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TRU Board Notes – 5/18/20

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. Hiller
    3. Roche
    4. Kurylas
    5. Wilson
    6. Dodge
    7. Tomsak
      1. Regrets
        1. O’Gara
  2. USAR Re-org
    1. Tate: Was everyone able to join the RRRC call last Monday?
      1. Hiller: No, but I read the minutes.
    2. Tate: Ok, we’re still pretty much in the same place as far as big decisions from our Monday call. We’re into the final drafts of the Terms of Reference (TOR) and we’re working on seating the National Councils. Once USAR comes out of the formal bankruptcy court, we can open the positions for the Nominating committees and such. We’ll have a transitional leadership at USAR and at the club level to carry us through the next few months while details continue to be nailed down. The bankruptcy proceedings seem to be going well and USAR is hitting their deadlines. World Rugby who is a co-signer also seems to be satisfied with the proceedings. 
    3. Dodge: Have we seen a draft of the community agreements?
    4. Tate: Not yet.
    5. Dodge: I’m very concerned that this is going to be dropped on us and we will have a tight window to review it. 
    6. Tate: We have weekly calls on Tuesdays now and we’ll make sure that gets on the agenda. Wendy and Kat, there is a Sportlomo call tomorrow evening for the GU Leaders. I don’t know if it will be any different than the original introduction call we had but it would be good if either or both of you could be on it. I’ll be on the GU Leaders call but will join late.
    7. Young: Sure, I can be on it.
    8. Roche: I am planning on being on the call.
  3. Club Survey
    1. Tate: We’re ready to do a second survey that will focus on Governance and happenings in particular with the TRU. With these questions we can ask our members what they would like the structure of the club game to be including eligibility, discipline and so forth. From there we can use that information twofold, within our GU and with the USAR reorganization as well. We need to be gathering the things we want from the clubs in terms of governance and services that they would like to see. What is the importance of the liability or accident insurance? Things like that.
    2. Dodge: The way I understood the National Councils was that USAR was going to provide all member services but not a la carte?
    3. Tate: There will be a mix, there will be USA Rugby Membership dues that all members will pay, this will be the same across Youth, High School, College and Club. For the sake of an example, let’s say it’s $20. Then the club council and other councils would negotiate with USA Rugby for additional services. There will be discussion around if desired services are GU led or if they are an additional fee on top of the base USA Rugby membership dues. We won’t know the answer to that until we start negotiating those community agreements. What I’m looking for is what our member clubs think is important so that when I’m representing the Union in the Club Council discussions, our clubs desires are up front.
    4. Dodge: Do we  know what is in the base membership fees?
    5. Tate: I haven’t seen anything yet but we’ve been told we should see it in the nxt 7-10 days. A full budget has to be provided to the bankruptcy committee to get out of bankruptcy court. That should include what they expect dues to be and what expenses they expect to incur against those membership fees.
    6. Dodge: Not so much on a dollar amount, but do we know the services they plan to provide?
    7. Tate: There is some home office overhead, the bankruptcy court is requiring that they build a capital reserve, the NationaL Office will provide some core services like the Sportlomo software, maintaining CMS for a competition system, continuing to process inbound and outbound permissions to tour…We don’t know yet on insurance and we have people researching that. I have been lobbying Paul S to keep the pressure on World Rugby to continue providing coaching, referee and administration education in all of the regions. The existing coaching and referee certification is already paid for by World Rugby so that is self-funded.
    8. Dodge: The big ticket item seems to be insurance.
    9. Tate: Yes. Another big item is the National Championships, the Club Council would need to decide how we wanted to fund these types of events. It should be included in negotiating the Club Agreements. Do GUs have a big pot to share expenses or do we say as part of our community agreement with USA Rugby we want to add X dollars to the CIPP dues? For example, at the College level, specifically D1A, they feel that they are a potential revenue generator and they don’t want USA Rugby included. 
    10. Dodge: Yes, that makes sense from their perspective. In the Competitions Survey results we received, there was still quite a bit of enthusiasm for National Championships, at all levels.
    11. Tate: Yes, we’re getting that feeling across the region, but there are some regions that don’t have D1M, D1W or at D3M there isn’t a big appetite for playoffs.  If I had to say as a general consensus, there will be some kind of National Championships but it might look a little different.
    12. Dodge: One consideration for the Club Council would be if unions or regions that want to opt out. Would that be allowed?
