We have a need for as many refs as are available through April 20. Then it tapers off to playoffs and so forth, when we’ll need ARs and fourth officials.
Plan ahead! Let Pete know which weekends you are ready to run: me@PetesWeb.com
BIG RUGBY ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Bryant Byrnes
My wife Mary and I went to the Big Island of Hawaii the week of February 11th, and as I frequently do when traveling I got in contact with the local rugby folk. As a result, I was invited to partake in a day of rugby In Waimea on Saturday the 16th.
The Big Island rugby community that I met were most cordial and friendly. John Nuualiitia, a Kiwi and president of the Hawaiian Rugby Youth Association, drove me from our digs in Kona to Waimea. He was most kind in asking if I would take the premier and final match of the day, his Kona U19s versus Hilo.
There was a constructive coaches/refs meeting before the day started, at 8.30, and another one after the last match, at about 3.30. Because of the coordination and cooperation, the many matches ran on time.
It was a one pitch venue. Throughout the day there were small squalls of rain broken by brilliant sunshine and views of Mauna Kea. Starting at 9 am was the first of 14 matches, U10s, and every upward variation possible thereafter-U13s, boys and girls, U16 boys and girls, touch and tackle. The (largely Polynesian) crowd was friendly and cheerful. I coached the refs on about half the games and will send them reports-which seemed to please them to no end.
My game, the final match of the day, was remarkable. It was one of the best games I have ever had the privilege of whistling. The Big Island has produced the State high school champions the last two of three years if I have my facts straight. I think the winning Hilo side plays any California U19 team competitively.
So, what you have is five wonderfully functional youth rugby clubs on the Big Island, at least three who field up through U19s. The other two will soon follow. Every involved person that I met was a prince or princess. To continue this wonderful culture, they need experienced refs to work with their guys, mainland contacts for U19 tours, home and home, and college contacts.
What worthy kids; what a worthy project! I wish I had more frequent flier miles and more opportunity to return. I strongly encourage any Society member or other rugby person who goes to Hawaii to contact them before your trip and get involved.
GAMES FEBRUARY 23 WEEKEND
Sac Lions 15 – SFGG 57 Referee: Phil Akroyd
A/Rs: Pete Andrew, Mark Godfrey
P/R: Kat Todd-Schwartz
Coach: Dave Williamson
This was big boys playing big boy rugby. Lots of big hits, hard clear outs and the game on the right side of "the edge" throughout. SFGG were generally the better team all around and much more disciplined, giving only a handful of penalties away.
EPA BULLDOGS 17 – EPA Razorbacks 14 Bruno
AR: Rob Hendrickson
On a clear and sunny Saturday afternoon, the Razorbacks and Bulldogs fought hard in a spirited match that came down to the last minute of play to determine the victor. The Razorbacks started the game strong, building momentum in phases with fast, strong runners off the rucks to advance the gainline and retain possession. The Bulldogs' defense was weak at the start, allowing the Razorbacks to secure two tries before the half. The Bulldogs woke up from their slumber in the second 40, running with speed and purpose and slotting in two tries due to mismatches in the backline. With the Bulldogs leading by 3 points with 30 seconds left in the match, the Razorbacks gained possession from the kickoff and were 5 meters from the tryline, knocking at the door with the clock expired. A few pick and drives were thwarted by the Bulldogs defense. The Bulldogs recycled the ball out wide, looking for an overlap in the backline. A bobbled pass and the ensuing knock-on saw the Bulldogs the victors. A great match and many thanks to Rob Hendickson for running touch and postmatch advice.
Seconds: BULLDOGS 45 – Razorbacks 12 Referee: Nome Tiatia
Baracus 15 – SANTA ROSA 36 Referee: Rich Anderson
Santa Rosa proved themselves the Class of the Second Division with a 36-15 win over a solid Baracus Side. Rosa's hard-hitting style in all phases proved the difference.
On a personal note, I would like to welcome Peter Sandhill to the Pelican Ranks.
Peter refereed as a youth in Australia. He oversaw the 2nd side match (Rosa 89-12). Although he was a bit rusty on the laws and such, he proved that if you say things with the proper accent, folks will listen.
Seconds: Baracus 12 – SANTA ROSA 89 Referee: Peter Sandhill
Chico 20 – DIABLO GAELS 24 Referee: Donagh O'Mahoney
Diablo started the game the stronger team but error's prevented them from scoring in key areas. Chico led 14 - 7 at half time.
Second half saw Diablo score a try early and then took the lead with a try to lead 17 -14 with 15 mins left. Chico tied the game with 10 mins with a penalty and took the lead with 2 mins left on the clock.
From the kickoff Diablo attacked and went quickly from a penalty to score under the posts to win a very close game with an exciting finish.
Seconds: Chico – DIABLO GAELS Ref: O'Mahoney
Diablo won the second game.
Vacaville 35 – BERKELEY 36 Referee: Favor Taueva
Referee Coach: Mike Malone
First things first, thanks to Malone for his time and effort to come out and enjoy the game. Vacaville and Berkeley did bring their A game from the first whistle until the last second of the game. The visiting team played smart the last two minutes of the game winning it all. Vacaville 35 - Berkeley 36
Seconds: VACAVILLE over Berkeley Referee: Jen Tetler
After a super close first side match up in Vacaville, which was decided by a single point, the second sides jumped out onto the field for some additional friendly play. Both teams were running hard and hitting hard, but Vacaville just had more support on the inside and speed on the outside. Both teams had some sweet offloads combined with some clear breakaways. The first half was fairly close with Vacaville up two tries to one. But in the second half, Berkeley let in a few back to back tries off the bat which sealed the match. The second half was 5 tries to 1, Vacaville. Both teams were excellent sports and fun to ref.
Marin 0 – SEAHAWKS 69 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Redwood High School, Larkspur, CA
Seahawks had the upper hand on the attack. Seemed bigger, faster and more practiced than the Reds. Still, it was a well contested match with a low penalty count.
Best news is this: the Reds lost the ability to play in Marin City, which has been converted to baseball/softball only. An outfield fence now runs through what was used as the rugby field. I say good bye and good riddance to what was my opinion the worst rugby field in Nor Cal, if not the Western USA. The game was played on the turf football field at Redwood HS, modified for a full sized rugby pitch. I'll take this 'alternate field' any day of the week and twice on Saturday.
COLUSA 61 – State of Jefferson 7 Referee: Scott Wood
TJs: Smokey, Carl
A cool, windy afternoon in Colusa. The relative balance of talent was in Colusa's favor but SOJ has tons of heart and never imploded or bickered with each other. The penalty heavily leaned against Colusa but SOJ was unable to effectively take advantage of those transgressions.
Both teams wore different shades of green; fortunately SOJ had enough grey to be usable. I considered wearing my green kit and probably should have in the second half when my gold kit was analogous to a matador's red cape.
Colusa led at half: 19-0. That was mostly because they were penalized so much...They got their act together and scored eight tries in the second half.
SOJ was attacking from five meters as my watch sounded full time. Colusa apparently lost the script and committed three penalties (including one player going to the bin) allowing SOJ several bites of the apple. And so it was that Joe Hooper was able to worm under Colusa's tacklers to score SOJ's first try of the season.
I overextended my knee (twice), got run into (three times), and somehow got cleated on my elbow. I love this game!
SHASTA over Humboldt by forfeit
This was a Saturday-morning cancellation but luckily the referee received the news before leaving home and was able to fill in for another game in the afternoon.
VALLEJO 29 – Reno 12 Referee: John Coppinger
At Morton Field on Mare Island
On a pleasant, sunny, and comfortable winter day, Vallejo came out with power and pace and stormed out to 24-7 lead at halftime. In the second half, as fatigue set in and not so fit subs came on, the quality of play dropped as did the scoring. Both teams had to be reminded that there is only one referee on the pitch and Vallejo's captain, a very good player, had to be reminded that his appointment as captain did not make him an assistant referee ex officio.
SIERRA FOOTHILLS 64 – Sac Blackhawks 12 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Blackhawks had no answer for Sierra's flyhalf creating space & fullback & #6 flanker breaking game line to score. Great pulled pork @ Sierra's Irish bar the Boxing Donkey.
SFGG 29 – Fog 10 Referee: Neil MacDonald
Referee Coach: Mike King
ST. MARY’S 64 – UC Santa Barbara 3 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: Bruce Ricard and Ron DeCausemaker
Former national evaluator Bryan Porter was in the stands as a spectator for this D1A league match under sunny skies. UCSB played with commitment and dominated possession in the first quarter but could only manage a 3-0 lead. SMC made many uncharacteristic errors but took advantage of the little possession they got to secure a 17-3 lead into half-time.
In the 2nd half, SMC used superior athleticism and skill to pile-on 47 more points, mostly in the backs. Although the final score was lopsided, 10 tries to nil in favor of SMC, UCSB made SMC play defense, perhaps more than they are used to. Much thanks to Bruce and Ron for their help as AR's.
Seconds: ST. MARY’S 93 – UC Santa Barbara 7 Referee: Bruce Ricard
SANTA CLARA 45 – Sac State 17 Referee: Preston Gordon
This is a very nice turf field, full of lines - the yellow ones are for the rugby. Don't try to bring anything but water in there however - the security guards are no slackers. The match was good, and fast. The SCUTS scored first with a converted try at 9', followed by another unconverted try at 17', then a 7-pointer at 21'. Sac State got a try of their own at 26', answered by a converted Santa Clara try at 31', then Sac State had the last word with a converted try at 39'. Halftime score: 26-12 to the home team.
Santa Clara's offloading game was working well, and in the second half they added 3 further tries (at 10', 16', and 38'), converting two, vs. only one additional try to Sacramento State. Unfortunately it would be fair to say that I was responsible for Sac State's 2nd-half try, as I missed a deliberate knock-on when I couldn't see through a couple of players, and only saw the ball come off the scorer's foot. As it turned out (luckily), this didn't have an impact on the end result.
1 player from each team spent 10 minutes on the sideline for playing the ball when off his feet. As mentioned, there probably should have been another yellow card, and perhaps a penalty try. I also got booted in the shin somewhere around the 60-minute, which wasn't nice. By the end of the game I was able to show off a nice knot to a couple of the parents/fans.
Seconds: Santa Clara 24 – SACRAMENTO STATE 50 Ref: Gordon
After ~15 minutes we started the B game. The players were keen and both sides had full squads with several players new to the game. It was just about as fast as the A game, but with more stoppages. Obviously I was being looser with interpretations, and playing advantage as long as possible, but still had to do a lot of explaining. After a few resets, the scrums went very well, and I think the new front rowers would have enjoyed themselves. Sac State had several really fast guys in their backline who were making runs through traffic and then cracking on the pace to score - great to watch. Unfortunately for me, the knot on my leg had grown to the size of half a tennis ball by halftime, and the initially impressed parents/fans were now looking a little more horrified. Thanks to the trainer, also impressed, who made an ice bag for me that I could stick in my sock at halftime.
I didn't write down the score at the break since the scoreboard operator was doing such a great job, but it was pretty close. In the second half the visitors ran away with it (literally) scoring 3-4 tries in the last 10 minutes or so. Once the game was over I had a chat with the home coach before limping off towards the train home to take care of the baby alien trying to break out of my leg. Rugby remains a very rewarding experience!
UCSC 42 – Nevada 33 Referee: Tony Levitan
Video Coach: Bruce Carter
If there had been a barn next to the beautiful rugby pitch at UC Santa Cruz last Saturday, then it'd be burned down... Because we had a barnburner of a match. (Get it? Barn at the pitch? Barnburner? Just making sure all the forwards are still with us .. :->)
In a match that saw 7 lead changes and a rousing finish, the crowd had plenty to enjoy besides the magnificent weather on the Slugs' enviable campus. UCSC opened the scoring with a penalty kick that, in some ways set the stage for the match; UCSC taking its shots deliberately, even in the face of a desire among some of its players to be more aggressive. Nevada's forward took over the match for the next 15 minutes, bulling over a converted try near the posts, 7-3. The teams traded converted tries, both sides committing to solid driving rugby ... when they weren't busy knocking-on, that is.
UCSC topped off the first half with another penalty and a late try off advantage to lead 18-14.
Nevada's halftime break must have included imbibing a Red Bull/Monster cocktail as they exploded out of the gate, their forwards taking over the match even while playing down a man. With two more converted tries, they reclaimed the lead, 28-18, looking as if they had the game in hand. Obviously, Nevada neglected to inform UCSC, which stormed back. A converted try mid-way through the second half tightened things to 28-25. Both sides played their variation of stout goal line defense (tho this observer would suggest uninspired offensive choices assisted the defenders) on numerous occasions before the UCSC's forwards dotted down off an advantage play. Missed conversion, UCSC 30-28.
With a bit more flair including involving their strong running backs, notably their outside center, fullback and right wing, Nevada reclaimed the lead with an unconverted try, 33-30 with 12 minutes remaining.
Play then reached a fevered pitch, with the ball being recycled faster and swung wider. UCSC put down another unconverted try to pull ahead once again (35-33), before a Nevada pass was intercepted out on the wing and run 60 yards back for a 0:00 on the clock final converted try, UCSC 42-33, making the final score non-reflective of the closeness of the match. Phew.
One final note of thanks to Dr. Carter who video coached the festivities. Not sure when in one's reffing career the true value of such support is realized but I certainly am benefiting mightily. May I suggest to anyone who hasn't been video coached by Bruce that you prepare to underwrite a few pints for his quaffage at an upcoming Pelican soirée?
SIERRA COLLEGE 43 – Fresno State 21 Referee: Eric Rauscher
This was my first experience reffing a game at Sierra. I have reffed them at other locations but never at home. They play on a synth turf football field with adjacent stands and press box. Luckily the field is wide enough that with a little duct tape it can be made full sized albeit with a short in-goal. A fair number of folk showed up to watch the game, and that always makes it a little better. There is no doubting that Fresno can play a very physical game. They have some excellent players, but just didn't have the team cohesiveness that allowed Sierra to string together phases of play that eventually led to scores.
Sierra did have their problems though. Half way through the first half I awarded Fresno a penalty five meters out from Sierra's goal. After a quick tap, the Fresno player was immediately tackled by Sierra. A penalty try and a yellow card. Then about half way through the second half, a couple of substitutions came on and another ‘not back any’ penalty again. Another yellow card and then one two min later. After that they were pretty good about retiring.
SANTA ROSA JC 65 – SF State 17 Referee: Cary Bertolone
At For Pete's Sake in Santa Rosa, we kicked off at exactly 1:00 PM on a beautiful, sunny day. The first 10 minutes were scoreless. It was still 5-0 until the 23rd minute. SRJC led 36-5 at the half. Their backs are pretty fast and their players provide a lot of support. San Francisco State looked to be better than in the past and they scored 12 points in the second half, never giving up, but the final score was 65-17.
San Jose State 13 – CHICO STATE 54 Referee: John Pohlman
This past weekend saw San Jose State host Chico State in a college division 2 league game.
Both teams were top of the division with 10 points each. I was hoping for a fast competitive game.
Although Chico State won convincingly, the game was competitive and pretty fast. Both teams are well coached, with James Fonda leading SJS and Beau McSwain leading Chico.
SJS is a young team on the rise. Chico State is in full form.
Chico’s back row totally dominated the game. #8 Matt Zarchin maybe one of the most dominating runner I have refereed since seeing Danny Barrett in high school. Flanker Jim Beahm scored three trys due to a high work rate and strong running.
Chico started the scoring by dominating possession for the first 20 minutes. Chico may have reached 20 phases of play on a couple of early possessions. They were awarded by trys by #5 Chase Wick at 5 minutes, followed by #8 Matt’s first of two trys for the day.
SJS came back with two penalties and an intercept try to keep the first half close. Chico State 22 SJS 13.
The second half Chico picked up the pace, to score 6 unanswered trys. Final Chico State 54 San Jose State 13.
MARITIME ACADEMY 47 – Univ. of the Pacific 7 Referee: Ray Schwartz
TJ: Mason, a high school recruit visiting CMA campus from Palos Verdes
A couple years ago I would have had low expectations of this match, but hats off to UoP, they brought a tough squad, willing put in the effort and fight a deep, talented and well coached opponent. The Keelhaulers had their 30+ players, organized w/ military precision, but the Tigers had 24, a bit more ragtag, but gutsy. The game started off slowly, back and forth, with both sides enjoying extended periods of possession, but frankly, UoP seemed to have better continuity and commitment at the tackle/ruck.
Sadly, UoP's Captain, Kyle, their #10, went off with a dislocated shoulder early, he could have made a difference, but then, probably shouldn't be trying to play with that injured wing. The Keelhauler's blonde #7 kept wanting to push the edges of legality, not rolling away, hands in... silly stuff that kept putting the ball back into the Tiger's hand.
And so it went until the Keelhauler's #8, Lonnie Shanklin, Jr., broke through to complete the first real period of extended team pressure, scoring under the posts, and with the conversion good, the score stood 7-0, 20 minutes in. Shanklin then scored a minute later on a weaving 60 meter run, where he fended away would-be tackles coming at him from every direction. Suddenly the game looked like it could be a runaway. But UoP took the kickoff and created their own extended possession. When their relentless pressure resulted in the ball on the tryline in 50/50 possession of the attacking player, it was a try to the Tigers. I remember being careful to not screw up, taking a close look, and hearing, "You got to make a call ref." I did and the result was a close game again.
But Shanklin finished off the first half with another try, converted, and we stood at 21-7. The 2nd half started fast, and soon Shanklin was dancing into the try zone again. He would end up scoring the Keelhauler's first 5 tries, and just as he was about to score his 6th, off an 8 man pick up from a 5 meter scrum, he held up at the tryline and passed. He did the same again a few minutes later, and then subbed out. So, he literally could have scored all 7 tries. UoP and CMA both subbed a lot in the 2nd half, and the UoP subs proved to be more than up to the task. The game ended with them knocking on at the tryline, inches from their 2nd try on the day.
I spoke with Shanklin after a match a few weeks ago, and then extensively after this match. He's about 5' 11", a supremely gifted athlete with tremendous balance and agility. He seems to master his physical space, his proprioception, his ability to fend, is amazing. Other observers suggested his physical movement is almost poetic. I approached him suggesting he (and his Captain Lorez) could go to Europe and pursue a chance to play pro rugby. He could be a flanker or hooker at the highest level by my assessment. But Lonnie, a 7-year rugby veteran, a graduate of Stu Krohn's ICEF inner city LA rugby program, has more ambitious plans. He wants to become a Navy Seal. I stopped short of sending him overseas to play rugby. I want him on our side with the Seals! A higher calling. Inside info, UBL was taken out by a rugby playing Seal!
I would normally have reffed a high school match around Sacramento Friday night, but begged off and drove down to East Oakland to stand with 2,000 others at the Moa's family memorial for 3 of the 4 lost 19-year olds. George, David, Jr., and Malia had all perished in the crash coming home from the Vegas 7s. I played with George’s and David's fathers at the BATS, and knew them to be sweet, wonderful men. The loss to their families is stunning. The church (St. Benedict's) was overflowing Friday, with many ex and future Eagles, as well as all sorts of high school ruggers in attendance.
Please join us Saturday, March 9th for a dinner with the Moa's at the SFGG Clubhouse, starting at 6pm, in an attempt to help them get back to living a more normal life. Email to email@example.com if we can add you (and a guest?) to the list. We are up to 80 right now for the dinner, and have a nice program planned. Food by The Up & Under. All proceeds go to the families.
ST. MARY’S thirds 56 – Cal State-Monterey Bay 12 Referee: Dave Pescetti
SONOMA STATE 57 – Humboldt State 12 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
Lovely and dry in Sonoma, where the Sea Wolves (I think) prevailed (obviously) over the Humboldt fellows. Sonoma is in only its second year, but clearly is well along.
In the first twenty minutes it was all Sonoma-three tries-then all Humboldt-two tries-and a five point game. But then Sonoma put the accelerator down. It committed, probably continued to commit, only two/three forwards to its ruck and the spun the ball out short to its mobile, agile and hostile big locks who crashed-gulping up more and more yards as they wore the opposition down.
Prettiest sequence for those of us former forwards who love rugby kept in the pack: in the second half Sonoma had a twenty plus phase attack that culminated in a try.
Comment of the day: Humboldt coach Greg Pargee instructing his new kicker on how to to do it. ''Line it up visually. Take two steps back, one to your left,...and Bob is your uncle!" Somewhere Captain Lucky Jack Aubrey is smiling.
Seconds: Sonoma State 17 – Humboldt State 17 Ref: Byrnes
Seconds match; a short half, 10 aside affair played with great enthusiasm. Tied on the last play by Humboldt, 17-17.
STANFORD women 20 – Chico State 18 Referee: Donnelly
Seconds: STANFORD – Chico State Referee: Bob Polito
Score not reported, just that Stanford won.
UNR women 22 – HUMBOLDT STATE 24 Referee: Joshua Pendergrass (SoCal)
Field was properly marked and cordoned off with rope. Uprights were perfect. Field was artificial turf. Weather was anywhere from 29 to 35 degrees with gusting winds at times as well as a few snow flurries.
I arrived at the pitch at 11am, spending an extra 10 minutes keeping warm in the car as the temperature dropped over night. The day was cold and had a bit of wind in it but nothing to complain about. Besides Saturdays’ a Rugby day. After making contact with the Reno side and meeting with the coaches for both teams I did my rounds of the pitch and found them to be in great condition for rugby. I began my warm-ups and had my boot check and team chats completed with ten minutes to spare. We actually started the match 5 minutes early due to the driving cold.
This was a great match from opening kickoff all the way down to the final whistle. It was a back and forth battle for the lead on the board with it really coming down to the wire in the final minute. Both teams showed progression of learning the offside making the penalty count less in the second half and simply playing the game. I have no foul play or any offences to report. Furthermore both teams showed an extreme amount of class and professional sportsmanship on the pitch that day.
I told both teams already, but once again my hat goes off to them for making a great experience. I wish both teams luck in their future matches and hope to meet them on the pitch again one day.
Sac St women 5 – UCSC 36 Referee: Giles Wilson
A feisty but young and inexperienced Sac St women's squad hosted UCSC on a firm, well marked field. Both sides had some good athletes but UCSC made better use of space and off loaded frequently to put runners into spaces which kept Sac St in a regular scramble defense.
Sac St scrambled well in the first half, although they spent a lot of time in their own half and turned around 12 - 5 down. Early in the second half the effort of defending started to break down and twice attacks were stymied with deliberate infringements inside 5m resulting in two yellow cards.
The additional effort was too much against a UCSB side that was playing well and by the end of the half had added four more scores for a final of 36 - 5 (6 tries to 1).
On a side note, Sac St had saved a parking space which was a much appreciated detail since parking is at a premium by the field.
SF BATS women 53 – Fresno St 17 Referee: Matt Hetterman
HIGH SCHOOL GAMES
Friday High School
DIXON 81 – McClatchy 12 Referee: Phil Akroyd
The game went from plodding pick and drive to line breaks and players running the length of the field. I think everyone was glad to get to the end of this game, given the late kick-off (6:30pm), the howling cold wind and uncompetitive nature of play. Dixon look like a complete team and will be hard to stop this season.
LAMORINDA won over Diablo in a very tight even game.
Referee: Donagh O’Mahoney
Monday Feb 25
BISHOP O’DOWD 43 – Piedmont PITS 20 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Monday night games at BOD are pretty fun. They normally get a fair number of parents and girlfriends and classmates to show up. Both teams played pretty well with good ball distribution out of the rucks and good use of their backs. I think the difference in this game was BOD's edge at the rucks. They seemed to be a little bit quicker in getting the ball out, thereby leading to faster attacking options, and were also pretty good at disrupting PITS rucks and occasionally rucking over to win the ball. PITS also seemed to suffer "butterfingers" at in-opportune moments. One very enjoyable thing that happened in this game is worth note. Towards the end of the game there was a knock-on and a lit
tle push-me pull-you and grabbing for the ball ensued. Nothing much in it really, but what impressed me was that the Captains for both sides (Cory #9 for BOD and Gavin #2 for PITS) handled it. I didn't have to say or do anything. They sorted it out. Wonderful to see. My hats off to them for that level of leadership. It was also good to see the socializing that happened after the game between the two teams with hot dogs and drinks supplied by BOD. It is that kinship of rugby that makes it all worthwhile.
THIS WEEK’S PHOTO
Bryant Byrnes went to Hawaii to vacation and found some rugby.
“Left to right Hilo coach, Travares, John Leehr, Kevin Perry, Ari Bacharach, me, Lawrence Fong, and two fellows whose name I don't know off hand.”
The jackets were because the field is in Waimea, which is several thousand feet elevation and where the wet trade winds transit the island.”
For the Senate