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TRU Board Notes – 2/19/2018

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. Dodge
    3. Turner
    4. Tomsak
    5. Tate
    6. Green
    7. James
    8. Yeaoman
    9. Parker
      1. Regrets
        1. None
  2. Followups
    1. WD3
      1. Young: San Antonio Armadillos are dropping out, they don’t have the numbers. So Nick and I are going to have to rework the D3 schedule. Also haven’t heard much on teams thoughts on Championships so Nick and I will go ahead and provide guidance there as well.
    2. Foundation
      1. Tate: Still in progress, the attorney has requested some additional details and I need to get back to him.
    3. Congress Meeting Recap
      1. Yeoman: Minutes from our latest Congress meeting should be available soon but here is a quick recap:
        1. RIM/The Rugby Channel: Still struggling but remains a big focus for the USAR Board this year.
          1. RIM in particular is facing some particulary hard questions over the Wales vs South Africa (June 2) event as it’s a difficult market and they don’t anticipate even breaking event.
        2. RWC 2018:  looking really good, especially ticket sales (outpacing past RWCs).
        3. Finances: A big topic has been on the high performance budget and in particular the pay parity for men and women. A big problem is that most of the funds for high performance come from the USA Rugby Trust and that can be earmarked for men or women only, so sometimes there just isn’t funds. Therefore the parity has to come from another place in the budget.
          1. Due increase was brought up again but Congress pushed back and wants to keep increases only ever two years.
        4. Bylaws: Lots of talk about the USAR Board nomination process, but bylaw changes have to happen ahead of time and be published and all that. One member is terming out soon and perhaps that will lead the way for some of the bylaw changes.
        5. California club issues: In CA a team was removed from competition due to the referee society. Teams are feeling like the referees have to much power and sometimes they are overreaching. So another committee has been created and we’re monitoring that situation.
          1. Green: This started with the D1A issues where those teams were going outside of established protocols to get referees. For us we have a great relationship with the TRU and we’ve been able to service almost all of the matches. Sometimes even with teams of three which is a great learning opportunity for all of our referees.
        6. High Performance Game Board: A new board has been created and Congress wants to make sure that there is clear understanding of their function. It seems that this is another board that may be muddling the waters and we want to make sure that isn’t the case.
          1. Tate: With my experience on a few USAR groups, it doesn’t seem that most of these groups are very high functioning. Has there been any talk about that?
          2. Yeoman: I think Wendy would echo that we’ve been trying for years and haven’t been able to get any traction. Nigel wasn’t very keen on doing anything and Payne may still be in the same boat. But it’s time to put the pressure back on and make sure that these groups are functioning and not being created to oversee other groups, etc.
          3. Tate: Yes, we need Chairs to get things done that have bandwidth and time to do those things.
          4. Yeoman: Yes, most of the people that can do that are usually wearing other hats already. But of course we can bring it to Payne again. Congress doesn’t have any power but we can apply pressure.
        7. Tate: Overall for me, it appeared that folks were very happy with having the meeting in Texas.
        8. Yeoman: Yes, I think Ron did a great job! Small things like making sure that there was information on local attractions, rooms reserved for breakout sessions etc. We were even able to watch the ARC match that night on site.
        9. Tate: I also know that Erik Geib was there and toured a potential venue for the USAR Western Playoffs. So hopefully we will get those playoffs in Texas and if so it will save all of our clubs some funds.
  3. HOF Committee
    1. Tate: The HOF Committee has had some preliminary emails on their formation. I will be having lunch with Gandalf next week to talk a bit more.
    2. Young: I know they were talking about meeting at RRRC Championships. Kirk, if you talk to them can you ask what my guidelines need to be? As far as I know I am planning this year but I just want to make sure.
    3. Tate: Yes, let’s reach out and make sure we’re communicating.
  4. HOF/RRRC Championships Hotel
    1. Young: In progress, hoping to finalize the contract this week or next. That weekend is also a huge concert (iHeart Radio) and we know hotel rooms are filling up already. We will have a block minimum and a large group of rooms available. More details as we finalize everything.
  5. TRU Championships Hotel
    1. Young: In progress, hoping to have details very soon!
  6. New Business
    1. Topics from the AGM
      1. Dues increase
        1. Tate: I pulled some numbers from last year, before 7s started. We were at 2,144 as of April 2017; today we’re at 1,846. This isn’t limited to any particular sector, we’re at 87% of the men’s players and 84% of the women’s. (These numbers do not take into account the SWWC players, so this is a drop not counting those players). We’ll make up some of that difference in the next two months, we’ve added almost 100 players in the last 10 days. We’ll see a bump in the next few weeks as college play wraps up and some players transfer over.
          1. Tate: So, that drop in players is around $10-15,000 in expected revenue. If we were to bump our dues $5 so that they matches the USAR dues, that would make up the difference. We’ve historically matched what USAR pays, so this wouldn’t be a big change. Assuming we didn’t have a further decline in membership, $5 would make up that budget hole. I think this is something we need to look at, we haven’t raised dues in 10+ years and expenses continue to rise. I don’t think increasing dues significantly more than that would be a good idea. Thoughts?
            1. Parker: So if we raise by $5 and the CIPP numbers go down, what do we do?
            2. Tate: A good question, we can’t continually raise dues as we know it would deter registration. I think we’ve got to cover at reversing that player decline. I don’t think we need to overreact as we’re one year in decline after four years of straight growth.
            3. Dodge: Do we know if this is a national trend?
            4. Tate: Yes, it is. I’ve had conversations with multiple people at the Congress meeting. This is absolutely across the country, some places are feeling it more than others.
            5. Dodge: Did he attribute that to anything in particular?
            6. Tate: No, nobody has a simple answer. Looking at a few factors, our military clubs had more time until recently and now they have other obligations. In D1 we know it has been shrinking across the country but our D1 clubs aren’t shrinking numerically. It’s not just women or just men either.
            7. Young: I’m concerned that if we don’t raise dues than USAR dues may outpace us. I think we need to stay on par.
            8. Tate: Yea, I think we don’t want to get into the situation that USAR was in, they didn’t raise dues for 10+ years and now they HAVE to do it. We do have our cash reserves but we don’t want to use all of that up covering this deficit and then we HAVE to raise dues. Raising them every few years is a responsible way of looking at things. One of the things that will come up is comparison to other unions. But those comparisons are not apples to apples. In some unions the clubs are still paying a substantial club fee of $1,000-$3,000 dollars. Some unions still pay their referees directly instead of the union. We’ve baked referee fees into our budget so that is a benefit to the clubs.
              1. Tate: We don’t have to make a decision now but for any changes to be included in the next CIPP cycle, we would need to let USAR know by June.
      2. Sell tickets for Playoffs/Championships
        1. Tate: A suggestion from the AGM, something to maybe help with revenue. If we did this, we wouldn’t charge players, coaches or staff. I’m not convinced that it would generate the kind of revenue that would be worth the ill will that it might cause.
        2. Dodge: I agree with that.
        3. Tate: If we were getting 3,000 true spectators, that might be a different story. If it’s only a few hundred family and friends.
        4. Young: It might be interesting to count spectators, maybe we do a visitor bracelet or something?
        5. Tate: Yes, we should do that. It would help with our sponsorship package requests and such.
        6. Tomsak: What if we had a spectator tent that we could split costs of a beer garden?
        7. Tate: It’s a bit more difficult than that, the beer pavilion requires controlled access, ban of alcohol from the rest of the facility and a uniformed person at entry and exit…etc. Still, these ideas are worth looking into, we’re thinking of the right direction to monetize what we’re doing.
      3. MD4/WD2/WD3 reps discussion
        1. Tate: The way we have things right now still provides roughly equal representation for everyone. If we break out the MD4, that is only about 100 players and WD3 is 65. That is proportionately much less than in any other division. Also remember that clubs with multiple sides only get to vote in the highest division so that lowers the numbers of those divisions as well.
          1. Tate: We could think of adding de facto members that attend these calls, just as we invite Dave Yeoman and Wendy Young to attend. I personally don’t see any need to add at this time and it would require a bylaw change.
          2. Dodge: Before we seriously consider this, I’d like to see the two new divisions develop more thoroughly. I do agree that we need to keep proportionality in mind.
        2. Grant Writing Help (Tyler RFC)
          1. Young: Tyler RFC is requesting help from the union on writing grants. If anyone can help, please reach out!
  7. Adjourned (9:13 pm)