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