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