Wednesday, May 19, 2010




May 22:
We’ve got five games (of fifteens) on the schedule this week and only four of them have referees. A game in Santa Cruz needs a ref.

Sunday, May 30:
One game of fifteens, an U12 game, an old boys’ tournament, all on Treasure Island.

June 5:
Three games of fifteens

June 19:
Las Vegas Midnight Sevens
We’ve been advised that they may need some NorCal refs for this event. Check your calendar and see if you’d like to attend, and then let us know.

June 26:
Palo Alto Summer Sevens (also July 10 and 24)
Dunsmuir Sevens
Old Boys game at Dunsmuir Sevens


The annual NCRRS end-of-season banquet will be held at Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek on Saturday, June 26, beginning at 6:30 PM. This year it will also double as the retirement party for Bryan Porter, who has stepped down from the National Panel of Evaluators.

Bryan was as founding member of this Panel and played a role in the development of every USA Referee from the initial group up to the present Panelists. NorCal refs have been very fortunate to benefit from his dedication and expertise over the past four decades, and we will continue to do so locally.

Please mark your calendars and let Bjorn Stumer know that you and yours will be attending:

Dinner will be paid for society members at our annual banquet. Drinks and dates are your treat.


Rugby California Girls State Final:
Sacramento Amazons 10 – FALLBROOK 13 Referee: Roberto Santiago
ARs: John Pohlman, Bjorn Stumer
I had the honor of reffing the first ever Rugby California High School Girls Championship pitting the Nor-Cal champion Sacramento Amazons against the So-Cal champion Fallbrook Warriors. The match lived up to the billing as both teams played fast paced, technically proficient rugby from start to finish with a level of physicality sometimes missing in U19 girls rugby.

Early on it looked like Sacramento would dominate with their size. The girls from southern California were much smaller and absorbed a number of crushing (but clean) tackles, which stymied their attack, but did nothing to diminish their resolve. Early on Fallbrook showed what the match had in store when an Amazon ball carrier crashed over two Fallbrook defenders but had the ball held up in goal. Sacramento did eventually score a try at 15:42 after the subsequent scrum, but the Warriors had shown that would not be intimidated by the Amazon’s strength.

The next ten minutes saw possession change over several times but for the most part the all stayed on the Warrior’s side of the field forcing them to play a defensive game. The Fallbrook backline was especially impressive as their undersized backs made tackle after tackle, often one on one, against the strong runners from Sac-Town. The Warriors did manage to convert a penalty kick at 27:01, on one of their few sojourns into Amazon territory but the Nor-Cal champs came right back with a try just two minutes later.

The half closed with a series of play that would foreshadow the second half. Fallbrook, who’d been unable to link up more than a phase or two and had been living off penalty kicks to relieve pressure, was finally able to get good ball to their back line. The girls in red showed off some nifty moves with looping players, dummy switches, and crisp passing. The ability to get a little space combined with quick ball at the breakdowns gave the slightly less agile Amazon backs some trouble which resulted in two illegal tackles due largely to defenders being out of position to make a clean play. The Fallbrook girls ran madcap up field but couldn’t score before the half. As the whistle blew for the break the score stood at 10-3 Sacramento and the ladies in blue looked to be in control. If they could continue to play on the visitors’ end in the second half the clock would take care of the rest.

Early in the second half the Amazons had pressure inside the Fallbrook 22. A chip kick had the Warriors fullback and wing chasing a rolling ball with blue and white jerseys bearing down. As the Warrior player gathered the ball and turned up field a combination of a shorter ball carrier and a taller defender on a bad angle resulted in a high tackle. The penalty gave Fallbrook some breathing room. Once again possession went back and forth with the Amazon’s ability to combine power running with a deft short passing game, ball carriers passing short while going into contact, making it look like they would control the tempo the rest of the way. However, Sacramento continually shot themselves in the foot with penalties. The Amazon #9 had trouble keeping her feet and more trouble leaving the ball alone once she was on the ground. The combination of penalties and a fearless Warrior defense would have been tough enough to overcome but a yellow card for a no wrap tackle at 53:00 minutes put the Amazon’s dominance in jeopardy. Still, aside from their flurry at the end of the first half the Warriors had yet to show that they could score with the ball in hand. Nothing changed in the next two minutes of play until the Amazons made a mistake they wouldn’t be able to overcome. The Amazons, already down one player, looked to clear some space with a kick that got out around their ten-meter line. As the Warrior winger fielded the ball she was crushed by her opposite number who came in low and hard and with her arms back at her sides; another yellow card. Now facing a defense down two players the Fallbrook backs had the space they needed. Just one minute later U20 Eagle Tara Burke scooted 35 meters for the Warriors first try. Five minutes later Burke led the charge again this time setting up a nifty weaving spinning run by #13 Nicole Bell.

