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TRU Board Notes – 5/21/2018

At the request of our members the TRU Board will be releasing their monthly board call minutes and notes. View all of the TRU archived minutes or read on for the most recent notes:

    1. Roll Call
      1. Young
      2. Tate
      3. Green
      4. Dodge
      5. Turner
      6. James
      7. Tomsak
        1. Regrets
          1. None
    2. Followups
      1. Competitions
        1. 4/7 Dallas Quins (W) vs Tulsa (W) (rain out/Tulsa forfeit)
          1. Young: Spoke with Tulsa and Quins and they’ve agreed to add it to the 2019 schedule (Tulsa @ Quins).
          2. 4/14 Reds II vs OKC (OKC forfeited Wed morning)
            1. Young: Invoice sent for cancellation 4/18 ($150 – $150 for TRU forfeit cost) / PAID 4/27
          3. Houston Arrows at Galveston 4/0718 – Ineligible player
            1. Young: RRRC issued a quick decision via email but the committee would like to issue a formal response and recommend that the TRU Disciplinary Committee also look into it further.
            2. Dodge: Yes, the Arrows were sanctioned with a forfeit for the 4/7/18 match but we’d like to refer it to the TRU Board and Disciplinary Committee to see if anything else needs to be done.
            3. Young: Our policy indicates a $100 fine.
            4. Tate: Ok, if that is the policy, let’s assess that fine.
            5. Young: Sent invoice 5/25.
    3. RRRC 15s Championships
      1. D1M – Austin Blacks, lost in SF
      2. D2M – San Antonio, lost in QF, SF was not played due to weather
      3. D3M – Austin Blacks III, won QF and SF > Will play at USA Rugby National Championships
      4. WD1 – Austin Valkyries, won SF, lost QF
      5. WD2 – Austin Valkyries II, lost SF, lost consolation
    4. TRU 15s Championships
      1. D4M – Fort Worth II
      2. D4M Plate – Denton
      3. D4M Shield – Corpus Christi Dogfish
      4. D4M Bowl – Alliance II
        1. Tate: A few teams that had originally qualified chose not to travel but we were able to still have an event. We also didn’t know that the fields were occupied in the morning and as such had to have quite a late kick-off on Mother’s Day eve. So we will want to require that the bid in the future can guarantee a morning kick-off.
        2. Dodge: Since the RRRC is dealing with promotion and relegation, is there mandatory promotion and relegation for these competitions?
        3. Tate: There is no mandatory promotion and relegation at this time. We would want to reach a formal agreement if we want to apply that policy going forward.
        4. Dodge: We have already reached out to a few D4 teams about coming back into RRRC divisions and some have indicated they might but others have declined. So for now we will go with that.
        5. Tate: I do wonder if some teams would struggle in D3 as they will have to abide by the USA Rugby Eligibility player movement rules. That would mean no guest players as well.
          1. Tate: Overall with Bay Area women and possibly a few men’s teams moving up I would call the weekend a great success.
          2. Young: I think it was a big success, we had a big presence on social media throughout the weekend. Lots of good will for the TRU!
          3. Parker: I wanted to give a shout=out to Dogfish for making that trip. That’s a long way!
          4. Tate: Yes, and they traveled to Fort Worth stronger than two weeks earlier. They seemed to have a really good time and played well.
      5. D3W – Bay Area
    5. RRRC 7s (TRU to cover referee cost)
      1. Tate: We have three qualifiers, Austin, Houston and Norman and traditionally the TRU has covered costs for the qualifier bracket. For example, at Bloodfest, TRU will cover the RRRC matches and then the Huns are responsible for all of the other matches. Scott, when these come along let’s make sure we talk offline about staffing and invoicing.
      2. Dodge: We’re kind of changing the format up this year, we’re combining the RRRC and TOLA brackets with a modified Hong Kong format. Fil Keuppens has come up with a formula that would maintain the host funding of the non-qualifier matches at a level that is comparable.
      3. Tate: Ok, please let me know the details. I’m not comfortable with big financial surprises as it’s been a tough year. We want to make sure we’ve taken a big long look at budgeted referee costs.
      4. Dodge: It’s meant to to be revenue neutral to the TRU and for the referees. Combining some of the RRRC and TOLA tournaments may help out with some of the referee issues.
    6. TOLA Commissioner
      1. Dodge: We need one! I’ve stepped down and we need someone to step in and help manage the tournaments and the scoring. I’m happy to help in the North but the hardest part is that you need someone on the ground to get scores and update the standings. How do we want to address that?
      2. Tate: I would first start with asking the Board if they have anyone to suggest as a potential candidate?
      3. Tomsak: Give me about five minutes, I’ve texted three people to see if they have any interest.
      4. Tate: I can ping a few people as well.
      5. Dodge: I can do a quick little job description based on what I did last year.
      6. Tate: Let’s try and get that done by our next meeting, ideally in the next ten days.
    7. Summit/HOF Date
      1. Tate: We had talked about 8/25 on our call last time, is everyone OK with that? Wendy would like to start moving forward with logistics.
      2. Dodge: I don’t have an objection but I won’t be able to attend (out of the country).
      3. Tate: The main reason to get it done that weekend was to have it after National 7s but also to combine the Summit and AGM. If we can also close it out before our fiscal year end that is always good to. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
    8. New Clubs
      1. Arkansas Gryphons (Springdale, AR – NW of Little Rock by 3 hours) (15s)
        1. Tate: The Gryphons contacted us months ago about potentially joining the TRU. It is well known that we don’t have many referees in Oklahoma and Little Rock. If we had a large group of referee in Dallas it might not be so bad but we don’t. As a result we have to send referees from other areas at great expense. When I spoke to the NW Arkansas teams I warned them that referee resources would be a big part of the conversation. I advised them to come to the table with referees on hand. I’ve since then had some discussion with Scott and it does seem that our situation was more dire than I realized. We’re struggling to cover matches outside of DFW, Houston and Austin period. We may not have the referees to cover matches going forward outside of the major cities. Before we accept or seriously consider the Gryphons proposal we have to have an answer to the referee question. Discussion.
          1. We have to look at three possible outcomes for our Oklahoma and Little Rock teams.
          2. Option 1: Little Rock and Oklahoma teams must help us identify and recruit referees in their areas. Whether that is active referees or inactive referees or new recruits that are willing to be trained.
          3. Option 2: TRU looks to contract with another referee org to cover the northern matches. We have in the past contracted with USA Rugby to do D1 games and matches in Glendale and NOLA were covered locally. I don’t know what the orgs in OK and AR but I will say that I am NOT willing to pay referees individually. We can’t deal with tax issues and would rather deal with a referee society.
          4. Option 3: This is the least attractive but nuclear option but telling northern clubs that we are not able to cover their matches. If we have to go that route, what are they union members for? 60% of what players pay us is for referees and if we can’t deliver we aren’t delivering much value. That would induce that clubs would find other unions. Then that referee problem would be someone else’s problem. It would mean several unattractive things for us, losing clubs that we’ve enjoyed for one. As we know from other unions that have several LAUs under one umbrella that it is a pain in the butt.
            1. Tate: We can’t keep kicking the can down the road, we have to have a solution. I know that there are referees up there because I know they are doing HS games. It doesn’t seem that they aren’t interested in affiliating with TRRA. We have to come up with a solution.
            2. Green: I’d like to give my thoughts on your three options if I could. Option 2 you’re basically going over to other societies that don’t have a referee society or it’s struggling. We know that other societies don’t have referees hanging around, I’ve tried to contact other societies (ERRFU and Mid-South) in the past and they didn’t have anyone available. Generally the top referees are looking for the best options and won’t come do lower level games. So we’re sort of stealing from one area to cover another and that has been a repeat issue. I think option 3 is not ideal but unless we can all agree that option 1 is the only way to go forward. If teams aren’t prepared to push people forward than we don’t have a solution. Austin and the Central area have pushed players for years and years and we have a great pool. The North hasn’t been doing their part and unless it changes we’ll continue to have this conversation every year. Across the USA this is a problem and players have to respond to the call.
            3. Tate: Right, adding resources, not dividing is the goal.
            4. Green: Yes, we have high school and colleges already trying to take a piece of the pie. It’s a limited resource and we need more players to step up. Going forward I believe we need to require that clubs have 4-5 referees that are available on any given weekend. IF we had every team have 5 referees that we could pull on to assign as ARs or #4s we could really turn this situation around.
            5. Tate; Right, let’s hear from our divisional reps, what can we do? Do we want to require referees on a roster?
            6. Dodge: I have a quick question, how far in advance do referees know their matches?
            7. Green: We usually schedule a month out and then changes come as matches move or weather. Our most active referees get even more advance notice because we’re trying to aggressively develop them. But a part-time referee would know at least 3-4 weeks in advance.
            8. Parker: Speaking for D3 if we made it 5 referees, teams that only have 25-30 CIPP’d the would really struggle. The number seems a bit high for D3.
            9. Dodge: The challenge is that players always want to play. It doesn’t mean that they can’t do non-Saturday matches but it’s a struggle.
            10. Green: I hear you but here are a couple of things to point out. The Sunday matches were perfect even though the teams weren’t’t that excited about it. We were able to have new referees out, coaches on site and ARs so they felt supported. If we could move rugby off Saturday only it alleviates a lot of pressure and we can develop referees much faster. Also if we required D1 players to referee on Sunday that would be a big help. That is quite common in other areas of the world. To Otis’ question, if you have 5 players CIPP’d as a referee it means that we would lean on a local team if they didn’t have a game to help out. We aren’t looking for 5 active referees but that 1 or 2 of them are available once a month.
            11. Parker: Ok, I’m good with that clarification.
            12. Tate: Nick? Luke?
            13. Turner: I’m all for it but we’ll see if we make a rule if it has follow through. We have no idea if it will be enforced or acted upon.
            14. Dodge: Scott, other than the TRU who is TRRA servicing?
            15. Green: Other conferences we cover is TRU, high school, D1A, LSC and LSWC. We want to cover everyone because we want rugby to grow and thrive. We don’t want one conference to suffer because of another.
            16. Dodge: HS normally plays Thursday and Friday nights?
            17. Green: Yes, they’ve done a great job of moving matches off of Saturday. That really helped, they still have some on Saturday but they are doing what they can to alleviate the Saturday traffic jams. Agan that would be a perfect place for these dual player/referees. They can learn how to referee and make a bit of spending money for their efforts.
            18. Dodge: D1A is Saturday only?
            19. Green: They have a fairly light schedule in the Spring with matches on Friday and Saturday. They are talking about going to a fall set up next year and they do bring in some USA Rugby resources to cover the shortage.
            20. Dodge: Lonestar is also Friday and Saturday?
            21. Green: Lonestar is a fall competition but does have matches on Friday and Saturday. In the Spring the TRU got first dibs and if we could cover LSC we did.
            22. Dodge: Would it be helpful if our RRRC schedule was spread out over fall and spring?
            23. Green: If our goal was to cover all the conferences we would want everyone to sit down and make a schedule together. There are many times that we have referees scattered across the union from LIttle Rock to Corpus that is a big strain. If we could work together earlier it would be better to put matches together in the same city or making sure weekends aren’t to heavy.
            24. Tomsak: Last year I covered some D3 matches, women’s and college. This year I never got scheduled, is there a reason? Did I do something wrong?
            25. Green: It may have been something not done correctly, we’re really trying to avoid having referees travel long long distances or your calendar wasn’t available. We’re relying on the software so the scheduler doesn’t have to chase referees down.
            26. Dodge: What kind of training do you provide for new referees on how to use WTR?
            27. Green: This year we started doing monthly training in Dallas, Houston and Austin. It also was available online as a webinar. It is up to the referees to turn up and ask questions to learn and develop. I personally don’t have the time to chase down referees everyday and force them to use the software.
            28. Tate: So if we were to put in a policy that says that every club is required to have X number of referees. I have seen this done in the past in the TRU. The challenge has always been that clubs went out and found an old boy/girl and had them CIPP. So they met the requirement but they weren’t active referees and in the end it didn’t make a net improvement in referee resources. So for a policy like this to move the needle we’ve got to require a large number of people getting certified or we have to put not just a registration requirement and a number of games requirement.
            29. Green: I agree with you. It really needs to be more of a marketing push indicating that this is what is needed for rugby. If high school rugby explodes like we think it will, we are only going to be hurting more. Almost every weekend there is a player clinic or coaching clinic and referees are being left behind.
            30. Turner: I agree with you that just certifying people isn’t going to help the cause. We’re talking about this because of expansion (adding Arkansas Gryphons) and that team may not be able to help with any of the referee challenges as they are far away. If you’re going to put a minimum match requirement it could be a concern for the northern teams since they are far away and may not have opportunities.
            31. Tate: Yes, valid point. What we really need for the North areas is not players but full time referees. Referees that can be doing Tulsa/Little Rock/OKC home games in their area. Players from those clubs don’t really solve our north referee problem. That can be mitigated somewhat by more referees in the Dallas area but we need full time referees in the North.
            32. Turner: My argument is that you mentioned a minimum requirement of matches referees. I assume that would include multitude of divisions?
              Tate: It could be any division.
            33. Turner: LR/OKC/Tulsa could referee HS and college matches but that wouldn’t help TRRA?
            34. Tate: I’m agreeing with you Luke, in those areas we need referees that aren’t players. We need referees that can referee senior men and women’s games in those cities. The minimum number of matches would help in DFW, Austin and Houston. But northern clubs have to have full time referees, not players.
            35. Green: I think in the short term, if we committed in the DFW area we’re going to identify 15 new referees. Then we can commit to training them and TRRA will have a presence there. That would alleviate some of the issues and would give us a bit more time to deal with our northern clubs. Whether that is OK saying we are going to have our own society or we’re going to work with HOA etc. But we have to get referees in DFW immediately. We have 4 referees in the North and I anticipate 2 of them retiring this fall or in 2019. With TOLA 7s coming up it’s a perfect opportunity to train referees so that in the fall they can start doing some of the club games.
            36. Tate: Logistically as far as making that push in DFW, what do we need to do? Do we need to provide some sort of coordinator? Someone to head up the effort and liaise with Scott to get the message out? What do we think is the best way to implement this?
            37. Green: From the TRRA front we’re looking for a 7s manager to run the series. If the rugby community got behind this and we use TOLA to train new referees I can get behind that. We can figure out training costs and such but over the summer if we had 15 or so referees at most of the tournaments we could train them up. I guess it’s a matter of having someone go out, push it and market it.
            38. Tate: I guess what I’m driving at is that I’d really like someone in the DFW area to drive this. I really feel like in order for this to be successful we need someone who knows the rugby community and can go out and talk to people.
            39. Green: For me the ideal candidate for me is Fil Keuppens. A former referee and involved in 7s he would be perfect. We need someone who can go out there and sort of talk the talk.
            40. Tate: Part of the reason we have so many referees we have in Austin is because you’ve been able to build the relationship in the local community. We don’t have that in DFW, Little Rock right now.
            41. Green: If we get a solid group of people I’m happy to run trainings and go to the TOLA events. If the community is behind this and doesn’t scare them off it could make a dent.
            42. Tate: Dodge, what do you think?
            43. Dodge: Yes, I tend to agree with Scott that Fil would be a great candidate. I can talk to him to see if he is interested. I can help out on the logistical front as well. I hear what you’re saying we need someone up here to help build the ranks.
            44. Tate: To be honest we need to do the same in Houston, don’t we?
            45. Green: Yes, we are heading down the track in Houston as well. We do have a few young high school referees that are doing very well. Austin is the current hot bed and referees are flocking to our area. We have to find the same in Houston and DFW. I’d recommend hitting DFW for the next year and then once that’s stabilized we move on to Houston. I don’t think we can do everything at once.
            46. Tate: So our first action item is that we need to find a referee recruiter in the DFW area. A 5-6 month gig that would run June-November. If we don’t have the bodies by November we will continue to be in a world of hurt. Would you agree Scott?
            47. Green: Yes, I’m really looking at 7s at the opportunity. They can do 5-6 matches a day and get feedback after 14 minutes. It’s a great learning opportunity for anyone.
            48. Turner: It sounded like RRRC matches will be covered by the TRU but how would a new referee indicate they want to be available for a TOLA match and trained?
            49. Green: Right, last year we didn’t cover any TOLA matches. It was due to lack of referees and we found that putting out referees that weren’t capable hurt our relationship with clubs. It we are going to use TOLA to develop referees it would be best for TRU/TRRA to manage the referees for both events. The TRU would basically say they will cover a tournament and then TRRA would use it develop referees.
            50. Tate: So this would play in to our earlier discussion about needing a TOLA commissioner. They would communicate with Scott and I about sanctioned tournaments and then we could proactively schedule referees and their developments.
            51. Green: I’ve got to jump off but Kirk can we talk later in the week to cover this?
            52. Tate: Of course, thank you. For the RRRC reps on the call is Wichita a real possibility?
            53. Turner: I’ve talked with Wichita and Springfield and they are both aware that if the Gryphons leave their competition will collapse. If the USA Rugby NCC allowed the Gryphons to leave, Springfield would leave MARFU for HOA and Wichita would likely be forced to move up to D2 in Frontier. The Gryphons would like to join the TRU D2 or they are asking that we join them for MARFU South.
            54. Tate: A question, regardless of which division they play in, where are these clubs getting referees?
            55. Turner: I believe it’s from their competition with MARFU.
            56. Tate: My point is if these clubs were to join RRRC; from a TRU perspective we might still want to talk to that society to cover their home matches. Sending referees from Dallas would be a long haul and expensive. What is the RRRC time table for resolving these questions? If the USA Rugby NCC doesn’t approve the Gryphons effort it all becomes mute.
            57. Dodge: We’re currently working on promotion and relegation right now. I need to bring this up with the USA Rugby NCC, most of the committee knows it is on the radar.
            58. Tate: Ok, I think we need to table this discussion until we hear from the RRRC and USA Rugby NCC.
            59. Dodge: Let assume that the RRRC and USA Rugby NCC say yes, do we have the referee infrastructure to handle the matches?
            60. Tate: No, these teams either enter the competition on similar terms to Glendale and home matches would be covered by their GU. Or if they do join TRU then we would need to work with HOA to cover these matches. Short answer is no, we don’t have the referee infrastructure to cover those games.
            61. Turner: So when we talk about the timeline, I know that Little Rock made a request to be relegated to D2. They asked that a decision by the RRRC be made by June 18, when are we going to put a date on this?
            62. Dodge: Like we talked about on the last RRRC call, we will finalize promotion and relegation on the next RRRC call. So it should be before that arbitrary deadline but we may have to deal with other appeals etc.
            63. Tate: June 18 is our next Board call.
            64. Young: The rumor mill I’ve heard is that Little Rock will leave the Union if we don’t let them relegate.
            65. Turner: Yes, the letter we received indicates that if they aren’t allowed to be D2 they won’t play competitive rugby next year.
            66. Tate: They may have put a date on it just so they get a response. Our next call is June 18 and I don’t think we need to make a decision on the Gryphons until we hear from the USA Rugby NCC.
      2. Lonestar Women (15s)
        1. Tate: Nick, do we have an update on developments with the Lonestar Women?
        2. James: Not really, there is another call scheduled for after Memorial Day.
        3. Green: I talked with Frank Waller earlier in the week and indicated to them what I’ve let all conference teams know, 2pm KOs on Saturday is not going to work. The main issue last year was that their 7s tournament format isn’t ideal and locations were in major outlying cities. The 7s format ties up referees all day and then the events were in cities that we have zero referees. If the LSWC want to join the TRU they would be more likely to get referees due to the existing relationship with the TRU.
        4. Tate: Do we have confirmation that the LSC are trying to start their own referee society?
        5. Green: I’ve heard rumblings form a few coaches, but for the most part in the fall we covered 99% of matches. It’s more of the same, some tournament formats tie up referees all day and then some of the locations are quite remote. I know other conferences have tried to create their own referee societies and USA Rugby shuts that down pretty quickly as that usually causes more problems then help. The idea that there is a pool of referees sitting around is laughable. I’m assuming they will make an effort to take what is already out there.
        6. Tate: I don’t know why a referee would want to do that.
        7. Green: The positive would be that if LSC do go their own way, the fall schedule is much lighter on the TRRA and that could benefit the TRU as far as resources.
        8. Tate: So that is sort of where I’m coming from, if LSC men are out, LSWC could come under the TRU. I don’t see how LSWC coming under the TRU really makes a big difference as far as referee resources.
        9. Green: It’s more of a relationship thing, the TRU has a great relationship with TRRA. The TRU leadership understands the TRRA issues with numbers etc. I think the LSWC would have better services if they were under the TRU.
        10. Tate: So Nick, that is the message you can give the LSWC and they need to make a decision very quickly. Doing this in August/Sep makes everything a lot harder.
        11. James: Yes, we’re trying to push it along as we know it’s very time sensitive.
      3. NOLA (7s)
        1. Tate: We don’t have a formal application but we have received word that NOLA would like to compete in the RRRC 7s. NOLA may not need to join the TRU as they are part of a GU. They would need to go directly to the RRRC to request admittance.
        2. Dodge: I would imagine that would mean the USA Rugby NCC would have to bless this.
        3. Tate: I did receive a heads up from Fil Keuppens that this may be coming, my impression is that if it is the existing NOLA club they don’t need to become members of the TRU or get approval from us. That would rely entirely on the RRRC.
        4. Tomsak: I would assume we would get dues from them?
        5. Tate: If they register or transfer their CIPPs they would have to pay TRU dues. If USA Rugby grants them the ability to play in the RRRC they may not. They would have to pay the entry fees of course.
        6. Young: Fil and I spoke to Erik Geib this weekend and he recommended that we charge 7s dues, whatever that would be.
        7. Dodge: I think that we would need to charge dues, we would be using TRRA and therefore TRU resources. We want to make sure they offset that cost and pay their share of the referee costs.
        8. Tate: If RRRC approves it, then I can talk with Scott and figure out what the costs would be. Then we can do an electronic vote on it.
      4. Phil Beck New Club (7s)
        1. Tate: We don’t have a formal application but we have received word that Phil Beck will have a new club that would like to compete in the RRRC 7s. This is a new club application, Wendy can send him the details.
    9. Dues Increase
      1. Moved to next meeting
    10. New Business
      1. None
    11. Meeting Adjourned (9:50 PM)