Tuesday, December 13, 2011




Evan Schlinkert and Cody Juric have earned promotion to L3. They are current/recent college students respectively, at St. Mary’s and UCSC.

You will be seeing some new names in the match reports. One of the vital signs of Northern California refereeing has improved. Teams whose players don’t recruit their own replacements die on the vine, becoming solely the stuff of legend.

‘Tis the same with referee societies. The NCRRS, however long and illustrious our history, however many Test referees we have birthed, however well we are represented in the pantheons of American rugby, is only as strong as our current corps of blowers.

When a player asks the kinds of questions that reveal referee-like thinking, have a conversation after the match to emphasize the joys of refereeing. Recruit your own replacement. And, of course, you never have to retire…


The first monthly meeting of the 2012 season for the NCRRS will be held at the Golden Gate clubhouse on Wednesday, December 14, from 7 until 9.

Food will be available (gratis) beginning at 6. Leave early – if you get there early you can eat and talk rugby. If you get stuck in traffic, you still won’t be late.

New referees are especially encouraged to attend. Our meetings are well worth your time.


ST. MARY’S 39 – SF/Golden Gate 31 Referee: John Coppinger
ARs: George O'Neil, John Pohlman
SF/GG put a mixed side of RSL/D 1 players on the pitch to face St. Mary's A side and it was a barn burner with two fast, fit, and aggressive teams happy to go at it hard.

At half, after lots of end to end play, SMC held a 20-19 lead. SF/GG took the lead in the second half, but SMC scored tries at 75 minutes and 77 minutes to win. At the end, both sides were beat.

The difference in the match was that SMC was more cohesive and somewhat more fit across the team than SF/GG, which is just starting to make preparations for the upcoming season

My thanks to John Polhman and George O'Neil for doing a great job as ARs.

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 35 – SF/Golden Gate 17 Referee: George O'Neil

ST. MARY’S thirds 26 – San Francisco State 17 Referee: Rob Hendrickson
St Mary's has so many good players in its rugby program that they can put up a very good C side (and sometimes even a 4th), and they hosted a similarly talented and well-coached San Francisco State team at Saint Mary's on Saturday.

They played 3 X 30 minute halves, with open substitutions to give everyone a chance for a good run. The match was well played, with each side taking advantage of breaks in the defense to score a try in each half, and St Mary's scoring a second try in the final half to make the difference. These teams will definitely be teams to watch this year.

FRESNO 24 - Fresno State 22 Referee: Bruce Carter
AR: Ron DeCausemaker
A beautiful mid-December day began at 5:30 when I woke up my grandson and wife to watch the total lunar eclipse. As fate and geometry would have it, the darkening disc of the Moon could be seen out the window from our pillows, so we didn't even have to venture out into the pre-dawn cold, but merely to turn our heads.

It can be startling when reading ancient history to come across a passage giving the exact date and even the time of a battle. This is because an early historian noted the occurrence of a solar or lunar eclipse at the time of the events described, syzygies lending themselves to precise dating by running Newton's machinery backwards.

This eclipse did not disappoint: the Moon showed copper-red when completely occluded by the Earth's shadow, slipping beneath the hills on our western horizon while still in totality.

No point in going back to bed: it was a Rugby Day. Up, up and away. Off to Fresno.

As I usually do when driving over the Pacheco Pass, I stopped at Casa de Fruta to load up on seasonal gifts and healthy snacks, as well as custom trail mixes, and then again at Valley Pistachio near Madera just off Highway 99 for more of the same. After all, it's the shopping season!

My AR, Dr. DeCausemaker, took the train to Fresno. A text saying 'Passing through Madera' arrived just as I was passing through Madera. Pulling up at the station in downtown Fresno, I had to wait while the crossing gate came down and Ron's train entered the station. As he debarked I pulled up to the curb not twenty yards away.

Beats the heck out of meeting someone at an airport!

At the Fresno Regional Sports complex the $5 parking fee was waived because someone in the car had reached a certain age.

When we arrived at the pitch a game was in progress. I must say I didn't think this ever happened: someone played a rugby game in Northern California without telling me in advance. And they even had a ref! My lack of indispensability was revealed despite my continuing efforts.

The Fresno State women's team, augmented by four players from the budding team at Cal State, Monterey Bay, had an intra-squad scrimmage, with one side wearing CSUF’s old solid-red jerseys and the other wearing their new, solid-red jerseys. Guess it didn't matter if the ref, a Fresno old boy, was color blind.

The weather was rugby-perfect: sixty degrees, no wind, hazy enough not to require sunblock but with sun enough to warm the skin. Spectators were comfortable in shorts and shirts, while participants could work up a sweat without becoming over-heated.

This was a very good match. Fresno opened with almost three minutes of possession that led to a converted try. I thought: long day for the lads. But at halftime FSU scored their third try, all unconverted, to take a 15-14 lead.

In the second half, the club side scored a converted try and a penalty kick to open a nine-point lead. But with fifteen minutes left, their hooker was binned for hanging his foot out to dry in the tunnel prior to the put-in one too many times, having been put on notice previously.

The youngsters took advantage of the man-overload with a converted try right away, giving them eight minutes more to try to overcome a two-point lead.

It was not to be. Fresno played methodical, desperate defense, and with five minutes remaining the hooker returned.

The rest of the way the Bulldogs assaulted the Fresno line. This was a prolonged goal-line stand of epic proportions. There were a number of scrums, lineouts, and held-up calls, but no penalties to allow for either a 3-pointer or a clearance kick.

Twice State seemed sure to score but a Fresno player poached tackle ball right at the line. In each case the poacher either stepped or grubbed into touch to relieve pressure, which of course led to two five-meter lineouts.

Fresno's first jumper was adept at swatting opposition throws directly to his halfback. This preserved the victory on both occasions.

I don't always come off the pitch with that glow all athletes know, but on this day I did. What a game! Endorphin City, a close suburb of Rugby Central.

And then: it was a joy to see Jeff Jury on hand to ref the seconds, relieving me to AR and trade war stories with the coaching staffs of both teams, against whom many of my own war stories were written.

Seconds: Fresno 24 –FRESNO STATE 53 Referee: Jeff Jury

Cal Maritime 17 – ALUMNI 19 Referee: Giles Wilson
A close game - alumni brought to mind "Old Boys"; not quite right. This was recent alumni and this was a well contested fast game with the alumni being bigger and more experienced while the current crop of students have great numbers (at least 2 full sides) some good pace and are learning fast.

Played in 3 periods of 30 minutes. Both sides scored 3 tries and the scoring difference was in the conversions which stood at 2 for the alumni against only 1 for the students.

1st period ended at 5 - 5, each fought to a standstill. During the 2nd period the student brought in a number of less experience players who gave up a try but were unable to score themselves. In the 3rd period the alumni started to run out of steam and scored once to the students 2 - the last score being a penalty try for a dangerous tackle.

A good game, the future looks bright for Cal Maritime.


Report by James Hinkin:
Berkeley RFC put on a casual little tournament featuring 6 teams (Berkeley A/B, San Jose St A/B, Marin and Vacaville) in a round robin format. With limited field time the games needed to be short and quick but plenty of rugby was had by all. Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of scheduling the two best teams on the day (my opinion), Vacaville and Marin, did not meet. Apparently they will exchange pleasantries in the opening match of the season come the new year so nobody was really bothered. The society was able to blood a pair of new avian admirers in Cody and Eric and the entire team (myself, Phil and Jeff Ferguson) were ably watched over and advised by the paternal beaks of Bryant "I think 'B' and 'Y' should be in every name" Byrnes and David "I thought I had retired" Williamson.

MARIN 14 - Berkeley A 5 Referee: James Hinkin
The first game of the tournament turned out to be one of the best as both sides were committed from the get-go. With very short halves (15 min) the teams knew they needed to score early and the play reflected that. Berkeley scored first with a try out to the right that remained unconverted but Marin responded with one of their own, thoughtfully centered for the goal kicker. 7-5 at halftime and with the tight schedule there was only time to change ends for the restart.

The second half saw plenty of endeavor and plenty of mistakes from over-eagerness. The match was back and forth until Marin put it out of reach with another centered try. Final score: Marin 14 - Berkeley A 5

San Jose St A-ish 0 – 0MARIN 31Ref: Hinkin
With injuries and regular tournament attrition, the 3rd to last game of the day saw San Jose struggle to come up with 2 discrete sides so there were many tired Spartans playing in their 4th and 5th game up against a solid Marin side. An early San Jose St indiscretion let to a 10 minute sin bin - quite significant in a 30 minute game - and Marin took the chances with both hands. San Jose St played hard throughout and kept solid discipline but were outmanned the entire match. They did create some good chances but could not finish, a problem that Marin did not experience. Final score: San Jose St Aish 0 - Marin 31

Report by Bryant Byrnes
One pitch, six teams, nine games of 30 minutes each, five refs and two referee coaches. It was like speed dating.

Referee MVP James Hinkin. Contacted only Thursday, he came early and stayed late. In addition to doing several matches, he touch judged for our new guys and finished up as the ref in charge for the last several matches. Above and beyond!

Welcome New Guys. Two new Society members had their first matches-and survived! Welcome and kudos to Cody Juric and Eric Jorgensen.

Best Costume Jeff Ferguson. Jeff is a prop, a ref, and a man of the cloth (go figure.) Combining these avocations, Jeff decided to wear his collar during his match. To wonderful effect. May we soon expect a new tome, ''Mere Referring''? Perhaps, ''God Is My AR''?

And last but certainly not least a thank you for the multitasking Phil Ulibarri. Not only did he call several matches but he ARed for the new guys.

Eric Jorgensen:
First match: Marin- 4 tries ; 3 conversions (26) vs SJSU no score
(0) ; Second match: Berkeley A - 3 tries 2 conversions (19) vs SJSU 1 try ;
1 conversion (7) ;

Sacramento Blackhawks 20 – SANTA ROSA JC 34 Referee: Joe Androvich
Pre-season match, four 20-min quarters. Sacramento wore Santa Rosa' seconds jerseys, so it was Red v Red. Just for fun, I wore red too.

This was Blackhawks first game together. They got better as the minutes wore on. Santa Rosa's athletic backline proved too much for Sac.

Report by Lee Salgado:

Virginia was great, it really was one of the most inspirational rugby events I have ever been to, especially as a female. On Friday all of the refs and assessors were at the pitch either refereeing or running touch. The more experienced refs each had at least one game and us lower-ranking refs were ARs for at least one game. All these games were qualifiers and I ended up being a #4 for a few matches because I was restless with excitement and they were shorthanded. I have never seen such fast women's rugby, it was truly amazing. There was also a ref from South Africa who was on exchange who was there with the South Africa Women's National Team coach and the head of referee society.

Saturday was all in the classroom at the hotel. The instruction was very extensive: we talked about everything from how to carry yourself on the pitch, how to troubleshoot the scrum, how the last world cup was refereed, and physical fitness; Dana Teagarden talked about experiences and took questions. The group from South Africa also talked about how women's rugby in South Africa is really behind and how difficult it is to move up the ranks as a female referee. Lastly, the USA National Women's Coach came and spoke to us about how we can help advance the National Team. He said that women's games in the United States are refereed very slow and because of that the women here learn how to deal with slower games. He said this hurts us when we play teams tier I teams such as England because it is so much faster and we can't keep up. This was eye-opening for me because it really solidified how important referees are to rugby and how it effects the whole county. I stayed after the class and talked with Dana. I asked Dana for help with the scrums since I still feel a bit lost in them being a back. She gave me some great pointers and scrummed down with me for a little bit to show me some of the techniques player use to disrupt the scrum.

[Editor’s Note: Dana was also a back - #10 on the Air Force Academy team that won a national championship in 1989, plus or minus a year. If memory serves, she was MVP of the finals.]

Sunday we were back to the pitch. Again, the higher ranking refs each did a game and then us larvae were ARs for at least one match. I watched as much rugby as possible to observe the refs. I tried to pick some of the assessors’ brains to see what they were looking for; some of them let me listen on the radios. Again, just great rugby and Leah did an amazing job in the final match.

Thank you again to the NCRRS for helping me to get to this event. I really learned a lot and walked away with a much stronger perspective, I appreciate the resources that have been put into me as a referee. It was amazing to realize that I was surrounded by some of top dogs in rugby today. I asked Jen Gray how many active women referees there were in the county and she said maybe 30 or 40; meaning basically half of the women referees were sitting in that room with me! Crazy how few of us there are running around.


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