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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 3/1/21

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. Special meeting to make a determination on if we’re going to have a competitive season this year and to discuss the waiver process.
  2. Roll Call
    1. Young
    2. Kurylas
    3. Dodge
    4. Kolberg
    5. Fosco
    6. Tolar
    7. Roche
    8. Leming
    9. Dale
    10. Watson
    11. Hughes
      1. Regrets
        1. Keuppens
  1. Spring Competitive Season/Waiver Process
    1. Dodge: This is a special meeting in place of our normal call on the second Monday of the month (would have been 3/8/21). We’re aiming to determine if we will have a competitive spring season. The TRU Board has also approved our waiver process from last call. My thought on a spring season is that it isn’t feasible due to the shortened season and the need to shut down rugby activities for 10 days if there is a positive exposure impacting a training and/or scheduled match.  We also have several clubs that are not yet training, don’t have access to facilities, and/or have indicated in their survey responses that they would prefer to wait for 7s / play friendlies in the Spring.   In a regular year we struggle to finish a complete match schedule due to weather-related rescheduling.  Even with a smaller number of clubs participating, starting league play at the end of March would make it hard to finish a home or away season given the potential for COVID-related stoppages (either because of an exposure, or because of an uptick in the COVID-related hospital capacities we are using as a benchmark for the waiver program). 
    2. Watson: On the day of an event how will the waiver process guidelines be enforced beyond the document itself? I see lots of rules and regulations in other sports due to COVID but there are issues with compliance. If non-compliance is reported, what will be done if a club doesn’t comply with the regulations? 
    3. Dodge: As a rugby community, it is our expectation that clubs will have the health and welfare of their members and the rest of the community, including participants’ family members, at the forefront of their minds and comply with the rules so that those who want to can responsibly return to play.   We don’t have the bodies to put someone at all the matches to police compliance.  However, if we receive a report of non-compliance, the RRRC, TRU Board and Disciplinary Board can apply sanctions on individuals (e.g., revocation of USAR registration / coaching credentials), and Club-level penalties, such as fines, competitive sanctions, termination of any existing match waivers / denial of future waivers, etc. Any such sanctions will be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the infraction.  However, most of the COVID-related protocols that are in the waiver documentation are things the Clubs that are already training should be doing already anyway..
    4. Watson: Ok, that makes sense. What about the spectators at the event? Is the coach or the Club COVID Officer (CCO) responsible for their compliance?
    5. Dodge: We’re discouraging spectators at this point but teams will have to continue to be good stewards of the sport. We’re requiring that teams appoint the CCO and that person sign the waiver agreement with the TRU that spells out their responsibilities.  The CCO is the Club’s point of contact for COVID matters and accountable for compliance with the TRU Waiver Policy.  
    6. Watson: We know that after match events can include coming onto the fields and we should discourage that. Could the CCO be responsible for talking with the spectators about that? That will make it very difficult to contact trace and stay as safe as possible. 
    7. Dodge: We’re laboring to get the waiver process out today so it can be reviewed by the Clubs, and we can answer questions at the upcoming AGM on Mar. 7, 2021. 
    8. Watson: Is that something we can add to the guidelines since they haven’t been released yet?
    9. Dodge: Yes, I can put something like that in the policy document. The reality is that this isn’t a NBA bubble and once players step off the pitch it’s their choice. We can continue to encourage them to be responsible. We’re hopeful that everyone will see the benefit of these regulations, specifically that they will be playing rugby and be accountable for each other. Back to the first question, what does everyone think about not having a competitive season?
      1. Dale: I’m with you, we don’t have enough teams that would make it worthwhile and we wouldn’t play enough matches. Let’s just move to the waiver process and teams can self select if they want to participate.
      2. Young: I agree, at this point we’ve made plan A, B, C and D and it’s just not feasible. It would be a headache for the clubs and teams and we’d more than likely have forfeits all over the place. Let’s go to the waiver process and let teams play if they want.
      3. Hughes: I agree, I’ve talked with lots of players and there doesn’t seem to be too much concern about not having a competitive season. They are just excited to be playing through the waiver process.
      4. Leming: Agree, at this point it would be a haphazard season that may be interrupted anyway. I am all for the social matches at this point.
      5. Kurylas: Same and would like to point out that one positive case could knock out two teams due to exposures. 
        1. Leming: One thought, could we release the planned schedule? Clubs could use it as a basis to schedule friendlies if they wanted?
        2. Dodge: I don’t see an issue with that as a basis. But we did have some teams that indicated that they won’t be playing again until 7s. Teams will more than likely have to play outside their region or division.
      6. Kolberg: I support moving to friendlies and maybe we have a few tournaments (as long as they follow local guidelines). For me, I go back to what Ron was saying around the after match. We really should discourage any kind of after match social.
      7. Dodge: We’ve recommended outdoor social events. After events are part of the culture but we can be smart about how they happen. 
        1. Dodge: On the competitive season, I’ve been speaking with Marie Wilson who is the women’s rep about having using the D3 format the women that want that kind of structure. The North should be easy to do because they did it last year, who could I contact in the South?
        2. Young: Very cool. The North pretty much ran their own league up there once the guidelines were put in place. In the South I’d start with the Valks and then branch out to all of the teams to gauge interest.
        3. Dodge: Ok, I’ll get with you, Kat, Monique and Marie offline about this.
      8. Dale: I didn’t see referees mentioned in the waiver process? Where do they fall into all this?
        1. Roche: That’s a great question!
        2. Dodge: Yes, I will add them to the Participant Agreement and Release document. 
      9. Dodge: Any further discussion about whether to have a league season?  No?  OK, then I’ll move that we not have a competitive spring season and teams can have social matches as long as they follow the TRU Waiver Policy and are approved for a Waiver.
        1. Watson: Second. 
        2. Dodge: Any opposition? None. APPROVED.
          1. Dodge: I want to take a second and thank everyone on this call for their help in the various efforts we have made to try to structure a season and roll with the punches for the last year. It has been a long journey to get to this place and I think we’ve done a good job at balancing safety with the desire to get people back playing rugby. 
          2. Kurylas: I had a question about the CIPP # requirements. Getting to 25 players might be really difficult for some clubs.
          3. Dodge: The thought behind that was that we didn’t want to pressure any player who might not be feeling well to have to play because the Club only had 15 players, thus potentially exposing his/her teammates and the opposing team to infection.  
          4. Hughes: But there isn’t a requirement to have a certain number of players for socials?
          5. Dodge: Yes there are still minimums around playing XVs. If you don’t have those numbers you can play 10s or 7s.
          6. Hughes: Another question, the majority of our players only have the training membership. Do they need to upgrade to the full membership for social matches?
          7. Dodge: Yes. The training membership only covers non-contact. The full membership covers full-contact insurance premium, and also includes the reduced TRU dues of $25, which will go primarily to pay for referees.
          8. Roche: Yes, a TRRA referee will only be appointed if TRU clubs and players CIPP’d with the full membership. 
          9. Leming: I can see some pushback on players fully CIPPing. There is already some bad blood and some see this as USA Rugby requiring it so they can get some cash.
          10. Roche: This actually brings up something I want everyone to be aware of – USA Rugby is a National Governing Body underneath World Rugby. There is a small faction of teams/individuals just thinking they can play outside the box (get different insurance or participate in unsanctioned events). If an event is not sanctioned by the TRU (or USA Rugby) you risk losing your good standing with the TRU, USA Rugby and potentially World Rugby. This could affect your certifications (Coaching certs, referee certs). You don’t want to be the team that gets taken to task because you took the risk.
          11. Dale: Also, to get around this [individuals not wanting to pay to USAR]  is to include CIPP cost in team dues. You can bulk CIPP your players for them once they’ve paid their dues. 
          12. Roche: I also think we continue to encourage teams to CIPP because they are going to get to play.
          13. Hughes: I think there may be some players that won’t CIPP, and will elect not to play, but I don’t think that will be everyone. If we can have a competitive 7s season, that is a driving factor as well.
          14. Dodge: That’s what I was going to say. There are people chomping at the bit to play and I’m hopeful we can have a competitive 7s season.  I think if those who want to play friendlies this spring comply with the Waiver Policy and we have a good experience with that, then it will set a solid foundation for moving forward with competitive 7s, particularly if COVID vaccines are readily available to younger folks by that time.
    10. Watson: Have you looked at the USA Rugby policy around liability? I was told by one of the Board Members that the liability policy doesn’t cover any COVID related items.
    11. Dodge: Yes, I’ve looked at that. Neither the liability or accident policy covers communicable diseases. 
    12. Watson: So if we were sued by someone that was COVID related, we’re liable?
    13. Dodge: No.  It would be almost impossible for anyone to prove where or how they got COVID.  I had it back in June, and I was one of the few people I knew wearing a mask at that time.  I was largely working from home.  Still got it; don’t know how.  Also, anyone’s participation in rugby, now or even before COVID, is purely voluntary.  One of the requirements of the Waiver Policy is that each participant (players, coaches, trainers, etc.)  in any rugby event (matches, trainings, etc.) sign off on an agreement to report any COVID exposure to the CCO, and waives any liability for voluntarily participating in rugby events. 
    14. Watson: Yes, it would be difficult to trace where you got the virus but some people sue just to sue.
    15. Dodge: I get your point. It’s very difficult to prove and the risk of contracting COVID is known. 
    16. Leming: We actually explored single event liability insurance coverage that would be supplemental to any kind of waiver policy. They run the gambit but they aren’t cost prohibitive but there is still the communicable spread usually in the clauses.
    17. Dale: I think that’s the key, the ability to prove where you got COVID is nearly impossible. 
    18. Dodge: If there was a way to do that, we would have seen a ton of COVID lawsuits already.
    19. Hughes: I think we’re less exposed because of all the legwork we’ve done with the waiver process.
  2. Meeting on Mar 8?
    1. Dodge: We moved this meeting up from our normal second Monday. Do we want to meet again next week?
    2. Young: We have the AGM this Sunday so I don’t know that we need another meeting.
    3. Dodge: Anyone else? None.
  3. New Business
    1. Vaccine
      1. Dodge: We’re actively encouraging all players to be vaccinated as that is a way to get back to playing rugby without any restrictions. 
      2. Kolberg: This may be early but will we ever require vaccination to play?
      3. Dodge: I think that is something to talk about later when the vaccine is generally available to those in the average player age group. 
    2. L300 Virtual Coaching Course
      1. Hughes: I received an email about attending a virtual L300 course. But the L200 course is still in-person but I’m only seeing them in other states.
      2. Young: I’d recommend we move that to the TRU agenda for discussion.
      3. Roche: We’ve had referee in-person courses so it can be done.
      4. Hughes: Sounds good.
      5. Leming: We can host in San Antonio.
  4. Meeting Adjournment (9:00 PM)