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RRRC Competitions Committee / TRU Board Notes – 12/13/21

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. RRRC
        1. Young
        2. Dodge*
        3. Kolberg
        4. Dale
        5. Hanlon
        6. Leming
        7. Hughes
        8. Kurylas*
        9. Roche
        10. Keuppens
      2. TRU
        1. Tate
        2. Martin
        3. Hiller
        4. Wilson
        5. Tomsak
          1. *On both Boards
        6. Guests
          1. Greg Forrester (OKC Crusaders)
          2. Jeff Robertson (Dallas)
        7. Regrets
          1. Fosco
      3. Combined Call
        1. Dodge: Please note that tonight is a combined call with RRRC and the TRU Board because next week is a Holiday and we have topics that pertain to both groups. We appreciate everyone coming tonight.
      4. Dallas RFC for playing an unregistered player in the MD3 match v. the Huns on 11/20
        1. Dodge: Let’s go ahead and move forward with this issue. Dallas self-reported that they played an unregistered player during the 11/20 D3 match versus the Austin Huns. Dallas did lose that match.
        2. Robertson: We had a player that was coming to the match just to take photos and our Division 3 side was short on players. He volunteered to play, and had a teammate work on registering him last minute on the sideline. They ran into technical issues but did not pursue that further, and did not complete the registration process and did not inform anyone before allowing him to play.
        3. Kurylas: We have run into issues with Sportlomo and registering via the mobile site, it doesn’t have the correct dropdown menu for Texas and causes errors in registering.
        4. Hanlon: I’m not sure of the correct protocols, but is there a time cutoff that players have to be registered before kickoff?
        5. Young: Yes, we require teams to input their roster into CMS the night before. This is a bit different as the player showed up the day of, but the administrator should have personally checked the registration. CMS rosters should be printed out and presented to the referee and opposition before kickoff. 
        6. Hiller: But those protocols allow for a change right?
        7. Young: Yes they do.
        8. Dale: There is always a chance a player gets injured during warm-ups so the roster allows for changes up to kickoff time. You can cross out on your printed out roster and you can alert the other team so it’s all fair. I have also had issues with Sportlomo and registration via the mobile site, so I wanted to back up Kurylas’ point.
        9. Dodge: The rule we follow is – if you’re going to step foot on the field of play, you have to be registered. There are some changes allowed to the roster after the first upload, the roster isn’t actually finalized until all the post-match info is uploaded and locked.
        10. Hanlon: So how does that align with ID checks and roster submission? A team could hypothetically play players they don’t have on the game day roster.
        11. Dodge: All teams have the ability to require a full book check for any match where all players have to pull out IDs and verify against the game-day roster. Any discrepancies that appear post-match can be reported to this Committee for further investigation.
        12. Roche: Referees also utilize the game-day paper roster to help submit paperwork for red and yellow cards.
        13. Tate: I’d also point out that in matches like Huns/Reds, the likelihood of those last minute changes is higher – you travel with three sides and anything could happen in travel. This is a bit more common with larger clubs playing multiple sides at a single venue.
        14. Keuppens: As well as with sevens, teams can play a match under protest of an incomplete or inaccurate roster. 
        15. Dodge: Any further questions for Jeff Robertson?
        16. Roche: Is that player registered now? Did they complete it later that day?
        17. Robertson: They did not complete on that day since the player believed he was registered. He is registered now.
        18. Hanlon: There is a new coach and new manager for the D3 team correct?
        19. Robertson: We had our two main administrators out of town and I was on the pitch. We recently lost our manager and our assistant manager was not well versed enough yet to properly double check that the registration was properly completed.
        20. Leming: Is it too difficult to generally manage the ins and outs of registration? This is a question for everyone, not just Dallas and Jeff.
        21. Robertson: I don’t think so, we’ve been registering online for over a decade now. The only added challenge is the addition of the health insurance information.
        22. Dodge: Thanks Jeff. *confirmed that Jeff has dropped off*
        23. Hanlon: Just to clarify, this player believed he was registered, played the match, and when the CMS was being filled out, we realized he was not.
        24. Kolberg:  Yes. That the sideline registration did not go through was discovered when the post-match substitutions and scoring were being entered and CMS.
        25. Dodge:  Dodge: Ok, what does the Committee want to do about this?
          1. Hiller: What was the score?
          2. Dodge: A lot to a little.
          3. Hiller: But a forfeit makes it 28-0 and takes away those points.
          4. Hanlon: They would lose a competition point if it was marked as a forfeit.
          5. Dodge: The precedent has been to mark the match as a forfeit and that does take a competition point away.
            1. Hughes: I motion we follow the precedent.
              1. Roche: I second.
              2. Hughes: I do as well.
            2. Dodge: Any opposition? None. APPROVED.
              1. Dodge: Please note that Keuppens, Kolberg and I abstained from this vote.
              2. Young: So Kat, you will go into CMS and mark this one as a forfeit?
              3. Roche: Yes!
      5. OKC M/W request to join TRU
        1. Dodge: Greg, welcome to the call and we appreciate you being here! Please tell us a little about yourself and the Crusaders.
        2. Forrester: I came from Michigan and have been in OKC for the last three years. I’ve taken over the club and due to COVID we were down to six players. We didn’t think we’d be able to participate in the 2021-2022 season but we’re now seeing 15-16 players at practice and we think we can complete a season. We’ve talked to Mid-America and they are mid-season and can’t guarantee us any matches. We don’t think we can continue to recruit without a schedule. I think there is a bit of bad blood because we joined the TRU and then quickly left. That’s not our intent, we just want to play games and grow rugby.
        3. Dodge: I don’t think there is any bad blood but if you were to be admitted we would ask for a commitment for at least three years to the Union. When you were playing in Mid-America, what division were you in?
        4. Forrester: D3.
        5. Dodge: What division would you like to join?
        6. Forrester: Whatever division you let us in!
        7. Hanlon: You played Alliance this past weekend, how did that go?
        8. Forrester: It went well, lots of new guys but we lost by a try. 
        9. Hanlon: How many guys did you bring down?
        10. Forrester: 19. 
        11. Tomsak: Are they all registered with you?
        12. Forrester: 18, one is at large and another is with the OKC Tribe.
        13. Dodge: How many have registered with the OKC Tribe in the past?
        14. Forrester: Just myself, we’re not sure if that other player will register with us or them.
        15. Tomsak: Has there been any talk with merging the OKC Tribe? Two clubs in OKC doesn’t seem like it will work and that is very tough for us to support with referees and such.
        16. Forrester: Yes, we’ve talked but there are some irreconcilable differences.
        17. Kurylas: Jon White reached out to me today and we talked about this. He’s open to working together. I agree that this would be a strain on our organization and our limited referee resources.
        18. Forrester: We have the same concerns and I’ve also been talking with Jon, but there are issues that need to be resolved, including some related to personality conflicts related to coaching.
        19. Tate: We understand that. What is your coaching situation like?
        20. Forrester: Kyle Lubbers will be our head coach and Tracy Curtis will coach the women.
        21. Tate: As we discuss this I’d like to point out that the OKC metropolitan is about a million people and Corpus Christi is only about 250,000. So it’s not a fair comparison when we talk about double clubs in a metro area. 
        22. Forrester: It was a huge concern for us initially but we went from six players to almost 20 almost overnight and we’re confident that if we have a game schedule we can get more players.
        23. Young: What about referee support? We’d be supporting three teams in the OKC area…
        24. Forrester: I don’t really have an answer there. We’re looking into training a referee for our club but we don’t have one right now.
        25. Hanlon: Do you know the minimum entry requirements are for a club?
        26. Forrester: No, I’m about as green as my team is, I’ve only been playing for three years.
        27. Dodge: That is in one the links I sent you in the email from this weekend.
        28. Forrester: I missed that.
        29. Young: Did you check our website? It’s pretty prevalent.
        30. Forrester: I did check the website but not the requirements to join the Union.
        31. Keuppens: Kyle (Lubbers) has been around with the OU program for a long time but what about other recruiting strategies?
        32. Forrester: Kyle is our main connection, Kenny is still around as well. We’ve been trying to build relationships with two of the HS teams in the area. We actually share a field with one of them now.
        33. Young: Who will be the administrator?
        34. Forrester: I plan to do that.
          1. Young: Let’s talk about the women, what’s their plan? What division do they want to be in?
          2. Forrester: We have about six women and they have a good relationship with Tulsa and tend to play with them (our players are all registered At Large). We had grown the women’s team to 20 but when they found out that we didn’t have a schedule, those players left.
          3. Tate: As you’ve identified, having games is absolutely critical. Nobody joins a rugby club because they love practice.
