Wednesday, February 01, 2012




Jordan Bruno has been promoted to L2, and Bob Polito has also been promoted to L3.

Onward and upward!


This Saturday, February 4, we are only able to cover a couple of second-side matches. If anyone reading this wants a game, there are six club and college matches without assigned referees.

After February 11, a slow week, it gets worse:
Feb. 18: 31 refs 39 games
Feb. 25: 36 refs 45 games

(The referee count is optimistic: it includes Maybes. We have already lost four refs to surgery or medical problems, before things even crank up in earnest.)

If you can help out, please let us know. It’s not too early to send in March availability, by the way.

ST. MARY’S GAELS 41 – University of Utah Utes 10 Referee: Chris Tucker
AR: Jordan Bruno
Blazingly fast game as the Gaels showed mid-season form in a warm-up match. First try 2 minutes in went the length of the field, and the width of it twice as well. The game did not slow down.

Both teams were over-competing at the breakdown in the first half, leading to more penalties than we would like, but it settled in the second as the teams decided to keep a full fifteen on the field. Well, at least until near the end of the game when a dangerous tackle from the Gaels (thanks Jordan for getting the number - I was busy in-goal) and a trip from the Utes earned matching yellows. But this did not detract overly from a fun exhibition game that points to goods things this year from the Moraga boys.

Seconds: ST. MARY’s 40 – University of Utah 17 Referee: Jordan Bruno
On a bright Friday afternoon in Moraga SMC seemed well on their way to moving into the season as top national contenders as they handily defeated Utah’s A and B sides. Structured, organized, and well-disciplined support, back line defense, and scrummaging saw St. Mary’s B side run up the score after a close first half. Utah came to the match fit and experienced, contesting at the scrums and tackling hard in the open field. More successful backline play allowed SMC to score early and often. The end score did not do Utah’s side justice--the match was much closer than the end score would suggest. Both sides were well matched with a fit “hybrid” forward pack that moved around the field effortlessly, inserting into the backline with ease.

UC DAVIS women 17 – Oregon State 14 Referee: Scott Wood
AR: Donal Walsh, Jim Crenshaw
Location: Russell Field, Davis
A late afternoon Friday match. The turf was soft but held well. Both teams were short on experienced players, especially Oregon State who was missing a number of the stalwart front rows. Sizing the teams up, Davis looked to bigger in the pack and OSU had some fleet-footed backs. This proved the case as the game went on. The Aggies spent much of the first half pressuring the Beavers; however, OSU was able to steal the ball and score two converted tries. Halftime: OSU led 14-0.

The second half was a bit different. OSU had problems with understanding the tackler assist's responsibilities. Davis moved the ball well but knock-ons and poor backline decisions (e.g., predictive dummy-dummy-cut) prevented positive advancement. Davis turned up the heat in the final 20 minutes and capitalized off OSU's errors to score two converted tries. With two minutes remaining, OSU won the restart and worked downfield to within five meters of the try line. A penalty was awarded against Davis for failing to roll away. OSU started on the right 15-meter line and spun the ball in front of the posts. An opportune tackle by Davis. The ballcarrier released the ball, stood up and...knocked-on the ball as she tried to regather it. A most unfortunate ending to an awesome game.

SF/Golden Gate D1 24 – UNIVERSITY OF UTAH seconds 27 Referee: Pete Smith

SF/GOLDEN GATE SL 56 – University of Utah 19 Referee: Tom Zanarini
AR: Pete Smith, Ron DeCausemaker
Assessor: Bryan Porter
A beautiful day on Treasure Island. My mother is in town for my birthday and got a taste of Norcal rugby. Big and fast players for both sides. Utah seemed a little worn down from their Friday night match but nonetheless put in a very good show. Thanks to Pete, Ron and Bryan for their assistance.

Sacramento State 3 – CALIFORNIA 48 Referee: Angus McDonald-Watson
ARs: Phil Akroyd, JC van Staden
(The referee was visiting Lake Tahoe from South Africa and happened to be able to help us with a late-addition game.)

Sacramento Capitals 19 – OLYMPIC CLUB 54 Referee: Chris Tucker
A sharp contrast to my Friday game, this was exactly what you might expect from a preseason game. The Caps scrapped together 15 by kickoff -for a home game - and O Club seemed to be missing a few regulars. Result was more offense than defense, both teams getting their fair share of ball, score and penalties. Of note was the scrum, utterly dominated by OC. I told OC's props to keep it safe, but there was a time when they were pushing early and earning free kicks against themselves. Quoth the prop 'we're not exactly getting much resistance', 'Yes, but you know that in advance, don't you?' I replied, and promptly awarded another FK. They sorted it out after that. To their credit, the Caps kept pushing until the end, played hard and extracted 3 tries for their efforts. The result, however, was not in doubt.

EPA RAZORBACKS 42 – Sacramento Lions 38 Referee: JC van Staden
Yet another great day for rugby!!! Great pre-season game. After EPA announced they could not travel, Sac Lions agreed to travel down to meet them. Even with a few men down, EPA shared some players to help out the Lions. Great running rugby, cause for some spectacular tries, with EPA clenching the win with only 1 min on the clock.

Good luck to both teams for the rest of the season. May it be as spectator-friendly as this game.

DIABLO GAELS 69 – Chico Mighty Oaks 19 Referee: James Hinkin
Last week we discussed the gods and their appreciation of the oval ball. It seems that their appreciation has extended as, in a hotly contested debate, the gods of winter were shouted down by the gods of summer - highlighted by a volcano goddess accusing the storm gods of "only wanting to rain on her lava", resulting in another weekend of springlike weather slated for late January. Mid 60s temperatures and bright sunshine on a perfectly marked field (even the flags were in the right place!) almost caused this referee to start channeling Belinda Carlisle at the top of his voice.


Diablo as the home side were out in numbers and ready from the start. Chico was only able to travel with 15 players but all 15 were ready to go at the whistle. Numbers may be an issue this year as one of the 15 was a player I played with in college - and he was a senior my first year.

Diablo kicked into a strong wind but did not let that have any effect on their play. They ran a high-pressure defense and a relentless offense that, after an early penalty to get things started, put up a steady stream of tries. Chico struggled to reorganize on multiple phases and Diablo took advantage. 5 tries in each half was the result of a steady and effective game plan.

Chico played hard and clean, not giving in to temptation as the score mounted. The aforementioned gods looked kindly upon this and did grin, so they rewarded the Mighty Oaks with a triad of opportunistic tries near the end of the match. Two charged-down kicks and an interception resulted in three tries for the visiting 15.

While heaven may be a place on earth I would expect that winter will make itself felt sooner rather than later. In the meantime, this was rugby at its finest.

Seconds: DIABLO GAELS 24 – Chico 20 Referee: Giles Wilson
Chico was very short on numbers and agreed to a 40 minute 2nd side game with their numbers supported by some Vallejo players who were on hand.

Gaels pulled out to a 10 - 0 and then 17 - 0 lead before Chico started to drive tight and make ground first for a try and then a drop goal (don't see those that often in D2) and 17 - 8. Another Gaels score brought up 24 - 8 before Chico finished with 2 more scores for 24 - 20 in favour of the Gaels.

SEAHAWKS 47 – South Valley 15 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Very impressive for San Jose Seahawks in all phases of play Saturday which began at Yerba Beuna HS in San Jose with very sunny 70 degree weather: Coming from behind to outscore South Valley 21-10 in the first half followed by a similar result in the second; their tight 5 dominated all set play, their #8 broke the game line with a number of runs, great half back combo & both wingers never died with the ball making for some exciting backline play. Oh yeah their kicker converted 6 of 7 opportunities & bounced the 7th off the crossbar.

South Valley was overmatched mainly because of their numbers and when they lost their scrumhalf to a twisted ankle things got worse. The Seahawks had depth, fans, and a great party venue in downtown San Jose Britannia Arms complete with both teams a great spread, drink & rugby songs.

Seconds: Seahawks – South Valley Referee: Sandy Robertson
Nothing to report--though San Jose had a full contingent, South Valley had no 2nd side bodies. SV put together a motley crew, we scrimmaged for one 20 minute period. 2 guys went at it as we lined up for the 2nd period. I gave them the rest of the day off. A few minutes into the 2nd period a San Jose player went after an SV player. I red carded the SJ player (have sent info to the NCRFU judiciary), and called it a day.

Berkeley 7 – FRESNO 40 Referee: Phil Akroyd
AR: Dave Newport
This was a sloppy, stop and go game, interspersed with short periods of break out rugby, resulting in tries.

Fresno travelled with about 22 players for round one of D2 league play, while the home team had around 32, but Fresno looked physically superior with a team that has played together for a while. The game started tight and there was only one try in the first half, going to Fresno, resulting in a 0-7 lead at half.

Right after the half, Fresno fielded a kick in their own 22 and appeared to have too much time in which to make a decision. The 9 threw a long floaty pass to his fly-half in the middle of the field and almost immediately regretted it. A Berkeley chaser picked off the pass and ran in unopposed for the try under the sticks. Game tied at 7s.

That seemed to be the slap around the chops that Fresno needed and they started playing a more polished, aggressive game with more successful backs moves. They scored off a Berkeley dropped pass, another from deep within their own half from their electric winger Grayson and one from the forwards in a goal line stand, near the end (amongst others). Overall a decent game but these teams will improve and deliver more as the season progresses.

After the game I jumped in the car and made it back to the KOT just in time to see the team I have been helping out with coaching - Rancho Cordova PAL U14 - play Lamorinda.

Following that game, I along with JC van Staden AR'd the Sac State v Cal game in the 7:30pm Kick-off at Lancer Stadium. The game was reffed by Angus McDonald-Watson from Durban who happened to be in Tahoe on vacation with his family. It just so happened he also had his boots with him. Cal won pretty comfortably in the end by 3-48.

Sunday involved more KOT action, but there were too many games to go into.

Seconds: Berkeley 10 – FRESNO 14 Referee: Jen Tetler
After a hard fought 1st side match, the Berkeley subs were jonesing to take the field while the Fresno boys (11 of whom had played in the earlier match) were hoping to head straight to the bar. That came a little too close to happening when, in the first 5 minutes of the game, one of the Berkeley players broke his leg...badly enough that several players had to look away so they didn't puke and an ambulance was called. After the player was stabilized, we continued on with the game, agreeing to 20 minutes left in the 1st half and 30 for the 2nd.Berkeley looked quite good in the first half, putting up 2 tries, but were unable to convert. The half ended 10-0. Fresno came out in the 2nd half with a bit more gusto and after a few back and forth stands, they were able to put 7 points on the board. They scored another try with two minutes left in the half, and converted as well, putting them ahead by 4. Berkeley tried to get the ball back, but just didn't have the time. Final score Fresno 14 - Berkeley 10.

SANTA ROSA 16 – Baracus 7 Referee: John Coppinger
For Pete's Sake Field
Tight game as two teams went at each other hard. Both teams struggled with the tackle law; BA Baracus falling over the ball and Santa Rosa failing to release the tackled player. A penalty goal to Santa Rosa was the only score in the first half.

Both teams made adjustments to score tries in the second half; but Rosa found cohesion to score two unconverted tries and a penalty goal to Baracus' one converted try for a 16-7 final.

Seconds: SANTA ROSA 33 – Baracus 14 Referee: Mike Gadoua
Great Rosa weather, the game was close from kick off to the final whistle.

The backs of both teams appeared mutually comparable at first glance, but the well-coached forwards of Rosa dominated scrums, rucks and mauls. Rosa also tended to pick up the ball in loose play. Rugby 101: You can’t score without possession. Picking the ball up satisfies that element. The forwards would then advance and spin it out to the backs who penetrated well into the visitor’s defense.

The hosts seem to run out of gas in the end but despite the score, they played well despite being a little disorganized.

MARIN REDS 21 – Vacaville Dogs 12 Referee: George O'Neil

Seconds: MARIN 26 – Vacaville 15 Ref: O’Neil
Marin were great hosts. The weather was perfect for two great games. The first game was a very close game with Marin pulling away in the last 10 minutes to seal the win. The second side match was played in great spirits. Both games were a pleasure to referee.

STANFORD women 67 – Triple Threat 5 Referee: Brad Richey

STANFORD women seconds 28 – Fresno State 20 Referee: Bob Polito
Referee Coach: John Pohlman

Stanford – CALIFORNIA 109 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: John Pohlman, Brad Richey
One-way traffic at Steuber Field. Cal led 62-0 at half and tallied a total of 17 tries. The final score had to be abbreviated on the scoreboard which read "Stanford 00, Guest 09" at the final whistle. Much thanks to John and Brad for their help.

