Thursday, March 08, 2012




Plan to attend our meeting at the SFGG clubhouse next Wednesday from 7 to 9 PM. Food available beginning at 6 for early arrivals!


Still gonna need at least half a dozen more refs March 17. Can you help?
Available? Able to travel?
March 17
March 24
March 31

By Bruce Carter

Friday Evening:
LIVE OAK 27 – SF/Golden Gate silver 19 Ref: Carter
A couple of months ago I looked at the schedule to see when I could swing a weekend trip to Humboldt; I'm always twisting referees' arms to get them to travel, so I thought I'd lead from the front. My wife agreed that the first weekend in March would be a good one for me to undertake a long road trip, and I saw the both the Humboldt State men and women would be home that day.

My patient appointment schedule is set more than a month in advance, so I requested Friday, March 2, off work in order to be able to drive the almost-400 miles and not be tired the next day.

But then a week ago Cary Bertolone wrote to say that business would take him to Eureka on the 2nd, could he ref those games?

It was too late to get back into the work schedule. The flow of business usually keeps me in the office until 8 PM or so, which meant I hadn't been able to do any Friday night lights this year. But another light went on: now's my chance. Bart Nielsen's Live Oak team had a game scheduled for 6:30 PM in Morgan Hill, which was perfect.

The opponent was SFGG's Silver team, coached by Mateo Medrano.

The community supports the Live Oak team. My strenuous pre-game regimen did not preclude counting the spectators: 130, +/- 5, which is pretty good considering that the temperature dropped briskly once old Sol dipped behind El Toro. (Morgan Hill was a person - the predominant hill west of downtown does not bear his name.)

Pretty good game. The difference was Live Oak’s scrumhalf, Mitch Marcam. When he scooted weak side for a forty-meter try early on I thought, ‘They’ll defend that now.’

Didn’t matter: he scored two more tries by dint of two exemplary scrumhalf traits: hustle and doggedness. Always one pass away from the ball and very tough to take down when he’s got it, that’s a good combination.

Both teams ran hard, tackled hard, got up and contested the ball: a referee’s dream.

STANSILAUS 29 – Fog 20 Ref: Carter
I haven’t been to Modesto in a while, and I’ve never been to Turlock. Got to drive a new road: CA 165 between Los Banos and Turlock.

This is a nice drive. Looks like duck hunter-heaven about a third of the route. Further on, lots of agricultural prep work going on as the sun climbs higher toward the equinox.

The coolest part is where it crosses the Merced River: there is a long viaduct over the wide floodplain of the river. The floodplain is a vineyard. It’s like taking a helicopter tour!

The orchards are in bloom. Whatever crops they produce, most of them seem to have pure white flowers. It was like driving through miles of cotton-candy trees.

The pitch in Turlock is nicely-situated, a sculpted bowl, very fan-friendly. And there they were: women and kids, old boys and dogs.

This was also a good game which I enjoyed refereeing. It was marred by a rodeo-tackle which earned a Stanislaus player a red card but they survived playing short-handed for thirty minutes to firm up a playoff spot, and otherwise the spirit of fair competition predominated.

Youth Games (various) Ref: Carter
My grandson plays for the Los Gatos youth program and I’m his ride, so I end up refereeing lots of that team’s games. Sunday found us at West Valley College in Saratoga, which has a fine grass pitch.

I enjoy working with the kids but the adults often leave something to be desired. I think it’s the passion of displaced concern: the players don’t necessarily get exercised over what happens but the adults do, on their behalf.

Rarely do I sound a negative note in these pages, for rugby has consistently been a positive force in my life for almost forty years. But I’ve had to abandon three youth matches in the past year, and only two adult matches in my entire career.

I can regain control after a 30-man brawl, but I haven’t yet learned to deal with a supposed role-model, a non-player, on the pitch and yelling in my face during a match.

It is discouraging, and I believe that I take some discouraging. Maybe the kids play and the grown-ups stay home?


SFGG SL 68 – Olympic Club 25 Referee: Pete Smith
It was a glorious day at Treasure Island with the visibility of the bay and view of San Francisco as amazing as anyplace in the world. There was a good crowd on hand with several past players from both clubs. It was a pretty good game for the first 40 minutes with teams almost alternating scores. O Club started the game with a penalty goal and ended the half with an intercept try that went 99 meters (yeah, I was inside the 22 when the try was scored). Halftime score was 24-18.

O Clubs injury problems were more apparent in the second half as SFGG’s depth made the second half a run away. The second half score was 44-7 making the final 68-25. SFGG are still the team to beat in the RSL and Olympic Club will be just fine when their players are healthy and on the field.

EPA RAZORBACKS 63 – Sacramento Capitals 24 Referee: John Pohlman
TJ's: Joe and Maka
The EPA Razorbacks hosted the Sacramento Capitals at their new home field in a Men's division 1 league game. The weather was beautiful. The field is all-weather and like all football-primary all-weather fields is hard to mark for rugby and a bit small.

The game was set to kick off at 12:30. I arrived at 11:30AM and EPA had 20 plus players warming up. The Caps asked for a 1:00PM start. EPA showed good sportsmanship, so a 1:00 p.m. kickoff it was.

Even with the 1:00 PM kickoff the Cap's played the entire first half with 14 including their coach Josh playing #15.

I was chatting with one of my TJ's prior to the game. He informed me Chicago Bear defensive tackle Stephen Paea was present to support his younger brother. Stephen is 6'1" and 300 pounds. He set the record for 44 rep's of 225 pounds at the NFL combine last year.

The Cap's won the toss and received the kick. They controlled the ball early and were rewarded with a penalty kick 7 minutes in. Then EPA's bigger players started breaking down the defense for trys at 14, 16, 19, 23, 28 and 40 minutes.

Halftime 32 EPA 3 Caps

The second half evened out with the Caps scoring three converted trys. #15 Jarrett McClain was perfect in his kicks for the day.

EPA used all their 8 sub's to continue to wear down the Caps and scored five more trys in the second half.

Final EPA Razorbacks 63 Sacramento Capitals 24

Thanks to both captains, Tiger and Dan, for leading their teams to a hard but clean played game.

And to the Razorbacks for their overall sportsmanship.=

Bay Barbarians 0 – SACRAMENTO LIONS 48 Referee: Tony Levitan
AR: Giles Wilson
Evaluator: David Williamson
The Barbarians misfortune on the day was foreshadowed somewhat in the 4th minute of the match when their second row was sin binned for kicking a Lions opponent in the bottom of a ruck, reversing what was to be a penalty on the Lions player for not rolling away from the tackle. The Lions capitalized only with a penalty kick while a man-up but eventually took control of the match with more organized, more consistent play across all phases to lead 17-0 at the half.

The talent on the field was abundantly apparent at times with hard running and strong tackling, though the narrow football field certainly constrained the impact of both teams' speedy wingers, which was shame for the overall flow of the match. Repeated infringements by the Barbarians and two more yellow cards (one on each side) marred the proceedings somewhat. The 2nd half was highlighted by a Lions' drop goal and four more tries, three of which were converted for the final 48-0 tally.

Special thanks to AR Giles Wilson who helped ensure a correct call (yes, kicker was behind the 22) on a long clearing kick and offered useful input and support. And to Dave Williamson whose feedback and inquiry over in-match choices is both a wonderful benefit to reffing in Northern California and a strong contributor to improving my game. Much appreciated, guys ...

Seconds: Barbarians 15 –SACRAMENTO LIONS 20 Referee: Giles Wilson
The B side game was scheduled for noon with the A side following; a good format to encourage more club members and meaning that the same faces do not appear in two games.

The Sac Lions were a little delayed and kick off was pushed back to 12.15 at Carlmont HS. This was one of those games where there is much laughing before and during, mixed with some reasonable play and big hits.

Sac Lions started out strong and took an early lead before the Barbarians decided to start to play and get involved. The 1st half ended with 2 unconverted tries each and one yellow card against the Barbarians.

The second half continued in balance with Lions scoring first before Barbarians worked back for a late try and, again, a tied score. Lions put on a last push and were able to score in time for the final whistle and 20 - 15 score in favour of Lions.

San Mateo 34 – SFGG 36 Referee: Jordan Bruno
AR: Bruce Bernstein
Evaluator: Mike Malone
San Mateo and SFGG saw the weather break for a great day of rugby. The match was competitive at each ruck and highly physical in the scrum and open field. SFGG dotted the first try of the match and seemed to be on their way to a big win. San Mateo never settled and continued to battle back after being down three tries at the half. With several knock-ons and a few high tackle penalties early, San Mateo gained confidence and played well disciplined rugby in the second half, seeing a many breaks for quick tries. With 8 minutes left in the match, SFGG seemed to slow the pressure and San Mateo gained their first lead of the match. Less than a minute remained. SFGG took a lineout from outside their 22, moved the ball to the backs and set up a last chance drive. The ball moved out wide and through the SFGG forwards' hands for a last-second try as time expired for the Golden Gate win.

Seconds: SAN MATEO 38 – SF/Golden Gate 37 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Got to witness two barnburners on San Mateo's extra hot & fast artificial turf field at Burlingame HS by ARing for Jordan who did a helluva job controlling a helluva first side match which went back & forth in the last few minutes which SFGG took advantage of by luckily having the ball last & scoring after time expired.

I got to do the encore almost as good when San Mateo notched one more try (despite running out of the try zone for a 2nd game & getting one of their players sin-binned for dangerous tackles in each half) than SFGG 2nds who also missed 4 out of 5 conversions.

FRESNO 32 – Diablo Gaels 27 Referee: Dan Wilson
You know that when you get to a pitch at 1145 and you are the last one there that it is going to be a good game. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. The game started off like an international game, kicking for territory and mistakes. The teams counter kicked for the first three minutes, with a little bit of running the ball in between. Finally, the game became more than the kicking duel. Diablo started off strong with excellent ball movement. The eight-man keep off of the scrum seemed to work when Fresno’s numbers 7 & 8 had difficulty getting off of the scrum. Diablo was on the board first, with a penalty kick in the fourth minute. Fresno absorbed the push from Diablo well, giving their own counter punches resulting in the first converted try at the ten-minute mark. Diablo then countered with a counter try at the twelve minute mark retaking the lead. The rest of the first quarter was marked by good rugby from both sides resulting in either a mistake or good counter rugby. In the 25th minute, Fresno scored their second converted try. They finished off the half with another penalty and an unconverted try while Diablo seemed to begin to unravel. The game was interrupted when a Diablo player forced a knock-on in the try zone, but at the same time dislocating his elbow. Thankfully, I am told he was at the after party with all his joints connected. Half-time score: Fresno 22- Diablo 10.

The second half stared off as the first ended, with Fresno kicking a penalty kick at the second minute. Diablo seemed to step up their game and holding Fresno out of the try zone for another 18 minutes when Fresno scored their last converted try. As soon as the last quarter started, Diablo woke up with a furry. They started playing with the same passion demonstrated at the beginning of the game, not only passing well, but giving the ball to their runners and running it right down Fresno. Passion, frustration and pride seemed to awaken within Diablo while fitness, discipline and the proverbial mouths seemed to affect Fresno. At the 26th minute, Diablo scored a converted try and the comeback was alive. Fresno went down to 14 men when their winger was yellow carded for repeated dangerous tackles. Fresno was also warned of another yellow for not getting to last foot by many of the forwards gasping for air. They scored another converted try at the 30th minute and then a penalty kick at the 35th. Once down 32-10, Diablo was only down 5 points lead with less than 4 minutes to play, but how those were a big 5 points. Fresno was able to turn the ball over and kick for territory or kick out of bounds each time Diablo entered their 22-meter line, but the killer was a knock on with less than a minute to play that ended the comeback. With a kick out of bounds, Fresno celebrated holding off Diablo. Final Score: Fresno 32- Diablo 27.

Seconds: FRESNO 22 – Diablo Gaels 19 Referee: Jeff Jury

Chico 20 – BARACUS 68 Referee: John Coppinger
Driving up HWY 5, snow capped the hilltops and peaks both to the west and east; however, at game time, it was 70 degrees in Chico.

Good, friendly match. BA Baracus was better organized on the day and ran away 60-28 after taking a 34-0 lead just before half. Chico fought the whole match scoring the final try of the first half and three more converted tries in the second half.

Bidwell Jr. High, Chico's current home pitch, is a challenge. Hundreds of gopher holes, which, to Chico's credit they filled (but several dozen of which were opened by the resident gophers before half time) and the field has never seen a roller. Walking on the field is risky, running is foolhardy; it is the worst field I have ever seen in almost 40 years in the NCRFU. Worse than Marin, Beach Chalet, Petaluma, and the pastures Santa Rosa used to use way back in the day. Apparently, Chico RFC is not a favorite of Chico Park & Rec. Before the match, I told the captains that my first concern was to not break an ankle and the refereeing was second; they agreed. I stopped by Chico State on the way home to watch Aruna run Stanford Men v Chico Men and suffered a bad case of pitch envy.

With the heat, every bug in NorCal seemed to have hatched and I had to stop twice the clean my windshield on the way back to the East Bay.

Interesting day.

Seconds: Chico – BARACUS 15 Referee: Ray Schwartz
Bidwell Middle School
I arrived from campus to find this little spot on east side of town. One of the worst fields I've ever seen, and that after 8 yards of sand were placed help fill holes. But llama rancher and ex-Gaucho rugger John Fox has helped secure this facility and with plans to get a large roller out there and throw some seed down next week, there is cause for hope.

With luck and some love this may become a significant new rugby facility. Looks like it can easily hold two full pitches. One can see, once they get rolling, Chico hosting a dozen age grade games there each weekend. So... I very much look forward to my next visit.

As for the match... Chico and Baracus only had 40 players between them, not really sure why they tried to play after the A Side. 15 minutes of mostly one-sided to Baracus and it was time to relax and move on to the party. It was funny watching a player trip and fall on what seemed to be nothing, "Tackled by a gopher" was my comment.

On to the Bear where the food and drink flowed and eventually the rugby songs. Dave Neal, an original Baracustani, shared some nice memories and stories. We raised our cups to toast The Dude who had reffed them the week before. So rusty from coaching high school kids that I, the former "keeper of the song," muffed my one line to "I Used to Work in Chicago" and promptly ended the rugby songs! Yikes.

South Valley 5 – SANTA ROSA 52 Referee: George O'Neil

Seconds: South Valley 0 – SANTA ROSA 5 Ref: O’Neil

SEAHAWKS 41 – Marin 8 Referee: James Hinkin
Saturday dawned bright and sunny and promised to warm up for a perfect rugby day... again... and that promise was kept. Winter still has yet to arrive and it is March already, so I am going to enjoy the weather while it lasts. Arriving at high noon I was pleasantly surprised to see both sides already starting their warmups. In fact, once the necessaries were finished and game time approached, both sides were on the field and ready to go 4 minutes early. What to do? We started early.

A mistake by Marin off the opening kickoff resulted in an attacking scrum to San Jose inside the 22 and San Jose took advantage to score an early try (converted). Marin was able to reply with a penalty before the Seahawks replied with another try. Dangerous tacking from a San Jose center had him on the sidelines for 10 minutes to contemplate his sins and Marin was able to take advantage with a try to narrow the gap. When the sides got back at full strength, however, San Jose was able to take advantage of some gaps in defense and run in 3 more tries. Kicking could be a concern for the Seahawks going forward as only 2 of the 5 first half tries were converted.
The second half was much more balanced but Marin was unable to break the Seahawk line again. San Jose continued to apply pressure and Marin defended with all 15 fully committed. The game at this point started descending into a whiny; chippy handbag affair and both captains were called upon to reign in the worst offenders before I had to. Marin put a player in the bin for a dangerous tackle and, much like Marin in the first half, San Jose was able to capitalize with a try. Another try at full time finished off a strong performance from a San Jose side that seems to have learned from a couple of close losses. Marin was able to compete for most of the game but lack of depth doomed them as injuries sustained on a bumpy field took their toll.

Final Score: San Jose Seahawks 41 - Marin Reds 8

Seconds: SEAHAWKS 65 – Marin 15 Referee: Bob Polito
Marin had only a few extra players. We attempted 11 on 11 and played a 30 minute half, but injuries led to a "no contest" situation and I blew up the second half after 15 minutes. Score at that point was 65-15 Seahawks.

Berkeley 7 – VACAVILLE 29 Referee: Bruce Ricard
Probably more than 75 degrees at kickoff in Albany for this game, under a cloud free sky.

The first 10 minutes were very even, the ball stays between the 22m lines. But Berkeley lacks of discipline, and penalty kicks against them lead to the first Vacaville try at the 13th minute. Vacaville led the rest of the first half. Vacaville scored 2 other tries and a penalty kick. 22 - 0 at the break.

The second half was very nice, both teams being very close. After about 10 minutes in the half, after a long Vacaville run ended by the touch line, Berkeley has to play a lineout 5m from their try line. Berkeley keeps the ball on the introduction, the ball is passed to the fly half, who puts his foot back to catch the ball, and the foot lands behind the dead-ball line. The whistle is blown, a 5m scrum is ordered, and the whole team starts to contest the call. So a penalty kick against Berkeley is ordered. The 10 loses his nerves and the control of his words, and is sent off. Pretty sad for Berkeley because they played good rugby during this second half, where both teams scored a converted try.

Seconds: BERKELEY 29 – Vacaville 17 Referee: Sam Davis

Mendocino 7 – SHASTA 33 Referee: Rob Hendrickson
The Steam Donkeys hosted Shasta to a well-played match under unseasonably warm conditions (77) and before a supportive home town crowd. The pitch was a little hard to find (behind the City's administrative offices) but well-marked and there was only one brief delay when the ball got kicked into the creek and no one initially wanted to fight the poison oak to wade in and retrieve it. Both sides aggressively attacked and advanced the ball throughout the game, with the breakdowns being hotly and generally fairly contested. While there was a fair amount of chatter, both sides came to play and good sportsmanship prevailed throughout the game. Shasta's lock captain demonstrated some impressive kicking, making 4 of 5 conversions and booming penalty kicks. My only regret was that I had to take off after the game to meet friends in Calistoga for dinner and so missed the post-game social.

Siskiyou 32 – HUMBOLDT 36 Referee: Kevin Parks (PNRRS)

REDWOOD EMPIRE 29 – Colusa 19 Referee: Sean Peters

RENO 36 – Sierra Foothills 17 Referee: Phil Ulibarri
Sierra Foothills had to tack another 40 or so miles on their tour of Reno because of overused fields. The game was held in beautiful Fernley, Nevada.

Reno’s talented Nelo Lui led the Zephyrs to a 36 – 17 victory.

APTOS 47 – Paso Robles 10 Referee: Sandy Robertson
Aptos was able to dominate a Paso Robles side that traveled with only 16 players and which ultimately utilized an Aptos player or two after losing teammates to injury. Paso Robles made a bit of a comeback early in the 2nd half, putting 2 tries on the board. However Aptos added 3 additional tries later in the 2nd period and were never really threatened.

SAC BLACKHAWKS 43 – Vallejo 19 Referee: JC van Staden
Again another perfect day for rugby, 74F!!!! Even picked up a referee sock tan :)

Both teams came out firing on all cylinders, but it was the Blackhawks that quickly spread the ball wide, to run in the first try. Ball possession was about 50/50, yet the Blackhawks know what to do with the ball, and with some great handling skills and constant quick hand-off, stretch the lead to 28 - 0 before the Barbarians could make their first mark on the score board. That said, the Barbarians had to work very hard for every point they add, and could only manage to do so after being 1 man short for more than 45min. Seeing 10 tries scored by 2 third division teams, make it worth every second to sacrifice a Saturday to rugby!!!

Sacramento State 26 – SANTA CLARA 37 Referee: Phil Akroyd
AR: Ron DeCausemaker
Spiritual Advisor and Life Coach: Jim Crenshaw

Great day for a great game and we got one. Points throughout and it was never really settled until the final whistle.

I had never had the pleasure of Santa Clara University before and they impressed as experts of offloading in the tackle. They often made 50 meters off backs moves and scored most of their points with simple but effective running. It also helped that Sac State haven't been able to solve their problem of missing tackles and they have now conceded 86 points in two league games (while also scoring 81). Santa Clara's stats aren’t that much better but they hung on in this one, outscoring Sac by 14-20 in the first half and by 12-17 in the second.

The speed of this game was fantastic and if the recently watered field hadn’t been quite so lush, we may have had more points. There were long periods of extended play with advantages gained by both teams. This was one that I was going to leave for the outcome to be determined by the players. The game was certainly on a par with a lower to mid-range D1-A game and shows how good NorCal college rugby can be.

[Off to do Jesuit – Christian Brothers. See report below.]

Seconds: Sacramento State 7 – SANTA CLARA 24 Referee: Scott Griffin
Referee Coach: Jim Crenshaw
Santa Clara @ Sac State B side game was conceded by Sac State's coach with 3 minutes left in the first half. Sac State was down 24-7 and just had their wing put in the bin for a high tackle. Unfortunate as the players were still competing well, and the ref was enjoying the game also. Referee also received some coaching from Mr. Jim Crenshaw. Thanks Jim.

Chico State 19 – STANFORD 27 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
After watching the Clermont v Toulouse French T14 match live on ESPN3, the 3-hour drive to Chico was more scenic than usual as the rural California landscape was surrounded by snow-tipped mountains in every direction. Chico started the game cold as Stanford scored in the first minute almost untouched to lead 7-0. After that Chico controlled most of the game and applied constant pressure to force numerous defensive penalties against Stanford. Scrums were fiercely contested and tackling was often quite physical (but legal). Chico squandered several scoring opportunities, but still led 7-9 at the break. The second half was more of the same as Stanford conceded a total of three yellow cards in the game for repeated infringements on defense and Chico appeared comfortable at 7-19 with 15 minutes remaining. Needing a change of tactics, Stanford executed several up-and-unders and suddenly started clicking on offense which enabled them to score two quick converted tries and two penalties to lead 27-19 with 4 minutes to go. At this point, momentum had clearly shifted as Chico started conceding more penalties which resulted in a yellow card for repeated infringements. In the end, Chico will be disappointed to not win despite controlling most of the match, but Stanford crafted an exciting comeback victory by 3 tries to 1 thanks to better finish on offense.

Seconds: CHICO STATE 46 – Stanford 0 Referee: Jeff Richmond
I expected the match to be much closer, having watched the A-sides square off prior to this match. However, Chico State's strong physical play overwhelmed what Stanford could muster. While both sides rucked well and sustained multiple phases with possession, Chico State seemed to do more damage. Their No. 8 and No. 4 frequently were picking-and-going at the rucks and putting Stanford back on their heels on defense. Both teams did not commit much to contesting rucks and I had to work to keep players from creeping up past the last foot of some fairly indistinct formations. Though I tried to manage the situations, and penalized a fair amount, I probably could have issued a yellow card for repeat infringement. I give Stanford credit for keeping up their intensity through the match, however they did lapse into bad habits with a few marginal tackles.

Chico State women 22 – STANFORD 57 Referee: Ray Schwartz

UC Santa Cruz 0 – SIERRA COLLEGE 62 Referee: Tom Zanarini

San Jose State 21 – FRESNO STATE 32 Referee: Rich Anderson
For the past hundred years or so, 10am on Saturday is when I am driving to a rugby match or finishing my last cup of coffee and checking my kit getting ready for a 1pm kick-off.

Last Saturday at SJSU, the ball was in the air at 10am. Supposedly Lacrosse had the field at 1pm. What is this world coming to?

Both squads were ready or the early start and the match featured tough tackling and a lot for ball movement; in other words, fun rugby.

Fresno State made their bus ride home a little more enjoyable going over Pacheco Pass with a 32-21 victory.

A special Shout Out to SJSU, who in spite of losing both matches, sent this referee a next-day thank you for coming out early and doing both matches. It was my pleasure.

Humboldt State 19 – NEVADA 26 Referee: Cary Bertolone
Manila, Humboldt County
Beautiful, sunny day. This was a "barnburner" between two teams that appeared to be very equal in abilities. Humboldt Univ. started out with two converted tries by the 16th minute. Nevada came back with two tries of their own to close the gap to 14-12 at the half. The second half began the same way, both teams scoring a try and the score was knotted up at 19 apiece for the last 15 minutes. Reno, Nevada began to dominate in the last 10 minutes, keeping the ball, winning the scrums and staying down in their end. With one minute left, Nevada broke through and scored the last converted try to win it 26-19. Great game played by both sides!! All gentlemen!!!

HUMBOLDT STATE women 59 – Nevada 5 Referee: Cary Bertolone
We kicked off at 1:00 PM. and Humboldt immediately went to work scoring tries. They took a 26-0 halftime lead. I have had the pleasure of reffing this team for the last three years, about three times and they have come a long ways, with many of the same players. They have a scrumhalf, Annie Fehrenbach, that is quite a player and a great captain. They have a number 8 that is phenomenal (Aoibheen Cline); she scored at least 24 points and converted a corner kick, a lock that is always solid (Adrianne Conrad-Forest)and a #10 that scored at least two 50 yard tries, partially from stiff arms and running through tackles, and partially from just being fast (Loni Correra).

Nevada-Reno did not play bad. They had heart and played well. My opinion is Humboldt Univ. is a force to be reckoned with, as all of the aforementioned ladies scored a try, or more. It has been fun to watch their evolution.

SANTA ROSA JC 66 – Maritime Academy 5 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
This was played in warm Santa Rosa under blue skies. SRJC is not big but 1 through 15 is the fastest team I have seen this year. And everyone runs straight and hard; miss a tackle and they are gone.

Maritime was out gunned but stout hearted. Rebuilding years are never much fun.

SONOMA STATE 51 – U. of the Pacific 12 Referee: Preston Gordon

SACRAMENTO CITY COLLEGE 24 – CSU Monterey Bay 22 Referee: Chris Tucker
Sac City hosted their first ever home game, and I did my first ever DIII college game. I was looking forward to a fixture I could actually walk to, but alas Sac City don't have anywhere local to play, so Motherlode kindly offered them a pitch after some JV games up at Shingle Springs just off US 50, 40 miles away. Close enough given my next locations are UNR and Humboldt!

The first half was frankly ugly. Knock on after knock on with no advantage possible. We scrummed down maybe 20 times in the half, compared to a normal average of maybe a dozen in the entire game. The home side had a distinct advantage at the scrum, with 2 powerful locks driving the tight 5 (when I binned one of them, the advantage turned around.) This wasn't helped by the Monterey #9 putting in from their tight-head side. After a while the home side settled down and put pressure on the Monterey line, coming up with 2 tries, one while a man up after a dangerous tackle. Monterey pinched one back at the halftime whistle, with a sin bin to #4 of Sac City for 3 infringements in 3 rucks on the goalline.

Monterey pressed their advantage in the 2nd half, scoring twice more before #4 came back on and evened it up. 2 other Sac City players were binned, but neither had anything like the effect. 1 more try each left the home side trailing by 5, and Monterey should have iced it when their outside centre crashed through to score. Except he tried to centre it and overran the dead ball line by about 5 feet. 22-drop.

With 4 minutes left, Sac City scored out wide on the left to even it up at 22 apiece, and luckily for me their #10 kicked a tricky conversion into the breeze to separate the 2 sides by a margin that fairly reflected the balanced nature of the sides.

SF FOG women 27 – Amazons 20 Referee: Not known
Evan Schlinkert had a flat tire on the way to the game and missed it. He notified the home team, so good work on that score.

SF BATS 36 – UC Santa Cruz 12 Referee: Mike King
A pleasant day, nice setting at SF Fog pitch on Treasure Island, well-coached teams, and good, hard-hitting rugby led to a great contest that was fairly close at half. Santa Cruz took the offensive and scored first. They threatened several more times, but it was the breakaway attacking of SF BATS that put more points on the board. 17 USF – 7 UCSC. The hosts started up where they left off, after the break. 3 more tries and 2 conversions put the match out of reach, but UCSC was not done, dotting down in the last 5 minutes. One match-up in particular was exciting. USF #13 Jasmine Haw had quite a few long runs; several that led to scores by her or others following up. She would have had more if not for the sure open field tackling of UCSC #15 Yvette Aguirre.


February 18th Men's Round Robin
Referee: Preston Gordon
BAY BARBARIANS 12 – San Mateo 5
EPA 19 – Bay Barbarians 12
San Mateo 19 – EPA 22

Friday, February 24:
Sierra Foothills 6 - 48 ISLANDERS Referee: Phil Akroyd
In their attempts to maintain the fields at Azevedo Park, the City of Rocklin decided to water for the last two weeks, turning a very good pitch into a typical mid-winter mud-sponge. After some attempts at open play and exactly 1,372 scrums resulting from knock-ons, we ground to half-time with a score more associated with an England test match - 6-12 to Islanders.

The visitors literally had the wind at their backs in the second half and utilized a good all-round style, with back rowers breaking through initial tackles, then shipping it out to the backs to finish off. Superior size and strength showed as they stretched out with six second-half tries to none.

Saturday, Feb. 25:

MARIN 10 – Baracus 8 Referee: Preston Gordon

UCLA 27 - 5 UC Davis Referee: Phil Akroyd
ARs: Bill Caulfield & Marquise Goodwin
For some reason I leapt out of bed when the alarm went off at 4:15am, for my 7am flight from Sac's new Terminal B. I was in LA by 9:30 and at the field on campus a couple of hours ahead of kick-off. The time between airport and field were spent mainly getting lost on the one way systems at the University.

The pitch was in fantastic shape and one of the best I've seen in the States, also with a beautiful campus backdrop and every college sport/dance/activity going on around. The field was lined with black paint which was great as the lines didn’t get lost in the glare of the low winter sun.

After getting changed in the rental car in an underground parking lot, I headed out to the field and got the game underway. I think most people were expecting UCLA to be on top for most of the game, but in the first half it was much the opposite. UCLA were pressured into kicking a field goal to take the lead mid way through the first half in one of their few ventures into opposition territory. This was definitely a "game-on" situation and the Bruins' frustration appeared to increase as they were put under more and more pressure. Unfortunately for both teams, their ability to commit basic, JV high-school grade penalties was annoying, to say the least. The Aggies got a try right before half-time from a mess of a ruck that UCLA failed to deal with and made worse by fumbling possession in their own in-goal for a Davis player to fall on. 3-5 at half.

UCLA obviously got a rocket lit under them in the break and came out playing like they were expected to. Their sevens success seems to be rubbing off on the 15s side with some very nice offloads between half-backs and three-quarters, creating some original and effective line breaks.



Sierra Foothills v Vacaville Would-be Referee: Phil Akroyd
Postponed due to water logged pitch (more accurately, a pitch that was over-watered by the City of Rocklin for 2 weeks at the protest of Sierra and when it rained they closed the fields as it was too wet).

March 2, 2012
Hayward High School Varsity Gold 15 – PENINSULA GREEN VARSITY GOLD 21
Referee: Tony Levitan

On a chilly night in Woodside, an undersized group of mostly Pen Green underclassmen took down a more athletic but penalty-prone Hayward side, 21-15 on the strength of three penalty kicks including the difference makers late in the 2nd half.

Pen Green opened the scoring with a PK 7 minutes in as Hayward set the stage for their night by infringing well inside their half. Two hard running Hayward tries looked to right things a bit before Pen Green scored again at the half-time close. Hayward 10-8 at the half.

Hayward stretched its lead with another try early in the 2nd half, before a string of penalties due to either inexperience or arrogance (the ref doesn't know the squad well enough to assign attribution) combined with a yellow card for a dangerous tackle turned the fortunes of the match. Pen Green closed with 13 unanswered points for a victory that seemed to surprise practically everyone at the venue that evening.

High School VG
BURBANK ISLANDERS 36 – Granite Bay 33 Referee: JC van Staden
Refereeing 2 of the top high school VG teams in Sacramento, is always a great seat in the house, and this one had nothing to disappoint...

Burbank came from the start, and swung the ball wide, out to the wing in less than 5 seconds, which set the pace for the rest of the game. Granite Bay did not know how to handle it, and missing one of their key back's because off a red last week, did not help the scenario. Burbank scored 4 unanswered tries, before half time, but the second half was a different story... Burbank still played good, but it was the GB engine that found the right gears, and with very effective drives up the middle field, manage to close the gap with a rapid pass, but the clock was against them, and even scoring the last try to end the game, could only got within 3 points of the home team.

3pm, Saturday

Christian Brothers 7 – JESUIT 76 Referee: Phil Akroyd
ARs: Tom Franzoia & Josh Fitzgerald
A quick shot down a couple of freeways and ten minutes after my fantastic college game, I was at Christian Brothers High School for the 3pm game. Teams were doing their final run-throughs, so I grabbed both captains for the chats, got the front-row business out of the way and we were off again, not 20 minutes since I blew the final whistle up at Sac State.

We got off to a bit of a slow start and it took ten minutes for us to get our first score, but after that we had an overall average of 1.2 points per minute and the vast majority were from the Marauders. I think you can join the dots on this one.

The afternoon was rounded off nicely with a post-games beverage with my two dads, Mr. Eason and Mr. Crenshaw at Pangaea Café.

High School VG
BURBANK ISLANDERS 36 – Granite Bay 33 Referee: JC van Staden

De La Salle 12 – CLAYTON VALLEY 45 Referee: Mike Gadoua

Alameda 19 – BERKELEY 33 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Thompson field in Alameda is the local high school football field, but it is grass and big enough to get a full sized rugby pitch on.

The day was clear and tending towards warm. Both teams showed up with plenty of players eager to play. Berkeley jumped out to score off of an Alameda mistake in the first minute of the game. They went on to score once again in the first half, with Alameda scoring a converted try in the waning minutes to give a half score of 7/12. Both teams were pretty fit and skilled so play was nicely balanced. The second half had each team making scores after the other.

Berkeley seemed to be more proficient at spinning the ball out wide to their waiting speedsters. Three of Berkeley's scores came off of this type of play.

Alameda looked better at forward pack action and had several successful mauls, one of which went over for a try. Alameda's #8 was able to make incredible held up in goal saves twice against Berkeley's #3. The first time the #3 thought he had a sure try. He was tackled close to goal and was reaching out to dot the ball down when Alameda #8 at the last instance literally reached out to get his hands on the ball and hold it up. After the scrum reset at the 5, once again the #3 dove in goal with the #8 sliding under in the nick of time. Both teams played a good game and I felt it an honor to ref it.

Girl's High School Varsity Gold
ALAMEDA 48 – Davis 15 Referee: Jeff Richmond
Alameda set the tone early when their scrumhalf fielded the opening kickoff and ran it straight up the middle for a 70m score. Davis struggled with missed tackling and relentless pressure by the Alameda forwards. Alameda had several nice plays with their No. 8 taking the ball out of the scrum and getting well into the Davis backfield before encountering any resistance. Davis was able to respond with a pair of tries in the first half by their powerful loose-head prop - she showed strong individual effort and dragged a couple of Alameda defenders into goal with her. Alameda continued strong in the second half with a couple of fresh players to a single Davis reserve. Davis had a "highlight reel" play when their fullback received a kick deep in her own territory in open play, cut for the touch line, stiff-armed a defender, then was off to the races down the touch line. I was in hot pursuit but tangled legs with an Alameda player. I did a nice tuck-and-roll, somersaulting to my feet. I took a few tentative steps to check if anything had broken or come loose, then resumed the chase, trailing the successful try by about 20 m.

Friday 3/2/12
DE LA SALLE 14 - Pleasanton 12 Referee: Edward Barfels
Pleasanton arrived with only 12 players and borrowed 3 gents from DLS. DLS scored twice in the first half while to take a 14 point lead. However, Pleasanton came back to score twice; making only one conversion. DLS had two chances to score in the second half (they were inside 5 meters) but failed to convert. Pleasanton had a spirited defense and played well given they had no subs.

Saturday 3/3/12
DIXON 43 – De La Salle 5 Referee: Edward Barfels
Dixon's squad is better than their ages would suggest. For the most part, they ran straight up the field and kept their legs moving even during the tackle. They rucked well and had a good scrum. They led 43 to 0 until the last 5 minutes; when DLS scored a try to prevent a shutout. It was a well-played by both sides.

Jesuit U19 37 – LANCERS 41 Referee: Chris Tucker
A very close game played between two well-coached sides. We kicked off a little late when I reminded the home team about the need for sideline barriers. Was told by the AD that it would be on me if everyone had to go home -- I politely corrected him that it wasn't me that was responsible for the inadequate field setup. Sure enough, posts and bright yellow caution tape were found and looped around the field, and we kicked off.

A mark of how close this game was is the number of lead changes. Lancers scored first. Jesuit responded with 2 tries, only to be matched with another. A penalty to Jesuit, a try to Lancers, and so it continued, tit-for-tat. In all there were 7 changes of lead -- more than I've ever seen. As the clock wound down the Jesuit wing scored the try of the game, cutting back aggressively against traffic to score. With 2 minutes to go and a 4 point deficit, the home side elected to kick their points, losing a minute in the process (and missing to boot.) Still, they took the restart and ran it back to the 22 before knocking on. The final scrum was successfully heeled by Lancers, whose scrumhalf bizarrely spun the ball wide instead of kicking into the upper deck. It did not, in the end, cost him, as they passed forward and with time expired I blew the final whistle.

Monday March 5 7pm

Girls: BISHOP O’DOWD 36 - Rio Linda 5 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Both teams had around 30 players to use in this match. The intensity of the game was pretty high and neither team backed down in any way.

The first half was dominated by BOD's ability to swing the ball out quickly to their backs. One of their players (#13, Amina Scott) scored four tries that I am aware of. Rio Linda was kept scoreless in the first half, 29/0. In the old tradition(?) of a game of two halves, Rio Linda had about 80% of the possession of the ball in the second. Several times there were 15-20 phases of play between whistles. Rio Linda favors close-in forward play and were able to get the ball down close to the BOD line many times but were not able to capitalize on their control. Several times BOD was able to hold the ball up in goal and once a Rio Linda player used a second motion to get in-goal. The second half score was 7/5. After the one-sided affair of the first half, it was fun to see a close and exciting second.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris