Friday, April 16, 2010




Phil Akroyd has earned promotion to L1. Congratulations to another young Pelican on an upward trajectory.


The final of our monthly meetings for the 2010 season will be April 14, from 7 to 9 PM, at the SF/Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island.

Part of the focus will be on assistant refereeing, with the various playoffs coming up. We’ll also be welcoming a new member from Fiji, Sione Tanoa.

Food will be available for early arrivals starting at 6 PM.


Roberto Santiago’s wife Tenysa planned a surprise trip for them that included a departure early Saturday morning.

In order to maintain the surprise, Roberto was ‘scheduled’ to referee the San Mateo – Barbarians seconds and made the usual preparations.

However, first-side referee Joe Leisek and the real second-side official Bryant Byrnes were in on the deception.

All went according to plan and we hope that Roberto’s dashed hopes were quickly replaced by the joy and spontaneity that a thoughtful spouse brings to a marriage.


BERKELEY 12 – East Palo Alto U23, 7 Referee: Pete Smith
AR: Eric Rauscher
This is a case where the score reflects how close the game was, but not necessarily who the better team was on the day, sort of…It was a combination of EPA’s inability to finish and Berkeley sheer determination not to lose. EPA was noticeably larger across the field, but that was not the size indicator that mattered in this game. EPA was pounding the Berkeley line for at least 15 minutes of the first half only to turn it over in front of the posts and watch Berkeley take it to the house for a 7-0 halftime lead. Eric and I talked at half about how shocked we were that despite all the end to end action and sustained pressure that the score was only 7-0. The score did not reflect the action, offense and sustained pressure. EPA continued to tilt the field in their direction in the second half, but Berkeley made one try saving tackle after another. EPA was across the line for a try if the ball carrier had just fallen to the ground, but they passed in-field to an unsuspecting teammate where it bounced into the arms of a Berkeley player who carried it out to the 22, penalty against EPA for dangerous tackle, kick to touch, pressure relieved. That sequence was a microcosm for the entire game. Both teams scored tries from penalty plays in the second half with EPA converting theirs with 24 minutes remaining to bring the score to within 5 at 12-7, but there would be no more scoring. If you had watched the game and didn’t know or keep track of the score you would have guesses 31-35 or something similar, but try-killing mistakes and great try-saving tackles kept the game low scoring and very close throughout.

Berkeley advances to play Redwood, Tom Zanarini to referee.

Seconds: Berkeley 22 – EAST PALO ALTO 34 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Berkeley did not have enough players to put up a full 15, so EPA lent several and it was decided to play 12 on 12 for two twenty-minute periods.

The first half was all EPA playing a very loose and open form very much like a game of sevens. In the second half Berkeley seemed to have taken note and put up the majority of points in it until an injury to a Berkeley player brought play to a close by general accord. It was a fun game to do with players seeming to have fun with nothing on the line but to enjoy the game.

SAN BRUNO SAINTS 31 – SF Fog 18 Referee: Joe Androvich
SF Fog's first playoff game in team history. Congrulations. Physical game played by both squads. In the 79th minute, SF Fog had the ball in hand, attacking on San Bruno's 5 meter line, down by 6. A try under the post seemed inevitable, but one too many passes led to San Bruno intercept and 100 meter try to seal the victory.

Saints advance to play Marin. Rich Anderson will have that one.


SF GOLDEN GATE SL 57 – Old Mission Beach AC 7 Referee: Davey Ardrey
ARs: Paul Bretz, George O’Neil
Evaluator: Kat Todd-Schwartz
#4: Bruce Carter

SFGG Colts 42 – Seahawks 14 Referee: George O'Neil
AR: Ben Bravo

Seconds: SFGG Colts 37 – Seahawks 5 Referee: Bruce Carter
AR: Ben Bravo
Not only is Golden Gate running the table in the SL, their D2 side is strong and their D2 seconds turn out fifteen fresh faces and even more importantly, thirty fresh legs.

The Seahawks borrowed from their firsts and from the Silverhawks, who had played the SeƱors earlier on the day.

The game was unusual in most of the penalties going against the team with the preponderance of possession, mostly for over-eagerness in trying to win or retain ball at the breakdown.

OLYMPIC CLUB 27– Sac Lions 7 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Evaluator: David Williamson
The final score does not really indicate how close the game really was.

The Lions took the lead with an early converted try but O Club rallied and leveled eight minutes later. As the home team took the lead for the first time with a second converted try in the first half, the Lions lost their fly-half in the act of conceding a try, through a late, no-wrap hit. 14-7 at half.

I suspected that the Lions would tire in the second half, particularly as they were forced to use three subs in the first half and play a man down for ten minutes. Olympic Club sealed the deal with a second half penalty and converted try in the last minute, but the Lions were relentless in their effort during the entire game and pushed the undefeated league leaders all the way.

There was a little too much chat from O Club and the Lions had to work on their discipline at tackle/rucks, but overall, this was a great game played in good conditions on a wonderful pitch at the Gaelic Athletic Club on Treasure Island. Thanks to Dave Williamson for the input and it was good to get a bit of a social in at a packed SFGG clubhouse afterwards. [See photo]

Seconds: Olympic Club – Sac Lions Referee: Rich Boyer
Assessor: Bryan Porter
The Lions did not have a second side, so O Club played an intra-squad scrimmage.

RENO – Sac Capitals Referee: Jim Crenshaw
According to, Reno won this game. No score was given, and we have not received any other reports.

San Mateo 8 – BARBARIANS 24 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referee/Coach: Bryant Byrnes
Touch Judge: Mapa, San Mateo
Aragon High School, San Mateo

On arriving an hour before kickoff, I was happy to see the home team warming up and looking relaxed. The visitors were arriving and soon took the field as well. The Aragon High School football field is a great venue, nestled against the hills in a suburban part of San Mateo near Highway 92. The hosts are in a rebuilding year, with a young roster captained by Humboldt State alum Kanoa Montgomery. The visiting Barbarians possess more experience and currently trail the Olympic Club at the top of the league standings.

The game was played at a brisk pace, with both clubs spending much of the first half running into direct contact near the forwards. The Barbarians proved more adept at tactical kicking, placing several kicks to keep San Mateo under pressure. In fact, the first try of the game was scored when the Barbarians flyhalf popped a high kick ahead that landed near the San Mateo fullback. The ball took a true artificial surface bounce, and landed in the arms of a Barbarians chaser who scampered 40 meters to score.

The first half ended in a score of 7-3 to the visitors.

In the second half, both teams opened up the game a little and ran the ball wide more often. The Barbarians scored two converted tries and a penalty goal to San Mateo's lone try. San Mateo is a team that will be a force as they play together and get more experience playing teams at this level.

Thanks to Bryant for his effective assistance and his constructive coaching comments after the match.

Belated Statement of Appreciation to Three Pelicans
The weekend of Friday and Saturday, April 1-2, found several Pelicans and one Seattle-based referee at the Pacific Coast Women's D1 Collegiate Championships at UC Davis. On Friday, the rain came down in near-horizontal sheets, angled by a cold, howling wind. Assistant Referees Scott Wood and Dave Ellis, and Number Four Official Eugene Baker deserve kudos and thanks for braving the elements. Scott and Eugene came back the next day as ARs. Thanks to all three for their valuable help and company.

Seconds: SAN MATEO 22 – Barbarians 21 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
This was the second act to an intense firsts’ match of Pacific Islander powerhouse clubs. And it was that great oddity in competitive men's games (indeed almost the antithesis)-fun rugby. Fun as in delight, bliss; players smacking the stuffing out of their opponents (lots of big hits!) and then fist bumps to the other team. The crowd loving it; loud friendly jibes from both stands, laughter at miscues, raucous cheers for long runs and scores.

The game was also a rarity in NorCal rugby-true full second sides. Both were mostly young guys trying to move up. The Barbarians controlled the first half with fancy running by the backline; them wingers had wheels. It was 14-3. But the patient San Mateo fellows made some key substitutions at half, and keeping it mostly in the pack earned 2 tries between the posts- and converted.

CHICO 23 – Diablo Gaels 14 Referee: Sam Reagle
Conditions: Cloudy, cool.
After 10 months of touring the country and hooking up with other referee societies, it's great to be back in Pelicanland. As soon as I saw that my next game was in Chico, a fairly scenic 90 miles away, I planned to ride the Goldwing which I haven't even seen since last June. Unfortunately, the rain that was predicted for Sunday was now suppose to arrive around 7pm tonight so I had to abandon the social and leave right after the game. A disappointment as Chico is always a good host.

The sky was completely clouded over and the wind was strong and gusting from south to north. Chico won the toss and chose the wind, a good choice at the time because it kept the Gaels pinned in their half most of the time. I was looking forward to refereeing 2 well-disciplined teams, but the Gaels came out of the gate with a string of unnecessary penalties. Chico made one of their penalty kicks at the 5 minute mark to score the first points of the match. Then, at the 18 minute mark, I binned a Gaels player for repeated infringements of the offside line. Chico capitalized on the man advantage with a converted try at the 19 minute mark and another penalty kick 6 minutes later. The Gaels got on the board shortly after returning to full strength with a converted try to go into halftime with Chico leading 13-7.

Chico managed to score a try against the wind with some clever backline play, but the conversion kick started right, broke about 90 degrees to the left and didn't even reach the goal line. Chico scored another try in a similar fashion about 10 minutes later and again the conversion kick was short and left. With the score 23-7, it looked like Chico was in control, but when the Gaels scored a converted try at the 25 minute mark, they became inspired. About 5 minutes later, 2 players banged heads with a Chico player bleeding and unsubstantiated accusations of intentional head butting. The last 5 minutes saw the game seesawed between good rugby and crap. It finished upbeat after I red-carded the Chico #5 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Seconds: CHICO 60 –Diablo Gaels 57 Referee: Cary Bertolone
After Sam finished the first side game (Chico won), we played 80 minutes in the wind with the heavy threat of rain that never really came down hard. Chico had extra players and the Diablo Gaels needed players, so several jerseys changed hands and off we went. Six minutes in to the game and there were three tries, but two were penalty tries, one for each team. On both occasions, a player coming up to scoop a ball and score from less than 5 meters was interfered with by a defender playing the man instead of the ball. Incredible! DV took the lead with many of their first side players still in the game and were up 43-27 at the half. They finally got tired and Chico kept coming, taking the lead late in the game for a final score victory 60-57. On to the Madison Bear with Brock and Dan Lacko and the wig-wearing players!

FRESNO over Arroyo Grande by forfeit
Referee: James Hinkin
Note: after talking to AG on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I was assured that they would travel. And they did... sort of. They showed up with 10 people so I ended up with a game but not a terribly competitive one.

Scrimmage match:
FRESNO 72 - Arroyo Grande 5 Referee: James Hinkin
I arrived in Fresno on a blustery day to see the Fresno St v UCSC game in progress and R. Scott Wood manfully gliding around the field shouting at collegians; at times regretfully blowing his whistle to punish and admonish errant play while joyfully tootling loudly to reward positive, scoring play. With that performance to aspire to I confidently looked up the Fresno captain and the AG captain only to find that AG only traveled with 10 players. Fresno generously offered to fill out the remainder of the team so a game was on. Fresno are gearing up for playoffs and started their strongest side against a determined mix of AG veterans and Fresno subs. The game started with a little back and forth with AG getting most of the back and Fresno netting most of the forth. Eventually after 5 minutes Fresno was able to break through for the try. The game settled into this patters with Fresno dominating territory and possession until they scored. AG defended strongly at times and countered occasionally but the combination of unknown teammates on the AG side and a heavily accented 8-9-10 controlling triumvirate on the Fresno side left little doubt as to the outcome. Fresno scored 9 tries and converted 4 to go in at the break leading 53-0.

The second half was more balanced mainly due to substitution of key players by Fresno (AG not having much in the way of subs available) but also due to the insertion of (a late arriving?) new #10 for AG. Fresno still controlled the match but more errors crept in as inexperienced players tried to do too much or too little. The AG #10 was able to break the Fresno defense several times but could not quite finish as the cover caught up and support was lacking. AG was able to finally get a consolation try late on but had already given up another 4 tries by that point. Final score Fresno 72 - Arroyo Grande 5

Fresno looks to be dangerous in the playoff as they have solid leadership in the key positions. They lack experience in other areas, noticed when some silly penalties were given away and when once in each half a mark was not given because it was called for by several vets but was not actually called for by the catcher of the ball. If they can minimize those mistakes they will do well.

SANTA ROSA 86 – Stanislaus 0 Referee: John Coppinger
Stanislaus arrived in Santa Rosa with 14 players (having had a number of players send in their regrets late Friday night) and gamely battled a full strength Santa Rosa squad, which was looking forward to a critical battle with Fresno this week. Stanislaus played hard, but the match was essentially an opposed workout for Rosa as they ran out 86-0 winners.

Santa Rosa seconds 15 – SANTA ROSA JC 26 Ref: Coppinger
Santa Rosa JC took on Santa Rosa B in the second match and it was a more competitive match with the JC edging Rosa 26-15.

The after match trip to the Zoo bar is worth the trip to Santa Rosa.

VACAVILLE 45 – BA Baracus 8 Referee: John Pohlman
TJ's David and Nathan and some other guys
Vacaville hosted Baracus in what I thought might be blowout game in Baracus's favor. I got an e-mail from Vacaville coach Chris Motes on Tuesday confirming the game and stating they would play, but had some injuries and job commitments and may have only 13 or so players.

I was pleasantly surprised to see 20 plus Vacaville players warming up when I arrived at noon. Baracus was fielding two sides, their seconds playing USF.

When I did my pre-game chat I recognized a couple of UC Davis's players wearing Vacaville jerseys. Davis's season is over, so I thought it was ok to join another team.

Baracus needed this game to stay in the running for the playoffs.

Baracus won the toss and received the ball.

This was a very enjoyable game to referee. Both teams had lots of experience and were contesting every possession. The game was back and forth early.

Vacaville scored four trys in the first half. Mostly with their backs. Captain Matt Heafey at #10 was receiving consistent good passes from the ex UC Davis scrum half. (The Davis/Vacaville scrumhalf was my player of the game). This allowed the Vacaville backs led by the Hansen brothers to run wild. The Vacaville backs simply had the ability to finish today. Once in space they linked some outstanding trys together.

After the second try Baracus realized how dangerous Vacaville was going to be. They tried to keep the ball in their forwards, but a couple of the ex Davis forwards were too quick to the breakdown, poaching balls. Then out to backs with space and speed to finish.

Baracus made a couple of player changes and came out of half time energized.

A quick turnover for another long try by the Hansens shook their confidence.

Tempers started to run high when a Baracus player made a high tackle, was then cleaned out of the ruck by the Vacaville prop. A mini scuffle took place with the Baracus player throwing a punch. Red card.

As usual Baracus scored a try a man down to give them a lift. A Vacaville player flew into a tackle without a wrap. Yellow card.

After that the game kept its intensity, but no more dangerous stuff.

Final Vacaville 45 Baracus 8

After the game a Baracus official called the Vacaville coach and myself together and asked how they could protest the UC Davis players joining Vacaville. I thought that if the UC Davis players were CIPP'd and their season over at university and they had officially joined the Vacaville team they could be allowed to play. But that was a up to the league to decide.
So Baracus may eventually win this game.
I guess it goes to show how just a couple of good players can really change a team on the border of contending.

[Editor’s Note: USA Rugby allows players to play in a higher division within the same year once the competitive season for their league has ended. College players may matriculate to club or super league for the duration (unless the SL has a regulation to the contrary – your editor is not certain on this point).

[This also applies to high school players, with waivers required if they are under 19.

[They have to CIPP with the new club and cannot of course play ‘back down’ in the same competitive season, which for XVs runs September 1 to August 31.

[Readers of Hail, Pelicus! happen to have an editor who sits on the Rugby Committee of USA Rugby, which reviews and approves such policies.]

FRESNO STATE 34 – UC Santa Cruz 5 Referee: Scott Wood
Location: Fresno Regional Sports Park
Santa Cruz did not travel well and borrowed some players from Fresno.

Fresno started slowly, feeling out the opposition but unable to suck in the defense. Fresno led at the end of the half 12-0.

UC Santa Cruz lost one player to the bin in the first half. Apparently thinking they performed well down a player (which, in a relative sense, they did) another player found his way to the bin two minutes into the second half. Fresno capitalized on the overlap and maneuvered the ball to the fast wings. By "fast" I mean Chuck Yeager fast. The visitors were able to score a try for honor.


Saturday, April 3, Varsity
Piedmont International Touring Side 5 – SFGG 33 Referee: John Coppinger
On Piedmont's Witter Field Saturday night, SF/GG ran by PITS 33-5 in the varsity match. SF/GG was better in support and at the breakdown.

In the Frosh/Soph match that followed, it was more of the same and SF/GG ran out 42-10 winners.

In both matches, PITS expended much too much time and energy trying to assist the referee.

Marin Highlanders – Montgomery CANCELED
Rich Anderson:
Not a good Saturday when I went from a good D1 Men's match to a High School match to mowing the lawn...

ELSIE ALLEN 67 – Rancho/Windsor 12 Referee: Cary Bertolone
Elsie took a big lead into the half with better ball control and some fast backs, leading 40-5, but Rancho/Windsor didn't quit, scoring a converted try early in the second half. Elsie turned it back on towards the end with three more tries, winning going away 67-12.

Elsie Allen 17 –FAIRFIELD PREP of Conn. 31 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Monday, April 12:
Bishop O’Dowd 5 – BELLARMINE 20 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Under the lights at Bishop O’Dowd on Monday nights is becoming a great tradition. Both the boys and girls play back to back games that are well-attended and look to be great start for rugby there. Bellarmine showed up with enough players to field a team with a few to spare, but it was all they needed. To a casual observer, they seemed to be about 10-20 lbs larger on average the O’Dowd players. The first half ended in a 5/5 tie, but Bellarmine was able to pull away in the second half. Both teams played with good skill and knowledge of the game. I have seen marked improvement in O’Dowd’s side from the first games this year and things should keep building for their program. Thanks to both teams for an interesting game.

Real Clubhouse
Phil Akroyd and David Williamson discuss Phil’s game in the foreground while rugby tradition is observed in the background.


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