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TRU Board Notes – 12/16/2019

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. Tomsak
      3. Kurylas
      4. Roche
      5. O’Gara
      6. Tate
      7. Whitman
      8. Dodge
        1. Regrets
          1. HIller
    2. Follow Ups
      1. 2019-2020 Budget
        1. TRU CIPP Dues from USA Rugby
          1. Tate: Last week we got a CIPP payment from USAR but it’s still a bit short. We did get another followup this morning that was a bit more than what we thought…but it looks like we were shorted in August and September. So I think we’re current for September but we’re still owed for October and November. 
          2. Dodge: October is probably a pretty big month?
          3. Tate: Yes, October was a very big month. I believe we’re a month behind but making progress at this point. With the checks that we’ve received, our reserve is back where it was and we’re in OK shape for the short term. 
          4. Dodge: Has there been any discussion about memorializing a segmentation of funds?
          5. Tate: Yes, we’ve got an agenda item on that below.
        2. Referee Contract
          1. Tate: I think we’re at the point of signing. It that right, Tim?
          2. O’Gara: Yes, last I spoke with Ozzie, our secretary we were good.
          3. Tate: Great, then I will get it signed.
        3. All Star Budget
          1. Young: More on the event below but we did go over budget a bit this year. A few things factored into that, we had a team drop out at the last moment and we had to put together a THIRD tru team in less than two weeks. With that we had extra hotel rooms. We also did an entire tournament dinner with EVERYONE in one place so they could hear from Rob Cain, Nick James and Charli Jacoby. So a bit over budget but lots of positive things came out of it.
          2. Tate: I received positive notes from Pacific NW, Rob Cain and several other coaches at the event.
          3. Tomsak: So a couple of years ago the budget was around $15k. What changed?
          4. Tate: It was in the past but since the men haven’t participated, it was reduced. We also added the women’s college and so it went back up. The women’s colleges brought in dures paying members so I’m not too worried about it. 
          5. Tomsak: There doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in a men’s All Star event?
          6. Tate: Right. We’ve tried before but the MLR has really replaced it at this point. It’s still a selection venue for the women and so we’ve supported it for the last four years. 
          7. Tomsak: I saw on the same weekend that there was some men’s select side at other locations?
          8. Tate: Yes, I have seen that.
          9. Roche: I used to be part of USA South and they don’t have MD1. One of the only ways these players can get exposure is to play other MD1 sides or top level colleges. 
          10. Tate: That’s another interesting thing about our environment, we have so many clubs that are competing in multiple divisions. The way for a MD2 player to play up is to compete for a MD1 spot on their own club and so on. We’ve got a different rugby culture in Texas than in more places around the country.
      2. TRU All Star Challenge
    3. USA Reorganization
      1. Tate: Let’s go ahead and jump to this topic because it’s big. I don’t know if everyone saw, but USAR put out an announcement a few days ago. They are accelerating the reorganization that was in the strategic document. They’re wanting to push more things to GUs and SROs to handle on their own. Whether that means less control from USAR or giving us more responsibilities…we’re unsure. They are forming a task force which will have representatives from the various constituencies and the exec and board level of USAR. I have put my hand up and asked to be a part of that process. I had a conversation with Mike C, a Congress member on USA Rugby and looks like I’ll be involved in some way with that process. To be honest, if it can be influenced in a positive direction that is great but I really want to know which direction everything is going in. To Dodgey’s question around memorializing funds, USAR is looking at a new process for registrations. When an individual CIPPs, it would be divided in real time and our portion would come directly to us. There would be nothing held by USAR.
        1. Dodge: That is even better!
      2. Tate: There are more developments, I received a call from Frank Rizzo who’s on the Rugby Texas Board. They are interested in merging Rugby Texas with the TRU. We discussed what that might look in VERY general terms. We basically looked at who would be involved, which constituents would need to be involved, nothing specific about a final agreement. Frank and I are both of the opinion that this would be a good thing, allowing for better economy of scale. Especially in light if USAR is pushing to do this very thing. Two if there was a reduction of services from USAR, scale is going to be very important. Also it would allow us to have it done our way rather than USAR mandating something. So there isn’t anything to vote on at this point but what I’d like to do is get one or two volunteers from the Board (as well as Wendy or Kat) to join me in some preliminary discussions with RT to talk about how these things might look. We can then report back to the Board where we can discuss. If it’s something we want to do and move forward, we would put something together for our membership to review at the AGM next month. It wouldn’t be Bylaws but rather a referendum for now. Then we could build out specifics if that is the direction we should go.
        1. Dodge: I’d like to be part of that.
      3. Tate: Another vector that is involved is that I heard from Jill at PAcific NW. She is proposing and I said I would be willing to participate in a GU leaders call. Basically all the GU leaders would discuss the current issues and specifically discuss the USAR reorganization. If we have consensus among GU leaders on how this new world will look like, we only have a stronger foundation. In talking with Jill and other various folks around, it is the general belief that USAR isn’t in the position to dictate and might be an opportunity for us to make some really positive changes…at least in our region. I would be interested to hear your feedback on these issues.
        1. Tate; TLDR is that USA Rugby is really struggling and we are probably looking at a major reduction in services. The ball is really in our court to see how we want to respond.
        2. Dodge: I’d really like to look at Rugby Texas and the economies of scale. I do think we could still use USAR for the insurance opportunities.
        3. Tate: Yes, I brought that up with Mike. The two things we can’t really do for ourselves is insurance at large scale and running national teams. For most of the other services, if properly funded, we’re already doing them or could do them just as well.
        4. Dodge: I would also mention the Competition Management System (CMS).
        5. Tate: Yes, I mentioned that. But I will say that I get hit up about once a quarter by companies that do that very thing or very similar. But getting it at the lowest price and integrating with USAR including  the historical data does have value. Mike pointed out that the actual cost of CMS out of our dues is very small. The insurance is a big chunk of the $50 per player though. 
        6. Dodge: Yes, with CMS we have the across country factor and the history.
        7. Tate: Yes, when it comes to competition, the RRRC is handling that and TRU is the governance. This may give us an opportunity to have more autonomy. With regards to coach and education, I think that USAR should change to a coach the coach model. So if we have local trainers they could handle it locally instead of having to fly people in and put them in hotels. It would be much easier to host a clinic if we could just call the regional rep and schedule a session. Now one thing we haven’t talked about is the men’s college, or Lonestar. What I’ve told folks at that National Office is that I think that is a more difficult road as far as mergers go. I would make that a phase two opt-in after we look at Rugby Texas. The reason I say that is because a lot of our clubs are ruining youth programs and we’re already on the same page. With the men’s college, they get their referees from different places, they handle their own discipline and are members of other organizations like NSCRO. Then there’s the Universities that have their own agenda, policies and desires to control their sports programs at their schools. So doing a top down governance with those college programs includes a lot more moving parts. My inclination would be to not prioritize that and if the colleges are interested than great, if not… let them decide what their future will be. Obviously the women’s colleges are already members and I think that is awesome. The merger there seems to have gone pretty seamlessly. I think the differences in the TRU and the Men’s college game are bigger and harder to bridge. So, it’s going to be an exciting 6-8 months! THis task force that USAR is looking to appoint should be in place by Dec 31. I would like us to have conversations with RT as quickly as possible.
          1. Young: Who is even running RT right now?
          2. Tate: That is a very interesting question, in my conversations with Frank, they have not filled the Rugby Texas Director seat yet. They are working as a Board of consensus with Mark Kissinger, Frank Rizzo and Frank Waller are on the board. Rizzo is with Woodlands, Waller is with Plano and Kissinger is in Saleno. A few others that I am forgetting right now. They recently had a Director step down and are seeing a bit of chaos. I think there is a real opportunity for us to do good things for the game. At the very least if we can have a better coordinated schedule that is easier on our referees…and if we can take that economy of scale and leverage that into more coach and referee training, that has to be wins all the way around. At one point they had a paid admin.
          3. Young: I thought it was even a paid Director position.
          4. Tate; Yes, there are a lot of opportunities. First thing is that we need to make sure that we’re aligned in our goals with them. We have to have ground rules on how we might move forward and then agreement with our constituents. Then we can look at board structure and if we need to reorganize and if we need to create a new entity. Lawyers on the call, does that make sense as a basic approach?
            1. Whitman: Have you looked into what is required in the current bylaws? 
            2. Tate: For our bylaws, it involves having a meeting of all our members and presenting to them any bylaw changes. Bylaw changes must be presented in advance of the meeting and then would be ratified by a vote. That is if we kept the existing corporate structure and simply amended it. The members could also vote to wind down this structure and join a new structure with new bylaws. BAsically it requires a notice of writing of the changes and a meeting to vote.
            3. Dodge: The initial meeting you’re suggesting is to notify members of the changes. Right?
            4. Tate: Correct, since we usually have a January AGM, the goal is to present possible changes. The goal is to get consensus on YES this is a positive direction to take (merging with RT) or NO and we don’t do it. If yes, we move forward with all of the details and the summer would be a final presentation and vote. My goal would then be, starting Sep 1 which starts a new fiscal and competitive cycle, we start with the new structure and possibly new Board and bylaws.
            5. Dodge: Could we move up that summer AGM?
            6. Tate: Yes, it’s always been fluid. If we wanted it to be earlier, we can do that. Our bylaws only indicate that we have an annual meeting. We do two meetings a year out of tradition.
            7. Whitman: Yes, I think your general plan sounds like a good one. We want to make sure our members are OK with moving in this direction before we start any of the work. 
            8. Tate: I’d love if we could be a 501c3 with all rugby under it, but that is something to discuss if and when it becomes relevant.
            9. Young: Kat and I were having an offline texting fest and we’re both in!
            10. Roche: Team work!
            11. Tate: Great, then I will get a call setup with RT and see if we can start high level discussions. Mainly to see what each group would like and doesn’t want…then that can inform our next steps. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
    4. All Stars Wrapup
      1. Young: I couldn’t wait to talk about this event, it was absolutely fantastic! We had eight teams with three of those being from the TRU. The clinics with Rob beforehand were well attended and we only received positive feedback. We’ve already heard from most of the teams that they will be coming back next year. 
      2. Tate: Rob was an absolute delight and he really gets what we are trying to do and I mean at the grassroots level. We want to have Rob back for other events as I truly believe he understands what we’re trying to do in Texas. 
      3. Roche: Echoing all of this, I sent out a feedback form after the event and the USA South coach said he would fly back to Texas JUST for the Rob Cain coaching clinic. 
      4. Tate: Great, so we need to try and get Cain back out for our Summit this summer.
      5. Young: Yes! I would also pile on more that we’re seeing lots of publicity with articles, social media etc. The most video views and engagement on social media that we’ve ever had.
      6. Whitman: As a participant I would agree, everything was amazing. I would just say that the tryouts continue to be a struggle. The north tryout had low attendance and is something we need to work on. I know it’s always a work in progress, if we could next year get out of ahead of it all…it’s only going to get better.
      7. Tate: Ok, so we can also work with RRRC and build those tryouts around it.
      8. Young; We did that but there was a friendly added to the scheduled. But I hear you Molly, we can always do better. 
    5. January AGM Date
      1. January 12?
        1. Dates to avoid: 
          1. Weekend of Jan 11: 19 matches on the calendar
          2. Weekend of Jan 18: 22 matches/Wendy/Kat unavailable
          3. Weekend of Jan 26: 20 matches
          4. Feb: Super Bowl and Six Nations begins
          5. LA 7s: Feb 29-Mar 1
        2. Tate: I’d like to push it later than the 12th based on our discussions above. I would be inclined to go for January 26.
        3. Roche: Just note that there are 3 Sunday matches that day. But note that it is a line item for an upcoming TRRA and RRRC calls.
        4. Tate: Ok, we want to avoid the Super Bowl…so we need to look at January 19 or 26. Even with Wendy out of town, we may just have to do it.
        5. Young: 19th doesn’t work for Kat or I…
        6. Tate: Sounds like January 26 or we work something else out. Let’s go with that date.
    6. Women’s Rep
      1. Whitman: I’ve only been on the Board for a couple of months now but I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve received an offer from my firm to transfer to our LA office. I’ve decided to accept it and will be moving to California soon. I assume that you would want a new person in the role that is a member of the TRU. 
      2. Tate: When are you moving? 
      3. Whitman: Mid-January, a few things are up in the air.
      4. Tate: Wendy checked the bylaws and we will have to have an election. This will of course take some time as we have to have a notice period, call for nominees, a vote etc. So we’re not going to pull the trigger on anything immediately. My thought is to have nominees in place by the January 26 AGM…then that would give folks an opportunity to present and have questions. Then we could vote afterwards. Molly, that would mean you stay on until the end of February?
      5. Whitman: That is fine with me, we do these calls virtually anyways.
      6. Tate: So at the February Board call, we could thank you and wish you success as we welcome a new member.
      7. Young; What if we did nominations due on January 17?
      8. Tate: I think that works.
    7. Communications
      1. Young: This came up from our RRRC call, we’re seeing lots of individuals not understanding policy or not seeing the most recent update to a guideline. It doesn’t seem that we’re permeating the right individuals. Do we need to go to WhatsApp or texting?
      2. Tate: That’s an interesting topic. I would say that our website is very large…I think it is difficult to find things if you aren’t familiar with it. It you haven’t spent specific time on it or you aren’t motivated to find the right thing, it could be easily missed. This is something we could improve on, but I don’t think I’m the right guy to ask what the next technology should be. I’m struggling communicating with 20 college kids that I coach. Across multiple states is hard…Kat?
      3. Roche: Well you should really talk to Tim, he wants to move to Whats App….hehe.
      4. Tate: Ok, we’re going to need to give this some thought.
      5. O’Gara: This happened when I was an administrator of the West Houston Lions, we missed out on a playoff spot because of a small guideline that was missed. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to follow the rules, we just didn’t know. As a result we brought on an officer that was responsible for reading all of the policies and guidelines. I would think that the TRU representatives would be responsible for this?
      6. Tate: We do quite a bit of this, Wendy and Kat work directly with the new clubs. But I don’t think it is only new clubs, but rather turnover of new club officers. That knowledge transfer isn’t happening. The club has been around for 40 years and the main guy leaves with nothing for the new officer. We don’t always know is because the new officer usually doesn’t even notify us that it has changed. I think there is value in what you’re saying Tim, but we have to get this information out to new officers.
      7. Roche: Wendy included me on most of those new club emails and we’re sending them information over and over. I mimic quite a bit of that with managing our referees but weekly I still have to send out match report reminders. Some of those people are even TRRA or TRU Board members.
      8. Tate: Yes, it’s frustrating! I don’t think it’s something we’re going to solve tonight but I agree it’s something we need to look at. Perhaps as a short term solution is a top 5 or top 10 most overlooked items…push it out on social media? Maybe it’s something we do once a month? Try to highlight things on a more regular basis?
      9. O’Gara: I think that’s a great idea Kirk. There are obvious ones that we see every week.
      10. Tate: If we can come up with a catchy format…maybe a quick slide that gets changed every time?
      11. Whitman: What about The TRUth?
      12. Young: I love it! Kat…what do you think of doing this? I feel like I’m already saying a lot of these messages…
      13. Tate: Yes, maybe we need a change in who delivers the message?
      14. Roche: I am great at being annoying!
      15. Tate: OK, so you’ve just talked yourself into it then. Congrats!
    8. Board Elections
      1. President – Sep 2020 (3 year term)
      2. Vice President – Sep 2021 (3 year term)
      3. DI M Rep – Sep 2022 (3 year term)
      4. W Rep – Sep 2022 (3 year term)
      5. DII M Rep – Sep 2021 (3 year term)
      6. DIII M Rep – Sep 2021 (3 year term)
      7. Congress – Sep 2020 Watson (2 year term)
      8. Congress – Sep 2021 Daniels (2 year term)
        1. Young: Only planned upcoming elections are President and Watson’s Congress seat, Sep 2020.
        2. Tate: Just a heads up, my term is up at the end of August. We also will be looking at Congress as that seat is up every two years. That would be for Watsons’ seat. But with the discussions about USAR, it could be all changing…
          1. Tate: When we talk about succession planning, I would encourage everyone to put some thought into if their term was coming to a close…who are people that they think would do a good job in their position? I think we should probably be generating the next generation of TRU leadership now. When you look around at guys like myself or Kolberg or Watson…we need to be identifying future leaders. This needs to become a habit with the union and with our individual clubs. If you know folks, get them involved!
      9. New Business
        1. RRRC Playoff Bid Locations
          1. Dodge: We discussed on the last RRRC call that we need to put out a call for bids on hosting RRRC playoffs.
          2. Young: Yes, I owe you that post to review. I’ll add that to my list.
          3. Dodge: Thanks!
      10. Meeting Adjourned (9:23 PM)