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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 9/13/21

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. Kurylas
    3. Roche
    4. Dale
    5. Drew Low (sub for Martin)
    6. Dodge
    7. Fosco
    8. Hughes
    9. Keuppens
    10. Leming
      1. Regrets
        1. Hanlon
        2. Kolberg
        3. Martin
          1. Dodge: Thanks Drew for sitting in for Shawn.
  2. Schedule
    1. Review of Requested Changes
      1. Dodge: Clubs have had their chance to request match changes and we’ve received 20 or so. Some of those are friendlies that teams want to have added. Shawn Martin wants to take a look at the number of matches per Saturday across the regions before any changes are approved. Once that is settled, matches will be added into CMS.
    2. CMS Data Entry
      1. Dodge: As we’ve talked about in the past, we’re going to continue using USA Rugby’s Competition Management System (CMS). Do we know if it has been linked to Sportlomo’s membership platform yet so that electronic rosters can be created in CMS?
      2. Young: I don’t believe so. Kirk will get us an update on the SCC call tomorrow.
      3. Dale: What are the Unions doing that have started play already?
      4. Young: Old school on paper.
      5. Dodge: Worse case we can have teams use the rosters that we used during COVID. Then they would need to turn it in to TRU in a timely fashion and we can manually add the info into CMS later. Or, it may be possible to create a roster in CMS through manual data entry. Will have to check on that.
    3. COVID Playoff Contingency Planning/Round 8 Changes
      1. Dodge: Most of our divisions have Red River/TRU Playoff rounds. MD1 doesn’t and WD1 will have to coordinate with the Frontier teams. Correct, Wendy?
      2. Young: Yes, that is correct. Just a note that there have been some communication issues on the USA Rugby Club Competitions regarding the NCS playoff pathways. We’re having an emergency call tomorrow to try and align on where we’re at. Also for WD1, we’re seeing COVID cases going down in Texas but going up in Colorado. Playing regionally and across GUs may not be possible this fall and those matches may be pushed into the Spring. That will further scrunch the schedule for the women. 
      3. Dodge: Ok, let’s talk about if there is a league wide stoppage in play in TRU / RRRC. For MD1, I would suggest we do a four team playoff by weighted percentage of league matches played. “League Matches” would exclude matches against Rugby HTX and Colorado XO, as those are in effect friendlies. If we cancel or reschedule the Huns @ Colorado XO match currently scheduled for Apr. 9, 2022, there is space at the end of the year for a 2-round MD1 playoff, if needed. Round 1 would be April 9 (1v4 & 2v3) and the winners of those matches would play at the RRRC Championship on April 23. The only hiccup there is that the Huns are supposed to play at Colorado XO on April 9. However, if we have to shut down league play for a period of time, it was agreed that matches against Colorado XO would be the first to be cancelled. We just need to alert the Huns so that none of their folks are running out buying plane tickets just yet.
      4. Keuppens: I think that makes sense as a contingency plan for MD1. There are five MD1 “league” teams, so one team would be left out. However, if we tried to do a 4 v. 5 play-in, that would require 3 weeks, and really over-complicate things. I think it’s smart that we have this solved before play begins though. We certainly learned last year that it’s better to have a backup plan!
      5. Dale: I’m with you on this. We just need to make sure the Huns and Colorado XO are aware of the contingency. However, I like this idea of a playoff for MD1 if needed.
      6. Dodge: This would only be if we had a league-wide stoppage due to COVID. If a team has a COVID quarantine issue that only affects one Club, they would need to make arrangements to reschedule the match, or play with the players available / allowed to play under the then-existing COVID policy.  Of course no one wants to cancel matches, but we may have to also look at cutting Rugby HTX matches so we can move other matches around (if needed). I don’t know that anyone on the Huns is buying plane tickets for April 2022 yet, but it is best to have a plan in place. I would hope we’ll know in January if we’ll be able to have a full season or not.
      7. Dale: If we think we’re going to be shut down by then anyway, there will probably be a bigger problem statewide. 
      8. Dodge: I make a motion that we adopt the above contingency plan for MD1 playoffs. Specifically: If there is a league-wide stoppage that prevents the full MD1 H&A “league” schedule from being played by 4/2/22, that weighted average points available percentage will be used to seed the top 4 MD1 “league” teams for a 4-team playoff. 1 would host 4, and 2 would host 3, on 4/9/22. The winners of those two matches would then face each other on 4/23/22 at the RRRC/TRU Championships. Weighted Average Points Available Percentage would be calculated as follows: (Total Competition Points Earned in Matches Played / Maximum Competition Points Available in Matches Played). 
        1. Keuppens: Second.
        2. Dodge: Any further discussion? Any opposition? None. APPROVED.
      9. Dodge: Wendy, on WD1 do we just need to wait until after the USAR CC meeting. 
      10. Young: Yes, we’re in a holding pattern until the CCC can confirm alignment on a few things.
      11. Dodge: We need a clear pathway to nationals for our teams, and a clear understanding of how our opponents will be determined.
  3. 50th Anniversary Tournament
    1. Dodge: This is scheduled for Dec 4-5, 2021 in Houston, TX along with the Women’s All Star tournament. I’m a bit concerned with it being after the start of the league season that we won’t have sufficient participation. The Midwest Men’s All Stars are talking about sending a team down and I don’t want them to engage in sending a team down if we’re not going to have a viable tournament with a suitable level of competition for a visiting all-star team. In the last email regarding the schedule I included a survey to gauge Club interest in participating in the tournament. Only four clubs filled it out.  One was “in,” two were “out,” and one was a “probably not.” I’d like to see what the reps on this Committee think their Club’s preference will be.
      1. Kurylas: Grand Prairie hasn’t talked about it yet but most teams have matches on Dec 11th or 18th, so I think we’d lean toward not participating.
      2. Kueppens: Reds would want to participate, but it more than likely would be a difficult feat in-season.
      3. Fosco: DARC W will be participating in All Stars, I’m not sure about the men.
      4. Hughes: McAllen would be “in”. We are used to traveling and like to have the opportunity to play teams we don’t always see.
      5. Leming: San Antonio is a hard maybe, I’d need more time to get a solid confirmation
      6. Dale: Quins could put in a side, but likely MD3.
    2. Dodge: That is helpful, I’d propose we re-send out that survey, but with a request for a firm commitment by a certain date. Wendy, you have a handle on the venue availability and capacity, so can you take the lead on tweaking the language of the survey, setting the commitment date, and getting it out to the Clubs in a timely manner?
    3. Young: Yes. Can we send it out on social media?
    4. Dodge: Of course. If we don’t have X amount of teams by X then we pull it.
    5. Young: Ok, I can handle that. 
  4. Eligibility Regs
    1. Dodge: There are several changes and the one that caught my eye that we need to act on is in regards to multi-side clubs. The change is that there are no longer “hard sub / soft sub” requirements around moving players up and down on a given match day. So, you could arguably have 10 players play in a D2 match, then turn around and play in a D1 match.
    2. Young: This is by design, GUs have been asking for years to have more control over eligibility. So now the GUs have that power.
    3. Dodge: Well, we need to use it wisely. We have more multi-side clubs than any other Union in the country, and just reworked the league structure to try to minimize the perception or fact of “stacking” lower division sides. I suggest we adopt the former USAR substitution rule that allows 4 “soft subs” to play across divisions on the same match day, subject to other eligibility restrictions. Our Clubs are familiar with that rule. However, one thing I would recommend we change is the requirement that the lower division match has to be played first. Questions?
    4. Young: How does not playing lower division matches first help?
    5. Dodge: The way we realigned the men’s competition was to try and make like-sized clubs play against each other. There were some cases where we couldn’t do that perfectly because some Clubs have non-contiguous divisions. Specifically, in the north, Grand Prairie and the Quins have only MD1 and MD3 sides. In an attempt to get some economies of scale, particularly with respect to referee allocation, we’ve paired those clubs with DFW stand-alone D2 clubs in the schedule. Grand Prairie is paired with Ft Worth and the Quins are paired with DARC. So, when the Austin clubs come up to play the Quins, their D2 side plays DARC. Likewise, when the Austin clubs come to play Grand Prairie, their D2 side plays Ft. Worth. I proposed to those clubs that when the Blacks and Huns come to town that one of the pairs gives up a home match so all the matches can be played at one venue. Under that proposal, Grand Prairie, FTW, the Quins and DARC would each have had to give up one home match against one of the Austin Clubs. However, I could not get agreement on that. So, in order to prevent the Austin Clubs and referees from having to ping-pong back and forth across the Metroplex, we need to be able to reorder the matches, likely playing the D2 match first, followed by the D3 then D1 match at a different location.
    6. Kurylas: I think that having the lower sides play first gives the appearance of less shuffling. I think we keep it because it is more fair. 
    7. Hughes: I agree, it’s the appearance that is important. When McAllen goes to the Blacks they are playing all 3 sides and we knew we were playing their lower division guys if the D3 match was played first. Transparency is important. 
    8. Roche: From my experience playing, if you play the 2nd side second it becomes rationalization. Players get slid in because of injuries and that just builds animosity or brings on cancellations. 
    9. Hughes: That is also true.
    10. Dale: When all sides are competitive and playing for something it makes sense to have the lower division match first. This also protects players so they aren’t getting beat up by higher level players. If it is a true D4 or social side match then I don’t think it matters when that is played. 
    11. Dodge: I’m not sure that I follow the arguments here. You still only get four “soft subs”. It’s unlikely a Club would drop it’s D1 starters to play D2 or D3. Some D2 starters will likely be “soft subs” for D1, and playing the D3 match second would allow those folks to get from the D2 venue to the D1 venue in time to play D1. What I am suggesting would, however, make it impossible–or at least very difficult–for D3 starters to “soft sub” for D2.
    12. Hughes: An example is the Blacks D3, it only takes one or two elite players to completely change a game. 
    13. Young: Don’t make me bring up Austin vs Belmont Shore when they flew in New Zealand players…true story.
    14. Dodge: But we aren’t talking about bringing in a crop brand new ringers. This is about the logistics of a 3-side club playing 3 matches in two locations in a single day with a common team of referees.
    15. Keuppens: Are we talking about a real problem, or is this more of a perception? This conversation comes up all the time. I don’t know of any of the large multi-side clubs that stack. We don’t because we see it as a club killer. 
    16. Hughes: It has happened in the past, absolutely in the fall. If we travel to the Blacks in December we knew we’d face D1 or D2 players. We always made the schedule so that they came to McAllen in the Fall and we’d go to them in the Spring. Maybe it’s less of an issue now that those clubs are playing amongst themselves under the new league structure.
    17. Roche: I think Travis brought up a good point, I don’t think clubs are thinking let’s start our D1 flyhalf so we can demolish our D3 opponent. Instead, it’s the D1 player asking to play so they can get some playing time. So it’s not intentional, but it happens.
    18. Dale: This can be tracked, if we track it from season to season that could help. If a player plays only D1 for an entire season the year before, why could they drop down the next season?
    19. Leming: We don’t track that intensely, but we know it happens.
    20. Kurylas: I’ve tracked it in the past and some clubs have hit the max more than once. It does or can happen. The big clubs always claim they are bringing a player back from injury and so they play them in the lower side.
    21. Dodge: Let me circle back to the logistical problem. We have a few clubs that this Committee has allowed to play in a non-contiguous division. That’s still the exception, not the rule. So hypothetically, the Huns come up and play GP D1, D2 against Fort Worth, and D3 against GP on the same day. This requires that they ping pong across DFW if GP and FTW don’t agree to play all 3 matches at the same venue.
    22. Roche: How is it different from years past where Blacks D1 and D2 play in the North and D3 goes to McAllen?
    23. Dodge: Part of the league restructure was meant to help the referees by having all the milti-side club matches on a given day at the same venue. It also limits traveling with different sides.
    24. Roche: This doesn’t really solve a problem for referees, if I have to AR two matches and then center the D1 match…that’s an issue. If we can, it’s not necessarily a team of three but rather a team of five. 
    25. Dodge: Right, that was part of what we were trying to accomplish, having matches at one venue so referees can all be in one place instead of ping ponging across town. 
    26. Leming: Is the problem the ping ponging of the location or is it moving up and down for games (perceived or not). I think the approach could be different depending on what we’re trying to solve for.
    27. Dodge: I’m looking for a solution to the ping-pong problem. I think there are three potential solutions: (1) the clubs with non-contiguous sides and the stand-alone D2 sides they are paired with agree to give up one home game each; (2) we play the matches when the Austin clubs come to Dallas at two different venues in this order: D2, D3, D1 – which would require adoption of the eligibility rule we have been discussing; or (3) we allow the Austin clubs’ D2 sides to reschedule their matches against DARC and FTW to dates where their D1 and/or D3 sides are not playing. In my opinion, only Option 1 fully accomplishes the goals of the restructure–efficiency in referee allocation, efficiency in multi-side club travel and coach allocation, and eliminating the perception or reality of stacking lower division sides with upper division players. Granted, the four Dallas teams at issue are being asked to make the concession of one home match to play at a different venue, but one that is across town, not in a different metropolitan area.
    28. Roche: Can we ask the teams that don’t want to give up home matches how they feel about ping ponging? Is it two teams or just one?
    29. Dodge: Only the Austin teams and referees would ping-pong. 
    30. Roche: Ok, so when there is a split it’s potentially at different locations. 
    31. Dodge: Correct.
    32. Roche: So we potentially have teams that don’t want to help because it won’t affect them.
    33. Dodge: Yes, that seems to be the case. If we have clubs that don’t want to cooperate then we may have to look at other options. To me the simplest solution would be to play the lower division matches earlier because the perception or actual stacking is less likely to happen under the new league structure and the match order I’m suggesting. 
    34. Hughes: Do we change the whole approach to the problem for this select few? It sets a precedent.
    35. Dodge: That’s a good point. We’re free to make whatever rule we want here. Maybe we just say the matches can be played “out of order” in the ping-pong situation I’m describing. So, if FTW and GP agreed to each give up a home match, there would be no change in the traditional D3, D2, D1 order of the matches.
    36. Hughes: Right, unless one of the teams has a huge objection. That can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
    37. Dodge: I’d rather not provide that type of “case-by-case” out because then we’re back here solving problems every week.
    38. Hughes: Right.
    39. Dodge: Let me put something together that better explains the concept of the “out of order” exception we have discussed and circulate that to you all. Does anyone have a conceptual objection to the proposed, narrow exception to the “lower division match first rule”?
    40. Young: I’d like to explore adopting some changes to the women’s player eligibility. I don’t like having different rules than the men but multi-sides are relatively new for the women. The WPL has a few interesting rules and I’m trying to get a hard copy of the regs.
    41. Dodge: I think the WPL rules are more aimed at placing a cap on how much a player can participate in WPL, and then play at a lower division during the same season. The USAR 2021-22 Eligibility Rules still have those kinds of restrictions, but they are now based on a % of matches played at an upper division level, rather than a static number. That’s an improvement, but is really aimed at a different issue than the number of “soft subs” allowed on any given match day. What I’m suggesting would be a gender neutral soft-sub rule. If, for example, the Valks had 3 sides and were coming to play a Club with a D1 and D3 side, and a second Club on the other side of town with a D2 side, the same rule would apply. I’ll draft up some language and then we can have a further email conversation.
    42. Young: I’ll send the WPL regulations once I get the updated ones.
  5. TOR
    1. Dodge: It’s 9:15. I say we table this until the next meeting, it’s not as urgent as the other topics under discussion.
  6. Master Workflow Calendar
    1. Dodge: I’d like to memorialize certain recurring activities of the Committee so that we have a calendar that can be followed by our successors. We’ve missed a few things because it isn’t written down in one place. Does anyone want to take that on as a side project? Silence…
    2. Hughes: That sounds like a complicated calendar because it would need to sync with USA Rugby. I’m Ok with stepping up but I’m not sure when everything will align. 
    3. Dodge: Agree that we are captive to the national schedule, but we generally always handle promotion & relegation at our June meeting, league structure in July, 15s scheduling in August. 
    4. Young: Registration opens Aug. 15, the Registration deadline for XVs is usually April 1…we can probably fill in the blanks if you get us started.
    5. Kurylas: Travis, I can give you a hand, new club applications and stuff like that can fit. I’m thinking we do a combined TRU/RRRC calendar.
    6. Leming: I can help as well.
    7. Dodge: Ok, so we have Hughes, Leming and Kurylas in a calendaring sub-committee. Thank you.
    8. Dale: What if we make it a public calendar for this group? 
    9. Hughes: For sure, we can start a document and share it with the group for review.
    10. Leming: Once it passes the sniff test for this group, make it public public. 
    11. Dodge: If we include TRU things like TRU bids for hosting regional playoffs, election deadlines, etc., we’d need to have it approved by the TRU Board as well. Several of us are on that Board, so it shouldn’t slow anything down.
    12. Leming: This is one of the things I field the most questions about so the more we can put out there, the better.
    13. Dodge: Great, thank you for stepping up! We can review a draft in our next meeting.
  7. New Business
    1. COVID Pause on Play
      1. Leming: I’m not sure if I missed something, but where are we with the pause on play?
      2. Dodge: That will be discussed at the TRU Board call next week. I suspect there will be a long discussion of adjusting some of our current RTP guidelines. 
      3. Young: I’ve taken a cursory look at the data we’ve been using and while it’s improving we may have to discuss moving to region by region. While some of the major metro areas are looking better, other areas are not looking great. So there will be a long discussion next week. 
    2. Dodge: Any other new business? None. Motion to Adjourn made, seconded, and unanimously approved. Thanks all.
  8. Meeting Adjournment (9:24 PM)