Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | EXCHANGES AND PLAYOFFS
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We’ll be gathering at Scott’s in Walnut Creek on Saturday, June 22, to celebrate the season gone by and for the presentation of the annual Pelican Awards. Drinks at six, dinner at seven. Free for society members, guests for an amount to be announced.

Please mark your calendars and get your good togs to the dry cleaners.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 74, US Naval Academy 6, Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
Assistant Referees: John Coppinger, Scott Wood
#4/5 Officials: Bruce Carter, Eric Rauscher

On a sunny day at Witter Rugby Field, Navy took an early 3-0 lead and were competitive for the first 20 minutes. After that, Cal dominated to lead 34-6 at half with 12 tries in total for the match. Both teams missed scoring opportunities. Much thanks to John, Scott, Bruce, and Eric for their assistance despite technical glitches. Match replay:

Cal will meet BYU in the Varsity Cup final, but it’s a shame an undisputed national champion will not be crowned this year as top teams like St.Mary’s, Arkansas State, and Life will contest the separate college D1A championship.

ST. MARY’S 65 – Colorado 25 Referee: Terry Helmer (USA)
ARs: Tom Zanarini, Matt Hetterman
Evaluator: David Williamson

St. Mary’s will be hosting the national semi-final against Cal Poly on Saturday at 2 PM.

Sierra Foothills – SFGG
The teams agreed not to play, since both advance to the Pacific Coast playoffs anyway.

DANVILLE – Marin Referee
Don’t know the score or who reffed it, but reported the winner as Danville.

GRANITE BAY 36 – San Francisco/ Golden Gate 14
Same deal. Score from

Peninsula Green – Islanders
This game is going to be played, as it ended in a tie. The ref had the score incorrectly and told Pen Green that they were ahead with time up, so they kicked it into touch.

It turns out that Pen Green would have lost on the tie-breaking criteria, so they should have had a chance to win it in regulation.

Your editor has made this argument now for decades: in a ‘real’ sport, the players have the information they need to make decisions: the score and the time. Until rugby gets to this point (scoreboards, and clocks that are synchronized with the referee), we aren’t a real sport in a very basic sense.

HAYWARD 19 – Sierra 19 Referee: John Pohlman
[Editor’s Note: This game also ended in a tie, but does not need to be replayed as the tie-breaker criteria saved the day.]

Well, it’s under 19 playoff time in the Bay area. Always impressed with these games. I got the opportunity to referee Hayward hosting Sierra Friday night. I jumped at the chance.

Hayward’s coach Blane Warhurst offered a fast, hard hitting, open rugby. Yeah, sounds like a fun challenge.

Wednesday I asked Dave Williamson the head of under 19 referees about time and roster requirements for the playoffs. He sent me the following requirements.

The matches are 70 minutes, no overtime. The tie-breaker is: tries scored, converted tries scored, cards issued and finally sudden death drop kicks (alternate kinks from the 22 meter line).

The Varsity Playoff Matches have a limit of 23 man rosters and seven (7) limited substitutions (8 for a front row player only), meaning once the player leaves the field (except for blood) they cannot return.

AR’s Kyle and Nick. Both my AR’s were quite helpful throughput the game. They helped at half time feedback on cleaning up the off side line infringements.

Hayward’s winger broke free 8 minutes in for the first converted try. Sierra’s winger answered with a converted try 9 minutes later.

The game continued to be hard hitting and somewhat frenzied. Both sides going with pick and drives only to be met with physical, determined tackling.

I’ve always felt the last five minutes of the first half is an important time to step up. So did the players. Hayward’s #13 scored a converted try at 30 minutes. Sierra followed with an unconverted try two minutes later.

Half time score Hayward 14 Sierra 12

Sierra kicked off the second half. Won the ball and after numerous phases scored a converted try by their #5. Score Sierra 19 Hayward 14.

At the 8 minute mark Sierra’s #3 tripped the Hayward scrum half while restarting a 22 meter. #9 Pierre was captain and went down hard. I had no choice but to give a yellow card to the #3. Sierra’s #3 was my man of the match for Sierra. He seemed to make half of the tackles.

My man of the match was Pierre the #9 and captain for Hayward. He was a strong runner and kept the defense honest with his running.

Pierre stole a ball of the scrum at 13 minutes, broke a couple of tackles and scored the final try of the game. Hayward missed the conversion.

Score Hayward 19 Sierra 19.

The rest of the game was simply played on the edge. Both teams attacking.

Hayward won on the third tie breaker.

Please call if you need a referee for this week’s playoffs. That was a heck of a game.

Thanks to my AR’s, both teams’ captains and coaches, who were positive and respectful throughout the game and after.

JV: SFGG 30 – Peninsula Green 24 Referee: Preston Gordon
Sheeran Field on Treasure Island, 1615

The game was scheduled for a 1600 kickoff, but we all agreed to delay it by 15 minutes to ensure that all the Peninsula Green players had time to arrive from their school’s earlier varsity playoff game. I heard about that controversy from several of the coaches.

This match was an extremely even contest, and aside from one unfortunate incident, very fairly played. The first 10 minutes were back-and-forth stuff with lots of ball movement and few errors. Peninsula Green got the first try at 12′, only for SFGG to answer with a try of their own at 15′ (5-5). PG scored another one at 18′ and managed to convert it in spite of the stiff cross-field breeze (5-12). The scorecard was not needed for the following 11 minutes of good rugby that followed.

By the 28th minute, SFGG had set up camp in their opponents’ 22m area, and after winning a 5m lineout Peninsula Green was attempting to clear the ball away from their own goal line but were making tough work of it. They eventually worked the ball most of the way across the field, remaining under pressure while in or just outside their in-goal area, and managed to kick the ball away. That kick was charged down by a SFGG player, and the ball bounced back into Peninsula Green’s in-goal, where SFGG #10 knocked it on while trying to ground it for the try. From only a couple of meters away I awarded a 5-meter scrum to Peninsula Green, over the objections of SFGG #10. When his objections went too far, I changed the scrum to a penalty for dissent. All was quiet for a couple of seconds (on the field; the SFGG coaches on the touchline 15m away were still highly agitated at the non-try decision), with the SFGG players having retreated 10 meters, and then there was an outburst from the SFGG #3 that earned him an immediate red card. I won’t repeat his words, but suffice it to say that insulting the referee is never a good idea. That player’s teammates were very unhappy with him as he departed, but they fired back only a minute later to score the final try of the half at 29′, though it was unconverted (10-12 at halftime).

SFGG, now reduced to 14 men, opened the second-half scoring with another try at 38′ to take the lead (15-12). Peninsula Green replied at 44′ for another lead change (15-17), and things were looking interesting. The contest heated up further with SFGG scoring again at 50′ (20-17) followed by the PG reply, converted, at 54′ (20-24). At this point I would not have been surprised to see SFGG start to fall off the pace a bit, but they never really slowed down despite their missing prop. As in the end of the first half, they enjoyed a territorial advantage, and scored another try at 62′ (25-24). After some good attacking play by PG, they turned the ball over and ended up back in their own 22m area again, where they conceded 3 quick penalties at the breakdown. I stopped for a moment to have a word to their captain about maintaining discipline, and when SFGG took a tap kick from the last of those penalties they scored in the corner at 67′ (30-24).

Peninsula Green knew they had a chance at winning the game, and when they recovered the ball not long after the ensuing kickoff they put tremendous pressure on the SFGG defense. After spending nearly 5 minutes camped within 10m of the goal line trying to break through for the win, the game ended in the 72nd minute when SFGG won a counter-ruck on their own line and put the ball into touch.

With 5 lead changes in the second half, I’m sure that the multitude of parents/fans that showed up got their money’s worth. It’s great to see that the NorCal high school JV teams have players of this caliber, and this was an excellent game to referee. Thanks as well to the 2 touch judges, and to Dr. Brewin for taking a bunch of great pictures (he did a write-up for too).

SANTA ROSA 33 – Vallejo 22 Referee: Cary Bertolone

Beautiful day, Vallejo showed up late, game started at 1:30 and Santa Rosa had a little bit of a surprise when Vallejo started breaking tackles and making huge, powerful hits. They surprised Rosa some more when they scored 3 of the first 4 tries, utilizing some unbelievable speed on the outside. In Santa Rosa’s defense, they were resting their starters for playoffs next week, but on the other hand, as most of us know, Santa Rosa is so deep that their second side guys are not much of a step down from the starters (Santa Rosa is deep). Vallejo was up 15-8 at the half.

In the second half, I witnessed one of the best rugby games of my year. Hard hitting from both teams, hard running, good passing and Santa Rosa scored the last two tries to win 33-22. Great sportsmanship from both teams and great BBQ afterwards!!

[It must be ‘tour to English Queen’s week!]

Tony Levitan went to Virginia:
An Open Letter to My Fellow Pelicans

If Bjorn ever emails or calls to ask you to go to Virginia on an exchange, do not equivocate, do not hesitate, do not even bother to ask when and for what purpose. Just say “yes” and be prepared for a weekend of gracious hospitality, engaging camaraderie, fine libations and culinary delights, all under the watchful eye of the Virginia Rugby Referee Society’s host-with-the-most, Jeff Anderson.

After a bounce in Dallas, I arrived in Norfolk, Virginia Friday evening to be spirited off for some quality Southern Bar-B-Q at Frankie’s. The VRRS provided weekend accommodations at the lovely Founders Inn, a few minutes from my host/chauffer’s home. The Christian Broadcasting Network conference that occupied most of the hotel certainly made for a different vibe from the everyday pulse of the Peninsula, and yet the difference simply added to the exchange adventure.

With a plan to get picked up at 6:55a Saturday in time for my 8am Tidewater Invitational Tournament (yes, it does abbreviate down to TIT; they are rugby guys… what can I say?) opening round match, I scuttled off to bed as early as I could manage —being on PDT— to the howling winds of a nasty rain storm. With the prior night’s rain abated, Jeff pulled up right before 7a to tell me that opening round kick-offs had been shifted back to noon to enable proper set-up of the four pitches. Off to Starbucks for tea and conversation, I got a quick nap in before heading off to the Princess Anne Athletic Complex in Virginia Beach.

After meeting the remaining crew of tournament refs, under the organization prowess of Les Anderton, the tourney did get under way at noon. My first two Saturday matches were relatively uninteresting affairs, but things picked up with match tres, Washington RFC vs. Quantico. The fit and driven military men from Quantico pressed Washington the entire match in my best run of the day. Curious for me was having to accommodate the deaf Washington loosehead by using hand signals as a complement to scrum commands and watching the entire WRFC squad throw both arms in the air to signal a stoppage to their deaf teammate.

Greek food and pitchers of Yuengling with the referee crew spanned a number of pleasant hours Saturday evening at the Orapax Inn. Our diverse crew included an Aussie, an Irishman, an age span that began late 20s and reached into the 60s, too many former scrumhalves, and Jeff’s delightful wife, all of which made for spirited conversation and bonding.

Sunday’s more considerate mid-morning pick-up time allowed for a proper breakfast before heading back to the athletic complex, where the weather had turned a bit blustery; low 50s with strong, chilling winds. An AR stint for a semifinal match allowed me to both warm up and watch finalist and host, Virginia Beach, whom I had not seen at all the day before.

Under the watchful gaze of assessor Jim Thompson —whose ref whistle I played to way-too-many years ago — and the support of helpful ARs, Jeff Anderson and Peader Little, Norfolk walloped a stout but sorely undermanned Virginia Beach squad.

One more awesome culinary outing, this one with the Anderson family at seafood haven Rockafellers in Virginia Beach — shrimp, scallops, crab cakes, calamari, and more — and all that was left was the early morning departure and relatively hitch-free journey back west.

My thanks to our society for its support and to the VRRS for their magnanimity and warm hospitality.

Ray Schwartz and Favor Taueva went to Vancouver Island:
Reporting Ref: Favor Taueva

We arrived at the Sacramento Airport on time. Ray made sure everything was on schedule to make it to the Vancouver Airport. We prepared ourselves concerning changing from California’s nice and warm weather to the rainy, windy and cold season in Victoria, Canada. I was given some good warm clothes from Kat, representing

the Pelican Society Referee Club. I was a very happy ref.

Arrived at Vancouver Airport…next thing was to pick up our belongings and look for a ferry bus to Victoria City. It was so beautiful to see Canada for the first time. It looked a lot like the rural area of New Zealand when I went for the 1989-1990 High School World Cup. Ray got us a bus ticket which takes us to a ferry, then Victoria. What a long trip to Victoria, but very beautiful to see.

John de Goede, (Victoria Exchange Officer, former National Panel Ref Rugby Canada) picked us up at the bus station, and took us straight to watch his “Junior” game (Shawnigan at Oak Bay High 2nds). John mentioned he is also the Society allocation officer, and suddenly the game was going to go off uncovered so he helped out. Shawnigan demolished Oak Bay.

Later we pick up John Buxcey, a former James Bay hooker, now a ref, but down with an injury, so he stepped up to manage the refs at the weekend tournament, and so we continued on our way to the Shawnigan Lake School.

I have never heard of Shawnigan before. We arrived there about 7 p.m. and right before my eyes was this more than five star rating school compound. I took so many pictures, but still can’t describe the beautiful landscaping. Joke was the gardener gets paid more than the school’s Headmaster. John and Buxcey connected us to the right people and from there it’s more than words can describe. People are well trained, much respected individuals.

We had a dinner with all the coaches and Shawnigan Lake School tournament personnel. Pelican Ref Society/KOT was well acknowledged by the tournament director. Ray, the man, had a chance to represent both Pelican Ref and the KOT. Ray made sure everyone had the opportunity to have a taste of California wine. Lots of good connections were established at the moment of good food, smiles and California wine.

Friday…it’s fun time. Ray reffed one of the first games and I was at the second round. I enjoyed myself very well. At the half time of my first match, they handed me the ticket for the final match of the tournament! Shawnigan Lake School rugby pitch is so beautiful and well maintained. Friday ended up very successful and plenty of food, water, oranges, etc. to go around. Dinner nearby at the ‘dirt bird,’ The Black Swan, good pub grub. Tournament Director Mark Hall joined us, as well as the sales team from Kukri Sports, as Shawnigan instructor and rugby assistant Chris Brown was our chauffeur.

Saturday I had a chance to get coached by Keith Morrison (reffed in one World Cup). Between Ray and Keith, I have gained another bar of understanding concerning referring skills. I’m a better ref as a result of the Shawnigan Lake Tour.

I took an injury [now better] and was unable to ref the finals, but nothing will take away how much I appreciate those who have helped me and made this trip possible. Thank you so much for believing in me and making this trip happen.

Shawnigan Lake tour was well connected and absolutely a successful trip. I’m looking forward for another chance to represent the Pelican Ref Society/KOT.

Thank you again, Favor

Reporting Ref: Ray Schwartz

Very kind words from Favor. I was looking to go to Victoria and here the timing was right. I put my hand up offering to go, and knew Favor was also ready for the challenge. He has reffed only two seasons, but is coming along nicely and wanting to step up to “the big time.” He checked with work and got the days off. I focused on raising my fitness and on pool sales, and was lucky to close several deals all before travelling.

What we didn’t know until we arrived, was that the Shawnigan Lake School was hosting a 3-day “All Canada Independent Schools” tournament. We were being brought in to ref a ton of games all on this spectacular campus, and would be staying on campus, housed is a decent boarding room, but with shower, kitchen and laundry, and that we’d be in the “Hogwarts meets Frank Lloyd Wright” dining commons each morning.

This boarding school has got to be world class, stunning in every way, the boathouse, the rugby facilities, the gymnasium, to say nothing of the classrooms which we thankfully never saw. The architecture, the landscaping… amazing! But it is the rugby people who fill the place who are most special.

The Thursday night Coaches Dinner was in an awesome faculty lounge, and was our first glimpse of all the hard working staff that helped keep the place running in tip-top shape. Mark Hall, the Tournament Director, the moment I saw him, was happy to see me again, and fondly recalled when I had reffed his girls (vs. Mother Lode) two years earlier. The staff supplying the buffet was awesome. All the coaches were great. Buxcey and John de Goede; delightful. A bit later, the School’s Headmaster, Dave Robertson, joined us from another function, and he too remembered meeting me, in Rotorua and again in Wellington, as we both travelled for the World Cup!

The next morning in the dining commons, the buffet was perfect. I was a bit sad my match was so early I couldn’t eat a lot. I also couldn’t help but notice, the staff was busy making bagged lunches. Later that day, and for the next two days, not just the refs, but all the players and coaches from all visiting teams (18 sides in all) were fed through the hard work of this staff, w/ boxed lunched delivered up to the rugby clubhouse.

Shawnigan Lake School is a remote place, but they worked extra hard to make everyone feel at home. Their ‘set up’ was world class, and a direct reflection of Dave Robertson.

I helped ref coach Chris Brown and Ander Munroe, two Shawnigan coaches who also ref some. Seems they are so remote, they hardly ever get ref coached. And the Shawnigan sides are usually so dominant, they’re rarely challenged as refs. I encouraged them to raise their game. Ander was the star flyhalf for Canada in the last RWC. At 31, he’s retired from play, and could now enjoy a very good run as a ref. He is thinking seriously about that possibility.

The fields (four in total) were near perfect, the games were good, still preseason for most teams visiting from Ontario, Ottawa and Quebec, but some very good rugby was on display. Several of Shawnigan’s top ruggers are clearly All Canada players. I reffed (6) 40-minute matches on the weekend, swam in the Lake after my first match each day. The ice immersion therapy helped keep me feeling as fresh as can be by Sunday. It rained a good bit Friday afternoon (a nice change from Sacramento weather!), and so the washer and dryer in our dorm came in quite handy.

As I returned from the Lake midday Saturday, I knew Favor was reffing on the main field. I had served as AR for him earlier in the day, and joined the de-brief aftermatch with assessor/ref coach Keith Morrison. As I approached, I could hear the crowd roar off and on. I came up the hill to see the picturesque clubhouse and then the field with the two sides separate. Play was stopped, and the medics were hovering over a player down… right in front of me… But wait, it was Favor!

His boots and socks were off, and he wasn’t moving. This was disconcerting. But as I came upon him, I could see he was alive. I bent over and slapped him on the cheek. He opened his eyes and laughed. The poor guy had leapt out of the way from a tackle, had caught a boot in his calf, and sustained a deep bruise. He would limp the rest of the way… and into Tuesday… no more rugby for Favor on this trip, which is a real shame as Keith Morrison likened him to “young Aruna,” and they were lining up Mel Jones to drive in to watch him ref the Finals.

Saturday night we enjoyed a gourmet buffet with the Tournament coaches at the Headmaster’s house. Seems Dave Robertson has long-term plans that include a major commercial swimming pool installation, and I know just the guy to build it! Getting to know the other coaches proved delightful. Several had played pro rugby around the world. Many friends in common.

Sunday I got to ref a girl’s consolation match on the main pitch (Shawnigan beat Country Day School), then ran touch for the boy’s consolation (Shanwigan B v Brentwood), before relaxing to watch the Brentwood Girls lose to Bishops in that final, and then John de Goede more than capably handle the Final (Shawnigan crushed SAC, St. Andrews College). That tall man can still get around the field well.

Sounds like he, and others in the (tiny) Victoria Society (only 12 members?!), are excited about the KOT for next year as a Referee Development Vehicle, and they know I will take good care of them. Also, sounds like we will see several sides try and visit from Canada.

The Tourney all done, all smiles and warm glows, de Goede whisked Buxcey, Favor and I back to Victoria, and then on to the airport. The bus/ferry/bus in, the flight out, is the way to go, if you can find the time. Thanks massively to Bjorn and Bruce and the Pelicanrefs for helping Favor and I enjoy a trip of a lifetime! Exhausted when we got home, but all well worth it! –Ray

At Stanford. Four games each day.

Sacramento Lions – OMBAC Ref: Pete Smith
Needs another AR.

1PM D2 Snake River – Diablo Gaels Referee: Tony Maphosa (PNW)
1PM D2 ORSU – Santa Rosa Referee: Neil MacDonald
3PM D3 Corvalis – SFGG Referee: Jonathan Pasque (PNW)
3PM D3 Budd Bay – Sierra Foothills Referee: Jordan Bruno
At Sheeran Field at SFGG.

The IRB Refereeing Sevens course will be taught at SFGG on Saturday, June 8.

Bruce Carter and David Pelton are the instructors.

Sign up now on the USA Rugby website:


The Shawnigan Stag is flanked by Ray Schwartz and Favor Taueva, with recent NorCal visitor Mike Moss to Favor’s left.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

James Hinkin
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