          4. Young: Do you know anything about the women’s D3 program?
          5. Forrester: My understanding is that it is tournaments rather than home and away. 
          6. Young: Yes, this year they are planning to continue the tournament events but play more 10s or 12s rather than 7s. This league is very flexible and Marie is amazing at coordinating these events to be tailored to the teams and their numbers. Based on that and your current numbers I’d recommend if admitted to the Union that we’d place your women in the WD3 division for the first year. You’re lucky that most of the WD3 teams are based in the DFW area so there wouldn’t be as much travel. We do have another team in McAllen that will have events and we’d encourage you to attend those as well. 
        35. Tomsak: Hypothetical, if we don’t admit you because OKC Tribe already has an established schedule, what would you do?
        36. Forrester: I know some of the players would play with Tribe but we would try to build a friendly schedule so we can have games and continue recruiting.
        37. Kolberg: Do we think the Tribe will have problems with numbers this season? What if we gave both clubs a mediator like we did for Alamo City and Countdown and propose a merger?
        38. Tate: I think it’s a bit more complicated than just personalities. 
        39. Keuppens: So is a merge between Tribe and Crusaders an option at all?
        40. Forrester: We’re always open to talking.
        41. Dodge: Do you think you would benefit from an outside facilitator?
        42. Forrester: Jon and I talk very regularly that we’d like to work together but we can’t get past that point. Maybe having someone else might help.
        43. Dodge: I think you’re hearing that our concerns are around sustainability of the two men’s clubs and the women. We don’t want to keep you from playing at all but we have to keep our organization in mind.
        44. Forester: I understand, when I accepted becoming President of the Crusaders I did it because I identify with the team’s culture, we’re building relationships with the high schools and I’d love to see us work together with the Tribe. We will still exist with or without them.
        45. Hanlon: If you can go back to the minimum requirements that is a guideline of where you need to be. Regardless, I’m sure lots of clubs would like to play you.
        46. Forrester: I will and I apologize for not reviewing that before the call.
        47. Dodge: Thanks Greg! *confirmed that Greg dropped off the call*
        48. Dodge: Ok, the accepted path to membership goes first through the TRU Board, then to the Competitions Committee for where the particular Club fits, correct Kirk?
        49. Tate: Yes. They would need to apply to the TRU and meet those minimum requirements as well as secure release from Mid-America. I’ve talked Mid-America’s president and he has indicated he would grant that. If admitted to the Union we would refer them to the RRRC for placement in a division.With regards to Tribe and Crusaders, part of the hurdle there relates to coaching, or a specific coach. There are players who don’t want to play for that coach, and at the same time there are players that think very highly of that coach. I’m not sure there’s any way around that. I believe we can have two teams in the large OKC metro if the clubs have the administrators, coaches and the structure to build rugby. So my opinion is that we should focus on administrative and coaching capabilities. If Crusaders have that, there are enough people in the region to support two clubs. We haven’t had any issues with Tribe or their coaching since they joined the union.
        50. Dodge: We did have some early problems where Tribe rescheduled matches to later in the season, then didn’t travel to those matches, right Drew?
        51. Tomsak: Yes, they’ve never come to Shreveport and kept moving our scheduled matches around. Then COVID happened and everything was wild. They’ve already asked to have all their matches in the Spring and asked to move our match again. I’d be willing to sit down with Tribe and Crusaders to see if we can help them get together.
        52. Tate: From what I know of the history, I’m not sure that will help.
        53. Hanlon: We’re spending lots of time talking about Tribe and this coach, let’s get back to the Crusaders. Have they met the minimum requirements?
        54. Dodge: Yes, let’s talk about if the TRU accepted, I would recommend that we place them into the MD4 and the WD3. However, the MD4 is down to the Lost Souls and Dallas IV so that’s not much of a schedule. We would have some work to do there to make that a viable division.
        55. Tate: They already have 18 registered players and Tribe has none. Maybe we swap them?
        56. Hanlon: That is interesting, in the MD3 North schedule there is a bye because of a dropped team, maybe we can slot them in there? We could treat them as a non-competitive side in MD3?
        57. Dodge: My concern with doing that is that those matches become forfeits because teams don’t want to travel to OKC for friendlies.
        58. Kolberg: Has anyone talked to the Tribe and asked about their registration numbers?
        59. Dodge: I spoke with Jon this weekend about this because I saw zero registrations. He told me that they were not training yet and they expected to start in January. They have been communicating with their opponents and the MD3 reps about moving their matches to 2022. So it’s not like they haven’t given us a head’s up, they are purposely moving their schedule into the Spring.
