Friday, January 27, 2012




Mike King has been promoted to L2 by the Referee Development Committee. Congratulations to one of our harder-working and farther-traveling referees.


No, we’re not referring to the icebreaker-assisted delivery of fuel oil to Nome through a record ice-pack (wait a minute – didn’t I read that the Artic was practically ice-free by now?).

We are referring to one of the constancies of referee assignments: every week at least one referee will be unavailable to keep an assignment and every week it will be the one who had the farthest to travel.

So it is that we need a ref to cover Humboldt State’s game with Sierra College this Saturday, January 28. Please let us know if you can make the journey.

Last weekend JC van Staden covered a game up there on one-day notice.

You’re writer would do it but he’s taking two exchange refs up to Chico, a long way from his base in Salinas.

[webmaster note: Kudos to the aforementioned Mike King for answering the call.]


Not many responses have come in concerning availability to referee in February.

Let’s take Feb. 4 as an example: 29 refs have listed their availability. Twenty of them are available. There are 36 club and college matches that day.

By the end of February, the 25th, we have 24 refs for 45 games.

The good news is, more than 40 refs have not responded. If half of you are available, the teams of the NCRFU can continue to rely on us for coverage.

Please let me know which Saturdays in February you can referee. We cannot make bricks without straw.
Available? Able to travel?
Feb. 4
Feb. 11 (only three games so far)
Feb. 18
Feb. 25


Wednesday, 7PM
Stanford Graduate School of Business 17 – SEAHAWKS 28 Referee: Tony Levitan
On an awesome January evening for rugby, the GSB hosted the Seahawks for a pre-season run comprised of three 20-minute periods. Overall, the rugby was played at a good pace with lots of up-and-back creative play by both sides. The evening was carried by the Seahawks dominance in the scrums and some strong play in the backs where San Jose benefited from doses of inexperienced play by the GSB. Nonetheless, the loose was well contested when fair (SJ took way too many penalties at the breakdown for a side as experienced as they) and the B-school side showed both exciting flashes in the backs and strong lineout play.

Friday, 7 PM
Maritime Academy – California RAINED OUT


For Pete's Sake, Santa Rosa
SANTA ROSA 41 – SF/Golden Gate 17 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Assistant Referee: Cary Bertolone
The weather cooperated on Saturday for a mostly sunny and fast affair on a great pitch at For Pete's Sake Field. Both teams contested well but Santa Rosa had a nose for the in-goal. This was my first match of the season. The pace definitely helped shake the rust off quickly. Thanks to Carey for his AR duties and taking the second side match as well.

Santa Rosa 15 – SFGG 22 Referee: Cary Bertolone
After watching (touch judging) a great, action packed, high scoring first side game, I reffed the 2nd game, by default (no one else was around). My first game in 6 months and it showed as I'm out of shape, for starters.

The first half consisted of a lot of poor, high tackles by Santa Rosa, along with several other "rookie" mistakes that cost them multiple penalties. Golden Gate took advantage and scored three tries for a 15-0 lead at half. In the second half, Santa Rosa, while playing a man down (yellow for high tackle-shocking!), scored two tries to close the gap. Golden Gate rallied and ended up winning 22-15, but not without a lot of talking and whining about my calls. It's great to be back!!!

STANISLAUS 43 – Sierra Foothills 26 Referee: Scott Wood
Location: Christofferson & Panorama Drainage Basin Fields, Turlock, CA
Weather: Sunny
We had a great break between the rain on a pitch that was very well-drained.

Both teams have a lot of strengths and some weaknesses. The weaknesses are primarily due to inexperience by the younger players. That should go away with additional training and competition.

SF Fog 25 – SAN JOSE STATE 26 Referee: Mike Gadoua
The threat of rain did not materialize but the ball seemed hard to handle. Both teams had a number of knock-ons. And both teams played well as they continue training for the season, each utilizing their strengths. At first blush, it appeared that Fog dominated play, attacked with effective phase-ball, and spent most of the match in the opposition’s half. Fog even scored more tries (5-4). The Spartans’ tries came from good back running that found holes in the Fog defense. Fog’s failure to make a single conversion, while SJS made three, allowed for the six additional points - which outweighed the one-try difference.

Seconds: SF Fog 5 –SAN JOSE STATE 33 Referee: Rob Hendrickson
SF Fog hosted San Jose State at the Fog's Treasure Island pitch which was in remarkably good condition after Friday night's rain. The B sides played 2 X 20 minute halves, with San Jose in control most of the game. A stiff breeze running down the pitch made for challenging lineouts. A good-spirited and well-played game by both teams.

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 46 – Diablo Gaels 44 Referee: Phil Akroyd
After my originally assigned game in Chico fell through, I picked up an in-town fixture of the Capitals versus Diablo Gaels. As the field is only a few miles from home, I certainly didn’t need my white stick and dog to help me find my way.

Having had nightmares on Friday night related to the potentially catastrophic field conditions, it was a nice surprise to turn up and see the ground in very good condition, with a light breeze and warm, clear blue skies.

Sac played in blue shorts, blue socks and broadly hooped shirts of blue and white, while the Gaels played in blue shorts, blue socks and broadly hooped shirts of dark blue and white. Not having a blue and white shirt of my own to hand, I went with the yellow.

Each team played close to their first sides for the first two quarters of 20 minutes with the Gaels comfortably dominating the game. Diablo wanted to keep it fast and open, while Sac were more comfortable trying to keep it tight, away from the larger and faster opposition backs. The Gaels won the "A side" forty minute section by 19-32.

The second half saw a number of personnel changes, particularly in the front rows, meaning that all of the solid, hard work at the scrum from the first half went out of the window. In a complete flip of the first half situation, Sacramento widened the ball to the backs and scored six second-half tries, compared to Diablo's' four. The second half played out much like a second side game with more errors, silly penalties from the new guys and a little less flow.

Diablo had a chance to tie with the last kick of the game but a difficult conversion meant that they finished two back, although the half-time score is the more significant. Overall, both teams appeared to get a lot out of the game.

ST. MARY’S seconds 24 – Vacaville 17 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
At Moraga under relatively clear skies and Dave Williamson's son helped me as a touch judge for the first half before subbing as a wing for Vacaville in the 2nd.

Both teams tackled, rucked & won line outs extremely well; with very few penalties & no dirty plays.

St. Mary’s looked very fit & bigger than a scrappy Vacaville team that played as a team. Score was 17-10 at half & both teams each scored only once more after halftime with Vacaville doing so as time expired. Both teams looked like they were ready to have a successful season.

ST MARY’S 53 – Sacramento State 7 Referee: James Hinkin
ARs: Ron DeCausemaker, Bruce Ricard
As rugby is obviously the game played in heaven it seemed fitting that the gods, after taking their morning ambrosia and talking it over amongst themselves, decided to halt the rain for the duration of the rugby day, leaving mostly sunny skies so they had an unimpeded view of the St Mary’s campus. I arrived with Brice Ricard just before the start of the St Mary’s C side v Vacaville match and saw Rob DeCausemaker had already arrived as well. A team of three ready to go 90 minutes before kickoff – that is how we do it in the NCRRS. After being gently harangued by Mrs Bunny, Helen, who was there to support family, I strolled around the soggy pitch to greet the coaches and start preparing.

Word to the wise: St Mary’s – at least on rainy days – now prefers to warm up on the field hockey turf field, a significant hike uphill (both ways?) half way across campus. On the plus side, trying and eventually succeeding in finding them started my warmup nicely.

The game started with Sac State kicking off, a play they would repeat many times. St Mary’s was able to control territory and possession to a degree that long periods were spent in the Sac St half, usually culminating in a try. The muddy conditions resulted in more knock ons than I would have expected or the coached would have liked, but handling was generally not a major issue. Sac St was able to make a few forays into the St Mary’s end and were rewarded with penalties, but their kicker was having an off day and missed the two shots at goal that were attempted. St Mary’s never let the pressure off and the half ended 29-0 to the home side. Outstanding support when the inevitable line breaks occurred combined with 15 players committed to the breakdowns is a recipe for success.

The second half started with St Mary’s kicking off – the only time in the match they would do this – and was a repeat of the first half with one difference: Sac St was finally able to capitalize on their hard work. This half had a number of breaks by the visitors that were not converted – such as the daring run by their #15 from deep in his own end that fizzled when he was being tacked at midfield and attempted to pass to his support and it went forward. With the game comfortably won both sides were still playing hard and committing to the breakdowns all around the field and as time expired, Sac St had their break with support. The Sac St runner was brought down 3 meters short (by the collar – penalty advantage) and support arrived in numbers to secure the ruck and then power over for the try. Advantage gained. A difficult conversion was perfect and the game ended on that high note.

ST. MARY’S thirds over Sacramento State seconds on a large score: Referee: Bruce Ricard
AR: James Hinkin
Two inexperienced teams entered the pitch, was the first game for a number of players. A huge amount of infringements at rucks (from side, off feet, off side last foot... ), but it seems that after some talking and explanations they understood what they were allowed to do. The second half was pretty clean. Thanks to James for running touch and driving me to the pitch on one of those rainy days that my two-wheeler doesn't like.

Santa Clara 7 – CALIFORNIA 83 Referee: Leah Berard
ARs: Tony Levitan, Mike King
Leah flew in from Minnesota to get some outdoor exercise ahead of serving as an AR at the IRB Sevens in Las Vegas two weeks from now. This game appeared and seemed probable to offer an aerobic workout.

Cal score twice in the first five minutes, but then the Broncos’ defense took shape and yielded only two more tries before the interval.

Your reporter left at the half, satisfied that the ref had the game in hand, and it would appear that the second half was a different story.

Leah then helped out at the Stanford Invitational and refereed the final there on Sunday.

Stanford – UC Davis CANCELED

Chico State – UC Santa Cruz CANCELED

Shasta – Medford Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

CSUMB 17 – Aptos 10 Referee: Bruce Carter
Not sure whether the visitors are known as Monterey Bay or Aptos. The team is dividing practices between Aptos and Monterey, uniting the Bay as in the days of the old D1 men’s club in the early nineties that made a splash, especially on the national Sevens scene.

The old Monterey team was the last team I played for, and the font of many fond memories. Cal State – Monterey Bay makes its home on Fort Ord, where I spent the best days of my adult life, raising my family and training interns and residents for the US Army Medical Corps.

Not only that: the pitch is less than ten miles from my home and kickoff was at 10 AM: perfect for ref whoring, getting multiple games in multiple locations on the same weekend!

Rain clouds finally broke the schneid. We hadn’t had any precipitation in the middle of California since Thanksgiving. (San Diego has had more rain that Santa Rosa during that interval…) This is unusual: 37 million people and the agriculture that feeds the nation depend on rain and snow that falls only between November and April. Half that season is over already.

So it rained Friday, and especially so on Friday night, raising the temperature which had actually hit freezing a time or two due to a lingering high pressure ridge. Back to our California rugby weather: pissing down, closing some pitches, keeping the casual fans away.

But as you would have read several times in these reports, the rugby god has a high place at the table in Olympus and can dictate to our needs. Dark clouds and howling, swirling rainfall at my house were replaced by scudding clouds, the sun playing hopscotch, by the time I arrived at the pitch.

The Preston Park pitch is possibly the world’s narrowest. (Those who have played on the Old Boy’s pitch on Catalina Island may be in a position to dispute this.) I paced it at fifty yards. Seventy meters, standard for rugby, is almost 76 yards.

Always look on the bright side of life. I get to work on my tackle/ruck and can worry about open field sprinting some other time.

The Otters are managed and coached (by default) by Scott Ryan, who is doing a fine job with a new squad. They’ve got a good halfback combination to build on.

Aptos is benefitting from the latest coaching resurrection of Vaughn Stumpf, who greeted me by saying, “Is either of us ever going to die?” Such is the nature of perennial rugby friendship among those who can conceive of no other life, when to stop Rugby would be to die.

My wife came out to watch. We used to live two blocks from the pitch in the Army housing. We hold hands and travel back our adult children’s lifetimes in an instant.

The rugby was pretty good. The narrow pitch bottled up the runners so that the ruckers could ply their trade. The homies came out ahead.

I then saddled up the Pelicanmobile to visit Santa Clara, watching Leah Berard referee their game with Cal, and then buzzed up to Stanford to AR the last two games of the day at the Invitational.

Sunday morning I video-coached three refs at Stanford and then ARed for my grandson Ben’s U-12 game across the street at Palo Alto High School.

Referee whoring: catch the bug!

Seconds: CSUMB – Monterey Bay Rebels Referee: Francois Nel
No report received.

HUMBOLDT STATE women 17 – UC Santa Cruz 12 Referee: JC van Staden
Everybody knows I'm pretty good under pressure, quick decisions etc.... but, not planning well will always have the habit of biting you somewhere down the line.... New refs, take NOTE.... Plan, plan again, and plan one last time....

After my Friday's game got canceled, and the Saturday Girls KOT got smaller, my assignment moved to Humboldt.... A 6h05 drive from my house... Snoozing the clock a few times, did not help, so I decided to drive up I5 and cut over 299 to make up some time....Theoretically it worked.... Big mistake, 299 had 1-2 feet of snow the previous night, with snow coming down as I drove. On the back end of 299, traffic was standing still. Mudslide!! With 5 cars in front of me, I got out to ask them what they intended to do. They informed me that Cal-Trans was on their way, and would be there in an hour. Well, I had not driven all this way, 40min from the pitch, just to totally miss my game... "Move over guys, I have a game to get to"....I could see nobody believed me it was for rugby, and even a comment of, "You’re crazy" to which I gracefully replied, "I guess so" I pushed through.... and with some off road finesse, and of course, good old American V8 power, I made my way through it...

The game, starting only 30 min late, and for a pre-season game, it was a pretty good one, with a lot of counter rucking.... Ball possession decided the game, and with both teams giving all they got, it ended up to be a close one... With No. 8 of Humboldt and #14 of Santa Cruz to watch for maybe higher honors in the next couple of years....

Seconds: HUMBOLDT STATE 17 – UC Santa Cruz 12 Ref: van Staden
After negotiating a shower and a cold beer, the seconds were kicking off.... Santa Cruz showed up with a full 2 teams, and cheerfully, sending Humboldt some players, with a good 7 girls playing against their own teammates... Great sportsmanship.... or must I say sportswomanship, they played a respectful game to make my drive all the way worth it.

Thanks for the hospitality, and good-luck with the season...

Oak Ridge High School
El Dorado Hills

Report by Jeff Richmond:
After the storms of last week forced relocation and near cancellation, Saturday proved to be a darn nice day to have a rugby tournament. Congrats to Rod and Karen Chance for persevering and making the event happen.

DIXON 15 – Humboldt 10 Ref: Richmond
The Dixon team was made up entirely of first year players and Humboldt had just a handful of experienced players. Both teams played spirited ball. Humboldt displayed a bit more skill in loose play, rucking well and retaining possession after a tackle. Dixon had some speed in their backline, breaking a 60 m run and score by their inside center. The teams demonstrated pretty good tackling for young players – not much arm grabbing and only one minor caution for a tackle up high on the shoulders.

BISHOP O’DOWD 25 – Davis 0 Ref: Richmond
BOD had total control of the match, with Davis playing most of the game in their half of the field. BOD dominated in the loose and had strong attacking moves from their backs. Davis could not match BOD’s speed and struggled to make tackles – BOD made 10 and 15 yards off the advantage line nearly every time they moved the ball out to the backs. Davis did not give up though and put together a solid 6-7 phases of play the last minute or two to end the match on a high note.

Report by Chris Tucker:
Favor Taueva
Jeff Richmond
Rod Chance
Chris Tucker
Donal Walsh
Ray Schwartz
Mark Godfrey

Tons of rain might have forced a venue change, reduced the number of pitches from two to one, and thrown everything out of kilter, but rugby happened in large quantity on Saturday as teams from all over Norcal (plus a team from Beaverton OR) came to play. Props to Karen Chance for rescuing the tournament with resourcefulness and flexibility and more grace than I could ever have managed.

The games themselves were an entertaining mix of rookies at varying levels of preparedness, most of them well matched and competitive. The refs took the opportunity to get ready for the season that is almost upon us, and to have a little fun to boot. No scores were kept, although i'm sure Ray had a tie...

Saturday and Sunday

Leah Berard (Minnesota)
Jordan Bruno
Lee Salgado
Phil Ulibarri
Eric Rauscher
Brad Richey
Sandy Robertson
Tony Levitan
Jen Tetler
Bruce Carter
Bob Polito
Ben Bravo

Referee Coaches:
Kat Todd-Schwartz
Mike King
Mike Malone
Bruce Carter

Report by Eric Rauscher:
Nine teams showed up; Colorado, Cal, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Sac. State, Chico State, UC Davis and Western Washington. Some teams had numerous players, others showed up with a little over 15, so the time honored tradition of loaning players was displayed.

Three pools of three and then on to playoffs. The schedule ran like clock-work thanks to the use of an airhorn to start and stop 40 min games (no half).

The kicking team was whoever was listed first, kicking from the north end of the pitch, so no time-wasting coin toss was needed.

Nine refs showed up; Phil Ulibarri, Jordan Bruno, Leah Berard (Minn), Lee Salgado, Jen Tetler, Eric Rauscher, Bruce Carter, Sandy Robertson, and Brad Richey. Each ref did at least one game, some did four. Leah, a national panel ref in from Minnesota did the final. The final was between Stanford and Cal. with Stanford showing their championship form.

Also in attendance were; Kat Todd Schwartz, Mike Malone, and Mike King acting as ref coaches.

And last but not least we had Tony Levitan, Mike King, Ben Bravo, Bruce Carter and Bob Polito acting as ARs.

Most of the games had teams of three with refs running AR for games in their spare time.

The weather was a bit moist but the spirits were warm and the rugby was what it should be at this time of the year.

I look forward to this tourney each year as a time of development both for the teams that show up, and for the rich interaction between refs and coaches.

STANFORD 19 v. Western Washington 5 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Stanford seemed surprised and how hard Western came out, especially once they scored in the 10th minute. Western didn't make the conversion of their only try. Stanford came back with 3 more tries and 2 conversions to win it. Both teams were very aggressive, taking quick taps left and right, making some great tackles and excellent runs.

Western Washington 10 v. OREGON 27 Ref: Rauscher
This game started early so that both teams could head north and get over the pass into Oregon. Western started the game quickly with a try in the first 3 minutes scored around the corner with almost no defense. The Ducks pulled themselves together and retaliated fairly quickly with two tries in the next 10 minutes. After 15 minutes of play, the score was tied 10-10. Both teams kept playing well and you could tell players from everyone had the love of rugby in their hearts! Oregon happened to be the team that could capitalize better on mistakes. They scored 3 more times with one conversion (5th time's a charm!) for a final 7th place match score of 27-10.

COLORADO 21 – Western Washington 12 Referee: Bruce Carter
This Sunday-morning game on the squeegee pitch was a lot of fun.

Colorado’s Captain, Erin #13, led a dynamic backline that made the difference.

Winners and Refs
Back to Hawaii. This is what happens when you get to referee rugby: you can pose with the tournament winners and their trophy.

Ever see referees in the team pictures in any other sport?


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Thursday, January 19, 2012




The first column is the number of games each weekend for Humboldt - Shasta - Siskiyou - Chico - Colusa - Mendocino - Reno - Fresno - Arroyo Grande - Paso Robles.

If we leave out Mendocino, Chico and Colusa, which are within two hours of a number of our referees, and Reno and Fresno, where some referees live, that leaves the long drives to Humboldt, Shasta, Siskiyou, Arroyo Grande and Paso Robles, and we get the second column. (This does not count any second-side matches.)

Long Drives Really Long Drives
Jan 28 4 1 Humboldt
Feb 4 10 3 Siskiyou, Humboldt, Arroyo Grande
Feb 11
Feb 18 5 4 Siskiyou, Shasta, Humboldt, Paso Robles
Mar 3 13 4 Siskiyou, Arroyo Grande, Humboldt (men and women)
Mar 10 3
Mar 17 5 4 Shasta, Humboldt, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande
Mar 24 5 2 Humboldt, Arroyo Grande
Mar 31 9 2 Siskiyou, Paso Robles
Apr 7
Apr 14 2
Totals: 56 20

As you can see, we need everyone to do at least one game from each column. But especially difficult to schedule are the Really Long Drives.

Your writer has already taken one-and-two-half Fridays off and made room reservations to cover a game in Arroyo Grande (March 17), a game in Humboldt (March 3), and a game in Chico (a long way from Salinas) on January 28. Leading from the front...

Please have look at your calendar and plan a weekend around one of these fixtures. How about a romantic weekend? Let me know if you need more information or if you can set a date right now.


So far I’ve heard from 14 people about availability for February. And looking at Feb. 4 (say), five of the fourteen are not available. That’s 9 refs for 36 games.

Here’s the preferred format. You can cut-and-paste and fill-in-the-blanks.

Available? Able to travel?
Feb. 4
Feb. 11 (only three games so far)
Feb. 18
Feb. 25



Friday, 7PM
MARITIME ACADEMY 29 – Berkeley RFC 22 Referee: Craig Smith
AR: Mike King
Evaluator: Todd-Schwartz

Seconds: Maritime Academy 0 – BERKELEY RFC 39 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
AR: Mike King
Referee Coach: David Williamson
Saw a real good match in for both sides' first teams; then reffed their seconds; both under the lights Friday night at Vallejo's home field (Morton) on Mare Island (while Cal Maritime's gets synthetic installed).

Berkeley went ahead 24-0 at half & continued to romp the second half. Pretty sure Cal Maritime had many rookies & Berkeley used more than a few from their first team.

Also all four teams were very well behaved as far as penalties/dangerous/dirty plays.

Lastly, thanks for Dave Williamson's "positive" coaching pointers & pizza pretty late at night after the match & Mike King's assistant reffing in shorts (despite the cold).


Sacramento Lions 22 – SANTA ROSA 24 Referee: JC Van Staden
AR: John V
Again, one spectacular day for rugby. Sac Lions came out with a bang, dominating the first half, but injuries, lack of fitness and the lack of conversions sank them in the second half... Not taking anything away from Santa Rosa, who stopped them twice on the goal line, and ran in 3 great back-line tries to steal the win away with only a couple of minutes on the clock.

Good luck to both teams for the rest of the season.

Seconds: Sacramento Lions II – Santa Rosa II Referee: Thee Alan Petty (apparently his 12th season of refereeing)
AR: John V
After a long hmmmm and haaaa , the Lions only managed to field 10 players (apparently because of the Niners playing in the NFL (Nice Friendly Ladies) play-offs, probably another tee party), but like we all know, a "friendly" match does not exist, and the ref had his work cut out for him. The final score is still a mystery, after he called the "last" try at least 3 times, yet the players took up their positions again, and instructed the fly-half to kick off again... [Editor’s Note: there can never be too much rugby.]

Thanks to John V, who have just completed his Level 1, and will have his first run at the KOT. Driving out to a field and offering to be AR just to learn more, is a pretty good start if you ask me...

BARACUS 12 - Samoa United 10 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
Hard men playing hard rugby at the Baracus's lumpy but regulation-size SF pitch. Like American gridiron, the defenses were better that the offense these early days.

High quality, high intensity D2 stuff. The first half was all Samoa, who scored early and led 10-0. But Baracus steadied, settled, and with fresh legs got two in the second half. The conversion of their first wins it. (A referee sandwich/take down was enjoyed by almost all; there were wagers if the fellow was going to get up.)

Seconds: Baracus 7 - SAMOA UNITED 10 Ref: Byrnes
Samoa returns the favor by winning the seconds match 10-7.

Fresno – Paso Robles CANCELED

Chico 5 – SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 46 Referee: John Pohlman
After getting home around 9:00PM Friday from refereeing a high school game, my Saturday came around pretty early. I met fellow Pelican Jordan Bruno in Walnut Creek for the drive to Chico.

Chico Rugby has started a rugby foundation and was hosting a rugby jamboree. The day had been planned as a youth rugby curtain raiser, followed by Chico State Woman hosting UC Santa Cruz, then Chico State Men's hosting UC Davis. Chico Men's Club would finish the day against Sacramento Capitals.

Unfortunately, UC Davis was forced to cancel.

The Chico Oaks game was moved up and to a high school field. Both games were moved to a 1:00PM start. I dropped off Jordan around 11:30 to do the women's game.

Lots of youth rugby was being played on a lovely, well-marked regulation pitch with plenty of supporters

On the other hand the high school field I was running on was pitiful. The Chico men have lost a couple of better fields due to construction. The field was somewhat lined and of regulation size, with good goal posts and barrier ropes. But it was hard and didn’t have a smooth, flat square yard of playing surface.

This was a friendly and both teams had 15-18 players each.

Sacramento was led by #10 Shaun who was the best player on the field today. He scored three trys in the first half and set up the other two first half trys with some crisp passes.

Chico was missing both starting centers and had difficulty breaking the gain line in the backs.

Again early rugby, and similar to the high school JV game I did the night before, lots of penalties at the breakdown, strong counter rucks but players losing their feet and ignoring the gates.

First half score Sacramento 27 Chico 5.

The second half saw the Capitals score three unanswered trys for a final of Sacramento 46 Chico 5.

Back to campus to pick up Jordan and listen to the 49er game for the drive home.

Wow, now that was an exciting game!

CHICO STATE women 59 – UC Santa Cruz 0 Referee: Jordan Bruno
On a surprisingly bright and warm winter day up north, the Chico women's rugby club squared off against a motley crew from UCSC. The Chico Women's side was more experienced, disciplined, and physical, proving to be too much for the Slugs. In the first thirty, UCSC advanced into Chico's half of the field only twice. UCSC struggled with securing the ball when using speed to their advantage--the Slugs' faster backs gained ground only to be left without support leading to loss of possession. Scrums were stable and well contested on both sides--the Slugs' front row did well in their first competitive match in engaging a more experienced forward pack.

The Chico women's side had several standouts--a center who poached ball six or seven times leading to a couple of successful tries, a speedy fullback who dotted a hat trick against a spotty defense, and a number eight who repeatedly broke tackles to gain ground and march the Chico women's offense up the field.

Following the match, Mitch, the women's side coach, gave good feedback, mentioning that during the match, defensive players were living offside at rucks and entering from the side. I agreed, but noted that even his side did not do a good enough job in securing the ball in the ruck to manage these aspects of the game effectively. The ball was out as soon as either team went into contact, leaving the rucks a sloppy free for all that had to be cleaned up with scrum resets and friendly advice to do a better job at securing the ball at rucks.

St. Mary's thirds 5 – SIERRA COLLEGE 64 Referee: John Coppinger
Sierra College ran by and over Saint Mary's College III 64-5 in the early match at Saint Mary's on Saturday.

While the result really isn't a surprise--Sierra did make the Men's College D2 Final Four last year--it did seem a little surreal to watch a systematic demolition of a Gaels side. The Gaels had few answers for the power, pace and cohesive nature of the Sierra attack. To add to their woes, the Gaels uncharacteristically struggled to comply with the laws of the game, particularly the offside law.

To their credit, SMC battled to the end and were rewarded with a try in the last minute to avoid the shutout.

ST. MARY’S 79 – Back Bay 10 Referee: Pete Smith
SMC was 2 for 15 on conversions; they might have broken 100 if they had a kicker. Typical pre-season game for them with no kicking with ball in hand. I think the coach tells them not to kick. They did twice and both times the players immediately regretted it despite having made good kicks. Really fun game to ref, I ran my tail off as the ball was whipping around the field.

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 82 – Back Bay 24 Referee: Paul Bretz
Back Bay practiced their kickoffs a lot in this one-sided match.

11am kick off:
Seconds: SANTA CLARA 53 - Santa Cruz 20 Referee: Bruce Ricard
Game starts very quickly with Santa Cruz scoring a penalty kick at the 2nd minute, and 2 tries at the 8th and 16 minute. But after one of their locks is temporarily excluded for having made 2 dangerous tackles at the 18th minute, they seemed to lose concentration, and Santa Clara scored 4 tries in the 20 last minutes of the first half. 20 - 13 at the break.

Second half starts how the first ended, with a very strong Santa Clara. They scored 5 tries during this half, even with one yellow card, against only one try for Santa Cruz. Final score : 53 - 20.

(1pm kick off) :
SANTA CLARA 53 - Santa Cruz 15 Ref: Ricard
One way first half, with Santa Clara scoring 5 tries, and Santa Cruz only a penalty kick. 29 - 3 at the break. Santa Clara scored 3 more tries in the first 20 minutes of the second half, before letting Santa Cruz score 2 tries, and scoring a last try in the last quarter of the game. Final Score : 53 - 15


Stanislaus 7 – SOUTH VALLEY 27 Referee: Giles Wilson
Diablo Gaels and South Valley got together with Stanislaus to play a round robin of games. A great day, sunshine and a firm field - it must be a rugby day.

Stanislaus and South Valley got things started - Stanislaus have some old faces with a lot of youngsters; South Valley are young with most players coming from their youth program. The difference in experience was the difference between the teams; with South Valley able to utilize space. In the first half Stanislaus was able to keep things tight but still gave up two tries to nil. In the second half South Valley ran in three more tries while Stanislaus punched over one for a final of 27 - 7.

Stanislaus 12 – DIABLO GAELS 52 Referees: Giles Wilson/Gene Baker
Stanislaus then stayed out to take on Gaels. In the first 30 Stanislaus were initially able to counter ruck and limit Gaels desire to use space and a good off-loading game. This frustrated the Gaels until they began to manage the contact area and ruck better allowing them the quick ball they wanted, which really started to take the wind out of an already tired Stanislaus. Once Gaels controlled the contact, the flood gates opened and the half ended at 26 - 7. Gene Baker took over for the second half and then the Gaels vs South Valley game.

DIABLO GAELS 19 - South Valley 17 Referee: Gene Baker
Lots of young and first-time players suiting up for Stanislaus and South Valley.

Good weather, postmatch at the Dust Bowl brewpub.

Blackhawks some points – COLUSA more points Referee: Eric Rauscher
On a dry grass field under cloudless skies with cool temperature we had four 20-min periods of new players getting to know the game mixed in with seasoned ruggers. The Blackhawk coach, Ben Parker, had a coaching session for the Colusa players before the game. It was interesting to sit in on the session and even more interesting that he would do it for the opposition. Colusa is an established club with the Blackhawks the new kids on the block.

The outcome was predictable, but I was very impressed with the speed of the Blackhawk players. If one of them could get open, they would be down the field in a flash, but with little or no support. I am sure that under Ben’s direction this can only improve. The play was mostly friendly, but tempers flared in the third quarter and I had to give out a red card to a Blackhawk player. Scott Griffin showed up to do the U19 game to follow, so I had him do the fourth quarter and he did a fine job. Good things to look forward to on all fronts for the coming season.


Saturday January 14th, High School:
LA Cougars 15 – MARIN 21
20 min halves

Sunday January 15th, Pac-12 Tournament:
STANFORD 35 – Oregon state 27
30 min halves
Stanford came back from being down 24-0 at one point to win.

UCLA was a great venue and the SoCal society were gracious hosts.


LIVE OAK 19 – Pleasanton 15 Referee: John Pohlman
My rugby weekend started with a 6:00PM JV high school game in Morgan Hill. Live Oak hosted the Pleasanton Cavaliers under the lights at the Sports Complex.

This is a nice venue with both natural and artificial turf and covered grandstands for fans. Our game was on the artificial turf field. There were three games being played with the JV game starting things off.

It was good to see two coaches I've known for some time, Ken and Bart. Both teams looked to have 25-plus players for this game.

Early-season rugby thus lots of penalties at the tackle, with leaving your feet at the tackle and coming in from the side being the most frequent calls.

Live Oak scored first, fifteen minutes, in putting their fullback away. Pleasanton was very aggressive at the tackle and ruck, winning the breakdowns and were rewarded with a try at 28 minutes.

Another try by Live Oak scrum half and captain Cookie made it 14-5 at half.

The Live Oak #8 did the kicking and he slotted the first two conversions with ease. One from the touch line. He maybe the best kicker I've seen at age 15.

Another stand out player was Live Oak open side flanker who poached possibly 20 balls. Really amazing skills for a 15-year old.

The second half saw Pleasanton score first to bring the score to 14-10. Except for a messy tackle area this was a very entertaining highly contested match.

Live Oak scored their final try at 17 minutes. Pleasanton roared back with a try at 25 minutes, making the score 19 to 15.

The last 10 minutes was good stuff both teams fighting for the win.

McCLATCHY 27 – Elk Grove 25 Referee: Scott Griffin
Referee Coach: Eric Rauscher
Two very capable opponents, McClatchy having more polish, competed at an off color pitch (dirt brown and dead grass tan instead of green) on Power Inn Road in Sacramento. McClatchy’s skipper, Tyler, informed me he was a certified ref, and seemed more intent on refereeing the game rather than playing in it. The amount of chirping (McClatchy: Coaches, Elk Grove: Players) by both teams reminded me of an American football game instead of rugby, although I can surely understand that as most of our roots for school-aged players are in that sport.

Elk Grove was interested in contact and solo running, whereas McClatchy was interested in getting the ball over the try line. Despite a slight physical disadvantage, McClatchy’s superiority, although tested, prevailed in the end, 27-25, over three 20 minute periods.

Lobo Invitational at Elsie Allen – Santa Rosa U19 Round Robin
Refs: Sean Peters, Mike Gadoua, Phil Akroyd
Referee Manager: Mike King
Report by Phil Akroyd:
A total of about 14 games were played with the format of 10 minute games, one side stays on and cycles out after two games, ten-a-sides. This is designed to get newer players and newly returning players back into the swing of Rugby without it being overly competitive. Teams from Elsie Allen, Montgomery and Santa Rosa brought a couple of teams each, so there was plenty of play for everyone. Nobody kept score but most games were very competitive and closely matched.

The area was socked in fog during warm ups, but the sun appeared just after the first game started. The conditions helped for some solid pre-season rugby. It seems that pre-season does not mean what it used to: lots of dropped passes, bad passes, missed tackles and general disarray. Not so these days. These guys are coming out of the blocks with more than solid basic skills. Maybe the emergence of summer 7s is allowing them to maintain their skills.


San Mateo 0 – SACRAMENTO LIONS 27 Referee: Lee Salgado
This was the first game of the day. Kick off was supposed to be at 10 but finally got going around 11:30. It was sunny but chilly and you could feel the wind getting stronger. Fitness and good passing is what won this game. San Mateo started strong but was unable to keep up with Sac who was moving the ball well wide and finding the space outside. The field was a little muddy so scrums resets were frequent, but both teams fought hard through the two 25 minute halves.

SAC LIONS A/B/C mix 14 – San Mateo/Barbarians mix 10 Ref: Salgado
This was the last game of the day and time to buck up with the tired muscles and frigid wind. This was a fun game to ref, tempers that were flaring early in the day had subsided and everyone was enjoying the last game of the day. Because the teams were mixes it made for a good game which is apparent by the closer score. This was a very hard hitting game and really challenged me to stay up with play. Both teams moved well up the field but again, as with the first game of the day, it was Sac's fitness and a good kicker that sealed the deal for the day

Trail PeliDuck
Ed and Berry Todd were hiking in the New Mexico desert when they came across an unusual but oddly familiar trail duck.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Tuesday, January 10, 2012



NEED REFS THIS WEDNESDAY... the first NCRRS meeting of the 2012 season.

We’ll be meeting from 7 until 9 on Wednesday, January 11, at the SFGG clubhouse on Treasure Island, for referee training. Food will be provided beginning at 6, so plan to arrive early and talk rugby with your peers.

That way, if you get stuck in traffic, you’ll still be in time for the meeting and you’ll still get something to eat.

The Referee Development Committee will meet from 6 to 7. If you coach or evaluate referees, or plan to do so this season, you are welcome.


We could use several refs this Saturday in the Sacramento area, and probably one or more in the Bay Area.


Monday, January 9
Sheeran Field, 10 AM
USA U20 Red – USA U20 Blue Referee: Pete Smith
AR: James Hinkin
I didn’t keep score, but there was only one conversion missed and a ton of tries in a dead even game. My guess was that it was 49-47 final. USA U20 Blue versus USA U20 Red. James Hinkin and I carpooled up. The weather was PERFECT at 60 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

Not an ounce of funny stuff from either team, they both came to show why they deserve to represent the US of A. I can’t believe the quality of athletes that are playing at that level now. These are kids that would otherwise be getting scholarships in other sports, just top flight athletes with size and speed.

If you had never seen a game of rugby before in your life, this would have been the game to see to make you fall in love with the sport. Just sucks that the best game I will get all year is on Jan 9th; now I get 356 days of really good rugby but not the crazy-amazing game I had today.

It was an honor and a treat!

Other games were refereed by Lee Salgado and Jeff Richmond, but no reports were received from them.

SAN MATEO 24 – Bay Barbarians 0 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz
Match three of the Sac Lions pre-season round robin got under way some time after 1:30pm in the same sunny but windy conditions as the previous two games. San Mateo played into the wind in the first half and dominated play in the loose. The Barbos didn’t catch on to letting the wind help them out of their own territory with the boot, but no player through the entire day seemed to. San Mateo went into the (25 minute half up 12-0.

Much the same happened in the second half but as players got more tired, their laziness increased and so did the penalty count. San Mateo added the same number of second half points as first half, resulting in a 24-0 full time score.

The Sac Lions seemed to have secured themselves a good field for the season ahead – full size and relatively flat, so unsurprisingly, they are working on their fitness.

Fresno 20 - KERN COUNTY 21 Referee: JV Van Staden
One more perfect day for rugby, around 70F, dry, and the leaves barely moving... After a 2:30hour train ride, I got picked up by Pastor John at the train station. In my 12 years of refereeing, this was the most I have been relaxed arriving at a pitch EVER (I can so recommend this)

Fresno went up first with 2 unanswered tries in the left corner, but Kern pulled it together, and after a yellow on Fresno, Kern scored their first converted try. Fresno 10 - Kern 7

Second half, Fresno started out fast again, and ran in one more, but with an un-experience wing, scored it on the side line again, without any defense within 30 yards from him. Kern work hard for their tries, and scored another converted try, which put them within 1 point. With, yet another man down, Fresno scored one more unconverted try after about 15 rucks within 5m from Kern's goal line. Fresno suffered a few injuries, which cost them in the center field. Kern ran in yet another converted try with a minute to go, to go up 1 point...

Great game, and good luck to both teams for the rest of the season. Great thanks the guys that picked me up and dropped me off at the station.

DIABLO GAELS 48 – Vallejo 27 Referee: Paul Bretz
Preseason friendly. The game was divided into 4-25 minute periods.

New Pelican Craig Smith did two of the four periods. Pay attention: you will be seeing his name again.

Marin Reds 0 – SANTA ROSA 40 Referee: James Hinkin
ARs: Pete Smith, Jackson Petty
With much of the country under snow and not playing any rugby at all, it was a struggle to get up to Sausalito to referee a preseason match. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a perfectly clear day in the mid to high 60s, sailboats dotting the bay below, was a truly difficult experience. I don’t think people know what we have to put up with here in Northern California.

The match featured 4 20 minute periods, with an additional 20 minute ‘B’ game handled by Pete Smith. Both teams were warmed up and ready to go at 1:00 so the Team Of Three (a luxury!) ran out for some fun. Debuting as an AR was 10 year old Jackson Petty who, as pointed out by Pete Smith, has one of the greatest rock and roll names ever. The assistance provided was trained ARs is invaluable and they have my thanks.

The game was relatively even with one exception – Santa Rosa kept breaking key tackles as the Marin defense put people in the correct place but didn’t execute. Once the gain line was broken Santa Rosa was able to have enough support to finish off the tries. Mixed in with this were a couple short range crashes that powered over the line for a grand total of 8 tries. Marin, however, did exceptionally well in their goal kicking defense as Santa Rosa went 0 for 8 on conversions.

Final Score: Marin Reds 0 – Santa Rosa 40

SIERRA FOOTHILLS 41 - 12 Berkeley RFC (100 minutes over 4 quarters) Referee: Chris Tucker
Pre-season rugby 15s at its finest -- lots of rookies, mistakes, curious happenings and (generally) friendly rugby going on. My first match of any kind for, er, quite a while. And the rust was on display for all to see.

Penalties? Scrum resets? Lineout issues? Many of all the above. Worst problem was with my footwork and movement, so much so that in spite of being in the right spot to award Berkeley's second try, I was losing my balance as my arm went up. End result: try awarded while lying flat on my back.

And with that, it was time for a beer at the Valencia Club...

Kennedy 22 – ELK GROVE 61 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
ARs: Rod Chance, Ron DeCausemaker
This pre-season match was played in windy, dry Sacramento. For a first match of the season for new(ish) programs with lots of rookies, this was splendid stuff -although I could have lived without the shooting the boot of what I think was chicken soup.

Played in 20 minute quarters, the first was all Elk Grove, with a comeback by host Kennedy; the visitors were up by only 24 to 17. The third period was real thing-of-beauty rugby. Thanks to my ARs Rod and Ron.


HERMANCE 11 – GC Zürich Rugby 5 (Swiss National League A)
Chens-le-Pont, France

This was the only rugby game on the calendar for this particular day, a fixture that would have been played several weeks beforehand if not for bad weather. As I do whenever I go to Switzerland, I got in touch with the Federation's referee committee and let them know I would be available. Happily they obliged me with this assignment, for which I am grateful.

The night before, I carpooled down to Geneva with the rest of the Zurich guys. Once at the hotel they headed out for a few but I decided it would be wise to hit the sack directly. This was a wise decision.

In the morning I changed into Number 1's and we all headed to the pitch, which is just over the French border on the south side of the Lake of Geneva. It's got a great view of the Jura and Haute-Savoie mountains, and a clubhouse with proper changing rooms for everyone to boot.

These two teams were equal in league points, and were generally evenly matched. I was hoping for a really good game of rugby, and it began pretty well. Hermance kicked a penalty goal in the 7th minute and it seemed that things would continue to roll along nicely. Unfortunately, however, there's some history between these two sides, and more often than not players were engaging in extra-curricular activities behind my back. As we all know, one referee can't watch 30 players and the ball at the same time, and unfortunately no AR's were available to help. There weren't too many penalties, but continuity was lacking since both teams complained of foul play regularly and I had to have a couple of chats with the captains. The Hermance #13 went to the bin in the 30th minute for being offside (team repeat infringement), followed by their #10 in the 36th minute for punching. Zürich gave it a good shot but was unable to capitalize on the difference in numbers while these two guys were off the field, and no further scoring happened in the first half.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first. The Zürich #10 missed a drop goal early on but Hermance were the first to score, with an unconverted try 9 minutes into the period. 4 minutes later I found the Zürich captain deliberately interfering with the ball while off his feet at a ruck, despite being told not to, and he went to the bin as well. Hermance kicked another penalty goal at 23', just before he returned.

There was some decent rugby happening, but it was more the exception than the norm. This was disappointing because I have seen both of these teams play much better, and the weather and pitch were not at all a constraint, especially given the date.

Finally, in the 74th minute, I caught the Hermance openside choking and then stamping on an opponent on the ground. The immediate red card put a stop to the nonsense at once. Had I seen something like that happening early in the game, it might have been a different afternoon, but as mentioned, the players knew when I was looking elsewhere and took advantage of that. Disappointing, really. This is the reason we ask our AR's to "lead and trail" - especially trail - and at this level there's no citing commissioner looking at video.

Zürich finally got the try they had been threatening to score all game at 78', but it was unconverted, and ultimately too little, too late. To be fair though, they were missing a few of their internationals. When these two teams play their return fixture in the spring it will be either a cracking game or a street brawl - it's hard to say. There is certainly a lot more potential than a total of 16 points/2 tries in this matchup.

Even considering the unfortunate incidents, an afternoon of rugby is always a good thing. I did enjoy the 3.6 miles of running, and it's always a pleasure to referee in Switzerland again.

Horizontal Rainbow
The Old Year found some Pelicans in Hawaii, and those Pelicans found something they’d never seen before.

See if you agree...


Tuesday, January 03, 2012




As the song has it, Saturday is a Rugby Day. It looks like 2012 is going to be a Rugby Year.

There are more teams in the NCRFU than ever before. Youth rugby has exploded. Lots of folks have been taking referee courses in Pelicanland.

Let’s hope these stars align and more course-takers means more referees.

If you have taken a course recently and would like to referee, the person writing these words is the one who needs to know of your interest.


If you are a referee and you’d like to run around and blow your whistle, you need to reply to this e-mail with a list of your availability for the next few Saturdays. Some Sundays, too, for that matter.

We also need to know whether you can travel. That means more than ninety minutes or so each way by car.

If you are new to this, jump right in. There are more teams than the NCRFU has ever had before. Once the league seasons start at the end of January, every Saturday will find a number of games without an assigned referee. We dread to think that there will be refs at home who didn’t have a game and could have done one.

Your scribe is also your scheduler. We don’t have time to write to nearly a hundred folks and say, can you help out this weekend? IF YOU WANT TO REF, LET US KNOW.

January 7: Need half a dozen refs. Tournament in Sac, games elsewhere including Fresno.

January 14: Two games on Friday the 13th, at the Maritime Academy. Can you do a Friday game? On the Saturday, there are a number of games including in Chico and Fresno.

January 21-22: Friday night game at the Maritime Academy.
On Saturday and Sunday, the Stanford Invitational will be played. Need four-six refs for this. Ideal for one or two beginning referees.

January 28-29: Two Friday afternoon games at St. Mary’s.
This weekend is a good example: twenty-four club and college games with six refs available so far. And this does not include the Kick-Off Tournament for youth and high school in Sacramento, which needs about thirty refs.

You can do a club or college game on Saturday and do high school games in Sacramento on Sunday – but not unless you reply and say you are available.


Perfect year-end weather found four Pelicans mountain-biking the sweet single-track trails of Fort Ord.

This photo finds them at the end of their two-hour jaunt: John Coppinger, Bruce Carter, Bryant Byrnes, and Bruce Bernstein.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris