Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | FUN WITH PANTS ON
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Our next society meeting will be Wednesday, March 20, at the usual time and place: Golden Gate clubhouse, southeast corner of Treasure Island, from 7 until 9 PM.


CALIFORNIA 77 – James Madison 0 Referee: Bruce Ricard

ARs: Rob Hendrickson, Tom Wright

With an estimated possession of 20 to 25%, James Madison spent the whole game defending, which they did pretty well in the first half. In the second half, probably tired of never having the ball, their defense was not as good. Cal scored 13 tries.

California Maritime Academy 0 – PENN STATE 89 Referee: Tom Zanarini

CMA, Vallejo, CA

AR: Eric Rauscher

Mid-week rugby is a nice treat. It helps break up the week, work on some referee skills, get some good speed work in and just enjoy a bonus day of rugby. Being a native Pennsylvanian, I was keen to referee one of Penn State’s matches on their spring break tour. Back in my college days, Penn State was our (Slippery Rock University’s) big rival, when PSU played in the Allegheny Rugby Union. My freshman year we fought Penn St. to a 16-6 loss in the ARU tournament final, earning a second seed birth to the Midwest Championships. Another fond memory was the 1995 league match where The Rock fought Penn St. to a seven point loss. Penn St. went on to the final four that year. Later while living in Austin, TX I ran into an Austin Black (I was a Hun, surprising that we even spoke) who played on that Penn St. team. He stated we were the toughest team they played until the semi-final. The Rock being what it was, that was our best game of the year, no coach, barely any funding and a third place finish in ARU (IUP finished second, bastards) meant no post season for us.

What was I saying? Oh, yeah, so I really wanted to ref Penn St. When I saw they were coming to Cal, I was just going to go to the game and enjoy a match from the sideline for once. Later in the season Pete assigned me to the Cal v Penn St. match. Cool! I’d love to. Then one of my development applications was appealed to the City Council and assigned to the March 4 agenda. Thanks Mr. _______. You are a true jag-off. Luckily Penn St. wrapped up their tour at Cal Maritime, so got my wish.

I suppose my intro is so long because the score, being what it was, doesn’t leave much to the imagination. CMA played hard, but not to Penn State’s level. I’d blame the size of CMA’s student body being about the size of some of Penn State’s Biology 101 classes, but the St. Mary’s match renders that argument void. Main points: CMA played TO the rucks, PSU played THROUGH the rucks. CMA threatened a couple of times, even having a maul held up in goal. All in all a fun match on CMA awesome new field.

Since I did ref at Cal on Saturday I feel I can comment that Maritime’s field turf is better in that the the ‘grass’ is longer with a bit more of the rubber (cancerous? We’ll all find out later) pellets. It is dually lined with soccer stripes, the only fault I can find.

Thanks to Eric Rauscher, who is always willing to fly the AR flag. Best wishes to Preston who was the other assigned AR, but the softball welt on his leg received while refereeing is still in swelling mode.


Maritime Academy 17 – St. Mary’s (thirds?) 17 Referee: Petti (Calgary)


EPA BULLDOGS 53 – Olympic Club 22 Referee: Paul Bretz

Sac Lions 0 – OPSB 61 Referee: Petti (Calgary)

Barbarians 5 – SFGG 88 Referee: Rich Anderson

Seconds: Barbarians 0 – SFGG 51 Ref: Anderson

Santa Rosa – Sac Caps Referee: Nome Tiatia

Referee Coach: Mike Malone

No report received.

DIABLO GAELS 50 – Fresno 27 Referee: John Coppinger

This match was played on the new turf fields in the Wilder Ranch development in Orinda above Highway 24 just east of the Caldecott Tunnel. Field 2 is lined for rugby!

Gaels stormed out to a big lead 30-0 lead at half only to lose their shape and discipline (resulting in two yellow cards) in the second half allowing Fresno to make a match out of it.

Seconds: Gaels – Fresno Referee: Dave Pescetti

Referee Coach: John Coppinger

No report received.

CHICO MIGHTY OAKS 31 – Vacaville 26 Referee: Cary Bertolone

At Bidwell Jr High in Chico

I arrived at the field to see a game in progress with large crowds, tents, rugby gear for sale, etc. Chico had the 10-12 year olds playing, and then the 13-14 year olds. I hear they have a team for under 10’s, also. Impressive to watch. As I was warming up, I heard and saw one 10 year old tell his parents he preferred to wear his rugby jersey to lunch, rather than changing.

I expected a close game for the Chico vs Vacaville match and that is certainly what I got. Chico started out with a converted try. Vacaville then took control with their long 50-60 meter kicks and scored three trys to take a 19-7 lead. In the last five minutes of the half, Chico’s backs exploded for two long tries and the score at the half was 19-19. In the second half, each side scored a converted try and played stout defense, so it was 26-26 with 5 minutes to go when Chico’s outside center broke for a 70 meter run. He was tackled into the try zone and I was about 20 meters behind, but I saw the ball take a high bounce after they hit the ground, looking like he might have dropped the ball before he was able to touch it down. It was a hard decision and anti crowd pleasing, but I called a knock on as I did not see it get touched down and that big bounce looked suspicious.

The next five minutes were played at a furious pace. With one minute to go, Vacaville had a touch back and took the 22 meter drop kick with their players offside. I called last play with 15 seconds to go. Both teams retained possession with multiple phases during the next two minutes. I thought Vacaville had better continuity and if they didn’t knock it on, might be hard to stop. Then, the ball squirted out of a ruck, Chico picked it up, made three sweet passes and their same outside center that almost scored before, fought his way in for the winning try at about the 42 minute mark What a game!

After the match, curious about the almost try I called a knock from 20 meters behind, I got the expected " it bounced so high cause I slammed it down" and when I said "bullshit, I know you didn’t get a chance to slam it down", he smiled and said I might have made the right call. I got a little lucky with that one. I should not have been 20 meters behind, but hey, they were pretty fast.

SEAHAWKS 36 – Baracus 23 Referee: Jordan Bruno

Referee Coach: Mike King

The Seahawks and Baracus squared off for an intense match with playoff implications. Due to rain earlier in the week, the field was wet and the turf loose. From the start, ball security and passing would be the determining factors in declaring a victor. Baracus started off well, scoring a couple of early tries off of Seahawks penalties committed near the ruck. The Seahawks recovered before half, using forwards to pull in the defensive line and using the quickness of their wing and fullback to run in four tries before the half. The second half was much slower than the start, as both teams knocked on and used the boot to play for field possession. Many thanks to Mike King for providing insightful and wise comments following the match.

Seconds: SEAHAWKS – Baracus Referee: Mike King

The trip to the South Bay boded well as the sun shone down following a few days of rain and showers. The pitch was well marked and nice size, with short grass. It looked in perfect shape until you started to walk on it. The drainage seemed to be non-existent as leftover water from rain or sprinklers marred the otherwise near-perfect conditions.

Handling suffered due to the wet and muddy ball, and scrums became the norm. One player inquired if they had reached a record for scrums. I replied not quite, and I had worse, but only when it was actually pouring and the mud came up to the players’ knees. Nonetheless, we moved scrums several meters over at times to try to find less slippery ground. Both sides played hard all the way through the match which was somewhat a see-saw affair. Seahawks burst out to a 22-5 half-time lead, to see that shrink to only 4 point lead in the second half; the Hawks pulling away again, but Baracus pushing forward to force a score near the end due to repeated offside by the Seahawks.

During the match, I twice had to ask the rhetorical question to the Hawks captain when his side scored a try, as I was being reminded by his teammates that there was a penalty 25 meters back – “Would you like the try, or should we take the ball back to the spot of the penalty?”

Good work by both sides.

Colusa – Redwood Referee: Favor Taueva

No report received.

HUMBOLDT OLD GROWTH 81 – State of Jefferson 5 Referee: Eric Rauscher

This was the strangest game I have done yet up in Humboldt. It was sunny and warm enough for me to work up a good sweat by halftime.

The score pretty much summed up the game. State of Jefferson is a second year club with no coach and only two players that have ever played rugby before. Humboldt was able to establish multi-phase play, while SOJ was pretty much a crash off of each ruck.

This was the third week in a row that I got to observe part of what makes this game so attractive to me. SOJ only showed up with 17 players.

I checked with the captain of Humboldt at half time to see if they would be willing to lend players to SOJ, who had already used both of their subs.

He said yes of course. Four min into the second half, one of the players that came in as a sub for SOJ was injured (I suspect with broken ribs, he was taken to the hospital). The SOJ captain asked if the person he had subbed could come back in again. I asked if he was front row, he said no, so I said no. I then brought up the possibility of Humboldt "lending" them a player. The response was no, we will just play a man down. The Humboldt captain then on his own decided to drop off one of their players so as not to put SOJ at a further disadvantage, I shook his hand, That is the spirit of the game.

At the social afterwards, the player who scored the try for SOJ was introduced to the ritual of the boot. I also asked several of his team-mates if they had enjoyed the game even though they got pounded. They said yes

SHASTA 58 – Mendocino 0 Referee: Matt Hetterman

Beautiful day to play rugby – bright blue sky, perfect temperature. Unfortunately, only 8 guys from Mendocino showed up to play. Shasta gave them all six of their subs, and we played 80 minutes of rugby. Close to halftime, Shasta lost their super-speedy outside center, which brought us back to 14-on-14.

Warm welcome by all to me, and I look forward to making it back up for the annual XV’s tournament in the fall.

Vallejo 17 – SIERRA FOOTHILLS 38 Referee: Bruce Ricard

The first half was pretty much one sided: Vallejo was too undisciplined and was thus giving a lot of balls back to Sierra Foothills who was attacking the whole half. They tried to kick a couple penalties, but their kicker wasn’t lucky, so they decided not to kick anymore, and go for tries. They scored 3 of them in the first half, leading 17 to nothing at half time. At the 3rd minute of the second half, Sierra is once again attacking in Vallejo’s half, but Vallejo gets the ball and starts counter attacking towards the try line. After a few passes, the ball carrier is tackled 2m from the try line, and a ruck forms. A Sierra Foothill player falls in the ruck, and grabs the ball, which becomes unplayable. The player is temporarily suspended, and play restarts with a penalty 5m from the line. On the next play, Vallejo scored their first try. The second half was very balanced, both teams scored three tries. Both teams were pretty disciplined in the second half, except for a Vallejo player who thought it was smart to threaten the referee, and was sent off.

Final score: Vallejo 17 – Sierra Foothills 38.

Stanislaus 24 – BLACKHAWKS 57 Referee: Giles Wilson

Stanislaus Harlots hosted Sacramento Blackhawks in Turlock, many new or young players were in evidence on both sides which is very encouraging.

Stanislaus are rebuilding and introducing new players this year which is hard, Blackhawks were a new team last year and seem to be drawing a number of young players. Stanislaus were able to "produce" in patches both offensively and defensively but struggles to maintain a standard – as they are rebuilding the balance between experienced players who know where gaps are (but can’t get to them) and new, young players who could get there but don’t yet see the spaces can cause frustration. The good patches saw good defense and the ability to score four decent tries (two converted) split evenly between each half.

Blackhawks are drawing from both brand new players but also from those with HS experience, which means that they can use their experienced players judiciously (and they can expend energy similarly). Blackhawks scored nine tries with six converted (should have been ten but a new whippet of a winger ran himself past the dead ball line trying to center, while being pursued – lesson learnt).

Monterey Bay 5 – SFGG 29 Referee: Tom Zanarini

Great rugby day near the coast. SFGG was so excited to get to the match that they forgot their jerseys. Luckily they all had team tech shirts but lacked numbers on the back. Match was competitive with Golden Gate staying on the gas the whole match. Spirited rugby played by gentleman.

SOUTH VALLEY 53 – San Francisco Fog 12 Referee: James Hinkin

After reading Dr. Carter’s account of the South Valley home field I was looking forward to this fixture – more accurately to the post-match social. A rugby field nestled in a California vineyard hosting a tightly contested match followed by tacos made to order and beer for the taking. I could already hear the sizzle of taco fillings on the grill as players tried to explain in great detail how they could never have been off side, being the righteous paragons that they are, and how I must have been mistaken *chomp* *chomp* *slurp* and that they didn’t really hold it against me as I was only a referee *slurp* *chomp* and I couldn’t really understand what it was like to be a player being only a D3 ref *slurp* *slurp* *chomp* *burp* ‘scuse me.

Then I got an email telling me the field was unavailable and the game was moved to Treasure Island. Sigh…

Now don’t get me wrong – this wasn’t a complete tragedy. San Francisco was at her gaudy best under a cloudless spring (ok, technically winter) sky with temps in the high 60s. Sailboats dotted the bay and rugby was in the air. I arrived an hour before kickoff to see 2 teams hard at work. Kathy Flores had her Foggy boys energetically warming up so I wandered over to the other team hitting tackling bags with gusto… only to find out that it was Berkeley having a bye week training session. South Valley did show up in plenty of time, however, and we kicked off precisely at 1:00 and I awarded a penalty try at 1:03. This one was straight out of the law book as South Valley was on the attack immediately and worked their way into the 22. A few more phases got them closer to the goal line when the ball was spun wide to the SV wing with only his opposite to beat. The defender met the ball carrier about 2 meters short of the goal line with a tackle around the neck and resulted in the penalty try. No particular malice, just inexperience, but not much choice there. The game continued with South Valley dominating proceedings scoring 5 tries (3 converted) to the Fog’s 1. Halftime score: South Valley 31 – SF Fog 5.

The second half was much more balanced with the Fog sorting out some scrum issues and moving some players around but they couldn’t stop South Valley consistently. SV ran in 4 more tries (1 converted) to the Fog’s lone response to put the game safely away. Both sides played with heart and good spirit but the southern lads had an advantage in size, speed and rugby nous. The Fog seemed to have a young team so I expect this to change in the future.

Cal Poly SLO 31 – ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 41 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera

Assistant Referees: Andy Doukas, Paul Phillips (SoCal)

On my drive to San Luis Obispo, the Britannia Arms in Cupertino turned out to be a good place to watch the 2nd half of the Ireland v France 6N match. In SLO, the two remaining unbeaten teams in the California D1A league met to decide first place. Both teams played committed, enterprising rugby, but also made mistakes at inopportune times. Cal Poly took a 24-19 lead into half-time thanks to sloppy tackling by SMC. With the wind at their back in the 2nd half, SMC broke ahead 41-24 and held off the home team’s late match rally to earn a hard-fought victory by 7 tries to 5.

Andy Doukas’ report:

I hope all is well! A lot of great rugby this past weekend.

There was a successful referees clinic held in Santa Barbara; I think 9 from the Central Coast attended the level 1 certification.

Is it ok for some to affiliate with the Pelicans due to their region they participate in?

I refereed two matches and AR’d the title match Saturday.

Cal Poly Alumni – Cal Poly 4th Side Referee: Andy Doukas

Score: A lot of trys to a lot of trys

A crowd pleasing game before the big conference title match between Cal Poly and Saint Mary’s. A strong wind gave the advantage to the Cal Poly Alumni, they came out scoring many and quickly. The 2nd half was a closer contest as the older fellahs faded and the young lads kicked for field position. An open and very spirited game!

Thirds: Cal Poly 7 – SAINT MARY’S 42 Ref: Doukas

A close contest for the 1st half, Poly 7 and St. Mary’s 5. The 2nd half was all St. Mary’s with some good kicks and ball movement.

SAN DIEGO STATE 40 – 14 Sac State Referee: Phil Akroyd

A/Rs: Adam Haley, Val Griffeth

Performance Reviewer: Jay Trello

Due to the inclement San Diego "weather", the game was moved from a 1pm kick-off on the grass fields, to a 5pm kick-off on the turf fields. As a result, I spent the majority of the day nursing my head cold at the residence of Jay and Marty. It worked out very well – watched the Ireland V France game, then a little spot of lunch. If you ever get to be hosted by Jay, be warned that he is an excellent cook and the chicken tortilla soup went down very well.

After the ensuing naps, it was time to head out to the field. The weather was shaping up pretty well and the cloud had cleared, leaving a sunny yet cool evening for college rugby. The turf field was fast and close to full size, but looked like an explosion in a Valspar [paint] factory, with red, yellow, white and black painted lines for football, soccer, lacrosse and rugby, in addition to the 10’x10′ Aztecs logo.

Sac State played better than their 0-3 record suggested, but SDSU scored at 8′, 23′, 29′ and just before the break, leaving it 26-0 at half. I suspected that the Aztecs would seal the deal early in the second half but the Hornets played in the second half like they should have in the whole game (the second half total was actually tied at 14-14). They grabbed the first two tries of the half, bringing it back to 26-14 after an interception try, however SDSU rolled in the subs and scored a couple more tries to put it out of contention.

Given the changed kick-off time there was a quick costume change pitch side, then off to the airport and with sweat still in my hair, time for a Stone IPA at the gate before heading back north.

Santa Clara 17 – UC SANTA BARBARA 33 Referee: Terry Helmer

Seconds: Santa Clara 26 – UCSB 52 Ref: Helmer

SAN JOSE STATE 50– Nevada 22 Referee: Tony Levitan

Fresno State 14 – UCSC 26 Referee: Jeff Jury

CHICO STATE 98 – SF State 10 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Nice day, great drive with all of the fruit trees in bloom on the way, but the match was a blow out.

SIERRA COLLEGE 15 – Santa Rosa JC 14 Referee: Rich Boyer

SONOMA STATE 98 – CSU Monterey Bay 19 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Beautiful campus with rugby pitch in the middle of it. Great crowd & Sonoma State started just as impressively scoring 3 tries within the first 6 minutes & not letting up from there.

They had players at each position helping; good props, great hooker, 2nd rows, a flanker who scored 4 tries; inside center ran wild breaking the gain line each time he got the ball & a real fast but raw winger.

They scored more points than I ever reffed; but CSUMB came up with 3 nice tries of its own with the help of their elusive outside center (for 2) & tough scrumhalf for the other one.

Also a beautiful drive for anyone with as much time as I had to take Old Redwood Hwy both directions through Cotati & Petaluma for some BBQ oysters & tri tip.

Stanford women – ALL BLUES Referee: Pete Smith

Stanford 26 – UC DAVIS 45 Referee: George O’Neil

ARs: Pete Smith, Bruce Carter

Stanford seconds 19 – JAMES MADISON 101 Referee: Bruce Carter

Going over to introduce myself to the visiting team’s coach, I was surprised to find that I didn’t need to and suddenly the whole idea of JMU’s tour made sense: it was Mark Lambourne, who used to play for the O Club and captained Cal in the mid-eighties.

He was better known as ‘Beej’, a feisty hooker. Refs will remember.

His guys had played on Monday and Wednesday, and had a long training session at Cal on Thursday. Coming out of the snow of Harrisburg, Virginia, they hit their stride in their third game against Stanford’s seconds.

We’re fortunate out here in the Golden State: the playoffs come at the end of the season. These guys played in the autumn, qualified for playoffs in October/November, and then have to participate in those playoffs from a cold start (unless they go on tour!).

I think they’ll have some momentum to carry over from this victory.

NEVADA women over SF BATS by forfeit Referee: Russ Wilkening

The BATS women didn’t have enough healthy players to travel, so the game didn’t happen. I did receive a couple days notice, though.

UCSC women 7 – Humboldt State 5 Referee: Neil MacDonald

With both teams undefeated in conference play, having accumulated lots of tries, this last match of the regular season was set to be the decider. We took the beautifully prepared field at UCSC under glorious sunshine. Both teams got off to a tight start, with open play interrupted by knock-ons and turnovers frequently. It took 22 minutes for the first score, with UCSC’s scrum half crossing under the posts. HSU replied with a try from sustained pressure on 38 minutes, despite the best efforts of UCSC defenders to get hands under the ball. Missed conversion, so 7-5 UCSC at half time.

In the second half, neither team’s wings could find their way round the outside, and the line breaks were hauled down without getting clear. UCSC came close to extending their lead twice, held up over the line both times, before HSU turned them over on 5m scrum and relieved the pressure. As the game went on, both teams struggled to stay onside at rucks, and earned warnings. Deep in the UCSC 22 and late in the game, UCSC’s flanker went to the bin to reflect on what "back foot" means. With only 2 points in it, HSU pushed hard but lost the ball, before infringing again themselves and getting their own card. With both sides contesting fiercely for the ball, time ran out for HSU to get the score they needed, and an eventful but scoreless second half came to an end.


ROSA 23 – Marin 19 Referee: Cary Bertolone

Friday night at Cardinal Newman in Santa Rosa

A barn burner on Friday night, under the lights.

This game started out with Santa Rosa backs running fast and long and Marin missing tackles as the kids from Rosa scored three first half tries for a 17-7 half time lead. In the second half, Marin scored 2 tries and Rosa nailed two penalty conversions and the score was 23-19. With minutes to go, Rosa passed up an easy penalty attempt that would have given them a nice lead. Marin held them up in the try zone and then, with a kick, a chase, a few nice passes, took the ball to their side of the field. A penalty on Rosa and Marin had their chances, but couldn’t score and Rosa won this very close game 23-19. I think out of 5 previous matches between these programs, that I have reffed, that was the first time I’ve seen Rosa beat Marin (I could be wrong about that).

BERKELEY girls 58 – Chico 5 Referee: Bruce Ricard

The girls didn’t seem to have a lot of experience and there were 4 knock-ons per minute: if I wasn’t told this was a game of rugby, I might have had a hard time figuring it out.

But the players were very focused and motivated though, and seemed very happy to play this game, which I believe is the point of any sport, so it was a good experience.

Still, a lot of work to do for both teams.

Granite Bay Varsity Silver 22 – Lancers 14 (Half time 12-7): Referee: Neil MacDonald

Relocated to Rancho Cordova due to field issues in Granite Bay, we kicked off on an overcast but dry evening, and succeeded in getting the match in before either darkness or rain fell. Granite Bay has a great pick and drive game, and opened the scoring on 3 minutes. Lancers, a younger team with a lot of potential and spirit, tied it up at 7-7 before Granite Bay got their noses in front 12-7, and hung on to that lead until half time. Granite Bay extended their lead to ten points, before one of their number earned a red card for a tip tackle. Granite Bay scored while a man down taking it to 22-7. Lancers kept their heads up and played committed rugby throughout. Ten minutes from time, Lancers spun the ball wide after several phases, and with a try beckoning their winger was felled just short of the line by a high tackle by the last covering defender. Penalty try, successfully converted, and yellow card. Granite Bay, now at 13 players, absorbed Lancer’s pressure, and defended the win. Classy player of the match ceremony after the match.

Dixon Varsity Gold 33 – Bishop O’Dowd 5 (Half time 12-0): Referee: Neil MacDonald

AR: Anthony Nguyen

Referee Coach: Jim Crenshaw

On a bitterly cold evening, Dixon hosted Bishop O’Dowd under the lights. Anthony Nguyen, graciously agreed to bundle up in his cold weather gear and stay to AR after his match, Given the temperature, the ref was thankful to both teams that this was a fast game, and grateful for all the running. Dixon – looking a very complete team – opened the scoring in 5 minutes, and added a converted try from a scrum in the Bishop O’Dowd 22 on 18 minutes. 12-0 at half time. Bishop O’Dowd played hard, but conceded three converted tries before finally being rewarded for their commitment and their persistence with the last try of the game. Cracking game of rugby. It was great to see the respect between the players in the player of the game conversation after the match. Jim Crenshaw went well beyond the call in staying to coach on such a cold night and providing helpful, specific and practical feedback to the shivering ref after the match. Many thanks to Anthony and to Jim.


For the Senate

Pelicus Scriptoris

James Hinkin
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