Wednesday, May 12, 2010




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.


Last week we blew our horn to celebrate the achievement of having eight NCRRS referees receiving national appointments this season.

There’s harmony to that tune: seventeen other Pelicans have been appointed as ARs, evaluators, coaches and fourth officials.

That’s twenty-five folks flying over and above NorCal airspace.


SF Fog 0 –QUEENSLAND OUTBACK BARBARIANS 83 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Treasure Island, Friday night 6:30 PM
Outback Barbarians are an Australian Touring/"Rep" side from Queensland (northeast; made of players from different teams in that big region) who go on a tour every 2 years. Two years ago some of them went to the Maggotfest, so this time they flew into New York & had a bus take them first up to Boston to play a 3rd division side there, Northside & then drove across the country getting hosted by the Maggots which meant a match Thursday night followed by rafting a Class 4 river in Idaho Friday & playing 3 matches at the fest & partying hard every night. They continued their moving party to San Francisco, which showed the first 15 minutes of their match against a very determined & inspired Fog team, which not only held their own, but was forcing the action by making some very hard tackles--somehow they got no points for all their effort.

Once the foreigners got untracked & over their hangovers they exploded for 38 first half points in the next 15 minutes & another 45 after 1/2 time.

The Fog also lived up to their off-field reputation as being one of the best, if not most gracious hosting teams, in NorCal, if not the rugby universe. Speaking of Down Under, the visitors’ team song used the old Bye, Bye American Pie with lower body parts descriptions I wish I could remember, let alone sing for you.

CR1 playoffs:

OLYMPIC CLUB 42 – Los Angeles 7 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
ARs: John Coppinger, Dave Newport
No report received.

The Olympic Club advances to the USA playoffs May 22-23.

East Palo Alto and Sacramento lost to SoCal competition and ended their seasons.

Pacific Coast Single-school HS playoff:
Bellarmine 14 – SNOW CANYON (Utah) 29 Referee: Tobin Ropes

NorCal HS U19 semi-finals:

Lamorinda 22 – HAYWARD 24 Referee: Preston Gordon
ARs: Dave Williamson, Tony McKenzie/Mose Timoteo
Campolindo HS, Moraga, 1400
A great game in front of a good crowd, and pretty close throughout. Hayward suffered a first-half yellow card for team repeat infringements, but managed to hold on and then come from behind at the end (22-19 to Lamorinda with 9 minutes left) for the win. Thanks to the ARs for all their help.

Here are a number of photographs taken by Bill Dent:

Vacaville U19, 14 – SAN FRANCISCO GOLDEN GATE U19, 17 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: Chris Tucker, Jeff Richmond
Despite the best efforts of a 7-car crash that closed the Benicia Bridge, I was able to find a detour to reach Vacaville for the NorCal U19 Semi-final on a windy, sunny day. In front of about 100 onlookers, Vacaville looked more cohesive in the first half, scoring two converted tries to one by SFGG. The home team almost scored an 80m interception try before the wing was bundled into touch-in-goal by three desperate cover-defenders, whereas SFGG missed a certain try when the ball-carrier gleefully ran 35m untouched, all the way over the dead-ball line. SFGG spread the ball wide and kicked deep in the second half to notch 2 unconverted tries, which stole Vacaville's momentum. In the latter stages of the match, both teams had attacking opportunities near their opponents’ goal-line, but ball-retention faltered after more than 3-4 phases with points in sight. In the end, SFGG won an evenly contested match, 3 tries to 2, to book their place in the NorCal U19 Final.

Much thanks to Chris and Jeff for their help as AR's.


By John Pohlman
Pacific Grizzlies Coaches Jonathan Griffin and Paul Keeler hosted 37 players from the Pacific Coast Territory at Stanford this Saturday.
This was an opportunity for collegiate men players to make the Grizzlies squad.
They ran 3 20 minute periods with unopposed scrums in this scrimmage.
Nine tries were totaled. Loads of talent. Good luck to all.


The For Pete’s Sake Foundation has a writ to host five ‘events’ a year, three rugby and two soccer. Their board of directors has the enviable task of deciding how to parcel out the three rugby weekend extravaganzas.

This was the first: the Wine Country Classic Sevens. Pat Culley and Dave Ellis seemed to be the men in charge; our apologies to those behind the scenes!

The pitch is in great shape, unbelievably lush, with a bench for spectator seating running the entire length of the enclosure. During the course of the tournament, volunteers from the Santa Rosa rugby community erected the framing for a spectator pavilion at the west end of the field.

The competition was played on two pitches and included high school, college and club brackets, and a brand-new team on the NorCal scene: Bishop.

Yes, this is the Bishop near the Mammoth ski resort. That’s about 350 miles from Santa Rosa if the Tioga Pass is open through Yosemite, almost 400 if it’s not. They seemed to have a couple of players with some rugby experience, the rest of the squad and sideline supporters having rugby enthusiasm.

Sierra JC won the college bracket and may surprise some of the four-year schools at this Saturday’s Stanford Sevens.

While there wasn’t any wine at the pitch-side barbecue afterwards, they did have the kinds of beverages that rugby players have been known to seek for the third half.

Gadoua, Carter, Byrnes, Zanarini, Bernstein, King, Ellis, Bertolone, Rauscher


Rocca Field:
Rugby California will hold its championships at Rocca Field, with the girls’ final at 10:45 AM and the boys’ at noon.

This will be followed by the NCRFU U19 final, and then the Super League quarterfinal.

10:45AM Girls State Final (Teams not known) Referee: Roberto Santiago
ARs: John Pohlman, Bjorn Stumer

Noon: Jesuit – Fallbrook Referee: Phil Akroyd
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, John Pohlman

1:30PM: Golden Gate – Hayward Referee: Chris Tucker
ARs: Jim Crenshaw, Eric Rauscher

Super League Quarter-final
3PM: SF/Golden Gate – New York Old Blue Referee: Tim Luscombe
ARs: LuAnn Campbell, Chris Tucker
#4s: Scott Wood, Eric Rauscher
Evaluator: Dixon Smith


This tournament will feature Stanford, UC Davis, St. Mary’s, Sierra JC, Sac State and Santa Clara, with eight teams all told.

Play begins at 8 AM at the Steuber Family Rugby Stadium, with Mike Gadoua refereeing Stanford playing St. Mary’s.

If you’d like to come help out with the team of five (Assistant Referees and In-goal Judges), the knock-out games begin at 1 PM and will be finished by four.

Women's Grizzlies – USA-A Referee: Don Pattalock
ARs: Cary Bertolone, Roberto Santiago
#4: Eric Rauscher

By Preston Gordon:

Saturday, May 1st
RFC Basel 13-22 RC Neuchâtel (Swiss NLB/D2)
1500, Pruntrutermatte, Basel
Referee coach: Paul de Wouters

After getting some good fitness work done at the preceding week's training sessions with GC Zürich, I was feeling pretty good for the weekend's first game. I got out of Zürich just in time to avoid the annual May Day communist parade/riot which shuts down most of the city. This also had the side effect of getting me to Basel (about an hour away on the train) in time to see their seconds match against Luzern, refereed well by Sarah MacNamara. The ground is not far from the train station and very picturesque, with a vine-covered fence surrounding the playing enclosure, trees, and old buildings lining the north side of the adjacent street. As is standard in every Swiss sporting facility, the referees have their own changing room(s) with a shower.

The teams were ready to go about 20 minutes before the game, and we got the pre-match stuff out of the way with plenty of time. Communication with the team from the west side of the Röstigraben wasn't a problem. Right as we did the toss 10 minutes prior to kickoff a deluge of rain started, but luckily, it stopped right after the game began, although it did continue to drizzle for the rest of the day.

Basel kicked off, and only a couple of phases later were penalized for not rolling away at the tackle. Neuchâtel duly slotted the penalty goal and took an early 3-0 lead. Basel answered not long after with a well-worked try, unconverted, followed a few minutes later by a Neuchâtel try: 8-5 to the visitors. They were then penalized for not rolling away, and Basel got the penalty goal, evening the scores at 8 apiece. Basel managed one more unconverted try before halftime, putting them into the lead at 13-8. The ~150 spectators were highly entertained by the rugby on display, with hard hits and good passing. Basel had to be spoken to 10 minutes into the game about their players not rolling away, but once both sides figured out what I was looking for at the tackle, the recycling sped up quite nicely.

Halftime was a quick affair as these two closely matched teams were keen to get back into it. The second half featured a lot of play up and down the field, but neither side was able to score any points until late in the game. Before that, though, the Basel #13 went to the bin for the third not rolling away offense (48'). Thankfully that put a stop to the nonsense, and I didn't have to deal with it again.

As mentioned, the second half spectacle was not lacking in intensity. At 72' Neuchâtel found an overlap on the left side due to some slack defending, and the player on the wing got around the last tackle to score a try near the center. That tied the game at 13, and then they converted the try to take the lead at 15-13. So there was no shortage of entertainment on display, and both teams picked up the intensity. Basel adjusted their tactics a bit, playing a riskier game with more speculative passes and offloads. This worked well for a few minutes, but proved to be their downfall at 75' when a pass was picked off and returned for a try under the posts. That one silenced the crowd and was converted for the last points of the game (22-13 to the visitors). Basel kept up their efforts for the remaining 5 minutes but couldn't quite get through the Neuchâtel defense. At the end of the match they were pretty dejected, since their good work throughout the game was let down at the last minute. They played well though, especially considering they were missing several players in their backline due to injury.

After the match I had a shower and then talked over the game with Paul de Wouters while munching on a grilled pork cutlet sandwich and some potato salad. Paul works for Genentech and is occasionally in the Bay Area, so of course I invited him to let us know the next time he comes this way. As usual, the hospitality was excellent, and I stuck around for the rest of the afternoon and then helped the guys put away the tables and garbage. We then adjourned to the sponsor's pub in town, where I found the Luzern guys well-oiled and still going. After one more pint there, it was time to head back home in order to stay fresh for Sunday's game.

Sunday, May 2nd

GC Zürich 2nd XV 34-13 OC Monthey (Swiss NLC/D3)
1230, Allmend Brunau, Zürich

GCZ Match Report:[tt_news]=165&tx_ttnews[backPid]=48

Just like the prior week, GC Zürich had their firsts and seconds playing at home. I took the earlier game against Monthey, a new (2007) side from Valais, up the Rhône valley about halfway between Montreux and Sion. They had a very large pack and just a handful of substitutes, which wasn't surprising since earlier in the week there was some doubt over whether the match would be played at all.

The rain was still coming down, and was actually a bit heavier than Saturday. It had some effect on the game, but luckily there weren't too many dropped balls. The Grasshoppers started strongly, but within several minutes found themselves under some pressure, defending within their own half. Penalties for high tackles were exchanged (3-3). At 16' a GC wing found himself isolated near his own goal line, which turned into a loose ball. The Monthey player went for it, but was taken out early before he could pick up the ball. I debated awarding a penalty try, but decided that would be a bit much, so the offender received a yellow card instead. It may have been worth it to Zürich, since they were able to play 14-on-15 for the next 10 minutes without too much trouble. Monthey got the first try of the game not long after, by charging down a box kick and then getting to the ball in in-goal first (8-3 to the visitors). Later in the half GC scored a good converted try from backline play (10-8), and then another through the forwards, leaving the halftime score at 17-8. It was looking like a repeat of the prior day's game.

The rain continued in the second half, which suited Monthey's style of play: lots of forward drives. GC did well to move the ball around, using their backline effectively in spite of the rain. The players were doing a good job of staying out of the way when appropriate and getting themselves in a proper position to contest possession at the tackles, rucks, and mauls. While Monthey only had a couple of guys who spoke English, communication was not a problem, helped by the fact that this was my 4th game in a week with French-speaking teams.

Most of the second half was controlled by Zürich however. They scored 3 more tries, converting 1, for another 17 points. The first one was a real beauty, where the #7 took a quick pass and went about half the length of the pitch, dodging multiple tacklers along the way. He was almost caught at the 5m line, but wisely chose to dive and the wet surface allowed him to slide in left of the posts with the tackler hanging on by the legs. The ball was held in the attacker's right hand and was sliding on the ground for a good half meter, popping out just past the line. The defender saw the loose ball and looked like he wanted to complain about a knock-on, but seemed to realize that wouldn't be worth it as I was standing right on the line (and about 4m behind the #7 when he grounded the ball).

Unfortunately, GC were also guilty of losing their heads somewhat, which allowed Monthey to get back into the game and camp in the Zürich 22 for some time. They put together some really good rolling mauls, moving one over the goal line, where I was waiting. Somehow the Zürich #15 (or #9, I don't remember exactly) got himself under the attacking forward, who was easily twice his size, and had his arm under the ball: held up, 5m attacking scrum. Monthey was understandably disappointed but continued their physical dominance. This soon led to a 78' penalty about 15m out from the goal line, which was quick-tapped. The ball carrier, another of the big forwards, managed to shove the obviously offside and not retreating GC defender out of the way to score, but I had had enough with the cynical play and yellow carded him anyway. That was to be the last score of the game, for a 34-13 result to the home team. In the remaining 2 minutes Zürich attempted to score again, but ultimately were bundled into touch at full time (after their skipper was heard repeatedly shouting "kick it out, you *#@*&$#@%" to no avail).

Everyone was very happy after the match. The players on both sides were complimentary, and the Monthey coach told me right after the final whistle, "C'est la meilleur arbitrage que nos avons vu cette saison." [Editor: Bien sûr! Il est un Pelican.]

I congratulated him on his team's performance and also made sure to thank their captain and their #10, who was happy to do the extra work of helping to ensure the ref and his team understood each other when things were occasionally unclear. The ref was also happy, after feeling a bit tired and stiff that morning after 4 good, fairly fast games in a week, 2 training sessions, and a couple of late nights out on the town. We all hung around to watch the firsts hang on to beat Yverdon 13-12, enjoying a wurst and a beer under the tent, and then most of us made it to the pub in time to catch the Biarritz-Munster Heineken Cup semi-final, which was a cracker.

Now that I'm back in California, I'd like to thank all the different individuals and teams that I saw again, met for the first time, refereed, were coached by, trained with, discussed laws with, loaded up on kit from, traded pins with, discussed NorCal rugby with, and generally had the opportunity to enjoy our game with. Swiss rugby is, in my opinion, much improved from what I remember in 2006. Special thanks are due to M. Jean-Louis Larigaldie, the Swiss Referee Manager, for offering me another opportunity to ref in Switzerland, and to the Rachel and Paul for coming out to watch me.

And by all means, if anyone from NorCal finds themselves with plans to be in Switzerland, please get in touch.

Six of Nine
It’s 8:30 AM at For Pete’s Sake on a brilliant Sevensday in May.

Dave Ellis, Cary Bertolone, Mike King, Mike Gadoua, Tom Zanarini, Bruce Carter were there for the cameras. Bruce Bernstein, Bryant Byrnes and Eric Rauscher arrived a little later.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris