawn till dusk. Much better to have eight refs, either working the morning or the afternoon, doing three games over a five hour period and then being free the rest of the day.

Please let us know if you would like to ref a half-day, say AM or PM, or if you’d like to stay for the day enjoying the finest view in rugby pitches anywhere.


Treasure Island will host the best rugby clubs in the USA the first weekend in November when the Women’s Premier League and D1 competitions decide their champions.

Six games will be played each day on Friday, November 6, and Sunday, November 8. Paul Bretz and Joe Androvich will be among the referees for the event.

With this schedule, ideally we should have four or more Pelicans on hand each day to serve as Assistant Referees. Two have raised a feathered appendage so far. Let us know if you can take that Friday off and/or migrate out for some Sunday rugger.


Forty bright shining faces were all in their places the morning of October 17th, a lovely edition of a St. Mary’s Saturday.

Dave Williamson organized a day of training focused on the tackle, where great rugby games and referees are made.

Pete Smith reviewed the Law, demonstrated body positions, made extensive use of a convenient dummy and showed what the players are attempting to achieve. This was supplemented by some video footage with on-screen ‘commentary’ provided by USA Referee Panel Manager Richard Every.

Some on-field exercises helped to indent these lessons into muscle memory.

Chris Tucker and Aruna Ranaweera spoke about their referee experiences in Mexico and South Africa, respectively, with photo illustrations enough to make an ambitious ref dream.

Joe Leisek conducted a panel discussion on the tackle as described below.

Preston Gordon reviewed and provided examples of dangerous tackles, with apropos guidelines for adjudicating them properly.

Daniel Kamenetzky summarized this experience and progress of his Referee-Specific Fitness Project over the past year.

Shared Perspectives on the Tackle
Report by Dave Williamson

Two coaches, Alan Petty (Elsie Allen) and Edward Roberts (Cal Maritime), and a player (St. Mary's captain Andrew Cook) joined us at our annual meeting to discuss the tackle. Joe Leisek moderated the panel

Alan acknowledged each ref is different in what he allows at the tackle. He even discusses referees' differences in his pre-match meetings with players. What he is looking for is a consistent standard from each referee set early in the match. He said players will adjust.

Edward seeks not only consistency during each match, but consistency throughout the Society and the nation. He predicted we would see longer (north-south), narrower rucks to secure the ball after the tackle, which will highlight any attempts to disrupt possession by side-joining.

Andrew seeks respectful interaction between himself and the referee both before and during the match. He emphasized clarity and consistency.

The Society very much appreciates the opportunity to meet with coaches and players to share perspectives.


At the Annual General Meeting of the NCRRS a new board of directors was selected for the next two years.

Tom Zanarini and Preston Gordon join returning members Bruce Carter, Pete Smith and Scott Wood. The Board selected Bruce Carter to continue as President, now entering his second decade in his dream job.

The Society would like to acknowledge the service of David Williamson and Joe Leisek and thank them for their contributions. We suspect they will continue to serve the best referee society from sea to shining sea in many and varied ways.


If you have registered with USA Rugby and paid your CIPP, please go to the ‘club roster’ for the Northern California Rugby Referee Society and see if you are included. If you are not, let us know.

Bjorn Stumer registered. Searching for his name, you’ll see that he’s listed with the NCRRS. But looking at our roster, you won’t find him.

We need to know if other folks fall into this same category so that the problem can be fixed.


CHICO STATE 55 – Humboldt State 8 Referee: Don Pattalock
Chico State controlled (dominated) the contact and the game just rolled their way after that. Good run, good weather and a good start to the new season.

Seconds: Chico State – Humboldt State Ref: Pattalock
The second-side game was a full 80 minutes (160 for the ref on the day) and it was a spirited affair with the winner in doubt right up until, uh, now, since the ref didn’t keep score.

University of San Francisco 10 – ALUMNI 15 Referee: Sam Davis
A beautiful day in San Francisco the Dons and the Old Dons came to play. USF had a number of new players with no experience playing rugby. The old Dons had 16 players ;-) Old age, skill and treachery over came youth and some skill. We played 3/ 20 min periods with no goal posts. Old Boys 15 Young boys 10.


The host UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs welcomed UC Davis, Sacramento State and Slomboldt to their breath-taking sunlit pitch floating above the fog-enshrouded Monterey Bay on Sunday.

UCSC was nice enough to work with the referee society so as not to conflict with our annual meeting the day before.

Humboldt State thought the tournament was to be played on Saturday, as per usual rugby protocol, and not all of their players could bivouac an extra day. Reinforcements were called in, naturally enough from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and thus the Slomboldt side.

Rich Anderson, Bruce Carter and John Pohlman each refereed two rookie-rich games. The Slugs had 45 players on hand; the other NorCal schools well over a full side. Unlimited in-and-out substitutions were allowed. The referees increased the tolerances on their minor-infractionometers and turned up the clarity on their explanatory apparatus.

UC DAVIS 22 – UC Santa Cruz 0 Referee: Bruce Carter
Santa Cruz ran a rookie-rich side, frequently replenished, as the classroom on the pitch commenced.

Davis didn’t need as much instruction, particularly in the backline where they ran amok.

SACRAMENTO STATE 21 – Slomboldt 7 Referee: Rich Anderson

SLOMBOLDT 19 – UC Davis 7 Ref: Carter
Humboldt has a #8 whose name we did not get, but who has played competitive soccer to this point. She stands out on a rugby field, always is near the ball, and we wish her every opportunity and success and in the future now that she’s found our game.

SACRAMENTO STATE 15 – UC Santa Cruz 0 Ref: Anderson

Report by John Pohlman:
I got the call around 10:30 AM Sunday morning. Looked like the Slugfest had more games scheduled than originally foreseen, at least by the Pelicans.

Bruce Carter and Rich Anderson showed up around 9:00AM. They were hoping I could do the 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM games. Both had children with them and wives at home cooking dinner. At least that's the story I heard.

I had told Bruce on Saturday I didn't want to spend the whole day at the tournament. Still some last minute honey-do's and husband points to work on prior to the season starting. So getting there around 2:00PM worked.

SLOBOLDT 10 – UC Santa Cruz 5 Referee: John Pohlman
My first game was UCSC playing SLOBOLDT (combo of Humboldt and SLO). The Slugs were playing allot of younger experienced players. This was early season rugby. Loads of good tackles and disorganized running.

One of my highlights was having Bruce's ten-year-old grandson Ben run touch. Ben is keen and focused. I said if he saw any foul play to report it to me. Sure enough at half time he said he saw a high tackle. I asked for a number and team and asked him if something like that happened in the second half to put his flag out. In the second half there was a forward pass and I looked over at Ben he had his flag out. I asked if it was for the forward pass and he said yes. Oh well, hopefully he can make it to the touch judge and referee course coming up.

SACRAMENTO STATE 31 – UC Davis 10 Ref: Pohlman
The 4:00 game was between two pretty experienced teams, Sacramento State playing UC Davis.

I started the game forgetting my touch judges had left. Always an embarrassing moment when the ball goes out of bounds and you wonder where the touch judge is and then you remember...

Odd thing was I asked the hooker to hold the ball while I went to get TJ's. When returned, play was going on and about 3 phases had been played. They didn't even miss me. I wondered how long they would have played before they realized they had no ref.

Sac State dominated the first half. They had three runners lead by #13 who would not be tackled by anything less than a committed hard tackler. Sac State scored five trys. UC Davis played hard and got a confidence boosting try at the end of the first half. UC Davis played much better in the second half and Sac's hard runners spun the ball to younger players.

I gave my first yellow card for repeat high tackles to Sacramento State late in the second half. If I had my ace TJ there it may have come sooner.

Tee shirt of the day: "Women play rugby, chicks watch". Go girl.

Report by John Coppinger

Santa Clara moved its alumni game to the fall to coincide with the annual reunion weekend.

The weekend kicked off Friday evening with a rugby alumni dinner in the SCU Faculty Club attended by over a 100 people, with SCUTS from the past four decades in attendance, and a grand time was had by all. The guest of honor was Richard Coz, S. J., a retired Jesuit priest, who served as the faculty moderator/counselor/friend/confessor/advocate for SCUTS players for many years. University President Michael Engh, S. J. stopped by to welcome the former SCUTS back to campus and to remind them not to linger too long.

