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We’ve been having problems with the schedules we were given in the pre-season not agreeing with what various teams have. This makes for big problems when we find out on Thursday that a game will be played four hours from where we thought it was going to be played.

Please look at this website and compare what we have to what you have. If there are any discrepancies for the rest of the season, we need to resolve them now.

Please immediately inform Pete Smith me and John Compaglia compagliarugby. If we don’t hear from you, we will presume the information is accurate and make assignments accordingly.


Congratulations and hearty best wishes to Bruce Ricard and his new bride Carla, who were married on Friday.


Send Pete Smith your availability to referee for the upcoming weekends. Once he has enough names he can make the assignments. It’s difficult even to assign one week in advance when only a handful of referees have announced their availability.



Friday, January 25

Stanford JV 7 – USF 27 Referee: James Hinkin

Friday night under the lights saw Stanford’s B side take on the University of San Francisco. While fighting through rush hour traffic to get to Palo Alto for the 7:00 kickoff I had decided to start the game off with a penalty against Stanford, but it turned out that the Stanford captain answered to the noble name of James so I decided to let it slide this time. Well played, Coach Sherman.

Stanford got on the board early with a quickly taken penalty that caught USF napping but USF soon answered with a converted try of their own to tie the score at 7 apiece. A penalty kick from USF near the end of the half finished off the scoring for a 10-7 halftime lead. For the second half Stanford started bringing on subs and the inexperience showed for a number of these young ruggers. USF didn’t make any subs as they traveled with only 15 players. The second half started with the home side down to 14 men as a dangerous tackle on the opening kickoff saw the Stanford hooker in the bin for 10 minutes and USF took advantage with a try to extend their lead to 15-7. Soon after the teams regained full strength USF returned the favor with a touch of retaliation but Stanford couldn’t take advantage. Again at full strength USF was able to put 2 more tries across as Stanford’s youngsters couldn’t stop the USF runners.

MARITIME 14 – UC Davis 12 Referee: Pete Smith

Two tries on intercepts produced a win for the Keelhaulers in this friendly. Davis had a penalty that they might have kicked for the win but chose to tap and go, and didn’t make it.

Seconds: Maritime Academy 0 – UC DAVIS 53 Referee: Rich Boyer

This was my first run on Cal Maritime’s new turf pitch. Quite a difference from the former old “mud puddle”.

Both teams scrambled to find a 15th player. Davis came out stronger in the rucks and scored numerous times off pick and drives. CMA tried desperately to defend but were on the back foot all night long.

It was evident this was the first game for a few players, but opposing players helped the new ones with technique. The game was played in fine spirits, even after the second-half try-parade put on by Davis.

I had a smile on my face after every restart as the CMA kicker would let out an expletive after kicking the ball which was generally mis-struck every time. But occasionally the ball was well positioned despite the mis-strike. Same expletive was uttered.

Kudos to CMA for not quitting. Nice team play by Davis resulted in a 53-0 win.


SAC LIONS 73 – EPA Razorbacks 17 Referee: Paul Bretz

Seconds: Favor Taueva

EPA Bulldogs 12 – SFGG 50 Referee: Pete Smith

Seconds: Nome Tiatia

Seahawks – Sac Caps rescheduled to April

Fresno – Vacaville Referee: Jeff Jury
No report received.

BERKELEY 41 – Chico 12 Referee: Stephen Valerio

My rugby weekend started Friday night coaching my kids’ youth team. Saturday I jumped in the car and went up to Morton Field. The pitch was soft, and it was

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breezy leading to a view restarts not going the requisite 10 meters.

The first half was a choppy affair. Lots of scrums, and they weren’t very stable. After a couple of penalties they settled and the overall play started to get more flow. Berkeley were able to put together a couple of tries for a 12-0 halftime lead.

Berkeley put it all together in the 2nd half. The added 2 more tries and a penalty before Chico got on the board with a try of their own. After Berkeley put their fifth try across, I thought the game might be a one-way affair, but Chico put its best sequence together of the game with several phases of rugby, from which they got a much deserved try.

The match had one last twist as Berkeley had a breakaway that was brought down just short of the try line. The defender released the tackler, but never left his feet, as he dove over and sealed the ball. With Berkeley’s support already there a penalty try was awarded.

Seconds: Berkeley 7 – CHICO 20 Ref: Valerio

Chico was short on numbers so many of their A-side players agreed to play a single half for the B’s. The came out strong with several strong runs from their backs, and quickly pulled ahead 15-0. Berkeley B’s then put together with a powerful burst from their front row and collected a converted try. Chico closed out the scoring though the mysterious disappearance of their tee didn’t help their kicking, with the last one banging off of the cross-bar.

I had to pass on Berkeley’s hospitality to get back in the car to head to Sacramento to help out with the KOT.

BARACUS 54 – Marin 0 Referee: Preston Gordon

West Sunset Playground, 1300

It’s always nice when you find out that you know several members of both the teams in your match, as was the case for me this past weekend. Each side looked well prepared for the game and we got the pregame chats out of the way with minimal fuss and kicked off on time. Baracus opened their account with a converted try at 16′, followed by an unconverted one at 28′. They added 2 penalty goals at 36′ and 37′ to stretch the lead to 3+ scores, although that would be it for the half. In the second period they started quickly with a 41st-minute try, followed by 5 more (at 44′, 47′, 52′, 55′, and 69′), converting 3 of those to leave the result at 54-0. Baracus played well, but the lopsided scoreline didn’t really seem to do justice to Marin’s efforts. A yellow card to Marin in the 59th minute for retaliation was offset by one to Baracus in the 67th minute for cynically killing an attack that was approaching their own goal line.

There were two other interesting occurrences in this game. First, a Marin player wondered why I hadn’t seen his quick throw-in to himself and subsequent unmolested stroll to the try line. I had been busy repositioning the touch judge on that side (he was new, and went way too far down the line after a Baracus kick went directly into touch from in front of their 22) and didn’t even notice the would-be scorer until he was standing in the Baracus in-goal area with the ball, ~40 meters away. I apologized to him at the time for missing it, but he was gentleman enough to admit after the match that one of the soccer players on the adjacent pitch had tossed him the ball before he took his throw-in – I was relieved to be off the hook for that one but it was a good lesson to remember!

Second, as Baracus was working an attack up the same touchline later in the game, a soccer ball bounced into the middle of several players just as some good interplay and offloading was in progress. Believing that any rugby player would know to ignore the predictably-bouncing shiny round ball with the silly colors, I called “play on”. None of the defenders was obstructed by that object and a few seconds later Baracus scored. One of the Marin guys wondered why I had let it continue, but I thought it was reasonable to do so. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get near enough to the offending ball to

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look cool by kicking it out or grabbing it myself on the run without
tripping/knocking someone else over, so we all had to get on with it.

The common moral of these stories: keep in mind that you might see some new things every time you go out there.

A B-side match was played, but I didn’t ref it. I had taken a boot to the calf late in the A game, which was still pretty stiff, and I had a classmate from New York to entertain during his 5-hour layover at SFO before he headed on to Australia.

Redwood 10 – COLUSA 17 Referee: Rich Anderson

State of Jefferson 0 – HUMBOLDT 41 Referee: Kevin Parks

Mendocino 0 – SHASTA 14 Referee: Sean Peters

SIERRA FOOTHILLS 29 – Vallejo 0 Referee: Scott Wood
Location: Back 40, Johnson-Springview Park, Rocklin, CA

Sierra Foothills is growing in numbers and talent. Vallejo has talent but was lacking in numbers; they started the match with 13 and one arrived at halftime.

The first half was sloppy, ugly rugby bereft of continuity, flow or structure. A true homage to Division III industrial grade rugby. Numerous penalties (my wife was probably more than thrilled not be in attendance…), multiple pleadings with the captains, two yellow cards (one per team). Isn’t that enough? Sierra’s game plan was suspect to start but they were able to put together some impressive drives only to miss out on two scoring opportunities. Vallejo stood its ground and covered the wings very well considering a two-man overlap.

Halftime: Sierra 3, Vallejo 0

Apparently, Sierra cobbled together a game plan during the break as they came out attacking pretty well. Unfortunately for them, Vallejo didn’t get the message and disrupted play just as well. It wasn’t until the 60th minute that Sierra was able to score a try. Penalties reduced in the second half but that’s more due to the teams employing their backlines. Vallejo kept with it and would have scored a try but for an intercepted pass. Sierra managed three more tries before the final whistle.

Fulltime: Sierra 29, Vallejo 0

Note, in my opinion (and the opinion expressed by some Sierra folks), Vallejo could have possibly won if they had a full side (and some substitutes) in attendance.

Blackhawks – Stanislaus Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

SFGG 3rd Division 58 – Monterey Beach Dogs 12 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

I had the pleasure of reffing on a beautiful day at Treasure Island and saw Monterey start the match not only keeping pace with SFGG but pushing them on their heels which lasted for the first 20 minutes. They only scored one try however and SFGG took over with either its #8 Steve taking the ball up or the two half backs setting up Irish Steve at inside center who either scored or set up the rest of his team. Both teams played very well as a team but SFGG is on another level which should only get better as the season continues.

SF Fog 12 – SOUTH VALLEY 37 Referee: Giles Wilson

Beautiful day on Treasure Island, clear with a consistent wind.

South Valley kicked off into the wind and applied solid pressure with a good pick and drive game augmented by a willingness to move the ball wide once the tight defense had been committed. An effective game plan well executed.

Fog defended well in spells and had some good attacks when their backs ran well into space; they lacked the defensive cohesion and support play generally to take advantage of opportunities with or without the ball.

South Valley ended the half with 5 tries and 27 points to 0; but a player in the bin. In the second half Fog capitalized on two opportunities while South Valley scored two more tries for a final of 37 (7 tries) to 12 (2 tries).

CALIFORNIA 176 – Stanford 0 Referee: James Hinkin
ARs: Rob Hendrickson, Ron DeCausemaker

Yes, the score is accurate. The halftime score was 95-0, which led to a brief bit of parity early in the second half when Cal scored another try and the scoreboard read 00 – 0…until the conversion went over for a 02 – 0 scoreline.

Thanks go to Ron DeCausemaker and Rob Hendrickson for their able assistance – it is a luxury to have ARs. To read all about the game you can go to

Seconds: California – Stanford
No report received. Not sure who was supposed to ref it. The schedule said Hetterman but he did a game at St. Mary’s.

Santa Clara 5 – CENTRAL WASHINGTON 61 Referee: Kurt Weaver

Seconds: Santa Clara 0 – CENTRAL WASHINGTON 108 Ref: Weaver

Scores from Central’s website.

ST. MARY’S 53 – Olympic Club 11 Referee: George O’Neil

ST. MARY’S seconds 26 – Seahawks 15 Referee: Matt Hetterman

Old guys vs. young bucks friendly match. Muddy – which probably helped the old guys.

Half time: SJ 5 – St M 14. Full time: SJ 15 – St M 26

Fresno State University 19 – UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA RENO 46 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

On my way to Fresno to referee Colin Kaepernick’s alma mater (UNR), I briefly stopped for a cheeseburger at his home town, Turlock, but did not see any road-signs mentioning his name. Perhaps that will change if the 49ers win the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the field at Wawona HS was well-cordoned with several other games being played on the adjoining field. UNR dominated the first half to take a 22-0 lead before Fresno joined the party in the 2nd half to make it exciting for the spectators. UNR won comfortably, 8 tries to 3.

SANTA ROSA JC 35 – San Jose State 15 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

Global warming as a reality-a beautiful spring like day in Santa Rosa. The Spartans were certainly larger and fairly fit, but Santa Rosa JC’s experience prevailed. Thanks to Sonoma’s excellent high school rugby programs, some of these fellows have played for six years.

SJS scored first on a niftily intercepted pass, but Santa Rosa JC settled (figured out the ref) and cranked it up with quick ball out to a skilled backline. These adroit gents pinned back their ears and went straight at the defense. 21-5 at half; at the end of day, five tries pretty much between the posts; five conversions. Kudos to two enthusiastic, well coached teams.

Seconds: Santa Rosa JC 22 – SAN JOSE STATE 29 Ref: Bryant

Two more enthusiastic, well coached teams. Thanks to Tyler Ahlborn for reffing the second half.

UC Santa Cruz 46 – CHICO STATE 60 Referee: Bruce Carter

The schedule said this game was in Chico. Chico State planned to host. The assigned ref (not me) got in touch with the ‘home’ team and everything was set.

Until UCSC wrote on Thursday to inquire who was going to referee their home game. Then it was scramble time. Hence the plea at the top of this week’s Hail Pelicus asking teams to confirm the schedule for the rest of the season.

I was pulled from a B side match and asked to drive to the Slugs’ place for the second Saturday in a row. Tough duty.

Chico State’s captain, Tyler Poland, was a wing. It being inconvenient for the captain to be an outside back, generally when this is the case there’s a good reason. And today, the captain scored five tries.

They needed them – the game was tied at 41 with about twenty minutes left. Until that point it was like an NBA playoff game, trading scores.

Seconds: UCSC – Chico St Referee: Robbie Bellue
No report received.

U. of the Pacific 20 – SONOMA STATE 39 Referee: Dan Hattrup

In Sacramento for the first ever presentation of the new IRB coaching match officials course, I put the material to work by picking up a game to referee.

UoP were the original hosts and informed me that the school closed the pitch due to the inclement weather that we experienced all weekend in Sacramento. I understand their concern about the weather, as I’m sunburned from having forgotten to put on any sunscreen.

Saturday morning I watched a visiting referee from New York at the KOT, then jumped in the rental and headed off toward the vineyards for the relocated game. Blue skies, a slight chill in the air and college students eager to play combined for a great afternoon of rugby. The hosts came out flat and UoP jumped to a quick 5-0 lead after some nicely worked phase ball; this was the last time they would lead the game.

Sonoma State’s crowd, and scoreline, began to build throughout the rest of the 80 minutes. Bursts from a few key strike runners, followed by security from the forwards meant that Pacific was mostly chasing during the game. It was great to watch Pacific stick to their game plan, building structured rugby, adding pressure and punishing penalties with kicks to the corner, setting up short distance tries. However, the individual effort and ability of a few of the players from Sonoma State was simply too much, and 60-70 meter runs led to the score line keeping the same gap, even as the magnitude increased.

Standing with me at the half way, as his team readied itself for a restart kick, Rob Keene (second row and drop kicker extraordinaire for UoP) made the stray comment “I can’t wait to ref my first game, I just took the course in Fresno”, not realizing that the rugby gods often grant such wishes.

With the final whistle gone, the captains asked “would you be willing to do the B-side match?” I smiled and said “I know just the man for you.”

HUMBOLDT 51 – CSU, Monterey Bay 5 Referee: Cary Bertolone
Saturday January 26th at Humboldt State University in Arcata

On a mostly sunny, quite beautiful day in Arcata, we kicked off at 5 minutes before 1:00 and Humboldt State quickly went to work. They scored their first try before 2 minutes went by, and a couple more 10 minutes later. Forwards were getting the ball out to the backs and the backs were scoring tries. Even playing with one large forward down, for 10 minutes, they dominated the first half and took a 31-0 lead.

The second half saw a little closer game. Monterey did better with their tackling and made a few offensive thrusts. Humboldt still scored 4 tries, but the longer the game went, the harder Monterey played, which was impressive and gratifying to coach Mark Ferguson. They ended the game with a nice, well deserved try of their own to complete the scoring at 51-5.

I have to say a couple of things about that game and one thing about the drive. Those two clubs were loaded with polite gentlemen. They played hard rugby, but completely respected the ref and I must have received 20-30 thank yous after the game. All four coaches, two from each team, headed by Mark Johnson and Mark Ferguson, lead by example and they were a pleasure to work with, even when things were not going their way. The crowd was great too. The field, new to me (in the last year or two), was beautiful also. Lastly, the drive, was “over the top” as well. I had a great weekend!

SF BATS 46 – Sac State 12 Referee: Olivia Martinez

It was a beautiful day in San Francisco, nice and sunny. The ladies played on the “sunken field” (turf) on the USF campus. Don’t let the score fool you, it was a hard fought battle and a great first game for the players, coaches, and me!

It came down to discipline and control of the game from the Bats. They have a seasoned team and managed to keep possession even though they played 2 ladies down for most of the game. Their #12 scored 3 tries and is mighty fast. Their kicker did an excellent job and successfully made two PK’s.

Sac had a few great breakaways and managed to get some points up on the board. Overall, it was a delightful game to ref.

California women 0 – STANFORD 38 Referee: Lois Bukowski

I had the 2nd match of the slate of 4. A tale of two halves at beautiful Witter Field on Saturday.

Slight wind blowing west to east, sun shining down….the Cal Women had their homecoming happening for their alumnae; could they get the monkey that wears maroon and white off their back?

It certainly looked that way in the first half with only one unconverted try for Stanford at about the 20-minute mark.

Sloppy breakdowns made for a painfully long first half; the referee needed to find her whistle quicker and put an end to some shenanigans happening on the ground way too often. A series of repeated
ball-slowing and offside calls ended the half with Stanford short one player, but that would not affect them in the least.

After a talk with captains to start the second half, letting them know that I was going to be tighter at the breakdown with a quicker whistle, Stanford came out gangbusters with some amazing athletic runs and penetrating drives into the Cal defense. 5 tries, 4 converted in the second half made this one a run away.

Word to the wise, if you have a poor 1st half, you can start over again at halftime. Don’t give up!

I talked a bit more, had a zero tolerance on crap on the ground and voila! Things cleaned up quite nicely.

Seconds: California– Stanford Referee: Rob Hendrickson
No report received.

CHICO STATE women 33 – UC Davis 5 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Assistant Referees Don Walsh (and a Chico Old Oaks player, I didn’t write his name down).
At Chico State University

Driving up I-5 one consecutive weekends, I was unable to have a deja-vu moment as a fog thick as molasses rolled onto the highway, obscuring visibility to a 3 second approach. The field was a thin veneer of mud, but in otherwise good condition. Both teams were ready for an 11am kickoff. The pace of the women’s game is improving as is the athleticism. Lots of fast ball popped up from tackles and good pass support. Chico had the upper hand in attack, which definitely showed when they scored 2 tries when down one player due to yellow cards. Chico received 3 yellows for ‘high tackles,’ in quotes because the tackling player managed to grab the long ponytail along with the jersey. Hair is on the head and that’s a high tackle. I found it odd that probably 26 of the 30 players had long ponytails, that would be the last thing I’d want flying around when playing rugby. At any rate, 3 yellows and 25 minutes (one card 5 minutes before the final whistle) with 14 players didn’t seem to matter much. On another note, there was discussion during the week about the lack of a b-side match and how this does nothing to ‘grow the game.’ I would like to add that constant verbal abuse of the referee from a coaching staff also does nothing to ‘grow the game.’ Rugby is a game played by gentlemen and ladies, it should be coached and refereed by them as well.

UNR – UCSC Women Referee: Lee Bryant
No report received.

Kick-Off Tournament report by Eric Rauscher

So I left Berkeley late Thursday afternoon so as to avoid traffic on my way out to Sacramento. I decided that I would rather spend an extra night in the hotel, rather than get up early Friday morning for the drive out. Thursday night there was a small dinner for those that showed up. It was small but very international. We had refs from Germany, South Africa, Canada and the US.

Friday morning saw the start of two all day classes. There was the annual ref development course and a ref coaching course. The ref coaching course is a re-work of the old one and we were the first group to take it. The new course is much streamlined and more practical. Very early on we had a discussion as to whether the meeting between the ref and his observer should be called an intervention or as I suggested an encounter. All in all both courses went well with most of the attendees meeting that evening for a buffet dinner at a local pub “The Streets Of London”

Saturday morning came early, with the first games (8) scheduled to start at 8am. Those of us who had just taken the ref coaching course were assigned to watch new refs, and those that had just completed the ref development course were who we watched for the most part. The more established refs from out of town handled the higher level games, but if a neebie showed promise, they would be bumped up.

I had been scheduled to drive down to UOP to do their game against Sonoma, but Friday afternoon I got an email from Pete asking if I wouldn’t mind letting Gilligan do that game and me drive up to cover the Sierra men vs Sac State friendly. I said sure. We later discovered that the UOP game had been shifted to Sonoma, so Gilligan got a nice tour of Northern California.

Sierra mens club 15 – SACRAMENTO STATE 35 Ref: Eric Rauscher

On a field somewhere in Rocklin I found Scott Wood just finishing the first half of his game between Sierra and Vallejo. It was interesting to me that as I did the boot check for Sac State, I realized that two of the players on the team. Travis Haugen and Donny Deaile, I had just watched ref games at the KOT.

After Sierra had a little rest and re-organization, we played two 30 min halfs. Sac State came out strong and scored four converted tries in the first period, unanswered by Sierra. Sierra showed a propensity for lying around the ball at tackles and had to be warned often. I was expecting wisdom and guile to win out over youth and beauty, which it almost did in the second half with Sierra running in three unconverted to Sac States one converted. In the end however, those fresh young legs won the day. Sac State made a lot of early season/rookie errors, but showed promise.

Back to the KOT in time for the Saturday night Banquet, #1s and smiles all around

Sunday once again saw games starting at 8am, and was pretty much a repeat of Saturday with different divisions (all the way from U10s to Boys Varsity Gold). Once again we got to practice what we had learned on Friday. I came to a realization that the KOT has morphed from a pre-season warm up tourney, to a vehicle for an intensive program for ref development. It is almost as if the teams are there just for us to practice on. Not really, but pretty close.

Where else can you watch an 8/9 year old kid ref his first games? I repeat, GAMES. We get to watch refs develop doing 4/5/6 games over a two day period. As a learning experience it is unequaled.


The UC Santa Cruz pitch overlooks Monterey Bay, where sailboats can be seen having almost as much fun as the ruggers.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

Call for availability

Pete is trying to do the assignments for February, and only NINE refs have checked in.

Please let him know which weekends you can referee – as far ahead

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Make a habit of this – send in your willingness to referee. It will pay dividends.




Not enough refs – no ref at all for Humboldt – B sides uncovered all over Pelicanland.

Part of the problem this weekend is the fact that there are three youth tournaments. But youth and high school games draw refs the entire season, leaving fewer for the clubs and the colleges, which are the purview of the NCRRS.

We beg understanding of the teams that don’t get refs.

Let us hope that every team from U-6 up to men’s D1 has at least one certified referee among its number – these ‘team refs’ are going to be needed.

Here’s a secret: the referee society doesn’t have a source of referees. We have referees. None of our members are potential referees, or under-utilized referees.

Rugby teams are the source for referees. If you are a player, consider refereeing. If you are a coach, you know which players would make good referees. Tell them so.

We cannot make bricks without straw.


Friday, January 18, 7PM

MARITIME ACADEMY 24 – Sac State 21 Referee: Bruce Ricard

Referee Coach: David Williamson

Cal Maritime started the game very well, keeping possession of the ball, and moving forward. At the 4th minute, as they attacking, Sac State center intercepts a pass, no one will catch him. 7 – 0 for Sac. After 10 minutes, Cal Maritime gets a penalty kick 22m from the posts, and chooses to go for points. Their kicker passes the ball through the posts, and gives 3 points to his team. A couple minutes later, Cal Maritime is back in their opponents 22, and the forwards score a try 2 feet from the touch line, after a ruck just in front of the line, and no one defending the blind side. Five minutes later, they are back in Sac’s 22. Their lose possession of the ball, Sac State starts to run forward, and a couple of passes later, their winger gets the ball, and will run into in-goal. 14 – 8.

At the 23rd, Cal Maritime gets a penalty advantage 15m from the try line, and their 10 attempts a drop kick, the bounces on the crossbar, and passes though. Then minutes later, Cal Maritime’s once again attacking, and once again they get intercepted, and Sac State scores their third converted try. Three minutes later, Cal Maritime gets another penalty kick 20m from the posts, and gets three more points. Despite Cal Maritime strong domination, Sacramento leads at the half. 14 – 21.

In the second half, Cal Maritime was still dominating, but was more careful about their passes. They scored two tries at the 29th and 34th minutes, both not converted. Sac State had 15 minutes to try to score again to win. They were almost for the first time of the game in Cal Maritime’s 22, and at the 40th minute, as they are attacking, they knock the ball forward, and the game is called.

Final score: Cal Maritime 24 – 21 Sacramento State.


Sac Lions 22 – EPA BULLDOGS 29 Referee: Phil Akroyd

A/R: Favor Taueva

If this is winter rugby, sign me up.

What a great way to finally get the D1 season underway in NorCal. The field was the opposite of last week’s postage stamp marsh at Danny Nunn – full-size, dry, almost over-firm and the weather could not have been much better.

The sun was shining and the B-side game was just getting underway as I arrived at midday. Favor Taueva was in charge of the curtain raiser and he had himself a real game. Both organizations had fielded completely separate A and B sides, but there wasn’t a huge difference in capability between the two tiers (Sac won the B side game).

We finally got the A-side game going at around 1:45pm. It was a little later than scheduled, but nobody was surprised at that. It was a very open game with decent discipline; however EPA gave me no choice than to put a man in the bin after nine minutes of play. Sac had charged up the field, cutting EPA apart and the full-back was tackled seven meters short. The covering Bulldog winger made the tackle, but knowing his team was in trouble, he laid on the wrong side as Lions arrived in numbers. To make matters worse, he shifted the ball back to his side with his hands. That’s a "twofer", so he sat out for ten minutes (plus he got a bit of a shoeing that even the Bulldogs didn’t complain about). Interestingly, Sac took the tap from the penalty, passed to the fly-half, who then kicked the D.G. I thought it interesting and said a lot about their attacking ambitions.

The two teams really kept the scores close for much of the game. The Lions went in 8-5 up at half, but EPA had knocked on from five meters out on two occasions by that point. Both situations were "open goals".

I thought that this spoke to the preparation of each team. In pre-match talks, EPA said they had no pre-season games and hadn’t really been working together that much. The Lions had been hitting the gym as a group, running weekly training sessions and had some pre-season.

It appeared that EPA managed to knock the rust off in the second half. They pushed the lead out to 15-22, with some excellent back play. With four minutes to go, the Lions leveled up the scores at 22 each. From a "game-on" point of view as a ref, it’s exactly what you want. But from a "looks like I’m about to buy a lot of beer for a lot of refs", point of view, it was pretty bad. Good thing that the EPA number eight had stiff-armed the Lions try scorer in the act of scoring, as it applied a penalty from the restart and gave one of the teams an opportunity to uneven the scores.

With time ticking down, the Lions were making progress to the Bulldog’s line but a lazy, floaty pass to the backs off a ruck, served the ball up on a plate for the veteran Bulldog outside center, to run in for the game winner under the posts. The Lions knew they had thrown the game away, but they also knew that they had a lot of fun playing

in great display of rugby… and the barbecue was going, so that was good.

Seconds: SAC LIONS 30 – EPA Bulldogs 19 Referee: Favor Taueva

My game last week turned out really good. Both team played very clean the first 10 minutes, it was about 20 minutes into the first half couple high tackles occur, but I handled it right away. Both teams decided to play only 25 minutes of the last half. Sac 30-19.

EPA Razorbacks 7 – SFGG 84 Referee: John Coppinger

No report received. Score from

Seconds: EPA Razorbacks – SFGG Referee: Eric Rauscher

No report received.

Sac Caps – Fresno Referee: Jim Crenshaw

No report received.

SANTA ROSA 51 – Diablo Gaels 3 Referee: Cary Bertolone

Referee Coach: Mike Malone

I was guessing this was going to be a heavily contested match, and it was, until about the last 20 minutes. The game began at 1:00 PM and the Gaels went up by 3 within the first three minutes. A see-saw battle ensued and nobody could score a try until the 16th minute. Seven minutes later, Santa Rosa forwards punched another one in against a very determined Gael defense. The score was 10-3 until the last play of the half, when Santa Rosa scored a 50 meter corner try by their backs and they somehow converted

In the second half, Santa Rosa scored a quick, unconverted try and then no one could score for 20 minutes. Tough defense from both teams; it was a good, hard fought match. The last 20 minutes, however, went to Rosa as they appeared to be in better shape and their subs were just as good as their starters. They scored 5 more tries in the last 20 minutes and the final score was out of hand at 51-3. It seemed sooo much closer, and it was, for the first 60 minutes.

Bob Polito reffed the second game and appeared to do a great job!!

Seconds: Santa Rosa – Diablo Gaels Referee: Bob Polito

No report received, other than that it was a great job.

BARACUS 24 – Chico 21 Referee: Rich Anderson

This was a fun match to start the season with. What both teams lacked with some sloppy play at the tackle and ruck, they more than made up for with effort and determination.

BA controlled the pace early and was able to get ahead on the strength of strong goal kicking from their #9. His injury in the second half helped Chico get back in the match, which was tied 21-21 with 5 minutes left.

Baracus was able to take the re-start and move down the field, converting a Penalty kick to pull out a 24-21 win.

Vacaville 13 – Seahawks 13 Referee: Donagh O’Mahoney

Ideal playing conditions, no rain, very little wind and not too warm.

With the ideal conditions both teams tried to play open rugby with very little kicking in the first half. San Jose opened the scoring with a penalty but Vacaville scored a well worked try but failed to convert to lead by 5-3. Both sides came close to scoring but it was Vacaville who extended their lead in the first half to 8-3.

The second half was played in the same fashion with both teams spreading the ball when possible. Early in the second half, Vacaville kicked and up and under from just inside their own half. An error from San Jose caused the ball to be loose near their own line and Vacaville pounced to score another try. Leading 13 – 3 Vacaville looked good for the points but San Jose came back to score 2 unconverted tries to tie the game. Vacaville defended for the last 10 mins but were penalized for not releasing in the tackle with 1 min to go in the game. San Jose missed the penalty.

Both sides played rugby and it was a very enjoyable game to referee.

Seconds: Vacaville 5 – SEAHAWKS 17 Ref: O’Mahoney

Again a very open game with both sides running at most opportunities. San Jose were on top for the game and scored 3 tries to one.

Vacaville were very hospitable in the after match liquid refreshments as we debated rugby and who would fill the last spot in the Qtr Final of the European Heineken Cup.

For anybody interested Munster reached the 1/4 Final of the Heineken Cup to the expense of Leinster, who now play in the Amlin.

Marin – Berkeley Referee: Stephen Valerio

No report received.

COLUSA COUNTY 91 – Mendocino Steam Donkeys 3 Referee: Tom Zanarini

At Colusa, CA

Colusa had two full sides, Mendocino had 13 players. Needless to say, Colusa found the overload gaps quite successfully.

SHASTA 115 – State of Jefferson 0 Referee: ???

Highlight reel from the Jan 19 State of Jefferson at Shasta Highlanders match:

Thanks to Scott Wood for the link. Anyone able to identify the ref? We’d like to thank him.

Humboldt – Redwood

Not sure if this one was played. We were not able to find a ref to go to Humboldt.

We have the same problem this weekend, Humboldt State hosting CSUMB, and no ref able to make the drive.

VALLEJO 31 – Blackhawks 24 Referee: Scott Griffin

Vallejo hosted Sacramento Blackhawks on a nice day; the pitch was in good shape. Competitive game beginning to end. I learned that I could have used cards to help control Vallejo’s inability to get back 10 after penalties. Although Vallejo was not as fit as Sacramento (nor as young) they won 31-24. Final minutes were a particularly pitched battle with Sacramento struggling to score deep in Vallejo’s territory and being continually repelled.

Stanislaus 17 – RENO 50 Referee: Matt Hetterman

My first NCRFU league match gave me a bit of deja vu – the drive from Walnut Creek to Turlock was eerily similar to my annual trip from my playing days between Pasadena and Bakersfield to play Kern County … quick run through the foothills, over a pass, and then a long flat drive through the central valley.

Reno had a MUCH longer drive, but were already there when I arrived ~1 hour before kickoff. I sorted out the details of the match paperwork with the clubs, ran through my standard pre-match, and we were off right on time.

Reno came out of the gate strong – quick off-loads, or pick-and-go’s if the ball carrier went to ground, with several big line breaks, while Modesto’s game plan was more set the ruck and play very controlled rugby. Modesto did impress with quite good lineout work and mauls off of lineouts, but they were burned by committing too many men to defensive breakdowns. Half-time score had Reno up 24-5.

Halftime led to bench-clearing subs on both sides – Reno actually did a disfavor to themselves with this, as their continuity seemed to fracture, and Modesto put up two early tries, one converted. Modesto was unlucky with one certain try that the winger ran 5m past the dead ball line, and one solid lineout maul that was pushed into

touch-in-goal. Reno regrouped in the last 20 minutes and ran away with it – final score was 50-17.

The match did have one curiosity – my first instance of this as a player or a ref – on a restart kick that did not go 10m, Reno elected a re-kick instead of a scrum @center. Not sure why, as the scrums were pretty equal, but I am going to blame it on the fact that Reno had a fullback as their captain. He did redeem himself with a beautiful Garryowen from the attacking 22m that he fielded himself on the fly to score under the posts.

Had a good time sharing a few beers at the social – looking forward to getting out and meeting more folks across the NCRFU.

MONTEREY BEACH DOGS 8 – San Francisco Fog 5 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Beautiful day and field (St. Francis Central Coast HS) where I reffed a competitively fought 3rd division match which was notched 0-0 at half & 5-5 most of the second half.

With 2 minutes to go the Fog were guilty of first a high tackle & then killing a ruck deep in their defending try zone, which resulted in the hosts finally making one of the many kicks both teams missed earlier.

Also a nice, fun party at a local BBQ joint 1/2 mile down the road in the scenic Monterey Bay region.

Morgan Hill – Paso Robles RESCHEDULED

ST. MARY’S 83 – Chico St 10 Referee: Preston Gordon

Pat Vincent Field, 1300

In this friendly match, St. Mary’s got into gear early with 3 tries in the 1st, 8th, and 12th minutes before Chico State had a chance to respond with a penalty goal at 15′ (after missing an earlier attempt). St. Mary’s scored another try at 18′ before their #4 went to the sin bin at 28′ for a high tackle. While he was cooling his heels, his teammates scored another try at 30′, but Chico State had the last word before halftime with a converted try at 37′. At the break it was 33-10 and things were still looking reasonable.

However, as they had done in the first half, the hosts started running in tries early. They managed to score 8 more before the end of the game (at 1′, 5′, 8′, 10′, 19′, 27′, 33′, and 35′), while Chico State had a few good opportunities they ultimately couldn’t capitalize on, with one of their players being penalized on the goal line for a double movement after some very nice running and interplay. St. Mary’s converted all but 4 of their tries in the game, leaving the final score at 83-10, and almost had another but for the last offload being forward as time expired.

All in all, it was a good game to be involved in, especially as this was the first one I had refereed in a while.

SAINT MARY’S 2nds 52 – Santa Rosa JC 12 Referee: Bruce Ricard

Saint Mary completely dominated the first half, scoring six tries, while Santa Rosa scored one. 38 – 7 at the break. The second half starts very quickly with a try by Saint Mary’s at the second minute. At the fourth minute, Saint Mary’s winger is running towards the goal line alongside the touch line. As he’s five meters from the try line, the opposite winger catches up with him, grabs him by the collar, and pulls. An instantaneous whistle makes him release, and a penalty try is awarded. At the eighth minute, Santa Rosa scores an other try. The rest of the game will still be very challenged, but no more points will be scored.

SAINT MARY’S 3rds 41 – Chico State 2nds 0 Ref: Ricard

I stayed at the pitch to watch Preston’s game between those teams first sides, under this great weather in Moraga. As the game ended, I understood that a third game was going to take place, and that they had no referee for it, so I offered to do it, and they seemed to be happy not to have to do it themselves.

As the two previous games of the day, this game was totally dominated by Saint Mary’s team, in a very friendly atmosphere. Except for a few words exchanged after a player had blocked the ball at a penalty, and got pushed by an opponent, this whole day was very cordial.

Saint Mary’s scored seven tries, without letting Chico scoring any point.

Final score : Saint Mary’s 41 – 0 Chico

Stanford 27 – SAN JOSE STATE 38 Referee: John Pohlman

Stanford hosted San Jose State this past Saturday. It was a beautiful, Northern California day. Stanford’s field is in good shape.

I arrived a few minutes after noon. It looked like 30 to 40 players were warming up for each side.

The game opened quickly with Stanford’s backs taking advantage of SJS turnovers to dot down the first two trys at 6 and 8 minutes.

SJS steadied the ball and game. The SJS forwards were much bigger and more physical. This led to three unanswered scores at 21, 24 and 31 minute mark.

Stanford’s backs stole another try just at half to make the score SJS 19, Stanford 17.

My penalty count against SJS was adding up so I went to chat with their captain, #6 Jeremy. I explained repeat infractions within the 22 would force me to the next level. Jeremy thanked me and passed the word on to his players.

Both captains and teams were great in responding to most of my direction. There was never a concern from my point.

Stanford led off the second half with a penalty to move ahead six minutes in for, the third lead change of the game. SJS scored a try 4 minutes later.

At the 14th minute of the second half I gave my first card of the 2013 season, a yellow for repeat offenses within the 22 to SJS. Twelve minutes later I went to my pocket again for the same reason against SJS. Four minutes after that I carded another SJS player for a dangerous tackle.

With two SJS players in the bin, Stanford scored a try for the fifth lead change of the game.

Stanford 27 SJS 24.

One of SJS yellow cards came back onto the field about the time the Stanford #8 made a dangerous tackle for my forth yellow of the game. SJS scored on a nice back line break at 30 minutes for a SJS 31 Stanford 27.

A final try by SJS backs finished of the scoring.

San Jose State 38 Stanford 27

SJS has good numbers, some very athletic players and good coaching. If they learn to control their aggression they could compete for the Division 2 playoffs.

Seconds: Stanford – San Jose State Referee: A San Jose State coach

SANTA CLARA 74 – Fresno State 0 Referee: James Hinkin

Santa Clara seems to be listening to what Coach Paul Keeler has been telling them as they put in a complete performance against the visiting Fresno St team on a perfect day for rugby. Last week’s under armor was not needed as the sun was out giving tantalizing hints of spring with nary a cloud to be seen. Both teams had arrived early and were preparing when I arrived 75 minutes before kickoff and were ready for the game to get going, so I obliged. Santa Clara were the dominant team throughout scoring 6 tries in each half and could have had more if their players had remembered that the rugby lines were marked in yellow and the purple/white lines near the try zone should be ignored. Fresno St played hard and had their moments, putting together some solid phases and attacks but couldn’t seem to out it all together and cross the line. Santa Clara was able to exploit a lack of defensive organization on the 3rd and 4th phases while keeping their own defensive shape through all the phases Fresno could put together.

Seconds: Santa Clara 17 – FRESNO STATE 58 Ref: Hinkin

Fresno St traveled with 1 1/2 teams to this fixture so they recycled several A side players to give the Santa Clara B siders a game. The skill and experience differential was apparent as the tables were turned for the B side match as Fresno ran rampant against the Santa Clara opposition. To be fair, many of the Santa Clara players were new to the sport and show some promise, as indicated by the 3 tries they were able to score, but they need more hours on the practice and game pitch. The defensive organization and offensive structure just wasn’t there and Fresno exploited their advantage to the fullest, breaking tackles and shooting through gaps that were not there in the first match. The last 30 minutes or so were played with uncontested scrums as inexperience had caused too many collapses and front row safety became an issue. (Surprisingly enough, the back row players didn’t want to go uncontested – possibly because they were not the ones going face first into the turf.) A solid 80 minutes saw both sides playing hard their entire time on the pitch. Fresno St is a young program but the foundation has been laid for a successful program.

149 points over two games makes for one tired referee.

UC Santa Cruz 24 – CAL POLY 57 Referee: Bruce Carter

Another California winter day: ice on the windshield in the morning, but 75 degrees at game time.

My wife was out of town, but I held to our weekend routine of walking the dogs while the espresso machine warmed up. Then I was off for a home game, it being a mere 50 miles to the heavenly UC Santa Cruz pitch.

There were three games on tap, with only the one appointed ref – such is the state of our society these days. We always hear about all these new refs, but they don’t ask for assignments. News flash: there’s no assignments fairy. We don’t know you want a game unless you tell us.

Robbie Bellue of UCSC was kind enough to volunteer for the two games that I couldn’t do, my leg muscles having somehow become less rapid and resilient over the past few decades, and he did a fine job.

The first match was the Slugs hosting CSUMB. My old friend and teammate Marc Ferguson is coaching now and wonders what possessed him to drop out of the game for twenty years (besides raising a family, career, etc). He had never seen the current pitch, it having debuted in the early nineties.

The Otters played well. They took the kickoff, controlled the ball for more than two minutes, and scored a centered try after many phases. This is small-college rugby in the first minutes of the first game! What a continuous game our sport has become, certainly more spectator-friendly.

Then it was time for my game:

UC Santa Cruz 24 – CAL POLY 57 Referee: Bruce Carter

This game featured an ambitious lower-division team against an established upper-division team. Cal Poly

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also have several games under its belt, and came out firing.

Cal Poly doesn’t do the contemporary multi-phase up-the-gut: one of two phases, then the ball goes to opposite wing who either scores or gets tackled, in which case there are two phases and then it goes to the other opposite wing. Nobody kicks for having run out of ideas; the idea is to run with the ball.

The Slugs did notch four tries, three by a winger who outran his opponents for one, poached a ball for a second, and perfectly timed the hop from his flyhalf’s grubber for the third.

When the B-side match began I wandered up onto the hillside above the pitch to get some pictures. Game in the foreground, sailboat-dotted Monterey Bay below, and the Monterey peninsula and mountains of the Big Sur coastline standing off into the distance with no clouds to mar the view.

On a day like this, for a few minutes, paying ever-increasing California taxes has some consolation.

UCSC seconds – CSUMB Referee: Robbie Bellue

UOP 32 – U. of San Francisco 29 Referee: Scott Wood

AR: Ron Decausemaker

TJ: Benji

Two evenly matched teams. For the most part, UOP dominated the first half. HT: UOP 22, USF 5

Tale of two halves: USF found its steam and the balance was tilted more into their favor. Better continuity and ball possession. Nonetheless, Pacific missed at least two scoring opportunities (one held up, another knocked-on in goal). USF battled to within three points as Pacific played short for the last six minutes of the match.


Someone should have copyrighted the phrase ‘kick off tournament’, the way Magic Johnson owns the rights to ‘Dream Team’ and Pat Riley owns ‘Three-Peat’.

We had one kick-off tournament last weekend, and there are three more this coming weekend (Sacramento, Fresno, San Jose).

Report by Bryant Byrnes:

High School Girls’ Kick Off Tournament, a sunny, warm Saturday on TI.

A tournament of their own. Twenty teams, 32 games, tons of fans, full concessions, expertly run by Karen Chance (and great help from Ron Chance). A wonderful idea, and wonderful day for everyone.

The Gold Division championship match was the best of the day. The Amazons beat Bishop O’Dowd 17-5 (or something like that.)

And the referees contributed immeasurably to the day. We not only had a certified ref at every game, we had two certified Assistant Refs as touch judges on every game. We also had referee coaches on the vast majority of matches.

The total Society members contributing were twenty two plus. Shout outs are as follows:

First matches refereed ever: Alyssa Heekin and Olivia Morales.

Best posses/pods of refs: Kevin Kenny and his sons; Ed Barfels and his gang; Ron DeCausemaker and son.

Refs about to contacted by Pete Smith and Bruce Carter: Well, everybody, but in particular Nome Tiatia and Jen Tetler.

Ref who now best knows the bus route to TI: our very own Hubie Wong.

Society Old Reliables who whistled but more importantly coached (to great effect): Eric Rauscher, Mike King, Paul Bretz, Donal Walsh, David Williamson, and me.

Apologies to referee heroes inadvertently unsung.

So, to all refs and fellow travelers, a resounding ”well done” and thanks.

NOTE TO ALL OF THESE NEW REFS: We are all volunteers, and we appreciate you stepping up. But if you want to referee, you have to raise your hand.

It’s easy enough: e-mail Pete Smith and let him know which Saturdays you can do games: Me

The assignments gig is easily a thousand-email-a-week job. There’s no slack for seeking out the non-volunteers among us.

If you say you can ref, you’ll get games. It’s that simple.

Report by Eric Rauscher:

Both SFGG’s pitch and the pitch across the street were used, with the street in between closed off and used for staging/vendors area.

The weather was astounding. There was a pretty constant cool breeze from the north, but no heavy cross wind and fog that is normally found out there.

It was sunny all day. At least 20 teams showed up. I ended up reffing two games and ref coaching four new refs. Games were 25 min with short half.

Amazons 17 / Dixon 0 This was a great game. The Amazons won it, but the game was very close and was played all over the field. The level of play was a joy to behold.

Dixon 5 / Alameda 0 A low scoring affair, but once again a very well-played game by both sides. The ball was distributed quickly and cleanly by both sides, once again giving me a wide open and very enjoyable game to ref.

I enjoyed ref coaching four newbies, watching them do their very first game. It is quite a thrill to me to be able to help people improve their game and see the results. I did not get to watch all of them do a second match, but those that I did showed marked improvement. That is the real strength of the KOT. To be able to give new refs a chance to do their very first game in a low-stress environment, with lots of feedback and support for them from more advanced refs.

One can only hope that at least a handful will truly pick up the whistle in a dedicated fashion.


Live Oak 29 – BELLARMINE 38 Referee: John Pohlman

High school rugby in the South Bay is alive and well.

This past Friday a refereed a pre-season varsity game between Bellarmine and host Morgan

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Hill/Live Oak. Both teams had 25 players plus for the varsity squad.

This was a competitive well played game. Live Oak had larger and a bit more physical forwards. Bellarmine had speed and conditioning.

Bellarmine is led by their captain #10. He attacked the defense throughout the game and took what they gave him. And the Bell’s #12 was big, strong and hit the ball with pace and direction. Bell’s lead at half time 31 to 12.

The second half Live Oak stepped up and let their forwards control the game. This led to three trys being scored by Live Oak’s forwards.

Pleasanton 0 – BISHOP O’DOWD 47 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

Lovely Sunday match in Livermore. O’Dowd’s mix of experience with new but skilled players overran a Pleasanton team who is rebuilding and reloading. A fast, spirited game by disciplined teams.


The fact-checker lost Phil Akroyd’s report from January 12 while checking its facts.

Final Score: SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 29 – Cal Poly B 17 Ref: Akroyd

Another week of D1 calamities meant that by Friday lunchtime, I was still without a game. This one came up so I took it – there’s always something to work on.

For some reason, I expected the final score to be somewhere near the reverse of what transpired. The game was slow to get going as the small field and very soft ground made conditions difficult. When both teams had shaken off a little rust, we got some decent passages of play. Both teams had very functional lineouts, the Caps had the upper hand in the scrum, as well as some mobile forwards, a capable fly-half and a back line that knew what they were doing.

The visitors had a lot of newbies, a comparatively lighter pack and a lot of deficiencies in law knowledge. They also didn’t have much of a game plan but generally hung with play until half time, when the older, wiser heads of the Caps took control.

Overall, a surprisingly decent game, given the postage stamp swamp on Danny Nunn’s west field.


The Denis Shanagher Award was presented to Ed Todd this past weekend in SoCal.

Denis, of course, was one of the founders of the NCRRS and one of the first Test referees for the USA. The ‘lifetime achievement’ award for USA Rugby referees is named for him.

NorCal’s Bryan Porter and Donal Walsh are two of the ten recipients so far, and I think we can also claim Ed.

His curriculum vitae, excerpted from his introductory speech by Don Morrison:

In the 1990s Ed was Chairman of the Nor Cal Referees Society. Under Ed’s leadership, Nor Cal Referees Society made many contributions to USA Rugby, three of which I wish to highlight:

Nor Cal Referees Society shared its wealth of talent with other American referees by inviting them into Nor Cal to referee games, be observed and, as a result, develop their refereeing skills.

Nor Cal Referees Society agreed to share its outstanding Newsletter (Pelican’s Beak) with all USA Rugby referees when USA Rugby’s effort (Communique) came up short.

This newsletter, which Ed edited, was original, thought provoking and informative.

Nor Cal Referees Society hosted the 1996 Conference on the Game, which was not only a massive effort but also a highly successful effort.

In the 2000s Ed became more directly involved in USA Rugby matters.

In 2005 he led a strategic planning session for the USA Rugby R&L Committee, which provided the vision that led us to where we are now.

In 2006 he became the first full-time referee administrator for USA Rugby. He continues to serve in that role today. I believe all of you are aware of how far USA Rugby refereeing has advanced in these six years, so I shall simply say to Ed, "Well done."

Photo: There were a few Pelicans on hand to congratulate Ed on the occasion of his recognition as one of the pillars of USA Rugby refereeing.

Left to right: Don Pattalock, Matt Eason, Lee Bryant, Ed Todd, Kat Todd, George O’Neil, Aruna Ranaweera.


For the Senate

Pelicus Scriptoris

Referee shortage

No matter where you are in the world, there is a shortage of referees. Unfortunately, this is particularly true here in Northern California. With the explosion of youth rugby, including three youth tournaments on the same weekend, resources are especially limited. So much so that one referee is picking up the whistle on his wedding day!

If you want a game (or several), contact Pete Smith ( As great as he is, Pete is not allowed to read minds, let alone know your availability.