Thursday, March 15, 2012



By JC van Staden

Rugby weekend.....So I'm sure that most referees had to go through weekends like this....You know, the ones where you wife wants to divorce you over rugby...

[Mrs. Webmaster says, "That's every weekend..."]

Friday Night
High Schools, 4:30 kick-off
No love lost, is probably the best way of describing this clash....The Lancers had a very well-coached team, and good all the way around talent, but the Islanders, were well up to the task, and after breaking through the middle field with some great stepping, stretched to a 14 point lead, which they manage to maintain to take the win on the Lancers’ home field.

6:30 conference call, disciplinary hearing, Highway 50

8:15 kick-off
MOTHER LODE 31 – Jesuit 28
I have seen my share of athletic facilities, but I have to admit, my mouth was drooling, walking on this track...I just wanted to take my place on the 200m mark, and sprint through one ass-kicking run...Then the reality kicked in, and I had to remind myself I'm not that stud I used to be...So I rubbed in the Icy Hot, took my whistle, and took the field...Luckily, both teams had a surprise for me...spectacular rugby!! Both teams came out firing at all cylinders, tries were raining in, alongside BIG tackles. Coaching of both teams was teddies, and both teams wanted it bad. Captains led by example, and not having to pull a card in a U/19 game, was priceless...

College, 1pm kick – off
SIERRA COLLEGE 48 - San Jose State University 14
Besides the wind that picked up a bit on Saturday, it was yet another cool day for rugby. Sierra had only one thing in mind, and that was to stay unbeaten in their division...Sometimes, that thought overpowered their minds, and they forgot they were 15 players on the field, but still they were too facile and fit for San Jose. Most of Sierra players I knew because of the high-school rugby, and all-star rugby they have played in the Sacramento Valley the last 5 years. Their knowledge of the game showed, but it was the hearts of San Jose that impressed more...Even after getting slammed around on the field, they showed their spirits, kept on putting points on the board until the last minute of the game.

U/12, 12:15 kick-off
GRANITE BAY 48 – Carmichael 17
I actually attended church in my rugby gear...which was a first for me, (normally being the only guy under 80 with a tie), and left Lodi during the last hymn, to make it back to Granite Bay, for a 12pm kick-off. The field was a bit smaller than normal, but perfect for U/12 rugby. Without being philosophical, there is just something about scoring under the sticks :)

This game however, was as structured as any B-side varsity game. The kids were coached well, and besides having a few BIG U/12 guys, my rugby theory about, size does not count, was proven once more. Granite Bay, was on average 20lb/player lighter, but they had heart, tackle good, and full of running. Having to use the "blue card" to keep the mouths under control, made me realize what tough jobs the parents have to raise this new generation of youngsters. I take my hat off to all parents.

With a total points being added of 238 in one weekend....Pretty nice rugby I would say, and having the best seat in the house watching these, priceless...


Olympic Club 29 – EPA BULLDOGS 58 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
AR: John Coppinger
At the Gaelic Athletic Field on Treasure Island, EPA led 21-17 at the break and routinely found gaps in the Olympic backline in the second half. Both teams mauled very well but EPA was more elusive with ball in hand and enjoyed much better support out wide. In the end, EPA ran away with the contest, 9 tries to 5. Much thanks to John for his help as AR.

Seconds: Olympic Club 22 – EPA BULLDOGS 26 Referee: John Coppinger
On the GAA pitch at TI, EPA scored three second half tries to overcome a 12-7 deficit at the break. Good match, played in good spirits with zero foul play and few penalties.

Provo over Bay Barbarians (forfeit) Referee: James Hinkin
Provo drove 18 hours to make the game. I drove 45 minutes to make the game. Nobody from Bay Barbarians decided to drive at all to make the game.

San Mateo 12 - PROVO 25 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Provo completed its 2-game, one-day tour by beating San Mateo. They dominated early possession, putting up two tries before the midpoint of the first half. From that point on, it was an evenly contested, hard fought match.

ST. MARY’S 69 – Cal Poly 3 Referee: Terry Helmer
ARs: Stephanie Bruce, Evan Schlinkert
Evaluator: Mike Malone

Seconds: ST MARY’s 34 – Cal Poly 12 Referee: Stephanie Bruce
Assessor: Bryan Porter

Chico State 35 – SACRAMENTO STATE 41 Referee: Phil Akroyd
AR: Tom Franzoia
This game by the numbers: Sac State went into the game 2-1 (-5 points difference) in league play, Chico came in 1-2 (-12 points difference) with Sac defeating Chico by a few points when they last played a couple of weeks ago. During the game, Chico were ahead for 31 minutes, Sac for 42 and they were tied for the other 7 minutes. Chico held the lead twice, as did Sac State and Sac critically took it and held it with 3 minutes to go. Chico had 5 tries, 5 conversions, while Sac had 6 tries, 4 conversions and 1 penalty kick. Only a fool would say that this game was anything but close.

Seconds: Chico State – Sacramento State Referee: ???
No report received. No idea who reffed.

Stanford 22 – SANTA CLARA 31 Referee: Jordan Bruno

Seconds: Stanford 17 – SANTA CLARA 47 Referee: Rich Boyer
Stanford B side hosted Santa Clara B side at Steuber Stadium. Both teams are well coached and relied on pick and drive or forwards running of the ruck. Passages of play were very good. Santa Clara is coached by SFGG backs. As a result their back play was very crisp and efficient, leading to numerous overlaps and tries. Stanford fought to the very end. Players from both sides were polite and gracious. Santa Clara 47, Stanford 17.

STANFORD GSB 49 – McGeorge Law 12 Referee: Chris Labozzetta

MARITIME ACADEMY 45 – Humboldt State 10 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Vallejo being a nearly home match for me, I was able to get 9 holes in at the Mill Valley Municipal Golf Course. Afterwards I was hoping the rugby match would be better than my golf game. A short drive to Mare Island and the home of the Vallejo Barbarians...wha?? Cal Maritime's new pitch is nearly finished, but not finished enough. The Cal Maritime Women were playing Fresno St. as I arrived. A new team with some good athletes. They looked solid and ran in a few tries to boot.

Cal Maritime and Humboldt were pretty evenly contested, but CMA seemed to find the gaps that resulted in points. HSU's points were scored in the second half. They put up a fight the whole match.

NEVADA 27 – Santa Rosa JC 22 Referee: Chris Tucker
Santa Rosa needed a win to go through to the playoffs, but sabotaged their chances with 3 yellow cards at 31, 36 and 37 minutes. First and last for killing the ball on their goal line, the middle one for a dangerous tackle. UNR took full advantage, scoring 4 times before the visitors regained full strength. Sometimes it is better just to give up the try.

UCSC 33 – Fresno State 27 Referee: Brad Richey

UOP over USF by forfeit

Sacramento College 28 – SONOMA STATE 31 Referee: Scott Wood
Location: Cordova High School, Rancho Cordova
I arrived at the pitch to find a girls match in action with Cordova HS hosting the Amazons. The Lancers had their work cut out for them as the Amazons ran in try after try.

One of the worst ways to start a match is not having enough qualified front row players. Sonoma State was preparing for their match running pattern drills, etc while Sacramento City was wondering where its missing players were (other than somewhere on the light rail system). Of course the first resource everybody turns to is the referee who, in turn, defers back to them with the caveat that uncontested scrums are not the preferred way to play rugby. With less than five minutes until kickoff, the missing players arrived. Phew!

I believe both teams are in their inaugural season but they do not lack in experience. Seemingly, many teams take some time to sort themselves and their opponents out prior to scoring. This game was not to be as such. Sac City opened up with an early try which was answered shortly thereafter by Sonoma State. Then they settled down for some back and forth rugby. Sac City scored another try prior to the end of the half.

Halftime score: Sacramento City 14 - Sonoma St 7

Sonoma opened up the second half with two relatively quick tries to tie and then take the lead 21-14. After the restart, Sonoma regained possession and was shortly thereafter awarded a penalty. Sonoma elects to kick for points which resulted in extending their lead 24-14.

More back and forth rugby. Then, while on another attack near Sac's 22, the visitors floated a pass which was promptly picked off by Sac #21 and run back for a try. Sonoma leads 24-21.

Before restarting, Sonoma's fly half asks how much time is remaining. "Seven minutes," I replied. "Okay, let me know when it's seven minutes and we'll clear the ball." (no comment)

Sonoma again regains possession and is attacking near Sac's 22 when a pass from a tackle is made directly to Sac's retreating #15. "Tackle only!" I yelled as #15 reversed direction and scored a try. Sonoma accepted the explanation that offside lines do not exist at tackle situations. Kick converted and the lead changed hands to Sac's favor -- 28-24.

With less than two minutes until full time, Sonoma put the restart kick down the center of the pitch. At this point, Sac's tackle and ruck discipline imploded. Failure to release/roll away and hands in were the main issues. Less than 45 seconds to go, Sonoma elected to tap-and-go and go they did. Forward then spinning the ball left wide (watch sounding full time) and scoring the go-ahead try to win the match.

Both teams played very well. Sonoma was mostly on attack, conceding two tries due to floated passes. Sac City tackled hard, competed well and read the attack well. Not bad for an inaugural team to lose to the division's first place team by just a penalty goal.

Tackle of the century goes to Sacramento City's #22 (apologies for being really bad with names). Survival of the century goes to the Sonoma player tackled so hard I'm surprised a coroner was not required.

This was one of the most exciting and fun matches I've had the pleasure of refereeing in a while.

CSUMB 20 – St. Mary’s thirds 14 Referee: Bruce Carter
This was a matchup of the first-place Gaels and the first-year, last-place Otters in college D3. The Otters had yet to win a game.

Full Disclosure: Cal State – Monterey Bay is located on the former Fort Ord Army base. I was stationed at Fort Ord for ten years and consider those the best years of my life – kids were little, career was burgeoning, didn’t have to imagine I was still young. Let’s call it one big soft spot in my heart. And I’m also probably the major financial contributor to the fledgling club, and have attended practice to help the players with the Laws.

So, not only were the Gaels playing against sixteen (kidding!), they had two home games against Cal Poly going on two hours away.

The difference was two penalty kicks which the Otters’ captain, Chad, converted in the first half when they had a brisk wind.

The Gaels excelled at a ball-control offense, keeping the ball for minutes at a time. This is a snap to referee: police the tackle, announce the ruck, square and scan, read the next phase and position accordingly to avoid the pod path, move a few meters upfield, repeat until a mistake occurs.

The problem with this is that is has to be played error-free and a rugby game is only eighty minutes long. The Otters scored two second-half trys on missed-tackle jailbreaks. So, one team scores in twenty seconds and the other takes much longer.


SF Fog women 5 – ALL BLUES 22 Referee: Liz Palmer
Referee Coach: John Coppinger
Fog hosted a last-minute scrimmage with the All Blues in which they provided extra players to the AB squad who didn't have enough.

UCSC women – Santa Clara Referee: Marquise Goodwin (SoCal)
No report received.
If you are ever visiting somewhere and the locals are nice enough to give you a game, please be sure to send a thank-you note and report, at the very least, the score.

Otherwise, that’ll be the last game you pick up in that part of the rugby nation.

Sacramento State women 10 – Nevada 10 Referee: Preston Gordon
AR: Lee Salgado. TJ: one of the Sac State ladies (thanks!)
Each side scored a try in each half in this ultimately evenly-matched contest. Sac State's forwards were better, but Nevada's backs were too. At halftime it was 5-5. Nevada had 3 minutes of a 15-on-14 advantage after a repeat infringement led to a 74' yellow card to one of Sac State's players, but were unable to capitalize before one of their players followed at 77' for deliberately killing the ball while off her feet.

To the players who asked about playing overtime, I wish I could have! Unfortunately I don't make those rules, and so I will be bringing some extra libation to this month's society meeting.

UC DAVIS women 55 – U of Oregon 12 Referee: Lois Bukowski

CHICO STATE women 60 – U of Oregon 12 Referee: James Hinkin
No, this wasn’t yet another perfect day for rugby in Northern California. Yes, the temps were in the low 60s, but there was a bit of a wind and it sprinkled for about 40 seconds in the second half.

I arrived in Chico a little stiff from the drive but that was soon taken care of as I hustled over to chat with both teams and do the pregame rituals. Oregon won the toss and elected to take the wind in the first half. This proved significant. Chico kicked off and was able to take advantage of Duck mistakes to score an early try, unconverted into the stiff breeze. Oregon shook the cobwebs off and started playing better but Chico St was able to pressure Oregon into more mistakes that led to another unconverted try. From this point on the half was played mostly in the Chico St end as the wind made it difficult to clear the ball, but the ladies from Chico St defended bravely. They finally broke and allowed a try that was converted to make the score 10-7. As the first half ended Chico St was again on the attack and were rewarded with a penalty on the 22m line about 20 meters from the center of the field. The Chico St kicker stepped up and walloped the ball as hard as she could and it went straight and true through the posts – difficult indeed with the wind pushing against it the whole time. First half score 13-7 Chico St.

For the second half Chico was able to use the wind to pin the Ducks in their own end and convert position into points. With Oregon playing 2 games in as many days the fatigue factor crept in and Chico started running in a steady stream of tries. The Chico kicker kept an impressive afternoon going only missing the final kick as the game ended as a contest. Oregon continued to battle and were rewarded with a sweetly taken intercept try that went 60 meters. The try scorer was barely able to get her breath to acknowledge the congratulations of her teammates but that was immaterial as time had run out.

Final Score: Chico St Women 60 – Oregon Women 12



Kennedy 27 – CORDOVA LANCERS 29 (Varsity Silver) Referee: Phil Akroyd
Started off slow, lethargic and stale and built throughout the game. Kennedy had a 27 - 10 lead at one point as well as three Lancers in the bin for dangerous tackles, so Kennedy prepared to think they had it in the bag. Lancers played better with two off the field and mounted a huge comeback. The visitors actually took the lead for the first time with seven minutes left in the game. From there we just had a long period of uninterrupted play, as well as additional time for late penalties. Kennedy couldn’t break through and at the final whistle only I appeared to know the score as neither team celebrated. Lancers finally asked who won so I told them that they did by 27-29.

SANTA ROSA 59 – Montgomery High 0 Referee: Cary Bertolone
At Cardinal Newman High School
A beautiful night, Rosa scored 27 points in the first half and blanked the visiting Montgomery boys, mostly with a great backline. They have improved a lot in the last few weeks.


Berkeley girls 0 – DIXON 29 Referee: Giles Wilson
I am very glad that I accepted the opportunity to referee this game. Two well coached teams who played hard, constructive rugby. Both were undefeated in the Girls Silver Division (it is fantastic to see the growth that now has multiple girls divisions).

Berkeley won a fair amount of turnover ball with their strength in the contact area while Dixon were better at completing chances and getting scores. Berkeley were direct but the closest they came was held up over the line, Dixon put runners into space with support - even then some crunching cover tackles were made by Berkeley.

Dixon scored 3 tries in the first half (1 con) and 2 in the second (1 con) to nil for Berkeley, final 29 - 0.

On a side note, Berkeley provided what was probably the best food I have ever had at a rugby game - kudos and thank you.

Jesuit 29 – SFGG Varsity Gold 42 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Jesuit High, Carmichael, CA
ARs: John Wallace & Anthony Nguyen
With fewer league matches played Saturday, and having gotten back into the groove of reffing over the last 6 weeks, I threw my hand up when told Jesuit would host SFGG in a rematch of their preseason match on T.I. (Jesuit won by a small margin). Mike King kindly awarded the assignment. Pete Andrew reffed the JV curtain raiser, Josh Fitzgerald reffed the B Side match to follow, with Jim Crenshaw watching each of these newer refs and coaching them along.

My match was slated for 1:30. The field was in brilliant shape, the weather perfect, sunny and just a bit warm. Great to see old BATS teammates Mark Vignoles (the silver capuchin!) and John Wallace out here in Sacramento. Lots of friends on the Jesuit side and in the crowd as well.

Boots, front rows and captains chats out of the way, we started play with a neat back and forth until SFGG broke through with constant pressure in the forwards, and was able to do so again a few minutes later, taking a surprising 14-0 lead. Very few penalties and scrums, especially in the first 20 minutes of what was shaping up to be a very clean and well-played game. The match settled into a nice battle as Jesuit finally pushed through with a try out wide, and did so again just before the half to close at 14-10.

The 2nd half proved to be a gem, with Jesuit scoring first to go up 17-14, SFGG replied and converted, 21-17, then Jesuit scored a try but missed the conversion and so we now had a 1 point game, Jesuit up 22-21. There would be three more lead changes, from three more converted tries, leaving SFGG up 35-29 and less than 1 minute play.

Jesuit controlled possession from the restart, but struggled to find a way through the SFGG defense. As they looked more and more desperate, their captain/flyhalf floated a high pass out wide. I remember thinking at that moment, "risky!"... SFGG's redheaded center, who had just scored the go ahead try, leapt up in the slot between centers and took the errant pass down, to scamper under the sticks and complete an amazing game.

Congrats to both teams!

Boys HS Varsity Silver

GRANITE BAY 68 – Vacaville 0 Referee: Jeff Richmond
Not much of a competition. Size and age won over exuberance. Credit to Vacaville for showing their character - the hits were as hard in the first minute as the last.

For Pete's Sake, Santa Rosa
ELSIE ALLEN 46 – Earl Marriot, Vancouver 0 Referee: Cary Bertolone
A very young high school team from Vancouver, mostly 15-16 years old, ran into Elsie Allen High and took one on the chin. They never gave up or complained about playing a larger team. They certainly know rugby, but they were outweighed and could not contain the faster, larger team.

Second side match reffed by Beau Bergstrom, one of our newest refs. Elsie Allen
won that game too. Beau did a great job!!

De La Salle 17 – BELLARMINE Prep 36 Referee: Mike King
On a cool, dry evening at De La Salle’s artificial turf field, this Nor Cal Single School contest started with a great deal of competition for the ball and good movement by each side. Bellarmine was able to get things started with a penalty kick, then followed with a try. De la Salle ran over an unconverted try, but was just not able to stop the continued attack of the visitors. DLS 5 - BP 24 at half. The second half saw a more concerted effort by the hosts, attacking by holding possession, while Bellarmine often kicked for position. Scoring was evenly matched at 12 each in the second half with strong effort by both sides until the final whistle.

Vacaville 7 – GRANITE BAY 56 Referee: Chris Tucker
A young Vacaville side took on a bigger, more seasoned opponent and got squashed. Of note, GB kicker made 8/8 conversions, not bad at all.

Thanks to Mr Crenshaw for the words of wisdom.

OAKLAND WARTHOGS 36 – Berkeley 7 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
(High school Silver division)
Warthogs are a very good high school team playing in the Silver Division, but could compete in Gold with 2 really good backs, a flyhalf & center, along with at least 13 other good players. Berkeley was out-manned with Oakland's superior speed, size & muscle.

The second half Berkeley had its winger outrun mostly subs for a nice try & Oakland knocked on in the try zone; giving Berkeley the only score in the 2nd half.

Hayward 17 – SAN MATEO 20 Referee: Eric Rauscher
The game was played at Alden Oliver field in Hayward. It is a full sized synth turf field. It was cool and overcast. On the way in there was a table set up fundraising for the Hayward scrumhalf (Junior Helu) who has been selected to play on the US U17 team. I am sure that if you have any spare change they would be glad of the donation. The game was a good, hard game of rugby. Play was balanced between effective use of the forwards with several rolling mauls, and quick ball out to the backs. San Mateo struck first with two unconverted tries at 7 and 11 min with Hayward putting up three tries towards the end of the half, one converted. In the second half San Mateo matched their first half with two more unconverted, but Hayward was not able to get a score. This was the sort of game I wished that both teams could have won.


RANCHO CORDOVA PAL 41 – Land Park Motley 10 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Two of the best U14 teams in NorCal squared off for the sixty-third time this season at Cordova High. Motley got off to the faster start and scored first, but that was the wake-up call required that pushed PAL out to 22-5 at half. It was a little closer in the second half but essentially more of the same. Motley worked hard for every yard and tested the PAL defense but the natural athleticism of the home team allowed them to make some great line breaks. Great stuff.

Land Park won the subsequent Silver game by 10-17.

BISHOP O’DOWD JV 45 – Bellarmine Prep JV 17 Referee: Mike King
It took a half for the visitors to decide how to stop the freight train attack of the hosts, in large part due to the running, passing, and kicking of O’Dowd’s #10. BOD 40 – BP 5 at half. When they decided that possession is often times the best defense against a dynamic offense, the flavor of the match adjusted to a more even contest.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris