Wednesday, February 09, 2011




Spring has sprung in Pelicanland.

After the heavy rains of late autumn, a week of sunshine in late January fooled the daffodils and cherry trees into blooming. But this past weekend proved they hadn’t responded too soon.

It was eighty degrees at both of the sites that your writer refereed, doing 160 minutes at Talley Farms in Arroyo Grande on Saturday and 120 minutes (two youth games) at West Valley College in Saratoga on Sunday.

After that, the only thing to do was a long road bike ride with the remaining hours of daylight, the roads being bereft of cars on the first Sunday afternoon in February – the LVI is coming up and they’ll be trying to run our legs off.


The Arroyo Grande RFC hosted a super bowl Saturday of rugby games on the two perfect pitches at Talley Farms.

I arrived at 11 AM to find the parking lot almost full. This is a large, dirt lot for a complex of agricultural fields that I’d never seen even half-full. The under-10s and under 19s were playing.

Arroyo Grande played two against Monterey, with the visiting team requesting a second-side due to their numbers.

In addition, AG hosted a CPL pre-season game and a SoCal D3 match between SLO and the Sin City Irish.

CAL POLY 27 – Claremont 12 Referee: Bruce Carter
Referee Coach: Bryant Byrnes
Claremont are the new kids on the block, having won D2 at Stanford last year and then leap-frogged over D1 into the CPL.

They arrived in a chartered bus, looked around the bell pepper fields and citrus groves, and one of them asked, “Where’s the school?”

Your informant was tempted to say that Cal Poly was a UC Santa Cruz-type layout, just out of view behind a nearby hill.

The teams seemed pretty evenly matched, with only one try being scored in the first half, although Cal Poly broke the gain line more often. It was 10-0 at the half to the home side.

The visitors’ containment of multi-phase ball-crashing rugby suffered some in the second half and Cal Poly worked in three more tries while Claremont scored two of their own, one coming on a long, tackle-shedding run by their #7, making it 27-12.

Claremont applied sustained pressure for the last ten minutes of the match and had opportunities to score in both the left and right corners when an unmarked man went unused or knocked the ball on.

If they can work through their new-guy jitters, they can play in this league.

Thank you to Bryant for interrupting a vacation weekend with his wife Mary, on a non-refereeing weekend for him due to injury, to help an old friend work on his game.

ARROYO GRANDE 28 – Monterey Bay 22 Referee: Bruce Carter
There was a very good crowd for this D3 match, which was played in eighty degree weather and from end to end. Perhaps it was the promise of tri-tip burritos!

Having just finished eighty minutes on the other pitch, I was hoping more for an industrial-grade fixture but had no objection to refereeing advantage and open play as much as the players allowed.

Monterey Bay, with an influential end-to-end wind at their backs, took a 17 – 0 lead into halftime. I thought, ah, the second half will be a chance to take a few shortcuts and apply other Veteran Referee Energy Conservation tricks.

After AG’s old campaigners read the riot act during the halftime huddle, things changed.

In the first thirty-seven minutes of the second half, AG scored three trys, one converted, and two penalty goals to lead 23-17. But then Monterey Bay scored at the right upright to make it a one-point game, kick to come.

The kicker, facing the wind, lined up only about 15 meters out. Several of the AG players got into three-point stances and prepared to charge.

The kick, which was accurate, was charged down by scrumhalf Ben Jauregui, one of the old campaigners.

In more than 35 years of Total Rugby, I had previously seen only two kicks charged down that were going to be good. Both of these were in same game, blocked by James Hinkin.

Almost as likely, in my experience, is that the would-be charger-down tips a too-low kick that then sneaks over.

It was a dramatic moment that galvanized both teams for the last two minutes, but it was Arroyo Grande who scored an insurance try with no time left.

MARITIME ACADEMY 101 – U. of the Pacific 0 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Friday night under the lights in Vallejo. U Pacific is a relatively new club (newish?) while Maritime is varsity. UP had a much better second half. Their captain played for Lamorinda, which shows that even a new college club can have experience. A definite sign of rugby's growth.


