Wednesday, January 27, 2010




Jeff Jury is returning to the flock after a several-year sabbatical. Jeff lives in Fresno.

Perhaps we’ll see him in Sacramento this weekend!


The Pelican Society faces its annual crunch time test weekend, thirty-six club and college games plus the Sacramento Valley High School Kick-Off Tournament.

This is the Woodstock of youth rugby: three days of entertainment and too often in the past, all-encompassing mud. But the folks looking out the satellites’ windows are calling for a rainless weekend this time around.

Games begin Friday evening with UC Davis, fresh off their victory over St. Mary’s, hosting Sac State at Granite Regional Park at 7 PM. Phil Akroyd could use a couple of good ARs – let Chris Tucker know if you are interested.

The tournament will run from 8:30 to 5 Saturday and Sunday on six pitches. Obviously, we don’t have enough referees to cover all of these games ourselves, but we have at least 12 visitors - 5 from Alberta, 2 from NY, 2 from Colorado, 1 from Erie, 1 from PNW and 1 from Germany, all coming in at their own expense due to a love of the game.

You may be refereeing elsewhere on Saturday afternoon. That should not preclude you from dropping by the tournament before and/or after your game on Saturday, or all day Sunday. We need refs, ARs and especially REFEREE COACHES.

Plus – there’s a dinner Saturday evening at Buca di Beppo’s on Howe to show pelican hospitality to our guests. All are invited. Number Ones. Let Chris Tucker know you would like to join us at the festivities.


The Las Vegas Travel Exchange has already matched up a pair of lonely hearts looking for companionship during the Las Vegas Invitational and the IRB Sevens.

We have one other with a room at Hooters to share Wednesday – Saturday nights, half of $300 for the four nights and you’re in.


East Palo Alto 28 – OLYMPIC CLUB 36 Referee: Pete Smith
ARs: Bruce Carter, James Hinkin
I think this was easily the game of the week with the scoring line all the evidence I need to validate my claim: 7-0, 14-0, 14-5, 14-12, and 21-12 Halftime 28-12, 28-19 (penalty try/yellow card), 28-26 (with player in the sin bin), 28-33 (3 minutes remaining), 28-36 Final score! Olympic Club pulled it out the final minutes to win. They only led for 3 minutes, but they were the last 3 minutes.

The weather cooperated during the game with clear skies and light wind. The synthetic field was obviously fast and firm. There was a larger crowd on hand as many other area games had been cancelled and EPA’s U23 team hosted Marin in the preceding match with just about everyone sticking around for the main event. The field markings were lacking a little as it is impossible to stick the flags into the synthetic turf. I had two great AR’s in Bruce (National AR Panel) Carter and James ‘hard working’ Hinkin.

The teams definitely came to play with very few whistles and end to end action. It was the sort of game that you hope people that have never seen rugby will witness as they will instantly fall in love with the game. It had a little of everything that makes the game great.

Seconds: East Palo Alto 0 – OLYMPIC CLUB 49 Referee: Roberto Santiago
ARs: James Hinkin, Pete Smith
Videographer: Bruce Carter
The Olympic Club Bs came out strong and fast against an EPA side made up of some A side players, A side reserves and healthy dose of kids who had played in the D3 game earlier in the day. OC scored their first try 90 seconds in and ended the half with 35 on the board. The visiting kicker put on a clinic converting every try on the day with only two coming from in front of the posts.

The action slowed down in the second half. Trailing 42-0 and getting pushed over in the scrums EPA asked to go to uncontested scrums due to having some U19 player in the tight five. Olympic Club agreed somewhat grudgingly as they understandably wanted their reserves to get more experience in a live contest situation. The frustration of one Olympic Club player was evident when two scrums later the EPA hooker had a brain freeze, hooked O Club's supposedly-uncontested put in and a fight nearly broke out. This gentleman proceeded to look for a fight a few more times before the game concluded but couldn't find any takers.

In the final analysis the gap between the Olympic Club A side and B side players is not as wide as it is on some clubs. The O Club back line played with a great amount of cohesion and communication.


SF/GOLDEN GATE SL 97 – Sac Lions 0 Referee: George O’Neil
Assessor: Bryan Porter
No report received. Score taken from on-line article.

SFGG COLTS 39 – Diablo U23, 0 Referee: Preston Gordon
In the interests of a good pre-season run, we decided to have 4 20-minute quarters with open subs. The rain had cleared by the 1500 kickoff, and SFGG scored in the second minute and continued to apply pressure to Diablo throughout the first 40 minutes (similar to the first game). Diablo looked good too, but wasn't quite up to the level of SFGG play.

At halftime it was 29-0. The last 20 minutes of the game were not on par with the first 60, with lots of dropped balls as the players got a bit tired, and there was only one try scored.

Thanks to SFGG for the hospitality and meal after the game.

BARBARIANS 45 – Sac Capitals 15 Referee: Paul Bretz
AR: John Pohlman
Barbarians won 45-15. Game was played on a postage stamp. Sac had good Lineout and a good maul but had a slow recycle rate which led to 2 intercepts that both went for tries.

Seconds: BARBARIANS 26 – Sac Capitals 15 Referee: John Pohlman
The newly formed Bay Barbarians hosted the Sacramento Capitals this past Saturday in Fremont. This was the first time I had seen the Barbarians. I was interested in seeing how they would compete going straight into division 1. Paul Bretz did the first game with me and a very qualified Sacramento injured player running touch.

Of note was that game was played less than four miles from my house. The Barbarians had secured a very small all-turf field at Irvington High School. The Barbos had a lot of people and extra players. The Caps had traveled with around 22 players for both sides.

It was decided to play 20-25 minutes halves.

The Caps scored on three penalty kicks in the first half to take a 12-0 lead. The Barbos were less disciplined than the Caps but their fresh legs kept the pressure on. The Barbos scored 4 tries in the second half, three converted. The Caps made 2 more penalties to finish the scoring at Barbos 26, Caps 15.

EPA U23, 20 – Marin 17 Referee: Bruce Carter
East Palo Alto played three home games at Cubberley, where the summer sevens have been played dozens of times over the years, on a new synthetic pitch inside the ‘stadium’.

Grandstands on both sides of the track and a break in a week’s rain guaranteed a festive and family atmosphere, as the generations either played touch between matches or sat and chatted with friends.

Tasi Mounga is coaching EPA, one of the great US Eagles returned home to the peninsula to roost.

We enjoyed sunshine throughout this match, as the Airship Ventures blimp tour shuttled overhead between Moffett and the sights of San Francisco and the Golden Gate.

Marin enjoyed a seven-five lead for a while in the first half but otherwise needed to play catch-up most of the way, including the last five minutes when they pressed the EPA line but couldn’t make it the last few feet.

Only one of seven tries were converted on a windless day with firm and predictable footing. Better kicking could have changed the game significantly in either direction.

If this game is any indication, NorCal D3 rugby is a formidable competition indeed.


Mendocino – Humboldt Referee: Richard McGrath (Australia)
No report received. If anyone knows how this turned out, please let us know.

BERKELEY 37 – Redwood 0 Referee: Rob Hendrickson
Berkeley and Redwood both showed up with numbers for both an A side and B side matches between light sprinkles at Berkeley’s Gilman field, opting to play on artificial turf out of concern that 4 games at their TI field on Saturday (Berkeley + Fog, each X 2) would have been too much after last week’s torrential rains. The play and the score were close after the first half (Berkeley leading 10 – 0), with Berkeley opening up in the second half with 4 tries. Redwood has a lot of talent, and will undoubtedly be an even stronger opponent as the season wears on and they gain experience.

Seconds: Berkeley 15 – REDWOOD 50 Referee: Matt Heafey
Gilman Field
It cleared for another glorious day on this brand new field off Gilman sun shining through and some good football-style rugby.

It seemed as if the 1st side from Redwood would stay on the field for the 2nd match to try and redeem their effort from the first game. Berkeley came out with an entire new side unfortunately Redwood was ready when the ball was kicked off and quickly took the ball back for score after a couple quick passes and a few missed tackles. This theme continued throughout the first half giving them a comfortable advantage at the half. Both sides were very generous offering their support in calling the match.

Fog 15 – SAINTS 27 Referee: Cary Bertolone
Referee Coach: David Williamson
A break in the clouds, kind of, and we kicked off at 1:00 at Treasure Island with Dave Williamson watching me, as I had a wire. The Saints seemed much stronger, but a few early on "silly" penalties kept them out of the try zone, as they had trouble keeping any momentum going with all of the penalties. Saints lost a prop for 10 minutes, only 6 minutes in for "almost" punching someone. Fog scored 3 points at the 12 minute mark. Before the sin bin released the first prop, a Saints lock incurred another yellow. Playing one man short, Saints pushed one in from the forwards with good rucking at the 25 minute mark for a 5-3 lead. The Fog came right back and combined with hard forward work and some great back passes, ran one in with a great run from their outside center for a try to take the lead 8-5. The Saints put one together at the 39 minute mark and converted for a 12-8 half time lead. The second half was more of the same with three more yellow cards for the Saints, one of which turned into a red as the same player infringed right after he returned from the sin bin-I was shocked. However, the Saints tough running and punishing tackles got them three more trys in the second half. The Fog drew close, at 22-15, late in the second half, but the Saints put it away with their last try, final score Saints 27-Fog 15. Despite all of the cards, everyone seemed to be in good spirits and it was a good rugby day.

UC DAVIS 24 – St. Mary's 11 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received. Score taken from on-line article.

Seconds: UC Davis – St. Mary's CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER

Sac State 0 – CALIFORNIA 81 Referee: Chris Tucker
AR: Ron DeCausemaker, Eric Rauscher
A cool showery day in Berkeley after a switch of location from Sacramento owing to a conservative Sac State rec department. Still better to play rugby anywhere than not play rugby somewhere. The score indicates a track meet, but that was far from the case, with Sac State playing hard throughout and defending well. If anything their limited offence was what caused the score -- with ball in hand they rarely found the gainline, and the support was not there when they did. A couple of long breaks by Sacramento backs were dealt with close to the goal line by pursing Cal defenders, and the ball was turned over. Cal's defence was organised and effective throughout, with a clean sheet their reward.

Only sour note was an overly-high penalty count in the first half as my game management was insufficient / ineffective / ignored, with blame apportionable to all 3 pieces of the puzzle. Will be interesting to watch the video to see what I did right and what can be improved...

Seconds: Sac State – California CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER

Chico State – Stanford CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER

Fresno State 5 – CAL MARITIME 77 Referee: Tom Zanarini
The four-hour drive south was worth it as the clouds parted and blue skies and sunshine greeted us in Fresno. I though I'd arrive early 11:30-ish to get some extra warm up time from the long drive and was greeted by both teams already organizing and a U-19 Fresno team practicing. This was Fresno St. first 'league' match and I was excited to see this new college club perform against one of the country's best.

FSU wasn't able to contain CMA, but they put up a valiant fight, including the try of the day by scrumhalf Jerry Kelly. After just gone down to 14 men for a professional foul, Jerry picked up at the back of his scrum and went weak side for a 70 meter try. Defenders in front of him couldn't catch him. Way to show you're still in the game.

I hope FSU continues to improve. The size of the school alone could see this club being a future powerhouse.

NEVADA 22 – Santa Rosa JC 12 Referee: Don Pattalock
AR's: P. Ulibarri / C. Zameila
On a semi-snow snow covered pitch, Nevada and SRJC battled it out for 80 minutes. Nevada seemed to have the edge in the forwards and SRJC in the backs. Nevada's back row (combined weight of the 3 of them = 400lbs) consistently beat SRJC to the breakdowns and tackled ferociously. Halftime score was 10 - 0 Nevada. In the second half SRJC managed a little better possession but it was Nevada's technical kicking that kept them under pressure. The two sides each scored 12 in the second half, but Nevada deservedly came away with the win.

Side note: Phil Ulibarri aka the $6,000 man, made his re emergence on Saturday with his new knee. Glad to have him back on the pitch. Now, if we can just get the rest of him replaced, we’d be perfect.

Seconds: Nevada – Santa Rosa NOT PLAYED

Humboldt State 0 – SIERRA JC 33 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Thanks to lush scenery along the Redwood Highway, a lively bluegrass/jazz FM station, and the soothing voice of GPS girl, my early morning trip from San Jose was quite pleasant. Despite intermittent thunderstorms throughout the drive, by the time I approached Eureka, the rain had stopped and the sun had emerged through the clouds. The match was played in Manila because all other fields in Arcata had been closed due to weather. Humboldt State should be commended for a nice job preparing the playing enclosure including sideline barriers. The 55F sunny weather attracted a number of onlookers.

Both teams had some experienced players, but also quite a few beginners. Consequently, there was lots of enthusiasm, but also many handling errors and penalties. Sierra was more powerful with ball in hand and led 7-0 at half thanks to an opportunistic try off a scrum turnover. In the second half, Sierra applied sustained pressure to notch four more tries, mostly off missed tackles or miscues. (Sierra also knocked on twice over the goal-line.) Humboldt attacked the goal-line with gusto at the end of each half, but Sierra's defense held firm each time.

Much thanks to the home team for their hospitality, which included inviting me to their post-match function in Arcata.

USF 27 – Univ. of the Pacific 24 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
TI-on the wet, but serviceable Fog field on pretty clear winter's day. This kind of D2 match is simply fun for everyone-players, spectators, the ref, even the coaches. The skill level was admirable and the spirit good.

USF scored first at 13 minutes, but just when it looked like it might be a romp UOP dots one. And so it went all game. At half the score was Dons on top 15-12. There were several lead changes in the second half. UOP scored last with no time left-but there simply was not quite enough time to tie or win.

Post game mini match: UOP 5 – USF/Fog/Warthogs 5. As it should be.

A thank you to the Fog is in order from the rugby community for sharing their field, for this was re-scheduled from Stockton late in the week. Indeed, I overheard the president of the Fog offer use of the field to a new high school team. That is generosity personified.

UC DAVIS women 10 – Stanford 5 Referee: Joe Leisek
IM Fields, UC Davis
The first of two college rugby upsets in Davis this weekend, both of which stunned traditional college rugby powerhouses. In the day's first contest, the Aggie women came out strong and tough against visiting Stanford. The hosts stuck to a game plan of using forward size and strength to keep the ball tight. They played a patient game of pick-and-drive, maintaining possession very well and putting up a stout defense against Stanford's much more expansive game. These were two teams with very different game plans. While Davis moved the ball forward in increments, Stanford played their more open game, even on a pitch with standing water and ample mud. To their credit, they were able to work the ball through the backline often. Davis scored their two tries in the first half, both from forward-oriented phases of play. Stanford's try came early in the second half when a Davis player kicked ahead at a lateral angle to a Stanford wing, who caught the kick and scampered about 30 meters straight ahead to score near the corner. Both teams impressed with their commitment and dedication to playing the best game possible on a wet, muddy field. Don Walsh made an appearance and watched about half of the game; I always appreciate his sage advice and conversation. I tried to leave the pitch in good condition for Jim Crenshaw and the men’s game, who, when he arrived, told me I had not succeeded.

Seconds: UC Davis women – Stanford CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER

Sac State women – UC Santa Cruz CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER


Friday night:
HAYWARD U-19, 49 – Elsie Allen 5 Referee: John Coppinger
The rain stooped Friday evening as Elsie Allen visited Pepsi Field in Hayward for a preseason match under the lights.

Well organized and scrappy, but undersized, Elsie Allen hung with Hayward for the first half and simply were overwhelmed by the bigger, faster, and more athletic Hayward side.

MARIN HIGHLANDERS 32 – Peninsula Green 12 Ref: Coppinger
Saturday morning I made my way to Redwood High in Larkspur for the second week in a row; this trip to run the Peninsula Green/Marin Highlanders match.

When I arrived, the Marin/Pen Green Frosh/Soph match was underway and I took well deserved grief from the Marin coaching staff for reporting last week in HP that Jed Elley coaches the Marin Highlanders. (The father of Carl Hendrickson, the PITS # 8, was also quick to point out my brain fart as soon as HP went to virtual press lat week.) In fact, Jed coaches the Marin MD3 club and PITS.

In the varsity match, Marin and Peninsula Green both came out attacking, but Marin was better able to maintain control of the ball and turn control of the ball into scores. Marin seemed to have made significant strides since the week before, while P. Green struggled at the tackle/ruck.

After the match, as I left the pitch, the Marin Highlanders JV kicked off against the new Danville team.

After two straight weekends of U19 rugby, I had a couple of thoughts on the way home. First, the people who have built the NorCal U19 program deserve a great deal of credit and thanks for a lot of things, but perhaps the one thing that strikes me the most is the tradition/requirement that the teams meet post-match to select the man of the match for the other side and then share a hotdog or sandwich. I think that this simple thing builds the sportsmanship that is so important to our game. The second thing that struck me is that the better players (who always seem to be the leaders on the field) all seem to know each other from the PCIT or the PCRFU High Performance camps or tours and they respect each other, which also adds to the air of sportsmanship that I sense. Hopefully, with the transition to Rugby California from NCRFU/PCRFU and the resultant demise of the PCIT and the PCRFU HP camps, this element will survive.

Santa Rosa 5 – Live Oak 12 Referee: Mike King
The overcast turned to a downpour soon after the kick-off. Both sides had some problem handling the longer passes, making interior movements more effective. Santa Rosa struck first, but Live Oak challenged at times. The second half was more of the same with some penalties near the goal line costing Santa Rosa a try. Finally, Live Oak broke the deadlock near the close of the match, converting a try to finish 12-5. Great effort by all!


Wanna get fired up about our Game right here in between Saturday fixes?


Not so long ago youth rugby meant high school. Now it means ‘younger than high school’.

Chris Fisher updates us on the NorCal situation:

“There are only 5 U-8 clubs: 2 East Bay, 2 South Bay and 1 at TI.
There are 8 U-10 clubs: 4 East Bay, 2 South Bay, 1 Marin, 1 TI
There are 11 U-12 clubs: 4 East Bay, 2 South Bay, 1 Marin, 1 TI, 3 Valley.”

If he missed anyone it’s because youth rugby is now, blessedly, a moving target.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris