Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | Indoor Rugby
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-2415,single-format-standard,mkd-core-1.1,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,burst child-child-ver-1.0.0,burst-ver-2.1, vertical_menu_with_scroll,smooth_scroll,blog_installed,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-7.6,vc_responsive


Indoor Rugby

The World Sevens Series moved up to Canada last week and, because of the rabid moose infestation, was played indoors. The USA looked even stronger than their 3rd place performance last week as they cruised through the Day 1 pool with comfortable victories over Japan, France and Australia, recording a +88 point differential. The clinical evisceration of Australia was especially impressive as we took apart a very talented team with ease. Hopes were high as we headed into Day 2 with a quarterfinal against Argentina (again). Déjà vu all over again as the US didn’t play particularly well but managed a narrow victory over the South Americans. That set up a Cup Seminfinal against Series Leaders South Africa (again). Déjà déjà vu… or something like that. The US would come into this game with confidence knowing how close they came to beating the Blitzbokke in Las Vegas but would have to do it without their talismanic bruiser Danny Barrett, who was serving a suspension for a head high tackle in the Argentina match. Will Ben Pinkleman step up and take over the Barrett role? Will Folau Niua be able to orchestrate an upset over their bogey team? Will Madison Hughes finally be able to eat at the adult’s table? The answers to those questions are, in order, yes, no, and maybe next year, little guy.

Pinkleman was huge. South Africa is possibly the only team on the circuit that has the speed to contain Perry Baker so he was a non factor in this match. The hard work done by Pinkleman, Duratolo and the rest of the Eagles led to an early lead and when the inevitable South African comeback occurred kept them in the game until the final whistle. Down by 4, we had possession and were attacking scant meters from the try line when we tried one too many pick and go’s and were held up in goal. This is how close we are to the top echelon on 7s rugby: for two tournaments in a row we were beaten by the #1 team on a critical defensive play at full time. Last week we stole the lineout but were then pushed off the ensuing ruck. This week we crossed the try line but were held up in goal. Agonizingly close to the finals.

I would like to turn that around now to talk about what makes a champion. South Africa are pulling away with the points race having won 4 tournaments already and, even though they lost to England in the finals of this tournament, are playing inspired rugby and it would take a monumental collapse for them not to take the Series title this year. One of the hallmarks of a championship team is that they defend and make plays when they need to and that was never more apparent than in the last two semifinals against the US. Twice the US were down by less than a try and had possession in a very dangerous position with no time left and both times South Africa won the all important turnover to clinch the game. This is what champions do. The mental strength to know that you are never beaten translating to the desire and effort to ensure that you are never beaten is a rare and wonderful thing. In English soccer they used to talk about Manchester United and “Fergie Time”, referring to Sir Alex Ferguson and Man U’s seemingly magical ability to pull victory from the jaws of defeat with late goals. How many times have the All Blacks won games they should have lost with late scores or defensive stands? South Africa has the look now of an all time great squad and this mental strength at the end of games and tournaments is a big part of it.

Let Me Tell You About My Tight Pants

World Rugby made a rather controversial decision last week to allow the men to wear tights while playing in Vancouver as a “one time exemption”. The official reason this was done was for player welfare as the burns and abrasions from two straight tournaments on artificial grass were considered a health hazard. However you feel about this decision there is no doubt that this has opened Pandora’s Box. Online discussion forums are already awash with “why can’t we wear tights all the time?” posts and the subsequent arguments. My guess is that WR will push back hard on any other exemptions or Law changes. The original Law allowing women to wear tights (and head scarves) were intended for religious reasons, but since it was quickly apparent that referees couldn’t ask a player to prove their religion it was expanded to include all women. There is no religious reasoning for men wearing tights so that argument won’t fly. WR is a very conservative body at times and won’t budge on this for a while, in my opinion.

That being said, we here at Hail Peilcus were able to get a camera into the meeting where this was discussed and it was intense, to say the least. The women, who have been dealing with this issue for a few years, were able to dominate the conversation at the end.

You can see the meeting below. It is worth it to see the inner workings of rugby at… er… work.

The Best Mentors A Girl Could Have

Last weekend saw a girls high school and middle school tournament that was refereed by an all female crew. At least that is the rumor. I have no reports of this happening, really, in spite of the promises of prominent Pelicans to do so. Several young girls had their first taste of refereeing with some pretty hefty assistance, having National Panel Besties as their ARs. Here is a picture of Lee Berard and Leah Bryant at the tournament.

Between Two Pelicans

Hail Pelicus, well on its way to a whole truckload of journalism prizes, scored yet another coup in Las Vegas at the USA 7s. You will recall last fall when our legendary segment Between Two Pelicans garnered the first exclusive interview with newly promoted USA 7s Tournament Director Jon Hinkin. Well, we have followed it up with a sit down with USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne. Sit back and relax as we present Part 1 of our interview:

Hail Pelicus: We are here with USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne for another edition of Between Two Pelicans. Hello Dan and thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

Dan Payne: Sure. It is an honor.

HP: Quite. Let’s start off with the leadership in US rugby, not just USA Rugby itself but across the country. It has turned into an OMBACtorship with yourself as CEO, Brian Vizard in charge of the US Rugby Foundation and Jon Hinkin running the USA 7s after taking over from Dan Lyle. What do you think your constituents think about that?

DP: Well I think that you may be one of the first to make that connection. I think it is great because Jon and Viz are very good friends of mine but many people forget that the roots of my rugby started in New York while it flourished in Southern California.

HP: In Northern California, especially in the Referee Society we prefer a more Seahawkian model with Paul Bretz as the President, Pete Smith as the scheduler and myself running the media so we find that setup to be much more intelligent, subtle and nuanced.

DP: Yea, yea. Well that’s all up for debate.

HP: Moving on. USA Stategy 2020. I read that and my first impression was that it read like US Soccer’s infamous “We will win the World Cup by 2010” plan, so I have some questions regarding that. To start, who is the Rugby Business Executives Association? Is this a Dan Payne thing? Something started under Nigel Melville? Or is this an independent group that stepped up?

DP: So the Rugby Business Executives Association is championed by George Henderson. George was the lead consultant that did a lot of the information accumulation throughout the constituency in the development of this Strategy 2020. As they were going through the process one of the things that came up to him was that there are so many people throughout our rugby community that are excellent businessmen, businesswomen, that have a skill that might be beneficial to the organization but we haven’t had a way to harness them. We haven’t had a way to even identify and allow those people to collaborate. This kind of morphed out of George doing all of his work and the brainstorm of how do we utilize our best asset which is our people.

HP: This touches on what I have long considered one of the great paradoxes of US Rugby in that, especially our generation and the previous ones, most people picked up rugby in college. So the majority of older rugby players are college educated and many have demonstrated competence in business but most rugby clubs are run horribly. There are a few shining examples but most clubs are run day to day, week to week, with no vision. If you have enough money to cover fields for the next 2 months you are in a good spot.

DP: Right.

HP: Are you trying to harness that particular skill?

DP: Yes. That would be accurate.

And there you have it. Part 1 of our interview that touched on the USA Strategy 2020 for building our game as well as the obvious superiority of a San Jose Seahawk based leadership over a San Diego OMBAC based leadership. Part 2 will be presented next week.

For more information on George Henderson and USA Rugby Strategy 2020 you can find information and useful links here:

New Kit

If you weren’t at the last Society Meeting then you missed out on a chance to get your kit, including the kit bags. The (astonishingly stylish) new kit will be distributed if I see you at some point in the next couple of weeks and at the Society meetings. I will do my best to find someone to distribute kit to those who can not make the meetings but feel free to reach out to me at if you plan to be in the San Jose area.

Please note that I am tired of storing this junk. If you don’t claim your stuff soon I may just dump it in the Guadalupe River while there is still enough water in it to cover up my misdeeds.

Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process For Reporting Incidents

The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data. To help Scott Wood has developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition. The link to the discipline form is

Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone add the link to your home screen.

When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident. He/she may contact you latter for more details.

If you have any questions as to how to use the app please refer to the following video:

On To The Game Reports!

Date: 03/11/2017
Berkeley 19 – Sacramento Capitols 38
Referee: Hinkin, James

No report received

Date: 03/11/2017
CK McClatchy 58 – Marin Varsity 7
Referee: Boyer, Rich

Marin began the match with stout defense and good running lines. CKM managed a converted try early but for the next 15 minutes the game see-sawed with no team breaking the try line. Then CKM started building phases and recognizing the overlap. From there it turned into a track meet. CKM really move the ball well. They are a team to be watched. Marin played well technically in the heat, but they were just outmatched.

Date: 03/11/2017
Colusa 49 – Central Coast 7
Referee: Sandhill, Peter

It seemed like the first day of spring, with a very warm sun and a grassy field in Colusa. Central Coast drove from Santa Cruz and Monterey surrounds, around four hours each way. Unfortunately, they barely had a full team and the game started with uncontested scrums.

Colusa were four tries up at the half. In the second, they scored five more.
Both teams played hard and were really well spirited. Colusa were disciplined and athletic. Central Coast stayed on them and fought hard with some spirited runs on several occasions. It was hard not to go to the social afterwards.

Interestingly, Central Coast asked beforehand about how I saw them not contesting after a tackle (tackle only). They didn’t contest many rucks and, like Italy against England, had several players amongst the Colusa backs, moving around. After they adapted, Colusa were creative in response. It was clear they had thought about it – pick & go.

Thanks Pelicans for the interesting and informative coaching to referees about the ruck and tackle only situations.

Date: 03/11/2017
Colusa Women 0 – All Blues 81
Referee: Heil, Duane

Beautiful day for a drive to the valley. Listened to Jim Jefferies on the trip out to get myself in a happy place…worked.
Upon arrival, Colusa was setting up the field. I was about 45 min early, so I suited up and walked the pitch. What I found in the school yard grass was appalling. I picked about 6 big hand fulls of trash, part of which included a huge piece of 1/4” steel bar about 16” long…what the ****?
I brought it to the attention of the men’s team guys who were hanging out, but they really could care less…
Right before the woman’s team started, I showed the women’s team pres the collection from the field, and she was at least concerned….

OK, on to the game: Colusa, the home team, only had 7 or their own players, but lucky for them, Berkeley brought 22 players. So everyone played.
The game was uneventful save for a score approx every 5 minutes. Couple of high tackles, offsides, etc.

Date: 03/11/2017
Danville 27 – Solano-Yolo Varsity 21
Referee: Bretz, Paul

One of the finest high school games I’ve had the privilege to officiate. Both teams were well coached. Danville moved out to a 17 – 0 halftime lead thanks to their back play. Solano utilized their forwards with runs off of the breakdown.

Date: 03/11/2017
Fresno 38 – Silicon Valley 31
Referee: Tiatia, Nome

No report received

Date: 03/11/2017
Google 70 – SF Fog 0
Referee: Santiago, Roberto

Another Saturday Night Lights game in Mountain View with a crisp but pleasant game time temperature around 55. This game went about how you’d expect from teams at opposite ends of the standings. The Fog look to be going through a bit of a rebuild with a mix of a few vets and a binder full of new players. Google showed cohesion and familiarity as a squad. They has a good mix of athleticism and experience to go with a deep bench. There was no drop off in play when the subs came in over the course of the second half. Google has gotten better around the breakdown and play with more overall discipline than they did when I saw them early in the season.

On the other side, the Fog looked to be a bit undersized, especially in the forwards. This disparity showed up in open play and at the breakdown, but SF dominated the scrums with great technique. The Fog #2 was able to get quick hooks, which negated Google’s size advantage. The Fog players also deserve a nod for their courage and approach to the game. Despite facing size mismatches in one-on-one situations Fog defenders overwhelmingly chose to breakdown, stick their nose in, and attempt to make the play. You don’t always see that determination from a team getting blown out late in the game, but the Fog played just as hard at 79:00 as they did at 02:00.

Date: 03/11/2017
Jesuit 88 – Lamorinda Varsity 14
Referee: Stockton, Andrew

Saturday was a gorgeous day out in Carmichael. The sun was shining, the field was dry, and it was about 78 degrees. Perfect conditions for a match. From the very beginning of the match, it was apparent that Jesuit was the better team. Jesuit’s fast paced style of play mixed in with a wonderful kicking game I have not seen in a high school match ever, kept them in control of the match from start to finish. Because of the speed and constant pressure from Jesuit, Lamorinda was in a state of disarray making many bad or arrant passes, including a few that were wildly thrown without looking, which Jesuit capitalized on. However, despite the lopsided score, the boys never gave up, and it was very apparent that they were still enjoying themselves; a quality that I always admire in a team.

Date: 03/11/2017
Life West Women 48 – San Jose Women 0
Referee: Pohlman, John

What a beautiful day and a Saturday…so it must be a rugby day. Life West Woman were hosting the San Jose Seahawks. The Seahawks have some injuries and could only supply 13 players. So they forfeited, and then played a 40 minute game, which Life dominated in every way. Scoring 8 tries.
The players then broke into three teams of 10’s and played 40 minutes rotating amongst the three. All in good spirits and sportsmanship.
Life West looks like they have the players to possibly go very deep in the playoffs. But they need some competitive games to get ready.

Date: 03/11/2017
Marin 45 – Reno 7
Referee: Labozzetta, Chris

Reno was shorthanded for this match, but still put in a valiant effort. However, Marin carried the day with strong tackling and offensive attack.

Date: 03/11/2017
San Joaquin 70 – South Valley 19
Referee: Wilson, Giles

South Valley are struggling for playing numbers and while they have some skillful players, they lack pace. The Harlots had numbers at home (although several arrived late and came on at half time).

The first replacement that the Harlots used was a young, strong and fast center (late arrival). His first run saw him break a tackle but during the contact he struck the defender with his elbow and went off for 10 minutes.

Harlots scored four tries in the first half but couldn’t kick the conversions while South Valley stayed in the hunt with two converted tries for a 20-14 HT score.

At half time the Harlots brought on 5 replacements and the increase in energy was too much for South Valley. The Harlots used their last replacement and South Valley used their only replacement but the game became a parade with Harlots running in 8 second half tries (5 converted) to a single unconverted try for South Valley.

FT score Harlots 70 – South Valley 19.

Date: 03/11/2017
Santa Rosa 18 – EPA Razorbacks 40
Referee: Gordon, Preston

On a nice, warm, and humid day in Santa Rosa, featuring the division’s #4 and #5 sides playing, EPA Razorbacks got an away victory. The scoreline somewhat flattered them, however, with Santa Rosa coming away with no points from two scrum put-ins on their opponents’ 5m line, and having the ball knocked out of the hands of one of their players just before he could ground it for a try. The last play of the match was also an EPA interception, returned for a converted try.

EPA got the first try 2 minutes into the game, converting it for a 7-point lead. Santa Rosa responded by moving the ball around well, and at 16′ one of their wingers got around the last defender on the right and into the in-goal area. He got about 2 steps further towards the center of the pitch before getting collared by EPA’s scrum-half, resulting in a penalty try and a yellow card. Note that penalty tries now require no conversion attempt – they’re an automatic 7 points. At 22′ Santa Rosa kicked a penalty goal to take a 10-7 lead, followed by another at 33′ to go up 13-7. Two minutes later, the EPA captain went to the bin for another high tackle. The Razorbacks kicked things up a gear and got their second try at 37′ to pull within a point, and then converted it to take the lead into halftime, at 14-13.

Similar to the first half, EPA scored another try at 42′ to extend their lead to 19-13, still playing with 14 men. Santa Rosa’s outside center picked up a yellow card at 45′ for another poorly-executed tackle, though their defense held firm while they were missing him. EPA then added two further converted tries at 19′ and 25′ to pull comfortably ahead at 33-13. The character of the match didn’t change too much with the addition of most of Santa Rosa’s bench and a handful of EPA replacements. At 77′, Santa Rosa got another try, though they were unable to convert it. Their tails were up, and they spent the rest of the match looking for a way through EPA’s defense, with lots of good attacks. Ultimately, a long pass was picked off by the EPA captain to end the match with their last converted try under the posts.

Despite the 3 yellow cards, this match was played in good spirits and the players all seemed to enjoy it. I certainly did. Thanks to everyone involved!

Date: 03/11/2017
SFGG 29 – Olympic Club 5
Referee: Akroyd, Phil

SFGG were always in the lead but O Club never made it easy for them. Golden Gate could also have cut their penalty count in half if they had clear understanding of the tackle law, but they were too good to let that slow them down too much.

Some good rugby played overall but it seems like SFGG have another couple of gears to go up when they need them.

Date: 03/11/2017
SFGG Women 57 – Sacramento Amazons 12
Referee: Barfels, Ed

The weather was nice and sunny. A beautiful day for rugby. SFGG scored first and Amazons scored about two minutes later. However, that was all the scoring for the Amazons till the last play of the game. SFGG controlled the loose play. Ruck and drive; excellent phase play. Eventually, the backs would get a 2 on 1 or 3 on 1. The two SFGG wings were fast but did not out run their support. The half time score was SFGG 45 {7 tries, 5 conversions} : Amazons 7 {1 try, 1 conversion}. The second half SFGG brought in their players that need more experience, but the game plan was the same {2 tries, 1 conversion}. The Amazons forwards did punch it in on the last play of the game {1 try, no conversion}. Final score SFGG 57 : Amazons 12.

Date: 03/11/2017
Sonoma St 13 – CSUMB 22
Referee: Anderson, Rich

No report received

Date: 03/11/2017
St. Mary’s College Women 31 – Sacramento State Women 12
Referee: Santiago, Roberto

It was a beautiful morning for rugby. Sac State went in as the underdog, but played stout for the first quarter not allowing a St. Mary’s score until the 24:00 minute mark. The Gaels managed to score three more tries over the next twelve minutes, converting three two of them. Sacramento scored right at 40:00 to make it St Mary’s 26 – 5 Sac State. Sac came out strong again in the second half, holding St. Mary’s off for the first fourteen minutes. St. Mary’s finally broke through for another try and a 31-5 lead. Sac did their best to make a game of it by scoring just two minutes later, but that would be the final tally of the day. In all, St. Mary’s played to the level you would expect, while a young Sacramento team showed promise for the next few years.

Date: 03/11/2017
Stanford Women A 5 – UC Davis Women A 55
Referee: Lane, John

A beautiful sunny and warm morning in Stanford for an 11am kickoff with the Steuber Field in magnificent condition following the rainy weather!!

Two very committed teams put in significant effort from the start and maintained it throughout the game.

Stanford lost one of their 2nd row forwards with a knee injury in the first minute of the game.

For the majority of the first half Davis dominated territory and generally maintained longer multi-phased periods with their middle field putting Stanford under constant pressure. This pressure was converted into tries on 5, 13, 16 and 20 minutes with 3 conversions leaving the score at 0-26.

At this stage Stanford started to gain some consistent territory but strong defense created turnovers or forced knock-ons in contact allowing Davis to exit their half.

On 3 occasions the turnovers looked like leading to break-out scores for Davis but some excellent commitment to not give up the chase stopped 2 of these including one excellent tackle over the line dislodging the ball for a turnover knock on. On 34 minutes one of these breakouts did lead to a score after some excellent handling and offloads. Converted.

Stanford finished the half on attack with first a try being overruled for a foot in touch with a minute remaining. Stanford then won the turnover lineout and after a few re-cycles were held up in-goal under the posts to be denied a first half score. 0-33 at the half.

Davis obviously refocused at the break as they came out all guns blazing and dominated the opening 10 minutes showing excellent speed from right wing and fullback. Tries on 2, 6 and 9 minutes (1 conversion) brought the score at 50 minutes to 0-50.

With some home vocal support Stanford remained competitive and play for the next 15 minutes was mainly played between the 22’s with some enterprising play getting little reward from either defense. The heat and substitutions disrupted continuity a little from mid-way through the half.

On 34 mins Davis again broke wide out to score an unconverted try for a 0-55 lead.

At this point, Stanford put everything into the last 5 minutes most of which was played in the Davis 22. With lots of vocal support they finally crossed the line with the last play of the day. The conversion was missed however.

Final score 5- 55.

Date: 03/11/2017
UCSC 69 – Fresno State 21
Referee: Bailey, Andrew

No report received

Date: 03/11/2017
UCSC B 36 – Fresno State B 28
Referee: Bailey, Andrew

No report received

EDITOR’S NOTE: At the annual NCRRS Awards Dinner we hand out, amongst others, the Scriptorus award for the referee who has the best, most interesting and thoughtful write-ups. This year Andrew Bailey is in contention for the Anti-Scriptorus award.

Date: 03/11/2017
UNR 14 – UC Davis 41
Referee: Ulibarri, Phillip

Solid passing skills and commitment under beautiful Spring skies took Davis ahead in the first stanza and they never looked threatened.

Date: 03/11/2017
UOP 5 – Cal Maritime 61
Referee: Wood, Scott

One replacement bus driver, one wrong turn, one train delay. All things that can ruin a game plan. However, CMA was up for the task of a 30-minute warm-up. The temperature was a record high for 2017 in Stockton. Fortunately, CMA’s kickers saw their water bottle often enough to stave off potential heat stress.

CMA Rugby earned another league victory over a courageous UOP team, defeating the Tigers 61 to 5. Ten different Keelhaulers scored 11 tries with sophomore Daynon Matthews scoring two and senior Markus Foutaine, juniors Shane Bracken, Michael Tumusiime, Allen Washington, Kevyn Huntsman, CJ Ferrigno, Joe Belman, and sophomores Chase Cirilo and Tommy Orvick each scoring. UOP’s Justin Giardino scored the host’s lone try.

Date: 03/11/2017
USF 7 – SRJC 43
Referee: Carmody, Martin

Beautiful day in SF made this an enjoyable encounter between two 5-1 teams (both have only lost to Cal Maritime). Santa Rosa Junior College came out strong and scored good tries in both halves. USF kept in the game but could not match the power and skilled of the well coached SRJC side. As we were getting ready for a scrum in the second half the USF open side flanker stepped between the front rows and gently rubbed the portly tummy of the SRJC hooker and promptly stepped back. Strange behavior but no reason for a penalty :).

Date: 03/15/2017
California 120 – Stanford 0
Referee: Berard, Leah (Minnesota)
AR: Hinkin, James
AR: Turner, Jessica

It was a beautiful evening in Berkeley and my first visit to the famous Witter Field. It was the annual showdown between Stanford and Cal. Unfortunately, Stanford showed up with 14 players (apparently, the others missed the bus). I was hoping the game would end with 14 players; however, two injuries in the second half dashed those hopes. The good news is that it took Cal 10 minutes to score in the second half and Stanford had a shot at putting up 3 points. That was not to be, as the final score was 120-0. At least Stanford gave it the old college try!

This Week’s Photo

I read the news today, oh boy! In the press box after the Between Two Pelicans interview with Dan Payne.

Hail, Pelicus!
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre

James Hinkin
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.