        60. Hughes: Can we give the Tribe a deadline to register a full side and then we swap out OKC if they can’t fulfill?
        61. Tomsak: That deadline would be a pretty quick turnaround…
        62. Hughes: Didn’t we have a deadline for a club to be registered and show their capability?
        63. Young: The minimum requirements are on the website but we’ve typically relaxed it for certain divisions who play the majority of their schedule in the Spring (MD1/WD1). We’re also trying to encourage clubs to recover because of COVID. 
          1. October 1st – Register full match roster minimums
          2. 23 players with a minimum of four (4) that can play in the Front Row
          3. Club should also have 1 Exec Admin, 1 Level 200 Coach AND 1 Match Official Level 1
        64. Tate:  Yes, we have taken a more relaxed approach this year because we’re coming out of COVID and we know clubs have had a harder time getting going. Second, we have a USAR registration system that isn’t great. We have even had some matches have to be postponed due to COVID exposures or positive cases. This has been done out of necessity and a desire to keep clubs going.
        65. Hughes: I just think we’re bending over backwards for Tribe and we’re talking about not allowing a club that has demonstrated that they have enough players. I think we can slide them into MD3 North and if it doesn’t come about, those matches go back to bye weekends.
          1. Tate: I agree with you.
        66. Dodge: To complicate issues further, with the implosion of MD4, I have reached out to Lost Souls to see if they would want to fill that hole in the MD3 North already. It was very preliminary but I have already taken that step.
        67. Tate: The first step is acceptance to the Union, we haven’t even received an application from the Crusaders.
        68. Dodge: I was a bit disappointed that I took the time to send them the link to all the information they needed and he hadn’t even reviewed it.
        69. Kolberg: We have to put some pressure on the Tribe or I don’t think we can make this decision.
        70. Leming: I think also just looking at registration numbers doesn’t always translate to commitment. I think we should be careful about using that as a stand-alone metric.
        71. Dodge: It’s at least some indication of commitment. It’s a monetary cost to those players.
        72. Kurylas: I think we give Tribe a deadline and ask for a number of registered players. If they don’t meet the deadline, we can slot in the Crusaders if they get themselves together and are accepted as a TRU member club.
        73. Tate: They must have a registered coach and at least 15 players. We’d really like them to be around at least 18 players.
        74. Leming: Yes, there is a welfare aspect there.
        75. Tate: We also want them to have a strong administrative presence, and this deadline we’re talking about would show competence in this area. I’m all for Kolberg and Kurylas’ recommendation.
        76. Dodge: All of the Crusaders’ players are registered through (and presumably have paid dues to) Mid-America.  How do we transfer a club from Mid-America to the TRU mid-season?
        77. Young; We just did it for Little Rock because there was a mixup in having Mid-America and TRU registration open. Jess from USAR helped with that.
        78. Dodge: What about TRU dues?
        79. Young: After they request release from MId-America, we can ask USAR to initiate transfers and the players would have to pay TRU dues to complete the clearance.
        80. Kurylas: I motion that we notify OKC Tribe that they must become compliant with USA Rugby (a coach and 15 players registered) by January 8th.
          1. Tate: If I may offer an amendment to your motion, if OKC Tribe misses the deadline they are subject to being replaced in the MD3 matrix schedule. We don’t need to get into who replaces them, but their place is contingent on becoming compliant.
          2. Kurylas: I agree.
          3. Dodge: Amendment accepted by sponsor of motion.
            1. Any more discussion? None. Second?
            2. Young: Second.
            3. Dodge: Any opposition. None. APPROVED.
              1. Dodge: John, can you reach out to the OKC Tribe and let them know this development?
              2. Kurylas: Yes.
          4. Dodge: OK, what about the Crusaders, who can contact them?
          5. Young: I will, I can send him the normal “welcome” email which includes our checklist as well as the steps around transferring from Mid-America.
            1. Hanlon: Do we put a deadline on the Crusaders completing their paperwork? If they are going into the MD3 schedule, those matches start early in the new year.
            2. Young: I think we have to or we risk further disruptive changes to the schedule.
            3. Hanlon: What about January 1? That would allow the TRU Board to talk before the first MD3 North matches.
            4. Tate: I agree.
              1. Dodge: Any objections? None. APPROVED.
                1. Tomsak: I’d like to reach out to both sides and talk about a potential merger as well.
                2. Dodge: Please do and let us know how it goes.
                3. Tomsak: Of course.
      6. Schedule 
        1. Compliance
          1. Young: Here is who is still not compliant as of our meeting time:
          2. Young: I’m not concerned about Angelo State as the college season has concluded but Galveston is very low in numbers. DARC W, Rage W and Corpus are on their way. We’ve talked plenty about Tribe already.
