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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 10/12/20

The Red River Competitions Committee releases their monthly committee call minutes and notes. View all of the archived RRRC minutes or read on for the most recent:

  1. Roll Call
    1. Young
    2. Kurylas
    3. Roche
    4. Watson
    5. Fosco
    6. Tolar
    7. Leming
    8. Dodge
    9. Kolberg
    10. Keuppens
    11. Dale
    12. Hughes
      1. Guest
        1. Gordon Hanlon
  2. DARC request to move up to MD2/Alliance down to MD3
    1. Dodge: DARC has petitioned to move up to MD2 and MD3 from MD3 and MD4. There were discussions about this potentially happening when we restructured the league. When the schedule came out, some renewed discussions began occurring. I proactively reached out to Alliance to see if they would swap schedules with DARC and drop down to MD3 and MD4. Alliance indicated that they would be willing to make that move, but were also OK staying in MD2/MD3. With that, I’d like to turn it over to Gordon for a bit more information on the petition.
    2. Hanlon: We sent in the petition as requested and I also included some additional data on successful clubs in the TRU. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.
    3. Dodge: What kind of numbers did you have last year? How many sides were you fielding? What are you looking at for numbers for this year?
      1. Hanlon: Some of those numbers are in our Petition.  I was out of the country for most of last year but there was at least a side and a half. I played in a few second side and first side matches. We’ve recruited hard during this summer and don’t believe we’ve lost very many players. In the last 2 months we’re consistently having over 30 players at practice and feel confident that we will have a roster close to 40. We have a partnership with SFA and we’ve picked up a few guys from there as well as a few from other Universities around the DFW area. We’ve also been working on our land and we feel it has changed the team’s outlook. We’re planning to build a clubhouse and now that we have the land it’s bringing back the alumni/veterans and they are bringing out their families. Some of their children are getting close to playing age and they can see their kids playing at the new field.
    4. Watson: One of the biggest failures we’ve had over the past 30 years is keeping Old Boys engaged. I was tickled to hear that DARC wanted to move up and I think you’ve got all the ingredients in front of you. I am always hesitant to move clubs up that have a roster smaller than 50 for two sides. But with what you have going on, your partnership with SFA etc, you’ve still got to push your numbers up. 
      1. Hanlon: I’ve been very lucky to do rugby in many different countries and one of the things I learned is that we have to provide something after rugby. Sure, youth is fantastic but we have to have history and that is the Old Boys. We’re changing from outcome based to grow roots and structures. We’re aiming to grow and even if we have 50+ players, if we only have 5 props…we still can’t field two sides. So, it’s not just about having numbers but the right numbers. 
    5. Roche: Why now? How are you so confident in these numbers? We haven’t played rugby in 8 months.
      1. Hanlon: We’re having socially distanced events at our field and 60+ people are coming out to pick weeds. We feel strongly about having relationships with the players and giving them a destination that they can feel at home. If you look at our history, in the last 3-4 years we’re constantly having 50-60 CIPP’d players. We’re not losing players but gaining them.
    6. Dodge: Looking at what happens when you move from MD3 to MD2, it would add quite a bit more travel.  You are trading two 3-hour road trips with a single side for three 4-hour road trips with 2 sides.
      1. Hanlon: Yes, we’ve looked at that but we’re already looking at including social events for those road trips. Like if we go to San Antonio, we play our two matches and then we have an event on the Riverwalk.  Because there will be no split travel, we will make it work. We just want competition and if we have to travel to get it, so be it. 
    7. Dodge: Obviously you recognize that playing MD2 and MD3 includes following the eligibility rules on soft and hard subs?
      1. Hanlon: Yes.
    8. Roche: So, if you don’t get put into MD2 you won’t play in the TRU?
      1. Hanlon: No, not at all. If we don’t get into MD2 we will go ahead and add more competitive matches against higher level teams. For us it’s all about competition, we don’t feel we can grow without it. 
    9. Dodge: Ok, anymore questions for Gordon? None. Let’s have a discussion among the Committee members.
      1. Hanlon has left the call.
    10. Young: I don’t have a question for Gordon but more of a statement. I completely believe in what DARC is doing and am proud of their progress. There are so many unknowns with the pandemic, do we want to be pulling levers like this?
    11. Keuppens: I have a question about the overall competition, do we think this is a net benefit for the overall competition? What about the move for Alliance? Does that help or hurt them?
      1. Dodge: I don’t think this move would hurt Alliance, they struggled a bit last year with the loss of their coach.  But they have Doug Neubauer coaching them this season.. I understand what Gordon is saying about better competition, but I think the MD3 North competition will still be good.
    12. Leming: Asked another way, in the absence of this being an option, would Alliance have brought this up themselves? Do they really want to move? 
      1. Dodge: Asking Alliance whether they were willing to move was solely my idea, but I made clear it was their option.  If they did not want to, then the conversation would have stopped there.  I didn’t even mention the possibility to DARC until Alliance said they were open to it.
    13. Kolberg: Have we looked at leaving Alliance in MD2/MD3 and adding DARC?
      1. Dodge: If we did that, it would leave a HUGE hole in MD3 North. Swapping these teams seems to be the only way this makes sense.
    14. Watson: I think it’s completely wrong for Alliance to even be asked to move down. I’m worried that them moving down will cause many lopsided matches. Our goal is to increase teams not hang a 100 points on opponents. We have a schedule on paper but we don’t even know if we’re going to have a season. I advocate for teams playing up, not playing down. If anything we add DARC and keep Alliance. 
      1. Roche: The schedule has been made and already sent out. Teams have already started to make changes.
    15. Tolar: This was brought up well before the schedule went out. I think the biggest thing here is that when Alliance and Grand Prairie were moved out of MD3 we (DARC) weren’t included in those conversations. They are our biggest competition and if we stay in MD3 we will face opponents that historically struggle to travel.
    16. Kurylas: Last year Alliance said they were going to play 3 sides and they quickly dropped to 2 sides. Then we played them and they were struggling to field two sides. What assurances do we have from them?
    17. Dodge: Let’s back up and review how we did the restructure. I proposed a change and had discussions with the majority of the clubs who were changing divisions or had increased travel burdens so they understood the changes. I did speak directly to Will at Alliance and they assured me that they would have 2 sides that would play MD2/MD3, and they are still willing to do that. I also spoke with Tolar and my takeaway was that the restructure was OK with DARC staying in D3 due to uncertainty as to how COVID and their change in location would impact their numbers.  This committee also reviewed the structure, Karl specifically addressed the league structure in that meeting, and then we took a vote, which was unanimous to approve the change in league structure.  I want to encourage teams to play up but we also have to look at the overall league structure and make sure there is balance for everyone. I think with Alliance’s agreement, a swap makes sense, but if we have to rework the whole schedule…I don’t believe that is the right step given where we are right now.
    18. Keuppens: We’ve all had to have relegation conversations in the past and most don’t want to be relegated. Alliance dropped a side last year and then continued to struggle throughout the season compared to their historic performance due to the loss of their coach. We played them in one match and Alliance was short on quite a few players. Ron, while I agree with you on the concept that we should always encourage clubs to move up…but if clubs aren’t ready we’ve seen that it can harm them more than help them. I’m inclined to agree with Dodge on the concept of a swap, it’s clean and seems to solve this problem. Alliance seems ready to move down and DARC wants to move up. My question is, why wouldn’t we accept a swap if all parties are open to it?
    19. Watson: I’m more concerned about Alliance in MD3, they could potentially upend the competition because they don’t belong there. In the past we’ve had MD1 and MD2 teams that struggled to make matches and have had to forfeit. Forfeiting is rampant in the TRU and we have to stop allowing it. 
    20. Leming: I agree with what you just said, I think that is a systemic thing with our promotion and relegation rules. 
    21. Watson: What if we talk to Alliance and understand if they’re going to be able to have 2 sides?
    22. Dodge: I think these guys know what their club looks like better than any of us. They discussed it over a week and said they could go either way. 
    23. Watson: But if we put them in MD3 it’s going to hurt all of the other teams.
    24. Dodge: I don’t know if that is true Ron. MD3 North includes some teams that could hold their own against Alliance, and any playoff matches would have to be against MD3 sides from other geographic subregions.
    25. Watson: Could you at least revisit it with Alliance? 
    26. Dodge: The other question is, where do you put them?
    27. Watson: What happens if Glendale doesn’t come in?
    28. Dodge: We just remove those friendlies.
    29. Roche: Karl or Mo…we scheduled DARC women to coincide with the current DARC men’s schedule. If we swapped this, the women may lose their home game with the men’s. Is that an issue?
    30. Fosco: I’ve looked at it and we think we can move a few matches if it does happen. We also have our own land now and so we’re not paying field costs, so that is OK. We don’t want that to be a deal breaker as the men included us in this decision.
    31. Keuppens: Do we know if Alliance has picked up some Ft Worth players? I know they’re excited about having Doug Neubauer return as a coach. 
    32. Kolberg: We’re going in circles here. We have two choices, make the swap or don’t do it. I say we vote.
    33. Dodge: Ok, I’ll take that as a motion to swap DARC and Alliance on the men’s side. This moves DARC up to MD2/MD3 and Alliance down to MD3/MD4.
      1. Roche: Second.
      2. Dodge: Anyone opposed? None. APPROVED.
        1. Watson: I abstain.
    34. Dodge: Ok, Tolar I think you had put in a few match changes to the proposed schedule?
    35. Tolar: I put in one but we were waiting for this decision before we did any others.
    36. Leming: Ok, we just voted and now they are already asking to make changes?
    37. Tolar: We just put in one request but I don’t think the schedule has been changed yet. I can just let Shreveport know that we don’t want to make that change.
    38. Dodge: Yes, let’s not do that and give Alliance a bit more time to review the schedule. I can discuss that with them. Karl, please let any teams you chatted with know of the change the Committee just approved.
  3. RTP
    1. Fall Tournaments
      1. Bids Received (open until Oct 21)
        1. Young: We’ve only received two bids: 
          1. Reds – Nov. 7, 14, 21
          2. Alamo City – Nov. 21, Dec. 5, Dec. 12
        2. Dodge: Ok, do we want to send it out again?
        3. Young: I’m hearing that clubs don’t think they will happen so they aren’t bothering…
        4. Dodge: I’m hopeful we’ll get to play in the fall, but can see why others might not be as optimistic. Ok, let’s send it again and see if we get any other hits. Can we also have a few folks volunteer to review in case we have any competing bids?
          1. Roche: I can.
          2. Watson: Me.
          3. Tolar: I can as well.
        5. Young: At this point, Nov 7 is off the table? We’re at the 2 week window on Saturday?
        6. Dodge: It would be 2 weeks on Oct 24, it’s a long month.
        7. Young: Ok, I’m just looking at it as a countdown clock… We also need to keep in mind if TX & LA are in Stage 5 and want to have tournaments, what are we going to do? 
        8. Dodge: We did include that cross states have to be in the same stage.  So, if AR & OK are in stage 5, and TX and LA are only in Stage 3 or 4, then the TX and LA clubs would not be able to participate. 
        9. Young: Right, we just need to keep in mind that they will need support. They are our member clubs.
        10. Dodge: Yes, I want to support them but it may be difficult.
    2. Spring Schedule
      1. Requested changes to Draft Schedule
        1. Young: There has only been 1 change that I’ve seen (outside of the 2 defunct DARC requests). 
        2. Dodge: Is that unusual? 
        3. Young: Yes, very. I think it’s in the same vein that everything is up in the air.
        4. Dodge: Or . . . the schedule is perfect?
        5. Young: Let’s go with that!
      2. Stage Review
        1. Dodge: The RTP Task Force has been discussing the stages but we need to have a more formal discussion. This is really a decision for them and the TRU on changing stages but I want to at least have a discussion with this group. What are folks’ feelings on changing stages at this point? Football is happening all over the place but we don’t have any changes to the government issued guidelines and we are seeing cases spike in certain areas of the US, but in Texas, the 7-day positive test rates and hospitalizations are both well down from their mid-July peaks. Texas COVID-19 Data  Haven’t looked at LA yet, but OK and AR were in Stage 4 30 days ago. 
        2. Watson: This last Saturday I tried to view as many college football matches as I could, specifically I was watching how the crowds were handled. Most are at 25% or not allowing fans at all. Then I reviewed the state guidelines and I believe we can follow the existing protocols and return to play. Kolberg has been talking with Baylor about testing as well. I’m happy to look into this more closely but I think we can start playing.
        3. Fosco: Aren’t most of the people attending NCAA football games getting rapid tests before attending?
        4. Watson: Yes, I believe so.
        5. Fosco: Is there a cost?
        6. Watson: It could be a small cost or it could be free, Kolberg is trying to figure it out.
        7. Kolberg: Let me clarify, our Baylor Sports & Medicine representative sent us a map that shows all the COVID-19 testing sites. It includes free or insurance ready places.
        8. Fosco: So now you’re saying I have to check their CIPP, club dues and if they’ve had a COVID-19 test?
        9. Kolberg: I’m not saying that, I just wanted to see what was available. I think we have other problems beyond testing at this point.
        10. Fosco: I don’t think it’s a bad idea but it’s another can of worms.
        11. Kolberg: Yes, it’s very complicated. We’re happy to share the map with the TRU. It’s a good education.
        12. Dodge: What are you looking at that is giving you the guidelines for NCAA Football? Where are you getting these rules?
        13. Watson: It’s been on TV and you can call any of the colleges to see what their plans are. I’m just saying that it’s a possibility that we can do it. Midwest is playing rugby games because they aren’t playing under USA Rugby. 
        14. Fosco: I totally get that but we have players that don’t want to play until there is a vaccine.
        15. Watson: Ok, so they don’t play.
        16. Fosco: Right, but in reality there are alot of people that aren’t comfortable playing right now. Players are getting restless. 
        17. Dodge: I think we’ve got to keep reviewing and seeing what’s possible. Ron, if you can track down the guidelines you’re referencing, that would be very helpful. 
        18. Leming: The difference here is the USAR RTP Guidelines, everyone has their own rules. We’re balancing our own community guidelines with government, USAR etc… 
        19. Dodge: If we can find a way to play, let’s do it. NCAA Football is different from rugby but if we have a commonality, we can review it.
        20. Watson: I will dig into it.
        21. Dodge: Anything further on this?
          1. Tolar: I’m getting requests from clubs in my division on when we will know if the Spring will happen? I know we’re talking flexibility and having 2-3 weeks of training before starting..but do we have a drop dead date?
          2. Dodge: If we can’t start Stage 4 by at least 2-3 weeks before the first match date…then we have to reevaluate. We can then talk about options, we can roll matches back and reschedule, we can just say the missed matches don’t count (which is not great in a home and away format), or we can come up with a new schedule. I don’t think we need to have a discussion on that tonight, but we can start discussing it over email and it will be a topic for our next meeting.
          3. Young: I think we will talk about it in November.
          4. Dale: I recommend we also talk to the coaches and see what they are comfortable as ramp up time. If we can get consensus from the teams, that will be a good starting point.
          5. Tolar: A survey could do that.
          6. Dodge: Should we also solicit views on alternative options for a late season start?
          7. Young: Yes. It can’t hurt.
          8. Dodge: Ok, so we will do a survey.
          9. Young: Kat, can you make it?
          10. Roche: Yes, I love surveys!
  4. New Business
    1. None.
  5. Meeting Adjourned (9:32 PM)