Thursday, November 03, 2011




We need more referees at each of the following tournaments this Saturday:

Men’s tens at Baracus’ pitch in San Francisco – one ref so far for two pitches
Men’s college fifteens at UC Santa Cruz – two refs so far for two pitches
Men’s and women’s tens at Stanford – four at present, also two pitches
Men’s college sevens at St. Mary’s – three refs – also need help on Sunday

Please let us know that you can help.


This is the time of the year when those who are new to refereeing, or new to our society, should be doing plenty of games to get into the flow.

But, no, we’ve got 57-year-old birds refereeing two games and running AR for an even dozen. And this old bird has to work this weekend, so the slack either will be taken up or it won’t.

Saturday was a near-perfect day, with lifting fog as I drove up Highway 1 to the lovely campus of UC Santa Cruz. The view of pelicans and sea otters in Moss Landing is always a treat.

The women’s Slugfest took place atop the world overlooking Monterey Bay, beginning with the early day already growing warm.

We get our summer in October here in coastal Northern California. Not what some call Indian summer – no, along the coast, October is hotter than June-July-August. The months of longer days are the false summer in these unique parts.

UC SANTA CRUZ 25 – U. of San Francisco 0 Referee: Bruce Carter
Lots of fun – refereeing players who were happy to comply with referee instructions because they really didn’t always know what they should be doing or where they should be. Enough of the Slugs knew, however, to make the difference.

Red lines on green grass is problematic for this referee, especially with dark blue lines running angled at about fifteen degrees to the red ones, a low bright sun, and white lines strewn about to boot. Thanks to some patient try-scorers for waiting while I triangulated with the corner flags and goal posts.

Penalty count lower than try count: I love it.

UC Santa Cruz 5 – CHICO STATE 38 Ref: Carter
Chico State is back after some lean times and with only a nucleus of experienced players.

Sandy Robertson and John Pohlman were on hand to do the remainder of the games, so I took my leave of the Santa Cruz view with the temperatures already above eighty to drive to Stanford for the Pacific Coast Sevens.

Knowing there was a home football game and not wishing to fight crowds, I parked where we play our summer sevens and rode my bicycle to the pitch, passing a long chain of cars en route, three lanes wide, several hundred at the least.

Good thing – two of the ARs had already had to leave and there were only two left, who had been working all day, with five games remaining. So I ran all five.

This was a good event. Matt Sherman and Frank Merrill organized this qualifying tournament, which drew ten of the twelve Pacific 12 teams. With the fields surrounding the pitch being used for tail-gating gridiron fans (that game started at 5 PM), there was also a built-in casual audience.

Frank and Clarice Merrill invited the volunteers over for dinner, always a treat, and then there was a late night watching the World Cup final.

The referee crew for the event was Phil Akroyd, George O’Neil, and Pete Smith from our society, with Bryan Arciero flying in from Houston and Tim Day from San Diego at their own expense. Tom Zanarini handled the assignments.

ARs included Mike King, Tony Levitan, Bruce Ricard and Brad Richey.

Sunday featured nine trophy games. Offense wins the pool but defense wins the trophy, as Colorado demonstrated by stifling Utah’s attack, which had previously been unstoppable.

Oh – the mercury hit the high eighties both days. Even Arizona and Arizona State players and coaches commented on the heat.


Eric Rauscher:
I have NCRFU track suits available that I will bring to the meeting on Nov. 5. They are Pelican blue and have the society logo on the breast.

Sizes range from medium to XXL. The cost is 90$ and there is a limited supply.


The bill for the new kit was eight thousand dollars. We can’t afford to give it all away. So we’re reneging on the deal: active members of the society will receive shorts and socks, but only one of the two jerseys (choice of blue or yellow).

Additional jerseys of either color will be on sale for $50. Shorts are $20 and socks, $10.

This will also be available at our AGM on November 5 at the SFGG clubhouse.

See this week’s photo to see how the kit looks on a variety of body styles.


Eric Rauscher to Upstate New York:
Ithaca Collage 14 – NIAGARA UNIVERISTY 19
Upstate New York, overcast, chilly, football field lined and flagged correctly, muddy turf

I arrived early enough to have a conversation with Annemarie Farrell (one of the few female coaches of a men's club in America) who gave me a little background on Ithaca's history. The team has been absent from campus for 16 years due to the overly-social aspects of rugby. They returned last year as a D3 club and did very well, deciding to more up to D2 this year. This was the last game of the season for both clubs. The winner when on to playoffs, the loser plans for next year. I did not know what to expect as far as the level of play was concerned. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. In fact about half way through the second half it dawned on me that I hadn't had a single scrum reset yet. I congratulated both sides and they did not let me down for the rest of the game. A first in my book, no resets in a game of 15s!

The narrow field dictated a forwards-dominated game with the backs on both sides kicking often for field position. This was not a game played between the 22s. Niagara scored first, an unconverted try in the first half for the only score of the half. Ithaca put up a spirited defense at goal to stop Niagara from scoring again. I however speculated that the size of the Niagara forwards would win out in the end.

Ithaca scored twice in the second half, trading tries with Niagara who came out in the lead at full time. If the field had been a full 70 meters wide it would have been interesting to see how the game would have played out. Next time I am in Upstate NY, I think I will try to get another game. Maybe I'll get another one with playoff ramifications!

James Hinkin to Virginia:
NORFOLK BLUES 55 – Baltimore-Chesapeake 15
ARs: Jeffrey Anderson, Aaron Fergus
Evaluator: Jim Thompson

I was honored to be selected for the annual Norfolk exchange this year, following in the footsteps of Bjorn “Pining for the fjords” Stumer, Pete “Doctor Silence” Smith, George “I’m not Irish I swear” O’Neil and Phil “I have no nickname” Akroyd. This is as fine a tradition that Pelicanland has as the hosting and the atmosphere in Norfolk are second to none.

I was met at the airport by Jeffrey Anderson and his wife late Friday night and deposited at my hotel with promises of breakfast in the morning. Saturday morning dawned warm and bright and Jeff and I headed off to the local Cracker Barrel for a genuine Southern breakfast. Eggs, bacon, grits, biscuits and gravy were my share while Jeff opted for eggs on horseback, with the obligatory grits, biscuits and gravy. After that I had a few hours to myself to catch up on some emails (working on a rugby trip? I don’t get paid enough for that...) before Jeff and his son whisked me off to a barbeque. Cognizant of my 5:00pm match I nibbled sparingly at the food but the nasal temptations of pulled pork, barbeque chicken, hot dog and burgers were almost too much. We then headed back to the hotel where I kitted up and we were off to the Norfolk Sportsplex, which had hosted the UFL Championship game the previous night (look it up).

Norfolk were promoting Breast Cancer Awareness so they took the field in stunning pink while Baltimore-Chesapeake were in their traditional green and white. After a brief consultation with the BC coach (no, you cannot play anyone who is not CIPP registered, even if you plan to register them really soon) we were off and running. BC kicked to Norfolk who went at them with a will and BC gave as good as they got. A knock-on led to the first scrum of the day and naturally to the first issue of the day as both sides were over-eager to engage before I had called them in. This persisted until a couple of free kicks convinced the forwards I was serious about the engage and things settled down from there. BC was attacking well but could not penetrate the Norfolk line but Norfolk did not seem to have the same problems. Tries in the 9th, 13th, 22nd, 29th, 35th and 38th minutes went unanswered and with 3 conversions the halftime score was 30-0 to Norfolk.

The second half started much the same as the first with one exception: BC had found a way through the Norfolk defense. A penalty to BC followed by Norfolk not being 10 meters led directly to a try in the 55th minute but Norfolk answered immediately with one of their own. Thus began a back and forth try exchange with BC dotting down in the 61st minute and Norfolk answering in the 66th and 78th minutes. BC got a 3rd try on the final play of the game to round off the scoring and bring an end to an enjoyable match.

Both sides were quick to respond to commands and were interested in playing rugby rather than engaging in side scuffles. This resulted in a fast, fun game and a low penalty count (17) that was as fun for the spectators as it was for the participants.

Final Score: Norfolk Blues 55 – Baltimore-Chesapeake 15

Once the game was done I showered (LUXURY!) and Jeffrey and his wife took me out to a fantastic Greek/Italian restaurant where the Yingling was handy and the food was amazing. Well satiated I was dropped off at my hotel for some serious Zzzzzzzz...

Sunday morning I checked out of the hotel to once again see Jeffrey waiting for me in the lobby and we headed off to tour the USS Wisconsin, an Iowa class battleship that saw action from WW II all the way through the first Iraq war. The size of the battleship combined with the awesome armaments and the weight of history left me stunned as I walked the decks and into the interior of this mighty warship. Finally the tour was complete and we rushed back to Jeffrey’s house to catch the first half of the RWC Final. Unfortunately the timing of my flight home meant that I could not see the second half until later, but as soon as I reached Hinkin Manor I was able to catch up on the action.

Many thanks to Jeffrey Anderson, his family and the Virginia Rugby Referee Society for their generous hosting. They are what makes this game so special.


October 8:
TRIPLE THREAT 29 – Tempe 5 Referee: Lee Salgado
This was probably one of the hardest-hitting women's games I have ever been in the middle of. Good strong runners and strong packs. It was relatively close at half time but Triple Threat was able to pull off the win by getting the ball out to the wings and power through the Tempe Defense. Jim Crenshaw was also nice enough to come by and give me some pointers and positive reinforcement.

October 15:
UOP 31 – San Francisco State 29 Referee: Paul Bretz
It took UOP 79 minutes 30 seconds to get ahead of SF state in this preseason match but the home team moved ahead of the visitors on a conversion kick.

The referee was able assisted by his 13 year old son Liam Bretz. UOP has a beautiful field and it’s refreshing to see another college support rugby.

EAST PALO ALTO RAZORBACKS 17 – West Bay Angels 12 Referee: Tony Levitan
On a glorious afternoon in Millbrae, the Razorbacks and Angels squared off in their final league match. I had reffed the Angels, a new women's club coached by Moses Similai, in a friendly a few weeks ago and it's safe to say that they have come as far as any group of players I have ever seen in such a short period of time. In fact, they had the match won with just 5 minutes remaining except for ... well, read on.

The first half saw lots of running rugby and very hard contact, tackling and rucking from both squads. The Angels got an early try on a long run burst through the EPA backline for a 5-0 lead. EPA tied it 20 minutes in on a nifty run by their shifty (in a good way) scrum-half for a 5-5 tie at halftime.

The second half was more of the same, both teams using quality ball from lineouts to launch good-looking backline attacks. Unfortunately, the scrums needed constant tending as there was an unsteady mix of inexperienced and seasoned talent, but when things settled down we saw dynamic play from the base with both #8s running smartly and physically, both teams committing to spinning the ball. I especially enjoyed the EPA scrum captain constantly reminding her teammates, "0-0 now!" when indeed it was 5-5. Same difference, I suppose ...

They second half barrage of tries began with just under 10 minutes remaining as EPA's center dotted down after knocking hard at the goal line for a lengthy stretch; 10-5 EPA. The Angels not only matched that on a hard-fought forward try by their captain and hooker, but they got a magnificent kick from their fullback, slotting the conversion from a point no more than 10 yards from the touchline. 12-10, Angels.

Unfortunately for the Angels, their impromptu celebration on their side of halfway left them horribly out of position on the kickoff and EPA took notice, driving the ball deep to the opposite side of the pitch where their talented winger headed for the goal line. A couple Angels recovered, somewhat, and slowed but failed to stop EPA's advance, which saw EPA's outside center touch down in the left corner. Maybe the air got a bit lighter in the late afternoon as EPA's kicker also slotted a long, tough angled conversion. 17-12, EPA. After a frantic ending couple minutes the match ended that way, both teams seemingly satisfied: EPA with the close win, and the Angels appreciating how close they came and how far they had come.


SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 63 – Tacoma 10 Referee: Rich Boyer
ARs: Jen Tetler, Eugene Baker
The Tacoma team traveled by car to play the Amazons at Danny Nunn Park on an unusually warm day.

The Tacoma girls lamented their choice in jerseys (black) with regards to the sun.

Tacoma players were much smaller than their counterparts but nonetheless held up well in the first half. Amazons had great back ball movement and very strong rucks but were challenged getting the ball over the try line. Tacoma would commit few players to the rucks and fan out on defense. But the Amazons had the lion’s share of possession.

Finally the hard-running Amazon forwards, led by #7 and #16, broke through numerous tackles and the tries began.

Halftime 26-7 Amazons.

The second half saw the Tacoma girls wear down from playing continual defense. The Amazon backs became creative and sparked the second half “try-fest”, with Captain Sella (#12) leading the charge. Numerous successful ‘Sonny Bill Williams’ passes were observed. The Amazon forwards became more motivated by the backs’ success and soon were ripping off long runs on pick-and-goes.

Special mention to #14 on Tacoma. She stood out as a strong runner/tackler.

Olympic Club 22 – NYAC 43 Referee: Paul Bretz
ARs: Mike King, Liam Bretz
The score line makes it look like New York dominated the game. However they had to go into extra time in order to do it. The visitors took an early lead in the first half and extended it to 19 points by the first half. Olympic came back and with 4 minutes to go tied the match. Fitness played a big part in the overtime period as the visitors ran in 21 points. Thanks to Mike King and Liam Bretz for providing great side-line support.

Liam called in a dump tackle, flagged it, from the sideline that had the spectators cheering for the 13 year old AR.

[Editor’s Note: Why the overtime?, you ask. There two of the nation’s premier athletic clubs have initiated a multi-sport competition, all played on the same weekend, with an odd number of sports. Since there is a trophy, each game needs to have a winner.]

Women’s Slugfest:
Report by John Pohlman
This Saturday I joined Sandy and Bruce at UCSC, possibly the world’s most scenic rugby pitch. The weather was perfect and the field was in great shape. The rugby lines were painted red. And there were lots of other lines which made for confusion if you weren't concentrating. And it's hard to concentrate when you are running such a scenic field.

The Slugs were hosting Chico State, Fresno State and USF.
Early season rugby. Lots of rookies mixed in with talented veterans. This made for some great individual play, though fluid rugby was not the standard of the day.

I refereed USF versus Fresno. USF's #12 scored at least 2 of USF's four tries.
USF 20 Fresno 5.
My second and the last game of the day was USF versus Chico.
Chico is rebuilding but was led by their #8 who scored both tries and made the conversion.
Final Chico #8 12 USF #12 10. That's right all of USF's points were scored by #12 and all of Chico's points were scored by #8.

Report by Bryan Arciero (visiting from Houston):
Unlike previous ventures to Pelicanland (preparing for 15s in the spring), this flight was for a 7s gig in the fall. Fall rugby involving 7s while the RWC Final was being played the same weekend would seem sacrilegious to the rugby purists, but it was all in the name of rugby as this was a tune-up for me for the Pan Am games in Guadalajara the following weekend.

The familiar Zanarini hotel in Mill Valley put me up for the weekend, while the likes of Pedro, George, Tim, Tom and Ramrod* put up with me for the weekend. It was a bonus to be joined by Paddy Mac and Josh (the latter I hadn't seen since the Pac-10s in 2007) for some valuable coaching that went along the lines of "Don't do that next weekend" mixed in with some very 7s-esque rugby (6 matches, zero mauls!) which overall will help me in reducing my embarrassment next weekend. Aruna even made it along for a cameo appearance, but he knew better than to waste any wisdom on me and focused on mentoring Ramrod.

To quote South Africa's 7s coach Paul Treu: "Defense wins games". How true for the Buffs, who really put pressure on Utah in the final match win 14-12 despite a final push at the end by the Utes.

Thanks to the gang for putting up with me, Bruce Carter for letting me back into Pelicanland, and Frank Merrill for hosting us on Saturday night. I leave Palo Alto knowing that a shooter isn't a drink, a sweeper isn't a cleaner, and that if you have to give an unplayable you missed something earlier! Roll on Guadalajara!

*(sorry, this is an inside joke; the announcer had no issues with saying my foreign last name, but every detail of Phil's matches, including his last name, were butchered).

Report by Anthony Nguyen:

Three referees were able to make it out, Rich Boyer, Mark Godfrey and me. Mark decided to run touch for the tournament while Rich and I refereed all six matches. Four teams (UC Davis, San Jose State, Sierra College and Santa Clara) got to play 3 games each so that was fair. The tournament was relaxing and well organized with generous 10-20 minute breaks in between. We all had a great time with teams included. There was an incident with a coach early in the tournament but that went off (literally) so we continued. In my excitement as an AR for one of Rich Boyer's games, I apparently snapped the linesman flag whilst running. Interesting enough, I had to declare touch shortly after. Amusing but I feel sorry now that I snapped his linesman flag. Anyway, the players played all they could without tiring themselves out, with two teams playing back to back. Weather was great and good. Probably one of the most organized tournaments I have seen. This was a friendly tournament where scores were not recorded.

Report by Chris Tucker:

Refs: Chris Tucker, Jordan Bruno, Chris Labozzetta, Hubert Wang
(Hubie joins us from the Vancouver Island society, where he attended St. Michael’s, and is now a college student in Oakland.)
Ref Advisor: David Williamson

Four teams played a round-robin, 2 semi-finals and a final game. Oregon, Cal split squad and a combined Santa Clara / San Jose team duked it out on a beautiful day at Morton Field. SC/SJ went undefeated in the round robin, only to fall to Cal Blue in the playoffs. Oregon went 2-1, and defeated Cal White to set up the final.

Jordan Bruno took the final, which was all one-way traffic, finishing 59-0 to Oregon, who celebrated in the early evening sunshine. Bunny's comment: "Looks like Cal is ready for their dinner" -- they had played hard all day, but were out of gas by the time we got to the final.

Excellent food was provided by Vallejo RFC after the match.

One statistic of note: 56 tries were scored in 15 games, a reasonable return. However only 13 conversions were racked up. That's 23%. Even Shaq was better than that from the free-throw line. Time to work on those drop-kicks...


The multi-stage fitness test will be offered on November 5 on the netball court at 9 AM before our society AGM.

If you have ambition as a referee, you need to take this test. If you’d like to know how to train to it, just reply and ask.


A first look at our new kit, modeled at the Pacific Coast Sevens this past weekend.

Tim Day is wearing his SoCal uni, while George O’Neil sports the alternate Pelican jersey and socks.

Otherwise, left to right: Bruce Carter, Phil Akroyd, Pete Smith, Bryan Arciero, Tom Zanarini, Tony Levitan

Pacific Coast Crew


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris