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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 12/9/2019

The Red River Competitions Committee releases 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. Roche
    3. Kurylas
    4. Leming
    5. Keuppens
    6. Kolberg
    7. Dodge
    8. O’Gara
    9. Tolar
    10. Hughes
      1. Regrets
        1. Fosco
        2. Dale
        3. Watson
    11. Follow Ups
      1. Club Compliance Checks
        1. Young: 51 are fully compliant, the only ones that aren’t are the WD3 which are still growing. We’re looking really strong for the start of the competitive season.
      2. CMS Compliance
        1. Roche: A rough start to the season, I sent 7 emails today for matches this weekend. We’re also having lots of clubs claiming they didn’t know that friendlies had to be in CMS. I also have clubs that are completely ignoring my emails..,.
          1. Young: We’ve been putting friendlies in CMS for 2 years now. 
          2. Kolberg: Who is ignoring you? 
          3. Roche: West Houston, four emails have gone unanswered to four people.
          4. O’Gara: They’ve had some turnover recently, I can reach out.
          5. Kolberg: I’ve reached out to Hunter.
            1. Update 12/13/2019: Roche was able to reach West Houston and CMS has been completed.
        2. Young: I would echo what Kat is saying, this is the worst start we’ve had for CMS ever. I even went back and checked the website and we posted twice about CMS and have sent four emails to all@. 
        3. Dodge: Obviously getting that information into CMS is crucial, especially as we get towards the end of the season. If we continue to experience issues that aren’t fixed by the unlock fee we may need to consider further competitive sanctions. One off the top of my head is that if it isn’t done within X weeks than it goes down as a 28-0 forfeit.
        4. Kolberg: I generally agree but we do need to try and figure out is there an issue or why isn’t it being done by the clubs? Is it just turnover?
        5. Dodge: Yes there is always turnover but if this continues into January and February we need to think about taking other actions.
        6. Kolberg: Yes, I agree. If it does go into January, we have to do something else.
        7. Hughes: This is all MD3 and MD4 so I will start reaching out and reminding them of their obligations.
        8. Young: Can you also ask them to update their contacts with us? Perhaps we’re contacting the wrong people but it feels systemic at this point.
        9. Hughes: Yes, I can do that.
      3. Competition Enhancement ad hoc Committee – going to keep adding to agendas so it doesn’t fall off
      4. Men’s Tights Allowance
        1. Dodge: Hopefully everyone has had a chance to review the proposed rule. It’s an option that USAR eligibility committee is allowing individual CRs to adopt if they like. It would not apply in any USA Rugby playoffs or Championships. I personally don’t have an issue with it but it’s clear that many do. Let’s open up a discussion about it.
        2. Kurylas: The only question I have is that World Rugby guidelines require cotton. But I don’t think anyone will be wearing long johns? I’d rather not see people wearing them but I don’t think it’s the end of the world.
        3. Keuppens: I don’t have a huge opinion one way or another but it encourages the reduction of muscle injuries as well as tackles will absolutely have to wrap up the make the tackle.
        4. Kolberg: For me the only safety I have is if players want to wear them on turf. I do have a strong opinion but if players want to wear them, then let them wear them. How would we make sure they are cotton? Ask the player to show the label?
        5. Dodge: On that last question it is covered in the proposal and if non-compliant than the player can’t play until resolved.
        6. Young: Like I said in my email about this, we have bigger fish to fry…and if players want to wear them, do it.
        7. Dodge: I think we need to treat this like player eligibility. It must be raised BEFORE the match begins.
        8. Kueppens; What if they put them on at half time?
        9. Dodge: I think it is considered part of the uniform and we go with the start of the match.
        10. Keuppens: What if someone gets a cut and they want to use tights to protect it?
        11. Kolberg: Use a band-aid.
        12. Roche: Ok, so referees don’t have to deal with this?
        13. Dodge: I think the only way the referee has to deal with this is if there is an issue. We don’t want them adjudicating it but the player can’t participate if non-compliant and or they may have to stop the match to confirm things.
        14. Roche: Right and I’m thinking mostly about keeping responsibility off the referee. It’s much easier to say you can wear tights without the cotton requirement.
          1. Hughes: What is the significance of them being cotton?
          2. Keuppens: It’s a World Rugby policy but I think it’s around the super slick materials, like think about the fancy swim body suits. I don’t think it’s something we need to be truly worried about but perhaps.
        15. Dodge: I think we need to be specific without going overboard.
        16. Kolberg: What if we put has to be 100% cotton?
        17. Young: The WR policy says cotton blend.
        18. Dodge: Keep in mind that this meant to be an exception to the WR guideline. I’m more concerned with the logistics of how cotton blend can be confirmed. The main question is if there is a challenge on the day, who verifies? 
        19. Keuppens: It makes for a pretty awkward exchange if it’s the team coach or referee…but I agree with Kat that we don’t need to put this on the referee.
        20. Tolar: We have these newly appointed field marshals, could they handle it?
        21. Dodge: Thinking out loud, you’re the party lodging the challenge than you are entitled to see the label, take a photo?
        22. Keuppens: We have to be careful about where the label may be located? We don’t want to put anyone in an embarrassing position. Can we use language such as should be a cotton blend so it’s non-disputable but sort of directional. 
        23. Young: Is it as simple as the goggles? Players that have those goggles have to carry their approval. Perhaps they have to have their label of materials?
        24. Dodge: Maybe we can list 5-6 brands that we believe are cotton blend and compliant?
        25. Keuppens: Maybe, but we don’t want clubs using this as a way to strategically stall or protest a match.
        26. Leming: I appreciate this conversation but how much do we really think this is going to be an issue?
        27. Keuppens: I think we may see it quite a bit, look at the NFL where players are wearing them because of the compression benefits. I think we’ll see this more in 7s because of the injury prevention more than performance enhancement. But again, I think it’s an enforcement thing.
        28. Leming: Yea, I think that is the issue. When it moves to the professional level, kit will be scrutinized more closely. But the question is, who’s going to manage this? We have a problem with clubs having issues TZs and CMS, now we’re going to ask them to police garments as well?
          1. Kolberg: I’m changing my vote to no because this is just a wad of problems. 
          2. Hughes: Well, Kolberg made the motion, so that complicates things.
          3. Kurylas: I can’t disagree with what Kolbrg is saying…
          4. Keuppens: Was this proposal around weather? 
          5. Dodge: I have no idea where it came from.
          6. Roche: I believe it is weather related, I refereed in NY after it just passed. The players were adamant that weekend that they were allowed to wear them.
          7. Young: Do we really care about managing if they are cotton or not? What if we just allow tights, period.
          8. Roche: I agree with what Wendy is saying. 
          9. Keuppens: Right, so why don’t we say tights are allowed and that’s it.
          10. Dodge: Let’s table this for now and I will ask Tam Breckenridge exactly how we’re supposed to confirm leggings are of cotton blend without inconvenience referees. If there isn’t a good answer, I don’t think we adopt this policy. Anyone have an objection to that?
            1. Dodge: I move that we table this and take the above approach. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
    12. Check-in on matches so far
      1. Cancellations
        1. 12/7 – Little Rock vs Dallas Reds
          1. Roche: This past weekend Little Rock cancelled a match that was to be played in Shreveport. LR isn’t in the TRU anymore and they did cancel by Wednesday but we never received notification from the Reds. We had two referees scheduled because another match was in Shreveport and we were sending a referee coach because there was a new referee in the mix. So multiple referees traveled but there wasn’t proper notification, no match cancellation fee paid and referees traveled with expenses incurred.
          2. Dodge: I tried to fill out the match cancellation fee but I never received confirmation so I guess it didn’t go through. My question is that if we had gotten the cancellation in by Wed would that have changed who you sent?
          3. Roche: Personally I would have pushed to have the referee changed and with notice on Wed we probably could have done that. I am unsure of what the TRRA Board would have wanted to do though. At the end of the day this happens and it’s just one game but it’s very frustrating.
          4. Dodge: I understand and we didn’t know about the cancellation until Thursday. Also LR contacted Shreveport and then they reached out to us, so it was a big mess. I acknowledge that we messed up the form and that is on us. Was just curious if 3-4 day notice was enough time for you to make a change?
          5. Roche: If we had a referee in the North available we probably would have made the change.
          6. O’Gara: The concern I have is that when the form isn’t put in, typically the referee isn’t contacted either. We do tell referees to NOT travel if they aren’t confirmed but we find that referees want the game to happen and they usually will travel. We’ve already had one instance of this in Houston. We just want to avoid referees travelling far distances and wasting everyone’s time.
            1. Young: Changing the topic here a bit but I do feel like I am getting more procedural questions this year than ever before. 
            2. Leming: So have we overprocessed things or is it a general lack of awareness? 
            3. Dodge: Or does it go back to turnover of personnel? 
            4. Leming: I’m wondering if there is an opportunity from us to the RRRC clubs to do an introduction or re-introduction of how to find things, these are your points of contact etc. We know there is turnover at almost every club every year. 
            5. Young: We did discover on the women’s call last month that there was some tribal knowledge that wasn’t written down and we have updated some of our documentation on the website as a result. One example is around the  RRRC schedule draft, clubs have a review period etc. That wasn’t written down anywhere but now it is.
            6. Keuppens: Do we think that the written word and email notifications aren’t reaching our intended recipients? Is this a generational thing?
            7. Roche: As the youth of the group, I think emails are the best notification. Texts and phone calls aren’t the best way to communicate.
            8. Keuppens: We’ve had this discussion with our club, we’re seeing that email is dying. I can show you case study after case study that supports that. We’re seeing everything going mobile and standard operating procedures are changing.
            9. Hughes: I think you’re right, at our club level we communicate with WhatsApp and Teamsnap. If I email something out I have to resend it through all of our social media.
            10. Leming: I do think that every club has turnover and everyone appears to be aware of the AGM…is there an opportunity to do an introduction to the RRRC and TRU? I’ll speak on behalf of San Antonio, we turn over our Board in the summer. What if we seat the new board, then in the early fall there is an introduction or 1:1 session for each club? Somehow communication is breaking down and I think it starts with the leadership of the clubs.
            11. Kolberg: I’ve been on these calls for years and these discussions have happened over and over. We’ve even made it required that reps reach out directly to every team to make sure they know what is required. Unfortunately it was rarely followed through with.
            12. Young: We have that, Kat and I maintain a list of TRU contacts. We use the all@texasrugbyunion.com which has all Presidents and officers on it. So lots of information is going out but there is still a lack of awareness. Maybe we do need to start a President’s WhatsApp group? 
            13. Leming: Do we have the ability to give out TRU email addresses? We could assign an email to each club and then they are responsible for checking it, maintaining it etc.
            14. Young: Not a bad idea but we tried this for the referees a few years ago and we found that there were technical issues like can’t figuring out how to forward it etc. 
            15. Roche: I agree, if it isn’t checked then it’s just a dead email address.
          7. Dodge: I want to circle this back around to the original issue. The Reds are at fault for this issue. Let’s put our thinking caps on about the generational changes and if we need to change our communication style.
      2. Reschedules
        1. 11/9-10 – Utah vs Austin Valkyries and Houston sHARCs
          1. Young: Utah cancelled 3-4 days before the match, we’ve escalated to Red River/Frontier and USAR NCC. Austin has tried to reach out to Utah but they aren’t responding. It’s just really frustrating and we need to have a intra-CR policy. Margie says they are working on a policy but it shouldn’t take this long.
          2. Dodge: I’ve been monitoring this as well. I know the NCC is talking about a policy.
        2. 11/9 – Tyler vs Denton
          1. Rescheduled to 1/25/2020
        3. 11/23 – Dallas Diablos vs North Texas Barbarians
          1. Waiting on reschedule date
        4. 12/14 – Bay Area W vs Dallas Reds W
          1. Rescheduled to 4/4/2020
      3. Forfeits
        1. 12/7 – Tyler vs Diablos 
          1. Young: Played forfeit, so no sanctions but will issue written warning per TRU policy.
    13. RRRC Championships Bids
      1. Dodge: I’d like to go ahead and put out the request for RRRC Championships. Does Feb 15 make sense? This year it will be 4/25-4/26 and will include MD1, MD2, WD2, MD3, and if we include TRU MD4. No WD1 as they have their own weekend and no WD3 as of right now.
      2. Young: Yes, I think that is similar to what we did last year.
      3. Dodge: OK, let’s go with the 15th as a deadline. 
      4. Young: Do we want to do a committee like we did last year and they provide a recommendation?
      5. Dodge: Yes, we can do that. Does anyone want to volunteer?
        1. Young: I’d like to be on that.
        2. Roche: Can I be on it?
          1. Dodge: Yes, I think that makes sense.
        3. Kurylas: I’d like to do it again.
        4. Leming: I’d like to be on it.
          1. Dodge: Great, we’ll get that posted and the recommendation committee will be Wendy, Kat, John and Marcus.
    14. North Referee Pool
      1. Dodge: How does the pool in the North look?
      2. Roche: We have 19 referees in the North CIPP’d with us. We have a few that are only coaches or dual track. We have a lot of names but we’re working our way through getting them compliant with TRRA and actively taking matches.
      3. O’Gara: We’ve gone from 5 to 19 and we believe that 12 will begin taking assignments soon. So that is really positive. Of course we could do with more! Another 10-12 more would make things much easier. 
      4. Dodge: Great, are there any more L1 classes coming up?
      5. O’Gara: I’m trying to schedule two more but they won’t be in Dallas. We need to also keep building our numbers in other areas as well. Clubs are always able to put on their own clinics throughout the year. You just need a field, classroom like location and put in a request to USA Rugby. Then TRRA will be happy to supplement with active referees. 
      6. Young: https://texasrugbyunion.com/administration/host-courses/
    15. Moving matches from Saturday to Sunday
      1. Dodge: This is related to having active referees on club rosters, they must be CIPP’d with TRRA and made themselves available for five matches.
      2. O’Gara: Yes, they must be CIPP’d with us and  be active. CIPPing with a club doesn’t truly help grow the referee pool as it can’t be tracked. 
      3. Dodge: Is it ref five matches or make themselves available for five matches?
      4. O’Gara: If they are in the DFW area and they are available…they will get matches.
      5. Dodge: I want to confirm as there were some complaints from last year that individuals CIPP’d with TRRA and made themselves available but never received assignments.
      6. Roche: That shouldn’t be the case this year, they will get matches.
      7. Dodge: OK, so they have to do five matches and then matches could be moved to Saturday…that could take quite a bit of time.
        1. Dodge: I want to give clubs a clear path to how they can have matches moved from Sunday to Saturday. Plus we want to continue to grow the referee pool.
        2. O’Gara: If someone is desperate to have matches moved to Saturday, they need to host an L1 course and get individuals available. Sounds a little bit like blackmail but “it’s a help us help you” situation. Or if they have certified referees from prior courses, they need to get CIPP’d with TRRA and start doing matches. We will provide them with coaching  and development and they will be supported.
        3. Dodge: I don’t think anyone is digging in their heels on this but we just need some clear guidelines. One question that has come up is if you have 1 active referee with 3 Sunday matches, can you then have your matches moved to Saturday? I think the answer is no because it still depends on the referee pool. 
        4. O’Gara: We want to accommodate the change from Sat to Sun but we won’t be able to do anything until we add another 6-12 competent referees in the North. We’ve made some great strides and I hope that we won’t be in this situation next year. 
        5. Young: Even if one club is compliant with this, it doesn’t solve everything. I know the Reds and a few other clubs in the North are working on getting a few players CIPP’d with TRRA and that is great but it doesn’t solve everything. The idea of everyone pitches in has to be the way to go. Keep in mind that TRRA services D1A College, Rugby Texas, MLR AND the TRU. 
        6. Dodge: Ok, that makes sense. We (RRRC) tried to keep 15 matches on a weekend but it’s ballooning because all the rugby in the different divisions/conferences is kicking off.
        7. O’Gara: I do have questions about why rugby starts so late here. Why don’t we have more matches in the fall?
        8. Hughes: It’s based on the USA Rugby Playoffs and Championship dates, we work backwards from there. We don’t have much control there.
          1. Roche: We also have policies in place that if other conferences kick off at 2pm there is a premium fee. This is to try and have them playing earlier in the week or not at 2pm on Saturday.
        9. Dodge: I’d like to put together a policy around this and how clubs can move matches to Saturday. Can I get a commitment for folks to review on email?
          1. All: Yes.
    16. All Star Challenge recap
      1. Young: It was a fantastic weekend with 8 teams attending, Rob Cain (USA Rugby WNT Coach) attended and held clinics on Thursday and Friday night. The profile of the TRU and our brand was on view all weekend and we had nothing but positive accolades. Very proud of what we did!
      2. Dodge: Congrats and that sounds really great. I know that was plenty of work! Are there videos of the matches available?
      3. Young: Yes, we streamed everything with our partner, Nutmeg Media Sports. Videos are on Youtube and Facebook. 
    17. New Business
      1. 7s Dates
        1. Kolberg: When do we want to start pushing dates out for RRRC and TOLA 7s?
        2. Dodge: Fil, what’s your view on that?
        3. Keuppens: The sooner the better, but we’re beholden to the USA Rugby 7s working group. I can reach out to them because we need a date for 7s Nationals.
    18. Meeting adjourned (9:45 PM)