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TRU Board Meeting Notes – 7/19/21

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. Tate
    3. Roche
    4. Wilson
    5. Shawn Martin
    6. Dodge
    7. Hiller
    8. Kurylas
    9. Tomsak
  2. Welcome Shawn Martin, TRRA Chair
    1. Tate: Welcome to Bean! He is joining us as the new TRRA Chair and representing referees on the TRU Board. Congratulations and condolences as you deem appropriate.
  3. Definition of “Good Standing” Club
    1. Tate: An issue has been brought to our attention regarding what it means for a Club to be “in good standing” with the TRU for purposes of voting in TRU / RRRC elections. I emailed this to the TRU Board on 7/16 and I would like to have a discussion now. Although many of our recent elections have been uncontested, there is currently a contested election for the At-Large seat on the Competitions Committee. All TRU Clubs that are in “good standing” for the 2020-21 competitive cycle are entitled to vote in this election. However, due to a change in the way TRU collects dues from its member Clubs, the definition of what it means to be “in good standing” as a TRU Club has gotten muddled. To clarify, the only ones who know the current results of the RRRC Election are Wendy and Jeff Kolberg (RRRC Committee). We’ve deliberately asked them to keep the tallies secret until we determine this outcome. We’ve also purposely not looked in Sportlomo to see which clubs are in “good standing” per our current understanding. 
      1. Relevant bylaw sections are 2.01 & 2.04.
      2. Historically, TRU Clubs paid dues to the TRU separately from their members’ registration fees. That changed a number of years ago, and now, all TRU Club dues are collected exclusively through player registration fees. Thus a club that hasn’t had the minimum number of players registered has been deemed to have not paid the “required dues or payments”.
      3. TRU has also historically treated any Club recognized as a separate Club by USA Rugby as a separate TRU Club, even if under common management (e.g., HARC and sHARC are considered two separate Clubs by both USA Rugby and TRU, and each get a vote). However, multi-side Clubs only get one vote per gender (e.g., the Austin Blacks get one vote, even though they have 3 men’s sides in the competition).
      4. Although USA Rugby requires Clubs to re-register and pay a membership fee (separate from registration fees) each year, membership in the TRU is effectively perpetual, unless a Club withdraws from the Union or is kicked out by a 2/3 vote of the other member Clubs. Compare TRU Bylaws §§ 2.02 and 2.03 with USAR Bylaws § 3.1(b) (http://assets.usarugby.org/docs/about/usa-rugby-revised-and-amended-5.8.20.pdf?v=1626447916180). As a result, TRU has “zombie Clubs” on the books that, while still members, have not been active or in good standing for a number of seasons, even before COVID (e.g., Midland Mad Dogs, Ft. Sill, etc.).
      5. Among other requirements, both the TRU and USA Rugby policies require that member Clubs have at least 15 registered players and a Level 200 Coach to be able to compete in XVs and 9 (or in the case of the TRU requirements, 12) registered players and a Level 200 Coach to play as a VIIs-only Club. See TRU New Club Requirements updated 4/10/21: Apply to the TRU, and USA Rugby Membership Policies: Fees & Policies
    2. Tate: Drew did send an email on this topic and indicated that he didn’t want to see any changes since we’re in the middle of a voting process. I’d like to hear from the rest of the Board please.
    3. Hiller: So our Bylaws don’t really indicate what the definition of what a club is in “good standing”? 
    4. Tate: Not quite, it is defined in the Bylaws but the bylaw definition has become vague and subject to interpretation as the dues structure has become different over this time period. We do follow what USA Rugby indicates that USA Rugby policies require that member Clubs have at least 15 registered players and a Level 200 Coach to be able to compete in XVs and 9 (or in the case of the TRU requirements, 12) registered players and a Level 200 Coach to play as a VIIs-only Club.
    5. Dodge: Zach brings up a good point, I think we need to first determine if we agree that a club in “good standing” is what we require of a new club (i.e., 15 registered members and a Level 200 Coach).
    6. Hiller: I’m interpreting this as a club has to fulfill their financial obligation and I believe they have done that during COVID. There wasn;t rugby so there were no dues.
    7. Dodge: How do you justify a club like Midland that is a TRU member but hasn’t participated as a member in a number of years?
    8. Kurylas: What about clubs that were in good standing before COVID but chose to not participate during the pandemic? They do plan to participate in the upcoming season, I believe they should be considered in “good standing”.
    9. Hiller: Yes, that is what I meant. If you had a new club that was coming in for the very first time and were never in “good standing”…that is different from a historical club that opted out. We effectively reduced their financial obligation to zero and so they have met the requirement. Maybe that requirement needs to change but how I am reading the Bylaws is based on the financial obligation. Since there was no financial obligation they shouldn’t be penalized.
    10. Tate: A couple of things to help inform, I do have a record of every club that would have been in good standing when play was suspended in the 2019-20 cycle. Clubs that are not in good standing in 2019-20 which wouldn’t be in good standing today. I don’t believe any of those clubs have voted, but we can identify them. Second, of the clubs that were in good standing when play was suspended and wouldn’t meet that traditional requirement as it stands now, there are plenty of things we could look at, USA Rugby Registration, has the club participated in the community in the intervening years? We’ve done surveys about RTP and we’ve asked them to designate COVID officers and such. We have other ways to identify participation and activity that sit outside the pure how many players have you registered. I have more sympathy in this COVID enomly with we don’t have 15 players registered or we chose not to participate. We don’t have to just make this a binary thing at this point.
      1. Dodge: I’d still like us to consider these issues separately. One, what does good standing mean outside of a COVID year? With my D1 hat on, the multi-side clubs only get one vote but have 100s of registered members. Clubs that have less than 15 players should not get an equal vote with clubs that have 100s of members.
      2. Tate: Right, in years past we’ve said if you aren’t in good standing with USAR, you aren’t in good standing with the TRU. We require clubs to meet the USA Rugby minimum standards (15 players & L200 coach). So what Dodge has touched on is that a club with 15 players and a club with 115 players has for the purposes of TRU/RRRC elections the same voting power.
      3. Roche: There are pros and cons of being a big club. This is one of the cons but there are plenty of pros for big clubs. 
      4. Tate: I argue against changing the baseline requirements of a good standing club and introducing a weighted measurement without speaking to our members.
      5. Dodge: I’m not necessarily asking that we change the rules of multi-side club voting rights now, but a club of 5 members shouldn’t be allowed to vote.
    11. Dodge: I would like to make a motion that “good standing” in the TRU Bylaws means that clubs have to meet the minimum requirements as put forth by USA Rugby. Those requirements would be USA Rugby Registration, the club has 15s players registered with USA Rugby and they have a L200 Coach registered with USA Rugby (dual registration is acceptable).
      1. Hiller: Is this looking forward or backwards?
      2. Dodge: It’s confirming what the understanding has been in light of how dues are now being collected. 
      3. Tate: You’re making this motion in the anticipation that we will take up the question around COVID as another topic?
      4. Dodge: Yes.
      5. Tate: Ok, I will second. Any further discussion? Any objections? None. APPROVED.
    12. Tate: OK, so the next question is around any upcoming elections. Do we want to make an exception to any of the above USA Rugby club minimum requirements in light of the COVID pandemic? This could include any other exceptions that we have made during COVID.
      1. Hiller: I’m of the opinion that if a club was in good standing at the suspension of the pandemic, they should still be considered as in good standing.
      2. Kurylas: I agree.
      3. Dodge: When did we open back up? 
      4. Roche: The beginning of March I believe. 
      5. Dodge: When did we drop COVID requirements?
      6. Young: June 3.
      7. Roche: Because we came back to play after we opened the gates in March, so XVs was over. So we potentially have some clubs that didn’t register at all.
      8. Wilson: I’m of the same thinking as Hiller and Kurylas. I believe they should still be in good standing.
      9. Martin: I would just be concerned that because a club didn’t return to play, they could be discriminated against.
      10. Tate: I suspect, because I have purposely not looked it up…clubs may have participated in our RTP surveys or engaged with us in other ways but are clubs that are probably more likely to vote. Clubs that haven’t communicated or responded to surveys probably wouldn’t have voted anyways. We could look at those as possible considerations.
      11. Dodge: So, are you saying that if they responded to our queries, they would be in good standing or that would be an indicator?
      12. Tate: I’m saying I’m not very sympathetic to a club that hasn’t registered and hasn’t responded to any of our inquiries around the upcoming season or their intention to play. What I’m sort of driving at is that those clubs that COVID might have severely impacted and may not exist may still be able to vote.
      13. Martin: It’s almost like we’re saying that if they were in good standing at the cessation of play or they have replied to our inquiries, we’re good?
      14. Tate: I would say AND, if they were in good standing but ignored all of our inquiries, I’m less sympathetic to those clubs. 
      15. Dodge: Ok, we’re saying that clubs would have to be in good standing in 2019-20 and have responded to our inquiries around RTP.
      16. Tate: Yes, that is what I am suggesting.
      17. Dodge; When did we send out those RTP surveys?
      18. Young: We did them in March, April and May.
      19. Tate: We also had a February AGM that we can look at attendance.
        1. Young: I don’t want to derail us, but what about WD3 teams? The numbers vary across the board.
        2. Tate: That’s a good question, I would have to go back and look if we’ve allowed WD3 to vote in the past. Have we looked at numbers of clubs in the past when we certified elections?
        3. Young: I can tell you that I have never looked at the number of players when certifying elections. And I do all of them.
        4. Kurylas: Also what about 7s only clubs? Do they have a minimum?
        5. Tate: Traditionally we’ve only had ARPTC and they do meet the minimum. So we’ve never had to deal with that.
        6. Young: Technically then the WD3 clubs could be considered 7s only…and the USAR minimum is 9 players (I think).
        7. Hiller: I think I would propose that for 7s only clubs that opted out and have been responsive that we can go back to the last time they could have been in good standing. Assuming they meet all of the other requirements we have mentioned.
        8. Dodge: So we have a subset of women’s teams that have been playing 7s or potentially 10s.
        9. Tate: Ok, so we’re talking about Denton W, Alliance W and Grand Prairie W. Everyone else in the Union was above the 15 player threshold. 
        10. Young: I know it’s only three clubs, I just want to make sure that they aren’t being disenfranchised. 
        11. Tate: Were those clubs sent ballots?
        12. Young: Yes.
      20. Tate: Let’s set that issue to the side and do a straw poll for clubs that were eligible per our “good standing” definition in April 2020, but do not have 15 players today. Does anyone object to looking at their participation or response to TRU polls, discussions and community engagement?
        1. Dodge: We’d be looking at AGM attendance and their response to RTP surveys.
        2. Martin: Are we going to quantify that? 1 response? 2?
        3. Tate: I want to see if we want to go down this road at all.
        4. Dodge: I’d give more weight to AGM participation and the last survey we did in May where the COVID picture was the clearest.
          1. Dodge: I motion that if clubs were in good standing in April 2020 AND, they attended either the mid-year AGM, AND responded to the May survey, they will be considered “in good standing” to vote in the current RRRC election and the upcoming TRU elections at the Fall AGM, even if they do not meet the requirements to be “in good standing” for the 2020-21 competitive cycle.
          2. Martin: Second.
          3. Tate: Any discussion? None. Roll call vote:
            1. Wilson: Yes
            2. Shawn Martin: Yes
            3. Dodge: Yes
            4. Hiller: Yes
            5. Kurylas: Yes
            6. Tomsak: No
            7. Tate: Yes
              1. Young: Passes 6 yes, 1 no. APPROVED.
      21. Tate: With respect to the WD3 clubs, we had as of April 2020 three clubs which all had players registered, L200 coaches and were appropriately engaged but did not have 15 players. They each had different numbers of players. So for a 7s only club or a club that wasn’t playing XVs, what is that number? We have thrown around 9, 12. I want to make sure that we have clarity around those particular clubs. 
      22. Dodge: How do we distinguish between clubs that register as 7s or XVs?  Is there a box on the USAR application?
      23. Tate: It used to be a box. I honestly don’t know if that box still exists in Sportlomo registration. BUt for these WD3 clubs, we knew they were growing and developing and a specific structure was created for them. Basically we’ve built a competitive structure to respond to their needs and accommodation. As a result they didn’t indicate that they were 7s only clubs.
      24. Young: When a new club is registered we get an email from USAR that indicates which they are registered as, I don’t know if we can see it in Sportlomo. I just logged in and don’t see an obvious way to determine that.
      25. Tate: Ok, so we do we consider them in good standing as of April 2020 and if they have participated in the AGM or responded to the May survey…are they good? Or do we consider them not in good standing in April 2020 because they had fewer than 15 players. Does anyone see that differently?
        1. Wilson: I think I am slightly biased.
        2. Tate: I do think you were elected to advocate for women’s rugby on this Board and you are free to speak from the perspective of what would be best for growing women’s rugby. You are free to view the issue in that lense.
        3. Wilson: I think with what we have with the WD3 sides is that two of the clubs have shown that they are growing. Grand Prairie and Alliance are growing while Denton is holding steady. I would like them to be able to vote because that means they are engaged and their voices are still heard. 
        4. Hiller: I am inclined to consider these clubs as 7s only clubs and in good standing for the purposes of this election if they were in good standing the last time they were able to play. They must also have been participating in the AGM and May survey.
        5. Dodge: I’ve got concerns about letting 7s only clubs have a vote, men’s or women’s. At some point it dilutes everyone else’s voting power relative to their club’s financial contribution to the Union. I am certainly not trying to undercut anyone’s ability to participate and I am a big advocate for women’s rugby and 7s, but there has to be some line that has been drawn that you’re just too small to be considered a club “in good standing” that has its own vote.
        6. Hiller: I think we’ve already voted on that and now we’re carving out an exception for these WD3 clubs. 
        7. Kurylas: The intent of these WD3 clubs is to play XVs, they aren’t 7s only clubs. They are all part of established clubs and not just playing in the summer. I think that should be taken into consideration.
        8. Tomsak: All three are with an established men’s club? Why don’t we allow them to participate through their men’s representatives?
        9. Tate: I’m inclined to do that, a small club can be a huge dilution of the larger clubs which moves towards a taxation without representation. It does make it a little easier that since they are with established men’s clubs, their men could cast a vote with their women’s interest in mind.
        10. Hiller: If this election had taken place the day before COVID, would these clubs have been considered in good standing and afforded a vote on that day?
        11. Tate: I think the answer would have been yes. Someone may have raised the issue. Wendy has already indicated that she has been certifying these elections and that line hasn’t been sharply drawn in the past. I can’t say for sure 100%. I think it’s a valid question.
        12. Dodge: Is that for 7s only clubs?
        13. Young: I really don’t think any 7s only clubs have ever voted.
        14. Tate: I know we’ve sent them ballots but I don’t think they’ve ever exercised their rights. 
        15. Tate: What I’m hearing is that we have a difference of opinion. Some feel that these WD3 clubs should fall under the rubric that we’ve already established, they don’t have 15s players in April 2020 so therefore they would not be eligible. But we also have several people that would say we have already made exceptions for those member clubs prior to April 2020 and have been allowed to vote. Does anyone disagree with this statement?
        16. Hiller: I motion that Grand Prairie W, Alliance W and Denton W be in good standing as of April 2020. This motion falls under the previously voted on motion.
          1. Dodge: Does this include a good standing number requirement of registered players? Would this be a one time thing or going forward into a competitive cycle?
          2. Tate: I would say this is a one-time thing. I am open to discussion on numbers. Since this is under our kind of flexible MD4/WD3 rules I am not inclined to draw lines on number requirements.
          3. Roche: In 2020 we didn’t require them to have 15 players to participate in play? 
          4. Tate: Correct, we created a competitive structure specifically for them.
          5. Dodge: But there’s a difference between facilitating the growth of a Club by modifying competition rules, and qualifying for voting membership in the Union.
          6. Roche: In 2020 we didn’t acknowledge this, but now it feels like we’re choosing to point this out? That doesn’t feel great.
          7. Tomsak: It’s in the Bylaws.
          8. Hiller: We’ve discussed this, it doesn’t indicate that. 
        17. Hiller: I would like to amend my motion to say for these three clubs if they have participated in the AGM or the May survey that they are in good standing and can vote in the current RRRC election and the upcoming TRU elections at the Fall AGM, even if they do not meet the requirements to be “in good standing” for the 2020-21 competitive cycle.
          1. Wilson: Second. 
          2. Tate: Any discussion?
            1. Dodge: I think we’ve got to have a minimum threshold of 15. That’s not only for WD3, I would say it would also be for 7s only clubs. If this becomes more lopsided than it is already, you might see multi-side clubs break it into separate clubs to have more equitable representation. No one wants to see that happen, but it’s a matter of fairness – there is only so far you can go to dilute large club votes before there is a response. We also don’t want large clubs to have animosity towards smaller clubs that are trying to grow to the point of having 15 registered members, or animosity towards competition structures that allow them to do so, because clubs that have met that threshold perceive that their vote is nullified by a club that has not met that minimum threshold. 
          3. Tate: Roll call vote:
            1. Wilson: Yes
            2. Shawn Martin: Yes
            3. Dodge: No
            4. Hiller: Yes
            5. Kurylas: Yes
            6. Tomsak: No
            7. Tate: No
              1. Young: 4 yes and 3 no. APPROVED.
              2. Tate: I will email a list to Wendy of the “in good standing” clubs and she can verify the voting tally with Jeff Kolberg. If any votes that have been cast are valid or not valid.
              3. Dodge: It’s not clear in the minutes that this is a one-year exception.  [Modification subsequently made to confirm that the exception was limited as stated above].
              4. Tate: I do think before the next election that we have to update the Bylaws and clarify everything. Irregardless of that work that needs to be done, I do think this should apply for this RRRC election and the upcoming TRU elections. So these would be changes to 2022 Bylaws because we have to alert the membership, etc.
  4. TOLA
    1. Young: At Cherrybone 7s, in the social bracket but a red carded player was allowed to participate in a match when they should have sat all day. It was a volunteer referee but the tournament organizers approved it. I’ve alerted the TRU DC.
    2. Tate: Ok, we will let the DC figure this out.
  5. COVID Delta Variant
    1. Tate: This is planting seeds for decisions that we could be required to make down the road. Currently the whole country and in particular some of our states, Texas and Arkansas more so are seeing spikes in COVID cases. They are largely related to the Delta variant and disproportionately related to those that aren’t vaccinated. If this escalation continues we could find ourselves confronted with similar restrictions or cancellations in the future. I would like for the Board and the members to consider if it comes down to it, I would far prefer requiring vaccination to play vs shutting down play. To that end, I would really like to emphasize and continue pushing all of our members to become vaccinated. I’m genuinely concerned about what would happen to the game if we lost a second season. I would rather be ahead of the planning curve this time around than chasing circumstances last year. I know that requiring vaccination to play will be unpopular with some of our members but it beats the heck out of cancelling our season. Maybe it won’t come to that but we don’t know. Recent trends in the last 20 days have been troubling and noted at USA Rugby as well as by some members of this Board.
    2. Dodge: Texas has a mobile vaccination option, do you know if Louisiana has something like that?
      1. Young: Dodge is referencing what we’ve posted previously: in Texas, you are able to request a Mobile Vaccination Team to come to your practice, tournament or other events. Simply call 844-90-TEXAS (844-908-3927) and select Option 3 to schedule a visit from a state mobile vaccine team. To qualify for a visit, a business or civic organization must have 5 or more individuals who voluntarily choose to be vaccinated. 
    3. Tate: I think the point is that if we can encourage young people to get vaccinated so we can be less likely to cancel, suspend or curtail members..that is valuable. 
  6. XVs Schedule from RRRC
    1. Dodge: The men’s league structure has been sent out for feedback and review. We’ve asked for blackout dates by July 30. The goal is to have a draft schedule available to the clubs by mid-August with finalization by early September. 
      1. Young: The women’s league structure has had to go back to the drawing board but we’re hoping to button it up by the end of the week.
  7. New Business
    1. USA Rugby Dues
      1. Tate: First, the USA Rugby National Dues are going to be at most $35 for this upcoming registration cycle. The USAR Club Committee is just entering into negotiations over membership fees. There are discussions around a possible increase of USA Rugby dues and a decrease for referee and coach dues. There are also discussions around a Council fee to help cover USA Rugby National Championship events. The goal is that no player should pay no more than $50 for USAR or Council dues and they will get all the services they received previously.  National Dues are in addition to the component of registration fees that are for TRU dues.
    2. Club Council Sponsors
      1. Tate: We’re working on getting a few sponsors that would offset National Championship events. One potential sponsor could include an affiliate that would include a moneypak that would put most of the money in the clubs pocket. 
    3. Competitions through CMS
      1. Tate: We are proceeding to run upcoming competitions through the old CMS for Club and College. We have grave concerns about the Sportlomo Competitions system and its lack of functionality.
      2. Young: Who is managing CMS?
      3. Tate: Erik Geib.
    4. TRRA Referee Contract
      1. Tate: In the next few weeks I’ll get with Shawn and we’ll begin working on the TRRA referee contract. I’ll keep this group updated.
  8. Meeting Adjournment (10:00 PM)