After getting back near, and then to, full strength the Amazons pushed hard to get back in front but the sound technical tackling of the Warriors kept pushing them back. Though they had a few chances late Sacramento was unable to come up with another score. When the final whistle blew the Fallbrook Warriors entered the record book as the first ever Rugby California girls U19 champions.

A hearty thank you to both teams who played well and with great sportsmanship (I don’t think any of the illegal tackles were malicious and there were never any words exchanged between the clubs.) Thank you also to all the coaches who are clearly doing a great job with these programs. Thanks to John Pohlman and Bjorn Stumer for their AR work. Finally, thank you to Mike Sagehorn, Rugby California, and SFGG for putting on a great event.

Rugby California Boys State Final:
JESUIT 21 – Fallbrook 0 Referee: Phil Akroyd
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, John Pohlman
A well-matched game deserving of a State single school championship decider. This was the sixth time that I’ve reffed Jesuit this season and it was by far their closest game.

Usually, they have the game sealed by ¼ played, but they had to keep pushing all the way against the visitors from San Diego County. However, they did score two early(ish) unconverted tries (7 and 12 mins played) but that was all they got until the second half. During the first half, the pace of the game slowed from the lightning start when the tries were scored. That seemed to suit Fallbrook, as they played a slower style in comparison to the speedy distribution of the Sac boys.

Both teams got into penalty trouble, but Fallbrook more so, as they refused to enter tackle/rucks through the gate and both teams started out one pace in front of the back foot. Cards seemed to help solve that problem. Jesuit also held their discipline better than their opposition. Fallbrook lost their ten for ten minutes when he started talking trash. This was after all three of us refs thought we saw him throw a punch earlier in the first half, but couldn’t be sure. He’d been riding his luck all the game and needed time to cool off.

Overall, the better team won – Fallbrook visited opposition territory on very few occasions, while Jesuit always look dangerous with pace to burn on the outside. A total of three unconverted tries and two PKs. Should hold them in good shape for Nationals where in round one, they play…… Fallbrook.

Golden Gate 25 – HAYWARD 45 Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, Eric Rauscher
A lively game between two talented sides to decide the Norcal U19 champions. Gusting cross-breeze on an otherwise fine day at Norcal HQ on Treasure Island, pitch firm and fast.

First blood was drawn early by Hayward, after some great hands set up a ruck near the goal line, for a centre to crash over for the score. We had a post-match discussion on the grounding -- at what point is the ball held up? The tackler attempted to prevent the score, and was temporarily under the ball, preventing it being touched down, until the ball carrier's momentum took him past and allowed him to ground it. While by letter of law I might have erred, by spirit it was good. Conversion made (as were the first 5 out of 7, not easy given the conditions.)

Gate came back out strong, slotting a penalty and an unconverted try to take the lead, before Hayward got to grips with the game and started asserting their ball skills. While neither team was dominant up-front, it was clear that the visitors had the slicker hands, and the home side wasted good possession by taking it into contact with space out wide. Their kicker did not help, failing on all but one of their conversion attempts.

Alas in the second half we had no fewer than 5 yellow cards, all for dangerous tackles. Jim called one in from the side, the rest were pretty clear and no argument ensued from the culprits. Whether it was fewer players on the field, or the game just warming up, the score advanced much faster in the second half, with Hayward running away with it at the end.

Apparently I messed my watch up quite badly, the second half being nearly 45 minutes running time (3-4 of time off). Still, we'd been told the SL game was kicking off late, so we needed to shorten the intermission a little, right?

Thanks to Jim + Eric for staunch support from the side.

Later I was assigned to run touch for the SL game, which followed the familiar SFGG pattern of a hard, grinding first half, followed by 7s in the second for a 40 point victory margin. Exciting times for me as an AR -- first try was clearly going over in the corner: accelerate to get as close as possible, plant feet before touchdown, just inside the line for a thumbs up. Conversion knuckled hard in on my post -- a 5m miss ended up clanging off the woodwork, landing just over the line for a goal. Then in the 2nd half, ref Tim Luscombe was unsighted on a goal-line crash ball, but the grounding was clear and good, whatever the Old Blue fullback might think. Generally though, the ARing was more exciting than the game. Life, one would think, will be a stiffer test.

Super League Quarter-final
SF/GOLDEN GATE 62 – New York Old Blue 15 Referee: Tim Luscombe
ARs: LuAnn Campbell, Chris Tucker
#4s: Scott Wood, Eric Rauscher
Evaluator: Dixon Smith

SFGG set up a home semifinal by defeating Old Blue handily with their usual explosive second half.

However, they also had an explosive first half just to make sure there wouldn’t be any doubt.

If you haven’t seen this team play this year you should make every effort to be at Rocca Field this Saturday when they take on Life in a rematch of last year’s final.

If you have seen them play this year, you won’t need another invitation.


