Saturday, December 22, 2012




Christmas and New Year are upon us. Hot on their heels is Rugby 2013, with games beginning January 5.

Out with the old and in with the new: Pete Smith will be taking over assignments.

Your scribe has done this since 2000. It’s a big job, but it has its rewards: allocating some of the best games in the United States to some of the best referees. It has been my privilege do to this and to play a part in the development of several referees who did Internationals.

We appreciate all of the volunteers who make it possible to fill in the spreadsheet blanks, and trust that they will continue to do so for Pete.


Please let Pete know your availability for the Saturdays in January:

For new referees: this is how you get games. E-mail Pete that you are available. Same for old referees.

Pete cannot read your mind any better than I could. IF YOU DO NOT LET HIM KNOW YOU ARE AVAILABLE, YOU WON'T GET AN ASSIGNMENT.

We need about ten refs on January 5, twenty on January 12, and then forty or more thereafter until mid-April.

Plus the following non-Saturday/evening opportunities:

The Stanford Invitational will be Saturday-Sunday Jan. 12-13.
Friday, Jan. 18: two games at Cal Maritime.
Wednesday, Jan. 23: one game at Cal
Friday, Jan. 25: two games at Maritime, one at Stanford


We have even more games that are remote from the Bay Area/Sacramento nuclei, where most of our referees live.

This is where we demonstrate our love of the game the most: driving to do these games.
For example:
January 12: Home games in Yreka, Ukiah, Arcata, Reno, Turlock, Paso Robles
January 19: Redding, Colusa, Arcata, Turlock
January 26: Fresno, Yreka, Ukiah, Reno, Paso Robles
We’ll need everyone to travel at least twice this year. Get in the running for Pelican of the Year by raising your wing for some distant games!


December 8
SIERRA FOOTHILLS MEN 10 – Sierra JC 5 Referee: Rich Boyer
I met up with Jim Goddard, new head coach as Sierra JC, and we walked from there nearly a mile, or so it seemed, to the pitch in Rocklin.

Both teams had a number of new players and the coaches requested a brief session illustrating tackle, gate, last foot on D. It was agreed no kicking, except for touch, for the first 10 minutes. This mutual agreement last about one minute and no complaints/offsides arose.

Sierra Foothills were a little surprised at the intensity and tackling of their younger foes. SF pushed hard with pick and drive, using their strong forward pack, but Sierra JC would not break. First try went to Sierra JC off a free kick for early scrum engagement. The Mens club was challenged to get back 10 and the Sierra JC backs took full advantage with Pate scoring under the posts. The kicker (hooker) forewarned me that his kicking style was "unorthodox". No tee was used; he held the ball upright on the ground with his index finger and simultaneously kicked. Needless to say it missed....

The Men’s club woke up after that. They were much stronger and experienced in the scrums and it showed, damp ground adding to the effect. After sustained pressure and pick and drives the Men’s club #8 Nate scored a converted try using brute strength and straight forward running. 7-5 Men’s club.

The remaining two periods saw good forward play and rather limited back play due to the slick conditions. Sierra JC tackled like no tomorrow, and the Men’s passage of play was many times inches away from a big break then little issues would crop up: knock on, penalty, etc.

Close to half the Men’s club took a penalty conversion. 10-5.

Try as they might, neither team came close to scoring for the remainder of the game. 10-5 Sierra Foothills Men in a physical game played with great sportsmanship.

Sierra JC #12, from South Africa, had the hit of the day off a Men’s runner from ruck play.

I enjoyed refereeing Pate, Niko, David and Jordan, four young men I coached in summer sevens a few years back. I also enjoyed refereeing Luigi, Brent Bueno and Dopson.

Jim Goddard is doing a great job with the JC and Dave Faingold has instituted a great pattern of play for the Men’s club.

FRESNO STATE women 17 - UCSC 7 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Match/scrimmage got moved to Marina because of last week’s rain.

Fresno State in its first year has some great players who knew what to do including a big center with nice moves & dominant #8.

When they play together even more & get scrum downs better they should be fighting in the playoffs.

University of the Pacific 22 – FRESNO STATE 35 Referee: Giles Wilson
UOP hosted Fresno St - the hosts were much smaller than the visitors but tacked hard and attacked the contact zone to great effect which knocked Fresno off their stride in the early stages.

Both teams were well drilled and eventually the effects of making tackles and missing some conditioning during the recent storms wore down the very game UOP players. The first half ended 20 - 12 and the final was 35 - 22 in favour of Fresno.

The teams then played a "third half" to get all the players on the field, many players from the first game carried on. This was played as two 20 minute halves with Fresno leading 21 - 0 at half time and 33 - 0 at the end.

I was good to see Walt from Fresno and Kreg from UOP coaching these college teams; both have well drilled teams and they were a pleasure on the sidelines.

ST. MARY’S 58 – Diablo Gaels 24 Referee: John Coppinger
ARs: Rich Anderson, Bryant Byrnes
It was a beautiful day for rugby at St. Mary's. Diablo Gaels roared out the gate to score two quick tries against St. Mary's, which seemed to unsettle the home side for the first part of the match. Diablo did not have the fitness to sustain the effort and sloppy handling and aimless kicks by the Diablo Gaels allowed the young Gaels to settle and then attack with power, pace, and advantage in numbers as the young Gaels of St. Mary's ran away 54-28. Diablo Gaels battled throughout scoring at the end of the match after the clock had expired fighting through many phrases of play and penalties by St. Mary's.

Thanks to Rich Anderson and Bryant Brynes for their services as ARs.

Olde Gaels 0 – DUENDES RFC 31 Referee: Jordan Bruno
ARs: Matt Hetterman, Eric Rauscher
A touring Argentinian side stopped off in Orinda on a crisp Wednesday evening to play the Olde Gaels. The Argentines arrived fresh from airport and seemed to be a bit jet-lagged during warmups--this quickly wore off as their side scored early, breaking through the Gaels defense and slotting down with a forward drive. The next try of the first half was handy work done by the Duendes backs, who were able to offload with ease in the tackle. The Gaels had a few opportunities to score in the first half, but were unable to secure ball in hand, leading to lost momentum. The start of the second half saw more speed in the Duendes backs leading to a couple of more tries. A more stalwart Gaels defense prevented the Argentines from running up the score, and great forward crashes saw a structured pack move upfield with progress. Overall, a great exhibition match. Many thanks to Matt Hetterman and Eric Rauscher for running at AR, to David Williamson for post match commentary, and to John Compaglia for hosting a great match.

St Mary's 3rds 42 – Diablo Gaels 2nds 15 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A beautiful day for a fistful of games in Moraga; this was the first match of four.
This being early days for both teams, the younger fellows were well matched by the Gaels forwards in the pack and lineout. But in spite of Tim's earnest claim of ''new guys'', the St Mary's backline literally galloped against a backline that really was shaking hands for the first time.

EPA RAZORBACKS 46 – Bay Barbarians 10 Referee: Bruce Ricard
The game started 30 minutes late, on a nice grass pitch with freshly drawn line. Apparently the line drawer was drunk, and the pitch looked a bit like an Australian football field with its curvy lines. The 2 inches wide lanes also gave me a lot of trouble during the whole game...

The game started on a nice pace, with the Barbarians scoring a try in the first minutes of the game. The Razorbacks passed a penalty kick from the 22 a few minutes later. The Razorbacks had a difficult start, someone who knows the team could say "as usual", but they had a very good game after the first 10 minutes. The game was pretty even the whole game, but the Barbarians were way to undisciplined, maybe due to the quite large amount of new players in the team, which gave the home team a lot of penalty kicks.

Some of the new players in the Razorbacks' senior team had their skill level improve a lot in the last year. Especially one prop, who made a few 10m breaks though the defense, and pushed his team forward.

UC Santa Cruz women 7 – FRESNO STATE 17 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Match/scrimmage got moved to Marina because of last week’s rain.

Fresno State in its first year has some great players who knew what to do including a big center with nice moves & dominant #8.

When they play together even more & get scrum downs better they should be fighting in the playoffs.

CHICO MIGHTY OAKS 34 – Sacramento Capitals 22 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Dec 8th, after a 3-hour volunteer workday w/ 30 shovels helping to grade out the pitch at Bidwell Middle School, Chico

I was originally scheduled to ref in Santa Rosa but opted instead to go ref where two teams were legitimately registered w/ USA Rugby. Hard to believe these guys would not have had a ref if I hadn't switched at the 11th hour.

I arrived at Bidwell Middle School (the site of a gopher infested rolling moor of a pitch John Coppinger had declared "the worst field ever" last spring) to see not enough cars to represent two teams, but an old baby blue Mt. Zion Baptist school bus. Made my way to the pitch and sure enough two sides were warming up, and the fence was lined w/ 30 well used shovels.

Though the bus surely helped, this match surely proved how tough it can be for a DII to travel in the preseason. I had reffed the Caps at home just a few weeks earlier, and this side was missing some key players. But, opportunity for others to step up. Out of the gate, however, Chico was sharper, and jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first 20 minutes. Chico always seemed to have the upper hand, though the Caps appeared dangerous at times. Lots of hand-to-hand combat and fierce tackling.

The Caps got in the try zone once but failed to convincingly dot it down. The same player did not make the same mistake again when in the tryzone next. Midway though the final 20 the Caps brought it to within 3, at 20-17. But Chico finished strongly w/ 2 converted tries.

A nice BBQ at the pitch, some time to relax in the sun, and then the Caps (and the bus) were gone. A relaxing shower and beverage lead to the Bear where the spirited Mighty Oaks held their annual Ugly Xmas Sweater party.

December 15

Chico Holiday (hypothermic) Classic
Dec 15th, Bidwell Middle School
Refs: Favor Taueva, Mark Godfrey, Sean Peters, Ray Schwartz
This poor event seemed destined to be rained out! First scheduled, then rescheduled and finally rescheduled again as a rain or shine event... the field dwindled as the timing now conflicted w/ Finals week at schools. Chico Mighty Oaks started out at 10am vs Colusa, w/ Favor at the whistle, and as I diligently tried to take referee coaching notes, the light drizzle started and never stopped. My pen eventually failed! Sean Peters reffed Shasta v Vacaville as I debriefed w/ Favor. Mark Godfrey would ref the Chico Women v Humboldt St, but Humboldt was snowed in, unable to come over the pass to attend, so Chico women played a good intersquad match and then went home to shower, warm up and study.

As the Men's games resumed it was now a light rain, constant and cold. Favor handled the Mighty Oaks v Shasta, I took Colusa v Vacaville, Favor got Chico Mighty Oaks again, this time v Vacaville (playing back to back). But whereas Vacaville stayed warm, Chico could not warm up... hypothermia was setting in! No 2nd women's game, no Colusa v Shasta... we ended early, took long showers and enjoyed the warmth of good company at the Bear soon enough. Favor made some good adjustments on the day. He will make for a very good ref this season, very useful.

Colusa, not the strongest team on the pitch, clearly won the party! Hats off to the fighting rice farmers!

SF/Golden Gate seconds 28 – OLDE GAELS 43 Referee: Paul Bretz
Gaels beat SFGG2 43-28 in their preseason match. Both teams showed a lot of potential. On a personal note Gaels started 4 players that played for my high school team several years ago.

SFGG 84 - EPA Razorbacks 0 Referee: John Coppinger
This match was billed as the EPA Bulldogs at SF/GG and SF/GG and I were surprised to see the EPA Razorbacks stroll into the SF/GG grounds on TI.

The Razorbacks fielded a young side with relatively little experience and never really put SF/GG under pressure as SF/GG ran past and over EPA 84-0. SF/GG was slowed by the weather conditions as a steady rain fell throughout the match.

Santa Rosa 18 – SAC LIONS 32 Referee: Phil Akroyd
There were two main headlines to this game. The first being that Santa Rosa were all over this game for the first 35 minutes and the second that mistakes dominated.

The field was heavy, conditions cold and wet with plenty of knock-ons. In fact there were three occasions of attacking players knocking on in-goal. Rosa scored first, Lions countered with two tries, then Rosa kept it interesting with a penalty goal just before half, making it 10-12 to the Lions at half. They turned it on in the second half but there were still plenty of mistakes from both sides. A pretty entertaining pre-season game.

Seconds: SANTA ROSA 29 – Sacramento Lions 17 Ref: Akroyd

Stanislaus 12 - SIERRA FOOTHILLS RENEGADES 39 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
An early season match in lovely Turlock on a gray day in its sunken fields (part of the Pacific Flyway?). At half, the new guys led 15-5 over Stanislaus. Stanislaus went to the D3 playoffs year, but is experiencing the bane of Valley rugby-reloading every season. For this match they fielded 8, 9 new guys to replace that number who are not back.

On the other hand, Sierra Foothills Renegades are the offspring of the junior college team of the same name; at least half played with the JC team. They also had an interesting infusion of Sac City JC football players, studs but new to the sport.

The Renegades won fair and square, but Stanislaus made them work for it. Game highlight-several excellent red zone defensive stands by the Renegades.

SEAHAWKS 26 – Sierra 25 Referee: Bruce Ricard

Seahawk B 0 – SIERRA A (playing again) 22 Referee: James Hinkin
On a cold wet Saturday there was still rugby to be played and only the Mayan Apocalypse could stop it. Fortunately that is the following Friday so after the A side match the teams regrouped and did it all again. Sierra was expecting the local JC to travel with them and play the B side but that never materialized leaving the A side to play both matches. The captains agreed to 20 minute halves, the kickoff and defensive ends were decided and we were off.

The Seahawks have a squad deep enough to fill out 2 sides comfortably in December so that is a good sign for them, but at this point there are too many inexperienced players. This, of course, is why they need to play these games but the lack of rugby nous was exploited by the veteran Sierra side. Case in point: I called a “rookie reset” on a scrum because the Seahawk flanker kicked the ball out of the Sierra scrumhalf’s hands as he was putting it in. Things were explained and we moved on. The Seahawks never really looked like scoring because every time they started to get close to the Sierra 22 they either foolishly kicked away possession or bad passes/knock ons would kill the move. Sierra, while making their share of mistakes as well, were far more clinical and had a couple of runners that were very hard to stop. Look out for a dreadlocked center (or flanker?) who is a powerful runner and a strong tackler when he remembers to use his arms.

That being said, there are some athletes there on both sides and with coaching and experience they will do well.


This reminds us of why we need to get away from the keyboard now…


Wednesday, December 05, 2012




Would you like to see a good match this evening? The Old Gaels will be playing Duenas from Argentina at 7 PM in Orinda.

The game will be at the Orinda Sports Fields just north of Highway 24 on Camino Pablo. Jordan Bruno will referee. Matt Hetterman is one AR – wanna be the other?


We need three or four refs this coming Saturday, including one in Chico and one in Humboldt.

December 15 is covered. Thanks to the even dozen refs who are available.


Baracus over-thirty 30 – BARACUS under-thirty 62 Referee: Eric Rauscher
TJs from club
I woke up Saturday morning to pouring down rain. Great, a good soaking day, and I wasn't really looking forward to it.

The game had been moved from a grass field to an synth turf field, Franklin Park in SF. As I got to the SF side of the bridge, the rain let up, and it did not start raining again until after the last period of play.

This game is their annual "old boys" vs young whipper-snappers. The game was played in five 20 min periods, with time for re-adjusts in between. The final score does not do justice to the level of play early on. Period by period the score line ran
10/22/27/30/30 and 14/21/31/43/62. As can be seen, the first couple of periods were pretty close, but young legs are a real asset towards the end.

Once again youth won out over beauty. The old boys displayed a better feel for play and savvy of the game, but feeding the ball out to the young backs made the difference.

One interesting thing was two drop kicks by the old boys. It is not very often you see one in a game let alone two, and both were set up and thing of beauty to watch. There was a lot of chatter by both sides. If it had been a regular season game I think I would have clamped down on it, but it wasn't mean-spirited, mostly just banter among friends.

Maritime Academy 26 – ALUMNI 36 Referee: Bruce Ricard
A lot of players were on campus to play this game. About 50 students, and 25 alumni. The game started under a light shine, which stopped pretty quickly to let the backs play their game.

The alumni scored the first try of the game after their left prop got tackled 2 feet from the goal line, and reached this line with the ball in a beautiful single movement. After that I believe that only back tries were scored, which is not that surprising when you know how this team plays.

The game was pretty balanced, but the students went to the break with a 9 point benefit. (21 - 12)

Both teams came back on the field with the energy to win the game, and both teams scored early in the half. At the beginning of the last quarter, the students were leading 26-24.

The coaches told me at the beginning of the game that the alumni were old and out of shape. I was expecting the students to kill the game in the last 20 minutes, but the alumni found the energy to finish the game, and scored 2 more tries to take the lead for the first time 10 minutes before the end, and to finally win the game. Final score 36 - 26.

The new players of the team wanted to play some more rugby to get experience, so a second 25-minute half game was organized between those players as the rain started to fall. They for sure got experience playing under wet conditions.

Stanford men: WHITE 34 – Cardinal 29 Referee: John Coppinger
On the very dry oasis of Steuber Rugby Field in the middle of a very drenched Northern California, the White side held on to overcome the Cardinal side 34-29 in a preseason inter-squad match. Lots of running and a great way to start the season. I only had to reset the scrum once for lapsing into the old engagement sequence.

Stanford women: White – Cardinal Referee: Bob Polito
No score reported. The ref said he had fun.

San Jose State – Opponent
Seconds: San Jose State – Opponent


Santa Rosa – UC Davis Referee: Matt Hetterman
Seconds: Santa Rosa – UC Davis Referee: Giles Wilson

St. Mary's – Vacaville Referee: George O'Neil


A level one referee course was taught at Bellarmine in San Jose on Sunday, with 56 students in attendance. People from elsewhere always think your scribe is exaggerating when he says we have courses with such numbers.

There’s something about the first week in December: we taught one with 45 students last December 4 at Campolindo.

In line with that, I spent Saturday at the Los Gatos youth team’s first practice with my grandson. This club was founded by Chris Fisher two years ago. Now it has almost 200 members. This is just a reflection of what’s happening all over Pelicanland, and elsewhere.

Encourage everyone who loves the game to take up a whistle from time to time. Absent easy cloning of existing referees, this will be the only real solution to our growing problem.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, November 27, 2012




December 1
We are showing ten full games plus a tournament in Chico this Saturday, and only six refs available at press time.

The Chico Holiday Classic was delayed from November 17 on account of rain. They may have hit an unfortunate daily double with the current forecast. But if not -they are going to need referees.

Let us know if you can do a game in:
Chico (two pitches all day)
Humboldt (two games)
Santa Rosa (two games)
San Francisco
Stanford (two games)

December 5
Night game in Orinda

December 7
Night game at Maritime

December 8
St. Mary’s (four games)
Santa Cruz

December 15
Only one game on the list so far, but expect a few more


The Coaches Panel at the annual pre-season meeting of the NCRRS on November 17 featured Matt Sherman, John Cullom and Mike Caravelli (right foreground) and was moderated by Preston Gordon (hidden by pole).

The assembled society hangs on to their every word.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, November 14, 2012




Three referees have earned the C3 grade recently: Austin Brown, Neil MacDonald, and Stephen Valerio.

If you see any of these worthies, they owe you a drink…


Plan to be at the Golden Gate clubhouse this Saturday, November 17, for our first meeting of the 2013 season. The meeting will be from 10 until 3. Early arrivals will find breakfast snacks and rugby conversation.

Our first speaker will be Ed Todd, the original Pelican Ref.

From Phil Akroyd in Florida:

The WPL final was reffed by Anna McMahon, who started as a ref in 2007 in NorCal. I think we can chalk that one up to the Pelicans.

I should also mention that Berkeley won again!


MARITIME ACADEMY 25 –Univ. of the Pacific 7 Referee: Jen Tetler
Another chance to referee at the beautiful new pitch at Cal Maritime. The first half started out with both teams ready to play, though it was a "friendly" game to start off the season. Cal Maritime dominated the first half and scored two tries, but UOP kept up their intensity and scored in the last minute of the half off a penalty quick tap. The first half ended with a score of 10-7. CMU opened it up a little more in the second half and got 3 unanswered tries. Two of them were beautiful 8-picks off of scrums. Unfortunately, CMU was having a little trouble with their kicks, and didn't make any conversions. Final score: 25-7 CMU.

MARITIME ACADEMY 24 – Sonoma State 12 Referee: Donagh O'Mahoney
Very good game. As it was a training game we played 4, 20 minute periods. Both sides trying to play open rugby and it was played in good spirits.

Maritime were the better team for the opening 20 minutes and opened the scoring with a well-worked try in the last play of the first 20 mins to lead 7-0. The balance of the match was even with Sonoma scoring 2 tries with 1 converted to Maritimes 3 with one conversion.

At Sheeran Field: Bald Eagles 17 – VANCOUVER ROWING CLUB 49 Referee: James Hinkin
AR: JC Van Staden – many thanks
San Francisco was showing off for our northern visitors and you could not have picked a better day for rugby. The match was played on the Gaelic Football fields a few blocks up from the SFGG clubhouse and the field, while erratically lined, was in great shape. This will be significant later. I showed up to see both teams with most of their members ready, although the lads from Canada were a little bleary eyed after what was apparently an epic drinking session the night before. Once everyone was present and accounted for we set out the ground rules for the match (VRC player: 5 minute halves sound just about right) it was decided to play 4 15 minute periods with the Bald Eagles playing their A side for the first 2 periods and their B side for the final 2 periods.

The match started with some early pressure by the Americans that almost resulted in a try. After busting through the defense with ease the Bald Eagle #8 strolled into the try zone and dove beneath the posts to ground the ball. The only problem is that the posts were on the dead ball line not the try line so he succeeded in giving the opposition a 22 meter drop. After the laughter died down and I told him that I had explained to both captains where the posts were before the match.

We restarted and the Bald Eagles took the ball back towards the goal line. This time, the CBE ball carrier was determined not to make the same mistake and once he broke free and saw the line he dove and grounded the ball... about 3 meters short. He had grounded it over a Gaelic line. The third time was the charm as the Bald Eagles were able to finally turn their pressure into points and score a legitimate try.

By now the Vancouver side had shook the cobwebs free and almost immediately replied with a try of their own. The first period ended tied at 5 apiece. The second period was another back and forth affair with the only score being to the visitors who ended the A game with a 10-5 lead.

The third period saw the Bald Eagles put in their B side and it showed as the Vancouver team started scoring at will. 4 tries in the third period put the game out of reach but was notable for possibly the best training ground move I have ever seen. A scrum to Vancouver deep in their end was spun out to the fly half who ran about 3 steps and put the ball on the ground. The center then ran to the ball and FLIPPED IT OFF THE GROUND BETWEEN HIS LEGS to the onrushing weak side winger who ran the length of the field untouched. Timed perfectly that move had both sides cheering and shaking their heads in amazement.

The final period was a bit more balanced as the Bald Eagles were able to put 2 tries on the board to eh VRC’s 3 and the match ended at 49-17 to the visitors.

Then we drank beer.

Final score: Bald Eagles 17 – Vancouver Rowing Club 49

[Editor’s Note: This description of the ‘training ground move’ reminds me of a play from a Pebble Beach final in the mid-eighties.

[The Combined London Old Boys had kicked the crap out of everyone they’d met. Your writer knows – he played for Monterey against them in the first match on the main pitch.

[The final was against the Old Blues, at the time perennial USA champs. But CLOB continued to dazzle.

[From a lineout about midfield, they won the ball and spun it. To the outside center. Who caught it on a full sprint, placed it on the ground about ten meters from touch, and kept running. His wing ran along in parallel with him, downfield and away from the ball.

[The ball was just lying there as they ran away. The Blues all started to move toward it – leaving any defensive organization behind. Who has practiced defending something like this?

[But the fullback – he had been lined up very deeply. He ran onto the ball and fly-hacked it on a dead run, all the way across the pitch, to the far-side winger who had been precisely on-side, caught it in stride and jogged the rest of the way for a (four-point) try.]

ST. MARY’S thirds 58 – U. of San Francisco 10 Referee: Jordan Bruno
A warmup scrimmage for the upcoming season saw St. Mary's 3rd side score early and often. USF showed good defense at the ruck, but St. Mary's forward pack was too powerful a force to compete with in open play. USF's defensive backline did well to stop the St. Mary's backs from making too many breaks down the field in the first half. A few missed tackle assignments led to St. Mary's tries later in the match. USF had great opportunities to score in the first half with solid drives by a few standout forwards. Overall, a great friendly.

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 60 – Modesto Harlots 17 Referee: Ray Schwartz
AR: Mark Godfrey
Danny Nunn Park, Sacramento
Very preseason for both teams, Modesto seemed to have arrived early but lacked front row players, the game eventually got started with a borrowed prop. And at the first scrum Sacramento’s loosehead “Vince,” a nice guy, but a 400-pound monster of a man, asserted himself. He seemed to back off from there, but clearly, if Vince keeps playing and getting fitter, he’ll be a force. He would later score and convert his try with a drop goal.

The Caps came out strong and confidence built as they scored 26 points in the first 20-minute period. Subs came in for both teams in the next quarter, and a carload of ruggers from South Valley turned up wearing Modesto uniforms. The game changed, becoming decidedly more competitive. Modesto outscored Sac 17-12 over the next 40 minutes, but injury and fitness took its toll as Sac scored 4 more unanswered tries over the last 20 minutes. A speedy Fijian back scored early, and again late. Where had he been all game, I asked? Out of the middle periods w/ a little injury.

A nice day, nice crowd, some talented players on display. I’d like to mention two: Rollan Pacheco of Modesto, so small and skinny you’d hardly notice him (5’ 9” and 150 lbs wet), but the kid can play! He started playing at age 17 and now at 19, the former pole vaulter, gymnast and high school football player has found his niche. His ability to pounce on a mistake and elude tacklers was breathtaking.

Justin Mano played in only his 2nd game at flyhalf for the Caps (just beginning his 2nd season of play). The 21-year old Samoan looks the part: Fit, strong, great intensity, good passing and kicking skills. Late in the game, Mano dialed up an “I” formation backline off a scrum center, that sent his support players every which way, and cut his Fijian flyer free for his 2nd try. Executed perfectly, it was impressive.

The party rolled to a Sacramento classic, the Club 2-Me, where we feasted on delicious grub and tasty beers. Things are looking bright for the Caps. Coach Jason Crother (also the chef!) recognizes the club bottomed out last season trying to compete at D1 with a number of D2 players. The club is rebuilding with new faces and a new attitude. A lot of decent Sac St. ruggers are sticking around to play, which is of course a very good thing. Many thanks to AR Mark Godfrey.

Saturday at CSUMB:

There’s been a passing of the torch at this Monterey Bay-side campus, with last year’s driving force Ryan Scott giving up his rugby responsibilities in order to be able to graduate next month. Marc Ferguson has stepped up, with the help of a slate of newly-elected player-officers, to try to build on the momentum of last year for this young program.

This was the third time they’ve been allowed to play on the soccer fields, the two gorgeous pitches that the 49ers built on campus and donated to the university. It may also be the last: their rugby pitch is being sodded this week and the soccer players can keep to themselves.

Three games were laid on. It was sunny but the first cold day of the year, the wind brisk off the bay, spectators bundled by blankets into groups of three and four.

Craig Lusiani was there – a once and future Pelican, to judge from our conversation. Craig is practicing law in Carmel and perhaps he thought he’d lost the rugby jones when he moved here from Sacramento.

Seconds: CAL POLY 51 – San Jose State 5 Referee: Bruce Carter
The Spartans of San Jose State played all three games – good on them. The Mustangs of Cal Poly played two games, while competing in and hosting the California Sevens at home at the same time – good on them. And the hosts, as you will see, made a nice 2013 debut in front of their fans – good on them, too.

San Jose State scored first, a well-worked multi-phase try in the right corner. Celebrations all around – then the deluge.

Cal Poly’s horses ran wild. I guess that’s what mustangs do, by definition.

Cal Poly 15 – SAN JOSE STATE 31 Referee: Neil MacDonald
Referee Coach: Bruce Carter
SLO hauled San Jose back from a 10-0 lead, only for San Jose to get back in front with a converted try right on half time. San Jose scored two more converted tries in the second half before SLO scored just before full time.

CSUMB 39 – San Jose State 0 Referee: Eric Rauscher
ARs: Bruce Carter, Neil MacDonald
Sunny with a constant cool breeze coming off the bay. I arrived at CSUMB for the last of three games that day. Bruce and Neil did the first and second and I got the home team match-up. The pitch is the field that the 49rs built as their practice field, and as I understand it, only used for six weeks. CSUMB is actually building a rugby-specific field with full sized pitch, bleachers etc that is supposed to go into action for this upcoming season.

The game was a pretty lop-sided affair as can be noticed by the score. Each game that day was two 30 min periods, and SJSU had already played two games so they were pretty tuckered out. The funny thing was that SJSU dominated the scrum like nobody's business. At CSUMB's put ins, they normally found themselves going backwards with the ball won by the opposition. At one point I had to remind the CSUMB scrumhalf that even though they were getting pushed around, he still had to put the ball in straight.

One unusual play happened after I awarded a penalty to CSUMB. They elected to kick for touch, but the ball was shanked so badly that it traveled about one or two meters forward and pretty much directly for the touch line. A CSUMB played caught it on the run and made 5/10 meters forward until being shepherded into touch with the lineout going to SJSU. It was one of those "I don't think I have ever seen that before" moments. Basically, a foot-pass.

In the last quarter of play, CSUMB sent a couple of players in and the game took on an Islander feel. Long passes back from a tackle and across field for a very wide open style of play. One pass off a tackle in the middle of the pitch went back at a 45 degree angle and traveled at least 20-25 meters. Another of those moments.

All in all a good day with my thanks to Bruce and Neil sticking around to AR for me.

Fog men 5 – RENO ZEPHYRS 46 Referee: Stephen Valerio
It was a good rugby day.

A 50 hour hiatus between 2 business trips gave me the opportunity to pick up a match and I was rewarded with a match under sunny skies and the temperature comfortably in the 50s. Cool enough to run around in comfortably and the spectators weren't freezing.

After taking care of the pre-game matters, I looked over to the sideline to see the cheerleaders (?!?!) getting ready. This was a definite first for me and they kept going strong after 2 games, plus an extra half. A nice touch by the Fog.

The game kicked off and Reno rapidly struck for 12 points. While the pack and breakdowns went back and forth, the potent Reno backs took advantage of any gaps in the defensive line. The Fog picked up a try but 2 more by Reno before the break left them comfortably ahead. The second half found Reno holding a decided territorial advantage from which their backs were able to strike for 4 more tries. While a lack of front row forwards meant the last couple of scrums were uncontested, the match kept moving overall (though there were some long breaks at the scrums while we waited for all the forwards to join). Both sides kept the ball moving and generally in hand, which made for a fun match to cover.

For a final touch, several World War II era aircraft flew overhead as the match wound down. While I can't be sure the flyover was for the ruggers, I'd like to think so.

Fog seconds – UNR Referee: Bruce Ricard
We played 3 periods (30 + 30 + 20), on this first cold Saturday of the year.
UNR really dominated the first 2 periods, scoring 8 tries against 0, despite the two yellow cards received for not staying on their feet at the rucks. In the 3rd period, FOG used more players from their first team, and both teams scored 2 tries.

SUNDAY, Nov. 11

Stanford Sevens College Qualifier
Referees: Jen Tetler, Tony Levitan, John Pohlman, Neil MacDonald, Bruce Carter
ARs: Mike King (10 games), Eugene Baker (11 games)
Referee Coach: David Williamson
Videographer: Bruce Carter

Report by John Pohlman:
This past Sunday Stanford women's 7's hosted Oregon State, Cal. Chico State and Santa Clara University in a national qualifier.

Not sure on the details of qualifying. One of the coaches said Cal and Oregon State had already qualified. Those two teams were clearly the best in this qualifier.

My first game was Stanford versus Cal. Cal scored three trys in the first half and another three in the second, with two converted for a 34-14 win.

Next was Santa Clara versus Chico State. The first half was pretty even. Half time score Chico 14 Santa Clara 7.

Chico's bigger player broke through tackles and controlled the second half. Final score Chico State 43 Santa Clara 7.

The final pool game saw Cal. playing Oregon State. This would be repeated for the final an hour or so later.

Very good game. Oregon State played better sevens and pretty much all their players were skilled, fast and tackled well.

#10 was the standout player of the tournament. She made try-saving breakaway tackles, poached ball and generally ran the back-line. She told me she had been playing for 6 years.

Of note, once play began there was no distinction in player positions for Oregon State.

Cal won and controlled the first half with two trys. Half time score Cal. 10 Oregon State 7.

Unfortunately Cal lost two players to injury. Their captain Aubry and a winger who may have been the fastest player in the tournament.

With these two off Oregon State scored two trys to none for a 17-10 win.

This was a great game to referee and possibly the best game of the tournament. Before the game I wondered if both teams would play the best players. I was certainly hoping so. I believe both had already qualified for the finals.

Thanks for a great game to officiate.

Report by Bruce Carter:
This was a great event, professionally run, with programs, announcers, and keen Sevens players on parade.

We started with frost on the grass but by the time the sun was above the yardarm it was comfy and nice. You could work up a sweat during a match and not miss it afterwards.

Stanford and Oregon State had won their opening games handily, so I anticipated their matchup.

Stanford 0 – OREGON STATE 38
The Beavers have some dynamic players, including two Hannahs at the halfbacks, who ruck/tackle/run/pass/score interchangeably.

Hannah Lockwood, the captain, is the best Sevens player I’ve seen in the women’s game this side of Las Vegas. She isn’t large but wins solo counter-rucks several times per match.

OREGON STATE 19 – Chico State 15
Chico State was in it from the start, controlling the ball for two minutes and scoring a try. But Oregon State is disciplined and all seven players support, loop, and take a perpendicular to the try line when they get the ball.

3rd place: STANFORD 17 – Chico State 12
This game demonstrates the fallacy of reasoning by relative scores, which suggests Chico State by 34.

Stanford has the big-game experience from fifteens and is learning how to play up in Sevens as well.

Report by Jen Tetler
STANFORD 40 – Santa Clara 0
The tournament kicked off at 9am with Santa Clara looking a little small (in numbers) compared to Stanford. Santa Clara put up a strong fight, but Stanford had a few people who were great at running through tackles and giving stiff-arms. Stanford scored 3 tries each half, while keeping Santa Clara to none. Final score was 40-0.

OREGON STATE 61 – Santa Clara 0
It was clear who was the dominant team in this match-up when Oregon State received the kickoff and ran for a try in the first minute. Oregon State had a few really fast girls, and their kicker was excellent. Santa Clara just couldn't get the Oregon girls down. Oregon had some nice passes and changed the field really well to get where the defense wasn't. Santa Clara didn't give up, though, and kept playing through the second half. The final score was 61-0.

Report by Phil Akroyd:

Pittsburgh Angels 21 - 12 Norfolk Storm
This game took place on Friday lunchtime in the beautiful Fort Myers, FL. It was the location of the Women's National Championships, which we were using for the second half of the Level 3 course. The games afforded the opportunity to display on field competencies, in front of the assembled Performance Reviewers and IRB Educators.

I felt less than ready to impress, as I got off the red-eye that had departed Sacramento at 11:45pm on Thursday evening and arrived in Florida, via Atlanta, at 10:00am. I'd had a solid three hours sleep on the plane, then headed to the fields.

The venue was in the "Fenway Two" complex that houses JetBlue Park - a very impressive, purpose-built minor league baseball park used by the Red Sox for Spring Training. We were in the shadow of the stadium, on the multi-use fields, that resembled the Las Vegas Invitational fields surrounding Sam Boyd Stadium. That may be a little harsh as they weren't quite as dry and firm as Vegas, but equally large and fast.

I had one of the DII Quarter Final Games and had a pretty good time. The good thing about Championship tournaments is that it's win or go home, and the quality of play tends to rise a little. From looking at the pre-game warm-ups, Norfolk looked the more athletic and more organized but Pittsburg were no slackers. The Angels took a fourteen point lead, but Norfolk came back with twelve points in the final three minutes leading up to half-time. That made it interesting and more pleasing for me, their second try came after a long period of advantage that I was in two minds whether to call back. Glad I gave them the opportunity to play!

The game held at 14-12 for most of the second half, but the Angels scored on an interception try late in the second half to seal it 21-12. Both teams were great and a pleasure to ref. They made it really easy for me to just get out of the way and let them play a very fast, competitive game.

Norfolk Storm 19 - 24 Las Vegas
Sunday is trophy day, but not for all teams, particularly Norfolk Storm and Las Vegas. That's OK, because the good thing about rugby is that players want to win, even if it's just for the sake of winning.

This was the 5/6 place DII decider, but it felt like the WPL Final. Norfolk took an early 3-0 lead with a penalty goal, but then Las Vegas went out to 3-21 in a pretty short period. However, just like in the Friday game, Norfolk put points on the board just before half, making it 8-21. Without too much exaggeration, there could not have been more than eight penalties in the first half. There were just long periods of extended play, and as the weather was already in the mid-70s by half-time, the players were starting to feel it. More specifically, Vegas were starting to feel it.

The Nevadans were a considerably bigger team and it later turned out that Norfolk's game plan was to play fast and hard and rely on their athleticism to pull through the second half. They clawed their way back with another two penalty goals - yes, that was three by now - making it 16-21. The game was pulling in players, officials, spectators and everyone around. I could feel the tension building, the players sounding more hectic, the sniff of blood in the water and Norfolk were trying to bite.

With fifteen to go, Las Vegas appeared to have given themselves a little more breathing room with their own penalty goal (now a total of four) at 16-24 but Norfolk did as Vegas predicted - "They are going to come back at us with their hair on fire!"

Just three minutes later, the Vegas left-wing took down her Norfolk opposition with a high-tackle, outside the twenty-two and between the 15m and 5m. Again, a shot at goal, and another three points with the score at 19-24 (take note NorCal D1 men, this is a women's D2 game with five difficult but successful shots at goal).

The final thirteen minutes were a joy to be a part of. (Lady) balls-out rugby for no other reason than playing to win and displaying hard running, great hands and good tactics. I just had a smile on my face all the way through. The game went down to the wire but Norfolk could not pull it off. Oh well. Both teams were fantastic and made me fall in love with the game again. Great weather, in Florida for the weekend, hanging out with rugby types and enjoying reffing good teams with nice players and coaches. It does happen every so often.


Refs in Monterey often end up at English Ales in Marina, as here you see Neil MacDonald and Eric Rauscher. This is also often the destination after mountain bike rides on Fort Ord. We know a Salinas resident who would be happy to take you there and stand you a pint.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, November 07, 2012



Report by Bruce Carter

I moved to San Francisco in June of 1980, having towed my Toyota Corolla behind a 24-foot Ryder truck containing my and my roommate-to-be's belongings, all the way from Georgia. And I found Rugby Heaven in Golden Gate Park before I even found a place to spend that first night: I played touch with the old Hastings RFC.

They were excited about the coming weekend's sevens tournament in Dunsmuir. Would I join them?

As much as I loved Sevens even then, I had to find an apartment and prepare to begin my medical internship. Regrets.

So, I had been meaning to cash my Redding-area rugby rain-check for 32+ years. After all, there will come a day when I can't do this any more, and before then I want to experience every pitch and pub of Pelicanland.

When I saw the Andrew Mittry Memorial on the schedule I said to Penelope, "Wanna take a Friday off in November and go to Redding?"

She demurred. But not me!

Giles Wilson and Stephen Valerio met me at the San Joaquin General Hospital, conveniently located on I5 in French Camp, and we rode up together. It's about 350 miles for me, but the miles are as nothing when rugby folks are getting to know each other better.

Stephen's from New Jersey - he hadn't heard our stories, nor we his. Even better.

Andrew's brother Andreas was nice to enough to arrange for rooms at the Red Lion. The new guy got the roll-a-bed. We immediately decamped for the Alehouse, just a few blocks down Hilltop.

This place literally has more beers on tap than it has seats for patrons. You've heard of three or four of them - if your beer-knowledge is well-whetted.

We asked some people if they were rugby, but they weren't. They said the rugby guys had already gone home(!)

So we limited ourselves to dipping our toes into the beer-pool for an hour and then went to bed.

Saturday dawned clear and warm, and we saw how pretty it is up there. Redding is in the foothills just north of the great Central Valley, on the way up to higher altitude and Mount Shasta. And the rugby pitches at Enterprise Park were full-sized and gorgeous.

I was lucky enough to be assigned an opening match – the two guys in the front seat were considered to be the ones who arrived at the pitch first – and my teams were warming up well ahead of time.

CHICO STATE 31 – Southern Oregon 10
Chico’s outside backs had three tries in about twelve minutes, then went off the boil and we had an even match the rest of the way.

SOU is from the Shakespeare-festival town of Ashland. I should have worn my AVON CALLING shirt with a picture of the Bard.

I don’t believe I’d ever refereed Shasta. Matter of fact, I hadn’t: I just word-searched the 2300+ games in my Matches list for ‘Shasta’ and ‘Redding’. There were two hits, both for November 3, 2012.

Good bunch, typical D3 mix of talent and energy, inexperience and enthusiasm. Vociferous players who argue specific points of law loudly, dead wrong in public, but always punctuating their complaints with ‘sir’.

D2 meets D3, and a close match to boot. Good stuff.

SIERRA 29 – Shasta 10
If the touchline scuttlebutt is correct, Sierra has morphed from a top-notch community college team into a men’s club. While this is a loss for the college scene, it allows them to welcome some mighty fine alumni back into the ranks. [This seems to be true – Sierra is listed in the East division of men’s club D3 on the 2013 schedule.]

They are taking up in the club ranks where they left off in the colleges: running in lots of tries.

After Lee Salgado did the last match, we discovered there were tri-tips grilling. But: still grillin’. Not yet done. Tempting, but not quite enough so to delay the start of a long drive home.

Our 5 PM departure was fortuitously timed. Giles saw that the Pelicanmobile has XM and said, "My favorite station is First Wave." That's the channel it's normally on, button #1, and 5 PM is when the Saturday night Safety Dance starts.

I got home to my wife at 10:30, having listened the entire way to a continuous dance mix of the songs that welcomed me to California half a lifetime ago.

There’s a line in a Squeeze song, “Singles remind me of kisses, albums remind me of plans.”

Let's hope the next half of my life has as much rugby and music, friendship and love, as that one did. It’s certainly in my plans.


The referee assignments process isn’t a matter of finders-keepers.

Games need to be assigned through the normal processes established by USA Rugby or there's no liability coverage, certificates of insurance don't apply, etc.

If you are a team that has an upcoming game, ask the NCRRS or the NCYRA to assign a referee.

If you are a referee who is asked to referee a game, pass the information on to either the NCRRS or the NCYRA, or ask the team do to so.

This includes alumni games, friendlies, touring sides, old boys matches – any actual rugby game. A scrimmage at a practice among players of the same team, with the same coach, that would be okay to do if asked.

There are a number of considerations in the assignments process.

The games that referee societies assign are their primary vehicle for referee development.

We may have a ref coming up on an exchange or an important evaluation in a week or two who needs games, or a particular type of game.

We may have a referee coach available to watch that game that we want to pair with a ref who would benefit from the observation or even earn promotion.

We may have an incoming exchange ref who needs a game, or visiting ref from a society to which we owe a favor (or wish to incur favor).

If none of these things apply, then the assignor would normally assign the person who was asked to do the game, assuming the ref is otherwise qualifier to do the match.

So: when you get these kinds of requests, direct them to the assignor. For the NCRRS, for the remainder of 2012, that is Bruce Carter. Beginning in 2013, it will be Pete Smith.


More Mittry Memorial Action:

Matt Hetterman and Lee Salgado also joined the Pelicanmobile crew, netting five refs for this fifteen-game event.

SIERRA 17 – Sac State Alumni 12 Referee: Stephen Valerio
After a scoreless first half with plenty of back and forth the tries started coming in the 2nd half. In the waning minutes it was 12-12 when Sac St got a Yellow Card after they stopped Sierra from taking a quick tap on a penalty. Even with the man advantage for the last 5 minutes Sierra couldn't breach the line until a penalty in stoppage time. Despite being right in front of the posts they elected to run in a quick tap and scored the try, avoiding an unsightly tie.

SANTA ROSA JC 31 – Sacramento Capitals 5 Ref: Valerio
The game started off with Sacramento's captain and fly-half getting knocked out with an injury. Santa Rosa showed excellent sportsmanship in making sure he was taken care. The game was closer than the final scoreline would suggest with Santa Rosa leading 12-5 at the break. But several high tackles finally led to a yellow card for Sacramento and they couldn't hold off the disciplined Santa Rosa attack.

CHICO 42 – Sac State 10 Ref: Valerio
At the end of a long day there was a lot of one-way action here. Sacramento St. struck for a couple of tries, but Chico's dominance at the breakdown courtesy of greater numbers arriving first prevented any sustained Sac St attacks and allowed Chico to move the ball around the pitch.


SONOMA STATE 24 – San Francisco State 5 Referee: Ray Schwartz
AR: Mark Godfrey
Observer: Mike Gadoua
My first visit to Sonoma St, this was their first match of the preseason, and with their new coach Anasa. They had about 40 kids suited up to play and some big boys, some tough and decent ruggers. Dean White is coaching SF St and they looked good too, but with maybe 24 kids and not as much size. The pitch was inside the track and so not as wide as you'd like, but there was a big Collegiate Ultimate Frisbee tournament going on, pushing rugby onto the track field. A crowd of perhaps 200 arrived in time for the 1:30 kick off.

The lads played 20-minute periods, hoping to squeeze an extra 20 or more out of everyone to help rookies get a chance to play. Sonoma came out slow, but quickly created a turnover and was soon scoring the first points. Later in the 1st period they pushed through again to lead 10-0. The 2nd period saw SF St. assert themselves, score a converted try, and just before halftime looked to score again, but a turnover turned into a 100 meter team try for Sonoma. Tough way to go into halftime, 17-5.

As more rookies came on for Sonoma, my skills as a ref were tested. No cards, but teaching moments and a few admonishments. Lots of rookie mistakes: slapping the ball forward at a line out, leaving a scrum early, failure to wrap at tackles. It got a little chippy, but I kept a cork in it, and the lads enjoyed playing on. A lack of fitness and a few injuries added up to limiting play to a full 80 minutes. Only Sonoma St scored in the 2nd half, but overall this was a close, well-contested game, 24-5 final.

November 3, Stanford
Referees: Eric Rauscher, Pete Smith
This was a pre-season warm up between Stanford and Nevada, Reno women

It turned out to be four 20 min periods with a final period between two Stanford sides. Reno showed up with around thirty players (they drove down that morning) and Stanford had at least 40. By the end of the fourth game, Reno was dead on their legs. I did the first and the fourth games and the final scrimmage. Pete did the second and third. Stanford looks to be on track for their national championship form with the usual complement of faster than lightning backs. Reno pretty much held their own and can feel good about their performance. They were able to get points on the board and not get hammered too bad. The day was perfect weather, maybe even too hot. One interesting thing for me was that I have been doing High School games for long enough now that I am seeing players I know playing for the college teams now. It is nice to see that continuity.


Perfect day in Redding:
Standing: Lee Salgado, Matt Hetterman, Giles Wilson, Stephen Valerio
Sitting: Bruce Carter


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, October 31, 2012




For those of you that qualify (refereed 5 assigned matches in 2012 - these matches do not include NCYRA matches) who haven't collected your 2012 green jerseys, please intend to do so at the AGM meeting on November 17. I also have a boat load of shorts and socks for sale. Extra green jerseys (and whatever blues and golds) will be on sale as well.

Also, please send me an email if you are interested in polos, workout tops or tracksuits. We can order pretty much anything through our sponsorship with Canterbury, but need a minimum order. These are not gratis, money will be due as the kit is distributed. Cost will be determined by the number of orders placed.


The Maritime Academy has a scrimmage this Sunday, November 4, at 4 PM that needs a referee.

The Stanford women will host a qualifying tournament for the USA national sevens championships next Sunday, November 11. We have two refs at present and need three. We have one AR and need one or two more. The winner goes to the national finals, so this should be a good one!


Berkeley All-Blues 14 – GLENDALE RAPTORS 17 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: Robert Phelan (Ireland) and Mike King
Warm, sunny day at Morton Field in Vallejo. Final weekend of the WPL regular season. Winner earns red conference #1 seed into the WPL semifinals; loser gets #2 seed. Lots of adventurous, back-and-forth, physical play, but also lots of unforced handling errors, so continuity was limited and both teams squandered scoring opportunities. Berkeley led 7-5 at the half. Thanks to Robert and Mike for their assistance.

Seconds: All Blues 17 – GLENDALE 19 Referee: Robert Phelan
2nd XV game finished 19-17 to Glendale - a thoroughly enjoyable experience, many thanks for affording me such a great opportunity.


Unlike the previous Saturday, it was nothing but sun and sky from atop the rolling hills that overlook Monterey Bay.

Six teams competed at the Slugfest on two fine pitches. Referees included Austin Brown on debut, who plays for the men's Slugs, Neil MacDonald, also relatively new, Lee Salgado and Bruce Carter.

USF 27 - Chico State 7 Referee: Bruce Carter
I had just ARed for Austin in a game where Chico State looked pretty good, and was surprised to see the Bats of USF come out strong.

Their scrumhalf took two penalties quickly, eluded several defenders, and scored both times. She then added a third try from open play, all in the first ten minutes. Quite a player!

USF 47 - UC Davis 10 Ref: Carter
USF's #9 and their #13 are both fast and difficult to tackle, even when in the grasp. Intriguingly, they are also two of the smaller players. Somehow, they didn't end up in the final.

Final: UC SANTA CRUZ 33 -Sac State 14 Ref: Carter
I keep thinking I've done my last tournament final. (I've been thinking this for at least ten years.)

But on this day, Austin had to leave early. Lee was assigned the final. Neil had the 5th-place match which kicked off thirty minutes ahead of the final on the other pitch.

It was then that AAA arrived to help Lee with car trouble that she'd called them about when she arrived at the pitch before 10 AM. So the old man did the championship match.

All of these teams were a mix of experienced players and abject novices. I'll bet I could tell you how many practices each team has had, vis-a-vis the others.

Sac State would have been shut out but for their #14, who poached a try and finished another.

It will be fun to see these teams again come the regular season.

Report by Neil MacDonald

Six teams in pools of three for round robin play in this pre-season tournament, blessed with sunshine, beautiful views of the Monterey Bay, and great hospitality from the Slugs. Lots of new players in their first matches, requiring selective penalizing and coaching by the refs. Every team had a win and a loss in pool play, so Pelican Math was exercised to separate teams on points scored for and against. I had one of the round robin matches, and the 5th-6th playoff.

UC Davis 12 – FRESNO STATE 14 Ref: MacDonald
AR: Salgado
Fresno kicked off in their first, and Davis's second, match of the day. Davis had lost a player or two to knocks in the first game. Two converted tries to Fresno separated by an unconverted Davis score made it 14-5 Fresno at the half. In a tightly contested second half, Davis came back to score in 5 minutes from time, but even with the successful conversion, it wasn't enough, and Fresno edged it. Thanks to Lee for her help on the touch line.

5th-6th place playoff: Fresno State 5 – CHICO STATE 22 Ref: MacDonald
Solid reds versus red with black and white hoops, neither team with alternate shirts. Lots of new and newish players, so sorting the scrum out was a bit of a saga. Fresno got the only score of the first half, leading 5-0 at half time. I had been, until this point, enjoying my day in the sun overlooking Monterey Bay, particularly since - unlike last weekend - you could actually see the Pacific. Alas, it was at this point in the proceedings that I encountered Chico's full back. I would like to thank her for the interval training she offered me for our upcoming beep test, with the 60m sprint interval session she led me on while scoring her brace of tries. While evidence may suggest that this training may be too little too late, it was very considerate of Chico's #15 to provide it. In all, Chico ran in four in the second half, turning the tables on Fresno, and secured 5th place.


Sat, Oct 20, 2012
3rd Annual Bryan Archibald Cup
Wildwood Park, Chico
Cal Poly 3 sides, vs Chico St A, B and Mighty Oaks
Refs: Ray Schwartz, Mark Godfrey, Favor Taueva, Tom Franzoia

All day long Youth rugby clinics and fundraising to honor fallen rugger Bryan Archibald preceded games that began at 4pm. Bryan grew in Chico and returned there after an All-American run at Cal Poly, only to pass suddenly from a heart defect. His passion for helping grow youth rugby touched both communities. The crew met for a lunch in North Sac before sharing the drive up, good chats about law and proper reffing along the way.

Tom reffed the 3rd side and did well. Favor reffed the Mighty Oaks v Poly's 2nd side and is doing fine. The lights were coming on during his match. I had a cracker of a game, which kicked off at 7:15.

Poly's #10, a freshman from Granite Bay High slipped through for the only try of the first half. Chico State answered back with a penalty, and we went into the half 7-3. Before halftime, I had been unsighted on a play that left many players on the field unhappy. Chico seemed to slip through to score a try, but Poly complained of a knock on, and body language from Chico players seemed to confirm it. I blew the whistle but rather than award a try turned to my AR. Having the luxury, I asked Mark Godfrey to come on and report. Mark dramatically paused before confirming the knock on...

Chico State were flopping a bit at the tackle, and though I tried to change this behavior, Poly did a much better job in the 2nd half of protecting the ball. Their method of sealing off the tackle had its own set of consequences, but they took the upper hand. They scored 4 minutes into the 2nd half and then again. Chico answered back but Poly was pulling away. Uncharacteristically, Poly's backs showed poor discipline on a kick and chase, when a wing changed his line and clearly shouldered his opponent to the deck. Yellow card. But Poly still scored 3 short a man.

As the match wound down, the Poly Captain complained of the Chico scrumhalf getting "chippy." I offered, "What do you expect, he's a scrumhalf, and after all, his name is Potato!" I suggested his scrumhalf get chippier! My vote for man of the match would be Paul Cappellano's kid (the dreadlocked white guy!), who played in the centers for Poly and scored two tries. The matched ended 33-10 for Poly. Overall, the forwards seemed well matched, Poly just a bit more disciplined. Despite some heroic efforts from Chico, the Poly backs took the day.

Good crowd, great park, wonderful cause, fabulous match (frankly I was lucky to get it), glad to help!

Thanks immensely to Tom, Favor and Mark.

Sac State
Women's DII Pre-season scrimmages at conclusion of joint training camp
Refs: Mark Godfrey and Ray Schwartz

(7) 20-minute periods played between about 100 student athletes from Sac St, USF, Humboldt, UC Santa Cruz, Fresno St, Nevada, Santa Clara... am I missing anyone? Good fun, fine spirits. Mostly new or newer players, but a few familiar faces from years past were seen as well. Gabby, a former Mother Lode rugger did well for Nevada, Monica, now playing scrummie for Santa Cruz shined, but Sal, the feisty scrummie for Fresno was the find of the day, great pass, good leadership, hard as nails.


Neil MacDonald, Lee Salgado, Ben Bravo and Austin Brown are dressed like referees for Halloween.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, October 24, 2012




…is the Eastern Penn society’s gain.

Jeff Richmond will be migrating to Wilkes-Barre, where we are told there are seven rugby clubs and no referees.

The Pelican Refs, filling needs from coast to coast! Best of luck and thank you, to Jeff and his family.


Saturday, Nov. 3
Mittry Memorial Tournament in Redding
At least two college games

Saturday, Nov. 10
California College Sevens Qualifier at Cal Poly-SLO Need two refs and ARs. This is a two-day event.
Two games at the Maritime Academy in Vallejo
College and Old Boys games

Sunday, Nov. 11
Women’s College Sevens Qualifier at Stanford. Need 4-5 refs.

Thursday, Nov. 15
Two games at the Maritime Academy, at 6:30 and 8.

Saturday, Nov. 17
NCRRS AGM at Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island.


For those of us south of the Bay Area, the college seasons kick off with the men’s and women’s Slugfests, usually on consecutive weekends in October.

The men’s event is now in its third year commemorating Ben Quaye, who died after (not due to) a match in 2010.

Twelve teams played three games each on the two upper pitches. Normally we’re perched above the fog on the UCSC campus, but not this time: it was socked in all morning.

UC SANTA CRUZ 24 - Santa Clara 14 Referee: Bruce Carter
With visiting family in town from the east coast and only for the weekend, I needed to do two of the first games and then leave to do my fraternal duty.

This was a pretty good match. Teams now string phases together in the pre-season, and both of these had success doing so. Then a missed tackle occurs, or an unexpectedly fast player gets the ball, and off we go.

Each half the score was 12-7, so pretty evenly matched.

NEVADA 24 – San Jose State 7 Ref: Carter
The Spartans have a lot of athletic players but many seem to be new to the game. This requires some referee adjustments.

One memorable moment: a Wolfpack player was being penalized for being ‘not back any’ at a quickly-taken penalty. San Jose State’s coach was heard saying, “That should be a card!”

The ref started to explain that he was pretty sure the player was a novice but then noticed the coach trying to stifle a big smile and a laugh, the bait not having been taken.

I love this game.

But to ref two games on the trot, to come off the pitch with a well-earned sweat and that second wind we referees get when we see that our compatriots are gathered at the ref tent, and then to pick up one’s kit bag and leave well before noon – well, that’s not to love.

Report by Eric Rauscher:
So I ended up doing the first and last two games. The last one was very good, with Santa Cruz beating Sierra College to the delight of the crowd.

Sam Davis ended up doing the 3:15 game Fiji style. He didn't bring any kit since he didn't think he would be needed. I asked him if he would be willing to do it and he said "But I don't have a whistle." Out of my kit bag comes my spare whistle along with a score pad, pencil and flags. Since he was there to sell USA rugby kit, he said "But who will watch my table?"

I went over to ask one of the nice young ladies selling muffins and whatnot if she would be willing to supervise his table while he was doing the game. She said yes. Sam had very little wiggle-room at that point and did the game. I don't think the players would understand why doing it barefoot is Fiji style.

Report by Neil MacDonald:
Had a blast on Saturday. Great to get my first adult games under my belt, and encouraging to get positive feedback from coaches on both ends of a shellacking.

Sign me up for the Women's Slugfest next Saturday!

Match reports below.

USF 32 – San Jose State B 3 (HT 20-0) Referee: Neil MacDonald
USF ran in three tries, and converted one, in a first half which they brought to a close with a successful penalty kick. SJSU kicked a penalty over to open their account in the second half, before one of their number was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle. USF scored once more during their one man advantage, but missed the conversion. Another USF try with a successful conversion completed the scoring.

UCSD 41 – U. of San Francisco 6 (HT 26-3) Ref: MacDonald
Coming off their earlier win, USF opened the scoring with a penalty kick from in front of the posts, before UCSD's abrasive pack, led by their firebrand hooker, began to completely dominate the scrum. Off such front foot ball, UCSD scored four times in the first half, converting three of them. USF had no answer in the scrums, but kept their chins up and played positively with what ball they had. Repeating the pattern in the second half, USF scored first with a penalty kick, bringing the score to 26-6, before UCSD's physical and skilled running rugby ran in three tries, as the sun started to drop over the Pacific. If only UCSD had remembered to pack a kicking tee for the long drive north, they might have converted a few more...


Report by Bryant Byrnes:
Fun on the Farm on a lovely Sunday. Steve Valerio and I had the pleasure of working with the Stanford and Cal Women's Sevens. The format was alternating rookie/veteran matches from 2 until after 4. I believe we had a total of seven matches.

Good spirited, well played. Thanks to Stanford's coach Matt Sherman for getting the field and he and Cal's Ellen Owens for keeping the trains running on time.

Morning in Santa Cruz finds John Pohlman, Bruce Carter and Eric Rauscher ready to run.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Thursday, October 18, 2012




That’s trying to put together a referee schedule this time of the year.

We have a number of younger and newer refs. Your assigner will preferentially give such referees assignments in order to get them some experience, to get them ready for the coming season.

And yet – there are seven refs available this weekend (we need thirteen), the youngest of whom is probably John Pohlman.

If you are sitting on your hands thinking we don’t need you, WE NEED YOU. Get a run and get some rugby in. This is the time of year when you can pick your own game.

Saturday, Oct. 20
Donkeyfest in Ukiah – no refs at present
Men’s Slugfest at UC Santa Cruz – could use two more

SUNDAY, Oct. 21
Stanford-Cal women's sevens – six games – need one more ref

Saturday, Oct. 27
Women’s Slugfest at UC Santa Cruz – needs three refs

Saturday, Nov. 3
Mittry Memorial Tournament in Redding – we’ll be taking the Pelicanmobile on the long trip from Salinas. Anyone want a ride?

Saturday, Nov. 10
California College Sevens Qualifier at Cal Poly-SLO Need two refs and ARs. This is a two-day event.

Two games at the Maritime Academy in Vallejo

Sunday, Nov. 11
Women’s College Sevens Qualifier at Stanford. Need 4-5 refs.

Thursday, Nov. 15
Two games at the Maritime Academy, at 6:30 and 8.

Saturday, Nov. 17
NCRRS AGM at Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island.



Two Reports on Fiji Day, Morton Field

By Eric Rauscher:
The start time was supposed to be 9 am. I showed up around 8:15 to the smell of BBQs already in full operation, a whole pig turning over a bed of coals, but nobody that had any idea of game schedule. Kind of typical for an island event. Nic Talemo showed up a little while later and knew the contact people and acted a liaison. Eventually ten teams showed up to play in two pools of five; Sac Lions, LA, Vallejo, San Mateo and Bay Barbos 1 in the first pool with Seattle, Brotherhood, Bay Barbos 2, NorCal Barbarians, and EPA Razorbacks. The refs on hand were (in order of appearance) Eric Rauscher, Nic Talemo, John Pohlman, Jen Tetler and Bruce Ricard. We simply followed each other in doing games, with John and Jen leaving early. That meant that after the pool play, Richard and I did the semis and Nic did the final. Each of us did from 4 to 7 games. My semi was Sac Lions 5 / EPA 17.

In talking to Jen, I mentioned that at this kind of tournament the competition is fierce, but not aggressive. In speaking to the security guy, (who had a slow day), he said he noticed that the players would help each other to their feet after making a very good tackle. I replied, yes and they also giggle. It is that love of the game which makes this brand of rugby so interesting.

Having the pitch surrounded by about a million food stalls also makes it appealing.
Can't wait till next year.

By John Pohlman:
Smiles everywhere. If I had to sum up the Fiji Games in one word it would be smiles. Two words, big smiles.

Mare Island hosted this year’s games celebrating Fiji’s independence. Hundreds of spectators came out to watch the featured event Rugby 7’s. Volleyball and netball were included, as were numerous tents selling everything Fijian.

Eric was finishing his first game when I arrived. Nick had the second and I would do the third. This was the rotation until Jen and Bruce arrived.

A truly festive atmosphere was present. Field manager John said all Vallejo hotels were sold out. Teams from Seattle, Los Angles, Sacramento and the Bay area competed.

My first game was a Golden Gate Barbarian team led by Captain Mose Timoteo. I think they played an EPA team. There were at least three Barbarian teams competing and the games assigned sometimes changed. Thus my match card basically said Red vs. Black etc...

But the quality of play was such that in the first game I had no scrums and one line-out.

My second game had the Sac. Lions vs. San Mateo. Then changes to Seattle vs. E.P.A. Razorbacks. All I know is red scored at 6 minutes into the second half to take their first lead. Then Black scored off the kickoff to win. Final Black 17 Red 14.

And so the day progressed. Big, powerful and talented players leading to fun, fast games to referee.

I had to leave around 3:30 to meet some visitors. But with Eric, Nick, Jen and Bruce I am sure all worked well.

Stanford Men’s Sevens
Report by Phil Akroyd:

Refs: James Hinkin, Tony Levitan, Rich Boyer, Pete Smith, Phil Akroyd
A/R: Rob Hendrickson
Ref Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz

A great day of some pretty high-level college 7s in places.

The Steuber pitch was in great shape in that it was a little softer than normal and the warm weather made for some sweaty, but fun games. All the refs (including myself) commented on how they were noticing the warm weather, fit college players and lack of off-season games. All refs manned-up and did five fast games each (Pete Smith relieved James Hinkin part way through the day).

Cal went 5-0 on the day and defeated Cal Poly in the final. Those two and St. Mary’s, along with UCLA were clearly the better teams. UC Davis, Sac State, Stanford and Santa Rosa J.C had their own battle among themselves.

Matt Sherman put on a very nice, well-run tournament with some nice little extra bells and whistles to compliment the usual positives of reffing at Steuber field. Refs had mics to the P.A. team who offered color commentary to spectators. Bill Cosden and Steve Harwood provided the insight and did an extremely knowledgeable and professional job.

Full scores:
Cal 21-7 UC Davis (Hinkin)
Cal Poly 26-7 Sac State (Levitan)
UCLA 26-0 Stanford (Boyer)
Saint Mary's 33-14 Santa Rosa JC (Akroyd)
UC Davis 17-12 Sac State (Hinkin)
Cal 24-14 Cal Poly (Levitan)
Saint Mary's 26-5 Stanford (Boyer)
UCLA 45-0 Santa Rosa JC (Akroyd)
Cal Poly 21-12 UC Davis (Smith)
Cal 41-0 Sac State (Levitan)
Stanford 14-7 Santa Rosa JC (Boyer)
UCLA 14-12 Saint Mary's (Akroyd)

Cal 26-0 Saint Mary's (Akroyd)
Cal Poly 24-7 UCLA (Smith)

Consolation Semifinal
Davis 17-0 Santa Rosa (Boyer)
Sac State 29-7 Stanford (Levitan)

Championship: Cal 31-14 Cal Poly (Akroyd)
3rd/4th Saint Mary's 38-5 UCLA (Smith)
5th/6th UC Davis 21-14 Sac State (Levitan)
7th/8th Santa Rosa 26-24 Stanford (Boyer)

UOP 26 – U. of San Francisco 19 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Preseason friendly (part of a round robin w/ SF State)

Jones'n for a run, I checked in w/ Scott Wood who said, "Yes, please help." He was gonna have to ref (3) 60 minute matches in a row if I hadn't raised my hand. Nice 45 minute drive down to UOP (nice pitch!) on a brilliant morning. Lots of friendly faces. Actually, several I did not expect to see.

Here's what I am seeing, at every level... the push to get more youth playing the game we all love continues to pay off. Each of these 3 programs, who just a few years ago may or may not even be able to field a full side, now easily fields a side +. Each club has several kids who played rugby in high school, and some, like Kyle, the UOP Captain, even when at Junior High, for Lamorinda. USF had a 9-10 combination who actually played high school rugby Singapore! The SF State Captain, Jake, came over to say hi... I had reffed him many times when he played at Oakridge High (now Mother Lode RFC). These three clubs might not feature many elite ruggers, but I think even the non-elite ruggers are getting better, and clearly every club, from top to bottom is benefiting.

The match itself was good fun. USF jumped out ahead 14-5 at the half. Odd things around the try line...two balls held up in goal, twice the ball taken back by the defense and made dead in goal...keeping me on my toes. Lots of rookies learning to pack down and scrum. This was a good match for me to help with. UOP seemed to send a few of their better players into the game in the 2nd half. They made a difference as they pulled away at the end, after trying the game at 19 with 10 minutes to play.

No cards to report, no injuries. In Scott's early game and then his match after mine, each game saw blood, major head lacerations. Scott made it through, his knee just starting to bug him. I'll do my best to keep improving my fitness. Fun with the UOP coaches later at a nice pub, Valley Brew, where I was joined by Kreg, Terry and Craig. Once the fresh keg of Lagunitas IPA was tapped, all was well again in the world!


Stanford Grad School 19 – McGEORGE 29 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
A beautiful Sunday on Stanford's excellent pitch. Stanford with good numbers but lots of new guys played the best McGeorge side I have seen in 10 years.

A well-played, good-spirited match saw an adept Stanford backline and large pack chivvied all day by the quick and opportunistic McGeorge fellows who ran straight at 'em all day. There was a bit of mild chippiness at the end; but it was a 3 point game, and lawyers – and to a lesser extent Stanfordites – just cannot help themselves. It is bred in the bone.

The new laws were applied and worked for the most part. (Note to self: call ''use it'' for rucks.) Good luck to Stanford in its upcoming Houston tournament.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, October 10, 2012




Plug in this URL and get your blood boiling for the USA Sevens in four short months:

This ad features two of the nation’s top players, both from NorCal: Sacramento’s Colin Hawley and Palo Alto’s Zack Test.


We have a need for non-Saturday availability. Please have a look and let us know your pleasure.

FRIDAY-Saturday, October 12-13
Fiji Day Sevens on Mare Island in Vallejo – two refs so far, need several more

Saturday, Oct. 13
Three-team round-robin at UOP from 10 – 2. Need one more ref.

SUNDAY, Oct. 14
3PM – Stanford Grad/Biz school hosting McGeorge

4:30 – 7:30 PM at Stanford – Sevens, probably seven games

Saturday, Oct. 20
Donkeyfest in Ukiah
Men’s Slugfest at UC Santa Cruz

SUNDAY, Oct. 21
Stanford-Cal women's sevens - six games or so

6:30 PM – Stanford Grad/Biz school hosting EPA Razorbacks

Saturday, Nov. 4
Mittry Memorial Tournament in Redding – we’ll be taking the Pelicanmobile on the long trip from Salinas. Anyone want a ride?

SUNDAY, Nov. 5
4 PM – California Maritime Academy alumni game

Saturday, Nov. 17
NCRRS AGM at Golden Gate clubhouse on Treasure Island.



SACRAMENTO AMAZONS 33 – All Blues 29 Referee: Lee Salgado


20th Annual Chico State Alumni Weekend
Refs: Ray Schwartz, Bo Kaihu, Mark Godfrey
Report by Ray

Two matches plus were played; a brilliant, sunny day; pitch in great shape; nice, festive crowd, w/ lots of friends and love to go around.

Bo reffed (4) 20 minute periods that saw the Alumni women thump the undergrads 10 tries to nil. Amazingly dominant stuff. The undergrads rarely enjoyed possession, and then rarely retained it when they did get their hands on it. Late in the game they finally crossed into the attacking 22 for just the 2nd time. But were never a threat. The alumni had fierce, skillful attackers at most every position, and subbed in studly players too. Near the end, Mary T. struck a sweet drop goal from the 22 in the flow of play. Eagle Nai Reddick was one of many outstanding alum on the day.

Bo is going to be a decent ref, and he certainly enjoyed this run... but lots to work on. Alex and Mary are coaching the college side again. They've got lots of work ahead of them!

Ray then reffed the 1st four of (5) 20 minutes periods on the men's side, with Bo reffing the last 20. This game was very different, a fierce match from the start, hard and fast on both sides of the ball, with the undergrads taking the lead 14-10 early in the 2nd period, and extending it to 28-10 by the end of the 3rd.

The alumni were grousing. This was not how the alumni game's scripted to go. I asked if I should penalize the youngsters for break away runs? But as the rookies cleared the bench for the college, the vets smelled blood and came on strong to finish w/ 4 unanswered tries and a victory, closing out the 4th period ahead 34-28. Mitch Jagoe's son was a three-try scorer, turning in a man of the match performance.

Mitch now is coaching the youth, the high school side to be coached by Beau McSwain, while Jeff McCreedy and Danny Lacko are coaching the college men. Finally, youth and high school rugby in Chico!

Great to have AR Mark join us, and great to have been able to offer a team of three refs all day long. We were nicely rewarded as the party rolled over the world famous Madison Bear Garden for pitchers of fresh Sierra and Bear Burgers. I have to say, with all sincerity, I am reminded how good the guys and girls have it there in Chico.

Not 100% sure this is the pinnacle, but cannot imagine there is a healthier mix of men's and women's rugby anywhere in America. To see so many good looking, athletic girls hanging with the equally fit guys... it is rare! Truly a treasure and every one of them seemed to know it, and revel in it! This was at least my 4th Alumni Day reffing at Chico, and I look forward to more!

Humboldt State 5 –ALUMNI 35 Referee: Sean Peters

Stanford men – ALUMNI Referee: Bruce Ricard
A first game between the men alumni (in red) and the current students (in white). The alumni hooker was too big to fit in the red jerseys, so he took a white one. The game started with me wondering why someone was always offside and pushing the rucks the wrong way, before realizing that he definitely couldn't be a student. The alumni were dominating the first half, scoring several tries, before the students score their first points by a try on the line, at a ruck, by their scrum half. The second half was pretty much the same. At the last minute of game, the alumni get a turnover ball at a ruck in their 22, and start running forward. The ball is beautifully passed from a back to another, which finally ends in the hands of a winger, who gets tackled 5m from the Grail, but who manages to pass the ball to... his prop ! who followed the whole action, and scores a try after a 80m run. The alumni won the game by about 8 tries to 1.

Stanford women – ALUMNAE Ref: Ricard
A second game in three thirds of 15 minutes happened next between the women alumni and the students. Again, I am amazed how women are able to keep the rucks up and stable. They must have some powerful balance gene that men don't have. In the first third the alumni crushed the students. They shuffled the teams to try to have a more fair contest, which worked because no points were scored in the second third. They did another shuffle before the last third, which was again very balanced. There is not really any score because of the shuffle, but the students know for sure that they still have a lot to learn.

Sunday, October 7

BERKELEY 48 - New York 0 Ref: Phil Akroyd
ARs: Stephen Valerio & Giles Wilson

An 8am kick-off on Sunday morning at a foggy Mare Island. I was only partially joking when I asked the home team if there was a way to switch on the flood lights before we started.

One of those games where the play was actually closer than the score suggests. Having said that, New York barely even troubled the Berkeley try line at any point during the game.

Berkeley are a pretty complete team with strength in depth and key players in key positions. Their two flankers ruled the breakdown throughout, and like you would expect from well coached Eagles, they were frequently on the wrong side of the law... and they knew it. Special mention for the home team's inside center who blew through the opposition back on many a crash ball.

New York had especially poor delivery and distribution all day. Their scrums were often going backward with possession, and the half-back had trouble delivering a decent pass to her colleague.

Sunday, September 30

NORCAL TRIPLE THREAT 43 – Emerald City Mudhens 42 Referee: Tony Levitan
What an engaging 15s match with which to being the latter 2012 campaign, a total see-saw event that ended with the visiting Mudhens being pushed out of bounds threatening the NorCal line ...

A magnificent day in Corte Madera started a bit sketchy when this ref pulled up to the pitch an hour before kickoff only to find two squads and no pitch. The nomadic Triple Threat were relying on the Marin Reds to set up the pitch in a new park where, apparently the Reds hope to play this season. While off to a limping start on their field set-up duties, the Reds pulled their effort together under the able leadership of Whitney Blake and had the pitch ready to go only 30 minutes after the scheduled 11am kick-off.

A running affair from the opening whistle, NorCal scored a converted try before the first minute was up, and then proceeded to dot down 3 more times to the Mudhens' 1 converted try for a 26-7 halftime lead.

Apparently either the home side thought they could set things to cruise control or the downhill grade benefiting the Mudhens in the second half truly kicked in as Emerald City unleashed barrage after barrage, using 3 unanswered converted trys to take a 28-26 lead a mere 11 minutes into the second half. The match saw strong set play and dynamic efforts to remain active in the loose with plentiful quickly recycled ball from both sides and long breakaway runs. Shaken from their stupor, NorCal answered with 2 converted tries to retake the lead 40-28 before the Mudhens added another converted try (40-35) to once again pull within striking difference.

The match proved to hinge on a NorCal penalty kick from just outside the 22 with just under 7 minutes remaining, awarded after the Mudhens were again offside at the ruck (a repeated offense which also came with a team warning for an impending yellow should the Mudhens infringe again), 43-35. Undaunted, the Mudhens tried to wrest control of the match with a furious display of determined running, dotting down with 4:30 remaining (43-42). The final play was to be at a scrum between the halfway and the Mudhens 22, but hard running and repeated penalties against NorCal found the teams still battling some 2 minutes later, only to have the Mudhens winger pushed into touch a scant 5 yards from the NorCal line to end the match.

The high-quality of play, wide-open offense which saw 12 tries, strong tackling and rapid recycle of the ball made for an entertaining 80+ minutes. Of note for a women's match managed by this ref was the outstanding kicking by both squads which collectively converted 11 of the 12 tries and the one penalty kick attempted.


Two reports follow. Read ‘em and weep. If you haven’t been yet, set your sights on two years from now and do some referee hosting in the meantime.

Rich Boyer

9/20: We (James Hinkin, girlfriend Emily and Jordan Bruno) took the ten hour flight to London and were collected by Richard Parrish and John G. The flight is very manageable considering Virgin Atlantic provides up to 60 movies (free) from which to choose. We were treated to tea after the 75 minute drive to Bedford. Afterwards we went to the local pub where four referees were strategizing about onboarding new referees. Hand pulled ales made the setting all the more better.

9/21: We awoke to eggs and bacon (actually ham), with tea. Richard Parrish's wife Jill is a great cook. After breakfast Trevor McCarthy took us all, including the Parrishes, through Bedford's major park; through the narrow streets to his former high school, to a few churches, including St. Peter de Merton with it's 1,000 year old Norman arches, and along the Ouse River, which housed two crew rowing clubs.

We then walked to the Bedford Blues pitch. Last year the Blues lost out to London Welsh, who were promoted to the Aviva Premiership this year. We met Mike Rayer, former Welsh international fullback and Blues director. We drank pints of Red Stripe while taking in the beautiful pitch, which had a 9 degree slope.

After that Trevor took us to a church that housed information on John Bunyan (no relation to Paul), a 17th century travelling handyman turned preacher. He wrote allegories which were subsequently translated into 150 languages and purportedly remain popular to this day. We also walked through Bedford School (high school), where we would later ref. It is a beautiful school with 8 pitches, a 1500s church, and an administration building that looks like a palace.

We then proceeded to a play after a fantastic dinner. The play re-enacted various parts of Monty Python shows and was quite funny. British humor. They closed with a scene and song from Life of Brian, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

9/22: I arose at 7:00 for ham and eggs (and tea). I find it difficult to travel East, and had two consecutive nights with 4 hours sleep. Watched an ITM Cup game, then put on my number ones and Richard deposited me at Ampthill, about 25 minutes outside Bedford. There I was escorted to a large referee changing room where I met Maurice Skermer, my evaluator. He departed after we made friendly conversation and the Ampthill President, Dave Williams, then entered to share with me Ampthill's club history and how Americans from the nearby air base would join the club and play.

I then went outside and addressed both teams, spoke with captains, who delegated AR duty, and subsequently was asked for water breaks every 20 minutes since "it was so hot". The temperature was perhaps 70 degrees and the pitch was in perfect condition with the 2 story clubhouse along one side....We then began the match. Ampthill were an older club with players up to 45 years old, and Milton Keynes were the younger club. Ampthill were relentless with their forward play while Keynes would swing the ball wide at every opportunity.

I found that the players worked out scrums and lineouts (numbers and spacing) so that my part during these stages was very easy. Every tackler tackled a little lower than chest high and went for the ball. Consequently many rolling mauls ensued. The Ampthill forwards offloaded magnificently in tackles while Keynes backs threw long passes and made incisive running lines. Keynes ended up winning 28-15.

I then went back to the (locked) ref changing room where I was let in by the barkeep from upstairs, who presented me with the club tie and a momento pint glass (empty...). Inside the room I was greeted with a tray containing tea, lemonade, biscuits and a Kit Kat bar (but no water, which seemed to be in short supply everywhere I traveled).

I used the referee shower, put on #1s, then went to the party upstairs. It's really cool in England rugby clubhouses in that players offer the ref a drink at every opportunity. This clubhouse puts every clubhouse I have been in to shame. Multiple rooms, large bar with at least 8 different beer options, food, and various club memorabilia including decades' worth of team photos and hardware/plaques.

A quick point: talk about a small world. The players informed me two Americans were upstairs viewing our game. I met the husband and wife and it turns out the husband is Mike Purcell's (former Eagle wing) cousin. They were in England for their honeymoon, didn't know much about rugby, but decided to attend the match. The locals showered the lady with many momentos (and beer).

Paul Dannett then collected me and drove me to the Bedford Ath (short for Athletic Club), Richard Parrish's haunt. I met up with James, Richard and a few well oiled others. We were provided pint after pint after pint. We then walked home singing songs for a late dinner provided by Jill.

9/23: I finally had a sound sleep and awoke to eggs and ham and tea. I had an 11:00 game at Bedford Ath, where the U-15s were playing. Bedford vs. Dunstable. Bedford won going away 28-5. The crowd was delightful (no soccer moms...) and the coaches were respectful and quiet. After showering I was treated to a lunch cooked in the kitchen, numerous pints of beer, and great conversation. The Bedford Ath has four pitches, games played concurrently. But what a sight to see! All the age grade kids afterwards dressed in their number ones taking in the club atmosphere. I awarded the two captains keychains in the shape of California. Their eyes lit up and they were thankful.

Up until this point it had not rained. But once in the clubhouse the famous rain began to fall. After some time we drove back home where Jill treated us to a proper English Sunday roast complemented with JC Van Staden's finest red wine, followed by nightcaps of Benedictine.

9/24: We awoke to more rain and reports of floods in nearby counties. After another fantastic breakfast we departed for the town of Rugby. What a sight to behold! Beautiful pitches, and a school built in the early 1800s. We were met by Guy Steelebodger, former Northampton hooker and captain, now an economics professor at Rugby school. Interestingly enough, the school does NOT place an emphasis on rugby, nor on rugby academies. It formerly consisted of 600+ males but was integrated some time ago and counts 400 females and 400 males as its students. Some board at Rugby while others commute.

After a quick school tour we drove to Rugby Museum, where, California Bald Eagles players may be interested, a Bald Eagles pin is proudly displayed in a glass case. The museum was much smaller than anticipated, but it nicely outlined the history of rugby, from original pigs' bladder balls, more akin to medicine balls than the ball of today, through the world wars, to rugby league.

After a quick tea time we then drove to Warwick Castle where we took a dungeon tour. It was pretty creepy to experience (nearly firsthand!) the dungeon conditions and instruments of torture used on the dungeon inhabitants.

We then drove to Olney, location for the refs meeting. But we arrived early, so we had the best fish and chips to date. Then on to the society meeting where many gents were keen to introduce themselves and speak of their time in California. Max Barnard and Richard Parrish presented a fine power point presentation outlining their March visit. James, Jordan and I briefly touched on our perceived differences between American rugby and English rugby, then James presented Colin, president of the society, a pelican carved from a golf club driver. We then retired to the bar, where I met Max's father Stuart who impressed me with a story when he began reffing. He was assigned a Vets (Old Boys) v. prisoners (Villains) game. The Villains had 13 prisoners and two wardens. Stuart said the Villains hooker had the fastest feet he had ever seen, so fast in fact he thought the hooker was wearing shinguards. So at the beginning of a scrum Stuart kicked his shins, hard, to determine if said shinguards were present (they weren't). The hooker crumpled, his mates began laughing, Stuart turned away only to find the hooker coldcocked two of his fellow mates for laughing and was chasing after a third. Stuart asked the hooker afterward what he was imprisoned for. "Four murders, for life" was the response.....

9/25: We awoke to no rain. I took a quick walk through town to replenish supplies, then off the Bedford School, where three schoolboys provided a quick school tour. We were then treated to a very good lunch in the dining commons one hour prior to the game.

I refereed Bedford IIs (effectively the Bedford Varsity Silver side) v. Tonbridge, a rival school. Trevor volunteered to run touch but the other side remained without an AR. The forwards showed a little better technique than our high school forwards on lineouts and mauls, but back play was similar to ours. Despite being penalized more frequently, Tonbridge eventually asserted their dominance and won 45-0.

Jordan and Jame's games ran concurrently with mine, so that after we showered we all entered into the HeadMaster's "suite" on the second floor. This "suite" was 60 feet by 20, with wall memorials to all Bedfordian School boys who lost their lives in the wars. Eight comfortable leather couches were in the suite, with beautiful, ancient, huge oak tables. Just outside the "suite" was the obligatory bar as well as glass cases with war trinkets/memoirs/paintings. We had a few beers, ate from the foodline, discussed the game with all coaches, then departed. We treated the Parrishes to a nice meal at a pub.

9/26: We awoke early for a 60 minute trainride to London to meet up with Max Barnard, who would serve as our tour guide/comedian for the day. We visited the British Museum, which was fascinating, then Buckingham Palace in rain. We dined in Covent Garden (fantastic Cornish Pasty), then toured Westminster Abbey, which is in my opinion a must. We had a few pints at a local pub, then took the train back home.

9/27: Richard delivered us to Steve Wormersley's in Huntingdon, where Andy Croson was already waiting. They both drove us to Cambridge whereupon Steve acted as our tour guide. Cambridge is comprised of 15-20 colleges abutting cobblestone paths on which rode numerous bicyclists. Most buildings were built in the 15th century. We saw the likes of Kings' College and Trinity College. Upon passing through the beautiful arches the remainder of each college was visible. The grounds were meticulously kept, with large grass quads and flowers about the perimeter. We had a great lunch at a pub, toured Wren Library, which houses the oldest know music scroll dating back to 1420 along with writings from the 1400s, including Sir Isaac Newton's (1600s). Andy then negotiated a great price for punting, that is, taking a flatbottom boat on the river Cam, propelling it by pole a la the gondoliers in Venice. The river Cam provided riveting views of more colleges and was also the sight for many hilarious moments as tourists attempted to guide the punts along the river.

Afterward we retired to Stamford, Andy's home town, where we had fantastic fish and chips and then a good old English pub crawl. We were met by Andy Malpass. Fifteen pubs in three hours. Fifteen different beers.

9/28: Morning came much too quickly. We met up with Bruce Benyon at a great outdoor market serving fabulous food. We drove to Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill's "home". The palace grounds sit on hundreds of acres, and the palace is truly a palace. At this point in our stay it was kind of like "ho hum, another beautiful, old palace". Bruce then drove us to the tiny hamlet of Hook-Norton, where he gave us a tour of the brewery at which he works. We then drove an hour to meet up with the ubiquitous Richard Parrish in Northampton to watch the Northampton Saints play London Wasps. 12,900 supporters in attendance. Saints played well and won convincingly 24-13. The atmosphere was much like that at a college football game. Afterward we met with ref Dave Pearson and also Samu Manoa, formerly of SFGG and American lock making a name for himself in Northampton.

9/29: I slept in til 9:00, took another quick tour of Bedford, then prepared for my 3:00 game at Bedford Ath. Bedford Queens, a team that shares the Ath with Bedford, hosted Stockwood. Once again, many mauls ensued, great forward offloads in tackles, quick play and little backchat. Queens won 33-24, with Stockwood gaining a bonus point for a try in the dying minute. Andy Croson, my evaluator, then drove me to Rushden, where we were to have our final dinner amongst our new friends.

9/30: My last day refereeing. Where has the time gone? I reffed Bedford U-15s vs. Hitchins Hedgehogs. It's nice to see the Bedford coaches from last week meeting me with quips and thoughts. Both teams played really well, and they were tied for the last 20 minutes of the game. My thoughts went to having to buy everyone in the clubhouse a round, but in the dying seconds Bedford knocked on five meters from their tryline, Hedgehogs sturdied a scrum and the eight man picked and dove over for a final score of 17-12. Whew!

Jane Parrish outdid herself that night with Paella, Spanish wine and sourdough bread. Philip and Michelle, good friends of the Parrish's, came by afterwards for a few nightcaps.

The tour was absolutely splendid! The English were very hospitable, and my wallet was not allowed to open. They were thankful for the California momentos and jumpers/ties I provided and replied in like fashion. The assessor's opinions were spot on. The games were a joy to ref, the post party and clubhouses just as good. And the weather pretty much cooperated as it rained three days, but never on gameday. Finally, the tradition and history of towns/cities visited and of the rugby clubs refereed is rich indeed.

James Hinkin

Never Above. Never Below. Always With You.

I was lucky enough to experience this year’s East Midlands Exchange and I was pulled aside and told by numerous pelicans that I would have the time of my life. And they were right.

The tour started with Jordan Bruno and Rich Boyer meeting the Better Half (Emily) and me at SFO. We were all excited and looking forward to an adventure that we wouldn’t ever forget. After a pleasant flight we were met at the airport by our hosts and whisked away. The compact size of the English automobiles caused some minor discomfort as we struggled to fit Richard Parrish (host and driver), Rich Boyer, Emily and me in the car and still maintain possession of all of our luggage, but the excitement of being on the Sceptered Isle overrode all mundane irritants. Thursday was pretty relaxed with a brief afternoon nap and a trip to the pub to acclimatize ourselves to the local beer.

Friday the 21st was also rather relaxed as we were adjusting to the 8 hour time shift and spent the day on a walking tour of Bedford lead by the garrulous and knowledgeable Trevor McCarthy, ably assisted by Our Hero, Richard Parrish. Unless it was the other way around – truth to tell, they both kept us interested and entertained all day. We were treated to a local comedy review show in the evening and seeing Monty Python skits live is loads of fun. Even after 40 years they are still hilarious. An early night and then off to bed, because Saturday’s a Rugby Day.

Saturday the 22nd was the official Assessment Day to determine how our American rating corresponded to the English system, which has several more gradations in it. Details can be found in the match report section. After the match and some convivial beverages in the host clubhouse I was transport back to “The Ath” – the Bedford Athletic Rugby Club and home club of Richard our host. More beers were consumed in an effort to get the Yanks up to speed. At this point Rich Boyer presented the bar with a shot glass to commemorate out visit so we had to start drinking out of it. After all, it would be rude not to and we were guests in that country. Combine that scenario with the previously unmentioned results for the Ath’s A and B sides (the first won by 90 points, the seconds by 50) and the evening ended with the highly predictable stumble back to the Parrish Palace singing “American Pie” in 4 separate keys all at once.

Sunday the 23rd was an earlier start for Bedford Blues youth games followed by a traditional Sunday roast prepared by Richard’s wonderful wife, Jill. Prawn and salmon starters followed by a pork roast with potatoes and veggies. Finishing off dessert with a wee drop of Benedictine had us all happily in bed, dreaming of the week to come.

Monday the 24th was an off day so Rich, Emily and I met up with Jordan and were taken up to Mecca, Eden, Aman: the source of the game played in heaven, Rugby School. We were given a guided tour by Guy Steele-Bodger, son of Micky Steele-Bodger, president of the Barbarians, that ended at the Webb Ellis Museum. Now that we had been shown the really important part of history, we moved on to some other bits of history that some people think are important and toured Warrick Castle. A true castle out of the middle ages, it was impressive enough to us modern folk and I wondered how it appeared to the people of the era that it was built for who didn’t have our modern sense of scale and technology. Truly awe inspiring. That evening we attended the monthly meeting of the East Mids society where we listened to a presentation by the youth academy manager for Northampton Saints and the exploits of Richard Parrish and Max Barnard on their visit to California. Then it was our turn and Jordan, Rich and I each gave a quick speech outlining our experiences so far and the differences we see as well as the similarities which were many as well. We presented our Main Gift at that point and each received a lovely framed poem. Emily also received a framed poem that was customized to her experiences – including the ones she hadn’t had yet. Impressive.

Tuesday the 25th was one of the highlights of the trip for me, refereeing at Beford School. Bedford is a classic school in the grand English tradition: centuries of history, uniforms, architecture and, of course, immaculate pitches. We were given a tour of the school by a couple of sixth form boys (essentially high school seniors) and had a cafeteria lunch that would rival several restaurants. Once again, details can be found in the match report section. After the match we all showed up in our #1s for a relaxing drink in the Master’s Lounge. The smell of oiled leather and the susurrus of quiet conversation were in perfect keeping with the occasion. The room itself was dominated by a roll of honor on the front and back walls listing the Old Befordians killed in action in the First and Second World Wars. The sheer number of names was humbling.

Wednesday the 26th was a London day. The gang took the train into London and met up with Max Barnard who some of you may remember from the last group who visited us from the East Mids. He sends his regards to all of the Pelicans, especially Eric “The Wizard” Rauscher and his family. We started at the British Museum, continued on to Buckingham Palace (wouldn’t let us in even though I told them the Queen and I are old drinking buddies), on to Westminster Abbey (just kidding about the drinking buddies thing), and then Dim Sum in a restaurant called Ping Pong. A train back home and we were done with another day.

Thursday the 27th was a day that was circled on the calendar from the very beginning for reasons that will be made known. We started off with a tour of Cambridge – ably guided by Steve Womersley who also happened to be my referee coach - and managed to poke our heads in to some of the colleges. It’s no UCSB, but it wasn’t bad at all (joke). Seeing notes written by Sir Isaac Newton himself in the library in Trinity College was awe inspiring. Keeping an eye out for bicycle traffic was a necessary activity as velocipedes were moving fast and from the wrong direction. We ended the afternoon punting down the river Cam much as I suppose students have done for centuries. Then we were put into the hands of Andy Crowson and went on a pub crawl of Stamford.

The score:
1. The George (Trelawny Ale)
2. The Jolly Brewer (Battle of Britain Ale)
3. The Green Man (Inferno Golden Ale)
4. The Punchbowl (Timothy Taylor Landlord Ale)
5. The Otter’s Pocket (Fuller’s London Pride)
6. The Golden Fleece (Tiger Ale)
7. The Cozy Club (Toga Man)
8. The Cellar Bar (Brains IPA)
9. The King’s Head (Wherry)
10. The Tobie Norris (Southwold Bitter)
11. The London Inn (Doombar)

To steal a line, no, we didn’t have any fun.

Friday the 28th started with a late breakfast and a tour of the Hook Norton where we saw a horse with a Twitter page and the tasting room. Really, it was all we needed. Kind of like the 7s of brewery tours - we cut out all the unnecessary bits and left the essence intact. Then off to the Northampton Saints v Wasps game. We were treated well: seats in Row F behind the try zone. A great game with the home side winning followed by access to the player’s lounge to meet up with local hero Samu Manoa and the referee for the match, Dave Pearson, who is probably most famous for calling off the France – Ireland match last year 5 minutes before kickoff.

Saturday the 29th is a rugby day and the match report is in the appropriate place. After the match and a few pints in the host clubhouse we were treated to dinner by the East Midlands Referee Society. A nice dinner followed by more speeches and gifts and several offers from both sides to keep sending volunteers across the Atlantic.

Sunday the 30th was our last full day and started with more youth matches at the Ath. A few happy pints after the game put us in a festive mood and we arrived back at the Parrish Palace to feast on a paella expertly prepared by Jill. Grain and grape were in abundance and we talked long into the night until reality set in and an early morning departure started nagging for our attention.

Monday the 1st. Flight home. Sleep. What a trip! There are so many people to thank it seemed like the entire East Mids society helped us out in some way at some time. To steal (and slightly change) a line from Sir Winston Churchill, “Never before has so much been owed by so few to so many.”

The games:

Sat Sept 22:
Leyton Buzzard 29 – Stewart and Lloyd 36 Referee: James Hinkin
Some slight confusion had my original game cancelled (well, not really confusion – one team said they weren’t going to be able to field a team) so my host Richard Parrish “took one for the team” and gave me his match. Much appreciated. Got to the changing room and put on the kit and went out to meet the captains who were already on the pitch. Speeches were made and the coin was tossed and then I had a little time to myself. This was my first match in England and some butterflies were definitely present. Once the game started, however, that all went away as we were just playing rugby and that is universal.

The home side (Leyton Buzzard) started brighter than the visitors but they had the wind and the slope to their advantage. They were able to use this advantage to score 4 tries (2 converted) while only giving up 2 tries (1 converted) for a halftime lead of 24 – 12. The second half was an entirely different story as the visitors took advantage of the conditions. Also, S&L were a noticeably younger team and the fitness of the older LB players was starting to get tested. S&L ran in 4 tries (2 converted) to just the single reply and took the match 36 – 29. The pivotal moment in the game was midway through the second half when S&L kicked to the corner where the ball was
finally chased down by a young winger playing his first senior match. Faced with 3 defenders and no support he tried sidestepping and was caught, so he threw the ball into touch. The resulting penalty was quickly taken and our young hero compounded his error by immediately tackling the ball carrier. This resulted in a yellow card and in that time period 2 tries were scored giving S&L a lead they would not relinquish. (As a side note, this was only the second time I have given that particular penalty, the first being at this year’s Tri Tip 7s. I was planning to use that incident as part of my “Differences Between USA Rugby And English Rugby” speech at the Society meeting but that went out the window. I guess we aren’t so different after all).
Final Score: Leyton Buzzard 29 – Stewart and Lloyd 36

Sun Sep 23:
Bedford Blues U16 36 – Watford U16 12 Referee: James Hinkin
I worked out a deal with the Weather Priestess that whenever I was
refereeing there would be no rain. She kept her promise throughout the tour but cut it very close with this match. I think she was just messing around but still, she was true to her word. To fulfill my end of the bargain I sacrificed a chicken last night… in a nice sauce with butter, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, more garlic, sausages and clams over fresh pasta. It does not do to offend the gods.

In any case, the weather held and the conditions were perfect for a fast game and that is what I got. Bedford had a size advantage in the pack and a speed advantage in the backs – a lethal combination. Watford played hard and clean, but had to succumb to the inevitable as Bedford were just too much.

At the end of the game there were hand shakes all around and off to the clubhouse just before the rain started. I hope the Weather Priestess appreciated her sacrifice.
Final Score: Bedford Blues U16 36 – Watford U16 12

Tues Sep 25:
Bedford School 15 – Tonbridge School 27 Referee: James Hinkin
This is what it is all about. My personal highlight of this exchange was the honor of doing the First XV at one of the premier schools in England. The history of the place, the immaculate grounds, and the centuries of rugby played here all come to a head for a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon.

Bedford kicked off to Tonbridge who proceeded to keep the ball for 5 minutes without Bedford getting a chance to see it. Excellent recycling by Tonbridge kept possession but Bedford’s defense matched them and no real gain in ground was made. Finally Bedford got their hands on it and immediately scored a try (unconverted). Tonbridge regrouped, however, and started their attack once again. The game was evenly matched until Bedford attempted to use the boot to gain some position but failed to tackle the Tonbridge backs in an incisive counterattack. This happened a few times resulting in a pair of tries as Bedford struggled to contain the Tonbridge counter. Finally giving up on the kicks, Beford was pinned in their end and tacked manfully but pressure resulted in more points. The half ended with Tonbridge up by a score of 24 – 5.

The second half was a different story as Bedford made the adjustments necessary to contain Tonbridge. This time it was Tonbridge who were struggling to contain the Bedford attack as pressure mounted. The home side was rewarded with a pair of tries countered only by a single penalty kick (the only one I had for the entire tour, oddly enough) but Bedford had dug themselves too big a hole to climb out of.
Final Score: Bedford School 15 – Tonbridge School 27

Sat Sept 29
Rushden 108 – Northampton Men’s Own 0 Referee: James Hinkin
My second Saturday promised to be an exciting match between two teams with similar records. Unfortunately, one of the Men’s Own players decided to go sky diving and several of his mates went to go watch. Seriously. They must have been key players because the team that showed up to play were timid and directionless, only giving strong efforts in individual bursts. Rushden scored early and often: within the first minute of the first half and off the opening kick of the second half without getting touched – just two passes to beat the entire defense. With a score of 108 – 0 there really isn’t much to say. Both teams were pleasant in the clubhouse after for the required pints, though. Just goes to show once again why this is the best game in the world. In what other sport will a team take that kind of thrashing and
then go have a few beers with the opposition?
Final Score: Rushen 108 – Northampton Men’s Own 0

Sun Sept 30:
Bedford Blues U15 (A) 12 – Fitchley U15 29 Referee: James Hinkin
The Bedford U15 have enough players to field 2 U15 sides, but just barely. They had 15 players suited up for the game and actually played the last 15 minutes of the first half a man down as one of their forwards was getting treatment for a leg injury. He did return for the second half, though. The Bedford pack was bigger and stronger than Fitchley – to a point where they were admonished and finally free kicked for excessive pushing in the scrum (the hooker/captain for Bedford was trying to get his team to stop pushing after the initial shove but his mates were getting a bit excited), but the difference in the match was the fly half and the outside backs for Fitchley.

The visitors had a fullback who, once he got going, was nearly impossible for Bedford to stop. He was big and fast and used it well. The right wing for Fitchley was the fastest player on the pitch with a killer step off his left foot, scoring one try by taking a kick in his own half near the left touch line and then stepping through the defense before turning on the speed to score in the right corner. The final try came from a scrum and featured the Fitchley flyhalf stepping through a gap inside his opposite and then floating a perfect 30 meter pass to his onrushing wing, catching him in stride and the speed did the rest. That was the best pass I saw all tour and I told him so after the match.
Final Score: Bedford Blues U15 (A) 12 – Fitchley U15 29

Ithaca College men 10 – GENESEO 15 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Once again I asked for and received an appointment(s) on my annual trip to Ithaca, NY. I got to do the Ithaca College men again this year, this time against another closely matched team from Geneseo. This is div two, and the game was played on a slightly widened football field, but the play was still at an enjoyable level.

Geneseo was a team with a player-coach while Ithaca has a female head coach (AnneMarie Farrell). The Geneseo men seemed to have the size advantage, but Ithaca had better general play skills. They were twice able to turn the scrum 90, and twice able to hold a maul. The difference in the game was an intercepted pass 15 min into the second half that Geneseo ran 70 meters for a try. Low scoring games can be kind of dull, but not if both teams are moving the ball up and down the field in close-matched play.

Ithaca College women 7 – SYRACUSE 12 Ref: Rauscher
This was a div two match. I have never done a div two women's match so was not sure what to expect. Both teams played with spirit, but as can be guessed, low skill level. Most of the play involved the scrumhalf taking the ball out of the ruck and handing it to someone standing behind them who would then crash into the oncoming defenders. At one point, the Ithaca # 11 made a great break down the side with a sole defender in hot pursuit. A near-tackle was made about 15 meters from goal, and she did a clean roll out of it and I yelled "Not held, not held" upon which she placed the ball back towards her own goal. The one very bright spot was the Ithaca #9. My friend that I stay with and takes me to the games doesn't really know rugby very well, but at the half he commented to me "There is a little blond girl from IC
who is all over the field" and he was right. Her work rate was incredible, and she was fearless in the tackle. I saw her take on opponents twice her size and take them down. The sun finally peeking through the clouds and her play were the bright spots.


At the monthly society meeting of the East Midlands RRS, Ian Baggett smiles as Colin Wright brandishes a tour memento he’s just been presented by Rich Boyer, Jordan Bruno and James Hinkin, who have conveniently lined up alphabetically by height.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris