Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | COLLEGE TOURING SEASON
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Penn State and James Madison are both in Pelicanland for some spring break rugby, and will be playing this evening.

Want to AR or be a fourth official? Contact the ref.

6 PM: California hosting James Madison. Bruce Ricard.
7 PM: Maritime Academy hosting Penn State. Tom Zanarini.

James Madison will have one more game, against Stanford at 4 PM Saturday.


Friday, March 1
Cardinal Newman High School, Santa Rosa
Referee: Joe Leisek
SANTA ROSA 22 – Oakland Warthogs 7

The first game for the visitors since the tragic auto accident that claimed the lives of David Moa, Soasi Moa, Malia Moa and Rachel Fisi’iahi, and injured Hunter Halatoa. A pre-game meeting between the teams and coaches featured a prayer written by the hosts and read by one of their players, and a new haka performed by the visitors in honor of their late teammates and friends. A very touching moment and a privilege to have been present. This really is the game they play in heaven.

The game itself was emotional but the players were very controlled. Lots of passing and running straight into contact, wide open play and excellent defense. A fun game to watch up close. Ultimately, Santa Rosa made the most of their opportunities and took advantage of a couple of momentary defensive lapses to score three tries. The Warthogs scored a try in the second half after multiple rucks and mauls, a grinding out of yards until finally one of the forwards touched down in goal. A very competitive match and a pleasure to referee.

Saturday, March 2
Russell Fields, Davis
STANFORD Women 45 – UC Davis Women 3 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referee: Don Walsh
Referee Coach: Scott Wood

An injury to assigned referee Scott Wood yielded my first NCRFU match in three years. That feeling of being in the middle of intense competition was back, as these two teams went at each other from the start. Stanford has size and speed and strength, and they build some serious structure into multiple phases of play. Stanford ball carriers will stop short their running lines in search of contact and a good spot to present clean ball. Arriving players have the drive and size to keep opponents at bay. Still, the home side counter-rucked effectively (as did Stanford). The first half featured two converted Stanford tries to a Davis penalty kick. The second half was all Stanford, as they ran in five tries while keeping the hosts scoreless. Overall, the Stanford game was balanced and relentless, with tries scored by powerful forwards and speedy backs. Thanks to Don Walsh for his assistance and to Scott for his helpful coaching tips.


SFGG is having a golf outing/fund raiser in Pacifica on April 19 (a Friday). Any referees wanting to enter a foursome, give Tom Zanarini an email at:


Friday, March 1
ST. MARY’S 59 – Penn State 10 Referee: Pete Smith
ARs: Mike King, Tom Wright

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 49 – Penn St 10 Referee: Matt Hetterman
ARs: Mike King, Tom Wright

I had the luxury of real AR’s, and a bit of referee coaching. Cut out of work early, made it in time to see the second half of the first side match (a real drubbing, I hear the first half was closer).

Second side was more of the same – some semblance of parity in the forwards, but line break after line break in the backs.

Game called about 10 minutes early due to darkness. Thanks to the AR’s for sticking around after running for Pete in the first side, and for Pete watching me and giving me some pointers.

Saturday, March 2
Barbarians 10 – OLYMPIC CLUB 36 Referee: John Coppinger

Seconds: Barbarians – Olympic Club Referee

EPA Razorbacks 20 – SAC LIONS 27 Referee: Bruce Ricard

SFGG 84 – East Palo Alto Bulldogs 7 Referee: Phil Akroyd
ARs: Jen Tetler, Dave Newport

Seconds: SFGG 34 – EPA BULLDOGS 41 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

This one was knotted almost the whole match; 17-17 half; then SFGG would pull ahead a few times, 24-17, tied, 29-24, tied again, 34-29; and the Bulldogs pulled ahead at the end with two tries by long solo runs. SFGG had some great play by both their #8 who seemed to win every scrum down somehow & take it up; and hooker who not only stole almost every hook, caught every almost everyone of his team’s kickoffs.

SFGG had about 2 minutes to make a comeback to score & potentially tie it again, which they almost did except their real fast winger knocked the ball on while attempting to dive in from about 3 meters out–match over!

Sac Caps 24 – DIABLO GAELS 78 Referee: Neil MacDonald

The Capitals hosted the Olde Gaels on a muggy, overcast afternoon at Power Inn Rd. On the foundation of their solid pack, Sacramento scored first, and added a second to go 12-0 up after nine minutes. Then Diablo, spinning the ball wide, turned the screw with hard running back play, scoring six tries before half time, and taking a 12-36 lead into the break. Diablo scored again early in second half, extending their lead, before one of their number earned ten minutes of reflection for flagrantly preventing Sacramento taking a quick tap penalty 5m from Diablo’s goal line, right in front of the referee. The Capitals profited from his absence to score two tries, narrowing the score to 22-36 with fifteen minutes remaining. In the final phase of the game, as Sacramento pressed to close the gap, Diablo cut loose and stretched clear with another five tries to put the match away. Thanks to Sacramento for excellent post-match hospitality.

Fresno 10 – SANTA ROSA 50 Referee: Pete Smith

SEAHAWKS 79 – Chico 10 Referee: Bruce Carter

This game was a lot of fun, for two reasons: I had thought I was going to be out of refereeing for a while, and it was like old times.

Two weeks ago I didn’t follow the first rule of mountain biking: stay on the bike. I’ve got three adjacent ribs which are cracked on my right side where the Earth didn’t yield as I flopped onto it after a nice downhill launch, very unceremoniously, and to the consternation of some other rider witnesses. You know those injuries where you can run but you can’t walk? I can ref but it still hurts to lie down or to sit (as in driving).

Knowing of the rash of injuries decimating our Pelican ranks, I thought the worst thing that can happen is I have to walk around. We’ve all had that ref, and he’s better than nothing.

The old times part – I hadn’t refereed the Seahawks in quite a while. Over the years, I’ve probably refereed them as much as any team. They are a club in the old sense, guys who hang around together and know each other’s families even outside rugby. And consequently I know a lot of them. They also have good attendance, including 80-year-old Larry with his drum and a woman whose name I should know pouring Dark ‘N Stormys.

This is not the Chico team I remember, when they were our bitter rival (usually a fight) at Monterey. But that was before most of today’s players were born.

Chico scored first, after controlling the ball for two and a half minutes, but then managed only one more try, that one in the second half.

The Seahawks’ flankers both penetrated the defense repeatedly while the backs went over (with kicks) and around to great effect.

SEAHAWKS seconds 29 – South Valley 12 Referee: Bob Polito

BA BARACUS 30 – Vacaville 21 Referee: Kevin Donnelly
Location – M.L. Ward Rec Center Field

Despite the rough surface of the field, the game was played fast and open but with a mix of periods of close forward play. Back and forth in the first half, both teams scored two alternating tries each with conversions by Vacaville giving them a 14 – 10 lead at half. The first 15 minutes of the second half were scrappy and irregular as the game lost its cohesion. But following a try each, the game was still close enough to be fully competitive as both teams settled into aggressive offense patterns as they went for the upper hand. Baracus pulled ahead with a late try and then sealed the victory with a penalty kick at the final whistle. A good game with well worked tries, average penalty count and no cards.

Seconds: Baracus 10 – VACAVILLE 22 Ref: Donnelly

The B side game was similarly competitive but with some rookie mistakes. Vacaville B were convincing winners 22 -10.

Mendocino 5 – COLUSA 70 Referee: Giles Wilson

Mendocino hosted Colusa County in Ukiah. Mendo had a limited number of players while Colusa had players and supporters to spare – nice to have traveling support.

A three week gap between games had played havoc with Mendo’s players and they started with 14 before a rookie made them up to 15. They were no match for an organized and hard running Colusa who punched in 6 first half tries with 3 converted.

The second half saw Mendo down to 14 players before an injury took them down to 13 (one of the Colusa reserves filled this gap to bring Mendo back to 14). Another 6 tries from Colusa, 2 converted, to a single consolation try made up a final scoreline of 70 – 5.

State of Jefferson Elite 0 – SHASTA 78 Referee: Kevin Parks

The Shasta boys should be commended for their help in educating a SOJ prop who was playing his first game. We ran a few uncontested scrums until he was trained up. This is the type of play that elevates our game for everyone.

One yellow card to SOJ for not wrapping. The player apologized to me about 17 times. SOJ are improving.

REDWOOD EMPIRE 71 – Humboldt Old Growth 0 Referee: Stephen Valerio

Sometimes the score just reflects the game. One side dominated the set-pieces, with a heavy penalty count favoring them. But when the other side’s backs can run rampant through your backline, it can lead to a long afternoon.

The weather was a little overcast at Pete’s Sake Field, but it was comfortable. My day lready to go. However, it was for girl’s match that was kicking off late. This pushed back our kick-off 30 minutes, but everyone dealt with it in good spirits. Humboldt traveled down with 15, with a late player showing up in the second half (which means he probably would have missed all the proceedings if we kicked off on time. I don’t know if he was relieved or surprised to play). Redwood’s backs cut-up the Humboldt backs all day. However, the score line would have been even more lopsided if Redwood didn’t have so much trouble at the set pieces, with plenty of free kicks mixed in with a penalty count that heavily favored the visitors. Humboldt eschewed some early chances for points to either go to touch or quick tap. Unfortunately, they couldn’t consistently get numbers which meant Redwood could poach the ball or exploit the advantage from knock-ons to counter. By the half Redwood had put down 6 tries and then 7 more in the second half. The only relief for Humboldt came from many misfires on the conversions, with only 3 first half tries being converted. To their credit, Humboldt played enterprising to the end, getting to within the Redwood 22 in the waning minutes, but an isolated ball carrier led to a turnover, and appropriately, a Redwood counter from deep in their end to score a final try.

With matches like this, they can get out of hand with player frustration, but excluding an early high tackle with a couple of late players joining in for some shoving and the ensuing roundtable on the Peloponnesian War, both clubs played the match in good spirits. Redwood hospitality allowed me to try the spam and rice evidently popular with the Islanders. Another new rugby experience to end the day.

Blackhawks – Vallejo
Apparently this was played as a friendly, the assigned referee not showing up.

Please check Pelicanrefs to get your assignments. There are scores of games, and as many changes, and it’s not possible to hold so many hands at the same time.

Reno – Stanislaus Referee: Jim Crenshaw
No report received.

Sierra seconds – McGeorge
Don’t know if this one happened.

Fog 11 – MONTEREY BAY 14 Referee: Jen Tetler
Evaluator: Mike Malone

This game started out pretty fast and competitive with both teams going back and forth on the pitch. There were lots of penalties (which I probably should have started carding for earlier in the game) and the Fog took advantage of two of them to score some points in the first half as well as an unconverted try. There was one Aptos breakaway in the first half for a try and conversion.

The second half started getting ugly with some testosterone getting in the way of actual rugby playing. Some scuffles and punches thrown warranted some yellow cards. Again, not quite enough to bring down the anger. Somewhere midway in the second half, Aptos got a second try and conversion. Though the Fog tried valiantly to get the ball and get it going forward for a try, even with the help of some penalties from Aptos, they were unsuccessful. The final score was Fog 11 and Aptos 14.

CALIFORNIA 80 – U. of Arizona 14 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Assistant Referees: Rob Hendrickson, Tom Wright
Witter Rugby Field, U. California, Berkeley

As you’ve surely already heard, Witter Field is up and running. The turf is a bit shorter than the stadium field turf, but very suitable for rugby. Arizona flew in Friday night, so were well rested for the match. The day started at the usual level of excellence when visiting Berkeley. The referee liaison, Ross, met me before I got out of my car. He shadowed me and was of great assistance throughout the day’s events. I asked for electrical tape and had it in hand in less than 5 seconds. Good man! He’s a former player and volunteer, giving back to the team that obviously gave him much pride. Little things like this help make Cal Rugby the big thing that it is. On to the match!

Most match reports with scores like this start out with, “the team played better than the score dictates,” and such. Well, Arizona put up a fight. They took quick taps, including one from a kickoff after a Cal score, which dang near scored a try. The last series of the day was Arizona winning a ruck, charging 20 meters, winning a penalty, quick tap, charge down field, ruck, ruck, try! Cal played excellent rugby and deserved every point they got. Arizona did stop a couple tries, being held up and such. Cal had a few uncommon penalties, double movement, verbal dissent (!) and such. Still, they played at the level and on the edge, just were we want them. An excellent day of rugby that registered 4 miles on my Garmin. Thanks to Rich Boyer and gang for the after match refreshments and to Rob, Tom and B side referee Matt for a quick pint in Oakland before heading home.

Seconds: CALIFORNIA 114 – U. of Arizona 0 Referee: Matt Hetterman
ARs: Rob Hendrickson, Tom Wright

Second time in 2 days – luxury of AR’s! Match felt closer than the scoreline showed, but not by much. I got lots of practice saying “advantage over” as Cal broke the gainline over and over. I’m tired just thinking about this match.

Only 60 minutes of play, as Arizona had a flight to catch. Upon reflection, this does not count as the highest rate of scoring match in my refereeing career – that dubious distinction belongs to a 2011 SCRFU U19 girls playoff match that ended 147-0 on 70 minutes!

My first trip to Strawberry Canyon – great rugby setup (not that I expected anything less.)

Thanks again to the AR’s for sticking around after the first side, and then meeting for beers after fighting the Berkeley traffic!

ST. MARY’S 74 – Santa Clara 8 Referee: George O’Neil

Seconds: ST. MARY’S 113 – Santa Clara 5 Referee: Peter Sandhill

UC Davis 3 – SAN DIEGO STATE 25 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

In D1A league play, SDSU and UCD displayed entertaining rugby with multiple, contested phases and plenty of ball movement. The Aztecs held the advantage in possession, territory, and tactics and were able to touch down 5 times.

Seconds: UC Davis 2 San Diego State 2

Sac St – Cal Poly Referee: Kurt Weaver

Seconds: Sac St 7 – CAL POLY 92 Referee: Tom Franzoia

The final score was Cal Poly 92 – CSUS 7, with a little bit of running. CSUS is young and brought several new players to the pitch, it became a little sloppy at the breakdown towards the end due to their inexperience. Play was fair and clean throughout the match with some ball mishandling and it was Cal Poly on the outside all day.

SF State 7 – UC SANTA CRUZ 38 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

A late Saturday match at the Fog’s TI field. Both sides had good numbers, good manners (which count), and splendid enthusiasm.

The Slugs were clearly the more veteran side, but had a dreadful case of knock-on-itis the first half. And State did not concede a thing. It was UCSC up by 12-7 at half. However, the Slugs sorted it out and in the second half used quick and clean ball to the backs to good effect. As the State coach said, with a sigh, you can’t do much if you don’t have the ball.

Sierra College – San Jose State Referee: Rich Anderson
No report received.

NEVADA 52 – Santa Rosa JC 33 Referee: Ray Schwartz
John Sala IM Fields, UNR

I reffed a neat little high school match early Friday afternoon (Rio Linda beat Al Arqam 26-12) in Sacramento, then rolled to West Roseville to watch young Jacob Lashmett handle Woodcreek v Elk Grove (one way traffic for Woodcreek) where I saw old friends Arona Palamo, Brad Chaboya, John Brennan and Ian Sherman. On to Reno… for a nice, relaxed drive up the hill, with the promise of a comfy bed at the end of the trail. Coming into the Biggest Little City, the full moon was stunning, half poking out of the clouds above.

Bruce Anderson, the former UNR coach, is now flying down to Palm Springs for work building a new Marriott Resort there. He was kind enough to offer shelter and some friendship. We got up in time Saturday to head down to Foley’s and watch the Stormers v Sharks Super Rugby match w/ John Brill (no tries scored?!), and old stories flew round and round. Bruce insists… if any ref needed to stay overnight, please look him up!

So it was a relaxing morning, and off to UNR for the match, where two teams were gathered and readying for battle as I arrived 45 minutes prior to kick off. Got the match started on time, and brick by brick Reno built a lead in the first half, scoring the first two, and then the last two tries. I found the game frustrating to ref. I had never seen anything quite like this before.

I had seen Baracus unwilling to contest the tackle and set a ruck, choosing to play the game out wide. But here, both teams would not ruck, and the tackling wasn’t very good either! Lots of arms but rarely a shoulder involved in a tackle. I penalized for exceedingly slow ‘turtle ball’ a couple times and so got the players to adjust that part of their game. But as no defender would come in, I was reluctant to penalize the attacking team for sealing off. Later that night, my ‘ref coach’ Kat laughed when I told of this plight, and suggested what might have been a decent corrective action. I might have blown up such a moment and called it unplayable. Not penalizing, but explaining what I was hoping to see at the tackle. I am not the coach, and can’t get them to play if they don’t want to, but it sure seemed like I needed to something to develop a better contest at the tackle. Anyone else with thoughts on this?

Anyway… I felt if the JC would just start rucking, the advantage of their physical size would have helped them change the game. But their forwards, their tall locks especially, where mostly invisible throughout the game. Two older, tougher but smaller forwards for the JC lead the way, but could not get the team to follow. Scoring was equal in the 2nd half. In the end, 160 tackles made, and perhaps only 5 rucks? Yet the players seemed to enjoy the contest. Go figure!

The 3rd half then rolled to the Pub n’ Sub and a nice little rugby party ensued. Good company, some decent pizza, tasty songs… and eventually a delightful drive home to enjoy the sunset.

Fresno State 0 – CHICO STATE 81 Referee: James Hinkin

With Pete Smith refereeing Fresno men’s club against Santa Rosa it made sense for us to carpool to the central valley. I am forever grateful that Pete is a talker because the scenery wasn’t much to look at once you hit the valley – Hwy 1 to Monterey this isn’t…

The teams were warming up and ready to go for an 11:00 kickoff and my day began with a crisp whistle. The teams were evenly matched at the beginning with Fresno putting in most of the defensive work as Chico recycled the ball effectively. This resulted in a couple of tries as Chico eventually worked their overloads on a tiring and increasingly disorganized defense. Fresno then started putting some pressure on Chico and retaining their own ball and put together a solid stretch of play and were pressuring the Chico line. A couple of penalties from Chico’s desperate defense drew a warning when Chico went down a man to a tip tackle. Playing with 14 seemed to energize Chico and they forced a turnover, cleared their line and never looked back. Halftime score: Chico St 26 – Fresno St 0.

Not much to say about the second half except that Fresno St stopped playing team rugby and started playing individual rugby, much to the chagrin of the coaching staff. They have some good athletes and some periods of team cohesion but splinter into individual players too often. They have suffered the loss of some starters and the lack of cohesion with the replacements shows. Chico St was solid, running strong lines and defending well and took advantage of what was offered.

Final score: Fresno St 0 – Chico St 81

…and yes, this counts as one of the closer games I have reffed this year…

Fresno St B v Chico St B was refereed by the Fresno St coach who did a very nice job. Fresno St still lost, though, but I don’t know the score.

CSU Monterey Bay 12 – MARITIME ACADEMY 66 Referee: Jeff Jury

USF – Sonoma State seconds Referee: Nome Tiatia
No report received.

HUMBOLDT STATE 26 – St. Mary’s thirds 22 Referee: Cary Bertolone

St. Mary’s kicked off at 2:00 PM at Humboldt State Univ. in front of a sizeable crowd considering the cloudy day. HSU quickly took control of the game and was up 12-0 with only 13 minutes gone. St. Mary’s warmed up and scored two tries, minutes apart, before halftime to make it a close game again. Their wing scored both, the second one was about 70 meters out.

HSU quickly scored a converted try in the second half. St. Mary’s players were talking a lot and I think it resulted in tension which resulted in a couple of cards and a meeting between both captains AND both coaches. Between the five of us, we determined which players were responsible for which actions. St Mary’s got a yellow for a no wrap slam and HSU ended up with a red for a retaliatory tackle while play was stopped. The main reason for bringing the coaches into the meeting was I wanted both teams to know that while we had nearly 30 minutes left on my watch, the game was going to end immediately with any more "non rugby" activity. They talked to their teams and rugby went on. The same St. Mary’s wing scored his third try, but he jumped up "talking" to the other team (like he was playing American football or something). I told his captain Colby to calm him down.

Both teams scored one more try each in a heated last 20 minutes with HSU playing one man down. I had St. Mary’s fullback giving me a bad time and their flyhalf helping him out. I should have carded them both, but with such a close game, I grew thick skin and let it play out. After the final whistle, I had a HSU player a little out of control, having to be held back by his own players. Can you card a player "after" the game? I was thinking about it. Anyway, the HSU coaches, Mark and Greg, were great, and St. Mary’s coach, Joe, kept his cool too. Most of the players were great also, but it only takes a few to leave you with a bad taste. Next time, I’ll use more cards!! HSU 26 St Mary’s 22.

CHICO STATE women 55 – California 27 Referee: Sean Peters

Seconds: CHICO STATE 38 – California 7 Ref: Peters

Seconds: UC Davis women 0 – STANFORD 83 Referee: Anthony Nguyen

This was an exhilarating match between two clean and competitive teams. Stanford powered over the Davis frontline and ran score after score, resulting in an 83 point shutout. UC Davis fought bravely and had multiple strategic plays that almost gave them points on the board but to no avail. UC Davis did not give up at all throughout the match and played to their fullest potential for the full 80 minutes.

HUMBOLDT STATE women 41 – Sacramento St 14 Referee: Cary Bertolone

We kicked off at 4:00PM. It was still cloudy, but it never did rain and was great weather for playing rugby. HSU scored in the first minute of play and completely dominated the first half, taking a lead of 24-0 at the half. With the score 31-0, Sac State played a 10 phase rugby offense that resulted in a well earned try and that invigorated them. The last 25 minutes were played pretty even and Sac should be proud of their second half, even though they lost 41-14. Great game for both teams and all of the fans. It was fun!!!

Fresno St women 15 – NEVADA 27 Referee: James Hinkin

The women from Fresno were eager to avenge the earlier losses of the men’s team but UNR were not in a mood to oblige. The game was a shambles of knock-ons and missed passes at the beginning until both teams managed to settle down. Reno got on the board first with a converted try but Fresno was not impressed and came back with one of their own, although the conversion was missed. This looked to be significant as the game balanced on a knife edge as each team managed another unconverted try before the half and neither seemed to be able to impose their will for very long. Half time score: Fresno St Women 10 – UNR Women 12.

The second half started in much the same vein as the first with the teams trading periods of territorial and possession dominance. A try apiece had the match at 15-17 when Fresno St were warned for too many penalties at the tackle (not rolling away) and then lost their scrum half for 10 minutes as the warning went unheeded. UNR capitalized with a try to extend their lead to 10 and Fresno St never recovered. UNR was able to put another try over near the end of the match to put a very entertaining game away. Final score: Fresno St Women 15 – UNR Women 27

UC Santa Cruz women 43 – SF Bats 43 Referee: Tom Clock (SoCal)

Match ended in a draw. Coaches agreed on 10 minutes of extra time – with less than 90 seconds to go, UCSC had an opportunity to try a penalty kick from about 10 meters out, instead they opted to tap-n-go, the ball was ultimately made dead in-goal by SF. They match played on to its final outcome of draw. UCSC was dominant in the first half, and their defense held SF to a single try. In the second half, SF came back with 6 tries, several flat out breakaways.

Santa Cruz was a great venue to referee at, and the host team was gracious and accommodating. Very easy S’West flight into SJC – I’d do it again in a second. Thank you NCRRS for the opportunity. Cheers, //Tom

Monday, March 4

ST. MARY’S 41 – James Madison Univ. 15 Referee: James Hinkin

AR: Pete Smith

Assessor: Mike Malone

St. Mary’s hosted James Madison University from Virginia on Monday in the first game of a 3 match tour that see the Virginians take on Cal and Stanford as well. The teams were ready to go as the referee showed up with minutes to spare (I love midweek games and dealing with work and traffic, don’t you?)

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so I got miked up for Mike, talked to the teams and was ready to go.

James Madison came out of the gate strong and fast, surprising a St Mary’s team that had rested many regular starters. St Mary’s tried to counter the visitor’s aggression by slowing the ball down illegally and were duly punished and James Madison responded with a well worked try. Another penalty taken quickly saw the big, influential prop for James Madison burst through a couple of arm tackles then offload for an easy try under the posts to put the Gaels in an uncomfortable position that they aren’t used to: behind 12-0 early. St Mary’s tried countering with speed and width but too many passes failed to reach their intended target and strong tackling from James Madison led to turnover ball and killed the home side’s momentum.

The #13 for James Madison was especially lethal as he read the passes to the backline superbly all day and would cut his target in half just as they received the pass with perfect form tackles. St Mary’s was finally able to string passes together and were able to get around the outside for the winger to run 50 meters and score under the posts – their first real attack. James Madison would add a penalty kick to go into the half leading 15-7.

The second half saw St Mary’s get back to basics and put together some phases. All of the sudden passes were no longer dropped and rucks were contested with vigor. When James Madison lost their tighthead prop (mentioned earlier) to a knee injury the entire scrum dynamic changed, Now St Mary’s were dominant at set pieces and in the ascendency. The tourists started feeling the miles travelled and were reorganizing far too slowly as St Mary’s went sideline to sideline on successive phases, whether going around the outside or creating a hole in the middle of a stretched defense. The Gaels ran in 6 tries on the trot to pull away in a fun match. Many thanks go to Pete Smith for ARing and to Mike Malone for watching.

Final Score: St Mary’s 41 – James Madison 15

As soon as the match was over I shook some hands and thanked the captains, gave Mike his mike and jumped in my

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car with Pete Smith for the quick trip to Cal for the Cal – Penn St match ably handled by Aruna Ranaweera. He may write it up differently but I was looking at the scoreboard after the game and saw 00 – 0. That is a tie in my book so Aruna owes us all beers.

CALIFORNIA 100 – Penn State 0 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

ARs: Rob Hendrickson, Tom Wright

6pm kickoff under lights at the new Witter Rugby Field, which has a much faster artificial surface than the previous grass field. From the outset, Cal took the initiative with ferocity and speed. Except for an early cynical foul yellow card near the goal-line, Cal was not troubled by the visitors’ physicality. Cal led 52-0 at half and 83-0 with 20 min remaining, but the scoring decelerated after 4th quarter substitutions. Cal tallied 15 tries and would have added a few more if not for suboptimal open field decisions by the late-match subs. Much thanks to Rob and Tom for their help as AR’s.


Hayward 7 – DANVILLE OAKS 19 Referee: Bryant Byrnes

”And many thanks to my ARs Scott Page and Eric Ibsen.”

This was Friday Night Lights in Hayward between two of the high school Gold Division heavyweights. It was an exciting, ferocious match. Bear versus mongoose; bull versus viper-I ask the reader to come up with his or her own animal kingdom analogy of two different critters go at it wholeheartedly.

Danville scored twice in the first half on opportunistic, quick play and led 12-0 at half. But in the second half Hayward’s Big Bang approach paid off with a converted try -and it was a 5 point difference and anyone’s game. A late Danville try with less that 10 minutes left iced it.

Free legal advice. If offered a match by either of these teams, take it-and start doing more wind sprints. It may be the best game you have all season.

BERKELEY RHINOS 38 – Napa Stormers 5 Referee: Eric Rauscher

Tom Bates field in Berkeley, synth turf, but full sized and lined. 9am start made for a crisp but clear day. Berkeley is a long established club, but the Stormers are a club in their first year of existence. As might be expected, I believe the coach to be from South Africa. Perhaps a couple of players have played rugby before, but most of the team are total newbies. They are well coached in that they know what they are supposed to do, but don’t have enough playing experience to make it flow.

A couple of highlights from the game. A Berkeley player got the ball in the back field and screamed around the defenders on the side. Shades of Carlin Isles. I asked and discovered his name (Elijah, didn’t get the last) and that he indeed ran track at Berkeley high.

As I set the first scrum of the game, the front line from each side reached out and shook their opponents’ hands. What a great thing to see.

Also, at the very end of the game, with Napa having scored 0 points, I awarded a penalty to Napa. I told the player that time had expired and there was no time for a lineout. Some of his fellow players said, "Just kick it to touch (and lets be done with it)"

The player, Luke Kamplin (sp?) had other ideas. At about mid-field he took a quick tap and darted down the side, shedding tackles as he went Close to goal, he had to go through a couple of defenders to dot in down in the corner. I ran up, blew the try and reached down to help him to his feet and congratulate him on an incredible play. It was a great way to end a game played in great spirit.

Bellarmine 0 – SILICON VALLEY 41 Referee: Tony Levitan

Under the dim lighting of Calabazas Park in San Jose, we had a spirited Bay Silver Varsity match on a chilly Friday evening. The Silicon Valley boys have come a long way since this ref handled one of their matches at the KOT in late January, running over seven tries against an intrepid but overmatched Bellarmine development side. The 17-0 first half (3 tries, 2 conversations) stretched to 41-0 at the close with the home team running over 4 more tries (1 converted).

Gotta love the spirit of the "Man of the Match" ceremony that follows local high school matches and this one was no exception. Classy, solid, gentlemanly.

SFGG Gold 19 – PENINSULA GREEN 20 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Great high school match with tries going back and forth until the end when Peninsula Green barely went ahead. 5-3 in SFGG’s favor at half.

SFGG had more possession, territory, and won more set plays (and had two long runs for tries by their fast winger), but could not stop the Green’s 13 center who set up his wingers to come from behind and also had two good kicks ahead putting pressure deep in SFGG’s territory. Plus SFGG’s prop knocked on two sure tries trying to down the ball.

South Valley 22 – Pleasanton 22 (Half time 0-12) Referee: Neil MacDonald

On a beautiful evening under the lights in Morgan Hill, South Valley hosted Pleasanton Cavaliers in an exciting match played in great spirits, with very contrasting styles of rugby, and four changes of lead. Cheered on by coach Paul Bretz from the sidelines, Pleasanton’s expansive play led to the first try after fifteen minutes, and they followed with another to take a well-earned 0-12 lead at half time.

Whatever Bart Nielsen and his team said to their players at half time worked, as South Valley came out with a relentless pick and drive, scoring three times in the first thirteen minutes of the second half, getting their noses in front 15-12. Pleasanton replied, getting the lead back 15-17 with twenty minutes to play. Another South Valley try – converted this time – snatched back the lead 22-17 with fourteen minutes remaining. With time expired, and South Valley conceding penalties in defense, Pleasanton scored under the posts to tie the game. The kicking tee was brought onto the field, and the Pleasanton kicker lined up his chip shot over the bar. Excellent, I thought to myself: no beers to be procured for a draw.

In every match as a referee, you learn something, often – at least in my case – through lessons (aka glaring faux pas) never to be forgotten. Occasionally you get the chance to see a player doing the same. Friday night was one of those nights. As soon as the Pleasanton kicker began his run up, the heads up South Valley team sent a couple of fliers forward to charge the kick. Alas, the kicker froze and, with a bemused expression, turned to the referee, as the South Valley players grabbed the ball, and the referee blew time…

Thanks to both teams for a cracking match.


For the Senate

James Hinkin
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