Wednesday, November 14, 2012




Three referees have earned the C3 grade recently: Austin Brown, Neil MacDonald, and Stephen Valerio.

If you see any of these worthies, they owe you a drink…


Plan to be at the Golden Gate clubhouse this Saturday, November 17, for our first meeting of the 2013 season. The meeting will be from 10 until 3. Early arrivals will find breakfast snacks and rugby conversation.

Our first speaker will be Ed Todd, the original Pelican Ref.

From Phil Akroyd in Florida:

The WPL final was reffed by Anna McMahon, who started as a ref in 2007 in NorCal. I think we can chalk that one up to the Pelicans.

I should also mention that Berkeley won again!


MARITIME ACADEMY 25 –Univ. of the Pacific 7 Referee: Jen Tetler
Another chance to referee at the beautiful new pitch at Cal Maritime. The first half started out with both teams ready to play, though it was a "friendly" game to start off the season. Cal Maritime dominated the first half and scored two tries, but UOP kept up their intensity and scored in the last minute of the half off a penalty quick tap. The first half ended with a score of 10-7. CMU opened it up a little more in the second half and got 3 unanswered tries. Two of them were beautiful 8-picks off of scrums. Unfortunately, CMU was having a little trouble with their kicks, and didn't make any conversions. Final score: 25-7 CMU.

MARITIME ACADEMY 24 – Sonoma State 12 Referee: Donagh O'Mahoney
Very good game. As it was a training game we played 4, 20 minute periods. Both sides trying to play open rugby and it was played in good spirits.

Maritime were the better team for the opening 20 minutes and opened the scoring with a well-worked try in the last play of the first 20 mins to lead 7-0. The balance of the match was even with Sonoma scoring 2 tries with 1 converted to Maritimes 3 with one conversion.

At Sheeran Field: Bald Eagles 17 – VANCOUVER ROWING CLUB 49 Referee: James Hinkin
AR: JC Van Staden – many thanks
San Francisco was showing off for our northern visitors and you could not have picked a better day for rugby. The match was played on the Gaelic Football fields a few blocks up from the SFGG clubhouse and the field, while erratically lined, was in great shape. This will be significant later. I showed up to see both teams with most of their members ready, although the lads from Canada were a little bleary eyed after what was apparently an epic drinking session the night before. Once everyone was present and accounted for we set out the ground rules for the match (VRC player: 5 minute halves sound just about right) it was decided to play 4 15 minute periods with the Bald Eagles playing their A side for the first 2 periods and their B side for the final 2 periods.

The match started with some early pressure by the Americans that almost resulted in a try. After busting through the defense with ease the Bald Eagle #8 strolled into the try zone and dove beneath the posts to ground the ball. The only problem is that the posts were on the dead ball line not the try line so he succeeded in giving the opposition a 22 meter drop. After the laughter died down and I told him that I had explained to both captains where the posts were before the match.

We restarted and the Bald Eagles took the ball back towards the goal line. This time, the CBE ball carrier was determined not to make the same mistake and once he broke free and saw the line he dove and grounded the ball... about 3 meters short. He had grounded it over a Gaelic line. The third time was the charm as the Bald Eagles were able to finally turn their pressure into points and score a legitimate try.

By now the Vancouver side had shook the cobwebs free and almost immediately replied with a try of their own. The first period ended tied at 5 apiece. The second period was another back and forth affair with the only score being to the visitors who ended the A game with a 10-5 lead.

The third period saw the Bald Eagles put in their B side and it showed as the Vancouver team started scoring at will. 4 tries in the third period put the game out of reach but was notable for possibly the best training ground move I have ever seen. A scrum to Vancouver deep in their end was spun out to the fly half who ran about 3 steps and put the ball on the ground. The center then ran to the ball and FLIPPED IT OFF THE GROUND BETWEEN HIS LEGS to the onrushing weak side winger who ran the length of the field untouched. Timed perfectly that move had both sides cheering and shaking their heads in amazement.

The final period was a bit more balanced as the Bald Eagles were able to put 2 tries on the board to eh VRC’s 3 and the match ended at 49-17 to the visitors.

Then we drank beer.

Final score: Bald Eagles 17 – Vancouver Rowing Club 49

[Editor’s Note: This description of the ‘training ground move’ reminds me of a play from a Pebble Beach final in the mid-eighties.

[The Combined London Old Boys had kicked the crap out of everyone they’d met. Your writer knows – he played for Monterey against them in the first match on the main pitch.

[The final was against the Old Blues, at the time perennial USA champs. But CLOB continued to dazzle.

[From a lineout about midfield, they won the ball and spun it. To the outside center. Who caught it on a full sprint, placed it on the ground about ten meters from touch, and kept running. His wing ran along in parallel with him, downfield and away from the ball.

[The ball was just lying there as they ran away. The Blues all started to move toward it – leaving any defensive organization behind. Who has practiced defending something like this?

[But the fullback – he had been lined up very deeply. He ran onto the ball and fly-hacked it on a dead run, all the way across the pitch, to the far-side winger who had been precisely on-side, caught it in stride and jogged the rest of the way for a (four-point) try.]

ST. MARY’S thirds 58 – U. of San Francisco 10 Referee: Jordan Bruno
A warmup scrimmage for the upcoming season saw St. Mary's 3rd side score early and often. USF showed good defense at the ruck, but St. Mary's forward pack was too powerful a force to compete with in open play. USF's defensive backline did well to stop the St. Mary's backs from making too many breaks down the field in the first half. A few missed tackle assignments led to St. Mary's tries later in the match. USF had great opportunities to score in the first half with solid drives by a few standout forwards. Overall, a great friendly.

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 60 – Modesto Harlots 17 Referee: Ray Schwartz
AR: Mark Godfrey
Danny Nunn Park, Sacramento
Very preseason for both teams, Modesto seemed to have arrived early but lacked front row players, the game eventually got started with a borrowed prop. And at the first scrum Sacramento’s loosehead “Vince,” a nice guy, but a 400-pound monster of a man, asserted himself. He seemed to back off from there, but clearly, if Vince keeps playing and getting fitter, he’ll be a force. He would later score and convert his try with a drop goal.

The Caps came out strong and confidence built as they scored 26 points in the first 20-minute period. Subs came in for both teams in the next quarter, and a carload of ruggers from South Valley turned up wearing Modesto uniforms. The game changed, becoming decidedly more competitive. Modesto outscored Sac 17-12 over the next 40 minutes, but injury and fitness took its toll as Sac scored 4 more unanswered tries over the last 20 minutes. A speedy Fijian back scored early, and again late. Where had he been all game, I asked? Out of the middle periods w/ a little injury.

A nice day, nice crowd, some talented players on display. I’d like to mention two: Rollan Pacheco of Modesto, so small and skinny you’d hardly notice him (5’ 9” and 150 lbs wet), but the kid can play! He started playing at age 17 and now at 19, the former pole vaulter, gymnast and high school football player has found his niche. His ability to pounce on a mistake and elude tacklers was breathtaking.

Justin Mano played in only his 2nd game at flyhalf for the Caps (just beginning his 2nd season of play). The 21-year old Samoan looks the part: Fit, strong, great intensity, good passing and kicking skills. Late in the game, Mano dialed up an “I” formation backline off a scrum center, that sent his support players every which way, and cut his Fijian flyer free for his 2nd try. Executed perfectly, it was impressive.

The party rolled to a Sacramento classic, the Club 2-Me, where we feasted on delicious grub and tasty beers. Things are looking bright for the Caps. Coach Jason Crother (also the chef!) recognizes the club bottomed out last season trying to compete at D1 with a number of D2 players. The club is rebuilding with new faces and a new attitude. A lot of decent Sac St. ruggers are sticking around to play, which is of course a very good thing. Many thanks to AR Mark Godfrey.

Saturday at CSUMB:

There’s been a passing of the torch at this Monterey Bay-side campus, with last year’s driving force Ryan Scott giving up his rugby responsibilities in order to be able to graduate next month. Marc Ferguson has stepped up, with the help of a slate of newly-elected player-officers, to try to build on the momentum of last year for this young program.

This was the third time they’ve been allowed to play on the soccer fields, the two gorgeous pitches that the 49ers built on campus and donated to the university. It may also be the last: their rugby pitch is being sodded this week and the soccer players can keep to themselves.

Three games were laid on. It was sunny but the first cold day of the year, the wind brisk off the bay, spectators bundled by blankets into groups of three and four.

Craig Lusiani was there – a once and future Pelican, to judge from our conversation. Craig is practicing law in Carmel and perhaps he thought he’d lost the rugby jones when he moved here from Sacramento.

Seconds: CAL POLY 51 – San Jose State 5 Referee: Bruce Carter
The Spartans of San Jose State played all three games – good on them. The Mustangs of Cal Poly played two games, while competing in and hosting the California Sevens at home at the same time – good on them. And the hosts, as you will see, made a nice 2013 debut in front of their fans – good on them, too.

San Jose State scored first, a well-worked multi-phase try in the right corner. Celebrations all around – then the deluge.

Cal Poly’s horses ran wild. I guess that’s what mustangs do, by definition.

Cal Poly 15 – SAN JOSE STATE 31 Referee: Neil MacDonald
Referee Coach: Bruce Carter
SLO hauled San Jose back from a 10-0 lead, only for San Jose to get back in front with a converted try right on half time. San Jose scored two more converted tries in the second half before SLO scored just before full time.

CSUMB 39 – San Jose State 0 Referee: Eric Rauscher
ARs: Bruce Carter, Neil MacDonald
Sunny with a constant cool breeze coming off the bay. I arrived at CSUMB for the last of three games that day. Bruce and Neil did the first and second and I got the home team match-up. The pitch is the field that the 49rs built as their practice field, and as I understand it, only used for six weeks. CSUMB is actually building a rugby-specific field with full sized pitch, bleachers etc that is supposed to go into action for this upcoming season.

The game was a pretty lop-sided affair as can be noticed by the score. Each game that day was two 30 min periods, and SJSU had already played two games so they were pretty tuckered out. The funny thing was that SJSU dominated the scrum like nobody's business. At CSUMB's put ins, they normally found themselves going backwards with the ball won by the opposition. At one point I had to remind the CSUMB scrumhalf that even though they were getting pushed around, he still had to put the ball in straight.

One unusual play happened after I awarded a penalty to CSUMB. They elected to kick for touch, but the ball was shanked so badly that it traveled about one or two meters forward and pretty much directly for the touch line. A CSUMB played caught it on the run and made 5/10 meters forward until being shepherded into touch with the lineout going to SJSU. It was one of those "I don't think I have ever seen that before" moments. Basically, a foot-pass.

In the last quarter of play, CSUMB sent a couple of players in and the game took on an Islander feel. Long passes back from a tackle and across field for a very wide open style of play. One pass off a tackle in the middle of the pitch went back at a 45 degree angle and traveled at least 20-25 meters. Another of those moments.

All in all a good day with my thanks to Bruce and Neil sticking around to AR for me.

Fog men 5 – RENO ZEPHYRS 46 Referee: Stephen Valerio
It was a good rugby day.

A 50 hour hiatus between 2 business trips gave me the opportunity to pick up a match and I was rewarded with a match under sunny skies and the temperature comfortably in the 50s. Cool enough to run around in comfortably and the spectators weren't freezing.

After taking care of the pre-game matters, I looked over to the sideline to see the cheerleaders (?!?!) getting ready. This was a definite first for me and they kept going strong after 2 games, plus an extra half. A nice touch by the Fog.

The game kicked off and Reno rapidly struck for 12 points. While the pack and breakdowns went back and forth, the potent Reno backs took advantage of any gaps in the defensive line. The Fog picked up a try but 2 more by Reno before the break left them comfortably ahead. The second half found Reno holding a decided territorial advantage from which their backs were able to strike for 4 more tries. While a lack of front row forwards meant the last couple of scrums were uncontested, the match kept moving overall (though there were some long breaks at the scrums while we waited for all the forwards to join). Both sides kept the ball moving and generally in hand, which made for a fun match to cover.

For a final touch, several World War II era aircraft flew overhead as the match wound down. While I can't be sure the flyover was for the ruggers, I'd like to think so.

Fog seconds – UNR Referee: Bruce Ricard
We played 3 periods (30 + 30 + 20), on this first cold Saturday of the year.
UNR really dominated the first 2 periods, scoring 8 tries against 0, despite the two yellow cards received for not staying on their feet at the rucks. In the 3rd period, FOG used more players from their first team, and both teams scored 2 tries.

SUNDAY, Nov. 11

Stanford Sevens College Qualifier
Referees: Jen Tetler, Tony Levitan, John Pohlman, Neil MacDonald, Bruce Carter
ARs: Mike King (10 games), Eugene Baker (11 games)
Referee Coach: David Williamson
Videographer: Bruce Carter

Report by John Pohlman:
This past Sunday Stanford women's 7's hosted Oregon State, Cal. Chico State and Santa Clara University in a national qualifier.

Not sure on the details of qualifying. One of the coaches said Cal and Oregon State had already qualified. Those two teams were clearly the best in this qualifier.

My first game was Stanford versus Cal. Cal scored three trys in the first half and another three in the second, with two converted for a 34-14 win.

Next was Santa Clara versus Chico State. The first half was pretty even. Half time score Chico 14 Santa Clara 7.

Chico's bigger player broke through tackles and controlled the second half. Final score Chico State 43 Santa Clara 7.

The final pool game saw Cal. playing Oregon State. This would be repeated for the final an hour or so later.

Very good game. Oregon State played better sevens and pretty much all their players were skilled, fast and tackled well.

#10 was the standout player of the tournament. She made try-saving breakaway tackles, poached ball and generally ran the back-line. She told me she had been playing for 6 years.

Of note, once play began there was no distinction in player positions for Oregon State.

Cal won and controlled the first half with two trys. Half time score Cal. 10 Oregon State 7.

Unfortunately Cal lost two players to injury. Their captain Aubry and a winger who may have been the fastest player in the tournament.

With these two off Oregon State scored two trys to none for a 17-10 win.

This was a great game to referee and possibly the best game of the tournament. Before the game I wondered if both teams would play the best players. I was certainly hoping so. I believe both had already qualified for the finals.

Thanks for a great game to officiate.

Report by Bruce Carter:
This was a great event, professionally run, with programs, announcers, and keen Sevens players on parade.

We started with frost on the grass but by the time the sun was above the yardarm it was comfy and nice. You could work up a sweat during a match and not miss it afterwards.

Stanford and Oregon State had won their opening games handily, so I anticipated their matchup.

Stanford 0 – OREGON STATE 38
The Beavers have some dynamic players, including two Hannahs at the halfbacks, who ruck/tackle/run/pass/score interchangeably.

Hannah Lockwood, the captain, is the best Sevens player I’ve seen in the women’s game this side of Las Vegas. She isn’t large but wins solo counter-rucks several times per match.

OREGON STATE 19 – Chico State 15
Chico State was in it from the start, controlling the ball for two minutes and scoring a try. But Oregon State is disciplined and all seven players support, loop, and take a perpendicular to the try line when they get the ball.

3rd place: STANFORD 17 – Chico State 12
This game demonstrates the fallacy of reasoning by relative scores, which suggests Chico State by 34.

Stanford has the big-game experience from fifteens and is learning how to play up in Sevens as well.

Report by Jen Tetler
STANFORD 40 – Santa Clara 0
The tournament kicked off at 9am with Santa Clara looking a little small (in numbers) compared to Stanford. Santa Clara put up a strong fight, but Stanford had a few people who were great at running through tackles and giving stiff-arms. Stanford scored 3 tries each half, while keeping Santa Clara to none. Final score was 40-0.

OREGON STATE 61 – Santa Clara 0
It was clear who was the dominant team in this match-up when Oregon State received the kickoff and ran for a try in the first minute. Oregon State had a few really fast girls, and their kicker was excellent. Santa Clara just couldn't get the Oregon girls down. Oregon had some nice passes and changed the field really well to get where the defense wasn't. Santa Clara didn't give up, though, and kept playing through the second half. The final score was 61-0.

Report by Phil Akroyd:

Pittsburgh Angels 21 - 12 Norfolk Storm
This game took place on Friday lunchtime in the beautiful Fort Myers, FL. It was the location of the Women's National Championships, which we were using for the second half of the Level 3 course. The games afforded the opportunity to display on field competencies, in front of the assembled Performance Reviewers and IRB Educators.

I felt less than ready to impress, as I got off the red-eye that had departed Sacramento at 11:45pm on Thursday evening and arrived in Florida, via Atlanta, at 10:00am. I'd had a solid three hours sleep on the plane, then headed to the fields.

The venue was in the "Fenway Two" complex that houses JetBlue Park - a very impressive, purpose-built minor league baseball park used by the Red Sox for Spring Training. We were in the shadow of the stadium, on the multi-use fields, that resembled the Las Vegas Invitational fields surrounding Sam Boyd Stadium. That may be a little harsh as they weren't quite as dry and firm as Vegas, but equally large and fast.

I had one of the DII Quarter Final Games and had a pretty good time. The good thing about Championship tournaments is that it's win or go home, and the quality of play tends to rise a little. From looking at the pre-game warm-ups, Norfolk looked the more athletic and more organized but Pittsburg were no slackers. The Angels took a fourteen point lead, but Norfolk came back with twelve points in the final three minutes leading up to half-time. That made it interesting and more pleasing for me, their second try came after a long period of advantage that I was in two minds whether to call back. Glad I gave them the opportunity to play!

The game held at 14-12 for most of the second half, but the Angels scored on an interception try late in the second half to seal it 21-12. Both teams were great and a pleasure to ref. They made it really easy for me to just get out of the way and let them play a very fast, competitive game.

Norfolk Storm 19 - 24 Las Vegas
Sunday is trophy day, but not for all teams, particularly Norfolk Storm and Las Vegas. That's OK, because the good thing about rugby is that players want to win, even if it's just for the sake of winning.

This was the 5/6 place DII decider, but it felt like the WPL Final. Norfolk took an early 3-0 lead with a penalty goal, but then Las Vegas went out to 3-21 in a pretty short period. However, just like in the Friday game, Norfolk put points on the board just before half, making it 8-21. Without too much exaggeration, there could not have been more than eight penalties in the first half. There were just long periods of extended play, and as the weather was already in the mid-70s by half-time, the players were starting to feel it. More specifically, Vegas were starting to feel it.

The Nevadans were a considerably bigger team and it later turned out that Norfolk's game plan was to play fast and hard and rely on their athleticism to pull through the second half. They clawed their way back with another two penalty goals - yes, that was three by now - making it 16-21. The game was pulling in players, officials, spectators and everyone around. I could feel the tension building, the players sounding more hectic, the sniff of blood in the water and Norfolk were trying to bite.

With fifteen to go, Las Vegas appeared to have given themselves a little more breathing room with their own penalty goal (now a total of four) at 16-24 but Norfolk did as Vegas predicted - "They are going to come back at us with their hair on fire!"

Just three minutes later, the Vegas left-wing took down her Norfolk opposition with a high-tackle, outside the twenty-two and between the 15m and 5m. Again, a shot at goal, and another three points with the score at 19-24 (take note NorCal D1 men, this is a women's D2 game with five difficult but successful shots at goal).

The final thirteen minutes were a joy to be a part of. (Lady) balls-out rugby for no other reason than playing to win and displaying hard running, great hands and good tactics. I just had a smile on my face all the way through. The game went down to the wire but Norfolk could not pull it off. Oh well. Both teams were fantastic and made me fall in love with the game again. Great weather, in Florida for the weekend, hanging out with rugby types and enjoying reffing good teams with nice players and coaches. It does happen every so often.


Refs in Monterey often end up at English Ales in Marina, as here you see Neil MacDonald and Eric Rauscher. This is also often the destination after mountain bike rides on Fort Ord. We know a Salinas resident who would be happy to take you there and stand you a pint.


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Pelicus Scriptoris