RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 7/10/2017

The Red River Competitions Committee will now be releasing their monthly committee call minutes and notes. View all of the archived RRRC minutes** or read on for the most recent:

  1. Opening of the meeting and roll call
    1. Sharpley
    2. Butch
    3. Kolberg
    4. Kurylas
    5. Tate
    6. Watson
    7. Green (Guest)
    8. Turner
    9. Keuppens
    10. Hughes
    11. Corrigan
    12. Iker
    13. Young
  2. Approval of the Agenda
    1. Watson: Move we approve.
    2. Corrigan: Second
    3. Sharpley: Any discussion? None. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
  3. Approval of the minutes from the June 12 call
    1. Posted to TRU website: http://texasrugbyunion.com/2017/06/23/rrrc-competitions-committee-notes-61217/
    2. Watson: Move to approve.
    3. Young: Second.
    4. Sharpley: Any discussion? None. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
  4. Competition Structure for 2017-18 season
    1. Men’s D1 (Tate/Kolberg)
      1. Tate: Alan and I just got off a call with the USA Rugby National Competitions Committee in regards to Little Rock’s appeal. LR has requested an extension for their appeal and has also requested a waiver of the appeal fee. Note that this fee was instituted last year by USA Rugby and it was put in place to deter frivolous appeals. Little Rock did indicate that if the waiver was not allowed then LR wouldn’t pursue the appeal. The NCC did vote to NOT waive the $1,500 fee and they do consider the matter closed. This means LR is officially promoted to D1 in the RRRC and it is now up to us to create a D1 schedule that involves Huns, Blacks, Reds, Harlequins, Little Rock and Glendale. There is a 12 game minimum so we will more than likely be looking at a H/A with a SF and a Final.
      2. Sharpley: Kirk, did you want to mention some of the discussion around the decision that the NCC made about not waiving the fee?
      3. Tate: Yes, there was some discussion around waiving it but it was determined that it was a written policy and that if it was to be waived it would be on a case by case basis. But the policy doesn’t currently allow for that but it could be discussed at a future date.
      4. Sharpley: I want to add that the NCC has left open the possibility of waivers of the match requirements.
      5. Tate: Yes, we had been told that the minimum was non-negotiable and that it would be much more difficult to get approval with qualifying matches that were outside your CR competition (such as Gold Cup or scheduling friendlies). As it turns out, there are situations on both coasts where they are potentially looking at less than 12 games unless they develop crossover competitions with neighboring CRs. It appears that when faced with the realities of reaching those minimums there may be more flexibility than we were led to believe.
        1. Tate: In the past the D1 playoffs have had four teams, RRRC, Pacific North, Pacific South and a wild card (Pacific North runner up vs RRRC runner up). A joint proposal from SoCal and Pacific North was approved that now the quarterfinal rounds will be played regionally. RRRC will now participate in the RRRC Championships and that match will be a National QF. Then there will just be a semi-final where the RRRC champion will face the Pacific champion at the first round of National playoffs (no more double header weekend). Then the West regional champion will play the east regional champion for the USA Rugby D1 final.
        2. Kolberg: Isn’t the rotation this year that potentially the USA Rugby finals will be in Texas?
        3. Tate: Yes, we have the preference but we would need to submit a bid. So basically we should be looking for qualified locations.
        4. Young: Round Rock has a brand new facility (stadium) that is setup with rugby sleeves!
        5. Sharpley: I want to be clear that this is ONLY for Men’s D1.
          1. Watson: What if Little Rock decides not to play?
          2. Sharpley: We would take that to the NCC and I assume they would ban Little Rock from playing competitively anywhere else. They can not go and join another CR and are only eligible for play in the RRRC. We would also have to ask for forgiveness on the minimum matches as we wouldn’t be able to meet that.
    2. Men’s D2 (Turner/Corrigan)
      1. Turner: We needed to know what Little Rock was planning on. It now appears that they won’t be participating in D2. We will begin creating a competition that doesn’t include them.
      2. Sharpley: What will the general structure be? Sub leagues, sub regions? In the past we’ve had a north and a south?
      3. Turner: I don’t have ideas, I’ve seen some scenarios thrown around.
      4. Corrigan: Luke and I haven’t gotten into that discussion yet. I did send out an email to the D2 clubs today asking for input but haven’t heard anything yet. One concern has been the disparity of competition that we might try to make sure that the top teams can play each other in crossover matches. We do understand the travel but wanting to better competition it may be a necessary evil.
      5. Sharpley: The chatter that I’ve heard is that the D1b teams could be joining the structure and not being broken out into their own competition.
      6. Turner: Why is that a conclusion?
      7. Tate: It’s not, just one of the thoughts that is out there. How they get structured is to be determined but we’re looking to you to come up with some proposals.
      8. Turner: So there could potentially be two sides from Austin and two sides from Dallas. The south already has HARC, HURT, West Houston (Katy), SAn Antonio, San Marcos and Woodlands. North is DARC, Ft Worth, OKC and Tulsa. So then it could be adding those teams to the mix.
        1. Young: Note that Katy has rebranded and would prefer to be called West Houston Lions.
        2. Kurylas: Ft Worth had also mentioned that they want to move down? Has that been considered?
        3. Tate: I’ve talked to Morgan and they’ve indicated an interest in possibly moving down but they did not ever formally make that appeal request. We did request that they do it by the deadline and so for the moment they are in D2.
    3. Men’s D3 (Hughes/Kurylas)
      1. Hughes: We don’t have a proposal yet but it’s looking like Diablos and Denton are moving down and Euless is joining. San Marcos is moving up and Alamo City is moving down. So we may need to move some teams from the Central to South to balance out the numbers.
      2. Kurylas: OKC also mentioned maybe moving down. Is Euless in good standing?
      3. Tate: No, they are NOT in good standing. So you potentially could solve your imbalance by moving Fort Hood into the North in place of Euless.
      4. Watson: Have you guys talked to Tevi?
      5. Kurylas: No, I haven’t talked to him.
      6. Hughes: I haven’t talked to him in about two months.
      7. Sharpley: We’re talking about individual teams when we should be talking about structures. Please take those comments offline.
      8. Young: I know Otis has been talking to Robert, so please keep him in the loop.
      9. Hughes: When are we going to make a decision on Euless?
      10. Tate: The TRU is telling you that they are not in good standing and we can’t tell you when they will be in good standing. You’d have to talk directly to Euless and see when they will pay their outstanding fees. You may consider having a contingency plan as they may not satisfy their fees until very late. Maybe that means they just play social rugby?
      11. Watson: Can we set a cut off date? If they don’t make it they aren’t included in the schedule?
      12. Young: So we did a soft deadline on our last call that they needed to be in good standing by June 30 (the date that promotion and relegation appeals were due).
      13. Sharpley: We need to move forward and they were given plenty of notice. As far as the RRRC stands they are not in good standing and we need to make a structure that doesn’t include Euless. It’s as simple as that.
      14. Kurylas: Ok, that is fair. Are we certain that OKC and Ft Worth aren’t dropping down?
      15. Tate: OKC is definitely staying in D2 and Ft Worth wavered but never put in an official appeal.
      16. Sharpley: Agreed, they never pulled the trigger. Ft Worth and OKC are D2. Euless is not a D3 team and not in good standing and will not be included in a schedule.
    4. Men’s D4 (?)
      1. Tate: I’ll take this…we have 9-11 teams participating in this. 5 or 6 in the north and 4 or 6 in the south. North potentially is Diablos, Denton, Lost Souls, DARC B and Alliance B. We have heard rumblings about a new club in Tyler that may be joining. In the South we have confirmed San Marcos B, West Houston (Katy) B, HARC B and Corpus Christi Dogfish. Battleground is another new club that is pending with the TRU that could participate (they have indicated that they may want to only be social though). This is looking really good and the TRU will need to do some work on what the exact eligibility rules will be. Generally this means that everyone needs to be CIPP’d and we’ll be looking to minimize forfeits and maximize participation. The women have been doing this for a few years so we’ve got some expertise that we can look to.
      2. Sharpley: Thanks and I want to congratulate everyone that has worked on the D4 league. This brings the TRU into alignment with the rest of the country as every other GU has a D4 competition. This is growing the game and something that needed to happen.
      3. Kurylas: What can we do to make sure Tyler (new club) is good to go?
        1. Young: They are all set and we’ll be discussing along with 6 or 7 new clubs next week on the TRU call.
    5. Women’s D1 (Young/Iker)
      1. Young: We’ve had some interesting developments over the past few weeks, we only have three D1 teams this year. Little Rock asked to move down as they are having number issues and travel. We’d like our D1 teams to play H/A and then our top two teams (currently Austin and HARC) would participate in the newly formed women’s Gold Cup competition. The cool news is that the women’s gold cup will include FOUR GUs. Then we’ll fill out the Quins schedule with matches against the top two D2 teams (Tulsa and Austin Valks II) to make sure that they meet their match requirements.
        1. Young: Also note that we have agreed to participate in the Gold Cup until 2019. Our top two teams will participate, this first year is Austin and HARC but it’s open for next year.
      2. Sharpley: Ok, very exciting about the Gold Cup and work with me on getting the third team their required matches.
      3. Iker: Yes and this is no longer a hybrid league! The winner of the D1 will be our D1 rep and winner of D2 etc.
    6. Women’s D2 (Young/Iker)
      1. Young: For D2 we have six teams and will do play regionally to keep travel at a minimum. H/A with cross-over matches. We also have 6-7 D3 teams that will do a TRU Championship!
      2. Sharpley: I have to congratulate Holly and Wendy on their work with the women, this is by far our biggest area of growth. Great work!
  5. Sevens Report (Keuppens)
    1. Keuppens: Three teams have qualified as of last weekend. Utah (M), ARPTC (W) and the Austin Valkyries (W). As a result Wendy and I are already in “recruiting” mode as we aren’t sure if those teams will be attending the last tournament as a result of the qualified teams. For Space City 7s in the women’s bracket it was designed to be a qualifier, social and super social. So we created a Hong Kong format where all of the teams were seeded into one bracket and then reseeded after the pool rounds. We did allow the teams to declare ahead of time if they were RRRC or TOLA so they wouldn’t lose out on any points. We thought this worked really well for the women and the competition was very strong. The reason I’m saying all of this is that it may become relevant. It has become a three race horse with the Huns, Blacks and Reds (all have 12 points). The fourth qualifier is REALLY compelling and important as two of those teams will move on.
      1. Keuppens: I wanted to mention one more thing, Scott Green actively approached all of the qualifier coaches and asked for feedback. I witnessed zero referee abuse and had no reports from other teams. Hats off to all of the referees but especially to Joey and Cole who have just returned from South Africa. They received higher marks than the national panel referees that were flown in!
      2. Kolberg: Yes, they did a great job! I was watching the behavior of the spectators and the players and it was very professional on all accounts.
  6. TRU report (Tate/Young)
    1. Tate: The big thing for us is the upcoming TRU AGM, Summit and Hall of Fame. Note that the Summit and AGM will not be together this year…the TRU AGM is Aug 27. The AGM needs to take place before Aug 31 so that we can complete our business and finalize elections before the end of our fiscal year. We’re moving the TRU Summit to Sep 9-11 to coincide with the Lone Star Collegiate player camp. We’ve always struggled to get bodies for the practical coaching and referee training so pairing with Lone Star is a perfect solution. We also wanted to be sensitive to the Women’s Rugby World Cup and make sure we didn’t conflict with that.
      1. Young: At the Summit we are planning on hosting these courses:
        1. Level 1 Referee
        2. Coaching of Match Officials 1
        3. Touch Judge
        4. L200 Coaching
        5. L300 Coaching
        6. Level 1 Strength and Training
    2. Tate: Our big challenge is referee numbers. We’re growing with lots of news teams and players. That growth combined with the imposition of match requirements by USA Rugby equals more games and a need for more referees. This ties into the referee abuse issues that were alluded to before. We can’t keep growing if we don’t grow referees.
  7. TRRA Referee report (Neuenschwander/Green)
    1. Butch: I’ll defer to Scott Green, current TRRA Chairman.
    2. Green: I wanted to go over the 7s stuff that Fil and Jeff brought up. I was very pleased with the attitudes from the coaches and players at Space City 7s. I had some chats with the coaches and overall very positive. We all know that referee abuse is a major deterrent and the more we can do together to stop that will be great.
      1. Resources – As Kirk said, lots of new teams and more games and this gives the TRRA massive anxiety. We cannot serve all the conferences and teams in a professional manner and we’ve been holding on by the skin of our teeth for the last few years. We’re at a point where it’s going to implode or we have to limit who we referee. Some of the things I think we can do to alleviate the stress that is on the TRRA is that the conferences need to work together to schedule their matches. That way we can consolidate our resources in the major areas and make sure that everyone is as balanced as possible.
      2. Sunday rugby – If we could move some matches to Sunday it would allow our current referees to be coaches for new referees. For instance D4 would be perfect for this. I will also be asking Rugby Texas (youth) to move matches off of the weekend as well.
      3. Help from TRU members to find referees – A few weeks ago I called every coach to ask if they could send players to an upcoming courses. We literally got zero and I don’t know if members know where referees come from. We need to have players sent to us and we will train them. If we don’t then matches will go uncovered and it will only get worse. This has to be priority #1, growing our referee base. We’re years and years behind.
      4. Increasing fees – We will be increasing all fees and a restructuring of fees. We won’t be charging a fee and then mileage like we have in the past but exploring a flat fee per match.
      5. Training Opportunities – The reason Stellenbosch was so great is because those referees are exposed to a large number of matches (100s in a few months). We need to do the same here, we have to have as many opportunities for new referees that are non-competitive and centralized. We’re already working with some of the TOLA tournaments where we bring in new referees and cover the tournament (free of charge) and will be used for training.
        1. Sharpley: Scott’s right, the data is out there. We have to have new referees and provide them training to continue supporting our competition.
        2. Tate: Not a question but a note to the committee. When we sit down to build schedules we really ought to look at it as Scott is suggesting. Between the mid Sep and Thanksgiving we would be really well served to include some tournaments that referees could be trained at. If we don’t pay attention to that in our scheduling those weekends won’t happen.
  8. New Business
    1. None.
  9. Close of meeting (nlt 10:00pm)
    1. Watson: Move that we adjourn.
    2. Hughes: Second.
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