Stanford seconds 14 – STANFORD GSB 34 Referee: John Pohlman
AR: Aruna Ranaweera TJ: Stanford player
Northern California is blessed with a number of outstanding venues. This past Saturday I was graced with officiating at one of them, Stanford's Steuber Family Rugby Stadium.

Stanford men and women hosted four games. The women's II played Fresno State at 10:30AM, their first side hosted a combination Triple Threat/FOG at 12:00. Then the Men's I hosted Cal. I at 2:00PM.

My game was a combination of Stanford's II and III playing the Stanford Graduate Schools.

I had just finished running AR for Aruna's A side game, and running is the appropriate word. I thought Cal's II would be playing Stanford II, which could have been a lot of scoring. Instead the Stanford had a game scrimmage which allowed close to 30 players to see action. Many of these players showing some good stuff, but possibly one of their first games.

The game started as very competitive and hard-fought. The first try was by Stanford at 26 minutes. The Graduates took charge late in the first half with two scores at 32 and 38 minutes.

The second half saw a lot of substitutions. At one point it looked like all fifteen were subbed.
In fact, one of the Graduate players said "Hey ref they got 16 players on the field". They did.

With the young players working hard but disorganized, the grads pulled away with 4 trys in the second half. The youngsters were encouraged when they scored a final try to end the game.

Thanks for a great rugby experience.

Chico State women – Oregon CANCELED

Chico State 22 – ST. MARY’S 36 Referee: Eric Geib (ERRRS)
AR: Paul Johnston (ERRRS)
Referee Coach: Kat Todd-Schwartz
Videographer: Bruce Carter

Seconds: Chico State 5 – ST. MARY’S 27 Referee: Paul Johnston (ERRRS)
AR: Eric Geib (ERRRS)
Referee Coach: Bruce Carter

At For Pete's Sake in Santa Rosa
SANTA ROSA JC 31 – UC Santa Cruz 10 Referee: Cary Bertolone
I received a call at 9:00 AM asking if we could kick off a half hour early so we had time for a second side game. UC Santa Cruz was already at the pitch. So we kicked off at 10:30am and Santa Cruz dominated the first 8 minutes before Santa Rosa made a quick pass and their big fullback scored a 50 meter try. Santa Cruz resumed their domination, especially in the scrums and in their rucking and three minutes later answered with a try of their own. Santa Cruz continued beating SRJC in most phases of the game until Santa Rosa once again had a long run from their backs for another try, making it 12-5, Rosa.

The next twenty minutes was pretty even and Rosa started winning their scrums (Santa Cruz lost a big lock and they apparently lost their advantage in the scrums). The last 5 minutes of the half, Rosa repeatedly almost scored, were held up twice and finally punched it in for a 19-5 halftime advantage.

In the second half, SRJC scored right away and dominated Santa Cruz the rest of the game. UC Santa Cruz never gave up and actually got on a roll the last 10 minutes, rucking well and finally scored at full time for the final 31-10 score.

Seconds: SANTA ROSA JC 12 – UC Santa Cruz 7 Ref: Bertolone
We played a 60 minute second side game before the Baracus vs Santa Rosa match.
It was fun and evenly contested. SRJC scored first with a try, Santa Cruz came
back and took the lead 7-5 and then Santa Rosa scored to win the game 12-7. The
ref was lagging and blowing the whistle from a long ways away, at times.

FRESNO STATE 37– Nevada 10 Referee: Jeff Jury
Warm day/good running; Reno starting to understand the kicking game - failed with their wings and 15.

Seconds: FRESNO STATE 12– 10 Nevada Ref: Jury
Kinda loose scrums that eventually tightened up, good deliberate running at goal. Breakdown still an adventure.

San Jose State 0 – MARITIME ACADEMY 41 Referee: Bruce Ricard
Beautiful January summer day in San Jose. Very intense game between those two teams, SJ scored at the 6th and 29th minute, and MA at the 18th and 36th, after a SJ player was temporarily excluded at the 34th. 10 - 10 at the break.

The second half was totally different, San Jose started to infringe at every ruck, either in the ruck, or the other players being off-side. At the 6th minute, a SJ player is temporarily excluded for repeated infringements at rucks. MA then scored 3 tries at the 6th, 8th (beautiful solo try from a back on the restart kick, not even on the open side), and 19th minutes. At the 34th minute, a SJ player is not rolling away from the tackle, he receives a yellow card for repeated infringements, and the number 10 of MA, who talks a lot, bitches about the sent off player, so I exclude him too. Finally MA scored 2 more tries at the 25th and 40th minutes of the game.

Final Score: San Jose 10 - Maritime Academy 41

Seconds: San Jose State 0 – MARITIME ACADEMY 20 Ref: Ricard
A lot of infringements at ruck from San Jose State. At the 5th minute, I temporarily exclude a SJ player after two dangerous tackles happened in 30 seconds. Maritime Academy managed to use this advantage and scored two tries at the 7th and 11th minutes. At the 14th minute, another SJ player is temporarily excluded for repeated infringements at rucks, and MA scores another try at the 16th minute.

At the 27th minute of the game, I awarded a penalty try to Maritime Academy, after their maul progressed 20m, and was collapsed 5m from SJ try line. SJ captain comes to me and tells me that I can't do that, because it was the other team that collapsed the maul, and after telling him that my decision was made, he kept arguing on with a pretty aggressive tone. Being the Nth time someone contests, I ask him once again to stop contesting the decisions and that we will restart with a penalty kick at the center for contesting. After having stepped back behind his line, the captain said "F___ that referee", so I asked him to come back, showed him the red card, and he kept insulting me while walking away. I asked the newly promoted captain the names and CIPP of the former captain, who went ask the information to his coach. We had to wait about 5 minutes on the pitch because the coach didn't have that number, and didn't want to say it, so the captain had to run back and forth between the coach and me to try to convince me to keep going and that I will have the number at the end of the game. I told him that the game would not resume before I had this number, they finally admitted that they didn't have it, and I ended the game. By the way, during those 5 (maybe 10 actually) minutes of waiting, we could hear from the rest of SJ team some "racist" insults concerning the French referee.

Final Score: 20 - 0

I stayed, as usual, in the middle of the pitch to shake hands with the players. The Maritime Academy players shaked, but none of the San Jose players.

I walk back to my bag, stretch, and grab my motorcycle boots to start getting changed, and I find a crumbled granola bar with water in them. A few minutes later I go speak with the SJ coach, who is horrified by the boots, and apologies. I talked a bit more with him and 2 of the A-team players who seem to be the leaders, and they told me that they would work a lot on discipline.

I managed to reach home after riding with my rugby boots...

[Editor’s Note: We usually exclude these sorts of narratives. However, this season is shaping up to be different.

[We have about half as many referees as we need to properly cover the games in the NCRFU. Your writer is also the one who sweats over the assignments, not merely a thankless task but a major pain in the neck that takes several hours out of my family life.

[I would be more than happy to have one less team that needs referees. This better not happen again, and this referee better received an apology from the individuals involved.

[We are volunteers. Teams pay referee fees but the referees are not paid – no expenses, no mileage, nothing. Not a penny.

[You think you had a bad ref? Try refereeing yourself. Or try having no ref at all. ]

Humboldt State 3 – SIERRA COLLEGE 38 Referee: Mike King
The trip from the North Bay to the North Coast is spectacular even in the rain, but on a bright, sunny day it was even more magnificent. Humboldt is blessed with a new home artificial pitch which is a welcome change from the sometimes challenging surface of Manila Park where matches were played in inclement weather. The weather was not a worry on this day- almost perfect conditions for a fast paced game between two teams that wanted to run.

The tackling was stellar and the contest was tight for the first portion of the first half. Sierra seems ready to repeat its past success into the playoffs, with Humboldt giving no quarter at the breakdown. Neither side seemed to dominate early in the set pieces, and the table was set for a see-saw match. Sierra did handle the ball deftly to allow a try in the far corner to get the score rolling.

At that point, with some momentum, Sierra seemed to step it up a notch. HSU had a Fall semester of inactivity (college sanction) and less experience overall, which began to tell. Sierra was able to ramp it up to score 3 more tries before half, with 2 converted. 24-0 at half. Near the close of the half, an altercation occurred after play moved on. Both sides received warnings and the rest of the match was mostly without incident.

The second half again saw Humboldt a little rusty relative to the Sierra side. HSU remained game throughout, and made several strong forays into Sierra territory, leading to another penalty kick, this time with success. It appeared that Humboldt had several former football linemen who got to carry the ball into contact, and were loving it! Sierra did have 2 more tries, one on a long run by its #10 who also converted both. Final Sierra 38- HSU 3.

UOP 22 – CSU-Monterey Bay 12 Referee: Scott Wood
TJs: Craig Leoni (UOP), Jesus (CSUMB player)
Location: Gardemeyer Field, UOP, Stockton
A fine sunny day. Need I say more? Of course I do. Saturday's a rugby day on a weekend of rugby. The Otters and Tigers were warming up when I arrived. It was a blistering five minute drive to the pitch (may I have another?....).

UOP opened up the attack but CSUMB did not waver. Pile-ups occurred as both teams were knocking off the rust (which is why more pre-season matches should occur) but the players sorted it out (with a little help from Mr. A. Thunderer) and continuity became the name of the game. Silly penalties and knock-ons notwithstanding, both teams put in a great effort on both sides of the ball.

CSUMB led 12-7 at the half. And that was the end of their scoring. UOP's coach, the venerable Kreg Nelson, read his Riot Act and his boys put his words to action. Again, the Otters were not unrelenting but constantly tackling takes a physical toll.

One piece of advice to all players, especially backs: Read Law 18...

SF BATS 43 – Nevada 3 Referee: Lois Bukowski
This game was closer than the score indicated. 10-3 at half after a couple of quick scores by SF Bats. Reno slotted a last minute penalty with time expiring at the half.

The second half showcased relentless BAT energy and phase work sprinkled with some poor ball handling and sloppy scrummaging; early season rugby for sure.

It was highlighted by their Scrumhalf (who moved to the backline for half 2) breaking several long runs with swivel hips that left defenders grasping for air.
One particular beaut was a kick and chase; she caught on the perfect bounce and was GONE.

This kid (sorry, roster not avail at this moment) has promise, we'll see her in Red, White and Blue someday for sure!

We ran a fun 15 minute B side after and it actually produced a couple of tries.

All in all stunning rugby day at Negoesco Field in the beautiful city by the Bay.

Santa Clara women 48 – SACRAMENTO STATE 51 Referee: Tony Levitan
16 tries, 8 conversions, 1 penalty kick and loads of back and forth play later, Sac State eked out a win over the short-handed hosts, 51-48. Starting the match with only 13 players due to injuries and conflicts, Santa Clara looked the much stronger, skilled side in the opening half, jumping out to a 29-12 lead. Sac State answered quickly in the second stanza, pulling to within a converted try before the two sides volleyed tries for a solid 20 minutes. Sac State finally climbed on top after Santa Clara's talented #15 went off with a knee injury and Santa Clara got overrun a number of times due to sheer numbers. A final charge by the home side ended the match with a converted try, bringing a well-fought contest by both sides to a close.


That was the mileage on the Pelicanmobile’s trip odometer when we pulled back into the nest from a rugby round-robin involving Salinas – Sacramento – San Francisco – Salinas.

Friday, Penelope and I took half-days off, fetched my favorite AR from Palma School in Salinas, and headed up over the Pacheco Pass with visions of rugby balls bouncing in our heads.

Persephone stayed home with her mother this year. It’s February now and winter has not arrived in California. The cherry trees were not only blossoming in San Francisco, some of them have already spread their carpets of pink petals at their feet. It’s been in the sixties and seventies, beach weather, kids splashing in the surf on the Monterey Peninsula as I bicycle by in shorts and tee.

It was Kick-Off Tournament weekend, the biggest youth rugby tournament in the world. Has to be. Nine pitches going (seven, with two playing two games crossways). Refs shooting off in all directions. Kids buzzing with the recognition that they are not alone in having fallen in love with this ‘new’ game.

An early morning Saturday found ice on the ground at Rancho Cordova HS, but the extensive parking lots filling up even as the sun broke the horizon. I got to meet a few new friends and greet some old ones, watch Ben’s first U12 match, and then leave my wife and grandson to drive two visitors up to Chico for their games.

Afterwards, I tried to hurry back for the evening’s banquet, but our Colorado guests had heard of In ‘N Out Burger and we could not get through Yuba City without stopping.

Did you see the sunset Saturday? It was pink. The whole western vista was orange shaded to purple with lots of pink in between, cloudy wisps aglow, pure magic in the heavens.

We saw it double: a lot of the acreage just west of Highway 99 was flooded, the firmament mirrored, the magic now also in the fields.

At the banquet I became aware that there wasn’t a ref for a Sunday game in San Francisco. Let’s see: one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world, perfect weather with no fog, and a game to ref not far from where I lived when I met and courted my wife thirty-plus years ago. Versus having a weekend without refereeing, albeit hanging out at the KOT and probably running some touch.

Easy call: ref. I’m not that old yet! Blowing the whistle makes the week worthwhile.

We drove across the Bay Bridge filled with excitement. The City never gets old, and we share in its youth anew every time.

U. of San Francisco 8 – ST. MARY’S thirds 65 Referee: Bruce Carter
AR: Ben Bravo
Negoesco Field is tucked under the dome of St. Ignatius, with views of the Lone Mountain campus complementing the scene. My wife and grandson distributed KOT programs to the assembled fans.

St. Mary’s has a stable of horses. They played two games against Utah on Friday, two against Chico State on Saturday, and then rubbed the muscles to suit up once more.

This game was a lot of fun to officiate. There were a couple of tackles that slipped up around the neck, but nothing deliberate and nothing requiring me to go all ref over anyone.

Artificial turf suits these old bones, but then again I don’t get slammed to the pitch. And the best innovation yet for seasoned officials is this whole ball-line-running business. Take the perpendicular when they make a break, draw level, turn ninety and close the gap. Track the passes across the pitch. Be the third man at the tackles.

[Those non-baby boomer refs might not have ever heard of S-curve running, getting in behind the ball-carrier, then swinging alongside. Good for showing off, not as good for seeing the tackles.]

USF showed grit and stayed in the match, scoring a late try after hammering the line for several phases.

One real pleasure for this ref: a St. Mary’s coach approached afterwards and wanted clarification on one particular call – from the day before. Not my call, but happily my explanation (and the ref had gotten it right).

Even driving home was a pleasure after such a weekend in Northern California.

UC Davis women – Oregon CANCELED

Shasta 10 – MEDFORD 22 Referee: Jim Crenshaw
The rain forecast for last Saturday failed to materialize in Palo Cedro (Redding area for the map challenged) and instead it was partly sunny and a perfect rugby day. The field, however was still very wet from the night before, with a fair amount of standing water and small lakes in abundance. I didn't actually see any fish, but...

I arrived at the pitch a little before1for the 2pm kickoff and Medford was already there. Seems they had heard the forecast too and left Medford at 7am. Clear skies and roads allowed them to arrive in 2 and a half hours instead of the 5 or 6 it would take with chain controls.

There were 3 Shasta guys there when I arrived, but slowly the rest of them trickled in.

We started promptly at 2, and Medford scored a try between the posts at about 2:01. The outside center for Medford decided to test the Shasta backline and the 2 Shasta players must have thought we were playing touch. The Medford center didn't even slow down and then sold a very nice dummy to the Shasta fullback to score almost untouched between the posts!!

While Medford lined up for the kick, a couple of the Shasta forwards had a 'come to Jesus' meeting at the goal line with the topic of discussion being the fact the we were NOT playing touch and that it was going to be a long day if folks didn't start tackling.

After that things settled down for the next 25 minutes or so with Medford's backs making another break and scoring an unconverted try.

Shasta got on the board late in the half scoring an unconverted try after about 10 minutes of goal line stand by Medford, making the score at halftime Medford 12 Shasta 5.

The second half was even more of a scrum fest then the first with knock-ons, forward passes and dropped balls be the highlights of a good portion of the match, thanks to wet ball, early season rust and FNG's.

Medford again scored first in the corner with a nice break and a couple of give-and-goes, even though Shasta had them pinned down behind their own 22 for the first 10 minutes of the half.
Shasta came back about half way through with an unconverted try of their own to make the score 17 to 10, and was constantly pressuring Medford throughout the half, but they just couldn't manage to finish.

Near the end of the match, Shasta won a scrum, but were undone by a couple of very slow passes, the last of which was intercepted by the Medford inside center scoring untouched between the posts.

The wet field conditions didn't help the kickers and this one too was missed to make the final score Shasta 10, Medford 22.

We all retired to the local pizza joint around the corner from the pitch to test the local Palo Cedro fare and toast the match and the end of a very nice day!!


I’d planned to get some photos at the KOT on Sunday, but didn’t attend. Imagine a bunch of happy refs from all over, doing what they love to do, and knowing that rugby is a place on Earth.