SFGG SL 97 – Sac Capitals 0 Referee: John Coppinger
ARs: Rich Anderson, Eric Rauscher
Evaluator: Dixon Smith
On a beautiful, windless day at TI, SF/GG rolled by Sac Caps. Caps were game, but had no answer for the power, pace, and support play displayed by the home side. SF/GG played a number of younger players and rested stalwarts V. Rouse and D. La Prevotte. My thanks to Rich Anderson and Eric Raucher for acting as ARs and Dixon for his sage advice.

SFGG COLTS 46 – San Mateo 14 Referee: Rich Anderson
AR/CEO: John Coppinger
There couldn't have been many more beautiful places to be on Saturday than Treasure Island; playing or refereeing.

The Colts scored in a variety of ways, including three mauls off of line outs near the try zone. That is a tactic that may be coming back into vogue.

Special thanks to Mr. Coppinger, who was able to run touch and close a business deal on his Droid at that same time. Another tactic that is the wave of the future? We'll see.=

Seconds: SFGG Colts 10 – SAN MATEO 36 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Treasure Island was warm and sunny! This game was much closer than the score indicates. San Mateo twice intercepted passes in the first half and ran them in for tries, then twice picked up knock-ons in the second and ran them in for two more.

Both teams played very well with phases strung together up and down the field. SFGG had a fresh team while about half of the San Mateo team had played a previous game. All in all I really enjoyed the game.

EPA BULLDOGS 43 – Bay Barbarians 7 Referee: James Hinkin
Referee Coach: David Williamson
EPA looked strong and confident on the ball while the Barbos couldn't seem to string too many phases together. Attacking from all over the field EPA score 5 tries (3 converted) in the first half. The second half was more balanced as the Bulldogs were held to only 2 tries (1 converted) and the Barbarians were able to generate a well-deserved consolation try with a nifty move out wide. The successful conversion put the final score at EPA Bulldogs 43 - Bay Barbarians 7.

Seconds: EPA BULLDOGS 52 – Barbarians 0 Ref: Hinkin
A lack of depth will be a concern for the Barbarians as they played a B side match with essentially the same team as the A side match. EPA was able to field a mostly fresh side and the fatigue factor weighed heavily in a shortened B side match. 5 tries (3 converted) in the first half and 3 tries (3 converted) in the second half turned the match into a one sided affair.

CHICO 39 – Diablo Gaels 31 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

SANTA ROSA 48 – Sacramento Lions 29 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Discipline reduced the Lions to 14 players for the second half and resulted in uncontested scrums. Lions were scrumming very well. Loss of the player meant loss of their strongest skill.
Sunday: Kaiser Half Marathon: 1:50:30. A new PR!

MARIN REDS 40 – Berkeley 19 Referee: Mike King
Both sides were putting final touches on their game in preparation for the commencement of the regular season. The action was spirited and see-sawed for awhile.

Marin was able to use strong backfield play to open a 19-5 halftime lead with several good attacks down the touch line. The Reds continued opening up the lead in the second half, when Berkeley roared back with 2 converted tries of its own. The forwards for both sides played well in the loose, with some adjustment needed in the scrums by the time league play commences.

Overall, it looks like everyone is really in good form.

Seconds: Marin REDS – Berkeley Referee: Liz Palmer
No report received.

Shasta 7 – COLUSA 15 Referee: Dave Ellis
It was difficult to find a parking spot when I rolled up to the field an hour before game time. The field was lined perfectly, Colusa had brought a large squad and lots of supporters to witness their return to league rugby, and the sideline was buzzing.

The game started fitfully, with both teams struggling to find much consistent momentum. Colusa's forward pack have the makings of a strong unit, and used their size and energy to run right at Shasta. Shasta seemed to be just as focused on criticizing my calls as playing the game, which definitely had an effect on their performance. Their criticism of me was well founded midway through the half however when I blew it and allowed Colusa to kick for goal after awarding them a free kick. Unfortunately the kick was good. Soon after the restart a tripping offense by a Shasta player led to a yellow card. Shasta's frustration with my calls was still evident with ongoing comments made questioning my ethics and impartiality, although by no means were the calls going all Colusa's way. Colusa's forwards kept the pressure on and used their man advantage to work their way to a nice mauling try in the corner. A minute or so before Shasta was to be back at full strength, an incident subsequent to a scrum led to a red card for a Shasta player. Shasta seemed to refocus on rugby and the half ended with Colusa leading 8-0.

The second half saw Shasta step up their game and take on Colusa despite being a man down. Shasta's backline began to mix up their game more and use their blazing speed to attack the opposition. Shasta's stand-off kept Colusa off balance with some impressive kicks, and they pulled back to within a point at the 32nd minute with a converted try. Both teams battled to the end, but it was Colusa who put the game away with a breakaway converted try 2 minutes before the final whistle.

REDWOOD 27 – Vallejo 5 Referee: Cary Bertolone
I was pleased to have lists of CIPP'd players from both teams. Ben, the coach of Vallejo wanted to make sure I watched for high tackles and such, so I clearly warned both teams about late hits, no wraps and dangerous plays and was rewarded with a cleanly played rugby game. Vallejo showed up with a solid side, but it became apparent within 10 minutes that they were winded. Redwood scored their first try at the 17 minute mark , after an evenly contested beginning, but it started going Redwood's way as they were in better shape than Vallejo. It was 17-0 at the half. Same trend in the second half. Redwood had one almost center try, but the Redwood player spiked the ball down in the try zone without touching it down, so the score could have been worse. Vallejo scored a try on one of the last plays to make the final score more respectable, 27-5. Good food by Redwood afterwards!!

HUMBOLDT 28 – Mendocino 24 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Under blue skies, my 5-hour drive along the Redwood highway was scenic and pleasant, except for the ticket I received at a speed trap in Ukiah. The match was played in Manila Park in Arcata under overcast skies in front of a considerable crowd of onlookers. Mendocino seemed more organized at the onset, especially in the forwards, and scored the first converted try before Humboldt's adventurous backs found numerous gaps to race to a 21-7 half-time lead. Both teams initially struggled with tackle and ruck infringements, but adjusted in the second half. Mendocino dominated the lineouts, but scrums were even. Mendocino's play became quite dynamic in the 2nd half and the game really opened up with both teams playing up and down the field with quick ball-availability. Mendocino scored 3 tries in the second half, but Humboldt scored once to stay ahead 28-24 going into the final minutes of play. Mendocino repeatedly attacked and recycled possession within a few feet of Humboldt's try line and earned a 5m penalty with 2 minutes left, but their ensuing quick-tap resulted in a penalty turnover. Humboldt desperately weathered the last few minutes of Mendocino’s pressure to win the game. In the end, each team scored 4 tries, but Humboldt finished ahead because of their 4-2 edge in conversions thanks to their accurate fly-half. This was a fun game to referee.

Much thanks to both teams for their positive attitudes and for including me at the entertaining post-match event at Toby and Jack's in Arcata. Humboldt has done a nice job establishing a positive partnership with this local bar, which enthusiastically hosted the rugby community. Players and supporters from both teams were in good spirits and the post-match camaraderie they demonstrated is an example for other teams in the league.

Reno Zephyrs – Reno Academy CANCELED

SOUTH VALLEY (Morgan Hill) 88 – Paso Robles 0 Referee: Tony Levitan
Another idyllic, if a bit windy day in Paradise, sufficiently beautiful to devastate those in other parts of the country who are aching to scrum down in 2011. The opening Division 3 match for both clubs proved to be a very one-sided affair favoring the home team. South Valley has healthy numbers of high quality rugby players who could be playing a level or two (or three) up but geography apparently is a strong incentive to play for the new side based in Morgan Hill. Paso Robles brought too many freshly-minted players to be competitive this day. But both sides worked hard throughout, South Valley committing to wide opening running rugby and Paso focusing on executing their fundamentals.

South Valley ran across 6 first half tries, converting just one for a 32-0 halftime lead. Their predilection for spinning just about any ball was invigorating, entertaining and exhausting! Paso was no match for South Valley's strong, fast and capable backline. The second half saw South Valley add 8 converted tries -- their 2nd half kicker hit some seriously impressive conversions, especially in the windy conditions -- and, while teasing the try line once or twice in the second half, Paso failed to score. (Kudos to their Captain who urged the troops on by running a penalty in the hopes of putting one across).=

Fog 17 – STANISLAUS 24 Referee: Preston Gordon

Fog B 0 –SIERRA COLLEGE 71 Referee: Matt Heafey
This was a game of two different levels of rugby and fitness. The Fog are enthusiastic and the Sierra College Wolverines are a fiercely competitive, well-coached group that is hungry to play the game. Fitness seemed to be the major contributing factor and the pure athleticism of the SC Wolverines shined on several long uncontested runs. The game featured some good defensive stands by both sides near the end lines. It was a glorious day for rugby on Treasure Island and congrats to the fog for having enthusiastic fans on hand to enjoy the game.

San Bruno Saints 12 – SAMOA UNITED 17 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Samoa United outlasted the Saints in a spirited match on a beautiful California afternoon.

Vacaville 17 – OLYMPIC CLUB seconds 45 Referee: George O'Neil

ST. MARY’S 42 – Olympic Club 32 Referee: Paul Bretz
The Olympic Club pack was dominant in the first half.

However, a game lasts eighty minutes and the O Club’s fitness didn’t. St. Mary’s had the better of the last twenty minutes to win the match.

ST. MARY’S seconds 95 – Fresno 25 Referee: George O'Neil

CHICO STATE 97 – Santa Clara 0 Referee: Chris Tucker

Seconds: Chico State – Santa Clara

STANFORD 38 – Sacramento State 27 Referee: Scott Wood

Seconds: Stanford 22– SACRAMENTO STATE 89 Referee: Bruce Ricard
Sac State scored 10 tries in the first half, against only one for Stanford (5 - 58 at the break). Stanford played better in the second half, trying 3 times when Sac Stated scored 5.

February 5, 2011 report from Phil Ulibarri in Santa Cruz
UC Santa Cruz Women 5 – STANFORD University 64
It was an absolutely beautiful day in Santa Cruz; the temperature was in the high 60s with light winds. A pitch-er perfect field prepped in 1st class order awaited the sides. There looked to be about 80 women ready to play. Play started promptly at 11 am, and while Santa Cruz demonstrated spirit and enthusiasm the She-Slugs were just no match for Stanford’s precision and speed from the 8 position through 15. The 1st half ended, Stanford - 22 and UCSC - 0.

It got hotter in the second half not just weather wise - now the mercury was soaring into the mid to high 70s – but try-wise as well with The Cardinal putting in another six converted trys to UCSC’s one unconverted effort. Final score was UCSC 5, Stanford 64.

Second game:
UC Santa Cruz Men 12 – SAN JOSE STATE 15
The cub reporter on hand did an excellent job in reporting the game as read here in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Here’s some additional color...

A bagpiper led the Slugs onto the pitch from the terrace overlooking the field. The solemnity of the piper’s tune and parade took an even more dramatic turn as the Santa Cruz captain asked the crowd of about 200 players and spectators for a moment of silence in honor of a lost team mate. Once the whistle blew, the intensity did not stop for the full forty minutes in both halves. Some great hits and cleanly contested ball kept players and fans on their feet waiting for the next collision. The first half ended with both teams putting only one try each across the line. Santa Cruz made their conversion. Score at half UCSC 7, SJS 5.

The second half was as closely contested as the first. San Jose State was relentless in the forwards and had crossed the line more than once only to be held up in goal and then lose possession after both knock-ons and penalties followed the ensuing five-meter scrums. This was a testimony to the Slugs tenacious defense. After two lead changes late in the second half with the hosts scoring the go ahead try, the Spartans continued the methodical controlled scrimmaging which had put them on or near the try line throughout most of the final quarter. In the last minutes Santa Cruz did everything they could to slow down the onslaught but to no avail. A momentary loss of concentration sent the Slugs retreating, but this time San Jose State would not be denied.

Final score was UC Santa Cruz 12, San Jose State 15

USF 30 – Humboldt State 29 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Up 17 - 0 early in the match & 17-12 at half, Humboldt State gave USF victory by repeatedly being penalized for talking (one resulted in a yellow card), retaliating & late hitting USF's kicker, the last one leading to 3 points to put USF ahead with about 5 minutes to go. Then as Humboldt was driving they again stopped their momentum by opening their mouth a final time for a penalty to USF who kicked for touch ending the game. It helped USF that their foreign flyhalf controlled & cleaned up a lot of bad ball; drop kicked for 3 points, hit a long penalty kick to win the game, added another 4 points on 2 conversions & placed long kicks into the corner to keep Humboldt at bay.

Humboldt's inside center (bigger than most props) scored a very nice try taking on a number of defenders & stomping about 40 meters to score.

SANTA ROSA JC 74 – San Francisco State 0 Referee: Sean Peters

Sac State women 10 – UC DAVIS 53 Referee: JC Van Staden
We could not asked for a better day, with 70F and sunny!

There might be a lot that I don’t have time to say, but know this, women are fast learners. The forwards were pretty much matched, with great driving, and ball retention to both sides.

Both teams were coached good, but Sac State did not had any answers for the Davis back line, who ran with plan the entire afternoon.

CHICO STATE women 42 – Oregon State 24 Referee: Beau McSwain

NEVADA women 17 – Humboldt State 14 Referee: Blake Crawley
On a fine day to play rugby, the UNR women topped the Humboldt State women in a very well contested match played at UNR. The first half was an excellent defensive battle as Humboldt State opened the scoring with a breakaway try that was easily converted. UNR roared back right away to score their own breakaway try and the conversion leveled the scores. For both teams, those tries were the only defensive lapses in the first half. The second half offered more of the same until UNR scored a team try to take the lead at 12-7. A fired up Humboldt State team got a similar try only minutes later and converted it to take the lead at 14-12. As the game wound down, a fine individual effort by the UNR scrum half, highlighted with shed tacklers and a nifty sidestep or two, resulted in a 30 meter try that put UNR into the lead at 17-14. Both teams struggled mightily for the final ten minutes of the match as UNR held on to take the victory. For those who think women's rugby can't be exciting, this match would have been a revelation.

San Francisco BATS women 17 – SANTA CLARA 28 Referee: Stephanie Bruce
SF BATS scoring:
#14 - 31st minute
#9 - 44th
#18 - 62nd, Conversion made
Santa Clara scoring:
#15 - 8th
#15 - 10th
#14 - 14th
#11 - 38th
#10 - Penalty Kick in 47th
#11 - 72nd

Beautiful day for rugby. played on USF's Negoesco Field in SF. Both teams retained possession very well, but Santa Clara exploited SFBATS (combined USF / SF State team) alignment on phase defense to score multiple times with their back three in the first half. The second half saw the BATS regroup on defense and punch up the centers and score two tries to make it a game. However, all athletes were in preseason form and began committing multiple infringements around the breakdown, prompting warnings to both teams, and ultimately culminating in a yellow card against the BATS. In the end Santa Clara scored once more on the outside to finish with an 11 point margin over the home team.


Sunday, Feb. 6:
Report by Rod Chance:

Referees: Chris Tucker, Jim Crenshaw, Ray Schwartz, Mark Godfrey, Brad Scott, Donal Walsh, Jackie Finck, Tyler Nawrocki, Jeff Richmond, Jeff Lusich.

Gold Division Teams: Alameda, Amazons, Bishop O’ Dowd 1, Davis, Elsie Allen & Mother Lode
Silver Division Teams: Berkeley, Bishop O’ Dowd 2, Humboldt, Piedmont, Rio Linda & Sierra Foothill

It was a beautiful Saturday with 12 teams divided into a two divisions. The day started with nervous energy in the air, as teams question their readiness and with good reason for the entire tournament only had 42 returning players with rest were newbies. Thanks to Jim Crenshaw and Chris Tucker, the day started with quality games that set the tone for the day. A point system luckily landed the best teams from each division in the final games of the day, determining the tournament champions.

Silver Division Finals – RIO LINDA 17 – Sierra Foothills 12 Referee: Jeff Richmond
Both first year start-up teams Rio Linda and Sierra Foothills battled in an exciting game with the lead changing at each score. Rio Linda ended up on top with a last-minute score to earn the title. At the awards, it was clear that all were very proud of their efforts and first attempt at rugby. All the players were awarded medals for first and second place.
Gold Division Finals – Amazons 7 – MOTHER LODE 15 Referee: Jackie Finck
Another exciting game in the finals pitted cross-town rivals the Amazons vs. Mother Lode. Mother Lode surprised the Amazons with the first score. A motivated Amazon side methodically powered the ball down the field to score and convert giving the Amazons control at the half. After halftime, both teams came out motivated and determined to impose their game plan on the other. The Amazons strong forwards powered the ball down the middle of the pitch, while Mother Lode pushed to ball outside to some speedy backs. A late score sealed the victory for Mother Lode. At the awards, it was clear, both teams enjoyed the battle and had great respect for each other and the game.

A special thanks to Ray Schwartz, who ran a skills clinic with 50+ girls eager to learn more about Rugby.

Monday, January 31:
Bishop O’Dowd 5 – BELLARMINE 29 Referee: John Coppinger
Monday night, Bellarmine bested Bishop O'Dowd 29-5 in the varsity match played on the O'Dowd campus. The match was close at the end of the first period with the Bells holding a 7-5 lead. The Bell's back line found their legs in the second period and Bells won going away. There were a number of children of my former Santa Clara and Mission teammates on the pitch for the Bells and a couple of kids who played baseball for me last summer on the O'Dowd side--which is pretty cool. Both teams are well coached and will only get better. The players in the JV match were well managed by a young referee by the name of Aruna. I think he may have a future in this game.

Friday, Feb. 4:

Referee 1st half: Sean Peters, 43 – 0
Ref - Mike King 2nd half

Lobos looked fast right from the start, attacking the ruck and poaching lots of ball from Live Oak, putting them on their heels.

In the middle of the half, Live Oak’s #7 and #1 started to put some pressure on the Lobos forwards a bit more but the Lobos #10 and #12 picked them apart and gave the Lobos free range of long runs for trys.

The middle of the second half was taken over by the famous Mike King.

ELSIE ALLEN Bs 17 – Live Oak 5 Referee: Mike King
After taking over the last 15 minutes of the first side match for Sean Peters that ended with the Lobos opening quite a lead, I had the pleasure of working with the fine younger players for both sides. The home team was just better organized, especially in covering the field. They formed rucks and proceeded with second phase attack, with abandon. Both sides were trained well to tackle to stop the opposition and the defense was very good with just a few lapses in coverage. All in all, these young players are continuing to improve rapidly.

Santa Rosa 12 – MARIN HIGHLANDERS 15 Referee: Mike King
Friday night at Cardinal Newman HS was a tale of 2 halves. Marin started early attacking with good back play, allowing #10 to knife through for a try and conversion. A penalty and another try finished out the half for the visitors, while Rosa was able to counter with only a try by pounding away with their forwards. The second half saw the same sustained effort by both sides. The Highlanders looked like at times, they were going to score in bunches, but came up short. Rosa was able to pop a winger through for the last score, but kept the pressure on. Quite a contest that was exciting to the end.

DIXON 13 – Jesuit B 12 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Dixon dominated in every set play and out rucked at tackle/rucks. Jesuit had the better backs, but got little service. Dixon were smart and kicked a penalty in front of the posts with less than 10 minutes left to play to put them 8 points ahead. It paid off when Jesuit scored a converted try in the last play of the game, but were still one point shy.

Saturday, Feb. 5

Preston Gordon had already done the Fog – Stanislaus game:
PITS over Alameda (HS varsity), 2x30 halves, 1730 at Piedmont HS.

PITS over Lamorinda (8th/9th/10th grade), 2x25 halves, 1900 at Piedmont HS.
= 190 minutes of reffing on Saturday!

High School ‘Super League’: JESUIT 34 – Golden Gate 17 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Make no mistake, Jesuit were in trouble for a lot of this game. SFGG were within eight points at the most, for most of the game until the two Gate centers did a joint spear tackle on the Jesuit fly-half. I issued straight reds to them and the game was lost at that point.

Patriotic Pelicans
Bob Destafney, USMC (ret.), formerly with the Maritime Academy, ran into our old friend Pelicus Sibilo Egregius, Paul Gauthier, USN (ret.) in Pensacola, FLA, which styles itself a Pelican City as well as a being bastion of the US military.

Here’s Paul with Army, Air Force and Coast Guard representatives to the flock.

Thanks to Bob for sharing.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris