Wednesday, February 23, 2011




Chris Tucker has earned promotion to the Territorial Panel by the PCRRS. Congratulations! Onward and upward the Flock.


Referees talk about wanting to be ‘in the frame’ when rugby action photos are taken, especially of trys. We wish to be right next to the focus of the action. In our minds, we are always near the ball, yet sometimes we look at pictures of the games we ref, in vain seeking ourselves.

Joe Androvich did the Cal – UBC game Saturday. Have a look:

This was in the third minute of the match. Referees and evaluators talk about sometimes having to referee ‘under the tackle’. This is NOT what is meant.

We are happy to say that although Joe started out beneath play, for the remaining seventy-seven minutes he stayed on top of it.


A score was reversed in our account of a match played on February 5.

The Diablo Gaels defeated Chico 39 – 31, not the other way ‘round.

Thanks to referee Jim Crenshaw and Harry Batten of the Gaels for pointing this out.


Because weekend days are precious this time of year, the course will be taught on two weekday evenings:

Dates: Monday, February 28, 2011, and Wed, March 2, 2011 from 6:00 to 9:00.
Location: Greater Sacramento area, place to be determined.
Contact: Matt Eason:


Saturday, February 19, came at the end of an entire week of rain throughout Northern California. Rain on the coast and in the Central Valley translates into snow on the Donner Pass in the Sierra, which three or four teams have to cross each weekend to play.

We get all of our rain in the span of a few months, which happen to correspond to the bulk of the fifteens season. Over the course of the past ten years, more teams have obtained grass pitches that they control or use artificial surfaces on which rain matters not. Yet still, we count eight club and college games scheduled to have been played Saturday that were deferred to future dates.

One result: more referees at those games that did take place!

SeƱors 5 – SILVERHAWKS 12 Referee: Preston Gordon
10 AM, Treasure Island GAA
We played 2 halves of about 17' each with 10-a-side. This wasn't my first old boys game - I helped ref at the European Golden Oldies in Zurich in 2006 - but it was probably the best one. I only had to blow the whistle a few times, the players seemed to enjoy themselves, and we ended up with 3 tries to two.

As they say, a cold wet day at rugby beats a warm dry day in the office any time - even when the rain, which started while I was on the bridge heading to TI at 0830, stops right after the last game of the day. That's rugby!

SFGG COLTS 19 – Seahawks 3 Referee: Tom Zanarini
ARs: Preston Gordon & Paul Bretz
What a fine day for rugby. Seems matches were cancelled all over Pelican Land except for on the oval ball island. Rain was on order for the duration but teams came to play. Feisty match but played well despite the weather. San Jose was on the cusp of scoring multiple times so don't let the score fool you. Thanks to my AR's for policing the far sides, always a nice feature. A huge thanks goes out to SFGG for having that wonderful clubhouse. After the match I was able to eat a hot meal, shower and change into warm dry clothes just in time to get soaked again while running AR for Androvich's Cal v UBC match. What a day.

Seconds: SFGG COLTS 15 – Seahawks 0 Referee: Bruce Carter
We didn’t have enough refs for this D2 second-side match until the cancelations started. I was happy to pick it up – it put me on the scene for two of the top fixtures in our annual calendar: Golden Gate’s super league team against the Olympic Club, and the same Sheeran Field hosting the Cal – UBC game.

It was cold and it was raining. The players from the previous game retiring to the warm showers and cold beer had blue cheeks and chattering teeth. Yet fans remained!

We love our rugby here in Pelicanland. A weekend like this justifies those of us who moved to Northern California specifically for this sport.

Golden Gate’s depth runs throughout the fixture list. They scored three trys in 37 minutes and then the Gaelic Association folks realized that not only were those crazy ruggers out there playing, it was the third game of the day!

I got the word during a conversion attempt and relayed it to the captains. Norm Boccone of the Seahawks said, “Dang! We were just getting ready to score three tries!”

Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: John Coppinger, Preston Gordon
Just ahead of the Cal v UBC match, the defending Super League West champs played the defending NorCal D1 champs on a cold, rainy, windy 45F day at Sheeran Field at Treasure Island. SFGG took control early and earned several kickable penalties, but instead of kicking for points, they opted to run the ball or kick for touch and were never able to score. Olympic was under severe pressure most of the first half, but were able to defend just enough to keep SFGG out. Against the run of play, Olympic scored off a clean break down the middle of the field to lead 0-7. With this momentum, Olympic's forwards took control of the breakdown and the D1 champs decided to kick their only kickable penalty to lead 0-10 at half. Olympic's flankers were outstanding in the loose and did not allow SFGG to move forward or work their backs. Both teams struggled to handle the slippery ball and side-steps were not an option on the wet turf (with standing water). Olympic showed excellent mauling technique on several occasions and they added one more penalty in the second half to lead 0-13 before SFGG's forwards decided to impose themselves by ferociously pounding the ball forward with strong support which earned them two tries to close within 10-13. During a rare foray into SFGG territory, Olympic earned another kickable penalty to edge ahead 10-16 with 15 minutes to play. At this stage both teams were treating the crowd, which was swelling for the Cal/UBC game, to an entertaining display of back and forth, straight-ahead, physical rugby before SFGG earned a penalty 5m from Olympic's try-line, which SFGG quick-tapped to score near the posts. The conversion was good and SFGG took its first lead 17-16 with a minute to go. Olympic's kickoff didn't go 10m and off the ensuing scrum, SFGG kicked the ball into touch to end the match. In the end, SFGG was able to adjust their game-plan to win 3 tries to 1, but Olympic came within 2 minutes of pulling off a famous victory. Despite the high penalty count and two yellow cards for each team (all for repeated team infringements), this was a fun match to referee; the physicality was impressive. Much thanks to John Coppinger and Preston Gordon for their valuable help as Assistant Referees.

CALIFORNIA 21 – U. of British Columbia 13 Referee: Joe Androvich
ARs: Paul Bretz, Tom Zanarini
#4: Rob Hendrickson

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 22 – UC Davis 0 Referee: Phil Akroyd
The pitch was nicely torn up after a full day of U19 play at Danny Nunn field and the recent heavy rainfall left areas of standing water on one side.

Kick off was at 5.30 with both teams raring to go. Twenty minutes in, the sun set and the lights came on in the nick of time. The Capitals were in control for most of the game and had about 75% of the possession. The Capitals also had about 25 pounds per man, maybe more in the forwards, where the Caps developed their platform to play.

The home side scored from their continued possession and some of the tries were surprisingly skillful, given the conditions. Davis continued to struggle throughout and still could not score even with a couple of Sac players in the bin on two separate occasions.

Seconds: Sac Capitals – UC Davis CANCELED

SACRAMENTO LIONS 41 – Barbarians 9 Referee: George O'Neil
Evaluator: Kat Todd-Schwartz

Seconds: Sac Lions – Barbarians Referee: Ray Schwartz

FRESNO 52 – Berkeley 10 Referee: Jeff Jury

BA Baracus 5 –SANTA ROSA 27 Referee: Rich Anderson

Vacaville 17 – MARIN 22 Referee: Scott Wood
TJs: Mike Comstock (Marin) / Vacaville Player
Location: Jepson Middle School, Vacaville

My lovely wife called me at work Friday afternoon to see if my high school game (Motherlode at Jesuit) would be cancelled due to the weather. I told her "not as of yet". Barely two minutes after hanging up the phone I received an email from Jesuit stating that afternoon's match was cancelled.....I'm just saying...

On to Saturday. The forecast was for showers and there was rain on my drive from Stockton to Vacaville (via Sacramento). Arriving in Vacaville the rain tapered off but the skies were threatening. Fortunately, the pitch drains well and it was too cold to rain. The surrounding foothills were covered with a dusting of snow. I looked wistfully at the scenery mentally putting myself in a warm lodge sipping "fortified" coffee.

