Northern California Rugby Football Union Referee Society | VEGAS BREAK
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EARLY TO PRESS The Senate is packing up and relocating to Southern Nevada for the next week. Penelope and I will be in the Pelicanmobile, planning to cross a line of departure at or before 0600 hours Wednesday, 6 February 2013. You’ll find us at the IRB Sevens, and your intrepid reporter will be attending the continuing medical education conference on concussion in rugby held at Planet Hollywood.

Which means that this edition of HP is missing a number of match reports, the ones that haven’t come in yet.

Please send in the scores of the games you reffed, even though it’s too late for the reports. Referee reports form the basis for our billing of teams and they support the audit process when teams claim certain games weren’t played or no ref showed up.

AVAILABILITY NEEDED Send Pete Smith your availability to referee for the upcoming weekends. Once he has enough names he can make the assignments. It’s difficult even to assign one week in advance when only a handful of referees have announced their availability.


Seconds: Santa Clara – Stanford Referee: Pete Smith
No report received.

SANTA CLARA – Stanford Referee: Tim Luscombe
We heard that they had a good crowd and that the home team won.

Saturday OLYMPIC CLUB 39 – EPA Razorbacks 29 Referee: Tim Day (SoCal)
Evaluator: Mike Malone
AR: Dave Newport, Preston Gordon

Seconds: Olympic Club 7 – EPA RAZORBACKS 25 Ref: Day/Gordon
GAA fields

It was 7-5 to the home side when I took over from Tim Day at halftime. I had a quick word with the captains to let them know that the ref had had a body transplant, and to ask them to go easy on me since I had just finished an 80-0 game 15 minutes earlier. This game was pretty fast too, and O Club played well, but the EPA backs were good enough to get around them and score 3 or 4 tries. I don’t have my scorecard with me at the moment but 25-7 is reasonably accurate.

After that 30 minutes of running, I was ready for a break (again) but duty calls and I stuck it out to AR for Tim in O Club’s 39-29 victory over East Palo Alto. It was quite the day of rugby but I’ve recovered well and will be back at it again on Wednesday evening when Cal takes on Cal Maritime.

Barbarians 15 – SAC LIONS 36 Referee: Bruno?
[Not sure who reffed this.]
Seconds: Barbarians – Sac Lions Referee: Nome Tiatia
No reports received.

EPA Bulldogs 5 – OPSB 42 Referee: Pete Smith The difference between the international level players and D1 players is very noticeable and Mike Palefau and Miles Craigwell ran wild. EPA Bulldogs had their chances, but couldn’t quite breech OPSB’s line. It was 20-0 at one point and it could have easily been 20-14. Both teams showed up to play rugby and it must have been a great game to watch as it was played pretty wide open.

SFGG 80 – Santa Rosa 0 Referee: Preston Gordon
Sheeran Field, 1200

Both teams had what looked like their best sides out to play this bye-week game. It may not have counted for the league standings, but one wouldn’t know that from watching the game. Golden Gate kicked off to the south, and Santa Rosa moved the ball up the field and immediately set up camp inside their opponent’s 22m area. They spent most of the first 15 minutes attacking the try line, coming very close on a couple of occasions, but ultimately were unable to score. SFGG broke out on a nice run from deep, with their fullback scoring in the corner, and spent most of the rest of the game on attack, notching 14 tries (5 converted) before it was over. Interplay was good on both sides with lots of great passing and offloading, and the defense was strong. Once again, the score was one-sided, and once again, that didn’t really do justice to the losing team’s efforts. I think this game will help both teams as the season progresses.

Tim Day, up from Southern California, was nice enough to give me some feedback at halftime. He also asked if I could AR for his game later in the afternoon, where he was being assessed, and of course I said yes.

However… as Dave Newport and I arrived at the GAA fields, we found Tim already reffing Olympic Club and EPA Razorbacks. I figured that someone must have gotten the kickoff time wrong, but then realized that he was just finishing the first half of the B-side matchup. Apparently someone called him to tell him that he had to do the B-side game too! (Note: this is not the case.) Knowing that this would not be a good way to get ready to ref a D1 match while being watched, I offered to ref the second half so Tim would be in tip-top form.

Sac Caps 28 – VACAVILLE 41 Referee: Taueva Favor Sacramento Capital didn’t bring their best game during the very first 15minutes of the first half. Vacaville was ready to play and did really well with the first 30minutes of the first half. Both team needs to work with the keeping the hands off the rock and staying onside. Too many referee-players on the Vacaville team. Second half was Sac Capitals coming back but it was too late. Hope both teams have the best season.

Fresno 15 – SEAHAWKS 18 Referee: John Pohlman Wow what a game. Occasionally as a referee you get one of those highly competitive games where all you hope for is not to get in the way. This past Saturday was one of those games.

I had been traveling for the last 10 days or so. So when I was asked to drive to Fresno upon my return, I hesitated. But in Fresno and San Jose, two of the Division 2 powers, I thought the game might be worth the drive. I was not let down.

I talked Eileen into driving with me. And we arrived around 11:30 AM. By three minutes after 12:00 I had talked to both teams and done the coin toss.

On to the game.

Fresno scored first on a penalty six minutes in. The only challenge I had throughout the game was players losing their feet at tackles, whether it was Fresno counter rucking (which they dominated) and losing their feet as they tried to clear the tackle., or San Jose tacklers falling on the Fresno side slowing ball.


San Jose tied up the score at fifteen minutes. Finally, San Jose scored the first try by their man of the match #7 Peter Kobliska.

Then Fresno tied the score with a try of their own at 35 minutes, and then converted the try for a half time lead of 10-8.

At half time I like to refuel and possibly talk to captains about potential law challenges. But this was a very clean game. I never gave a penalty for a dangerous tackle or high tackle.

Fifteen minutes into the second half San Jose’s hard working prop, #3 Gabe Escalera, finished a drive where both backs and forwards combined to finally break the tough Fresno defense.

Fresno continued to control ball and when Coach Dan Wilson came in his leadership gave them some real go forward.

Fresno won a counter ruck on their 22 and proceeded to drive the ball to the San Jose goal line. Rebuffed on their first two attempts Fresno scored the tying try at 40 minutes. Fortunately for me, as referees we hate ties probably more than players, I had 3 minutes of injury time which I announced to the players and by this time, rabid fans.

San Jose controlled the ball worked their way down field, but crossing the Fresno try line was not going to happen. San Jose’s #10 sensed this and attempted a drop kick which hit the crossbar and bounced over.

Wow I looked at my watch and about a minute remained in injury time. Fresno gained position on a San Jose kick for touch. As Fresno did all game long, they fought back. One of Fresno’s backs broke through and fed another Fresno runner who broke a tackle and seemed able to score a try.

The Fresno runner felt pressure and heard support, so he made a pass which feel short. The San Jose’s hard working # 3 Gabe chasing down field had the ball drop at his feet. With every San Jose player and fan screaming kick it out…he did.

So for the last time…WOW what a game. Thanks for letting me be part of it.=

CHICO 75 – Marin 18 Referee: Cary Bertolone
The fog burned off and we had a nice, sunny day. Marin showed up with 14 ruggers and no coach. They had their binder properly filled out though and were ready to play, short. They told me they owed it to Chico to keep the game, even though they might likely lose the game playing short, with no subs. Admirable!!! Mike Comstock still playing, also admirable!!

Chico greeted me with a couple of 18 year old high school graduate products on their team, Mike Tomasin and Barry Bartlett. They and a few teammates attend nearby Butte College and have joined the “old guys” of Chico to form a nice mixture of ages for the home team. Besides the old guys and the young guys, Chico has some speed in the backline!!!

Chico blazed through, around and over Marin, scoring 39 halftime points. Marin never quit and scored a try and a penalty kick in each half. Chico was smart to never take the foot off the accelerator, because Marin, even one man down, is dangerous. They all played hard, laughed off the bad parts and had a good run.

Seconds: Chico 19 – MARIN 24 Ref: Bertolone
Just to get a run in for some that had not played, a sevens match was organized and Chico lent Marin a couple of players to make it work. Beau McSwain (Chico State Coach) was on hand to ref the seconds’ game, but since it was a quickie, I just finished it off so he didn’t have to put his gear on. Thanks Beau, for being there to back us up!! We played 7 minute halves and as I warned them, that was all they needed. A couple of Marin players scored tries, helping to make the drive worth it. Everybody had fun and then Chico hosted a nice after party with food and beer that completed the rugby weekend.

Berkeley 5 – BARACUS 48 Referee: Bryant Byrnes
ARs: Neil MacDonald, Jeff Ferguson

Another climate changed winter’s day-clear, mild, dry-at Morton Field, Mare Island. Both teams came into this match with early season wins.

Both have reloaded since I last saw them.

Obviously, Baracus is further along in the process; certainly it had fewer really, really new guys. What those of us who have been around the game for any length of time tend to forget is how complicated our rugby is. It takes the novices a while to figure it out-and games like these.

Thanks to the Society’s Jeff Ferguson and Neil for being my TJs. Two extra pair of hooded, narrowed eyes does wonderfully in keeping the lads somewhat honest. Sorry to say we lose Jeff at the end of the season to the East Coast.

Seconds: Berkeley 14 – BARACUS 41 Referee: Neil McDonald
Referee Coach: Bryant Byrnes

Following a morning of youth matches in Danville, Saturday lunchtime saw me headed north on 680 for my inaugural visit to Mare Island, arriving in time to AR for the first team match, with a certain TV theme tune blaring from the sideline and cigar smoke filling the air.

In the seconds game, a depleted Berkeley squad could not be persuaded to bite off more than 30 minute halves against the superior numbers of Baracus. I had to summon all of my patience to resist the temptation to begin the game with a penalty kick, after a well-meaning player – from a team who shall remain nameless – told me the result of my countrymen’s match at Twickenham earlier in the day, and ruined my plans for evening viewing. Berkeley’s hooker – who I learned is a man of the cloth – would no doubt have appreciated my magnanimity. When asked about the wisdom of a man of such propriety playing in the front row, he assured me that he saw it as a missionary endeavour. I fear he may have more than a life’s work ahead of him.

After a brief respite for the Berkeley players recycled from the first team game, we got underway on a beautiful afternoon for rugby, as the smoke from the barbecue drifted across the field, and the sun sank lower in the sky. Baracus scored a brace in the first half, before Berkeley pulled them back with a converted score right on half time, cutting the deficit to 5 points. Baracus scored in the first minute of the second half. Berkeley replied minutes later, closing the gap to within a score once more. However, Baracus’ numbers along with a couple of moments of Berkeley indiscipline took their toll in the latter part of the match as Baracus ran in four more tries for a final score of 14-41.

Thanks to Bryant for his coaching, and thanks to the teams for a fun game, and great hospitality.

Colusa – Shasta Referee: Anthony Nguyen
No report received.

State of Jefferson – Redwood Referee: Kevin Brown
No report received.

Eric Rauscher Road Trip:
So Bonnie and I actually look forward to the trip up to the Humboldt area. It is a beautiful drive and gives us time to listen to music.

We also discovered a great restaurant. I like to drive up on Friday, so Friday night after checking into the hotel, we went out to “Bless My Soul” cafe right there in Eureka. It is Creole food and very good. The owner of the place kind of wanders around from table to table making sure that all is ok, and just in general making you feel at home. I highly recommend it On to the reports.

HUMBOLDT OLD GROWTH 24 – Mendocino Steam Donkeys 5 Referee: Eric Rauscher
Bonnie and I actually saw a number of Steam Donkeys at Fort Humboldt, and I think Mendocino calls themselves Steam Donkeys. Anyway, the game was played at Manila Community Field which is about one foot above sea level. The last time I was here it was covered with water, but this time it was dry and covered with gopher mounds. The sky was overcast, but not raining. It turns out that those teams to the North play for the Emerald Cup. The cup is defended by the home team and only lost to a team that can beat them. It would be great to see other such mini-competitions in our area just to add a bit of flavor. The only other one of which I am aware is the Cal/UBC World Cup. Back to the game. Humboldt put up a couple of tries early on off of either a knock on or errant pass. They got another “gimmie” in the second. This was too much for Mendocino to overcome. The teams were fairly balanced, but these types of scores just come out of the blue. The first was a Humboldt knock on. I called advantage, Mendocino scoped out the ball and advanced past the gain line. About a millisecond after I called “advantage gained” the ball was lost forward into the arms of a Humboldt player who ran it in.

The Humboldt captain was being very judicious in approaching me and letting me know of subs coming in. Then late in the second half, the sidelines (those that hadn’t played yet) decided it was time to do substitutions. The Captain became frazzled and I had to stop the game and make sure that they had it all worked out. After I explained the intricacies of the substitution law, and sorted things out we restarted play. The players that came in were of no help to the team. Scuffles broke out like chicken-pox and I had to have the captain call his team together and settle them down. Not really sure what it was all about, but it ended up with a yellow card against Humboldt at 34 min. After the game both sides seemed to put it behind them as the beer came out, but I was on to my next match.

HUMBOLDT STATE women 60 – Fresno State 15 Ref: Rauscher
The game was played on the synth turf field at Humboldt State with a crowd of about 100 cheering fans in attendance. Fresno came out strong and pretty much dominated the forwards play. Then at about 18 min into the match, Humboldt decided to shift gears and start employing their backs. The tries came like clock-work about every 4/5 min. The score at half was 41/0. Fresno never dropped their heads or gave up. They were able to get their hands back on the ball in the second half and once again displayed a very good pick and go type of offense. They were able to put up three tries in the second, matching Humboldt’s three. Each time I approached the Fresno captain towards the end of the game asking her if she would like me to call it early, her response was no. Good on her. Fresno may not have come away with a win, but a winning never say die attitude.

As a sidelight, Humboldt’s #10 Meredith Conrad-Forrest, really stood out. Her skills were great and a work rate that had her involved in seemingly every play. I asked about her after the game and her coach said that she was coming back after an injury last year, but had played for Davis girls for four years.

That was four years that have paid off.

VALLEJO 32 – Stanislaus 15 Referee: Bruce Bernstein
Tight first half match which continued for much of the 2nd.

Vallejo outscored Stanislaus in the 2nd who hung in & had a few good mauls & rucks to either score or back up Vallejo.

SIERRA FOOTHILLS 42 – Reno 17 Referee: Lee Bryant

Monterey Bay Beach Dogs 19 – SOUTH VALLEY 34 Referee: Bruce Carter
Monterey Bay is now playing their home games at St. Francis HS in Watsonville. It’s basically just over the Hecker Pass road from Gilroy and about nine miles as the pelican flies from South Valley’s home pitch.

In that way, it’s a bit like England: two small cities, each about 50,000 souls, separated by a scenic drive of but a few miles, each with a rugby team and a budding rivalry.

I had a lot of ‘support’ – lots of representatives of my generation were on hand, familiar names from Santa Cruz rugby lore: Vaughn Stumpf, Dan Smith, Larry Freitas, Larry ‘The Landlord’ Hebert, Charlie Ukestad, Tif Aiono, Stevie Ball (still playing!) and others…

The home team got out to a good start with two converted tries from lots of chaotic, pinball type rugby (imagine balls bouncing off bumpers, bells ringing, lights flashing). This pace couldn’t sustain long, and when the game settled South Valley had more overall success moving the ball leaving the game 14-12 at half.

South Valley then scored four second half trys, with Monterey Bay’s one being the final tally.

Carmona’s BBQ and deli just down the road had signs up welcoming both teams and a good spread, ending this day’s good edition of D3 rugby.

Paso Robles 0 – SFGG 112 Referee: James Hinkin
Help! The referee society is trying to kill me!

[Editor’s Note: that makes it 294-0 in James’ last two

ST. MARY’S 81 – UC Davis 0 Referee: Aruna Ranaweera
In the opening match of the D1A season for both teams, SMC sprinted to a 41-0 half-time lead and finished with 13 tries.

Seconds: St. Mary’s – UC Davis Referee: Pescetti

Referee Coach: John Coppinger
No report received.

CALIFORNIA 104 – Arizona State 0 Referee: Bruce Ricard
AR: Rob Hendrickson

Beautiful game of rugby. In the first half, Arizona State was infringing a little too much. Around the 25th minute, their tight head prop got a yellow card for repeated infringements. They had only three players able to play front row, so we had to play the 2 or 3 scrums that happened in the next 10 minutes uncontested.

After that, the game was very clean, only a few infringements, not many knock-ons. The contest was pretty fair, and the game pretty challenged, except that Cal was scoring on almost every possession, while ASU was unable to enter their opponent’s 22.

Sac St 0 – CENTRAL WASHINGTON 78 Referee: Derek Summers
AR and reporter: Ron DeCausemaker

It was a nice balmy day to play rugby, like most other venues this day. Had a slight delay to starting, since goal post pads were not in place, and flags needed to be positioned.

Briefly, CW won 78 – 0, scoring seven trys each half. One conversion in the first half, three in the second.

Most of CW’s trys were from getting the ball out to the wings, and then a 30 meter sprint to the try line. Some of their field advantage came from long kicks down the field. Sac St. primarily relied on running up the middle, to little avail.

San Jose State – Fresno State Referee: Tony Levitan
No report received.

SANTA ROSA JC 19 – UC Santa Cruz 17 Referee: Matt Hetterman
Perfect rugby day in Santa Rosa – overcast, but not raining, pitch was soft but not muddy.

Half-time: Santa Rosa JC 12 – UCSC 5. Full-time: Santa Rosa JC 19 – UCSC 17

SF State – Sierra College Referee: Paolo Diaz
No report received.

Maritime Academy – USF Referee: Paul Bretz
No report received.

CSU-Monterey Bay 21 – UOP 25 Referee: Giles Wilson

Saturday – what a rugby day! Started out with an early trip to the Brit in Cupertino for breakfast and to watch the Calcutta Cup (happily retained by England). After that game, on down to the old Ft Ord and CSUMB.

A very nice field, well marks and only a little let down by the goal posts – I am told that a rugby specific field is on the way, more good news for N Cal rugby.

This was a classic game of two halves. CSUMB had two ball-carrying, battering props who set the stage in the first half. They carried well, went forward and UOP were pinned back and under pressure. CSUMB also have some very good backs who work space well. This formula carried CSUMB to a 21 point lead from 3 goals which UOP countered with a late try, while CSUMB were down a player to a sin bin.

At half time one of the props was replaced (he came back when the other one was injured) and UOP put a vigorous 9 man game into over drive. Relentless picking and jamming by the whole pack and even some of the backs was rewarded with a series of tries. Occasional mistakes gave the CSUMB backs some scraps to feed off but as a team they couldn’t summon the energy after being sapped by having to defend against the driving of UOP. UOP punched in 4 second half tries to no reply from UOP.

A very good game, both clubs deserve credit – it is great to see “small” colleges develop such good rugby.

Final CSUMB 21 (3 goals); UOP 25 (5 tries).

Sonoma State – St. Mary’s thirds
No report received.

STANFORD women 37 – Santa Clara 24 Referee: Bob Polito
Good game, with SCU ahead at half 12-10, but ultimately losing 37-24.

UC DAVIS women 21 – California 10 Referee: Scott Wood

Seconds: UC Davis 5 – CALIFORNIA 31 Ref: Wood

Sac St Women – SF Bats Referee: Phil Akroyd?
No report received.


Saturday, January 26:

Seconds: UOP 10 – Sonoma 5 Referee: Rob Keene

After stepping off the field at Sonoma State Dan Hattrup called me out on me previous comment of wishing to ref my first game. Sonoma approached Pacific for a Bside match, and Dan knew just where to find a referee.

As the sun began to disappear behind the clouds a weary Pacific team strung together a side using some of Sonoma’s players, while Sonoma produced a seemingly well rested group of players. However, it was clear they were smaller and inexperienced.

As the 20-min half began it was certainly clear that even after the 80 min Pacific’s experience would be a good match for the Sonoma Seconds. After a few early penalties Pacific was able to get Sonoma on their heels and push in a try. However, just like in the first game Sonoma was able to respond with one of their own. It would have been two, but the second row ran the ball over dead ball line before touching it down.

Pacific responded again after costly penalties by Sonoma and were again able to push in a try in the 17th minute. The match featured good back and forth play by the forwards, with both teams having ample attempts to make big plays, but not converting. Play continued past the final minute as Pacific refused to kill the ball, and played on attempting to score. To little avail they killed the ball after 23 minutes with a final score of 10 to 5 Pacific.


Friday February 1st, 2013 at Elsie Allen in Santa Rosa
ELSIE ALLEN 19 – Oakland Warthogs 7 Referee: Cary Bertolone

We kicked off at 7:00 PM under the lights at Elsie Allen’s artificial turf rugby field. Oakland began to attack and beat on the smaller Elsie Allen players, but made quite a few mistakes, as they have some athletic but inexperienced players. After a penalty for diving over at the 40 meter line, Elsie’s scrumhalf took a quick tap and ran right through most of the defenders for a try.

Another long try at the ten minute mark and Elsie Allen was up 14-0. The teams played evenly for a while and then Elsie broke through for a third try, leading 19-0. This led to Oakland kind of losing rugby perspective and one red card later, Oakland was playing down one for the rest of the game.

In the second half, a lot of the penalties that were occurring at the tackle and in the rucks (diving over, playing it on the ground, hands in, not coming through the gate) disappeared, finally, and the game was considerably improved. Oakland scored a converted try and kept Elsie from scoring, but tenacious tackling by Elsie kept Oakland from scoring more. At least two “almost tries” were thwarted by impressive defense. These teams will get better and be tough for other teams to handle.

Friday night – High School
HAYWARD 29 – Marin 12 Referee: Bruce Bernstein

Tied 12 each at half Hayward’s scrum & specifically prop broke the game line continuously leading to scores off goal line scrum downs by their #8 & scrumhalf.

Marin had opportunities to kick for points but opted to go for tries unsuccessfully.


No photo. I’ve got some video from the Who playing Quadrophenia at the Oracle Arena last Friday night…


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris

James Hinkin
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