A one-off college sevens in May? What gives?

Rumor has it that NBC, pending the success of the college sevens event next month, is interested in creating a ‘March madness’ in May, a series of regional (and possibly subregional) tournaments that would lead into a grand finale.

Given the level of play the teams put together on short notice last Saturday (and for most of them it is the only time they will play Sevens all year), this is something that could eventuate quickly should NBC suggest it.

Six refs shared in the twenty games on the day, plus AR Ben Bravo.

STANFORD over UC Santa Cruz Referee: Preston Gordon

UC DAVIS – St. Mary’s Blue Referee: Mike Gadoua
ST. MARY’S Red – Sierra JC Referee: Pete Smith

ST. MARY’S Blue 26 – Sierra JC 10 Referee: Tom Zanarini

UC DAVIS over St. Mary’s Red Referee: George O’Neil

Women's GRIZZLIES 39 – USA-A 0 Referee: Don Pattalock
ARs: Cary Bertolone, Roberto Santiago
#4: Eric Rauscher
Stanford University
The USA women were young and enthusiastic while the Pacific Coast women were experienced, savvy and fast. The combined caps on the PC team could only be in the dreams of the young USA women. PC came out strong, fast and dominating in virtually all phases of play.


San Mateo lost to United of Utah, 14-24, in a playoff to advance to the nationals next weekend.

United has played neighbors Highland in the finals each of the last two years. No NorCal teams will be at the USA Rugby U19 championships.

Jesuit will defend their USA Rugby High School championship this coming weekend in Utah.

Phil Akroyd has been appointed to referee at the Utah events.


Delayed reports from Pac Coast girls playoff last weekend.

Match Reports from Pac Coast Girls U19 playoffs:


Final Score: SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 62 – 0 Lowlands

The long, five hour morning drive from Sacramento to Medford, OR terminated at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park. The park is a City owned facility, typically used for football (that’s soccer), but the good people of Kent Crusaders and select others did a fantastic job of setting up the field to the largest possible dimensions, complete with 22m in goals. The surface was soft with plenty of grass and well lined with a gentle crown. I believe that this is the first time that the Park was used for rugby, but hopefully not the last. It also helped that it was about three blocks from the various team hotels, making punctuality easy.

After a thorough warm-up, game one started at 1.30pm and put the Sacramento Amazons up against Lowlands of Utah (Salt Lake area). The Lowlands are a second-year team, helped out by the staff of the boys Highlands club. The size difference was apparent with the Lowlands struggling to make any tackles on the Amazon ladies. At 32-0 with fifteen left in the first half and one Amazon off the field for their first and only high tackle of the weekend, the game was all but decided. Lowlands clearly had speed, but insisted on punching up the middle when their best bet would have been to swing it out wide and get around their less pacey opposition.

With the game in their hands, the Amazons understandably took their foot off the gas, but still landed four more tries in the second half. A total of twelve tries and one conversion ended a solid day of work for the Burbank ladies.

Final Score: KENT CRUSADERS 39 – 3 Motherlode

Twenty minutes later and I got game two under way. Kent took the lead after eight minutes with a try, but Motherlode came back with a penalty-kick at goal after some brief goal line pressure. The deadlock held until eight minutes before half when the Washington State ladies grabbed another try, which they converted and followed it up with another just before half time.

Both teams played a good all round style with solid forward play and fast backs. Motherlode struggled at set-pieces and lost almost all scrums and many lineouts. It made for a long afternoon when they could not establish a solid platform to play from. Stand out player, number eight and captain Katie Humphreys dominated lineouts and distributed well in open play and has obviously read the Richie McCaw book on how to talk to referees.

The ladies from the foothills appeared flat throughout – maybe lacking a team spirit spark, but they continued their effort without reward and walked away on the wrong end of a further four second half tries. However, the highlight of their weekend was still to come.


Final Score: SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 15 – 13 Kent Crusaders

A full blood and guts game. One of those games that did not need to be over exaggerated with words as the blood on the shirts said everything.

It looked like the Amazons were caught flat footed – maybe the early 11.30 kick off or big match nerves – but they didn’t look like the free playing team of the previous day. Their indiscipline really started to hurt them too as the opposition could capitalize on the penalties. Kent were up 5 – 8 half way through the first half but the Sac ladies woke up and charged over for their second unconverted try just before half. The timing of the try may have dispirited Kent as the Amazons pushed on to three tries – a 15- 8 lead. In the dying seconds Kent rallied and had a goal line stand which generated a try. However, it was as far in the corner as legally possible. The kicker was just short and a little to the left and the Amazons took the victory.

Interesting stat – the Amazons scored 15 tries over the weekend and only converted one.

Girls' HS Final 2010
John Pohlman, Roberto Santiago, Bjorn Stumer at the Girls’ HS Final. Photo courtesy of Austin Brewin.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris