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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 7/12/21

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. Roll Call
    1. Young
    2. Dodge
    3. Leming
    4. Kolberg
    5. Tolar
    6. Roche
    7. Kurylas
    8. Fosco
    9. Watson
    10. Hughes
    11. Keuppens
      1. Regrets: Dale
  2. 7s Update
    1. Keuppens: We had an event at HTX this weekend that was a men’s qualifier for Nationals. There were some issues due to weather which forced us to eliminate four teams from the qualifier and all social brackets. The Dallas Reds won the tournament over Huns, Denver got third and Grand Prairie got fourth. We don’t know what the seeds are for Seattle but we anticipate that the Austin tournament on 7/24 will be the last tournament to influence seeds. This is because USAR is wanting to have seeding in place at least two weeks before Seattle. The Reds have been accepted into the Emil Signes Cup and we think the Huns will be in there. HTX, Grand Prairie and Reds 2 will be competing in the Silver Cup. All have accepted their invitations and paid the entry fee.
    2. Watson: If a team is selected to go there do they have to play the rosters they’ve been using?
    3. Keuppens: Yes, participating teams have been operating under the same eligibility guidelines since pre-COVID. We’ve been tracking rosters for the RRRC teams as well. 
    4. Kolberg: Are the other regions having robust tournaments like we are?
    5. Keuppens: I don’t think so, I know there are some tournaments happening but not as many as we have planned. We also started much earlier than everyone else, possibly we were even first.
    6. Dodge: We have Cherrybone this weekend, River City on 7/24, Energy 7s on 7/31, and then the TOLA finals in Shreveport on 8/7. There is also 7s by the Sea in Corpus on 7/31, although it’s not a TOLA tournament. What do we anticipate as participation levels in those tournaments?
    7. Keuppens: I’m hearing most men’s teams headed to Seattle are taking a break before River City. Some will send a team to Cherrybone, but it may be a developmental side. Not sure about tournaments after that.
    8. Young: The women will be out in force at Cherrybone and there are already four teams paid up for the TOLA finals.
    9. Dodge: Ok, good. Fil, when do you think we’ll know final seeding for Nationals? 
    10. Keuppens: We expect to know seeding in the next few weeks, at least two weeks before Seattle.
  3. Elections:
    1. Wendy: Nominations are in:
      1. MD1 – Dale*, Jacob Goeppner
      2. MD2 – Gordon Hanlon
      3. MD3 – Kurylas*
      4. WD2 – Fosco*
      5. Elected At-Large – Kat Roche, Watson*
        1. *Incumbent
        2. Young: Ballots have been sent out to Club Presidents! Voting closes July 16. 
        3. Clarification: In 2018 USAR and our committee approved an adjustment to the Red River TORs that allow for a Chair appointed At-Large position as well as an elected At-Large position. (See more on this below).
        4. Reminder: Clubs may elect whoever they want to rep their respective division. They only vote for the division their top side plays in. An example would be a Red/Hun/Black running for D3, but their club couldn’t vote for them. However, given that the only contested positions are MD1 and At-Large, only the MD1 Clubs will vote on the MD1 spot, and all TRU Clubs in good standing will vote on the At-Large position.
  4. Chair Nomination / Election Schedule
    1. Dodge: The Chair is voted on by the committee members. We didn’t discuss this in June when we set the election schedule, but with a couple of contested elections, I think it makes sense to see the results of those elections before closing nominations and voting for the Chair. I propose that we do email nominations for the Chair on Wednesday, July 21, and an email vote by Wednesday, July 28? Any discussion?
      1. Young: Logistically, I would be out of town July 23-31. Does anyone else want to handle sending the ballots and verifying the votes?
      2. Kurylas: I can handle it. I’ll get with Wendy for the details.
      3. Dodge: Great, we usually ask for two people.
      4. Kolberg: I can help.
      5. Dodge: Great. Any objections to the dates? None. APPROVED.
  5. DRAFT League Structures & Review / Comment Plan
    1. Men
      1. Dodge: See the linked file for a draft league structure, which follows the league restructure we approved (but, because of COVID, did not get to utilize) last season. This structure seeks to have larger clubs play against larger clubs. There are some travel drawbacks to this approach, but the benefits are meant to include more efficient referee allocations due to more “big days of rugby,” a reduced perception that multi-side clubs are loading up their lower-division sides when they play single-side clubs, and the opportunity for multi-side clubs to have all their sides travel and play together. Here is a summary of the proposed 2021-22 structure:
        1. D1 – We did have some discussions with NOLA Gold Academy either as a HTX-like member (i.e., H&A in the schedule, but not in the standings / not advancing) or if they wanted to be more like Colorado XO (2-year H or A, in the schedule but not in the standings / not advancing). They declined both options for this year but want to revisit for next year. Other than that, the major change for D1 is West Houston’s top side has dropped to MD2 and Grand Prairie’s top side has requested promotion to MD1. So, under this proposal, the MD1 teams will be:
          1. Huns 1
          2. Dallas 1
          3. Blacks 1
          4. Grand Prairie 1
          5. Quins 1
          6. Rugby HTX
          7. Colorado XO
            1. Dodge: I motion that we approve Grand Prairie as a D1 club. Their second side will play in MD2 (D1c in the linked schedule). Any discussion?
            2. Dodge: We will look to pair single side clubs with multi-side clubs or scheduling purposes so we can help with referee allocations. For example we will pair GP D1 / D3 with Ft. Worth, and ask that both clubs agree to play some of their home matches at the other’s pitch so that when, for example, the Blacks come to town, all three matches can be played at the same location, sparing the visiting team and referees from having to scurry back and forth across town. The other alternative is to adjust match times to allow for cross-city commuttes. I’m hopeful that the clubs involved will cooperate to come to a mutually agreeable accommodation and this Committee doesn’t have to dictate any match times or locations.
            3. Roche: That is great but if you can let TRRA know about the pairings and adjust KO times accordingly.
              1. Watson: Second and congratulations Grand Prairie!
            4. Dodge: Any objections? None. APPROVED.
        2. D2 – Big changes here are the additions of Little Rock and West Houston.
          1. D1b
            1. Huns 2
            2. Dallas 2
            3. Blacks 2
            4. Fort Worth
            5. DARC
            6. Little Rock
              1. Dodge: I motion that we place Little Rock in D1b which is effectively D2 North. Although they are a single-side D2 club, there are two other single-side D2 clubs in this subdivision, and the other alternative is for them to play against mostlyHouston D2 clubs, which substantially increases their already substantial travel burden. Any discussion?
              2. Tolar: So D1b in the draft league structure is the subdivision that has two sides?
              3. Dodge: Some of the clubs have 3 sides, and some are single.
              4. Fosco: Did Little Rock say why they wanted to come back to the TRU?
              5. Dodge: They indicated that the organization and education opportunities are better.
              6. Young: Also they are coming back because of the level of competition and referees in the TRU. 
              7. Roche: Little Rock isn’t going to have a partner D2 match, right? So, when Little Rock has a match, another D1 team will be playing in another area potentially?
              8. Dodge: Yes, that could happen. This is as close as we could get given the divisions in which the men’s clubs are playing.
              9. Roche: Ok, it makes sense.
              10. Kolberg: Second the motion.
              11. Dodge: Any objection? None. APPROVED.
          2. D2 – These are the Clubs that have MD2 as their top side, and a second side playing in MD3:
            1. Woodlands 1
            2. HARC 1
            3. San Antonio 1
            4. HURT 1
            5. West Houston 1
        3. D3 – There are 5 subdivisions for MD3. In the proposed league structure, D1c (which are the second or third sides of the MD1 clubs), D2b (which are the second sides of the clubs with MD2 as their top sides), and D3 North, Central and South, which are all single-side MD3 clubs which are organized along geographical lines.
          1. D1c
            1. Huns 3
            2. Dallas 3
            3. Blacks 3
            4. Grand Prairie 2
            5. Quins 2
          2. D2b
            1. Woodlands 2
            2. HARC 2
            3. San Antonio 2
            4. HURT 2
            5. West Houston 2
          3. D2 – North
            1. Celina (formerly NTX Barbarians)
            2. Shreveport
            3. Denton
            4. Alliance
            5. OKC Tribe
          4. D3 – Central
            1. McAllen
            2. Alamo City
            3. ORC
            4. Fort Hood
            5. San Marcos
            6. Countdown
              1. Dodge: Countdown is a new club I’m proposing we put in MD3 Central. Any objection to where we’ve placed Countdown?
              2. Leming: I had heard they only wanted to do 7s. Did we confirm this placement with them?
              3. Dodge: I spoke to their founder, Jeff Hall, one of their founders, today and they are feeling confident on numbers, they have a field, a beer sponsor, and are working on recruiting and other sponsors. 
              4. Leming: Great, he is doing a great job on the organizational things but we need to keep an eye on their numbers. 
              5. Dodge: Since we don’t have a D4 South or Central, MD3 Central is really the only place for them. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
          5. D3 – South
            1. Corpus Christi
            2. Kingwood
            3. Arrows
            4. BARC
            5. Galveston
          6. D4 – Only the Diablos and Abilene have confirmed wanting to play at the MD4 level. Right now their plan is to try to schedule their own friendlies. I have reached out to the Presidents of Dallas, Alliance, DARC and Ft. Worth, and all are lukewarm about the prospects of fielding a MD4 side in 2021-22. However, I would propose we go ahead and build out a tentative schedule that would allow for growth and some certainty for Abilene and the Diablos. We would shoot to schedule these matches on Sundays or Saturdays where the multiside clubs don’t otherwise have a match to help with their numbers. I think we are going to see an increased interest in the sport as we continue to emerge from COVID and with rugby in the Olympics this summer. I would hate to not have a structure to give new players an opportunity to play if I’m right about an increase in interest. So, I would propose we build out a tentative MD4 schedule involving the following clubs / sides with the understanding that there will be no forfeiture penalties if the clubs involved provide notice sufficiently in advance of the matches that they cannot field a side:
            1. Diabos
            2. Dallas 4
            3. Abilene 
            4. Alliance 2
            5. DARC 2
            6. Fort Worth 2
              1. Dodge: This will be a soft schedule because we’re asking teams to step up so we can have a MD4 competition. Kat, what do you think this would do to referee resources?
              2. Roche: I think it’s a great opportunity to have players pick up the whistle and get some experience. We offer reduced dues for dual athletes that play and referee. 
              3. Dodge: I motion that we create a tentative D4 North schedule with the understanding that we’re going to make a call on whether any match goes forward closer to time of the match. In other words, if the schedule gets published and a team says we can’t do it, we aren’t going to hit people with a bunch of forfeits and fines. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
                1. Watson: Second.
      2. Dodge: I’d like to make an overall motion to approve the entire men’s league structure as proposed.
        1. Watson: Second.
        2. Dodge: Any objections? None. APPROVED.
          1. Dodge: On the playoff structure for these, we would do our normal D2, 4 team playoff, D3 is five sub divisions, we could do weighted average standings points with the bottom 2 of the 5 playing in a wild card match to determine the 4th seed playoff team. 
          2. Young: That is just slightly different than what we’ve done in the past, right?
          3. Dodge: Right, we’ve had four D3 divisions before, so it’s just changing who is in the wildcard playoff. 
          4. Kolberg: What if we took each division winner, weighted the next three and then we can go to a 1v8? Would that be more fair?
          5. Dodge: We’re very constrained on time this year. Conversation drifted off to the next topic, the 2021-22 XVs window. See below for detail.
          6. Hughes: I can do some outreach to MD3 clubs to see their preference. The second place team in a subdivision may end up being a lot better than the first place team in a different subdivision, which suggests a more extended MD3 playoff is something we should shoot for if time allows.
      3. Women
        1. Young: We had a call with the women’s clubs last night and confirmed their goals for the upcoming season and their desired divisions. The women’s reps are still reviewing our league structure and need a bit more time to discuss. We will ask for email approval in the next week. Here is the proposed structure:
          1. D1
            1. HARC
            2. Valks
              1. Young: With only two D1 clubs, we’re recommending that we continue our partnership with Colorado (Glendale), Black Ice and Utah. We’ve already confirmed with our teams that they want to pursue this and I’ve opened conversations with the Rocky Mountain/Frontier reps. Playoffs would be the top four teams advancing to the Frontier Red River playoffs to determine the top two seeds for our region. At the end of the regular season, the first place Red River team will host the Frontier second place team, and the Frontier first place team will host the Red River second place team on XX. 
          2. D2
            1. North
              1. Dallas Harlequins
              2. Little Rock
              3. DARC
              4. Dallas Reds
            2. South
              1. Bay Area
              2. San Antonio Riveters
              3. Round Rock Rage
              4. Austin Valkyries II
                1. Young: We’d propose that we follow the same format as in the past few years: N1 v. S2 and S1 v. N2 on the Sat. of the TRU playoffs, and the winners of those two matches playing on Sunday to see who advances to the NCS.
          3. D3
            1. Denton
            2. Grand Prairie
            3. Alliance
            4. McAllen
            5. OKC
              1. Young: We’d propose that we follow the same format as in the past few years.
      4. XVs Schedule
        1. Young: So, we confirm all the league structures (women’s is pending). What’s next?
        2. Dodge: We’ll get with Travis and Kat on creating the draft schedules. The objective would be to approve the schedules at our August meeting. Then we would allow the clubs a couple of weeks to review and request further changes. If clubs have blackout dates, they can send those to us now. We would finalize the schedule by our September meeting if not sooner.
      5. 2021-22 XVs Window
        1. Dodge: We are constrained on time this year, if you look at the available weekends, the National Finals have been moved up to May 21-22. That means that TRU Championships are April 23 and Round of 8 is May 7. If we started the men’s schedule as early as Dec 11 after the TRU 50th Anniversary and Women’s All Stars weekend, and took out holiday weekends, it only gives us 16 weeks to try and get everything played. Unless we want to start in November for some matches, we only have so much time. That doesn’t include rainouts which can happen.
        2. Kolberg: There should be blackout dates for MLK, President’s Day, Easter, etc. but other than that we should have every weekend open. If a club has another date that they need to blackout, they have to figure that out on their own. Matches should start in November.
        3. Dodge: That means training starts in September and it only allows clubs 2 weeks break from 7s. Do we feel strongly about this enough to survey the clubs? I have heard from some clubs that they want to have a bit more of a spaced out season.
        4. Kurylas: I think a survey is a pretty good idea.
        5. Leming: I think there is risk if we don’t account for slack in the schedule. We have to account for Holidays but we need to be aware of National Holidays but not regional parties. If we don’t account for it, there’s always a reschedule nightmare.
        6. Dodge: We always include SXSW and ACL for Austin because it’s an opportunity for some to pick up extra work and it makes the city a mess, but that only affects the Austin clubs, and in a pinch, only them hosting on those weekends.
        7. Young: We do often hear from the women that there isn’t enough time between 7s and XVs. We typically start in early November. It means training in September when it’s still hot.
        8. Tolar: D3 typically starts earlier than everyone else and I can see if they want to start in November.
        9. Dodge: Ok, let’s do some outreach and see what our constituents are thinking. Please ask your teams and then email the RRRC email by next Monday.
      6. New Business
        1. Review of 2021-22 Eligibility Rules for Aug. Meeting
          1. Dodge: The Eligibility Chair, Tam has sent me the redline version of the eligibility changes and I need to take some time to review. There does seem to be some flexibility in the eligibility regulations that we can take advantage of. I want to look at these and see if we can remove/adjust and make sure we aren’t impeding anyone from playing rugby, so long as we aren’t compromising any ability of our clubs to qualify for / play in the NCS rounds. We’ll discuss more in our next meeting.
          2. Young: You will see in those eligibility rules that match minimums have been removed. So we can also discuss if we want to have our own match minimums or not.
          3. Dodge: Do we think we’ll have any divisions that will be under 6 matches?
          4. Young: Women’s D1 could get to that level but it depends on their cross conference matches.
          5. Dodge: I would think that most clubs would want to play at least 6 matches.
          6. Young: Players still have to have at least 2 qualifying matches, I think.
          7. Dodge: So, that’s the de facto match minimum, but I don’t think we should be satisfied with the minimum.
        2. Review of the Committee’s Terms of Reference (“TORs”) for potential revamp in Sept. Meeting
          1. Ron: There seems to be some confusion regarding the at-large position on the Committee. Is it elected or appointed? There is conflicting information on the TRU website.
          2. Dodge: That’s a good segue into this topic. Actually, it’s both. There’s a Chair-appointed At-Large seat (which is currently empty), and an elected At-Large position (which you currently hold and Kat are vying for in the upcoming election). If you remember, the appointed At-Large position was first held by Jerry Gallion from NOLA to give NOLA representation on the RRRC due to the fact they were not a TRU club, but were part of the RRRC MD1 comp.

            When Competitive Region (“CR”) Committees were first created by USA Rugby, all the members of all the CR Committees were appointed by their Chairs (at that time for RRRC, Alan Sharpley). In 2018, the National Competitions Committee amended the CR TORs because there was a complaint in some other CRs that there was not adequate divisional representation and that the membership of those committees was unelected and never changed. Under the Amended TORs, divisional representation and elections of the Committee members were required. Due to differences in the needs of the CRs (most, unlike RRRC, cover more than one Union), CR committee composition was not mandated. Rather, each Committee Chair had to propose a composition for their CR Committee and get it approved by the NCC / National Office. I proposed the existing composition of the RRRC be continued, including the continuation of the appointed at-large position. That proposal was approved by NCC / National Office in Dec. 2018.

            The last person to hold the appointed at-large position was Tim Singiser with Abilene RFC, who was a representative of the MD4 competition. The position should be filled, but with the Chair election looming before the end of the month, that position should be filled by the new Chair, whether that’s me or someone else.

            In any event, I think it would be prudent in our Sept. meeting to explore modifying the TOR to customize it to our CR / the TRU, now that the Committee is technically a subcommittee of the TRU and not a USA Rugby subcommittee. 
        3. TRU Funding:
          1. Ron: I have a question regarding the dues paid by TRU clubs. Do the clubs still pay dues to TRU or USAR?
          2. Wendy: There are no “club” dues to TRU. When a player registers with a TRU Club, a portion of their registration payment goes automatically to the TRU, and a portion goes to the USA Rugby National Office. 
          3. Dodge: There may also be a small, annual registration fee from USA Rugby to the Clubs. I think it’s around $250, but that may have been dropped as well. The TRU Board reduced the portion of the registration fee by 50% last season due to COVID.
      7. Meeting Adjournment (9:25 PM)