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TRU Board Notes – 10/15/2018

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. Kurylas
    3. Green
    4. James
    5. Tomsak
    6. Hiller
    7. Dodge
    8. Tate
      1. Guests
        1. Frank Waller
        2. Yeoman
      2. Regrets
  2. Followups
    1. Referee Resources
      1. Tate: I’m going to talk about referees first, we’ve had a couple of retirements and one referee is out due to injury. In particular the DFW region is very very slim and we really only have three to four active referees up there. The Central and Houston are looking very strong but we have 50% of our rugby in the North. That puts us in a very difficult spot in regards to covering matches and cost of travel. This is the kind of thing that is very tough to solve with players and coaches. We do have quite a few that are dual role but for those folks to help out we’d have to move many more matches to Sunday. We know that clubs don’t love that…so we’ve got to figure out what it is going to take to recruit full-time referees in the Dallas area. We’ve got to figure this out now. We do have a very experienced referee that is relocating to Dallas who may not be able to referee but is interested in helping out with referee coaching and mentorship. Scott is working at becoming a referee educator so we can run courses. We’ve talked about this and talked about it but what do we do?
        1. Tate: We could do what other unions have done, require that every club have a full-time referee. In effect that means that clubs in the North and some of the outlier clubs to have a referee on their roster. I’m inclined to be less congenial about this as we’re in such dire straits. That is one way that we could go.
        2. Tate: Or we can throw money at it and basically spend money to cover training and dues. It would be an incentive to try and get referees setup in that area. I’m not convinced that the up front cost is the sticking point but rather a cultural challenge.
          1. Hiller: Have we ever thought about making people who get carded register to become a referee the following season?
          2. Tate; We have not, the TRU DC has given options to reduction of sanction if players referee a few matches. I don’t believe we’ve ever tried something going into the following season.
          3. Hiller: I know there aren’t courses available all the time but we know we hold annual courses so there would be an opportunity.
          4. Tate: There are already multiple courses throughout the year and if anyone wants to host and has 8-10 people, we will always host a course. Courses are not the issue. As far as your suggestion around carded players, that is an interesting thought that bears thinking about. But for this season and creating referees in the next few months, we need to do something that will inspire clubs in the North. We really need clubs to go to their rosters and tell 2-3 players to become referees.
          5. Waller: I do think that the referee cost to CIPP is prohibitive for younger players. Could we stretch the fees out or make it more flexible? If we can structure it to where they referee and instead of being paid, the reimbursement goes to their TRRA registration.
          6. Tate: Ok, that is helpful. We do already have a referee grant built into the budget but isn’t always fully utilized. So we can look at that.
          7. Waller: Have we looked outside rugby and touched other officiating groups?
          8. Tate: I have not, but can’t speak for Scott. It might be valuable from a longer term perspective but not to solve the issue right now.
          9. Dodge: The Reds have several dual role referees but are there other referees that have been active in the past that we could coax out of retirement? That way we can be working on training the new referees without the pressure.
          10. Green: In the North there aren’t many options, most have retired and a few have joined the Lone Star referee society (college). I’ve had this conversation for the last eight years and every year the can gets kicked down the street. We want young and up and coming referees that want to be out there. Coaxing guys out of retirement isn’t the right path forward. Clubs have to do a better job of showing people that being a referee is a good thing.
          11. Tate: So we can offer scholarships to young individuals, that is fairly easy.
          12. Green: The TRRA is very open to paying referee dues (scholarships) if there is a financial issue. They just need to reach out.
          13. Tate: Ok, what can we do about influencing the culture? Is there some sort of reward system we can put in place for clubs that put individuals forward? I’m hesitant to go down the money train on this but is there something else we can do to incentivize clubs?
          14. Tomsak: Have we ever thought about having someone dedicated to recruiting referees? Doing active reach out to the clubs?
          15. Tate: We have done that in the past but it hasn’t been very successful. We do have John Stevens moving to the North that would be willing to help with that.
          16. Green: A recruiter would need to be a full-time job. A more likely option would be to have our top players out refereeing on weekday nights, imagine a D1 player doing a college match. That is a good image.
          17. Tate: Yes, that would be great. I think we should also seriously consider a requirement for next season that clubs have to have a full-time referee on their roster. It could be a soft requirement this season but could be a hard requirement next fall.
          18. Dodge: I think that is a good idea and we should couple it with a few established dates so that people can step up and become certified. I need to look at the schedule but perhaps in the spring we move some matches to Sunday to try and light a fire.
          19. Tate: Sure, I would want to review the schedule as well. I think we are looking at doing courses between now and the NDS in January. We’ll avoid holidays weeks of course. Ok, we’ve talked a lot, but let’s come up with some specific action items.
            1. Tate: First, I don’t need to look at allocating TRU money for scholarships. TRRA has that handled. Is that correct?
              1. Green: Yes.
            2. Tate: Second, we need to take a look at the schedule and see what weekends we could have referee courses. Anyone want to take on that action item?
              1. Yeoman: What about the USA vs TBD match in February?
              2. Tate: I’d really like to do it sooner than that.
              3. Dodge: I can look at the schedule and propose some dates. I’ll also reach out the local clubs in the North. We need to try and get some commitments from the clubs.
            3. Tate: Third, Wendy can we huddle this week on a communication strategy? I don’t want to reach out to everyone but be smart about who we are contacting. We would let them know about the process to become a referee, etc.
              1. Young: Of course.
      2. Budget DRAFT
        1. Tate: Ok, this will be a budget conversation but we’ll continue talking about referees. Our dues are income and referees are out, so they are tied together. Last year we collected roughly $95,000 in CIPP dues. This year we have added about 230 college players which is adding about $10,000 in CIPP revenue. So assuming growth is relatively flat, that puts us at about $105k in CIPP dues. Last year we spent $86k on referees. This year we’re projected to spend at about $76k in referee fees. That is $10k less than last year but note that this doesn’t include friendlies, 7s tournaments (guess work) and anticipated travel to North and outlier clubs. So basically I would expect that we will spend around the same on referee expenses as last year. After we pay administrative costs (Wendy) that will leaves almost nothing for grants, All Star programs, streaming playoffs, and anything other expenses. In years past those items have been around $25k, so we would be covering all of that from savings. So this means we need to cut expenses, find sponsors or find another way to cover the expenses.
          1. Tate: We’ve avoided this in the past because we’ve had organic growth. Last year we had shrinkage and we anticipate we’ll be behind again this year. So, what do we do about this? I think that we will be spending some money out of savings to cover things, we can’t just go cold turkey. We hope that we will organic growth and we’ve already approved a dues increase for next year. So we’ll be spending some out of savings to cover things in the short term. This is a tough thing and I don’t want to hit the savings for $20-25k. So when we talk about approving a budget, what do we want to cut? I have a draft budget in the shared drive and we’re looking at about a $25k budget hole. I would anticipate we make up about half of that with the dues increase that we’ve already approved. If this model goes unchecked, we’ll eliminate our savings in four years. Any thoughts?
          2. Dodge: Is Yeoman still on the call?
          3. Young: no.
          4. Dodge: I’m just wondering what they are seeing at the National Office.
          5. Tate: We know that growth has been down across the country. I do know that USA Rugby has put together a trend report but it’s to early in the cycle to really tell how we’re doing this year vs last year. One interesting fact we do know is that the biggest growth in the last few years is in female players.
          6. Tate: If I could get Wendy, Nick and Frank to get me some proposals around College playoffs and an All Star program. I’d like to factor those into our budget. Could you three get me an estimate in the next 3-5 days?
            1. James: We have the College Championships next weekend so I can have that for you pretty easily.
            2. Tate: Great, just let me know how many matches it will be.
            3. James: This round will be 4 matches on Saturday and 4 matches on Sunday. Do you want to know information around 7s as well?
            4. Tate: Yes, please.
          7. Tate: Drew, do we have any new sponsorships?
          8. Tomsak: I’m working with Rory from Houston on a potential new deal. We should be renewing our current ones as well.
          9. Tate: Ok, do we have any indication on where the first round of USA Rugby playoffs will be?
          10. Dodge: No and the main contact is OOO for a bit with a new baby. I can reach out to his back-up though.
          11. Tate: Ok, we need to encourage clubs to put bids in as the RRRC has “first call” again this year. This will save all of our clubs money.
          12. Young: The hosting form for USA Rugby Championship events are here: https://www.usarugby.org/college-championships/.
      3. Referee Contract
        1. Tate: On our last call I mentioned that the contract was available in the google drive. Please review so we can accept and make it official with TRRA.
    2. Compliance
      1. Tate: How do we look Wendy?
      2. Young: Looking really good, 35 clubs are “current” with the remainder working on getting players or coaches registered. I’ve already reached out to the clubs that have matches started next week and most are just waiting on players to register.
    3. CMS
      1. Young: Same thing here, mostly the colleges are playing right now. Club matches start next week.
  3. Congress Update
    1. Yeoman: We had another congress meeting in Denver two weeks ago. We covered a few topics:
      1. Interim CEO and CFO – We had opportunities to meet with Ross Young and the new CFO (Eric Gleason). In particular the Gleason seems really on it as he came from USA Soccer.
      2. Video from AGUSTÍN PICHOT – The newest USA Rugby Board Member couldn’t be there in person but he sent a video.
      3. RWC 7s Review – In terms of exposure, competition, spectators and media it was an absolute smash. But we didn’t cover it financially and took a loss of about $1.8 million. We do have that World Rugby loan as well but they are being flexible on when it needs to be paid back. World Rugby has asked that we review the overall structure and we have already begun putting working groups together.
      4. Additional Board Members – Two new members were elected to the Board. 2 of the 3 were accepted. So there is one slot still open and the desire is to have someone strong in marketing. There was some discussion of including Congress members on the Board as some other unions do that but no real movement on that.
        1. Dodge: If there were any Bylaw changes who votes on that? Congress or is there a decision making body?
        2. Yeoman: Undetermined at this point but I would say it needs input from the executive body but it also would need agreement from the Board. It seems like a working committee would propose changes, take it to the Board and then determine from there the path forward. Of course, anything that can’t be done because of the current bylaws (changes must be put forth by Congress and then the Board accepts or vetoes) will have to be hurdled as well.
        3. Dodge: Any idea on when this process will be complete?
        4. Yeoman: No, I’m hoping that they will establish the committee (being led by the new CFO) and they will have a good plan in place by the next Congress meeting. Our next phone call is at the beginning of November.
      5. Vice Chairman – I was elected the Vice Chairman of Congress which is a informal title essentially in charge of keeping everyone on task.
        1. Tate: Has there been any discussion on dues structure for next year?
        2. Yeoman: Yes, there was some discussion around that. They want to create a non-contact membership option (USA Rugby Touch) so that fields, players and referees can be covered by insurance. We approved the non-contact membership. There was also a special case where YCMA and after school programs could have flexible funding schedules.
  4. Player movement between MD4/WD3 and different clubs playing in higher divisions
    1. Tate: This was inspired by the Corpus Christi Crabs and Dogfish who would like to have a cooperative arrangement between their two clubs. Because MD4 is a local only competition players can move down at any moment and is easy. But players wanting to move up who has played in a MD4 isn’t so easy and would require a waiver. The RRRC met last week to discuss this and Dodge has a proposal for us.
    2. Dodge: Yes, the USA Rugby Eligibility Committee advised us that they usually leave these matters up to the local CR. So what we came up with on the last RRRC call was not radically different than what is required by USA Rugby. So if a club wants to transfer from a MD4 or WD3 up to a RRRC competition they would get a release from their current club, approval from the TRU and TRU Disciplinary Committee and finally approval from a RRRC sub-committee. The deadline for asking for that transfer would be March 15 as that would give us enough time to rule on any requests. These requests would need to be “rubber stamped” by USA Rugby as well. Anyone requesting a transfer would have to meet all standing USA Rugby Eligibility requirements.
      1. One issue that did get raised was if we would allow transfers between MD4 clubs and/or WD3 clubs. My initial thought was that we would restrict them from doing this but the majority of the RRRC Committee didn’t think it would be an issue. But I did want to hear from the TRU Board on that matter.
      2. Tate: Right, I don’t think that would be an issue in the South but it might not be true in the North. If players are geographically relocating this is an easy approval as USA Rugby would most likely approve that as well. I’m assuming the concern is that clubs in the same geographic area don’t’ want “club hopping”.
      3. Dodge: Yes, it’s conceivable that we get midway through the season and one club is “out” and another club in the area is doing better. So you request to move over.
      4. Tate: Right, so an example would be Alliance player to Tyler so they have a shot at playing in the MD4 Championship.
      5. Kurylas: Sure, it’s possible but I don’t anticipate that happening in the North. There are only four single side clubs too.
      6. Tate: As far as I understand it, this is entirely in our purview. Is there any reason why we as a committee could include a caveat that says the committee reserves the right to deny a transfers if it appears a mass exodus or club hopping. We can certainly require a reason to why they are seeking a transfer. Do we think that would be sufficient to handle something like that?
      7. Dodge: Yes, I think we lay out as many objective rules as we can so we can avoid issues. The reason for this rule is to allow players to transfer and play at a higher level.
      8. Tate: My one concern with that is that a player when requesting a transfer may not know if they would make it on the higher level club. My instinct is similar to Dodge but I’m inclined to have less rules so we can be more flexible.
      9. Dodge: What if we included a caveat where a player transfers to a higher division; If they then decided to return to the club they could play with them and not count as a guest player.
      10. Tate: John and Zack, how does that strike you guys?
      11. Hiller: I like this direction, but what is considered success at the higher level? One match? They started?
      12. Tate: I’m inclined to say that if you register with a MD4 at the beginning of the season, you stay eligible to play with that club for the remainder of the year. If we find that it’s got unintended consequences we can always change it next year.
      13. Kurylas: Yes, I think that is fine. If we also do a quick bit of vetting to make sure that everything is on the up and up. I think we see how it pans out this year.
      14. Dodge: I think that is a good compromise and a risk free way a player can move up without consequence.
      15. Tate: Ok, can we rely on someone on the RRRC Committee to put together a ruling on this?
      16. Dodge: Yes, I have a draft and I’ll share it with both boards.
      17. Young: If you want to put together what should be on the form I can put it on the website.
      18. Dodge: Yes, I can do that as well. What about the joint committee? What if we have two from each committee?
      19. Tate: A group of five, include Wendy, Zack and John from the TRU. Then you can bring in two from the RRRC committee. Travis Hughes might be a good choice.
      20. Dodge: Ok, I’ll see if we can find another volunteer from the RRRC.
      21. Tate: If push comes to shove, I can sit on it but ideally if we can get volunteers, that would be great. Or, Drew do you have any interest?
      22. Tomsak: I’m happy to help.
      23. Tate: OK, let’s do Tomsak and Hiller, then the RRRC members can be Hughes and Kurylas. Wendy is the tie breaker.
      24. Dodge: Sounds good.
  5. New Business
    1. None
  6. Call Adjourned (9:58 PM)