On Saturday, the alumni gathered to face the current SCUTS in the annual Coz Cup match, as the alumni game is called. SCUTS Coach Chris Kron choose to mix his veterans with the younger SCUTs and the Alumni ran out 29-17 victors in a good spirited 80-minute match played in four quarters. Notable players for the Alumni were Terry Ryan (Class of 77 and current Bellarmine Prep coach), Ross Malinowski (Class of 79 and former Grizzly standout of the 80's), Rich Kelly, and Joe Domine (Class of 90). Tom Mell made a guest appearance for the Alumni just 5 months after having a lot of titanium installed in his arm to repair a broken humerus (proving that rugby players are not the brightest sometimes), but Rich Anderson was a no-show.


Saturday, October 24 at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo
Saturday, November 14 in West Sacramento

Sunday, October 25 at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo
Sunday, November 15 in West Sacramento

Reply soonest with your interest.


OLD BELVEDERE 29 – Clontarf 22 Referee Brian Gildea
Three Pelicans intersected unexpectedly at Old Belvedere RFC in Dublin, Ireland, this past Saturday for an impromptu flocking.

Tony Redmond, just back from an ERC Referee Coaching in a Gloucester match, his son, Eoin, a former Peninsula Green coach and Brian Gildea, a long-lost Pelican, all crossed paths on the back pitch at Old Belvedere.

Although Clontarf put up a spirited effort and tied the match 22-22 with 10 minutes to go, Belvo always looked to be the better side. The Belvo out-half scored a nice try with two minutes to go off a nice "show and go" move to seal the result.

Of course, Eoin Redmond scored one of Belvedere's tries and Tony had a few post-match words of wisdom for the referee. And we all legged it home to watch the Saints out "street-wise" Munster in the Heineken Cup.


Rugby 7s in 2016 Olympics!! ENHANCE YOUR RUGBY CAREER at USAR Coaching Work¬shops or NCRRS Ref Course IN W. Sacramento, Nov. 14 & 15

Sacramento – The Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation will proudly host Coaching Certification Workshops in West Sacramento, CA, on the weekend of November 14th and 15th. The two USA Rugby workshops, Introducing Rugby and Developing Rugby Skills will be presented at River City High School, now in its first full year of operation in West Sacramento. These are the last two USAR Coaching Work¬shops in the West prior to February 2010.

The Workshops enhance skills at all levels of coaching, and certification is required for head coaches in most local area rugby unions. Fee for the Workshops is $180 until Nov. 1st, $230 until Nov. 11th , and $300 for walk-ins. For registration and advance requirements, please contact and click on “Register for a Coach¬ing Workshop,” or contact Mollie McCarthy at or 303.539.0300 ext 129.

Concurrently, the Foundation is also hosting a Level 1 Referee and Assistant Referee / Touch Judge Course sponsored by the Northern California Rugby Referees Society. For further information, please contact NCRRS at

Convenient lodging has been arranged for out-of-towners at the Courtyard by Marriott, Sacramento Airport Natomas, 2101 River Plaza Drive, Sacramento, CA 95833, located between the Sacramento International Airport and River City High School. The special rate is $79 per person plus tax, including breakfast for two and airport transportation. Contact the hotel at 916-922-1120 (refer to “Coaching Clinic-Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation”) or register directly online at

Local contact: Ray Thompson, 916-972-8977, or

Eales and Gordon
Fresh off selection to the NCRRS Board of Directors, Preston Gordon shares the lens with John Eales, perhaps the most accomplished rugby player ever to have lived. (Two Webb Ellis Cups in the trophy cabinet, one as Captain – who are you putting up against that?)

Preston says he welcomed John to the area on our behalf and in return, Nobody (as in ‘nobody’s perfect’) said thank you and wished us good luck this year.

Semper Bonis Avis.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Monday, October 12, 2009




Rugby’s friend Paul Smith lost his battle with cancer this weekend, passing away peaceably at 3:00 AM Sunday morning.

Paul played rugby at San Jose State and then became part of the Seahawk family, of which he remains now and forevermore.

The Pelican flock enjoyed Paul’s services as a referee in 2007. He had nothing but love for the game, which he conveyed to all he encountered.

Paul is survived by his teenaged son, Tim. We offer what consolation we can to those who grieve, and give thanks for having known such a man. RIP.


This Saturday, October 17, we will be meeting from 10 until 4 in Dante Hall at St. Mary’s in Moraga. Morning beverages and ingestibles will be available for early arrivals.

The focus of the presentations arranged by REO David Williamson will be on the tackle, the crucible where great referees are formed. Joe Leisek will also moderate the annual Coaches’ Panel.

The Annual General Meeting will feature reports on the functioning of our organization and the election of a new five-member Board of Directors for two-year terms.

Please make every effort to attend.


The NCRRS will be offering the IRB/USA Rugby courses for Level One Refereeing and Touch Judge/Assistant Refereeing, each twice over the next five weeks.

This may be the last opportunity to take either of these courses locally until after the 2010 seasons start, maybe even until they have ended. Please spread the word to anyone who may be interested. What normally happens is that we receive a large number of requests to take these courses in the week after they are taught.

Activate now the mechanism by which the rugby community normally hears of these opportunities too late. Let us know of your interest.

It is now possible to register for courses on-line for anyone with CIPP.

Saturday, October 24 at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo
Saturday, November 14 in West Sacramento

Sunday, October 25 at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo
Sunday, November 15 in West Sacramento


We need at least one more referee for the Women’s Slugfest at UC Santa Cruz this coming Sunday, October 18. Play will begin at 10 AM on the lovely pitches overlooking the Monterey Bay.


Your scribe fell in love with this game of ours in the 1970s, his passion quickly leading to perplexity that the rest of the country wasn’t similarly enamored. This led to the conclusion that there were two kinds of sports which, in America, penetrate the public consciousness, the public airwaves, and the pages of periodicals: professional sports and Olympic sports.

Rugby Sevens is going to be an Olympic sport! Even the casual quadrennial sports fan will know what it is we talk about in our workaday world.

What might we expect?

One incontrovertible fact: we will enjoy the Olympic Games more than ever.

An American referee will probably work the event. This worthy, at present, would be 18 to 25 years old, and might not even be refereeing yet.

More US players will earn their living training for and playing rugby. This may happen quite soon. Think of track and field: most Americans only realize that international meets are held every four years, yet scores if not hundreds of US post-graduate athletes make their living doing nothing but. The fact that they ply their trade abroad for the most part never seems to have hurt our medal chances.

It will become easier to recruit athletes from other sports, at least every so often.

In our opinion, Sevens has always belonged at the pinnacle of the sporting pantheon. This will elevate the purest form of Rugby from a summer pastime across the fruited plain. And it certainly does not hamper the development of fifteens in any way.


Nine Pelicans found Mira Loma Park bright and early on a perfect Saturday morning, fresh snow adorning the summit of nearby Mount Rose.

This year’s tournament was dedicated to Tevita ‘Dave’ Valu, a long-time Zephyr who passed away recently. Ruggers of a certain generation will remember Dave for his permanent smile and the fact that he played Prop barefooted, even on frozen ground.

The women’s bracket consisted of Nevada, the Provo Steelers, Sacramento State and the Sacramento Amazons, who went 3 – 0 to win the honors.

The social bracket was won by a brand-new team, Redwood Empire, who will be competing in D3 this season. The other teams were Sierra College, who fielded two sides, and the Zephyr Development squad.

Redwood was coached by Afa Wolfking, who acquitted himself well when injuries necessitated his participation, despite being older than the rest of the players by a factor of three.

The top bracket was contested by the hosts, Hayward, the Sacramento Lions, and two teams from Utah: the Spartans and Provo.

Final: RENO ZEPHYRS 14 – Provo 6 Referee: Bruce Carter
ARs: Rod Chance, Bruce Anderson
Provo took advantage of a yellow card to Reno for an up-ended tackle to go into the halftime ahead by two penalty kicks. Ten minutes short-handed out of a twenty-minute half can do that to a team.

[Editorial comment: The length of sin-bins is intended to be worth an average of one try with evenly-matched teams. This works out to ten minutes in fifteens and two minutes in sevens, and this calculus is not affected by shorter halves – or by longer halves.

[We’ve always been appalled by referees who shorten the length of suspension merely because tournament games are often less eighty minutes.

[Ask yourself: does the sin-bin last two-and-a-half minutes in a Sevens final of ten-minute halves? When the pitch is shorter or narrower than normal, do we accordingly shrink the requirements for back ten meters at penalties or line-out throws having to travel five meters?

[Proportion is a beautiful thing in human physiognomy and architecture. Leave it out of the sin bin.]

But Reno’s power running game resulted in second-half tries, one from the forwards working it in by inches, the other by Nelo Lui setting his backs free to put the game on ice with no time left.

Comfortable Refereeing
Bruce Anderson coaches the Nevada men’s team and referees when he can.

Obviously, refereeing wears him out.

This is also the last known photograph of the Big Bird, who flew the coop during the main final.

Someone appears not to understand what this foul fowl represents: ‘noteworthy’ accomplishments by otherwise-competent referees who are given the dubious honor of lugging this awkward icon around.

Bruce Carter was given it for being Dead Wrong in Public, mis-quoting Sevens Law of all things!

The task of furthering Big Bird’s peregrinations is thus simplified: the one who stole it is hereby sentenced to possess it.

Poetic justice is found in that the miscreant can only rid himself of it by admitting his felony!


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, October 07, 2009




Dave Ellis is the newest Pelican, having registered, paid his dues, and signed up for the Level One and TJ/AR courses that will be taught later this month at the Maritime Academy.

Dave has been coaching Shasta/Redding most recently. Before that he coached in Santa Rosa. And all along he's taken up the whistle when the occasion demanded.

We are happy to have a Far Northern California cousin!

There are a number of tournaments to be played over the next two months. We encourage all of our newer referees to attend - these are perfect for novices and beginners: short halfs, not as much at stake, senior referees to act as Assistant Referees and plenty of referee coaches on hand. PLEASE REPLY WITH YOUR AVAILABILITY FOR THE NEXT TWO MONTHS. Nobody knows you're ready to ref unless you send in the dates.


Budd Bay has canceled their scheduled trip to Sacramento to play the Triple Threat and the Amazons this weekend.

That leaves the Reno Tournament as the only game in town. Eight refs for four pitches. Any help would be appreciated, and you’d get something out of it, too!


For those who would like to get a run in the weekend of our annual conference, the Women’s Slugfest will be held on two pitches at UC Santa Cruz beginning at 9 AM on Sunday, October 18.


Sacramento State was scheduled to play Southern Oregon University on Saturday. We had a referee and two ARs appointed.

But Southern Oregon had only a handful of players registered on the USA Rugby website and admitted that they wouldn’t have fifteen certified by game day. So they scrubbed the trip after being advised that no-one would ref it.

Southern Oregon is scheduled to play Chico State, two sides, on October 24. They will need thirty players registered by then.

Please do not think we are picking on SOU just to be mean: this is a cautionary tale for our NorCal teams: you need a roster’s worth of players listed on the USA CIPP database and the match card in order to be able to play a game of rugby.

They’re all gonna be registered by the time the league seasons start; why not sign them up now?

Speaking of which:


Badgering our membership does not come easily, and the creative juices sour at running the same item week after week.

But with only about half of our active membership on good terms with USA Rugby, the badgering will continue until morale improves:

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.


A volunteer is sought to assume responsibility for holding and distributing our selection of NCRRS kit. Joe Leisek has mid-wifed and nursed this project, which is quite a task.

There are many aspects to running a successful referee society. The ranks of workers and leaders (usually the same folks) need constantly to be refilled to sustain our progress as a whole.

If you would be willing to help out, please let us know. Regular attendance at our training meetings is a must in order to be able to distribute the materials. Your first day on the job would be October 17, the date of our annual meeting.


Sac State PROBABLES 49 – Sac State Possibles 10 Referee: Chris Tucker
This should read Sac State 28 - 27 Southern Oregon in a nail-biter in front of a sizeable crowd out enjoying the early Autumn weather, with the home team coming from behind as time expired. Of course that would require the Raiders to have registered more than 3 players with USAR, and as it was the 40 or so hopefuls who turned up to play divided into those likely to make the team vs. those with a chance of doing so.

The Probables did not make a good start -- the Possibles won a scrum off a knocked-on kickoff, and spun it right to the outside centre, who collected the easiest try he'll ever get, through a defensive line with a 10 yard hole in it. I ran through behind him and gave the try. 5-0 after 2 minutes. Thereafter the Probs warmed up and started putting together more possession, and gradually overcame the stubborn defence of their teammates-turned-opponents. 17-10 after the first 30 minute period became 37-10 after 60 and 49-10 after a third period of 20 mins to round out the afternoon. But some of the Possibles showed well and wouldn't surprise if they get their starts.

Overall it was good practice for both the players and the ref -- speed is a lot faster than the women, and there are many more bodies around on the floor than 7s, most up to no good! And Sac State should show well this year if they can build on a good start.

SF Fog 0 – SAN DIEGO SURFERS 74 Referee: Pete Smith
No report received.

Sacramento Amazons 7 – NORCAL TRIPLE THREAT 54 Referee: R. Scott Wood
ARs: Eugene Baker, Rod Chance
Location: Chorley Park, Sacramento
Weather: Perfect
Norcal was present with plenty of numbers; Amazons fielded 13 to start. The pitch was in relatively good condition, especially considering the ground squirrel-created craters and burrows that must have served on the set of Tremors surrounding the field. Norcal kicked off and the Amazons maintained possession for a bit demonstrating great resolve and a talented attack. Unfortunately, the hosts lacked numbers and/or adequate supported and lost the ball when isolated. Norcal scored six tries (five converted) in the first half. Sacramento depleted its ranks at the 25th and 30th minute with two sin bins, professional foul and penalty try, respectively. However, they were able to bolster their ranks to 14 before the end of the half.

Amazons opened the second half by immediately scoring a try. Norcal, having put in a handful of subs to give members playing time, scored two converted tries. The second half opened up more space and possession ping-ponged. Knock-ons and forward passes finished off the game.

Thanks to both teams playing with great spirit and tenacity. Kudos to the Assistant Referees for their input. A tip of the hat to my fiancee/chauffeur/#1 fan in the sun for her company and feedback.

San Jose State scrimmage Referee: John Pohlman
After five months off from 15 a side rugby I was "back in the saddle again". Sorry but I always wanted to use that saying.

San Jose State was having a scrimmage. It was encouraging that SJS had the numbers to play a scrimmage. Head coach Dean White is building a program which should compete very well this year.

I arrived around 10:00AM for a 11:00 AM start. The goal posts were up and padded. The field was mostly marked. What surprised me was Dean still had not arrived. Last year Dean would have been the one organizing the field. Players were showing up on bicycles, skate boards and foot.

SJS has 41 players already CIPPed. I think that is more than the Pelicans.

Dean has two assistant coaches. The coaches had hoped for a modified touch tackle format. I was opposed to the format. Players have a hard time moving from touch to tackle and back. So we agreed to three 20 minute periods of tens. This gave the three separate sides two games each. I was asked to be a bit instructional in my enforcement of the laws. After cleaning up players on the ground, the only thing a player on the ground can do is either move away from the ball or get to your feet, period. We then started working on arriving through the gates. The player mix was freshman to senior with beginners mixed in with veterans. The players responded great. Even when my calls did not go their way, players responded with discipline. Good stuff, guys.

After the tens was over, I suggested we play at least 15 minutes of 15's, hey everybody seemed to be having fun. The coaches totally agreed. We settled on two 15 to 20 minute periods. The time was left to my discretion depending on play, fatigue and disciple.

So we played two 20's. I think it ended in a 12 to 12 tie. But since it was unofficial, I feel I skated on buying beers for my fellow referees. I may need a ruling prior to our Pelicans preseason training camp in two weeks though.

The SJS program looks to be taking another step forward. I urge the alumni to get involved and support a competitive program.

Chico State Alumni Game Referee: Jim Roberts
No report received.

ALL BLUES 34 – Minnesota Valkyries 17 Referee: Davey Ardrey
ARs: Pete Smith, Bruce Carter
Referee Coach: Bryan Porter

This was a physical and entertaining match, with lots of big hits and hauled-down would-be breakaways.

Both teams feature WNT players and pretenders thereto. Eagle Coach Kathy Flores was on hand to scout them.

Counter-rucking was a theme. The Valkyries often blew completely through rucks, but usually with a solo player acting alone. The ruck simply bound up again like a self-sealing tire and the player was offside. Two at a time would have won some turnover ball.

The All Blues were never headed, but spent most of the game from five to twelve points in the lead, the Valkyries always threatening. The final score was the largest margin of the match.

Unfortunately most of the spectators arrived about the time the match ended due to two factors: an incorrect starting time posted somewhere (not Pelicanrefs) and work on the Bay Bridge narrowing the west-bound lower deck to three lanes. (Funny how it was closed for almost a week last month and supposedly they caught up on maintenance.)


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!

Ball Boy Heaven
Referee Davey Ardrey with ball boy Benjamin Bruce Bravo, Sunday morning on Treasure Island, a fine occasion for an aspiring rugger.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris