Tuesday, January 10, 2012




...at 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.

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

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