This was Marin's first league match as a Division II club and their 100th since forming as the Marin R.E.D.S. Vacaville had moved up from D3 as well, earlier. Both teams took their time feeling each other out and the first score was not made until the 20th minute when Vacaville was able to cross the goal line for a try (unconverted). Vacaville lost territory on a handful of occasions due to penalties (early season technique). Marin tried valiantly to capitalize but their inside center was not keyed onto the game plan and would duck inside only to meet Vacaville's defenders. Vacaville had a chance at a third try but was held up twice before turning over the ball. Both teams swapped tries until the visitors scored a converted try to finish the half leading 19-10. Marin scored because the ball carrier went low into contact and Vacaville's lone defender did not have any support. Some angst abounded as the other defenders thought the ball carrier was held up in goal but that was not the case.

After a "helpful" suggestion from a self-proclaimed "Level One USA Rugby certified coach" waiving the Game Management Guidelines (he was correct, for what it's worth) regarding rucking by both teams, we entered the second half.

Marin's halftime talk (to themselves, not the referee...) paid off as they were now on the same game plan and played relatively well. However, Vacaville had bolstered its defenses and kept penalties to an acceptable minimum. Marin tried to expand on its lead but only made one out of four penalty kicks. Their inside center attempted a drop goal but the ground is not as level as he may be accustomed to in his native Fiji. In the waning minutes of the match, Vacaville mounted attack after attack at the goal line, each time being repelled by Marin until a slight gap was exploited.

Vacaville's Matt Hefner did a fine job refereeing the seconds but I was too cold to note the score.

Vallejo 21 – COLUSA 22 Referee: Cary Bertolone
At Mare Island, in the cold drizzle and rain, Vallejo kicked off to Colusa at 3:00 PM. The field, having looked pretty good in the morning, was a mess by now. Vallejo started out strong and took a 14-0 lead in the first 20 minutes. Colusa scored a corner try, as I allegedly missed a knock-on about the three meter line that preceded it. This gave Colusa some confidence and they were able to put another try down to make it 14-10 at the half. Vallejo scored again and seemed to have the game in hand at 21-10, but Colusa would not stop and closed the margin to 21-17 with a center try. Vallejo made several costly penalties, giving up large chunks of territory, some of them just rookie mistakes and three "not back 10's". With 2 minutes left, Colusa won a ruck and swung the ball wide at about the 50 meter mark and their winger made it in for a diving corner try to win the game 22-21. A very muddy, cold game. Vallejo was not happy, but they put on a great feast for all and both teams were a great bunch of guys. Good, clean rugby!!

REDWOOD 18 – Shasta 7 Referee: Sean Peters
The weather finally gave us a break here in Santa Rosa at "For Pete's Sake". The Redwood Empire hosted Shasta

The field was in great condition as Shasta Kicked off. Good head to head, from the forwards, played out by both teams. Lots of knock –ons were in this game, seemed like no one wanted to hang on to the ball, lots of scrums!!! Few break-aways from both teams in the back line.

Redwood's fly half and center put up the first points of the game. Shasta's forwards rallied and scored late in the first half to make it 10-7.

Second half was the same, wet condition lots of knock ons and scrums. Redwood Empire would manage to score another try and kick a penalty try. Both teams played hard.

Reno Zephyrs – Mendocino RAINED OUT

Humboldt – Reno Academy RAINED OUT

Stanislaus – Aptos Referee: Sam Davis
No report received.

SF FOG women 49 – EPA Razorbacks 5 Referee: Lois Bukowski
Cold, wet, muddy, and some decent rugby.

FOG 68 – Arroyo Grande 0 Referee: Stephanie Bruce

SAN BRUNO SAINTS 88 – Paso Robles 17 Referee: Bruce Ricard
The game started with a rainy weather, on a synthetic turf, with half football and half soccer lines.

San Bruno completely dominated the first half despite a yellow card for their scrum half who intentionality knocked on twice in 10 minutes; scoring 9 tries, converting 7, while Paso Robles scored one penalty goal. Score at the break: 59 - 3.

The second half was more balanced, San Bruno scored 3 tries (2 converted) and a drop goal, and got a player temporarily excluded for team repeated infringements at rucks, especially off-sides. Paso Robles then scored 2 converted tries, before San Bruno scored a last converted try at the 77th minute.

South Valley 13 – SAMOA UNITED 15 Referee: Bruce Carter
This game was scheduled for 6:30 PM under the light in Morgan Hill. Having refereed a frozen fixture seven hours previously, showered, warmed up and bundled up to watch the two feature matches, I was warm and content, these old bones not aching to run around again now that the sun had set and the rain had picked up.

But two teams were warming up in strength and again, dozens of people were braving the elements to be entertained.

We kicked off on time.

This was unlike D3 matches I have seen: skill levels and pace are distributed liberally across both teams. It was hard-hitting and fierce – fierce enough that the Samoa United captain received a red card for a second dangerous tackle in the first half.

After playing a man down for about thirty minutes, Samoa United took the lead on a 40-meter drop goal into the wind and rain.

And just in time – the lights, scheduled until eight, expired as we prepared to pack down a scrum with 14 minutes remaining.

There was nothing to do but give three cheers and seek shelter.

St. Mary's seconds 31 –DIABLO GAELS 39 Referee: John Pohlman
I walked out to get the newspaper in Fremont on Saturday morning and was pleasantly surprised to have a sunny blue sky overhead. As I drove to Mare Island where St. Mary's 2nd side was hosting the Old Gaels my surprise turned to disappointment as the rain and sky looked much like the last few days.

The kick-off was scheduled at 11:30AM I arrived at 10:30 with just a few cars in the parking lot. I walked the field, under an umbrella, and felt the field was draining well with no standing water and pretty firm.

Yeah, now let’s see if the players show.

The Gaels had 30 players changing in the shed, St. Mary's bus had not yet arrived. The bus showed around 11:00 and kick-off was moved to 11:45.

There was a steady light rain throughout most of the match. The game was very competitive and once the whistle blew to start the game, I never really noticed the weather until after the game.

The Gaels got into the try zone first but knocked on prior to grounding. St. Mary's showed their speed six minutes in with a turnover try from 60 meters out.

The Gaels forwards proved to be more experienced throughout the day and were rewarded with their first of four trys scored by the driving pack. So the game would be St. Mary's outside speed verse the Gaels bigger more experienced pack.

SMC's #15 Brewer scored his first of two trys twenty minutes in, for the third lead change of the game.

Gaels captain and #5 Mark Wilbholm scored the second try by the second rows. That does not happen often where second rows score the first two trys for the visitors.

SMC's speed got outside at half time for a 17-12 SMC lead. And the 5th lead change.

SMC scored a quick try 3minutes into the second half. The Gaels scored two more, the second by #10 Brian Lynn, the first Gaels try scored by a back in the game.

SMC retook the lead with Brewer's second try.

Then the Gaels forwards slowed the game down and scored their second try using a driving maul.

With 7 minutes to go Gaels scrum half slotted a penalty to take a 32-31 lead. The last minutes of the game saw SMC pressing hard to regain the lead. The Gaels got a final try on a turnover ball at the 78th minute.

Final Gaels 39-SMC 31, with nine lead changes.

ST. MARY’S thirds 36 – Diablo Gaels seconds 27 Referee: John Fouts
Assessor: Bryan Porter
The game was shortened (30 minute halves) due to field conflicts. Hard fought game in messy conditions.

SACRAMENTO STATE 95 – Santa Clara 8 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Seconds: Sacramento State – Santa Clara Referee: Jeffery Lusich
No report received.

Nevada – San Jose State RAINED OUT (snowed out)

UOP – Fresno State Referee: JC Van Staden
No report received.

U. of San Francisco forfeited to SIERRA COLLEGE

UC Santa Cruz 0 – MARITIME ACADEMY 32 Referee: Stephen Moore
An especially wet and muddy game played on a sea of lakes. A challenge to find firm spots for scrums. Today I learnt why a referee must carry two whistles, the first one choked in mud. I struggled to tie shoe laces too, fingers frozen. A spirited game though, Maritime forwards very strong with several rolling mauls that took them 30+ meters down field, executed perfectly. Maritime very quick to the break down stealing possession with their excellent rucking. Santa Cruz struggled with offside positions at times. Some nice kicking duels. I love a ball kicked high into the air falling smack onto water and not budging an inch on impact. Lots of fun!

SANTA ROSA JC 35 – Humboldt State 3 Referee: Mike King
The Pat Culley Shield match started with a break from the downpour experienced over the past several days. For Pete’s Sake field in Santa Rosa weathered the rain well and the turf was in good condition. This allowed for good footing overall and some spirited backfield play by both sides. The beginning of the match also saw both sets of forwards rucking quite well, with defenses holding the gain line for the most part. SRJC drew first blood, as #8 Paulson crashed over for his first of several tries on the day. It was followed shortly by a penalty kick for Humboldt to keep it close. By halftime, the JC was only able to muster one other try, although there were some close calls. 10-3.

The second half was all JC with 4 more tries, a conversion, and penalty kick. No points for HSU. The Loggers did not give any quarter and gamely attacked the JC’s goal a few times, only to come up empty handed. It did seem that HSU was just not able to keep up with the speed and endurance of their JC counterparts. The visitors to their credit though, persisted until the final whistle.

Sac State women 17 – CALIFORNIA 38 Referee: Chris Tucker
An entertaining game played hard by both teams. The pace gave me chance to work on my positioning, which if you ask the Sac State inside centre meant figuring out where she was going and standing in the way. After an apology I got a little better -- never easy changing something you've been doing wrong for too long.

UCB were better drilled at the ruck, and consequently won more than their share of ball, the rest worked itself out from there.

After the first side we played B-side 7s. Checked my law differentials, and went to it, trying to position myself behind the backs. After calling ruck a dozen or so times in the first few minutes, I went back to approaching it like 15s. Sac State extracted a measure of revenge, coming away 24-12 victors.

And then ARed for Crenshaw's cricket-score match. Not sure I've ever seen a kicker who so accurately managed to make my life tricky, hitting my post 3 times. If he was that accurate, maybe he should have aimed left a bit...

UC Santa Cruz women – Chico State RAINED OUT

Santa Clara women – Humboldt State RAINED OUT

SF BATS women – Nevada RAINED OUT

Sunday, February 20:
STANFORD women 38 – UC Davis 17 Referee: Bruce Carter
ARs: Donal Walsh, Ben Bravo
These games were moved to a nice, sunny Sunday after the deluges of the previous several days. The assigned first-side ref could not make the switch so I picked up my third game of the weekend, before heading across the street to Palo Alto HS to referee the U12s.

The first twenty minutes were a forward-dominated stalemate, until Stanford began to assert themselves, led by Captain and #7 Frances Wehrwein, who scored three trys on the day. It was 21-0 at the half.

Davis’ rucking game improved such that they scored the first two trys of the second period, and it looked like all of the action would be at the same end of the pitch throughout.

In the end it was Stanford’s distribution of the ball that made a big difference, as Davis often found themselves running back to try to reorganize around a pass that went to ground.

Seconds: STANFORD 75 – UC Davis 0 Referee: Tony Levitan
The rugby folks at Stanford demonstrated the University's reputed intellectual leadership by pushing their match from Saturday's bone-chilling heavy rains to Sunday's delightful partly sunny, rugby-perfect weather. While all involved enjoyed their run on the day, most of the running was done headed toward and over the Davis goal line with Stanford dotting down 7 first-half tries (4 converted) and another 6 more (1 converted) in the second stanza.

Davis was game throughout while showing their inexperience from the opening kick-off (it took multiple attempts to find a player who could execute a proper drop kick). Stanford had a number of players who likely will see A-side playing time this season including (I predict) #8 Molly, a former hammer thrower who was just completing her first week of rugby competition. Big, fast, agile and seriously sports savvy, I'll be very surprised if this multiple try scorer isn't a stalwart of the Stanford scrum by season's end ... once she learns a few more of the laws of the game, that is :-).


Friday, February 11:

Santa Rosa 12 – ELSIE ALLEN 15 Referee: Mike King
A well fought close encounter that was decided on a late penalty kick converted in extra time extended by penalties at the Rosa try line. The 2 long-time rivals played hard fought, no quarter, energetic rugby which saw long periods of good second phase play on both sides, and good tackling for the most part. The high level of intensity did lead to a large number of off-sides on both squads as each side attempted to gain some advantage over the other to turn the tide. Elsie Allen led first, but after almost every score, Rosa would match so that it was knotted 12-12 until the very end. Both sides were winners in this engagement.

Friday, Feb. 18:

Elsie Allen 0 – MARIN 48 Referee: Sean Peters
A wet and very cold night at Else Allen H.S, where the Lobos hosted Marin H.S. First half Marin came out hard and fast, they put together a fast pace attack. They had the Lobos playing a lot of defense. Marin’s capt. #2 controlled his forwards, and had some big runs himself. Setting up their fast back line as they attacked the Lobos out wide.

Second half was more of Marin, attacking once again in the loose play. The Lobos played hard, but wasn't enough. Due to the conditions of mother nature there were a lot of knock-ons.

JV: Elsie Allen 19 – MARIN 26 Referee: Mike King
A barnburner with Marin racing out to a 26-5 halftime lead. It seemed that the Lobos were going backwards for much of the half. Tackling was not up to normal standard for these young men. Marin took turnovers from Elsie, for a few long scores. The second half was the opposite. Elsie pounded the ball ahead, rucked with abandon, and made key stops where the Highlanders had broken through before. Momentum shifted and the final outcome was a testament to the strong effort by both the Highlanders and the Lobos.
ROSA/CARDINAL NEWMAN 22 – Montgomery High 17 Referee: Cary Bertolone
Friday night under the lights found us with steady rain at 39 degrees-cold! Rosa scored the first two tries for a 12-0 lead, but Montgomery figured out how to ruck and tied it by the half. They actually took the lead, but Rosa tied it for 17-17 near the end, and then. scored one last try for a 22-17 final score.

Saturday, February 19

Peninsula Green 22 – EPA 24 Referee: James Hinkin
With temperatures in the 40s and rain sleeting down it was to be a rugby game played in conditions rarely seen in Pelicanland: Less Than Ideal. That being said when I arrived I saw both teams warming up and ready to go. With the weather a constant consideration it was decided to kick off as soon as possible and stay warm by running around on the pitch. The match was a close one with both sides exchanging tries early on. The skill was evident on both sides – a tribute to the growth of high school rugby and the coaching of these programs. Peninsula Green went into the half having scored last and took a 17-12 lead into the break.

The second half was a copy of the first half with attacking rugby in both directions. Peninsula Green was able to score again and maintain a 10 point lead with 8 minutes remaining when EPA started to press hard. A try in the corner at 5 minutes pulled the game into a 5 point lead and it seemed as if the last team to score would win. EPA did just that with a minute to go after a storming run by their MASSIVE #8 up the left touch line. This kid may be the biggest high school rugger I have ever seen and he is very difficult to stop once he gets going. Pen Green were finally able to get enough bodies on him to bring him down but he offloaded to support and the damage was done. A couple of phases later EPA was in for a try in the corner to tie it up. The scrum half slotted the sideline conversion with ease and we had a new leader.

With only time for the kickoff left Pen Green put up a beauty that was cleanly fielded by their flanker. Taking the ball in the air and on the run he powered to the goal line shedding tacklers. Finally brought down 10 meters short he decided he wasn’t finished and got up to keep going but failed to release the ball first. Penalty kick against and duly kicked into touch ended the match.


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