Saturday, November 28, 2009




Hennie Strydom and Stephen Moore each did their first match this past weekend, were evaluated, and passed muster as our newest C3 Pelicans!

We also have promotions on the table for Dave Ellis and Mark Godfrey to C3, so a bumper weekend by any measure!

Congratulations to these gentlemen. See you at the Society meeting December 9.


Newlywed Scott Wood has a mea culpa:
“We need somebody with database skills and some creative artistic flair to create, maintain, etc a mo-better site. It is taking too much of my now extremely limited time (and ability).”

Is this your chance to step up and join those folks who make our Society happen?


Not only did the Eagles defeat Uruguay last Saturday to win their qualifying series 2-0, all four tries were scored by men who played their college rugby in Northern California.

Perhaps our readers have refereed Todd Clever (College Park and Nevada), Lou Stanfill (Jesuit and California) and Kevin Swiryn (St. Mary’s).


Be thankful for your turkey and go run it off elsewhere.

There will be one game this Saturday, November 28, 1 PM at Rocca Field. Phil Akroyd will referee the Golden Gate high school alumni game, with graduates of even-numbered years going up against the hated odd-numbered years.


There were 49 games played last weekend, mostly of course shortened tournament games.

But December 5, 12 and 19 should each have a dozen or more full matches (the 12th already does) and we’ll need more refs than have currently provided their availability.

I don’t need to know if you cannot ref, but I certainly need to know it you can. Assumptions ‘R Us (NOT).


Seconds: Stanford 24 – SAN JOSE STATE 25 Referee: Hennie Strydom
AR: Prys Hughes
Referee Coach: David Williamson
No report received.

STANFORD 19 – San Jose State 5 Referee: Pete Smith
AR: Prys Hughes
On a cool and misty night SJSU made the 20-minute trek north to Stanford to play a heated game under the lights. After an extensive fall season, the Spartans wanted to test themselves against the Cardinal. Both teams came out and showed their athleticism with crunching tackles and fast play around the pitch. Unfortunately the damp conditions proved to be the equalizer to both teams as neither could finish their plentiful scoring opportunities.

Despite trying to let every marginal knock on go, it was still a scrum fiesta and Stanford held a slim 5-0 lead at halftime. SJSU missed two penalty kicks and narrowly missed a drop goal that would have had the Spartans in the lead.

Early in the second half Stanford capitalized on a quick tap penalty and dotted down for a converted try to push the lead to 12. The Spartans fought back and scored a well earned try to make it a one score affair at 12-5. Late in the second half the Spartans were pressing and forced to play with a reckless style that unfortunately caused a turnover leading directly to the clinching try for the Cardinal.

Despite being beaten, the Spartans did not quit and with no time left, they almost scored the try of the night on a perfect chip and chase from their speedy winger that bounced perfectly into his arms. He was tackled about 15 meters short of the line where he off loaded to a teammate, but alas, as was the theme of the night for SJSU, the pass was well forward and that was that.



Report by Bjorn Stumer:
A break in the weather regaled us with a beautiful sunny day of Rugby at the Chico Classic tournament. On tap a couple of dozens of matches for 8 referees, and an assessor, who assembled there at eight o' clock in the morning. After a beautiful drive from the Bay Area, once the sun came up and after the fog, I kitted up and was ready to go on with the second set of matches. Three fields were in use - one regulation size, one smaller, and one very small and narrow and lacking posts.

1. Sacramento State women 5 – NEVADA 10
Reno walked away with this fast paced match, not aided by the small size of the field and the lack of goal posts. No conversions or penalty kicks at the posts were therefore taken. I did not recognize many faces in the Sac State side, a sign that they are in a rebuilding mode, with new blood replacing the ladies who have moved on. They were no match for the obviously more experienced Reno side, but gained composure in the second half and kept the scoring gap small. I was surprised by the skills exhibited by both sides, and enjoyed what overall was a fun match. As usual the ladies did our sport proud.

2. CHICO 15 – Mendocino 0
Two fit, fast, and very determined sides battled it out, alas again on the small pitch. Chico was obviously the stronger side, but Mendocino really surprised me by their skills and grit, and will make a name for themselves in their league soon. The small pitch did not allow for long runs, and therefore this became a percussive slow moving match with many tackles and mauls. A great, great game witnessed by a goodish crowd of spectators. Crunching tackles, effective mauling, and quick ball out of the rucks ensured fun for all. No conversions or penalty kicks at the (non-existing) posts were taken.

3. SAN FRANCISCO FOG Women 26 – Sacramento State 0
There were a lot of new faces, youth, and speed on the FOG team, a side that is continuously improving and is sure to become one of the top women's team in our region. The match was played on a good pitch with posts, something that the FOG capitalized on by putting in three conversions to their tries. The FOG had just too much speed and skill, and came with plenty reserves. This proved too much for the inexperienced Sac. State ladies which, however, put on a brave fight. Nice clean match with lots of scoring and plenty of good runs. Well done to both sides.

CHICO 26 – BA Baracus 24 Referee: Phil Akroyd
A great game to get the tourney started. Baracus came out the strongest in their first game of the day, while Chico were playing their second. Baracus put up three unanswered tries before Chico came back with one to make it 7-24 at the half. It looked like that may be too much to come back from with only 20 minute halves, but Baracus didn’t post another score for the rest of the game and Chico got into their rhythm and clawed back a lead of 26-24, at which point the next game had to start and the contest came to a close. Looks like that would be a great game to ref if and when these two meet again in the regular season.

NEVADA women 10 – Humboldt State 0 Ref: Akroyd
The Reno ladies missed their first game due to a late start, so this was their first match. The game was slow to get started, due in the main to a long delay from a concussion and possible neck injury to one of the Humboldt front rowers. With most of the first half lost, the second half went until the final three minutes before UNR scored after sustained pressure on the Humboldt line. Humboldt were keen to come back as they were only down by 5, but on the restart they kicked directly to a Reno forward who passed it out to the right wing who charged right back over the line to secure a win. As a side note, some of the highest quality tackling that I saw at the whole tournament came from the Humboldt number eight.

RENO ZEPHYRS 45 – Santa Rosa 0 Ref: Akroyd
In contrast to the previous game, the pace of play was quite astounding. Reno came out with amazing power and speed and blasted into Santa Rosa. The captain and open side (Lo?) got most of their tries – I counted five of their seven coming from him. The power and speed was present throughout the whole team and forced Santa Rosa into capitulation. It has to be said that Santa Rosa were by no means a bad team. They, too, were actually very good but could not match the Zephyrs in terms of physical size and speed. They even asked at one point if Reno could “bring on some slow white guys”.

RENO ZEPHYRS 12 – Chico State 7 Ref: Akroyd
This was an interesting game. It was not on the schedule but both teams really wanted to play each other so we squeezed it in at the end of the day. The light was fading fast, and the beer that had been consumed throughout the day by the spectators was making itself heard. We managed to get in forty minutes of non-stop play, with three tries scored in that time, a number of instances of players getting to know each other off the ball and more chat than Instant Messenger. It would have been interesting to see how this worked out over eighty, but I’m pretty sure it would have ended with fewer than thirty men on the field but with lots of fast, physical rugby displayed. Overall, a very good little tournament.

RENO 22 – BA Baracus 5 Referee: Rich Boyer
Reno played a very physical, expansive game. Baracus were brave, but unable to match Reno's pace and power. Reno #7, #13 and #15 were especially impressive on the run.

SIERRA COLLEGE over U. of San Francisco Ref: Boyer
This was a very active game, with some players new to the game on either side. Sierra College were more adventurous, tossed the ball more, and as a result scored more tries. USF would not quit, but Sierra College prevailed.

Games refereed by Mike King:
SHASTA 24 – Mendocino 7
SIERRA COLLEGE 40 – Mendocino 5

EAST PALO ALTO 48 – SB Barbarians 19 Referee: Preston Gordon
Saturday was a perfect day for rugby on the peninsula - clear and cool. I turned up at the 49ers Academy field at noon for a 1300 kickoff to find a couple dozen kids having a Pop Warner practice session. The pitch itself still needs some work, but EPA has started putting large pieces of grass turf on it and at this point there's a large new area of grass in the middle of it, where the worst part was last year. It's a good improvement.

Both sides had good numbers present, perhaps 25 for the Barbarians and 50 for EPA. Since this was not a league game, and the coaches wanted to have a look at everyone, we decided to play four 25-minute quarters with open subs.

As I was finishing my warm-up 2 of the football coaches remarked that they'd never seen a ref do anything before a game except get out of his car, get dressed, and have a cup of coffee. I suggested that they stick around for a few minutes afterwards to see why (they obviously weren't disappointed since they stayed for the whole game and were impressed with the intensity of the game and the amount of running involved).

Since we were on island time, we started around 1310. Both sides had to work off the rust, and while the game was pretty fast, there was no shortage of knock-ons, scrums, and line-outs.

EPA got the first try after some general confusion due to the lack of lines on the field (the goal "line" was marked by cones on one end and flags on the other). The first quarter ended at 5-0.

The second quarter opened up more as the teams settled into their rhythm. The Barbarians were awarded a penalty try (converted) after some great backline play was stopped just short of the goal line by a high tackle. EPA also did some great work through the forwards and backs and scored 4 more tries (2 converted) to make it 29-7 halfway through.

The third quarter was pretty even at one try apiece, with EPA converting theirs (36-12). By this point the ball was being recycled out of the tackle pretty quickly by both sides and moved back and forth across the pitch. We also spent about 5 minutes in a ping-pong contest as each back three competed for territory.

The last quarter was also pretty evenly matched, with lots of line breaks at pace and hard hitting by the forwards. EPA edged out the scoring in this period with 2 tries to 1 (1 conversion each) to close the match at 48-19. Both of these sides look very good this early in the pre-season and should be competitive in whatever divisions they'll be playing in.

UC SANTA CRUZ women 41 – Santa Clara 15 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Santa Cruz showed excellent support play while generally dominating a young Santa Clara squad. Though Santa Cruz dominated possession, Santa Clara made the most of its opportunities with 3 good tries.

UC Santa Cruz men 27 – APTOS 58 Referee: Bruce Carter
A storm front whistled through Northern California on Friday evening. Lucky for rugby, it was in a minor key and left nothing but clarity behind.

There’s no better place to witness a clear sky than from Heaven’s Pitch on UC Santa Cruz. You can see halfway to LA and a third of the way to Hawaii.

And with the university having installed a fence all the way around the pitch that keeps poachers, squatters and players-of-fortune off of it, it has never been in better shape.

Vaughn Stumpf has returned to coach Aptos, after sidelines as a referee and as a former rugby person without portfolio. Whether their resurgence will be due to him or to a very dynamic set of players who slotted into the back row of the scrum will wait to be seen.

The Slugs are having a good preseason. Their offense springs from the precision kicking and incisive passing of their #10, Captain Tyler Pritchard. He threw a beautiful cutout pass to his #13 that opened up a green highway to the tryline to make it 10-10 midway through the first half.

Aptos was ahead 17 – 10 at the half when the ref was asked by an Aptos partisan why Aptos wasn’t further in the lead. His analysis was that Pritchard’s long kicks were finding only one player back in defense with no-one to pass to, thus allowing two or even one of the Slugs to tie it up and force Aptos to play from scrimmage.

Perhaps referees should value their opinions more dearly. Whether this information was communicated to the Aptos XV, those same long kicks that had led to static ball now found hands with others in support and counterattack was the order of the last forty.

There were ten trys in the second half, but seven belonged to the visitors with their back row accounting for much of the damages.


Of note in this game: this is the second novel use I’ve seen made of the opponents’ ‘huddle’, the two being just over 20 years apart.

The first takes me down memory lane, assisted by my diary, to my first season of refereeing. February 20, 1989: Old Blues hosting the University of Victoria from Wellington, New Zealand.

The Old Blues wanted to huddle prior to throwing in at their first lineout. I’d never seen this before, and neither had the visitors – so they wandered over to join the huddle and see what was being discussed.

Some of the Blues glared at me until I said, “The ball’s dead. They can stand anywhere they want to.”

We didn’t have any more huddles that day.

November 21, 2009: UC Santa Cruz hosting Aptos. Aptos scored a try off a busted play, a lucky try really because several players had misplayed their parts. The coach called for a huddle while the conversion was taken.

The conversion was taken and missed while Aptos huddled over against the touchline.

The Banana Slugs fielded the missed kick, sprinted up and restarted against – mmm – against Aptos, still huddled over against the touchline.

#10 kicked ten meters to #15 who collected the ball and had only one frantically-retiring man to beat to score between the posts.

We didn’t have any more huddles that day, either.

Seconds: UC Santa Cruz rookies – APTOS Referee: Robbie Bellue
Coach Bellue of the Slugs stepped in for two old and footsore veterans and did a fine job.

Your reporter was too busy talking to old teammates and opponents from the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Rebels era to notice much more than Alatini Saulala and some of his supporting cast running over a bunch of freshmen.

Not to demean the freshmen – there were some serious ringers out there.

UC Davis B 0 – SANTA ROSA JC 35 (7T 0C) Referee: Scott Wood
AR: Donal Walsh
TJ: Tyler Harrison(?) (UCD player)
I woke up early enough to watch a match on my DVR (of which there are many). I chose Wales v Samoa. Good choice as there is an interested play/decision related to a player in-touch picking up a rolling ball in-goal. AR awarded five-meter lineout to Wales. Referee reversed possession to Samoa for the lineout. For illustrative purposes: Was this the correct call? I think Samoa should have been awarded a 22 drop-out. I argue the Samoan player was not in the field of play when he picked up the moving ball which was already in-goal. Either way, the referee made his decision with enough authority that nobody argued it (after Samoa was properly awarded the put in).

Law 22.5 talks about the ball being grounded in-goal (which it wasn't although the player could/should have done so). Law 22.7 states: "When an attacking player sends or carries the ball into the opponents’ in-goal and it becomes dead there, either because a defender grounded it or because it went into touch in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, a drop-out is awarded." It didn't go into touch in-goal but it was made dead the instant the Samoan player picked it up. Law 22.11 discusses how the ball can become dead in-goal but refers to the "touch in-goal line".

Now to my day...

After a long sabbatical, I finally got to stretch my legs on the pitch. Both teams competed in a positive manner. Davis made a number of rookie mistakes but played with a lot of heart. Santa Rosa's players displayed great continuity and situational awareness.

There were four drop outs awarded, each went directly to touch. The referee made the same mistake three time before the AR's words sunk in. This malady was corrected at the fourth drop out.

The ball must land in the field of play. If it is kicked directly into touch, the opposing team has three choices: To have another drop-out; or to have a scrum at the centre of the 22-metre line, and they throw in the ball; or to accept the kick. If they accept the kick, the throw-in is on the 22-metre line.

However, the referee did not make an error in Law (as was debated with his AR at halftime). I did look this up after the match to ensure I wasn't completely daft.

A maul ends successfully when the ball or a player with the ball leaves the maul. A maul ends successfully when the ball is on the ground, or is on or over the goal line.

(c) Scrum following maul. The ball is thrown in by the team not in possession when the maul began. If the referee cannot decide which team had possession, the team moving forward before the maul stopped throws in the ball. If neither team was moving forward, the attacking team throws in the ball.

All things considered, it was a fun, sunny day with positive rugby played by both sides. SRJC needs a kicker. UCD's B-side scrummaged well considering it had seven rookies in the pack, tackled hard, and competed at the rucks.

I look forward to my next match.

CALIFORNIA women 17 – UC Santa Barbara 12Referee: Sam Davis
Saturday is a Rugby day!

It was a beautiful day in Berkeley but everyone went to Stanford for the (big game) which a long time ago was a Rugby game.

Berkeley women's team is still treated as the redheaded stepchild on that campus. We were relegated to the soccer pitch which someone forgot to unlock. The 11 am kick off time was delayed in spite the valiant efforts of the coaches who had been calling since 9:30 to have it opened up so they could prepare the field. Santa Barbara took this in stride along with the 70+ fans.

Since this was a soccer pitch we used the soccer goals to mount the post which all kicker love because of the extra 3 ft of opening. We were also running late so both teams agreed to start play while Cal set up the poles and moved the goals into place (more on this later).

Cal scored first at the 26 min mark with a play in the corner that was not converted. Play continued with both teams running up the off side penalty count SB capitalized on one such play and put it in and converted for 7. Half ended.

2nd half Berkeley on a drive threw a forward pass the winger downed the ball on what she thought was in-goal. There was a bit of confusion due to the soccer lines and the placement of the soccer goal. Upon closer inspection the goal was at the back of the dead ball line vs. the try line. (Setting up the field after the game starts sometime can create a bit of a problem.) We stopped time for that to be adjusted: scrum down place of infraction which happened to be the five-meter line.

Berkeley was not to be denied and the pulled ahead 10-7. SB on a drive did a pop kick deep into Berkeley the full back obstructed the SB player then when she started to try and down the ball the full back pulled her jersey. Penalty Try awarded, kick missed. Berkeley came back with a strong drive and scored with 8 min left to play (due to injury, field repair) both teams finished strong final score Cal 17- SB 12

Seconds: California women 5 – U. OF SANTA FRANCISCO 10 Ref: Davis
The second game was Cal vs. a combined UCSB & USF game.

A lot of new players for both sides, fun rugby. It was agreed free sub so everyone would get to play. USF-10 Cal 5

At Job Corps field:
Seconds: Fog 0 – BERKELEY 20 Referee: Stephen Moore
Assistant Referee: Rich Anderson
Referee Coach: Dixon Smith

Despite the score line this was a well contested game. Berkeley were the stronger side with their backs dominate and more aggressive in attack, their forwards were an equal match. The game was played at a fast pace with plenty of phase continuity. Berkeley’s scoring opportunities came from balls played out wide. Both sides defended aggressively and in the final play of the match Fog B successfully held up Berkeley who crossed the goal line propelled by their maul. It was a good note to end on, both sides very respectful of each others efforts.

There was no foul play in the match; penalties were awarded mainly for off sides and ball handling in rucks. Scrums were generally well contested, with some collapses due to early engagement.

The match was my first ever as a referee, and first time being on a paddock since last playing 20 years back in Australia, I really enjoyed this experience.

Coming into it I was concerned about my fitness, concentration level and law knowledge. I also wondered about an instinct to join in and play. Surprising my fitness held up, but my concentration and law knowledge was a challenge despite some intense pre-game swatting. Fortunately my instinct to play was gone (some would argue it was never that strong anyway!).

Concentration dropped for me immediately in the second half. I realized I had restarted the match without setting my stop watch - it’s hard to set a stop watch and run and watch the game at the same time I found. Other errors: failure to let the whistle breathe (play advantage) with two knock-on incidents. Dixon also pointed out my need to signal immediately after I whistle and then speak, also my signals for scrum and penalty were indistinct. Rich pointed out an occasion where the ball had not been thrown in not straight to a lineout that I missed, and later my awarding of a free kick instead of a scrum for same. Despite these errors (and others) I am confident though they had no material effect on the game. I guess I got lucky this time!

A funny incident... at one of the stoppages one of the players started to chat with me very briefly, suddenly one of his team mates grabbed him and told him he was not qualified to speak with “Sir” - only the captain could. Thank you player for reminding both of us!

Many thanks to Dixon for his well-measured advice and encouragement, and thank you to Rich for pointers during the game, thank you Bruce Carter for making the arrangement, and thank Eric Rauscher for providing a uniform.

Ground was firm, hard in some spots, sky was blue, temperature 60-65, no wind, perfect conditions! Spectators well behaved, good sense of humor too.

Berkeley 7 – STANISLAUS 15 Referee: Rich Anderson

Bog 0 – STANISLAUS 33 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Comment: This game was a fine example of why teams that play together do better than teams made up on the spot. Playing together lends a bit of continuity. It must also be said that the combined Berkeley and Fog B sides had quite a few rookies. The play was good-spirited and it was fun to do the game.

Fog 17 – BERKELEY 22 Referee: Rich Anderson

Marin – Saints CANCELED

FRESNO 29 – San Luis Obispo 17 Referee: Chris Tucker
This missive is being written from the train on the way home. There are several advantages over driving: match report gets done while I can remember the game; there is no offence of drinking and sitting on a train (which I am doing both); when I need a nap, I don't have to pull over. These easily make up for the 30 mins extra in each direction. The kicker? Cheaper. And a greater portion is tax deductible. And I met a really interesting guy whose advice may well save me a fortune in taxes. All round win. But I digress before I'm even started. So, to rugby.

A beautiful, if breezy day greeted the two teams at Fresno's great facility. Even the 10m lines were marked 90cm past the end of the soccer centre circle -- groundskeeper #2 * actually knows what he's doing when he's doing lines. Both teams were in pre-season mode, as witnessed by the "How long, Sir?" after precisely 22 minutes of play, and the numerous little errors that slowed the game down.

Generally, though, the game was in good spirit, and both teams listened and responded well when asked to address various pieces. Looking at myself, aside from being a ball magnet (3 times) and getting in the way of play (twice, although if you can still see the ball as you go arse over tit, does it matter? Play on!), the major issue I had was at the scrum. For some reason I could not maintain a consistent call on the scrum feed in the first half, free kicking largely at random. At the first scrum in the second, I apologised to both 9s, and told them to reset their expectations. Bingo! Straighter feeds. Interesting question as to whether you lose more credibility by admitting you messed up and asking forgiveness -- I believe so, simply because you've probably lost any credibility by the point when you own up to your inadequacy. But you'd better get it consistent from then on...

The difference in the game was made in the first half -- the Fresno forwards maintained a high work rate, and won ball often and fast. The 10/12 combination worked well at opening up the gaps, and they took their chances. The ones that went begging (and both sides were guilty) were the interceptions that were run 50 metres before the ball carrier started looking around, gassed. Caught from behind! In the end, the score flattered the hosts a little -- both sides played hard, but execution and fitness will doubtless be improved upon in the coming months. But good fun all round.

* The bush was nicely trimmed too, for reference

Seconds: UC Santa Barbara – OSU or SMC Referee: UCSB Academy Ref
No report received.

Oregon State 7 – UCSB ACADEMY 31 Referee: Ryan Luis
AR: Rob Hendrickson
The game was very close and contested throughout the match. Score was 7-0 at half time to SB Academy and remained that way till the final 20 minutes when the game finally opened up and 5 tries were scored in the final 20 minutes. Ultimately it seemed like Oregon State simply ran out of gas as they gave up four tries and 2 conversions in the final quarter of the game.

ST. MARY’S 66 – UC Santa Barbara 0 Referee: George O'Neil
AR: Rob Hendrickson

St. Mary's 3/OSU 2 – UC Santa Barbara 2 Referee: UCSB Academy Ref
No report received.

ST. MARY’S 97 – Oregon State 0 Referee: George O'Neil
ARs: Rob Hendrickson, Jackie Finck
Assessor: Bryan Porter

ST. MARY’S seconds 32 – UCSB Academy 28 Referee: Ryan Luis
ARs: Rob Hendrickson, Jackie Finck
Referee Coach: David Williamson
Both teams wanted to play a wide open game and there were many long passages of play spanning sideline to sideline and 22 to 22. Saint Mary's was in control throughout most of the match leading 32 to 7 until SB Academy again made a late surge to score 3 converted tries in the final 15 minutes. Had there been another 5 minutes on the clock the game could very well have gone their way.

Stanford – Alumnae Referee: Mike King
ARs: Prys Hughes
The university side was depleted some by the holiday break as it faced the buzz saw of an alum side filled with familiar faces from past championship years. The first period was a learning experience for the yearlings, with textbook second phase rugby accounting for several scores in rapid succession. The sides then swapped players and the scoring was more balanced. All told 70 points were scored spanning 3 periods of spirited play. A great tradition to emulate at other schools.

Stanford – Alumni Referee: Pete Smith
No report received.

Apple Near Tree
What’s in a name?

Peter and Belinda Hansford (well, probably Peter) named their son after Jonathan Davies, the great Welsh rugby league and union player.

Saturday the youngster led the Welsh team onto the pitch at the Millennium Stadium for their match against Argentina last weekend.

You’ll see him through the fog caused by the pre-game indoor fireworks. And somewhere Dad’s beaming!


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris