Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | NO MEETING TONIGHT
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Unfortunately, we have not been able to line up enough speakers to make an evening meeting worthwhile.

We will shoot for next Wednesday, April 24, and we hope this does not inconvenience anyone.


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

Bruce Carter and David Pelton will conduct the day.


The regular season ends this weekend. Playoffs continue potentially through the end of May, so let Pete Smith know of weekends when you would be able to help.


May 3-4: Women’s USA College Championships at Stanford, division one and two. We’ll need ARs and #4s for both Friday and Saturday.

May 4-5, we will have:
NCIT at Cherry Island in Sacramento (same as last year). This is the huge high school tournament that is played on eight pitches, and needs a ton of refs.

Also, at SFGG, will be the Pacific Coast playoffs for both men’s club division two and division three. Eight games needing ARs and fours.

Plus a CR1 men’s D1 playoff game that will need ARs as well on the Saturday.


SF/Golden Gate will host the Tongan national team on June 1st at Sheeran Field. They will have hosted an Elite Cup semifinal on May 11, and potentially the final on May 25.


Elite Cup:
SFGG 43 – Glendale 10 Referee: Brian Zapp
ARs: Donagh O’Mahoney, Jordan Bruno
Fourth Officials: Dave Newport, Clifton Ramsdell
Evaluator: Peter Simpson
By winning this game, SFGG finishes first in the western bracket and so will host a home semi-final, against OPSB, on May 11.

Men’s Division 1:
EPA RAZORBACKS 19 – Olympic Club 18 Referee: Kevin Smith (Victoria)
Referee Coach: Mike Malone
AR: James Hinkin
It was a sunny day of rugby compared to the weather this time of year in home country Canada. I was looking forward to a hard game of rugby. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as Olympic Club looked well drilled and organized, where as EPA were struggling to find jerseys and cones to mark the field. However, once the game started EPA were keen and eager runners with the ball in hand. Even after being down to 13 players due to yellow cards for repeated off-sides, EPA was able to score the opening try. Olympic Club had great defense, but their offence was stalled by repeated knock-ons and handling mistakes. In the end, it was a close game and I was not disappointed.

A big thank you to James Hinkin and his girlfriend Emily who hosted me for the weekend, and showed amazing American hospitality. Also thanks to Pete Smith for allocating me a great game, and for taking us out for some nights on the town.

Seconds: EPA Razorbacks – Olympic Club NOT PLAYED

SAC LIONS 12 – Barbarians 0 Referee: Phil Akroyd
Apparently the score stands – this was the score when the match was abandoned due to fighting, only a few minutes in.

Seconds: SACRAMENTO LIONS 41 – Barbarians 19 Referee: Ray Schwartz
This game happened first and was not marred by violence.

Sac Caps – Baracus Referee: Favor Taueva
No report received.

Chico 34 – FRESNO 36 Referee: John Coppinger
Saturday, 4/15/13, in Chico on the Chico High School fields, Fresno hung on to defeat a surprising Chico side 36-34. Fresno led 24-19 at half. Fresno looked to be the dominant side, but Fresno handling errors and the ability of Chico to find small gaps kept the match close. Good match, played in good spirits.

SANTA ROSA 63 – Berkeley 10 Referee: Cary Bertolone
In Santa Rosa, in the sun with a pretty good 15 mile an hour wind, Santa Rosa was relentless and scored 4 unconverted tries plus a penalty kick before Berkeley got on the board with a hard earned try of their own. It was 35-5 at the half. It took 15 minutes of hard rugby before Santa Rosa scored in the second half. It was 56-5 when Berkeley worked their way down the field and their forwards pushed in for another try on the 35th minute, showing they never gave up and played hard all the way. They almost scored a third time, but Santa Rosa had too much speed and won running away with it 63-10. Good clean rugby, a pleasure to ref!!

Seconds: SANTA ROSA 67 – Berkeley 0 Referee: John Tomasin
Having been sick all week, I recruited the services of Doctor John to back me up for the second side. I could have done it, but it was 79 degrees and I was happy John wanted the game. He, as always, did a great job and I learned a few things watching him; he’s always so calm!!! It was a track meet, but Berkeley impressed once again by keeping their chins up and playing through the onslaught of tries against them. Good rugby, even though the scores were one sided. Santa Rosa can pass and I saw some unbelievable passes all day long as well as a beautiful up and under by Rob Meesen, Rosa’s lock/eight man that went for 50 meters.

DIABLO GAELS 62 – Marin 20 Referee: Bryant Byrnes, Chris Labozzetta
The assigned first-side referee did not show up, which was ok until a Gaels lock tripped over his own feet and landed on my knee at 32 minutes into the first half. (Exactly the kind of thing I was trying to avoid with my upcoming trip to DC.)

Because of the injury Chris Labozzetta -who was a reserve for Marin-was nice enough to volunteer to take over.

This was the last game of Mike Comstock-or so he announced. Mike has been a stalwart fixture of the game, sui generis, at prop for at least 45 years, the majority of them at D1 level. And he is and always has been a gentleman. While I certainly penalized him over scores of games, it was never for foul or unsportsmanlike play, and never a card.

Editor’s Note: I have had a very long refereeing career, going on thirty years. And the first tournament I did, the first game at that tournament, I refereed Mike Comstock. And it was Old Boys. He qualified even then.

I learned a valuable lesson: being a new ref, I got between two players who were squaring up to fight. Mike was one of them.

After the game, he said to me, “I know you’re new. Don’t ever get between fighting players. I almost hit you, and I like you. “

I can enthusiastically second Bryant’s opinion of this fine man.


SIERRA FOOTHILL 59 – Redwood Empire 17 Referee: JC van Staden
Redwood to kick off, and the very next whistle after about 2 min of continuous playing was a try for Sierra… no whistle in between. Followed by a conversion, and then the next whistle try again… getting the drift?

Well, that was the start, and for the next 40 min, there was only 1 team on the field, playing a game plan, structured and decisive… First half 40-0 to Sierra…

Second half, Redwood played down-hill, with the wind at their backs, and “bad apples” replaced. Despite Sierra’s good form, Redwood played a good half, scored 3 times, vs Sierra’s 3 times, with a score of 17 vs 19. Good comeback, Redwood, and great composure Sierra.

South Valley 19 – VALLEJO 21 Referee: Neil MacDonald

COLUSA 64 – Reno 14 Referee: Scott Wood
Reno started with 11 players, had 12 by the 30th minute. Colusa didn’t score for the first nine minutes then discovered how to capitalize on overlaps and gaps. We played 55 minutes until the towel was thrown. Colusa loaned Reno some players and then we played a 20-minute chukker.

SFGG 135 – Shasta 0 Referee: Stephen Valerio
The weather was beautiful on Treasure Island, perfect for a full day of rugby. The Division 3 playoff was the curtain raiser for the Elite Cup match between San Francisco Golden Gate versus Glendale. Unfortunately Shasta had to make the 3 hour drive missing many of their players who were on Mission. The timing couldn’t have been worse as they ran into a very strong SFGG side. Shasta stayed positive throughout and both sides managed the game well, with some clearly inexperienced players for Shasta. However, the match was never in doubt. SFGG rapidly recycled the ball and had an impressive number of flat passes which let the receiver take the ball at speed. They were metronomic

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in their execution and should pose a stiff challenge in their next match.

The semifinals this Saturday will be:

Sierra Foothills hosting Vallejo, referee Rich Anderson
Colusa hosting SFGG, referee Kevin Donnelly

CALIFORNIA 42 – St. Mary’s 31 Referee: Pete Smith
ARs: Bruce Carter, John Pohlman
Fourth Officials: Ron DeCausemaker, Rob Hendrickson
St. Mary’s had a 15-point lead at halftime. This was a very good game, which you can read about on-line, one of the jewels in the crown of NorCal rugby.

Seconds: CALIFORNIA – St. Mary’s Referee: Mike Moss (Victoria)
ARs: John Pohlman, Rob Hendrickson
Videographer: Bruce Carter
Our visitor was quite impressed by the atmosphere in Strawberry Canyon, twenty-meter goal posts and championship banners flying. We even took him on a tour of the fieldhouse to see the memorabilia.

The game wasn’t as close as we would like for an exchange ref, but he thoroughly enjoyed it and got to see his AR’s son, Carl Hendrickson, score five trys.

UC DAVIS 20 – Sac State 5 Referee: Tom Zanarini
Very warm day in Davis with some hot rugby on the pitch. A big rivalry with two evenly matched schools competing for bragging rights. Davis scored a penalty kick early in the match, then the rest of the first half was intense, back and forth, and scoreless. Davis ended up finding in-goal a few times to pull away. Sac St. had a great 70+ meter breakaway try as time expired.

Seconds: UC Davis 14 – SAC STATE 19 Referee: Bruce Ricard
Very nice and balanced game. It’s good to see that teams learn at least a little bit from their games. Last week Davis got penalized a lot for not staying on their feet, and they apparently worked on that during the week, because I don’t recall penalizing them a single time for that during this game. Sac State scored two converted tries during the second part of the first half, which ended on a 0 – 14 score. They scored another try at the 59th minute, to take a 19-point lead. After that Davis started to play better, and scored two converted tries. They were playing better at the end of the game, but it was too late, and Sacramento won by 5.

Even substitutions didn’t slow the flow with 11 first half tries and 10 in the second half for SFGG.


CHICO STATE 31 – Sierra College 12 Referee: Kevin Donnelly
UCSC 22 – Nevada 19 Referee: Jim Crenshaw

Consolation: SIERRA COLLEGE 45 – Nevada 41 Ref: Crenshaw
Final: CHICO STATE 60 – UC Santa Cruz 7 Ref: Donnelly

Chico State advances to the round of sixteen. This is scheduled to be in Texas, but the three teams that have qualified are all from the west coast. It could be moved to Chico, in which case we’ll need ARs in Chico April 27-28.


STANFORD 48 – New Mexico 10
California 37 – TEXAS A&M 39

STANFORD 67 – Texas A&M 22

Stanford advances to play at home against Norwich on Friday, May 3. Norwich have won three USA national championships in the past eighteen months.

April 6:
Seconds: SEAHAWKS 38 – Berkeley 12 Referee: James Hinkin
On a sunny but windy afternoon in San Jose the Seahawks B side looked to avenge the narrow loss of the A side and Berkeley looked for the day’s sweep. It was a festive atmosphere as the Seahawk women had played earlier and the Seahawks had declared the day Alumni Day so many old ‘Hawks were in attendance lying about how good they were to the young ladies making up the current women’s side. The first half started out rather even as each side traded tries. The kicking that eluded the A side showed up in the B match as San Jose converted both of theirs while Berkeley only converted one for a 14-12 halftime score.

The second half saw the Seahawks in the ascendency as Berkeley seemed to tire out. Some injury-forced substitution didn’t help and Berkeley gave up 4 tries with no response… sort of. The game ended with Berkeley on the attack just meters short of the line. A final surge pushed a pile over the line and to the ground, but away from my position. By the time I

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got to a position to see the ball it was held up so that is what I called. The TMO was absolutely no use to me – I’m not even sure why I paid him. After the game both sides agreed a try should have been awarded. Stupid TMO.


Dixon 24 – EPPING (Australia) 29 Referee: Bruce Ricard
It’s nice to see a foreign high school team flying all the way across the Pacific to come play in California. It proves that rugby is becoming more and more popular in the US.
Epping really dominated the first half. Very good technique, incredible understanding of the rules and the game. They scored a penalty kick at the 7th minute, by their fly half who seems to work a lot on that, because his kicks were as good as it gets for an 18 year old. They scored 2 tries during this half, again beautifully converted by their kicker. The second half started very quickly with another try from the Australian team at the 4th minute. After that, they got pretty tired, and the strength and fitness of the Dixon players made a big difference. They scored 4 tries (2 converted) in 15 minutes. Epping also scored a last try towards the end of the game, with a conversion just next to the touch line, and the kicker missed his first and last kick of the day by only a few degrees.

Wednesday, April 10:
Lamorinda 34 – OAKLAND WARTHOGS 35 Referee: John Coppinger
Wednesday at Merritt College in Oakland, visitors Oakland Warthogs stormed back to nip the home side Lamorinda 35-34. (I am not sure how Lamo came to be the home side in a match played on this side of the tunnel, but Merritt College is a great venue with ample room for a full sized rugby pitch).

The crucial point in the match, although it would not be known until the end of the match, came after a Lamo score near the touch line that put Lamo comfortably ahead. Although both touch judges raised their flags, the conversion was 2 meters wide right and the conversion was not awarded. Apparently the Lamo staff failed to notice that the conversion was not awarded, relying instead on the flags of the TJs.

After that Lamo score, Warthogs stormed back with very physical play and storming runs to take a one point lead with little time left in the match. At almost full time, Warthogs were attacking 20 meters from the Lamo goal line when Warthogs infringed and a penalty was awarded to Lamo. I told the Lamo captain (a very good player) that time had expired and that there was no time for a lineout following a penalty kick to touch. His response was puzzling as in “Can’t I just kick out and end the game?” My response was, “Yes, but you will lose the game.” The captain insisted that Lamo was ahead by a point and I responded that they weren’t; the captain checked with his sideline and was instructed to end the match, which he did. Post-match, it was confirmed that Lamo had counted the missed conversion when they should not have counted it.

Good match; a little testy with two yellow cards to Warthogs for foul play.

Friday, April 12:
South Valley 7 – DANVILLE 62 Referee: Bruce Carter
I was able to get away from the clinic spot-on at ‘closing’ time of 5:30 on Friday, not always a likely prospect. The clinic being in King City, that was important because I was shooting for a 7 PM kickoff in Morgan Hill, ninety miles north.

It was smooth cruising on 101 all the way, listening to a performance of Measure for Measure on CD. Among other things, the Bard addresses how we behave when we think no-one is watching. Angelo says, “Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?” Exactly! Words for a referee to live by.

Not that these two teams needed condemning – the play was the thing, and entirely in the spirit of the game.

My pre-match was precisely four minutes: met one captain, did their boots, spoke to front rows and halfbacks; repeated for the other team; tossed the coin and met my TJs; put my Pelican coin back in my kit and blew for kickoff right on time.

Might have used a bit of a stretch and warm-up as Danville took off down the pitch and scored. A few minutes later South Valley did the same. Late-season high school rugby is a real treat to referee. I wish the season were longer so they’d play this way a larger percentage of the time, having worked the kinks out in January-February.

But Danville is a notch above most of the teams I’ve seen. They had three backs who burned people by sheer pace and their captain/halfback, Reese, has the skills to score himself or help his teammates score in a variety of ways.

South Valley draws a good crowd, and the pizza man showed up just after the final whistle. Not a bad end to the work week.

Saturday, April 13:
Berkeley JV 12 – BISHOP O’DOWD frosh/soph 43 Referee: Rob Hendrickson
Berkeley hosted O’Dowd to two games on a glorious Saturday morning on their Gilman Avenue home pitch, and I reffed the JV vs frosh/soph opener. Both teams were well coached and disciplined, and it was a fun game to ref, with virtually no back-chat. O’Dowd was able to spin the ball out wide earlier than Berkeley, and so was able to more effectively move the ball, scoring 3 tries in the first half while shutting Berkeley out. Berkeley made adjustments in the second half and came back to score two tries to O’Dowd’s 4 in the second half, for a final score of 43 – 12.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

James Hinkin
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