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TRU Board Notes – 4/20/20

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. Hiller
    4. Kurylas
    5. Wilson
    6. Roche
    7. Tomsak
    8. Tate
      1. Regrets
        1. Dodge
  2. USAR Reorg/Club Council TOR
    1. Tate: We’ve got a working group that is drafting the language of the Club Council TOR. We’re expecting to see a draft of that tomorrow night. What we’re leaning towards is a council which would be the GU Presidents which would appoint an executive committee of probably 7-9 people. The council would appoint a member to the USA Rugby Board and the USA Rugby Nominating Committee.  The club council would set dues for the club game, approve the budget for the club game and create and populate all the committees. This is instead of the way it’s been happening where the committees are created somehow, or they are appointed, the club council executive committee would be in charge of creating and determining how they are populated. Note that this is what the GU Presidents are working on, but this has to be approved by the Bankruptcy court since Chapter 11 was filed. Other pieces of this are that dues would go to the GU first and then USAR’s portion is taken out. Also since we control the budget, we can make sure it’s going to the club game and not anything else. I also want to note that we’ve added a referee representative to our group of GU Presidents. Riann van Gruening has joined and brings a very unique perspective that we are appreciating. 
    2. Bankruptcy
      1. Tate: Of course Bankruptcy court has to approve the entire package and they could just say no. SO what  do we do if they do say no? The general consensus of the GU Presidents is that we’re better off doing this together if we need to. The fallback position is to look at where things wind up and then make a decision to strike out on our own or stay in USAR. General feeling of staying with USAR is that we like the economy of scale like insurance, CIPP payment, competition management system (CMS). These items are all cheaper if we have more people rather than trying to pay for it on our own. Either way, GU dues are going to come directly to us and then we will send USAR their portion but it would sit in a bank account dedicated to the club game. 
        1. Tate: Once we send everything over to the bankruptcy court it does become a matter of public record, so we will be able to share it with everyone. Of course we do expect it to keep evolving over the next few weeks but we should have more soon.
    3. COVID-19
      1. Tate: The impact of COVID-19 was catastrophic for USAR as they were anticipating more dues from youth, college and some club registrations. Particularly at the youth level, some leagues only operate in the summer/fall, so they were anticipating that revenue. That of course has ceased as play has stopped due to the pandemic.
        1. Tomsak: So is this a blessing in disguise for unions that aren’t prepared financially? 
        2. Tate: I want to be clear that it’s not good that USA Rugby has declared bankruptcy. It’s not good for them, us or anyone. But it is what it is, so they’ve declared bankruptcy and we need to look for the opportunity. In my opinion the opportunity is the youth, high school, college and club groups can focus on what THEY need. For a long time we’ve allowed certain groups to control the funding and competition guidelines. That sometimes was in conflict with all the other groups and this will allow us to have control over our own destiny and focus on efforts that will directly help our members. The Unions are going to have to do more and that will be a big change for everyone. With opportunity comes more responsibility. Texas is the 3rd or 4th largest GU, we’re in good financial standing and we’re in a very healthy place. We’re better positioned to make the most of this opportunity than some. Of course we’re not gloating or cheering the problems that  USAR is having but we have an opportunity to make some positive changes.
        3. Tomsak: I agree, I’m excited about aligning the many groups instead of continuing the silos. This seems to make the most sense to me.
        4. Tate: I was philosophically excited about breaking down those silos again, but creating a council for youth, HS, college and club is essentially silos on steroids. So at the USAR level it will be siloed, but at the local level we can combine if we choose. We want to encourage all groups to work with us but USAR won’t be dictating that from the top down. 
        5. Tomsak: Do you think there’s an opportunity to have something like ITTs or NASCs again? We’ve had this for the women the last year locally and it’s been great.
        6. Tate: Perhaps on the women’s side but the men’s high performance path is split between the various college conferences and the MLR. I don’t know that we’ll see those ITT or NASCs events for the men ever again. USAR is relying on the MLR to do the player development for them. From the women’s side, I think it’s pretty much a wide open field.
  3. Club Survey
    1. Tate: Dodge sent out a survey that he was proposing that we send to all the clubs. It was shared with the RRRC Competitions Committee and the TRU Board. I’d asked him to hold off on sending it until we could discuss. I specifically had questions around some of the questions he had included that weren’t competitions related but rather GU services related. WE’re going to go ahead and pull those and have a second survey which will cover GU services. The first survey will be very focused on competitions. My recommendation is that we have Kat and Wendy distribute the competitions survey starting tomorrow and we will continue to work on the second survey. Any questions or concerns? None. APPROVED.
  4. Revenue/Members
    1. Tate: In terms of dues, we’ve received $114k from USA Rugby. We are current through the end of March and registrations have been frozen so we’ve received everything we’re supposed to get. There is a small discrepancy of $700 that we believed we’re owed but with them in bankruptcy we won’t be able to collect that and it will be a writeoff. The good news is that this is in excess of dues that we received at this time last year. We’re spending less as we aren’t paying referees right now and we won’t be having XVs Championships. So financially we’re in good shape and that is a good thing because next season we’re going to have to do more as a Union. On the membership side of things, we have 2,242 registered players. Last year we had 2,479 but that was through August, so we’re dead even of where we were last year. Overall our player numbers are stable and just slightly up over this time last year. It is a good thing that we did a $5 dues membership increase this year as it provided an even bigger pad and the cancellation of the season isn’t causing us a revenue shortfall. We didn’t necessarily plan it that way but we’re in really good shape financially. Of course we want to be careful with our revenue and think about it as a windfall.
  5. Grants
    1. 18 year old TRU/TRRA referee request
      1. Tate: We received a request from a referee that is highly dependent on match reimbursements from refereeing. This is a different request than we normally receive and is more of a hardship because of the Coronavirus situation. Dodge, who couldn’t be here this evening, sent an email that this type of grant could cause a slippery slope and he was concerned that it would open Pandora’s box. I do agree with this concern and it’s something we do need to think about.
      2. Tomsak: I agree with Dodge and I feel for everyone that has lost their job or has hardships.
      3. Roche: I have to make a comment, I had sent this to all of the referees (~90 members) but asked that they only consider requesting it if it truly was a hardship. 1 out of 90 doesn’t seem like a slippery slope. I’ve also done math and my estimates are that he is missing out on approximately $1200 a month based on the numbers of games he was doing for us. He is a young referee that is attending college here and he will be working for the TRRA for at least four years.
      4. Tate: Thank you, that is a lot of valuable information that we couldn’t glean from the application itself.
      5. Tomsak: Just a question, does the TRRA have a similar grant program? Or money set aside for things like this?
      6. Roche: We do somewhat, we have a fund for referee development but our main funding source is the TRU. Since there are no games, we also don’t have any income coming in right now either. 
      7. Tomsak: Did he pay TRRA dues?
      8. O’Gara: He did not, he was one of our sponsored referees this year. As he was one of the youngest and fittest referees we went ahead and made that investment.
      9. Tomsak: Ok, so we can’t refund his dues.
      10. Tate: Where is he going to school?
      11. Roche: He isn’t committed yet but he’s looking at Austin, College Station and Waco. Fingers crossed for Waco so he can cover Dallas games…
      12. Hiller: In this situation I don’t have a problem giving a grant. It can be hard for people to ask for help and we can give them help, I think we should.
      13. Kurylas: After hearing from Kat, I would agree that we should give a grant.
      14. Tate: OK, if we go down this path and I want this clear in the minutes. For me, this is for a referee that we, the (TRU) technically employs and this would be kind of like Mark Cuban paying his facility employees even though the stadium is closed. Typically the grant amount would be $250 for events like National Assemblies and All Star events. Are we thinking a similar amount, more or less?
      15. Tomsak: I understand the situation is horrible, but if we approve this I don’t know where we draw the line.
      16. Tate: I was saying that if we do this, we draw the line here. The request was put out to referees and we had one come forward. This would be a referee specific grant to the one individual. That is the point of discussion, not necessarily my vote one way or another.
      17. Roche: For me, the line is pretty clear; if you were expecting to make money from TRRA during this time? Where a player isn’t expecting match reimbursements and/or not planning on that income.
      18. Tate: What’s an amount that everyone is comfortable with?
        1. Roche: I’ve done a bit of math and estimated that he would make $420 leading up to Championships if he were to referee the bare minimum. Of course I don’t get a vote but I wanted to put that out there.
        2. Wilson: Since he was sponsored by TRRA already and he will be staying in the area as an active referee, I don’t know how we can say no to this request. 
        3. Kurylas: I would lean towards our normal standard, $250.
        4. HIller: Still thinking, not really sure which way I want to go.
        5. O’Gara: This individual is 18 and the only sport he has interest in is rugby. He isn’t playing anymore, only refereeing. Imagine if we got 20 years out him for a small amount of money? I’m ok with $420 or $250 if that is what the group wants.
        6. Tate: Another idea is that we can leverage our community in other ways, perhaps we don’t need to use our members dues for this. We can do it formally or informally to help someone like this out. So there are other ways we can help out as well…
        7. Kurylas: I motion that we give a $250 grant to this 18 year old referee.
          1. O’Gara: Second.
            1. Tate: OK, let’s do a roll call vote:
              1. O’Gara: Yes
              2. Hiller: Yes
              3. Kurylas: Yes
              4. Wilson: Yes
              5. Dodge: No, via email
              6. Tomsak: No, but I will donate if we do anything else.
              7. Tate: My vote doesn’t count but I would indicate No. However, I would be more than happy to make a donation to his personal cause.
                1. Tate: 4 Yes, 2 No and the grant is APPROVED. We will also get together and see what we can do as far as a personal collection as well. 
  6. TRU Summit
    1. Tate: I want to start focusing on our TRU Summit and going above and beyond what we’ve done in the past. We don’t know where USAR is going to come out of this and they may not be providing Education services anymore or maybe they will. So our event needs to fill that void and quickly. We’ve been saying we wanted to think beyond USAR Education courses for years and now is our chance. We need to take advantage of our 2 (3 if Dallas comes to life) MLR clubs and use them to continue developing our education resources. We have a ton of talent in and around us that we need to be utilizing. We’re still planning on an event in late August but we’ll need to be flexible on dates.
    2. Tomsak: Weren’t we going to have an event in Ft Worth this year?
    3. Tate: Yes, originally we looked at Ft Worth but then we moved it to coincide with a USA Rugby International Test Match in August. For now we will continue to look at Austin.
    4. Tomsak: I’d like to propose we use the team grants we would have paid out and put that towards the Summit.
    5. Tate: That’s a good idea, I’m with you and agree that we should look at some of the budget we would have used for Championships or teams grants. I know we aren’t sure if we will have the event in August but we need to start planning or it will be the fall and we’ll be stuck without an event this year.
      1. Young: OK, Kat, you and I can start brainstorming with August in mind.
      2. Tate: Yes, I’m going to start reaching out to some contacts who might  be good instructors for the Summit. That way we can get an idea of what that might cost us.
  7. 7s Contingency
    1. Roche: We talked about this on the RRRC call last week but the 7s sub-committee is thinking about hosting a replacement event for USA Club 7’s Nationals should USA fail to host an event – dependent on the summer sevens taking place.
    2. Tate; Ok, we can talk about that but I’d like to see a full proposal form the 7s sub-committee so we can put it into the budget for 2021. 
    3. Roche: Understood and I can start working on that.
  8. New Business
    1. None
  9. Meeting Adjourned (9:10 PM)