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TRU Board Notes – 7/20/20

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. Kurylas
    3. Wilson
    4. Roche
    5. Tomsak
    6. Tate
    7. Dodge
    8. Hiller
      1. Regrets
        1. O’Gara
  2. USAR Reorg
    1. Tate: I want to start off with the Alex Goff article that some of you may have seen from this past weekend. His article claims to know the membership fees for the next CIPP cycle. I’m pretty confident that his source is the youth & HS folks and to my knowledge he hasn’t spoken to anyone in the Club group. We (the Club group) haven’t settled on an amount with USA Rugby as we’re waiting for hard data and numbers from them. We won’t agree to a hard number until we can verify those numbers and agree on services. Having said all that, I suspect that we’re looking at $30-35 dollars per person. That assumes we go with USAR’s insurance. The questions we’re weighing are:
      1. Do we go with USAR insurance? There are options to do this with the GUs or go alone
      2. What’s included in the portion that doesn’t cover insurance?
        1. I would like to caution that we’re very likely to see a reduction of services from USA Rugby. If we want additional services, we have to find a way to fund them which means we would have to raise GU dues. 
      3. Dodge: With regard to the insurance, is USAR open to other vendors or are they locked in with USI?
      4. Tate: I don’t know if USAR is locked in with USI but that is the broker they have been working with. They did get four bids through USA for additional brokers but I’d have to confirm with the USAR Board. 
      5. Dodge: I’ve been working on an alternative and I’d like to share that USAR. But if they are set with USI we may think of going on our own.
        1. Tate: Good to note here that Dodge has been added as a “consultant” of sorts to the Audit & Risk committee, specifically working on insurance options.
      6. Tate: We’re hopefully going to get some more movement on that this week. The Club Council just received the NDA docs so we can view full salary and financial information from the National Office. We’ll be resuming talks with them this week and should get additional information.
      7. Roche: What are examples of services that we may need to increase GU dues?
      8. Tate: The big one would be Training & Education, World Rugby was giving USAR a grant of roughly 600k a year which was funding their T&E programs. Because of COVID-19 and almost every rugby union being in financial trouble…that grant is more than likely going to go away. Actual courses were mostly covered by participant registration fees but there were some full-time employees that did prep, management and administration. These will be replaced by volunteers for now. The theory is to empower the GUs to provide these services locally to their members. At our level, we can charge extra GU dues, charge overhead for Summit or like events, fund it from our cash reserves or do some combination of these options. We do want to continue offering these and add to them, but we’re going to have to figure out how to do that.
    2. We’re getting very close to selecting members to the National Council Committees. We still have a few Committee Chairs to ratify and then we’ll begin filling out those committees. We’re finalizing the Terms of Reference and the nominating criteria. Hopefully, we can start populating those committees in the next 1-2 weeks. For folks that are interested, we are still accepting nominations and have been maintaining a list of interested candidates. 
  3. BLM/DEI
    1. Tate:Obviously I haven’t given a statement for the Board to review yet. Part of that is I’ve been swamped and secondly, USA’s DE&I committee was set to send out a statement but it hasn’t been approved yet. I was working on a draft and then heard that a potential USAR statement was coming…but now I’m not going to wait around for them anymore.
      1. Tate: Backing up a bit here, I had asked Wendy to help me find interested parties for a TRU Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Committee. This is an ad hoc committee as our Bylaws don’t allow for it, but we intend to have this as a committee going forward. I have given the group essentially an open charter as I want them to determine what they want to do. Mostly that is because I’m a 50 something year old white man and I don’t think I should be telling them what to do. The group is Simba Musarurwa from Dallas, Holly Iker from Oklahoma and Brittany “Brick” McGee from Austin. I need to have a call with them to ask them to do 2 things:
        1. Ask them to propose any desired changes to our Bylaws or Corporate Mission that is lacking today
        2. Review and propose programs that would help us grow the game in underrepresented areas in the Union
      2. Tate: Those proposals would then come to the TRU Board for review and to the membership for ratification. One of the things the committee could say is that the DE&I committee should have open elections rather than Wendy and I choosing the participants. But the idea is that they start somewhere and these are excellent people to do that. 
    2. Young: You had originally also mentioned that we probably should have someone from the South on the committee as well. 
    3. Tate: Yes, but I don’t think we need to hold up our announcement of the committee to do that. That could be an additional task for the ad hoc committee. 
    4. Tomsak: What is our gender split and rough diversity numbers?
    5. Tate: We aren’t bad when comparing it along gender lines. But keep in mind that we have the women’s colleges and that puts us at about 60% male and 40% female. If we included the men’s colleges, it would skew it towards the men a bit further. However, we are very very white and that is probably where we could look to grow into minority communities to add to our numbers AND diversify. 
      1. Tate: Any questions or concerns with putting out our already agreed upon BLM statement and announcing the DE&I committee? I really want to make sure we’re not just making a statement of support without doing something. I’m not a big fan of expressions of support. I like actions where possible.
        1. Young: No objection! Loving announcing the DE&I committee as well.
        2. Roche: I personally don’t think we need to humble brag. We can put out the statement and let it stand on its own and continue the work without making it “about us”.
          1. Tate: You don’t want to put out a statement also announcing the DE&I committee?
          2. Roche: Correct, I don’t want it to change the narrative and put the focus on “how great we are for doing this”.
          3. Young: I think we should include it and be proud that our Union is taking action. 
            1. Tate: We could ask the committee what they think and ask their perspective on including DE&I in the BLM statement.
              1. Roche: Yes.
              2. Young: Yes, that works for me.
          4. Tate: Is anyone opposed to this approach? None. APPROVED.
  4. RTP
    1. Tate: You’d have to be under a rock to not see how things are going, the governor’s guidance hasn’t changed in regards to sporting groups and we remain in Stage 3. The only question that I think that we have to talk about at this moment is whether we want to make a formal statement about introducing balls into activities. I have gotten multiple inquiries on that issue specifically. I know previously we’d discussed not going there as it would potentially kick off a slippery slope. So I’d like to check in with the Board to see if our thinking is any different today than it was a month ago.
      1. Tomsak: I feel the same as I did a month ago.
      2. Dodge: Has anyone looked to see if any updates from the CDC or WHO on transmission from latent objects? Absent any new information, I agree with Drew that nothing should change.
      3. Roche: I just did a quick search and there has been no update since June 16: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html
        1. Tate: Ok, let’s do our due diligence and see if there is anything else. Wendy and Kat, can you handle that?
          1. Young: Yes.
          2. Roche: Yes.
        2. Tate: If there is any change we can reach out to individual folks as they continue to ask.
  5. Sportlomo
    1. Roche: I wanted to keep everyone updated, I’ve been working with Sportlomo and getting our new membership system configured. While we can use Sportlomo for CIPP, are we going to utilize their referee assignment software? It has several critical issues that would make that very difficult. 
    2. Tate: Good to hear that setup is going well. At this time we won’t use Sportlomo for referee assignments/calendar and only utilize it for CIPP/dues payment. 
    3. Roche: OK, luckily TRRA opted for another year of WTR so we can continue to use that.
    4. Tate: There is a cool feature that allows for dues to be paid for USA Rugby, TRU AND the club the individual is registering for. 
    5. Tomsak: Fantastic, when would the club dues be made available?
      1. Tate: We’ve been told it is very fast if not instantaneous. Clubs can input their routing numbers directly into the payment system.
    6. Dodge: Is there a fee for that?
      1. Roche: No, it’s all been paid for USA Rugby.
    7. Dodge: Is insurance opt in/out an option in Sportlomo?
      1. Tate: That I don’t know but I will endeavor to find out.
  6. Virtual Sessions
    1. Young: I mentioned this on the RRRC call next week, we’ll be hosting virtual sessions to keep our members engaged. We’re hoping to have sessions on Tuesday and Thursdays at various times throughout the day. There will be live sessions (will also be recorded) and pre-recorded sessions. 
      1. Tate: Excellent. Any questions? None.
  7. Elections
    1. President – Sep 2020 (3 year term)
    2. Vice President – Sep 2022 (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: Note that the Congress roles were eliminated June 2020. For President, I recommend this timeline:
        1. Now – Aug 10: Nominees for President are accepted
        2. Aug 14: Nominations posted to the TRU website for review
        3. Aug 14 – Aug 19: Online Voting for President via the TRU Website
        4. No later than Aug 31: Results for President and Vice President posted to TRU Website
      2. Tate: So the only person who is up for election this year is me. With my involvement in USAR and such, I’m interested in continuing in the role. Of course we need to put a call out for nominations, set an election date and potentially a virtual AGM or session for live Q&A for nominees.
      3. Dodge: On that note, do we need to look at the RRRC Competitions Committee?
      4. Tate: The status of the RRRC Competitions Committee is TBD as the National Competitions Committee isn’t seated yet. But I do think it would be a mistake to undo the electoral benefit of that committee at this time. I would propose that we continue with the current TOR and hold elections and affirm a Chair. The USAR reorg is still pretty new and changing it now without consulting the membership doesn’t feel right.
      5. Dodge: I move that the TRU make the existing RRRC Competitions Committee its standing committee for adult senior rugby.
        1. Tomsak: Second.
        2. Tate: Any objections? None. APPROVED. 
      6. Young: Looking at the post on the website for the 2019 RRRC Competitions Committee, these seats would be up in January 2021:
        1. MD1 – Dale
        2. MD2 – Tolar
        3. MD3 – Kurylas
        4. WD2 – Fosco
        5. At-Large – Watson
        6. Chair – Dodge (Chair still elected by members of Committee)
      7. Dodge: Yes, that is correct. We will need to hold elections for the above seats in early 2021.
        1. Young: I was looking at the TOR on the website and I think they are horribly out of date. Dodge, can you send me the latest and I’ll get it updated?
        2. Dodge: Of course. Thank you.
  8. New Business
    1. Rugby HTX
      1. Grant Cole reached out to Dodge and I about entering an Academy team into our Men’s D1 competition. We’ve had some discussions with them about what that might look like and we did indicate that they go through the new club application process. We did highlight that we would be particularly interested in viewing a potential roster.
        1. Young: I have received their TRU Club Application and Participation Agreement. 
      2. Tate: We haven’t made any commitments at this point but we have had brief discussion about doing something with all of the MLR franchises. Unfortunately that probably won’t happen this time around as our three franchises are all in very different places. We think we will talk with the existing MD1 clubs and the Houston clubs to get their input. Assuming they do go forward with our processes and check all of the boxes, is there a way that we can do this that will promote the game and our clubs? It’s not our mission to promote the MLR businesses but if we can have a mutually beneficial relationship with them, that would be a good thing. 
      3. Dodge: I did have a subsequent conversation with Grant this past week and they are pretty confident that their roster wouldn’t be taking from existing Houston clubs. They will be hosting a combine and looking for athletes from all over. 
      4. Tate: I have felt for some time that the greater threat to club rugby is that college players that may have played club rugby will be scooped up to the MLR. Just because they don’t take club players doesn’t mean there isn’t an impact.
    2. Eligibility Rules
      1. Young: There was some discussion around eligibility rules on social media this past week. In particular it was surrounding the women’s divisions and some of the challenges they are facing. 
      2. Tate: Eligibility rules for the coming cycle have not been finalized as we’re still waiting for that committee to be fully seated. The chair is the same as last year and will be Tam Breckenridge. Having said that, as is competitions, the general proposal is to move towards allowing the Unions to have more control. The catch 22 when it comes to competitions, the requirements and limitations that lead to National Championships usually dictate the local rules. We aren’t  likely to see local rules differ from National rules. We may have the ability to tweak these rules in the future but I would hesitate to indicate that the rules will be different for this coming season. Going forward I do think we will have the ability to tweak things a bit. One of the things that might mean for Texas is different rules for men and women. Simply because in men’s rugby, 65% of the clubs have multiple sides. Playing for multi-sided clubs is the norm rather than the exception on the men’s side. For the women’s game it’s only one club that has two sides. In that arena the player movement is “rules made for one club”. 
        1. Tate: We can try and help this with scheduling. When clubs have two matches on the day it does limit their roster movements. However, again this doesn’t necessarily work for the women. 
        2. Wilson: I don’t think there is too much of an issue with higher level players playing down a level – there are instances, of course, but it will happen because it’s not always feasible to have every player at every game playing for their divisional side, which means subs will be needed. I can see it being an issue if it happens continually, or if teams consciously play certain players down in an effort to “dominate” that particular division. If there does need to be policing, we can look at finding ways to do it while play is still stalled now and still maintaining a sense of integrity club-side once play resumes.
        3. Roche: I would also think that having the higher level side play earlier in the year as it would cause players to reach their limits earlier. Am I wrong in thinking that?
        4. Tate: Not quite, two reasons to look at here. If we look at the women, the Valkyries have had to play a hybrid schedule with the Frontier. So that determined WHEN their matches could be played as they had to work around the snow season. Secondly, the lower level teams generally have extended schedules as they can’t or don’t want to play on back to back weekends. We’ve had this conversation on the men’s side multiple sides and teams can’t have it both ways, they can be tied to their multi-side exclusively or matches are spaced out as they desire.
        5. Roche: I guess I’ve just been trying to compare to other women’s teams that multi-sides. Glendale is a prime example except that the WPL season is opposite of the club season. 
        6. Tate: Right. It’s a challenge across the board for all clubs. At the end of the day we have to consider what is best for the overall growth of the game. It’s not just more people playing, it’s more people playing better rugby. 
        7. Dodge: I agree, it’s part of why we’re proposing a restructure on the men’s side. This is a tough issue all around. The current eligibility rules do state that local unions CAN’T make exceptions to the USAR rules. If we could eliminate that, it could give us some opportunities.
        8. Tate: Yes, that would be beneficial. As the rules stand right now, our main way to confront this is scheduling. 
          1. Tate: I would also state that our work on coach and player clinics and All Stars is meant to raise the standard of the game for our women. If I recall correctly, last year the All Star team had representation from ALL of the women’s clubs. That includes players from all divisions. If WD3 players can play alongside WD1 players, that is a good thing. We are working to raise the profile of the game across the board, not hinder one successful club.
  9. Meeting Adjourned (9:45 PM)