Thursday, May 31, 2012




Saturday, June 2nd – PCRFU all-star Sevens tryouts, on Treasure Island. Players interested in competing in the national all-star Sevens should attend this event.

Jordan Bruno has been assigned to ref the scrimmages that will be part of the selection process.


Santa Rosa is the only NorCal team remaining in competition for the 2012 season, as they travel to Glendale, Colo, to play in the national semi-finals.

They are playing against Rocky Gorge. With the immediate success of both Davenport and Lindenwood in the college ranks (from non-existence to national championships in zero flat), Rosa shouldn’t take lightly a team of which we’ve never heard.


2012 IRB Law Changes
May 2012

This week the IRB issued a number of small changes in Law. Implementation dates vary – some go into effect now and others at the start of the next Fifteens season (September 1 or thereabouts). The exact wording of the new Laws can be found on the IRB website.

These changes are on a Trial Basis. After some practical experience has been accumulated, the IRB will be soliciting Union opinions.

Effective immediately (actually went in last January 1)
Law 1 - The Ground
The two lines that delineate the beginning and end of lineouts – the five meter line and the fifteen meter line – are now to be dashed lines. Formerly they were dotted. (They both should look like the 15-meter line has always looked.)

Effective June 1, 2012
Sevens Variations
Law 3.4 – Number of Players
A team may now nominate up to five replacements/substitutes and may use all of them.

Effective at or around September 1, 2012
These changes are not to be implemented in Sevens this summer. They may be used in pre-season matches preparing for the fall 2012 league seasons.

Law 4.2 – Special additional items of clothing for women
Female players may wear cotton blend long tights with single inside leg seam under their shorts and socks.

This is pretty clear…if you are not female, don’t wear tights. The rationale was not included in the information from the IRB.

Law 4.3 – Studs
In Law 4.4, single-toe replaceable studs are prohibited. The IRB has approved, on a trial basis, one particular configuration of single-toe studs. A diagram is on the IRB website. All other forms are still illegal.

It’s basically a triangle of three cleats at the front of the boot, as so (left boot):

Law 9.B.1 – Taking a Conversion Kick
When a try is scored, the scoring team now has one and a half minutes (90 seconds) FROM THE TIME THE TRY IS SCORED to take the conversion. This is playing time, so if there is an injured player who has to be treated or removed before the kick, time is off.

Law 12.1 – Outcome of a Knock-on or Throw Forward
If the ball is knocked-on or thrown forward into touch, the non-offending team may choose the lineout (where it crossed the touch line) or the scrum (where the knock occurred). If they take a quick throw-in, they have made their choice.

Note that unlike previous scrum-lineout options, this scrum is not necessarily fifteen meters from touch. It is where the knock-on occurred, subject to the scrum being five meters from touch and from a goal-line.

And someone has already asked about knocks that go into touch-in-goal (or across the dead ball line). That situation is covered by Law 12.1 (c) and this change is not applicable in that case.

Law 16.7 – Unsuccessful End to a Ruck
This puts a “use it or lose it” requirement on rucks. Once the ball is clearly won and available to be played, the referee will call “use it” after which the ball must be played within five seconds. If not, it is a turnover – scrum to the other team.

Law 19.2 – Quick Throw-In
This change alters where a quick throw can be taken. Currently a quick throw can be taken anywhere from the place the ball crossed the touch line back to the thrower’s goal line. The change allows a quick throw to be taken anywhere from the place of the lineout back to the thrower’s goal line. The gap that used to exist if the ball was kicked out on the fly from in front of the 22 is now gone. [This will probably have a bigger impact in Sevens than it will in Fifteens, but not this summer.]

Law 20.1 – Scrum Engagement
This is the biggie….a change to the process:
Referee says “crouch” and the teams crouch (or remain crouched if already down).
Referee says “touch” and the four props reach out and touch and then withdraw their arms.

When the referee is satisfied that the front rows appear ready to engage AND ARE STABLE, the referee says “set”. The front rows may then come together when ready. This is not a command. It is permission.

(Every team will engage on ‘set’. If they don’t, the other will and they’ll figure it out real quick. This means we finally have a three-count cadence like with every other activity in the world – on your mark, get set, go; ready, aim, fire; hip, hip, hooray!)

Law 21.4 – Penalty and Free Kick Options and Requirements
This change is only for free kicks and penalty kicks awarded at lineouts. A team that is awarded a kick may choose to have a lineout instead of the kick. And of course they may also choose a scrum in lieu of the kick.

Changes for selected International Competitions. These are not for implementation at the local level.

Law 3.4 – Players Nominated as Substitutes
A Union may nominate up to eight replacements/substitutes.
[The USA is already doing this per the provision in Law 3.14.]

Law 6.A.6 (b) – Referee Consulting with Others
This expands the use of the TMO.

These links which may help you keep up to date:
Law Amendment Trials:
Enforcement of current Law:
Five Key areas of Refereeing:


Saturday, May 26:

On a weekend that traditionally has had no rugby in the past, I was more than happy to awake to the rare spectacle of rain in Pelicanland in late May knowing that it was a Rugby Day.

My drive to Santa Cruz is 45 miles. It passes through strawberry and lettuce fields inland, artichokes and Brussels sprouts closer to the Monterey Bay, and then redwood trees as I enter the third climate zone since leaving my home. All God's floral children looked happy in the rain, which was light and warm: not our normal winter precipitation.

There were a lot of people at the pitch, so many cars in the lot that I wondered if there were other events going on. But no, everyone was there for the rugby with two special events: the dedication of a plaque underneath the new scoreboard, and a new Cup for current and former Slug ruggers to contest.

The white marble plaque commemorates Dan Porter, who founded rugby at UCSC as a freshman in 1967 and left us in 2010. The Cup honors Roland Maitland, who coached UCSC for many years and was a fixture at their games until August of last year.

UC Santa Cruz 7 – “ALUMNAE” 89 Referee: Bruce Carter
AR: Neil MacDonald
I recognized too many of the opponents as being from other teams not to place their name in quotes. But presumably all went to school somewhere, so let us grant that they are alumnae.

This game was a lot of fun. After one player cleared another from the tackle zone with alacrity, she was reminded (not by me) that this was an alumni game. We don't change the Laws for these games and don't expect the players necessarily to change their approach either.

Nobody ran any less, that's for sure.

Refereeing current tackle and tackle-assist law was, as always, a treat and especially so with players who haven't played in the last few years.

Ball-carrier gets a knee to ground. I call to the now-tackle assist on her feet to release. But what do you call a player without a number on a team where no two jerseys match? "White t-shirt, release?"

In any event, I called to her using the whistle and halted the proceedings to explain this whole tackle-assist, player who had the ball first has priority, and oh by the way she's tackled even though it was just one knee that touched the ground, mess.

So of course what happens five minutes later? A Motley player goes to ground with the ball as a result of an almost-tackle, is basically knocked down. A player who just happens to be standing right there grabs for the ball. I penalize again - "But that's the same thing you penalized us for!" Another explanation: no, this wasn't a tackle. There was a player on the ground in open play and an opponent who was on her feet. No tackle, no tackle zone, and the player on the ground should have made a better job of staying on her feet if she wanted to keep the ball.

And of course now half-a-dozen other laws are a-changing.

UC Santa Cruz 12 - ALUMNI 15 Referee: JC van Staden
ARs: Neil MacDonald, Bruce Carter
Ref's support team: Carien & Amika
It just happened to be, I needed an excuse to justified my Memorial Day weekend in Santa Cruz...

Trailing Bruce's 80 something to 7, I pulled on my running shoes, knowing that this might add up some miles today... With the "old boys" kicking off, (some in their late 40's and even early 50's), with no stoppages, a few advantages, and advantage gains, the old boys rumbled over the line to score in the first minute... Their intention was clear, they wanted to show the youngsters how things should be done! And the ref apparently.... a loose fist clocked me with about 15 min on the game clock, and I had to use my best footwork to stay up and not go to ground... I'm sure somebody was telling the story after over a beer, how he got one in on the ref, with no consequences... Wonder where my AR's were..? lol...

[AR note: We were keeping up with play. Not sure where you were! ;-) ]

UCSC had a different idea though, and scored in the fourth minute. At half time the score was still tied-up at 7 all. The youngsters stood up to the old boys in every aspect of the game. A drop-goal put the alumni ahead with 20 min on the clock. Reserves came flying up very frequently, and with one more unconverted try each, ended the game as one of the best "alumni" games I've seen.

FYI - The Ref is o.k.... camping with 20+ South Africans, well, I guess I will never hear the end of the story, getting clocked, without knowing who it was....

REDWOOD 24 – Bay Area Chiefs 21 Referee: Sean Peters
I did the tri-city tourney, something Afa is doing with Vallejo, Redwood, and Bay Area Chiefs.

OLYMPIC CLUB OB 24 – Berkeley RFC OB 12 Referee: Giles Wilson
70 minutes of spirited old boys rugby was played between the O Club OBs and Berkeley OBs in bright sunshine on Treasure Island, followed by a BBQ and social at the field.

O Club had a smaller group with several players from their days in the RSL while the larger group of Berkeley players had a wide expat representation with several northern and southern hemisphere countries represented.

A can be expected from players who haven't handled at pace or tackled in anger for quite some time, quite a lot of handling issues were evident. Berkeley displayed grit and determination, while O Club tried things they used to be able to do well but it took a little while to have the hands and feet do what the mind remembered.

O Club came out 24 to 12 ahead scoring four tries to two with each team successful with half of their conversions.

Lady Razorbacks 12 – AMAZONS 41 Referee: Bill Long
I left Fresno under light sprinkles but the weather was a thin overcast in Palo Alto with a light breeze, a perfect day for rugby. At 10, the start time, the Sac team was just beginning to show so we started about 30 minutes late. The Lady Razorbacks stunned the Amazons with some quickness on the outside in the first half to score 2 tries and convert one, the Amazons could only answer with an unconverted try; 12 to 5 at half Razorbacks. That was it for the Razorbacks the drive, size, and determination of the Amazons, a name they lived up to, won the second half and the day with 6 tries and the conversion of 3 and no answer from the Ladies of Palo Alto. Hard running and initiation of contact by Amazons with the ball took the wind out of the Razorbacks and a toll on some of the players. One bin against the Razorbacks for failure to wrap.

Afterwards there were 2 sevens matches, Jordan I ran touch for Chris and I got to do my first sevens match with Chris and Jordan's help. The 19s match was competitive and very exciting and after wards I had to leave. I felt bad abandoning Jordan for the remainder of the sevens matches I hope he survived. All in all a great rugby event. Thanks for giving me a match.

EPA U19 – Islanders U19 (fifteens) Referee: Chris Labozzetta
No report received.

Razorbacks – Sacramento Lions: a series of Sevens matches
No report received.


These same teams will reprise these games in Sacramento on Saturday, June 9.

10AM Lady Razorbacks – Amazons (fifteens)
11:30AM EPA U19 – Islanders U19 (fifteens)
1PM Razorbacks – Sacramento Lions (several games of Sevens)

Refs are needed for these, as well as for the first iteration of the Youth Sevens in Dixon.

Sunday, May 27:

All-Star games: Bay Area Select sides versus Sac Valley Select sides at Sheeran Field, Treasure Island.

SACRAMENTO VALLEY 29 – Bay Area 27 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
I had the privilege reffing the first match of 4 all-star duels matching the best of the Bay Area versus their Sacramento Valley counterparts.

The Bay Area U14 All-stars started strong with 3 unanswered tries making the first of 3 30 minutes periods 17-0. The Sac Valley team came back to go ahead 22-17; followed by a tie at 22 each; with Sac Valley pulling it out in the last period by making their conversion; while the quickest player on the pitch for that match ran into the try zone & for some reason back out for his Bay Area team.--pretty sure he won't do that again.

Girls’ varsity
Bay Area – SAC VALLEY won this one. Referee: Ray Schwartz

Boys’ JV Referee: Preston Gordon
No report received.

Boys’ varsity Referee: Jordan Bruno
No report received.


The Pacific Coast gained promotion to Tier 1 with a 34-0 shutout of the West Sunday at the National Women's All-Star Championships.

Pac Coast finished the weekend 2-0 and in convincing fashion, having defeated Eastern Development 72-8 on Friday.


It’s never too early to raise your hand for summer weekends. It you’d like to ref any or all of these, let us know:

Saturday, 9: Games in Sacramento, XV and VII
Sunday, 10: Youth Sevens in Dixon

Saturday, 16: Loaves and Fishes Sevens at For Pete’s Sake
Sunday, 17: Youth Sevens in Morgan Hill

Saturday, 23: Sacramento Lions Sevens
Sunday, 24: Youth Sevens in Dixon

Saturday, 30: Palo Alto Sevens
Annual NCRRS awards banquet

Sunday, 1: Youth Sevens in Dublin

Saturday, 7: Jackpot Sevens in Reno
Sunday, 8: Youth Sevens in Dixon

Saturday, 14: Palo Alto Sevens
Mt. Shasta Sevens

Sunday, 15: Youth Sevens, Pleasanton

Saturday, 21: Marin Highlanders high-school Sevens
PCRFU Qualifier Sevens for the nationals, Treasure Island

Saturday, 28: Palo Alto Sevens
Sunday, 29: Youth Sevens championships, location TBA

Saturday-Sunday, 4-5: USA Rugby club sevens championships (men and women) at SFGG

Saturday, 25: Fifteens tournament in Reno


Don’t forget to set aside Saturday evening, June 30th, for the Pelican Refs 2012 annual awards banquet. We’ll be returning to Scott’s in Walnut Creek for the festivities.

RSVP to Bjorn Stumer with your menu choices:


Newest NCRRS member Neil MacDonald joins JC and Amika van Staden and Bruce Carter on the pitch that, but for the fog, overlooks the Monterey Bay.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 23, 2012




Prepare to celebrate Memorial Day by refereeing rugby. There are a lot of games, and each of them needs a ref. Nine games of fifteens and several of Sevens.

Let us know if you can do any of these. Flexibility is appreciated if you could list several options.

Saturday, May 26:
Noon: UC Santa Cruz alumnae game
2 PM: UC Santa Cruz alumni game

1 PM: Olympic Club OB – Berkeley RFC OB

10AM Lady Razorbacks – Amazons (fifteens)
11:30AM EPA U19 – Islanders U19 (fifteens)
1PM Razorbacks – Sacramento Lions
Several games of Sevens starting at 1 PM

Sunday, May 27:

All-Star games: Bay Area Select sides versus Sac Valley Select sides at Sheeran Field, Treasure Island.
10 AM: Boys’ Middle School
Noon: Boys’ JV
2PM: Girls’ varsity
4PM: Boys’ varsity


Good news from Tom Zanarini:
The new kit is in! If you've refereed 5 assigned matches in 2012, you are eligible for our new Pelican Green jersey. The first mass distribution will most likely be at the Annual Banquet on June 30. You are also welcome to come by my place in Mill Valley. I also have a fresh supply of everybody's new favorite shorts and some new socks to boot. Shorts and socks are not gratis, these things cost money. I haven't gotten the new invoices yet so the price is TBD. Expect around $10 for socks and $30 for shorts. That being said, we may have a fire sale on the old kit. I only have so much storage in my tiny apartment. We have a boatload of the Rugby Imports jerseys and the sky, navy or gold polos. Most are XL and larger. hey make great gifts and trading schwag!! We're all out of flags, so I'm attempting to find a vendor for the super fancy ones instead of the old-school short-half-life wood models.

We just received a message from Jeff Lombard at IA Rugby that there are three blue Kooga tracksuits available at $85 each. These are left over stock from a previous order. If anyone is interested, please contact him directly at:
Jeff Lombard
International Athletic


It’s never too early to raise your hand for summer weekends. It you’d like to ref any or all of these, let us know:

Saturday, 16: Loaves and Fishes Sevens at For Pete’s Sake
Sunday, 17: Youth Sevens in Morgan Hill

Saturday, 23: Sacramento Lions Sevens
Sunday, 24: Youth Sevens in Dixon

Saturday, 30: Palo Alto Sevens
Annual NCRRS awards banquet

Saturday, 14: Palo Alto Sevens
Sunday, 15: Youth Sevens, Pleasanton

Saturday, 21: Marin Highlanders high-school Sevens

Saturday, 28: Palo Alto Sevens
Sunday, 29: Youth Sevens championships, location TBA

Saturday-Sunday, 4-5: USA Rugby club sevens championships (men and women) at SFGG
Saturday, 25: Fifteens tournament in Reno


FULLERTON 15 – Motherlode 8 Referee: Tony Levitan
ARs: Mike King, Eugene Baker
#4: Jeff Richmond
Coach: Jim Crenshaw

After a 20-minute delay caused by the ruckus and celebration associated with the CA State Boys Junior Varsity Club match, followed by some seriously ill-timed and snit-like behavior by an adult involved in our match, the Girls Varsity Club match finally kicked off under warm, sunny skies at Jesuit HS in Sacramento. The very evenly-played match was marked by loads of running rugby, some seriously fine counter rucking, and really hard-nosed running by girls from both teams. Motherlode opened the scoring 9 minutes in with a penalty after Fullerton was tagged for hands in the ruck. Fullerton's superior size began to show as they repeatedly created long run opportunities from loose play, dotting down twice for unconverted tries, ending the half up 10-3.

Another try for Fullerton 6 minutes into the second half (15-3) looked like a harbinger for domination the remainder of the game but, if that was to be the case, no one showed Motherlode the script. Fullerton infringements were the launching pad for hard, determined quick-tap runs by Motherlode's captain/flanker, Gabby, who almost single-handedly willed her side back into the match with an unconverted try with 18 minutes remaining, 15-8. The back-and-forth flow continued until Fullerton went down a player having infringed at the rucks one too many time, earning a yellow card. The remainder of the game saw repeated, concerted attacks by Motherlode and desperate clearing runs and kicks by Fullerton. Motherlode twice breached the Fullerton goal line, only to be held up in-goal both times (as confirmed by my more-than-able ARs). The match ended with a spate of scrappy, pull-out-all-the-stops thrusts by Motherlode including a dangerous but thwarted effort on the final whistle, 15-8 Fullerton.

Our officiating team was spectacular in their support: Jeff Richmond, especially for helping navigate a pre-match tantrum by one of the coaches; Mike King and Eugene Baker for their clear calls on the touch lines and on the odd eye-contact request for confirmation or input. Thanks, boys. My final shout out of appreciation to Jim Crenshaw for the time and commitment he made to watch our match and offer some insightful tips for next time 'round.

Report by Bryant Byrnes:

Fog A 5 - SFGG (kinda) 0
Fog B 15 – UN Reno (kinda) 34

This was a tune up for the Bingham Cup in Manchester UK in two weeks. The TI field was clipped and moistened on a beautiful day. The teams mixed and matched all day.

The first 40 minute match was competitive (obviously), a defensive battle (also obviously). I think the strength of the Fog will be their back line- centers Rocco and Mike Estes move well and hit like a ton of bricks. (Mike is an old friend and former Berkeley Rhino/U of O player who is trying out for the Maccabee Games later this summer.)

The next game was lots of long runs and lots of points.

The drink up was, as always with these guys, a pleasure. Roll Fog!


Don’t forget to set aside Saturday evening, June 30th, for the Pelican Refs 2012 annual awards banquet. We’ll be returning to Scott’s in Walnut Creek for the festivities.

RSVP to Bjorn Stumer with your menu choices:


Dixon won the single-school high school boys championship in Utah this past weekend.

Marin Highlanders lost the national U19 semi to Highland.

Aruna Ranaweera refereed the top men’s college division championship game between BYU and Arkansas State.

Paul Bretz refereed the next-to-the-top division final, won by Davenport over San Diego State. See below.


LAMORINDA 27 – Oceanside 17 Referee: Rich Boyer
ARs: Eric Rauscher, Mike King
Waterboy: Jim Crenshaw
The Jesuit sideline was packed with home supporters; visitor's side, not so much. Oceanside from San Diego made the roadtrip to Jesuit to play Lamorinda.

Lamo played hard, ran some intricate back plays (some of which crabbed sideways), yet only had an unconverted try to show for it halfway through the first period. They may have been surprised by the aggressive nature of Oceanside's defense and strong ball running. Lamo enjoyed the majority of possession, made very good tactical kicks, which Oceanside backs were loath to catch in the air, received good bounces but just could not produce results. Lamo finally went up 10-0 after some good forward play (highlighted by #4 and captain Sam, #7) freed up the backs for a 4 on 2 overlap out wide and a score in the corner.

It must be noted that the Lamo tighthead worked very nicely with his Oceanside counterpart early in the game to ensure the scrums remained stable after a few half starts. Good sportsmanship all around.

Oceanside maintained good spirits in spite of the onslaught. Eagle eye Mike King spotted an Oceanside shoulder charge out of bounds away from the ball by captain Tito. He apologized before the ref could even utter a word. He was penalized nonetheless.

Shortly thereafter the Oceanside #7, an overachiever, shoulder charged the Lamo ball-carrier and received a yellow card. He was contrite in his apology. Some of the Oceanside players lamented that he was "pushed" by his teammates and did not have a chance to wrap. Needless to say this fell on deaf ears.

Lamo kept Oceanside under pressure and powered through for a third try, again unconverted, against the 14 Oceanside players. 15-0 at halftime.

The second half began after some much needed Gatorade and water was provided by Jim Crenshaw, who doled out a few sage observations to the ref as well. Immediately, it seemed, the humidity skyrocketed and the temperature increased, compounded by Lamo's halftime strategy to swing the ball wide and run and run and run. Oceanside remained the tortoise that could and finally was awarded a try on a simple overlap pass to captain Tito.

The Oceanside forwards picked up steam in the second half and picked and drove numerous phases for many yards. Lamo flyhalf Bobby Taylor probed with numerous kicks, hitting paydirt when another kick bounced backward into the Lamo fullback for a converted try. 22-5.

Throughout Oceanside's strong running one player became very prominent, #13, Gabe Edwards. It literally took 3-4 Lamo players to put him to deck every time he ran the ball. He simply would not be denied. The game likely would have been closer had he found opportunities in the first half.

Lamo went up 27-5 but Oceanside's continual barrage, combined with the humidity, took its toll and they scored two more tries, one of which was converted after forwards' captain Branden ran through two players and around the fullback for a very well deserved 30 yard try under the posts. 27-17. Oceanside's #11 illustrated some nice open field running during the run up to both tries. Lamo seemed to be getting a bit anxious.

Oceanside finally gave up the ghost when #13 did an unintentional spear tackle with 8 minutes remaining. Neither team scored again, having literally left it out on the field. Final score 27-17, Lamorinda. Congratulations to both teams, and to Lamo for winning the California U-19 Championship.

Nice sportsmanship by all.

A big thank you to ARs Eric Rauscher and Mike King, along with Jim Crenshaw.


Your writer wrote a report on Paul Bretz’ first game as a referee after Paul stopped playing, on November 20, 1999. Among the observations recorded at the time:

“Paul is refereeing at the C1 level with the exception of some lapses in knowledge of the Law. It is plain to see that he should quickly achieve the B panel, given the opportunity.
At his age, with dedication, he could come to the national evaluators' attention within a few years.”

Now it’s a dozen years later. Paul has spent many of those at the top of the USA Rugby refereeing corps. He has several Test matches to his credit. He has represented Northern California and USA Rugby with distinction, and made many of us very proud.

To a generation of Northern California players, Paul has always been the best referee they have been privileged to know. To a generation of Pelicans, Paul has been the exemplar.

From Phil Akroyd:
“Taken at the end of Paul's game. Was pretty emotional for all the refs. After his final whistle he walked to the center spot, sat down and took off his boots. Then left them there.”


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 16, 2012




The Diablo Gaels will be hosting a touring side from Brisbane, Australia, the Outback Barbarians, this Friday evening at 7 PM on the new pitch at the California Maritime Academy.

Jordan Bruno will be refereeing and would appreciate a couple of ARs. The Gaels will then owe you food and drink!


It wasn’t the best weekend for NCRFU teams, save Santa Rosa. They advanced to the men’s club D2 semi-finals at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo., the first weekend in June.

The Amazons from Sacramento lost to eventual champions Fallbrook from San Diego County in the opening round of the girls’ national high school invitational.

Stanford, playing at home, lost to Penn State in the women’s college D1 finals on Saturday.

Stanislaus lost to Southern California’s South Bay in the men’s club D3 playoffs.

EPA Bulldogs lost to the Kansas City Blues in the men’s club D1 playoffs.

St Mary's College 17 – ARKANSAS STATE 31 Referee: Tim Luscombe (USA)
AR: Chris Tucker, Bruce Ricard
4/5/6: John Coppinger, Ron DeCausemaker, Rob Hendrickson (not necessarily in that order)
Evaluator: Dixon Smith
Also there, chilling out having a good time: Bryant Byrnes

Beautiful day in Moraga, shame the same couldn't be said for the quality of game on the pitch. To be sure it was exciting stuff, tied up at 17 with 20 minutes to go, but the technical quality wasn't present. Some aimless kicking from hand from both sides and a fly-half on the home side who was seriously out of sorts, and the game became a contest of two battering-ram sides.

First try went to the visitors, who set up a peach of a maul drive off a lineout and crashed over. They scored again, thanks to one of many loose passes from the St. Mary's backs, "How many chances are you going to give them?" Tim O'Brien called out after the second try. Back when I played, "one skip two loop three" was a designed play. In this game it referred to how the pass was delivered, and where the centres had to go to recover the ball.

While the home side were fighting back we had a couple of odd incidents. In one, the St. Mary's pack set up a maul off a lineout, then Arkansas State pulled out of it. The maul trundled upfield 30m unopposed before the visitors eventually engaged, pulling it down. Cue much confusion from players and coaches alike, but the maul does not end just because defenders give up and run away!

[Editor’s Note: Correct! If all defenders voluntarily disengage from a maul, it remains a maul. If they fall off by the natural molting process that driving mauls undergo until none of them remains, the maul ends. Good refs like the one in question understand this and can tell the difference.]

In another somewhat sad incident, one of the home coaches demanded repeatedly to know how many substitutes had been made by the visitors, alleging some form of malfeasance. Ref Tim informed him he didn't know, that's why we have 4/5/6. Ron DeCausemaker wasn't at all confused by the blood subs that came and went, he knew the answer: 3. Of course to find this out, the game was stopped, the coach was escorted over to the far side, where the answer was given, and then was promptly ejected for continuing to argue. Tim could have saved himself some bother by just tossing him out first, but at least he got to embarrass the hapless man and hopefully persuade him to keep his thoughts to himself next time.

As time wound down, a visibly tiring St Mary's team missed a tackle and allowed a long breakaway for a try in spite of the best efforts of the fullback. As they pressed for an equaliser, the halfback fumbled the ball at a ruck, and the Arkansas State wing-forward scooped it up, raced 60m and scored to ice the game.

All in all an enjoyable game, made specially so by the boisterous crowd we've come to know and appreciate up in Moraga. Shame that our NorCal representative won't get to prove themselves against BYU, but such is life -- in the biggest game of the year, they didn't bring their A game, and that was all she wrote.


Don’t forget to set aside Saturday evening, June 30th, for the Pelican Refs 2012 annual awards banquet. We’ll be returning to Scott’s in Walnut Creek for the festivities.


SF Fog – San Jose State Referee: Ray Schwartz
The game went fine, the field was not mowed, and was poorly marked... both teams weren’t on top of their games…

SJSU won the first 40 minutes 15-12, and the FOG brought in their 2nd side...

SJSU is getting ready to play their alumni match... the FOG is sending 48 over to the Bingham Cup in Manchester, England in three weeks.

A championship team of three: Steph Bruce, Leah Berard, and Jen Sporleder right after the Stanford-Penn State final on Saturday 5/12.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 09, 2012




The California high school championships will be played at Jesuit HS in Sacramento on Saturday, May 19. There will be four games.

If you can help out, please respond to David Williamson:

There will also be a round-robin tournament hosted by the Fog that could use three refs, from 11 to 4. We’re guessing this one will be a lot of fun, so let us know if you’d like to run.


There will be a lot of good rugby in Pelicanland this weekend.

Girls and women’s college national championships at Stanford. Four games Friday and Sunday, twelve games on Sunday.

Stanford and the Sacramento Amazons will be playing down on the farm.

St. Mary’s hosting Arkansas State in a college premier semi-final. Arkansas State is the team that eliminated St. Mary’s each of the last two years, but both of those were on the road.

Several high-school all-star games in Sacramento. Let Chris Tucker know if you can help:

Also, the Fog will be hosting San Jose State on Treasure Island.

Meanwhile, in Chula Vista, East Palo Alto Bulldogs, Santa Rosa and Stanislaus will be playing in the sweet-sixteen level of competition in their respective divisions.

Good luck to all of our NorCal teams!


The Pelican Refs 2012 awards banquet will be held on Saturday, June 30th. This is also the first weekend of the Palo Alto Summer Sevens.

Mark your calendar and invite your date so we can celebrate our addition to rugby together.


(This was a rain makeup game.)
EPA RAZORBACKS 52 – Bay Barbarians 10 Referee: Bruce Ricard
Only one barbarian player was at the location when I arrived 1h before kickoff. After 20 more minutes, only a handful of barbarians were on the pitch, so we started to play touch with the razorbacks. At kickoff time, only 7 Barbarians were present. At 2:30 they had 12 players, and both teams agreed to play 10's.

Barbarians scored a try just after the razorbacks kicked off. But the reds woke up at this moment, and they scored 5 tries during the first quarter (we agreed to play 4 20-minute quarters). They also scored 5 tries during the 2nd quarter, and the Barbarians also scored one try. After those two quarters, the barbarians didn't want to play anymore, so we ended the game there.

Thanks to Mike Malone for driving from that far to watch the game, and sorry that a real game didn't happen...

By Jordan Bruno:

All Saint's Tournament, St. Cloud, Minnesota 4.28-4.29

Over the weekend, teams and referees from around the Midwest converged on St. Cloud University’s pitch in Minnesota for two days of great rugby. Men’s clubs, Division 1 college sides, and high school teams all played twenty minute halves in well-contested, smash-mouth rugby. When the forwards did relinquish offensive control to the backs, it was usually for a crash inside by the centers. This was typical for the Midwest style of play.

The first day of competition I refereed University of Minnesota vs. North Dakota State in a tied match with minutes to go until the final whistle. The NDSU Bisons infringed at a ruck inside their own 22 as Minnesota advanced downfield. Instead of going for points, the perennial tournament champions asked for a scrum down, and as time expired had their forwards rumble over the goal line for an exciting win. Minnesota went on to play St. Cloud University in the final and again won with seconds to spare.

The Saturday night referee banquet was held at McCann’s Restaurant with great burgers and locally brewed ales. Not much sleep on the weekend, but plenty of rugby was a welcome substitute. Thanks to Tammy Cowan and Eric Anderson of the Minnesota Rugby Referee Society for a great exchange and well-orchestrated tournament.

Report by Bruce Bernstein:

I did the Catalina Old Boys Rugby Tournament this past weekend & had a great time on the island all 3 days I was there, getting put up by the tourney at a nice cottage, reffed 3 very good matches (Ancient Aztecs v. North County, San Diego; Huntington Beach Unicorns v. Pasadena; & Aztecs again v. the Older Gaels--2 of these resulted in ties & the 3rd could have easily been tied--which is supposed to be the result of all matches anyway); an "after" party at the Sand Trap & in between saw parts of the Film Fest & a downhill skateboard Championship featuring the top boarders in the world.

The tournament program featured an image of Joe Hendrix who ran the tourney for every year until he unfortunately passed away last year. It is now run by his twin bro' Tom.


4-6 May Chris Tucker
Friday night we kicked off the NCYRA playoffs with the single school Varsity and JV semis.

JESUIT 48 – Bishop O’Dowd 22 Referee: Chris Tucker
Jesuit came away comfortable victors, but not before BOD pushed them hard. However their lack of ball security did for them, as they turned it over repeatedly in good attacking positions. Both teams played good, fundamentally sound rugby, and it was a pleasure to officiate.

I then ARed for Chris Gleiter as he did Jesuit beating CB comfortably in the JV semis.

Saturday we had around 40 games, very few of which I got to see as I was busy being the HMFRIC -- assigning refs, then reassigning as either refs had to do other things, or teams decided they would or would not play certain games. I think we came away with everyone aside from poor James Hinkin getting a good shake. James turned up early for the games, then had his first game cancelled from underneath him. His second was not until 4, so he spent a somewhat frustrating day. I hope the JV final made up for the wait!

JV: DIXON 31 – Christian Brothers 12
The 3rd place game in the single school JV bracket. Both teams seemed tired, and there wasn't a huge amount of life to the game. However a number of tackles were dangerous, resulting in 2 yellows each, for silly, careless play. A fifth yellow for a high tackle led to a penalty try to Dixon and I called the match early to keep it safe.

I then ARed the single-school Varsity final for Scott Wood. This was a fantastic game of rugby, and an excellent advert for the game. With 2 minutes to go, Dixon pulled within 1 point of Jesuit, and I ran back to my sideline. A spectator pointed out my ear-to-ear grin, and I said 'it doesn't get better than this.' Dixon were unable to get the ball back, and the game finished as close as it could be, leaving the victors the spoils and the vanquished to regret their lack of accuracy (1 of 4 conversions were scored.) Nice job by Scott.

Sunday and the money rounds came about. Again, many refs working tirelessly for the best games possible.

JV: SIERRA FOOTHILLS 59 – Lamorinda 27
Lamo had representatives in both the JV and Varsity finals, but the double-attempt was not to be. Sierra were fast and effective the entire game, although I did have cause for a yellow for continued failure to either understand or obey the offside law. They overcame their opponents, running away with it in final quarter. The scoreline is more indicative of Lamo's tiring towards the end of 2 hard days' play, than a 2-1 gulf in quality between the teams. Another joy to ref.

I then dashed over to AR for visitor Andrew Lin on the Varsity Final. He worked hard for his money, continually pushing the Islanders to the back foot and Lamorinda to keep their feet. And it was worth the effort, with a fantastic game ensuing. Islanders went up 2 tries early, but I was struck by the calm response by Lamo, who weren't rattled, stuck to their plan, and executed, coming up victors by 3 points.

As we chatted under the ref tent, I had a highly entertaining conversation with the Lamorinda head coach. I was explaining how a tackle can occur without a tackler, but that regardless of tackler or tackle assist, both must release the tackled player. I went on with the interesting variant I had with my game where a player had voluntarily gone to ground meaning the defender did not have to release. His response to all this? "No wonder I yell at you guys all the time." Cheers coach.

Thanks to all 20+ refs who turned out, did assignments without question, and made the tournament go with a bang. You made my life a lot easier, and I have had nothing but plaudits from several folk who took the time to say thank you to me (and by proxy to you.)

Christian Bros 24 – SIERRA 34
Marin 19 – BUCHANAN 26
Both of these games were very enjoyable to do. It is great at the end of the season to see skilled players playing the game well. I expected a higher level of play out of them which meant penalties in the first half and more open and faster play in the second.

JV: LAMORINDA 31 – Granite Bay 22
In this case the level of play had increased to a fairly competent level. The problem you get by the end of the year for JV teams is that they are willing to help you make calls because now they know how to play the game. This is not a problem I run into at Varsity levels. It is however fun to see the improvement.

Overall I must say that the Cherry Island Complex was a very well laid out and nicely landscaped venue, (many trees and shade, bathrooms), on which soccer players have enjoyed over the years and perhaps we can look forward to enjoying again in the future.

JV Semi-Final
McCLATCHY 24 – Dixon 17
McClatchy led at the half 17-7. Dixon discovered a change of pace and went on the attack in the second half. Fifteen minutes into the second half, McClatchy helped its opponent's cause by donating a player to the sin bin (10.4f). Dixon thanked McClatchy by scoring two tries to tie the match at 17-17. With just over five minutes remaining, another McClatchy took a trip to the bin via 10.4e. Dixon tried to use the one-player advantage but was unsuccessful and eventually turned the ball over. McClatchy turned on the attack and, despite Dixon's valiant defense, scored a try to the right of the posts. I looked at my watch and saw a mere ten seconds remaining in regulation.

Garmin results: 2.79 miles, 817 calories, Avg HR 155 (Max 177)

South Valley 15 – CHRISTIAN BROTHERS 44
I was assigned this 45-minute match as a warm-up. South Valley fared well in the first half trailing by a try 10-17. Christian Brothers decided to put the afterburners on scoring five tries to one.

Garmin results: 1.9 miles, 489 calories, Avg HR 147 (Max 169)

Single School Varsity Final
Dixon 24 – JESUIT 25
ARs: Chris Tucker, James Hinkin (2nd half: Eric "Missed Assignment" Rauscher)
The teams came out strong and fast. An early spate of scrums slowed things down for the backs but the forwards were up to the task. Jesuit took an early lead with a try and a penalty before Dixon put points on the board. Jesuit led at halftime: 15-7.

Dixon turned on the heat in the second half outscoring Jesuit 17-10. With just under six minutes remaining, Dixon was on another attack, maybe fifteen meters from Jesuit's goal line. Unfortunately, their scrumhalf decided to 10.4(b) on/near a Jesuit player (who was about to be penalized for not keeping his feet at a ruck). Dixon loses a player for the remainder of the match. Jesuit kicks the penalty to touch, wins the lineout, loses possession. Dixon capitalizes by scoring a try. Conversion made. Jesuit sends the restart kick deep to Dixon. The ballcarrier runs left behind two teammates too close for comfort placing them in a position to be penalized for obstruction. Jesuit was awarded a penalty 30 meters from Dixon's posts. The kick missed wide left and full time was sounded (I didn't want this match to end and secretly wondered what Dixon could have done if the ball had ricocheted off the upright).

Kudos to both teams for a well-contested match.

Garmin results: 2.87 miles, 784 calories, Avg HR 151 (Max 170)

Poor planning. I had to work and didn’t get to Sac until well after ten PM. Got a clean, comfortable room, they left the light on for me and my wife, and we didn’t have to stay at a Motel 6.

SILICON VALLEY 29 – Danville 14
ARs: Eric Rauscher, Giles Wilson
Great game to start the day off! These teams had one loss between them so far this year, with SV having lost to Danville during the season. Now, they’re even.

I must say: calling U19 scrum law at the end of the season with accomplished teams is hard to do. The scrums sure look safe when they start driving, but I still insist that they stop short of pushing a try over.

They sure run into contact like men, and respond to the referee like gentlemen.

Then I got on my horse to drive to Moraga as I didn’t want to miss the St. Mary’s – Utah game. That game didn’t disappoint either, Craig Smith doing a fine job assisted by John Coppinger and Jordan Bruno, with Brad Richey and Ron DeCausemaker as fourth officials.

Then back to Sacramento for
SANTA ROSA 38 – East Palo Alto 26
A player offered me five bucks to ‘keep it fair’. I laughed and said I didn’t know which he’d insulted more, my integrity or my earning capacity! In any event, Caddyshack references are always appreciated.

EPA were troupers – having missed their first scheduled match, they played the two games back-to-back. Thanks for the effort, guys.

It was a very close game: EPA squandered two certain tries, one in each half, with a two-inch knock-on while putting the ball down and by putting it down six inches short on the confusingly-lined pitch.

We had a nice dinner at the Booting Irishman or some such. They did have the traditional Cinco de Mayo corned-beef tacos.

WOLFPACK 38 – Silicon Valley 21
AR: JC van Staden
Wolfpack, from Reno, is a new team to me. They play a nice game, hard-hitting with excellent off-loads.

Girls Final: MOTHER LODE 17 – Bishop O’Dowd 14
ARs: Giles Wilson, Anthony Nguyen
This was a wonderful birthday present for me. Fifty-eight years old and still doing tournament finals! I played in my first tournament final in 1977 at Hilton Head, South Carolina (we won).

I feel like I won this one as well – at least, I can’t imagine feeling any better after a match.

Both teams play well, and hard, and fast, and crisp rugby. BOD scored first, got behind, then came to within three with 25 minutes left, which made for a very dramatic final stanza.

A problem refs love to have: the players can barely hear because of the crowd noise. Big breaths, loud cadences, sharp whistles and big signals were the order of the day.

A mark of the players’ determination and commitment were the five held-up-in-goal calls, one of which ended the match. (It was not as dramatic as it might have been – Mother Lode was held up.)

From Rod Salaber
It was a spectacular end to a great rugby season. More than 50 high school teams participated in the 8thAnnual NCIT and NCYRA Playoffs and Championships, with seven (7) High School Champions crowned, and three (3) Open Division Champions. Please find the attached result of the tournament.

Congratulations to the following Teams for reaching the finals, playing some fantastic rugby, and taking home the hardware. Also, take a look at the results of all of the NCYRA Varsity Finals. The largest margin of victory was three (3) points. Now that is the way Championship Finals are supposed to be!

NCYRA Championship Results:
· Boys Varsity Gold: Lamorinda – 29, Islanders – 26 (Andrew Lin)
· Boys Varsity Single School: Jesuit – 25, Dixon – 24 (Scott Wood)
· Girls Varsity Gold: Mother Lode – 17, BOD – 14 (Bruce Carter)
· Boys Varsity Silver: Diablo – 33, Elk Grove – 31 (JC Van Staden)
· Girls Varsity Silver: Pleasanton – 14, Dixon – 14 (Pleasanton won on drop goals)
· Boys Junior Varsity Gold: Sierra – 59, Lamorinda – 27
· Boys Junior Varsity Single School: Jesuit – 56, McClatchy – 28
· Boys Junior Varsity Silver: Sac Eagles – 37, BOD – 27

NCIT Open Division Results:
· Boys Varsity Gold: Rosa (winners in pool play), Lancers
· Boys Varsity Silver: Sierra – 34, Christian Brothers – 24
· Boys Junior Varsity Gold: Marin (winners in pool play), Danville

Thanks to the NCIT Tournament Directors, Karen Chance and John Riddering, and the many volunteers that helped make this tournament the most successful one yet. Yes, we still had some hiccups, but all-in-all, the tournament was a great tribute to the progress the NCYRA has made in just two years of existence.


Some of the refs are ready for action Sunday morning at the NCIT:
Standing, L to R: David Williamson, Ray Schwartz, Mark Godfrey, Anthony Nguyen, Giles Wilson, JC van Staden, Chris Tucker, Andrew Lin (SoCal)
Kneeling, L to R: Eric Rauscher, Rod Chance, Bruce Carter


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Wednesday, May 02, 2012




St. Mary’s will be hosting Utah this Saturday. We need ARs and fourth officials.

Let us know if you can help.


Stanford’s Steuber Family Field will host three USA Rugby competitions, the women’s college D1 and D2 championships and the girls’ high school invitational

The staggering of the competitions means that while only one pitch will be in use on the Friday and the Sunday, there will be three in play on the Saturday.

We need ARs and 4/5/6 officials. Two or three more for Friday the 11th and Sunday the 13th would be great, but we need about ten more for Saturday, May 12.

Please let us know, and your jersey size (USA Rugby provides jerseys).


The Pelican Refs 2012 awards banquet will be held on Saturday, June 30th. This is also the first weekend of the Palo Alto Summer Sevens.

Mark your calendar and invite your date so we can celebrate our addition to rugby together.


May 4-5-6: the Northern California Invitational Tournament, for high school boys’ and girls’ teams, in Sacramento.

The tournament will be held on six pitches. Games will be played from 9 – 7 on Saturday and from 9 – 3 on Sunday.

Hotel rooms will be provided if we know you are coming from afar.

Please reply with your availability for this weekend.


The CMA earned second place in the inaugural National Small College Rugby Organization championships this past weekend, played in Glendale, Colo.

The Keelhaulers defeated North Florida 31 – 26 in the semis and then lost another close one to Salve Regina (Rhode Island) 15 – 22.

Congratulations to Steve Hiatt and his team.


These four winners advance to the men’s club D1 final four in Glendale the first weekend in June:

EPA BULLDOGS 35 – Las Vegas Blackjacks 24
OMBAC 37 – Olympic Club 26
BELMONT SHORE 45 - Sac Lions 12
SANTA MONICA 36 – Utah Brothers 24

Go Bulldogs!


SeƱors – SOBs/Faded Roses Referee: Ray Schwartz
No report received.

SF/GOLDEN GATE 52 – Chicago Griffins 10 Referee: Nick Ricono
ARs: Mike Gadoua, Rich Anderson
Evaluators: Kat Todd-Schwartz

EPA BULLDOGS 35 – Las Vegas Blackjacks 24 Referee: Denny Russell
ARs: John Coppinger, John Pohlman
Evaluator: David Williamson

Seconds: St. Mary's – Santa Rosa Referee: Evan Schlinkert
No report received.

EPA Razorbacks – Barbarians POSTPONED TO MAY 5


San Diego State advanced out of the D1 sweet sixteen round that was played at Stanford.

Santa Clara’s season ended with their loss to UC Santa Barbara in Saturday’s semi-final

Sierra College and Santa Rosa JC competed in the D2 bracket, out of which Utah Valley University earned the right to play almost at home, in Salt Lake City, for the finals.


These games were listed as playoff games:

Lamorinda – San Mateo Referee: Tom Zanarini
No report received.

Islanders – Santa Rosa
We received a text that Islanders had beaten Santa Clara. Our correspondent was certain that it was Santa Clara. So we’re not sure what happened here.

Marin – Mother Lode Referee: Ian Johnston
No report received.

GRANITE BAY 27– SF/Golden Gate 14 Referee: JC van Staden

Buchanan – Stockton

Marin – South Valley Referee: Ian Johnston
No report received.

Diablo – Sac Eagles Referee: Darren Folau
No report received.

ELK GROVE over SF/Golden Gate by forfeit

Bullard – Clovis

Silicon Valley – Nevada Referee: John Pohlman
No report received.

Lamorinda – Diablo

SIERRA FOOTHILLS 77 – Marin Highlanders 0 Referee: Bruce Ricard
High-school teams are definitely nice to referee. Players and coaches seem to be much more fair-play and respectful of the referees. This was a very nice game, even if not very balanced.

Sierra Foothill scored 7 tries during the first half, despite a yellow card for repeated infringements. 6 more tries were scored by the home team in the second half. Marin was very close to scoring a try at the very end of the game, but the ball was held up in goal, and the final whistle was blown.

Danville 17 – JESUIT 22 Referee: Tony Levitan
After their scheduled playoff opponent Sacramento Islanders were unable to field a team, Danville coaxed Jesuit to San Ramon for a spirited, high-paced match of exuberant rugby.

The match went down to the final seconds after a furious second half charge by Danville, spearheaded by their dominant scrum play.

Granite Bay – Peninsula Green

We have no idea how these fit into playoffs, or whether they are even playoff games at all.

Christian Brothers 26 – BELLARMINE 31 Referee: Jeff Richmond
AR: Anthony Nguyen
By the coaches' accounts, both teams were missing key players as the regular season drew to an end. Bellarmine had been roughed up by Dixon the day before and had spent the night in the area rather than make the trip to San Jose and back. It was a very competitive match with Christian Bros. taking an early lead. A CB forward played very heads up ball on a tackle close to the goal line - he was brought down less than a meter short but immediately reached out and touched it down in-goal for the try. Bellarmine was effective in finding overlaps and brought the score to a 19-19 tie at half time.

The pace slowed down a bit in the second half with two stoppages for injuries where players needed medical attention. Bellarmine pulled ahead for good with their 8-man taking the ball out of the scrum and racing 20 m weak-side for the score. CB came back to within a try with less than 2 minutes to play. On the ensuing restart by Bellarmine, CB took the ball methodically downfield. Time expired but no stoppage occurred, as CB ran several phases of pick-and-go from their rucks. A CB forward crashed into the Bellarmine defense at 3 m out but lost the ball in a knock-forward. Bellarmine grounded the ball in-goal to end the match.

Thanks to Anthony Nguyen for his AR support and referee coaching report.


Richard Every sent along these links. If you want to know how to move up the ladder, here are some excellent examples of both the right way and the wrong way.

“Below are the USA RUGBY REFEREES videos produced this season for the RSL and 1A competitions. Please feel free to circulate to your referees, as we expect these standards to apply to all referees in National Championships. Thank You!

“Feb V1 -
March V2 -
March V3 -
March V4 -
March V5 -
April 3 -
April 12 -
April 19 -
April 25 -


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris