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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 6/11/2018

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. Roll Call
      1. Young
      2. Dodge
      3. Kolberg
      4. Kurylas
      5. Turner
      6. Fosco
      7. Watson
      8. Dale
      9. Hughes
      10. Tolar
      11. Gross
      12. Keuppens
        1. Guests
          1. Marcus Leming
          2. Nigel Saunders
          3. Jim Morgan
          4. Hunter Nezat
          5. Justin Fitzpatrick
          6. John Scheef
        2. Regrets
          1. Green (sent votes and partial proxy by email to Dodge)
    2. Promotion/Relegation w/ Guests
      1. Bay Area W to WD2
        1. Email vote 6/3 was APPROVED
      2. Denton M to MD3
        1. Email vote 6/3 was APPROVED
      3. 8:05PM – Questions for representatives of Clubs seeking to join Frontier CR.  Discussion and vote on that issue. (I’m suggesting we vote on this issue up front, because if the motion passes, it will moot three other items at the end of the agenda, and we can at least start deliberations / voting).
        1. Tulsa: Luke Turner
        2. Little Rock: Donna Thomas
        3. OKC: Jim Morgans
        4. Dodge: Last week there was a call with TRU, RRRC and the three clubs in question about a possible realignment. A quick summary is that if teams left Frontier/Mid-America it would cause a collapse of their men’s D2 and D3 competitions. A proposal was that the above three teams could join the Frontier competition but remain as RRRC members. The motion on the table is to allow Tulsa, Little Rock and OKC to participate in the Frontier competition but remain TRU/RRRC members. The women’s sides will continue to participate in their respective RRRC/TRU for now. Tulsa W will CIPP at large for next year and play socially. It is also my understanding from the Frontier chair that they spoke last night and they are in favor of the proposal.
          1. Watson: Are the three teams happy with this move or is there resistance from our teams?
          2. Dodge: I believe there are representatives on the call but I do know that Little Rock has stated that if they are to stay in the RRRC and are not relegated they will play competitively next year. OKC has also indicated that if they were to remain in RRRC that they would stay in the D2 competition.
          3. Morgan: I agree that OKC is good with this move to Frontier.
          4. Turner: Tulsa is not satisfied with the answer that Frontier has given. We are OK with it in general but in my opinion they didn’t give a final answer.
          5. Dodge: You don’t want to jump ship until you have another one to land on, which is fine and understandable. This is really a two step process, RRRC and Frontier have to approve AND the USA Rugby NCC has to approve as well. We don’t have anything in writing from Frontier but I don’t have any reason to believe that we are being misled. We’d like to see it in writing as I’m sure Tulsa would like to as well.
          6. Watson: Do these clubs want to leave the TRU or do they want to stay?
          7. Dodge: Just to clarify we are just talking about what competitive region they are in. They can still remain TRU members but participate in another regions competition. This has happened in other areas and is a big function of the lack of referees.
          8. Turner: The new competition would be six clubs and the consensus from everyone is that we are OK with it. No one wants to leave their union and understands we would be “straddling” the unions.
          9. Dodge: Any further questions or discussion? Motion to release Little Rock Men, Tulsa Men, and OKC Men to compete in the Frontier CR for the 2018-19 competitive cycle and beyond, should they so choose. (See 6/5/18 entry below).
            1. Kolberg: Second.
            2. Dodge: Any opposition? None. APPROVED.
      4. 8:15PM – Questions for representatives San Antonio on the appeal of their automatic promotion from MD2/MD3 to MD1/MD2.
        1. Dodge:  San Antonio’s written submission is in the materials that have been circulated to the Committee.  We have Marcus Leming here to present San Antonio’s case and answer any questions the members of the Committee may have.  Marcus?
        2. Marcus Leming: We are appealing this promotion decision. 1) While it was a successful season it was our first trip to the playoffs and granted it was a good one… We think there is still some growth opportunity in the club and the players. We’re fully anticipated that we will have some attrition and retirements.  2) While we have a large CIPP roster it doesn’t indicate the overall health of the club, we are still heavy reliant on player dues to keep the club afloat. The associated travel costs for D1 would be a huge impact for our team. 3) The additional travel would also have a big impact as taking time off work to travel across the state or to Colorado is not as easy for our team as it is for others.   Our Club was forced up about 10 years ago and it resulted in significant attrition, with the remaining players not prepared to play at the higher level.
          1. Dodge: On the attrition piece, do you anticipate some of the players retiring to move down to your second side?
          2. Leming: We don’t really anticipate that, we’re heard that they want to be more involved as coaches or administrative roles. Possibly 1 or 2 could move down but that won’t be the main theme. If we did move up we’d ask for travel assistance like Little Rock received last year.
          3. Dodge: Based on our vote earlier this evening, it is unlikely that Little Rock will be part of the Red River competition next season, which eliminates a significant away match.  That was not the state of affairs when you filed your appeal. Does that help alleviate your concerns over travel?
          4. Leming: Yes, but traveling to Glendale would still have a significant financial impact on us.  It would be a big hurdle.
          5. Dodge: What about the possibility of your first and second side being able to play together like the old D1/D1b format.
          6. Leming: The challenge we have there is we want to create a D4 side. We have the numbers for it but it’s the competition levels that we are concerned about. It allows us to get players ready for different competition levels.
          7. Dodge: Are you saying that you want to put in a D4 side in the next competitive cycle?
          8. Leming: Yes, we had the numbers last year but wanted to make sure we could do it. We played several friendlies last year and want to make it formal this time.
          9. Watson: You brought up a possible option to “meet in the middle”. What if that could be done both ways? An example is Glendale plays in Dallas and then you return at another neutral location. Could that be done?
          10. Leming: That would be more favorable, that’s why I brought it up.
          11. Young: Do you guys have aspirations to promote into D1 at some point?
          12. Leming: That’s the crux, we have a good pipeline to college players and continue to grow in numbers, but the level of competition has not grown with it. We’re growing a pipeline of younger players but they aren’t there yet. I would be very concerned about moving up and getting stomped. Granted if we have another successful season next year we will be in this same boat. We would have to figure out how to make it work and we plan to start focusing on the operational and recruitment pieces to make that happen.
          13. Dodge:  Any further questions for San Antonio?  Hearing none, we thank you for your time Marcus.  We will go into executive session after we have heard from everyone and anticipate getting a decision out before the end of this month.
      5. 8:20PM – Questions for Huns representatives on their appeal of automatic relegation from MD1/MD2/MD3 to MD2/MD3/MD4, and if necessary, their voluntary relegation request from MD3 to MD4.
        1. No representative was present for the Huns
        2. Dodge: The Huns are subject to mandatory relegation at the D1 level and that causes a trickle-down effect with their second and third sides. They have appealed the relegation but have also requested that their D3 side be moved down voluntarily to D4 assuming the D1 appeal is approved.  Given that we have no one on the call from the Huns to answer any questions the Committee may have, I suggest we move on to the next agenda item and simply take up the discussion of the Huns appeal / request during our executive session.
      6. 8:25PM – Questions for Quins representatives on their appeal of automatic relegation from MD2/MD4.
        1. Dodge:  The Quins D2 side is slated for automatic relegation under our Policy.  Due to the contiguous side rule, they could not move down to D3; they would have to move to D4.  They have appealed. We have John Scheef from the Quins on the line to present their appeal and answer the committee’s questions.  The Quins’ written submission is in the materials you previously received.
        2. John Scheef: Most of what I have to say is in the written materials that were provided before the call. In the last 18 months we’ve focused on recruiting and as a result we’d like to keep our second side in D2.
        3. Dodge: You had a good number of young guys at the TOLA tournament this weekend, is that some of the Colts moving up?
        4. Scheef: That is some players from the Colts and includes players from our U23 side. In the future we expect that to form the core of our second side.
        5. Dodge: OK, how many of those U23 guys do you expect to be included in your second side next season?
        6. Scheef: At least 15.
        7. Dodge:  Any further questions for the Quins?  Hearing none, we thank you for your time John.
      7. 8:30PM – Questions for West Houston representatives on their request to form MD1 side, in addition to their existing sides.
        1. Hunter Nezat: We have realized that Houston needs to have a D1 side and our relationship with SabreCats coach Justin Fitzpatrick has taken us to a place where we can field such a side. We’re proposing that we enter a D1 side into the competition for next year. We’re prepared if required to maintain a D1 and contiguous D2 side and would likely operate a D4 side as well. However, we would like to discuss the option of having a D1 and D3 side as we’re concerned about player resources and competitive level.
        2. Dodge: One point of clarification, at this time, the USAR eligibility rules don’t allow for a D1 and D3 side, they have to be contiguous. So you are looking at a D1 and D2, or D1 and D4, unless you’re going to field three sides. Were you contemplating having three sides?
        3. Nezat: We feel like we would move the D3 side up to D2 and D4 up to D3. We’re fully prepared to meet the contiguous side rule if necessary.
        4. Dodge: Fizty, how much movement do you foresee between the SabreCats’ MLR team and the West Houston D1 side..if any?
        5. Fitzpatrick: We’re not looking to load the whole D1 side from the MLR. But something similar to what some of the other MLR teams are already doing. With a squad of 32 players, about 20 would be CIPP’d to the SabreCats and would not be able to play for West Houston absent a CIPP transfer.   The remaining players would be CIPP’d with the West Houston D1 side. It would depend on the needs of each club and a balance would be struck.
        6. Dodge: I know you don’t speak for the MLR but you would be open to player movement rules between MLR and D1 Club that are similar to those in the current USAR eligibility rules that govern the movement of Upper Division Players to Lower Division Sides within the same club?
        7. Fitzpatrick: Right, not all of the guys would move, the SabreCats would operate as our own USA Rugby club and over 50% would be CIPP’d to the SabreCats. They would be ineligible to play for West Houston in the RRRC as a result. The rest would be playing with the D1 team. They need to be playing rugby to improve and be competitive to one day to play in the MLR. This already happening with Glendale, Seattle and Austin Elite.
        8. Dodge: Sorry, I know you have been out of the club scene for a while and I may have made an assumption about your familiarity with the club eligibility rules.  Are you familiar with the 50% rules?
        9. Fitzpatrick: Yes, I do understand those rules. We are happy to accommodate, but the top end of the roster will be ineligible for RRRC. We think it’s in everyone’s interest to have rugby players playing rugby. Someone coming back from injury or someone at the bottom of the MLR team can still be playing and developing.
        10. Saunders: I’d just like to add that we’re aggressively growing as a club and recruiting. We want to grow the club exponentially as well as growing youth. We want to grow rugby in Houston, period.
        11. Young: Not a requirement, but any interest in starting a women’s club?
        12. Nezat: Yes, definitely in our five year plan, women will probably be on the front end. We’re aggressively planning and we already have a chairperson in place to run our women’s program. She’s working on the marketing and development already. Definitely on the horizon.
        13. Dodge: A great presentation and I think we agree that we all want a D1 team in Houston.
        14. Dodge:  Any further questions for West Houtson?  Hearing none, we thank you for your time Gentlemen.
      8. 8:35PM – Questions for Little Rock representatives on their request for voluntary relegation from MD1 to MD2. (May be mooted by vote on Red River / Frontier move).


  • Moot as D2 realignment was approved.


    1. 8:40PM – Questions for OKC representatives on their request for voluntary relegation from MD2 to MD3. (May be mooted by vote on Red River / Frontier move).
      1. Young: Morgan confirmed via email that they have not requested relegation at this time.
    2. 8:45PM – Questions for Arkansas Gryphons representatives on their request to join Red River MD2. (May be mooted by vote on Red River / Frontier move).
      1. Moot as D2 realignment was approved.
  1. Discussions / Deliberations/Voting
    1. Austin Huns D1/D2
      1. Dodge: No representative was on the call but we can still discuss the appeal. I believe their play this year was an anomaly and a function of the Austin Elite breaking away. They have  a strong organizational structure and recruit and fundraise well. Let’s talk first about their D1 request to not be relegated. We will address their request for voluntary relegation of their D3 side to D4 separately.
      2. Kolberg: I concur, I think we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot by allowing them to move down. We should keep them in D1 with the condition that if they are last again they will be relegated. They have their own facility, coaching staff, numbers and history behind them.
      3. Young: I agree, I think they are a good club and will continue to do well in D1.
      4. Watson: I motion that the Austin Huns remain in D1 for the upcoming competitive cycle.
      5. Kolberg: Can we add that their second side stays in D2?
      6. Dodge: Yes, the only reason their lower division sides were slated to move down was because a club cannot have two sides in the same division.  We also cannot keep their first side at D1 and move their second side down to D2 because their sides playing for a USAR National Championship have to be contiguous per the current eligibility rules. If we approve their appeal it is status quo for what it was last year as far as their D1 and D2 side.
      7. Young/Kolberg: Second.
      8. Dodge: Any opposition? None. APPROVED.
    2. Huns D3 voluntary relegation to D4
      1. Dodge: I believe if we move San Antonio D3 up to D2 it leaves a hole in Men’s D3 Central if Huns D3 also move down to D4. This would make it difficult for that subdivision of D2 to play the USAR-required minimum number of matches.
      2. Hughes: Correct. Teams would be Blacks, Alamo City, McAllen, and Corpus Christi Crabs (4 teams). Unless the Huns have a really compelling reason I say we leave them there.
      3. Kolberg: They have the numbers to play three full sides. It’s not an issue with numbers.
      4. Dodge: I’m not sure the Huns would agree.  As you saw from the materials circulated for this call, they cite the following reasons in their request for relegation:
        1. The following outlines our position for D3 relegation:
          1. Consistency of D3 players at training and for games.
          2. Several D3 players aging out and hanging their boots up.
          3. Win/Loss record over the last 5 years.
        2. The following outlines our position for D4 placement:
          1. Interest from many in continuing to play but without the commitment to training.
          2. Recruitment plan for 2018-2019 and in the future.
      5. Hughes: I think this request runs contrary to their request to keep D1 and D2 where they are.
      6. Kolberg: Great point. I move we deny their request to move from D3 to D4.
        1. Hughes: Second.
        2. Dodge: Any opposition? None. APPROVED.
    3. San Antonio D1/D2
      1. Dodge: I never know how much stock to put into club’s comments on retirement.  Often, after a long season, guys say they plan to retire, and by the time the next season rolls around, they have the itch to play again.   From Marcus’ presentation, it sounds like they are recruiting well and getting good numbers…San Antonio is a big town and looks like its growing based on available demographic information. My inclination would be to move them up.
      2. Kolberg: What about the idea of helping them out with travel? We did it for Little Rock last year. What we did for Little Rock was a good idea at the time but it didn’t work out in the long run, especially for the Austin clubs.
      3. Watson: Nationally we hear over and over that travel is the issue. If we want to increase the numbers in D1 we’re going to have to make some sort of adjustment. I think that San Antonio is capable of playing in D1. The Barbarians won D2, but they are really a D1 side that is playing in D2. I think we would help San Antonio out and work something out with Glendale?
      4. Kolberg: So you’re saying that you would only help San Antonio with the Denver matches?
      5. Dale: But now you’re penalizing Glendale?
      6. Watson: Glendale has a travel sponsor, the City of Glendale, and it doesn’t hurt them as much to travel. If that is truly a problem for San Antonio, let’s take that out of the picture.  Perhaps have the teams meet in Dallas.
      7. Dodge:  We have Luke Gross from Glendale on the Committee and this call.  Luke, without locking you into anything specific, what are your thoughts on behalf of Glendale?
      8. Gross: I can understand San Antonio’s position and we (Glendale) do have a budget that allows us to travel. But it is a set budget and it’s just as expensive for us to fly to Dallas as it is to fly to San Antonio. I like the idea of San Antonio being in D1 as it adds to our league and they are a growing club. But I am stuck with a budget and maybe it’s something we can look at; maybe we meet halfway both times?
      9. Kueppens: Was this concession requested by San Antonio? I was late so I apologize.
      10. Dodge: During our Q&A session it was brought up by Ron as a potential accomodation to address some of their concerns. We also discussed that when their appeal was put in, the D1 competition was meant to include Little Rock. With Little Rock not in the mix any longer I think it’s just one long trip to Denver. I think we could probably adjust the schedule to allow their second side to be off on that weekend, which might also help them.
      11. Keuppens: There isn’t a lot of rugby anywhere in the middle and we wouldn’t have referees available. This is easier said than done…that’s a long bus trip and/or flight.
      12. Gross: It’s something we can work out, San Antonio is a solid club and they are in a big city. I think they need to push themselves and we can figure something out.
      13. Fosco: Couldn’t you even put the Denver match at the end of the schedule so they can prepare for it?
      14. Gross: I like that.
      15. Dodge: I do think we could make adjustments to the schedule to try to mitigate the impact of the travel.
      16. Keuppens: Our D2 lost to them this year and we all made the observation that they are prepared for D1. I think we would be in the same boat as we were with Little Rock, who I think we let stay in D2 too long, if we don’t move them up.  Other than Denver, the longest trip is Dallas. Day trips can be done…tough but they can do done. It’s roughly the same distance as from Dallas to Houston.
      17. Dodge: Another thing I think we can do is help them with fundraising and administrative recommendations. I’m happy to throw that out there and I’m sure there are others in the community that could give recommendations as well.
      18. Turner: We played them as well and they were a good caliber club. I would say that I do believe them when they talk about attrition and retirement. I’m of the mind that if clubs want to stay down that we shouldn’t force them up. We can see what happened to Little Rock.
      19. Dodge: Well, I wasn’t on the committee when Little Rock was promoted, but I know they were up for promotion several times before it actually happened and that the age of their players / pending retirements were one of their big reasons for resisting promotion.  Then, when their appeal was successful, those guys were back playing the following season. I’m not saying the committee was misled. Part of the issue is that we have to decide promotion / relegation right at the end of the season. It’s quite common that players talk about retirement at the end of a season but when the new season rolls around they are ready to play again.
      20. Turner: Obviously San Antonio has the numbers as they are talking about adding a third side. Little Rock doesn’t have that luxury.
      21. Fosco: I recall that San Antonio wasn’t opposed to travel to Dallas either.
      22. Watson: I make a motion that we deny the appeal for promotion, San Antonio should be moved up to D1 and their second side to D2.
      23. Fosco: Second.
        1. Dodge: Wendy, let’s have a roll call vote.  The pending motion is to deny the appeal. Please vote “yes” if you believe the appeal should be denied and San Antonio should be promoted to D1/D2, and “no” if you are opposed to promotion.
          1. Kolberg: Yes
          2. Kurylas: No
          3. Turner: No
          4. Fosco: Yes
          5. Watson: Yes
          6. Dale: Yes
          7. Hughes: No
          8. Tolar: Yes
          9. Gross: Yes
          10. Keuppens: Yes
          11. Young: No
          12. Green: Yes
            1. Yes: 8 / No: 4; Motion passed
              1. Gross: Glendale commits to ensuring that the Glendale matches happen regardless of where they are played.
              2. Dodge: Thank you, Luke.
    4. West Houston voluntary promotion
      1. Kolberg: Do we need any discussion on this one?
      2. Dodge:  Anyone have any discussion?  . . . Any motion?
      3. Kolberg: I motion that we accept West Houston into D1 with their second side in D2.
        1. Dale: Second.
        2. Dodge: Any opposition? None. APPROVED.
    5. Quins appeal relegation
      1. Watson: I think we can move to a vote on this one as well.
      2. Dodge:  Anyone have any discussion?  . . . Any motion?
      3. Watson: I motion that we grant the appeal and allow the Quins to stay where they are.
        1. Kolberg: Second.
        2. Dodge: Any objections? None. APPROVED.
  2. Notifications to clubs
    1. Dodge: Great work everyone, we will get notifications out to the clubs and give them notification if they’d like to appeal. We have a bit of time to start scheduling so we can allow time for appeals. For the next call we will have some NCC and eligibility issues to discuss–mostly just issues where NCC / Eligibility Committee are looking for CR feedback on proposed changes to the Eligibility Rules. If those come to a head before our next call I will send that out by email for feedback.
    2. Young: Typically Alan handled the notifications, do you want to do that?
    3. Dodge: Yes, I can handle that.
  3. Luke Turner Seat
    1. Turner: If we (Tulsa) move into the Frontier I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve enjoyed working together. No hard feelings!
    2. Young: That does beg the question…if Luke moves into Frontier, we would need to replace his seat?
    3. Dodge: Yes. But we can handle that if/when we need to.
  4. Schedules
    1. Dodge: If there are no appeals it seems like putting together a schedule should be pretty easy. How has that been handled in the past?
    2. Young: Hughes has done a great job for the men and I usually handle the women’s.
    3. Hughes: Yea, it’s really important that the Men’s D1 schedule is set, due to the multiple sides that most of them have, and then the rest of the divisions are pretty easy.
    4. Dodge: My anticipation is that we will see an appeal from San Antonio but the rest seem to be OK. So we may be able to get that going once that finishes.
  5. New Business:   Dodge: Any new business?  Hearing none, and Motion to Adjourn?
  6. Call Adjourned (9:33 PM)
    1. Watson: I move that we adjourn.
    2. Kolberg: Second.
    3. Dodge:  Any opposition?  Hearing none, thank you all for your preparation for an attendance on this call.