          3. Hanlon: DARC W are playing a friendly this weekend against Quins.
          4. Young: I sent them a note today about getting a few more players registered and Shannon assured me they are working on it. I think the larger concern for me is some of these multi-side clubs that can’t fulfill all of their matches. Looking at the schedule for the last week and this week we’re seeing a large number of cancellations and postponements. As we’ve mentioned above, some of those are due to COVID but most of them are from multi-side clubs not having the numbers. I’d like to ask that these clubs be a bit more proactive and honest about whether they can fulfill all of their obligations on a match day weekend. I know they have good intentions but call a spade a spade and postpone the match if you don’t have numbers. We’re being flexible because of COVID and teams won’t be punished.
          5. Dodge: Some of those you are showing on your share screen from WTR are the MD4 cancellations and those make sense. We expected those as we discussed earlier on the call.
          6. Young: Right, I’m more concerned about some of the second side D2 and D3 matches that are being postponed. This is causing havoc on the organization side of things with Kat, TRRA and I. Not to mention that it will make the end of the year a nightmare.
            1. Leming: I’m wondering if we collapse some of these divisions because we don’t have the numbers to support the matches.
            2. Tate: I think it’s an interesting discussion that we could have. However, we’re early in the season and we can keep the pressure on to build their sides. I’m a little concerned that we’re going to fall into the trap of letting too many people off the hook and undermining our recovery from COVID. 
            3. Dodge: I agree with that. It could be really disruptive to move schedules around like that at this point. I think we continue to monitor the situation.
          7. Young: I would ask that the reps on this call reach out to their clubs and make sure they can fulfill their commitments. We’ve built in makeup dates on the calendar and more than usual but if we have a slew of bad weather…those weekends will be filled up before we know it.
          8. Leming: I’m also concerned that these postponements are going to start stacking up at the end of the season.
        2. COVID 
          1. Protocols (i.e., how to deal with situations like this one with HARC)
            1. Dodge: Last weekend, HARC vs San Antonio was canceled due to a number of COVID exposures and both sides weren’t comfortable playing. We’ll likely see more rescheduling based on COVID exposures. Add this to postponements due to numbers and the usual weather delays, and we’re going to see a very crowded schedule in March and April. I don’t have any solutions at this point but wanted to bring this up. Do we force teams to play? We’re clearly going to have to deal with COVID for a long time. If a sufficient number of players are vaccinated, have natural immunity, or have a recent negative COVID test do we require the match to move forward?
            2. Kolberg: We can’t mandate that they play, the Texas governor has tied our hands there. I think we need to be pleading with our players to get vaccinated, boosted and if not please go get tested regularly. They have a responsibility to their fellow players.
            3. Dodge: I need to check again, but I think the Abbott order you are referring to expired when the Legislature failed to pass the law doing the same thing in the last special session. In any event, I’ve circulated the amended protocols again tonight. I think we’re going to see an uptick in cases and we’ll see more of this. I’d like to put out some sort of guidance before we see a spike in cases, which will likely lead to another spike in hospitalizations.
            4. Tate: I think that’s a TRU Board decision to make and then RRRC would implement. For the sake of all the comp people we’ll take that and discuss digitally or we’ll schedule a special call. We’ll have that done by the first of the year.
        3. MD4 competition (appears to be down to 2 teams, absent the addition of OKC)
          1. Dodge: We talked about this above, it is tied to what happens with Tribe and OKC. We’ll play this one by ear for now.
      7. RRRC/TRU Calendar (tabled to next call)
      8. Mary Graham All Stars
        1. Young: We had a fantastic event in Grand Prairie with 8 teams. As always, John and his club were great hosts and the participants were very happy. We received so many compliments on the organization of the tournament, the live stream, the commentators and the quality of play. We should be proud of this event and that we have so many Unions already committing to an event in 2022. We’ve already booked next year’s event for Dec 3-4, 2022.
          1. KTVZ Video
          2. Analytics
            1. Youtube – 7,755 views, 66 new subscribers & $47.90 in monetization (ads)
            2. Facebook – 1k+ views
        2. Tate: All involved should be applauded. Note that this event is getting attention at the National level as well. There is interest from other Unions in hosting but we’ve put forward a strong case to continue holding it in Texas. If we could get some sponsorships around this it could get even bigger.
      9. New Business
        1. None.
      10. Meeting adjourned at (10:03 PM)