Wednesday, November 07, 2012



Report by Bruce Carter

I moved to San Francisco in June of 1980, having towed my Toyota Corolla behind a 24-foot Ryder truck containing my and my roommate-to-be's belongings, all the way from Georgia. And I found Rugby Heaven in Golden Gate Park before I even found a place to spend that first night: I played touch with the old Hastings RFC.

They were excited about the coming weekend's sevens tournament in Dunsmuir. Would I join them?

As much as I loved Sevens even then, I had to find an apartment and prepare to begin my medical internship. Regrets.

So, I had been meaning to cash my Redding-area rugby rain-check for 32+ years. After all, there will come a day when I can't do this any more, and before then I want to experience every pitch and pub of Pelicanland.

When I saw the Andrew Mittry Memorial on the schedule I said to Penelope, "Wanna take a Friday off in November and go to Redding?"

She demurred. But not me!

Giles Wilson and Stephen Valerio met me at the San Joaquin General Hospital, conveniently located on I5 in French Camp, and we rode up together. It's about 350 miles for me, but the miles are as nothing when rugby folks are getting to know each other better.

Stephen's from New Jersey - he hadn't heard our stories, nor we his. Even better.

Andrew's brother Andreas was nice to enough to arrange for rooms at the Red Lion. The new guy got the roll-a-bed. We immediately decamped for the Alehouse, just a few blocks down Hilltop.

This place literally has more beers on tap than it has seats for patrons. You've heard of three or four of them - if your beer-knowledge is well-whetted.

We asked some people if they were rugby, but they weren't. They said the rugby guys had already gone home(!)

So we limited ourselves to dipping our toes into the beer-pool for an hour and then went to bed.

Saturday dawned clear and warm, and we saw how pretty it is up there. Redding is in the foothills just north of the great Central Valley, on the way up to higher altitude and Mount Shasta. And the rugby pitches at Enterprise Park were full-sized and gorgeous.

I was lucky enough to be assigned an opening match – the two guys in the front seat were considered to be the ones who arrived at the pitch first – and my teams were warming up well ahead of time.

CHICO STATE 31 – Southern Oregon 10
Chico’s outside backs had three tries in about twelve minutes, then went off the boil and we had an even match the rest of the way.

SOU is from the Shakespeare-festival town of Ashland. I should have worn my AVON CALLING shirt with a picture of the Bard.

I don’t believe I’d ever refereed Shasta. Matter of fact, I hadn’t: I just word-searched the 2300+ games in my Matches list for ‘Shasta’ and ‘Redding’. There were two hits, both for November 3, 2012.

Good bunch, typical D3 mix of talent and energy, inexperience and enthusiasm. Vociferous players who argue specific points of law loudly, dead wrong in public, but always punctuating their complaints with ‘sir’.

D2 meets D3, and a close match to boot. Good stuff.

SIERRA 29 – Shasta 10
If the touchline scuttlebutt is correct, Sierra has morphed from a top-notch community college team into a men’s club. While this is a loss for the college scene, it allows them to welcome some mighty fine alumni back into the ranks. [This seems to be true – Sierra is listed in the East division of men’s club D3 on the 2013 schedule.]

They are taking up in the club ranks where they left off in the colleges: running in lots of tries.

After Lee Salgado did the last match, we discovered there were tri-tips grilling. But: still grillin’. Not yet done. Tempting, but not quite enough so to delay the start of a long drive home.

Our 5 PM departure was fortuitously timed. Giles saw that the Pelicanmobile has XM and said, "My favorite station is First Wave." That's the channel it's normally on, button #1, and 5 PM is when the Saturday night Safety Dance starts.

I got home to my wife at 10:30, having listened the entire way to a continuous dance mix of the songs that welcomed me to California half a lifetime ago.

There’s a line in a Squeeze song, “Singles remind me of kisses, albums remind me of plans.”

Let's hope the next half of my life has as much rugby and music, friendship and love, as that one did. It’s certainly in my plans.


The referee assignments process isn’t a matter of finders-keepers.

Games need to be assigned through the normal processes established by USA Rugby or there's no liability coverage, certificates of insurance don't apply, etc.

If you are a team that has an upcoming game, ask the NCRRS or the NCYRA to assign a referee.

If you are a referee who is asked to referee a game, pass the information on to either the NCRRS or the NCYRA, or ask the team do to so.

This includes alumni games, friendlies, touring sides, old boys matches – any actual rugby game. A scrimmage at a practice among players of the same team, with the same coach, that would be okay to do if asked.

There are a number of considerations in the assignments process.

The games that referee societies assign are their primary vehicle for referee development.

We may have a ref coming up on an exchange or an important evaluation in a week or two who needs games, or a particular type of game.

We may have a referee coach available to watch that game that we want to pair with a ref who would benefit from the observation or even earn promotion.

We may have an incoming exchange ref who needs a game, or visiting ref from a society to which we owe a favor (or wish to incur favor).

If none of these things apply, then the assignor would normally assign the person who was asked to do the game, assuming the ref is otherwise qualifier to do the match.

So: when you get these kinds of requests, direct them to the assignor. For the NCRRS, for the remainder of 2012, that is Bruce Carter. Beginning in 2013, it will be Pete Smith.


More Mittry Memorial Action:

Matt Hetterman and Lee Salgado also joined the Pelicanmobile crew, netting five refs for this fifteen-game event.

SIERRA 17 – Sac State Alumni 12 Referee: Stephen Valerio
After a scoreless first half with plenty of back and forth the tries started coming in the 2nd half. In the waning minutes it was 12-12 when Sac St got a Yellow Card after they stopped Sierra from taking a quick tap on a penalty. Even with the man advantage for the last 5 minutes Sierra couldn't breach the line until a penalty in stoppage time. Despite being right in front of the posts they elected to run in a quick tap and scored the try, avoiding an unsightly tie.

SANTA ROSA JC 31 – Sacramento Capitals 5 Ref: Valerio
The game started off with Sacramento's captain and fly-half getting knocked out with an injury. Santa Rosa showed excellent sportsmanship in making sure he was taken care. The game was closer than the final scoreline would suggest with Santa Rosa leading 12-5 at the break. But several high tackles finally led to a yellow card for Sacramento and they couldn't hold off the disciplined Santa Rosa attack.

CHICO 42 – Sac State 10 Ref: Valerio
At the end of a long day there was a lot of one-way action here. Sacramento St. struck for a couple of tries, but Chico's dominance at the breakdown courtesy of greater numbers arriving first prevented any sustained Sac St attacks and allowed Chico to move the ball around the pitch.


SONOMA STATE 24 – San Francisco State 5 Referee: Ray Schwartz
AR: Mark Godfrey
Observer: Mike Gadoua
My first visit to Sonoma St, this was their first match of the preseason, and with their new coach Anasa. They had about 40 kids suited up to play and some big boys, some tough and decent ruggers. Dean White is coaching SF St and they looked good too, but with maybe 24 kids and not as much size. The pitch was inside the track and so not as wide as you'd like, but there was a big Collegiate Ultimate Frisbee tournament going on, pushing rugby onto the track field. A crowd of perhaps 200 arrived in time for the 1:30 kick off.

The lads played 20-minute periods, hoping to squeeze an extra 20 or more out of everyone to help rookies get a chance to play. Sonoma came out slow, but quickly created a turnover and was soon scoring the first points. Later in the 1st period they pushed through again to lead 10-0. The 2nd period saw SF St. assert themselves, score a converted try, and just before halftime looked to score again, but a turnover turned into a 100 meter team try for Sonoma. Tough way to go into halftime, 17-5.

As more rookies came on for Sonoma, my skills as a ref were tested. No cards, but teaching moments and a few admonishments. Lots of rookie mistakes: slapping the ball forward at a line out, leaving a scrum early, failure to wrap at tackles. It got a little chippy, but I kept a cork in it, and the lads enjoyed playing on. A lack of fitness and a few injuries added up to limiting play to a full 80 minutes. Only Sonoma St scored in the 2nd half, but overall this was a close, well-contested game, 24-5 final.

November 3, Stanford
Referees: Eric Rauscher, Pete Smith
This was a pre-season warm up between Stanford and Nevada, Reno women

It turned out to be four 20 min periods with a final period between two Stanford sides. Reno showed up with around thirty players (they drove down that morning) and Stanford had at least 40. By the end of the fourth game, Reno was dead on their legs. I did the first and the fourth games and the final scrimmage. Pete did the second and third. Stanford looks to be on track for their national championship form with the usual complement of faster than lightning backs. Reno pretty much held their own and can feel good about their performance. They were able to get points on the board and not get hammered too bad. The day was perfect weather, maybe even too hot. One interesting thing for me was that I have been doing High School games for long enough now that I am seeing players I know playing for the college teams now. It is nice to see that continuity.


Perfect day in Redding:
Standing: Lee Salgado, Matt Hetterman, Giles Wilson, Stephen Valerio
Sitting: Bruce Carter


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