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TRU Board Notes – 3/16/2020

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. O’Gara
      3. Kurylas
      4. Wilson
      5. Tate
      6. Kolberg
      7. Hiller
      8. Fosco
      9. Tomsak
      10. Tolar
      11. Dale
      12. Dodge
      13. Leming
      14. Hughes
      15. Keuppens
      16. Roche
        1. Regrets
          1. Watson (Congress call)
          2. Daniels (Congress call)
    2. Summary of TRU/RRRC Discussions
      1. Tate: To summarize all the discussion below, we’re going to poll the clubs on their interest in completing the season and based on that input put together a proposed contingency plan (a proposed schedule) that will allow us to complete the seasons and hopefully declare a Champion before 7s starts.  Whether or not that schedule gets played is up to USA Rugby, the government and the progression of the pandemic. But at least we will have a plan for how we get back into competition if the opportunity arises. We believe a contingency plan is important as it will help motivate players to stay engaged and virtually train etc.
    3. COVID-19
      1. Tate: We’ve got a full house from the TRU Board and most of the RRRC Competitions Committee is also on the call. Our Congress reps are on their own call and will join if they can. The main reason we invited everybody is because of COVID-19 and its effect on our competitive XVs season. First off, just a recap of where we’re at, USA Rugby has suspended all competition for 30 days and that includes ALL rugby activities including practice or even “touch rugby”. That puts us at potential return to play in mid-April. Until USA Rugby says it’s OK to compete, there is no insurance coverage. So if you were to go out and play rugby and were counting on the USA Rugby Insurance to protect your playing field or individual players, that doesn’t exist. The TRU is also not paying referees right now and the TRRA has encouraged their referees to stand down. In addition, the CDC came out with a statement today recommending that all events with more than 50 people be canceled for the next 8 weeks. If you do the math of 30 rugby players, 3 referees, a couple of coaches etc, that puts us over that limit. This means that rugby is essentially shut down at this moment. I would like for us to agree to have a plan for if/when rugby resumes so that if we get it all clear or things take a turn before the better before the 7s season we’re able to move forward and play rugby if that is what our community wants to do. I don’t want to not have a plan. Dodge and I exchanged emails earlier today, it might help us not go quite so stir crazy, keep players engaged with their club virtually etc while we get through this crisis.
        1. Kolberg: The USA Rugby suspension includes practice?
        2. Tate: Correct, that includes practices or even “touch rugby”. For large clubs you’re drawing more than 50 players to a practice anyways and you’re over their limit.
        3. Hiller: I also heard today that the recommendation was no more than 10 individuals together.
        4. Tate: Yes, that is a Federal Government recommendation as of this afternoon.
        5. Fosco: Dallas is closing bars and restaurants as well, along with events more than 10 people are cancelled.
        6. Tate: That brings up a great point as there is caveat for everything we’re discussing that it’s a local problem as well as a national problem. So it is affecting areas differently across our union.
      2. Tate: What I did this afternoon was an exercise to see if/when we resume play, what would that look like. Essentially we could do it in 3 weekends and be done before Memorial weekend and done before 7s. THis would provide a conclusion on the season, if we’re able to play before April 18 we could get play done before Nationals. But I find that highly doubtful and I don’t think we should count on having USA Rugby Nationals this year. I’d like us to agree on  a plan to finish the season if circumstances allow. This would include a cut-off date that if things aren’t getting better, we will go ahead and cancel the season. In the meantime we’ll follow all the recommendations and guidelines from the CDC, governments etc. This gives our members something to look forward to and if things improve we can play some rugby. I put together a schedule which I’m not trying to represent as the “best schedule”, but primarily as an exercise to see if it could be done. [Kirk shares screen].
        1. Tate: Note that this proposed schedule covers everyone but WD1 cross-Frontier matches and our women’s college 7s. We would still need to figure those out. There are also several matches that teams have had forfeits or told us that they won’t finish the season. So those may not happen. With that, I’d like to open the floor up to questions.
        2. Dodge: We have an email chain with the Frontier already in the works and we’re talking about proposals there as well.
          1. Dodge: Kirk, thank you very much for this work. First, for TRRA, referee coverage for a compressed schedule like this…do we need to be dividing matches up on Saturday and  Sundays? Second question to the group as a whole, how do we feel about giving teams the option to opt out of the season if they would like?
            1. Tomsak: Shreveport has already had a vote and we’re fine with ending the season. OKC Tribe has also indicated that they might be OK in ending their season as well since we’re both out of playoffs. 
            2. Dodge: Right, the only thing I’m worried about is if teams drop out does it affect teams that are still in the running? 
            3. Roche: A lot of the teams that have been forfeiting, I’ve talked to them. Specifically, Corpus and San Antonio D3 are done and probably won’t want to continue playing. Asking for teams to not continue may be opening the floodgates and it could have an  unattended affect on the teams that want to continue.
            4. Leming: For our D3 side, Kat is correct and we’ve struggled with numbers this year. But I don’t think we’re the only ones thinking about this.
            5. Keuppens: Is there an appetite to have two schedules? Perhaps one that pits teams that are mathematically still in the playoffs and a second “optional” version if you will? 
            6. Tate: Just to help with everyone’s time tonight, I don’t think we need to solve the schedule tonight. We have a month to figure this out and I think we can absolutely look at options like that. Instead I’d like to focus on Dodge’s question around referee resources and what I heard Kat say was that some teams are more than likely to not continue and so the compressed schedule may work?
            7. Roche: Yes, at first glance this does look like it would work. I’m concerned about week 2 because it does have quite a few “outside the region” matches. The referees are just as upset as all the players and want to get out there as well. 
            8. Tate: Dodge, what was your other question?
            9. Dodge: Do we want to allow teams to opt out?
            10. Tate: Ok, I don’t want to penalize anyone if they want to opt out. But I want to have a plan in the event that we can play.
            11. O’Gara: I do have a concern around referees being available on the proposed dates. Before we decide on any dates, we need to ask if our referees are even available.
              1. Tate: So the earliest we could even play would be April 18. If we can’t start play by May 2, we can’t finish the season by Memorial day. To me we’re looking at a  window of April 18 to May 2. If we don’t start play within those dates, we are in all likelihood not playing the rest of the season. 
              2. O’Gara: I’m thinking that once the TRU puts out a statement, we’ll ask referees to update their WTR availability from April 18 to May 23. 
              3. Tate: Yes, we can tell them that we don’t know how many games there will be but we’d like to know how many referees are available. That can help inform our contingency planning.
              4. O’Gara: OK. 
              5. Dale: So would you say that the drop-dead date is May 2?
              6. Tate: I would say the drop-dead date to MAKE A DECISION would be April 27. By this date we think we’re going to play rugby on May 2 or not.
              7. Dodge: Both the RRRC and TRU will have another call before then so we’ll be talking about if rugby will continue or not.
            12. Roche: Have we considered polling the teams? That may give us some insight into what the teams are thinking about.
              1. Tate: I’m fine with that.
              2. Dodge: I think that is what I’m suggesting but you articulated it much better. 
              3. Leming: Is it realistic to ask for feedback by the end of this week? 
              4. Dodge: I might give them until next week but we do need to put a statement out there about a plan. 
              5. Kolberg: I think we also need to indicate that if USA doesn’t have Nationals, do they want to continue? I think that has to be included in the survey.
              6. Roche: I’m thinking we put out four things that could happen and teams can determine their own “cut-off” if you will. 
              7. Dodge: Yea, I think we can put something like that together and get it out by Wednesday.
              8. Roche: I can do a Google form.
              9. Dodge: Great, please do that and circulate it to myself, Kirk and Wendy.
              10. Kolberg: Looking forward, are we going to penalize teams for no shows and things like that?
              11. Dodge: I would say we wouldn’t penalize anyone for anything after the suspension of play. So that would be anything after this past week. Those will be things we take into promotion and relegation.
              12. Fosco: Would a team not finishing a season affect promotion and relegation?
                1. Dodge: No, only prior forfeits could affect promotion and relegation.
      3. Tate: One thing we can definitely say is that there will not be a RRRC/TRU Championship on April 25 & 26. The City of Austin has suspended events for over 250 people and so that kills that event period. We would likely not have been able to finish our season before that date anyways.
        1. Tate: To summarize, we’re going to poll the clubs on their interest in completing the season and based on that input put together a proposed contingency plan (a proposed schedule) that will allow us to complete the seasons and declare a Champion before 7s starts.  Whether or not that schedule gets played is up to USA Rugby, the government and the progression of the pandemic. But at least we will have a plan for how we get back into competition if the opportunity arises.
          1. Kolberg: What are we going to do about teams that ignore the advice around practice?
          2. Tate: How could we police that? If a team wants to have a BBQ, is that a rugby event?
          3. Dale: We have to make it clear that the insurance isn’t covering anything until the suspension is lifted. As long as the teams know that the insurance coverage isn’t valid, it’s up to them.
          4. Tate: I agree, we have to inform our members but it’s a free country.
          5. Dodge: The latest statement does cover touch as well, so it makes it very clear that nothing is covered right now and teams shouldn’t be participating. 
        2. Dodge: Before we get off the call, Dodge has really brought this to the forefront and made sure that I was giving it the thought that was due. Everyone should thank David for being forward thinking and being on top of this. 
  2. TRRA Grant
    1. Roche: Would the TRU entertain a grant towards referees that depend on match fees as part of their income?
    2. Tate: Yes, it would be absolutely appropriate for them to apply. The TRU Board would have to review it and so I can’t make any guarantees but we never want to discourage anyone from applying.
  3. Refund USA Rugby CIPP
    1. Wilson: I know it’s a silly question but I have to ask. If play is suspended will CIPPs be refunded? I think we know the answer…but had to ask.
    2. Tate: No. Nothing will be refunded. 
  4. GU Cancellations?
    1. Keuppens: We may not know, but have any other GUs announced that they are suspending their season?
    2. Tate: No, not that I’m aware of.
    3. Dodge: I’m not aware of any either.
    4. Tate: Colleges and youth have but that is because they have outside influences like University and school systems.
    5. Dodge: I can reach out to the NCC to see if anyone is thinking about that. 
    6. Tate: This situation is evolving so quickly, someone could be having a call right now and making a vote on this. We will try to keep our ears to the ground for that.
  5. Notices on the TRU website
    1. Young: Even if we are still working on a plan, do we want to go ahead and keep posting the USA Rugby guidance? In particular the piece that they shared late this afternoon.
    2. Tate: Yes, please go ahead and post/share anything that USA Rugby is putting out there at this point. 
    3. Young: Ok, we’ll get the most recent guideline up on the website tonight and keep posting as information comes out.
  6. 7s Considerations
    1. Roche: As a union, what’s our position on voting to change the 7s schedule if the 15s schedule can be accommodated to allow it? 
    2. Tate: I don’t see that we can really do that and I think it’s because we don’t host those events or dictate when those events are. Bloodfest is the easiest example, it either happens on the planned date or not at all and that’s because they’ve had the fields reserved for 10 months already.
    3. Roche: Right, that makes sense but if USAR picks a date of 7s starting in late June for example, what would be the TRU positions on that?
    4. Tate: It would be a question for the RRRC, not the TRU.
    5. Keuppens: The qualifier windows are pretty tight and there aren’t a lot of weekends to play with. Some of the weekends are already taken up, so unless USA Rugby moves 7s Nationals…there isn’t much we can do there. I would be surprised that Nationals are moved to accommodate 15s. I think it would only happen if we’re still not playing 15s until the summer.
    6. Tate: And if they did, it would probably be easier to change from three qualifiers to two. 
    7. Roche: Ok, I’ve just gotten an email around this and it brings up more questions than answers.
    8. Tate: Yes, this is a difficult thing to go through and there are a lot of unknowns.
    9. Dodge: Yes and I think we’ve got to do our best to provide contingency plans and if they don’t work out we can just try to figure out the best thing to go forward.
  7. USAR Reorg
    1. Dodge: Can you give us an update on the reorg? Has the air been sucked out on that?
    2. Tate: No, it’s actually moving forward and we actually have some more resources available at the National OFfice right now. USA Rugby has a Board meeting at LA Sevens and it included representatives from World Rugby and the USOC. World Rugby is basically being asked to invest more money into the American game. A requirement for that is better financial safeguards would have to be in place. From World Rugby’s view it’s high performance and from the club games views it’s that our due go to community services and not HP. WR indicated a willingness to entertain putting in more money and that placed more pressure on us to get something done. The real challenge is who’s vision of the future comes to the forefront. There is a vision from the community owners and there is a faction on the other side to ram something through. The community representatives are trying to avoid the ramming version as that isn’t what is best for our community. I’m working from home this week and I’m working on bylaws on how the community games can be run…those will be circulated to the GU Presidents later this week. Hopefully we can have bylaw language that can be presented to the Board in 2 weeks or so. That would then kick-off a review period for Congress and the Board to review. Generally we’re looking to include reps on the USA Rugby Board from College, Youth and Club. We would also recommend forming a club council to nominate said Board member. They would also oversee the appointment of staff that would run community services at the National level. So for example we might have a Director of Community Rugby that oversees training & education directly to the community. We’d set up a separate profit & loss in it’s own account for the community game and ensure it only goes to the community game. So that’s the direction but there is a lot of wiggle room on how it gets implemented. There is also concern from Congress that some of the oversight functions that we’re insisting on are being overlooked by some members of the Task Force. 
    3. Dodge: The money that World Rugby is offering, is that designated for only High Performance?
    4. Tate: We don’t have a break down yet but when you listen to their representatives, it isn’t directed at the community game. It’s all theoretical and they are throwing around big numbers but nobody has seen anything in writing or a detailed breakdown. A presentation was made to Congress of what they were planning and from talking with Bloo & Ron he was primarily talking about high performance. 
    5. Dodge: Yea, it just seems our leverage is the money we’re bringing to the table and if World Rugby replaces that, we’ve lost our leverage.
    6. Tate: Correct. But we want to change the conversation and make sure that the community game has a separate bank account (it doesn’t right now) and make sure our funds aren’t going to high performance. 
  8. Meeting Adjourned (9:15 PM)