    13. Tate: Yes, we’ve heard some regions and GUs do want to opt out. That will need to be discussed. 
  4. 7s/Contingency Planning/Touch Rugby
    1. Tate: I don’t have anything in particular to add here but I would love to hear what the RRRC has. At the moment, at least in Austin, Travis County has extended their shelter in place until the middle of June. For example, Bloodfest may be affected.  From a standpoint of hosting events of that size, that is very difficult. Smaller events on privately owned land might be possible, but whatever happens the 7s season as it has traditionally been is not on the table.
    2. Dodge: Yes, we explained this at length on the RRRC call and with each passing week, 7s Nationals is fading away quickly. 
    3. Tate: Yes, it’s pretty clear that 7s Nationals is not going to happen this year.
    4. Dodge: I’ll let Kat speak but our general thought was to reach out to typical 7s hosts and ask them what their ability is to host a 7s tournament with all the governmental restrictions. Is there an appetite to host and can clubs come through with all the hurdles?
    5. Roche: Basically what everyone has been telling us is that most clubs are  waiting for the TRU/RRRC to tell them what they can do. We’re also waiting on USA Rugby to tell us what we can do, so we’re all in a holding pattern. For example, the Huns won’t cancel Bloodfest until they are told to do so.
    6. Tate: It’s pretty simple, if they are looking to host the event at Round Rock, that is a Travis County park and they aren’t allowing large events at all. Also, there isn’t USA Rugby insurance, even if someone was able to find field space and followed all local regulations, had teams come in, from a USA Rugby standpoint they are unsanctioned. This means there is no insurance coverage for all participants including coaches, players and referees. So from a TRU & TRRA standpoint as we don’t have insurance either, we aren’t going to sanction any events as long as USA Rugby isn’t going to sanction any events. Having said that, if city, municipal or Texas government restrictions are followed, there is nothing to stop 20 or so adults getting together. They would have to understand that they are having an unsanctioned event and any liability would be on their shoulders.
    7. Roche: TRRA does have insurance on their referees so they should be covered. If USA Rugby comes out and says rugby is done for  the year, could clubs host events? I would like to understand the potential liability if clubs went forward with events? Can the teams collect waivers etc?
    8. Tate: No, we will not be accepting waivers or anything like that. The TRU will not sanction events if USA Rugby isn’t sanctioning. 
      1. Tomsak:  I requested a Certificate of Insurance for our Horseshoes 7s event today. I do this every year, are you saying that the CIPP registration we paid for doesn’t include insurance for the entire year?
      2. Tate: No, insurance is paid on a month to month basis and it only covers SANCTIONED events. If an event is not sanctioned by USA Rugby, then the USA RUgby insurance policy doesn’t cover the participants in that event. USA Rugby has the power of the sanctioning body to invalidate the insurance of the event as it wasn’t sanctioned. 
      3. Tomsak: Ok, I didn’t realize that the insurance wasn’t available right now. 
    9. Tate: USA Rugby has stated that they will review the current situation again on June 1. If that expires they will presumably offer up either a contingency plan or indicate another date to review the situation. Without USA Rugby sanctioning and insurance in place, any rugby would be on the clubs and participants themselves without the benefit of USA Rugby liability protection.
    10. Dodge: Are we willing to spend some money on short-term liability protection?
    11. Tate: Yes, I’d be willing to consider it.
    12. Roche: That was one of my initial thoughts, if USA Rugby comes out and says rugby is done for the summer…we can still explore our own options?
    13. Tate: It’s not USA Rugby about telling us what they can do, it’s about us making responsible safety and financial decisions. Right now the only liability coverage the TRU has is through USA Rugby.
    14. Roche: I understand that, but I’m wondering if USA Rugby says no, that isn’t a mandate?
    15. Tate: It’s not a binary thing, it is something where we’re going to have to see what World Rugby, USA Rugby saying, including the Texas government, county guidelines etc. I know how badly everyone wants to get out there and play, I wish I could be back out there coaching but the bottom line I can’t answer that question.
    16. Roche: Ok, absolutely understandable.
    17. Dodge: Even if 25-40% of the country is open, USA Rugby may not elect to resume insurance payments. They need the funds for bankruptcy court and 25-40% isn’t enough people. 
    18. Tomsak: Yes, we’re just trying to plan as our government is in the middle of August.
    19. Tate: Right, you’re in a very different position than the Huns or the Reds. They hold early 7s tournaments and are up against the pandemic right now. Holding a tournament in mid-August could be a totally different thing. Once we get some feedback from USA Rugby and as things develop, we’re going to have to keep working on contingency plans for 7s and XVs in the fall etc. We should be thinking about what happens if there is a resurgence of the virus in the winter and if that interrupts play. One of the things the Club Council will be discussing will be minimum match limits and creating a schedule that could survive some downtime and/or if a schedule is very spread out. We’re fortunate that our seasonality allows us to play more weekends, other unions have to contend with inclement weather and have compressed seasons.
    20. Dodge: Thank you for all the work you’re doing on this Kirk. 
    21. Young: We talked about touch rugby as an option on the RRRC call. This would be if we’re allowed to return-to-play but with no contact.
    22. Wilson: We just need to get our players back on the pitch, but do it safely.
    23. Roche: Yes, I’m concerned that another state is going to host a tournament and it’s going to open the flood gates. I’m already hearing from clubs that want to have tournaments because other areas of the country are making plans.
    24. Tate: Yes, we do need to be aware of this. Other parts of the country may open up first or faster than we are allowed. We have to follow the restrictions put forth by Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. But keep in mind, 80% of our membership is in the DFW, Austin/San Antonio and Houston areas…as these are large metros, I imagine they will be slower to open. Clubs can plan all they want but we have to follow local restrictions and recommendations.
  5. TRU Summit/HOF
    1. Roche: I talked to Circuit of the Americas (COTA) and they have all the space we’re looking for to host the Summit and HOF. Pricing looks very similar to what we spent last year. I originally asked about the Aug 29 weekend but then realized we were looking at the Aug 22 weekend to coincide with the ARC match. We haven’t signed contracts or anything but we’re penciled in.
    2. Tate: Excellent, thanks for looking into that. We will continue to look at the Aug 22 weekend until we can’t.
  6. HOF Website
    1. Young: I’m in between projects at work and have some time to dedicate to building a site for the TRU Hall of Fame. I was exploring a sub-domain option but am having an issue with getting access to the hosting. I’ll continue to work on that but the quickest path would be to buy a domain and hosting, it would be pretty cheap. 
    2. Tate: Yes, let’s buy a domain and hosting.
    3. Young: Great, I’ll go ahead and get that going. I’d recommend texasrugbyunionhof.com since the sub-domain option won’t be as easy as I thought it would be.
    4. Dodge: What would the content be?
    5. Young: I’ve looked at a few other sites and the UIs are pretty wonky but we definitely want to include the history of the TRU and member bios. That’s a pretty easy start and then we can build from there.
    6. Tate: Yes, we have a good amount of history that we’ve collected over the years and we should include  HOF member bios.
  7. New Business
    1. TRU 501c3
      1. Tate: We’ve talked about this for a few years but as we move into this brave new world with USA Rugby, MLR and all the rest, it’s time to pull the trigger. Does anyone have any questions or concerns with this?
      2. Dodge: Remind me of what our objectives to do that were?
      3. Tate: Several things:
        1. It’s allow us to fundraise
        2. It allows us to draw a clean slate for our organization
      4. Dodge: We had talked about setting up a HOF Foundation, right?
      5. Tate: Yes, we had, we could certainly set up a 501c3 as a completely separate organization. It could run alongside our existing one. But now  that  we  know where professional rugby is going, having two organizations doesn’t make any sense?
      6. Dodge: A HOF and a TRU  organization?
      7. Tate:  Yes, I don’t know if that gives us any utility but just means more work.
      8. Dodge: Right, I see that. 
      9. Tate: There was a time that we may have a for-profit and a non-profit arm. With the way things have evolved, that doesn’t look like the way things are going to fall out. If we want to do a 501c3 then we should create a new and from scratch organization. Then the question becomes, do we wind down the existing or do the two sit side by side? I’m leaning towards side by side and then closing the old organization down. The folks I’ve talked to agree that we should do the latter.
      10. Dodge: Ok, that makes sense.
      11. Tate: No one should worry, we’re in a really good place but I think we should have a clean slate. Anyone disagree?
      12. Hiller: No, sounds logical.
      13. Wilson: No concerns.
      14. Tomsak: Shreveport has both entities, we have a 501c3 and one without. 
      15. Tate: Right, we could do that and it was considered. We had that as a plan a few years ago but looking at it right now, we don’t really have any business that would serve that. It means two Boards, bylaws, etc. 
  8. Meeting Adjourned (9:20 PM)