Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | HP Is Back!
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HP Is Back!


The rumors are true: we’re back!   After essentially taking the whole summer off from Hailing the Pelicus the beloved organ of the Northern California Rugby Referee Society has shaken off the dust and is ready to go into full squawking mode.   We have much to cover so I will limit the introductory comments – don’t count on that in the future, however.


Thank you, Preston


Preston Gordon asked the board to accept his resignation as the Referee Development Officer due to work commitments.  The society owes Preston a debt of gratitude and our thanks for his service.  Vicki Hudson will be filling Preston’s role as RDO.  She graciously accepted the challenge to further develop our society’s skills and is in the process of developing this year’s agenda.


Highlights of the 2014 AGM as reported by NCRRS President Paul Bretz:


  • Pete Smith has taken over as the scheduler for the NCRFU; he now is responsible for setting the master schedule for the league as well as communicating referee assignments.
  • Pete outlined the idea of “super-sites”, multiple matches at the same venue throughout the day, and the sponsorship opportunities currently in the works.  This year’s season will be very enjoyable for all stakeholders.
  • Dave Williamson discussed youth rugby.
  • Paul Bretz hit on changes in store for referee coaching.  Coaches will be inputting their information into a database which will provide the opportunity for coaches to see referee trends and track progress.  Referees will also be asked to provide input about the coaching experience as a means to improve referee development and referee coaching.  Coaches will be shown the system in December.
  • Paul Bretz and Pete Smith provided instructional sessions on officiating the tackle and the location of penalties in relation to the field.


Beep Test


In order to progress as a referee one needs to meet fitness standards. This is measured by the infamous beep test and was administered at the AGM.   Tests will be administered at upcoming meetings if there is sufficient interest.


  • 14 brave members participated in the beep test
  • Congratulations to Chris Tucker and Jordan Bruno…14.8 and 13.12 respectively on the beep
  • Tom Zanarini, Phil Akroyd, Jen Tetler all scored at least 12 on the test
  • James Hinkin was unable to take the test due to a strained hip but mentally ran a 13.4.

Future society meetings


The society is in the process of booking its monthly training sessions and is looking to reserve the following dates:

  • December 10,
  • January 21,
  • February 18,
  • March 18,
  • April 15
  • May 13


Keep a close eye on this newsletter for date confirmation.


2014 registration


Referees need to be CIPP’d too! Don’t forget to get registered with USA rugby.  Once you’ve registered send your society dues, $10.00, to Jim Crenshaw.


Assignr – making match reporting and assigning easier since 2014


The NCRFU will continue to use the assignr system for assignments and match reports.   Please make sure that your availability is correctly listed on the site – if you aren’t listed as available you probably won’t get assigned.   Under “My Availability” you can make yourself available for a block of dates and then recuse yourself for specific dates if needed.   Please remember when filling out your match reports on assignr, ASSIGNR IS NOT WHERE YOU REPORT MISCONDUCT. The report section of assignr is for the match summaries that are below.   If there are red cards or reportable yellow cards in your match then report them via the channels described on


Upcoming Courses


Level 1 Officiating Course

A level 1 course will he held on December 7, 2014 from 7:45 am – 5:00 pm



Location:  Redwood High School, 395 Doherty Drive, Larkspur, CA
Please see for details or contact the Lead Educator: Mike Malone at


Coaching Certificate

A Level 300 Coaching certification will be offered Dec 20,21 hosted by SFGG on Treasure Island. Link for registration:

See course listing for prerequisites.


Pelicus winners


Jim Crenshaw – The Stare remains strong with this one


Yes, we know what we did wrong and we are sorry.


Exchange Notes


David Pescetti and Jordan Bruno were our representatives for this year’s Alberta exchange. Here are their reports:


Jordan Bruno


I flew into Calgary International a day before our nation celebrated its birthday to visit our northern neighbor.  David Robinson, President of the society, greeted me at the gate and I went back to gear up for a busy Fourth of July.  I happened to visit Calgary the day of their largest parade and rodeo, an event that draws thousands from all over the globe on an annual basis.  It is the largest cash prize rodeo around, with two million dollars in prize money distributed over a few days.  With the Canadian dollar trading at 94 cents to the American dollar, that’s still a lot of money.  It was like Texas in Canada. Bronco riding, bull riding, barrel races, and calf roping, the event drew the best competitors from North America.  That evening David and I made it over to the venue for the Stampede 7s tournament to officiate a few evening 7s matches.  The fields were in great condition, all 5 of them, with the last overlooking downtown Calgary and the snow capped Rocky Mountains in the distance.  Calgary’s economy has been doing well with 60% of the local economy coming from oil and gas, evidence being a tower built in the 70s dwarfed by newly constructed office towers.  I was told I could still go to the top of Calgary Tower, but did not have a lot of interest after hearing that you had a better view of people working on the 40th floor of the neighboring office than of the surrounding city.  The next morning was more rugby—matches started at 8 and as refs straggles in from celebrating the night before, we realized we had more than enough hands on deck for ARs and in touch for all the matches, with plenty of breaks to go around.  Teams were mainly from Canada, with a US select side that made it pretty far into the playoffs.  The Cannibal Rugby Team did very well, albeit without their most well known player.  Jerry Collins, the well known New Zealand All-Black, made his way to Canada after playing in Japan, and practiced with their all islander side.  It was rumored that while playing in Japan, Collins got involved with a girlfriend of one of the Yakuza gang members.  Fearing for his life, he held up a liquor store with a rubber gun to get deported.  This of course voided his contract and brought him to Canada.  The story itself was a fine substitute for seeing the legend in action.  The Cannibals in fact beat out the US Select Side in the finals to the tune of 44-0.  A great weekend of rugby with a great referee society.  This reciprocal exchange is definitely something that more of our referees will enjoy in the future.


David Pescetti

Calgary, Alberta Canada

Thursday June 5 – Sunday June 8, 2014

Rugby Alberta, Exchange with Alberta Rugby Society


Last week I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to travel to Alberta, Canada for the Provincial Championships held in Calgary. It was rugby filled two day event with two tears of both boys and girls schools competing for the right to call themselves champions of Alberta. Matches were played at the Calgary Rugby Union (CRU). A beautiful facility with 5 pitches overlooking downtown Calgary and the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I was hosted by stellar referee Andrew Petti. Magically the skies parted for both days and the sun was shining, amazing weather for rugby both days. Onto Day 1!

Day 1: Arrived at the CRU at 8am to get ready, attend coaches meeting, and referees meeting. Began the day with two AR assignments.

First was West Island vs West Central a battle over the west. It was a close, hard fought match with West Central prevailing 15 – 5 over West Island in the 40 minute contest.

My second match was a match between Winston Churchill vs Rimbey. Unfortunately Winston Churchill was too strong and too fast for Rimbey. Final score Winston Churchill 42 – Rimbey 10. I was given an hour break before my first match center match.

Western Canada vs Holy Trinity Acadamy: Western Canada is a strong team from a strong rugby school. HTA was new to the scene for girl’s rugby. Western Canada was more organized and played better defense. HTA had the athletes to compete but seemed unsure when attacking and could not recover when things got messy. HTA was able to put points on the board through broken plays but they were unable to consistently run phases necessary to punch it in. The final: Western Canada 33 – Holy Trinity Acadamy 12. HTA has a promising future with their athletes and great coaches at their school.

Directly following my match I moved scampered over to a new assignment, Winston Churchill vs West Central. I had the pleasure of working with a great New Zealand referee. She had great command over the game and I was able to learn a lot listening to her over coms. Winston Churchill’s pack behind the play of their 8-man was able to out muscle West Central. They made great moves off the scrum and were able to catch West Central unprepared in the first half. While the second half was slower because West Central caught onto Churchill’s 8-man play, the overall game was much the same. Winston Churchill 30 – West Central 7.

With the 2nd round of the tournament underway I had to rush over to my next assignment. Two teams fought for their right to advance, Assumption/Cold vs Beaumont. A game which was back and forth, eventually Beaumont prevailed with the speed in their backs. Beaumont 22 – Assumption/Cold 14.

Directly after this match I made my way to my second center match of the day, Medicine Hat vs Lloydminster. Med Hat had a size advantage over Lloyd. During the game Med Hat’s size allowed them to break the tackles of Lloyd and push their advantage as a result of these breakaways. Lloyd played with tremendous heart, never showing an ounce of frustration or meekness, despite the size and physical disparity. Behind the superb play of the Med Hat fly half, they took a sizable lead and never looked back, ending the game with a 15 meter drop goal. Med Hat 58 – Lloydminster 0.

After, I was able to relax for a little bit before my last AR assignment for the day. An evening match between two 3rd division men’s teams, pitting the Canucks vs the Rams. Being able to be the fly on the wall with multiple high level refs and listening in on their conversations with coaches on current issues how they handle them is quite informative. The teams were two big groups of men with powerful scrums. As last year’s reigning champions, the Canucks are on the road to repeat. Their play did not disappoint. Powerful scrums with support at the rucks. The Canucks flustered the Rams with their defense. The Rams ultimately had a player sent off close to the end of the game, which sealed the win for the Canucks. The final result was Canucks 29 – Rams 10.

After being at the pitch for 12 hours it was nice to get out of the boots, relax with the rest of the crew, and enjoy a pint with a view.


Day 2: After day one I felt like I was going to lose a few toenails. Putting on my socks and boots wasn’t painful but left me nails and by extension me, uneasy, as if the pain was just beyond the horizon. Luckily, once into my boots there was nothing but rugby ahead.

My day began with the Consolation championships between West Island College and Parkland Comp. It was a very back and forth game. 5 lead changes throughout the match. The players were in good spirits yet visibly tired. The scrums due to the fitness of the players began to suffer, after seeing how other referees handled the scrums in the past weekend helped me address the issues better than I have previously. The longer match, 60 minutes as opposed to 40 the previous day, began to wear on both teams as the game went on. Tackles became lazier and weaker. The game ended in a 24 – 24 tie. The challenge of being a player down seemed to energize Parkland. Despite being a man down Parkland Comp took the extra 10 minutes in decisive fashion, scoring a converted try and a penalty kick to snatch the win in an extremely hard fought match from West Island College. Parkland Comp 34 – West Island College 24. Both teams played their heart out and it was my pleasure to be the match official during this game.

After this game I was again in the center for a tier 3 Men’s match where Banff would play the Calgary Saracens. This match I would be without AR, I had been spoiled the entire weekend until that game. I had a lot to absorb from my previous match. This match was more difficult than previous matches due to my own fatigue, beginning to lose my voice, and both teams testing my limits as far as what they could get away with. It was a great challenge for me to referee this game with two formidable teams. Both fought hard in the scrums with Banff being a bit craftier. The kicking game was used heavily by both teams to great effect. Banff had the more consistent play throughout the match. The game went to full time with Banff coming out on top after the full 80 minute contest. Banff 34 – Saracens 24.

I was able to ref with someone who had a US Rugby referee jersey, but I could not find anyone with their NCRRS Pelican jersey on. However, everyone was jealous of the reversible jersey I had on most of the weekend.


My last match, I was able to be on AR for an Alberta Premier Cup match between Strathcona Druids and Calgary Saints. This was a highly contested match with two teams with very similar styles. Mid-range sized packs with amazing quick backs. The Druids began to dominate the Saints with the Druid loose-head overpowering the Saints Tight-head, which lead to a pushover try from a scrum at the 5 meter line. The back play by both teams was superb. The smoothness and power displayed by both teams was great to be a part of. The high level of rugby on display led to a back and forth 1st half. In the second half the Saints displayed more brilliance after weathering the 1st storm brought by the Druids. Saints back-line play was too good for the Druids. With minutes to go I popped my Red card cherry. The final: Calgary Saints 43 – Strathacona Druids 22.

Amazingly after my last game it was time to head out, thankfully before I had to buy rounds of pitchers for all the remaining match officials who were last because I had a tie game, its tradition (I was told). I had to quickly shower and dress in my Number 1s for an elegant dinner.

After two amazing days of rugby and people at the Calgary Rugby Union it was time to head to a celebration of more rugby, the Presidents dinner at the Calgary Canadian Irish Athletic Club. The three visiting referees: Trevor Honey, Brett Hay, and myself along with our hosts: David Robinson, Kim Godeseth and Andrew Petti respectively were invited to join an amazing fundraiser for the Calgary Irish Rugby Club. Amazing food, laughter, and company led to a great evening full of thoughtful discussions about the future of rugby and hockey as viewed by President of the Calgary Flames (NHL Hockey team) and Board member of Rugby Canada Brian Burke.

Left to Right: Kim Godeseth, Trevor Honey, Brett Hay, David Robinson, David Pescetti, Andrew Petti

Andrew warned me at the beginning of my trip that Rugby Alberta loves to run visiting referees into the ground. While I believed him I was not prepared for the 10 matches in 2 days totaling 540 minutes refereed. With a tired body I was ready to leave lovely Canada and return to warmer California and a bath full of epsom salts.

I would like to thank everyone for your help in making this amazing event come together for me. It was an amazing experience, one I will remember for a long time.

My thanks goes to:

David Robinson for coordinating the exchange with NCRRS.

Andrew Petti for putting up with me in his wonderful home.

To all the amazing referees I met out in Alberta over the weekend.

Bjorn Stumer for organizing the NCRRS side of this exchange.

And finally the Board of the NCRRS for allowing me the privilege of participating in this wonderful program.


Thank you, David Pescetti


This Week’s Photo I was humbled to be asked to pose for my first ever magazine shoot. I like the way it turned out.

James Rugby Cover


Hail, Pelicus!

For the Senate

Pelicus Pedem Referre



James Hinkin
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