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TRU Board Meeting Notes – 2/21/22

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. Roche
      3. Wilson
      4. Tomsak
      5. Tate
      6. Kurylas
      7. Martin
      8. Hiller
      9. Dodge
        1. Regrets
          1. None
    2. Season
      1. Referees
        1. Reschedules & impacts on referees
          1. Martin: We had our quarterly LRO meeting last week and the TRRA is the biggest referee association in the country. Yet we’re still struggling to cover the number of games, some of that is weather and COVID related. Even in the Central where we have the most referees we’re having issues getting matches covered. Of course, Kat doing WR matches and the pull of MLR officials is affecting everything. If there is an ability to move matches to Sunday and/or if people can be flexible with kick-off times that can help. The normal 12, 2:30 and 3:30pm is causing major issues.
          2. Tate: Are there particular dates that are problematic?
          3. Martin: We’re just looking 2-3 weeks ahead and the reschedules in particular this weekend are really stretching us. 
          4. Tate: The reason I ask is because I know the Blacks v Huns has been rescheduled, if there were ever games that could be moved to a Sunday…derby games would fit that because there is no travel. But I know those games aren’t until the middle of March. 
          5. Young: Isn’t it also that clubs are dictating the date instead of giving TRRA the courtesy to weigh in?
          6. Martin: Yes, the teams are determining a date and then telling TRRA. So the date may not work for our available referees.
          7. Roche: I feel like we can barely get the teams to talk to each other and decide on a date that works for them, if we add in that they have to talk to TRRA that it’s seen as a burden.
          8. Martin: Do we just create blackout dates?
          9. Tate: Yes, I think we can certainly do that, we can provide a list of blackout dates (because there are no more available referees and/or all the reschedule slots are taken up). But that doesn’t help in the short term, are there specific matches that the TRU can help guide some of these conversations? Or are you looking for a more down the road solution?
          10. Martin: The only issue I see is that I’m a bit out of the loop due to a new addition in our house, but I will check with our schedulers. We have one group of matches that we’re working with administrators to change but nothing else right now.
          11. Young: What if we had some sort of way for clubs to see what weekends are available? We could take Shawn’s matrix that he shared earlier in the year and put weekends that matches can be rescheduled to?
          12. Tate: Yes, that’s sort of like the blackout weekends we were talking about before. I’d be a little reluctant to show an actual number of available “slots” because there are referees that get injured or have emergencies.
          13. Martin: We could red, yellow, green it?
          14. Tate: Yes, that would be helpful. If we can put it on the match change form then it’s right in their face.
          15. Young: Kat, does it make sense to also have you check the red, yellow and green status before performing the reschedule on WTR?
          16. Roche: Yes, generally I do check with TRRA before processing the reschedule but when it’s wild and lots of things are flying around it is tough. Perhaps more people would like to become referees because we’re churning out the most successful referees in the country. If anyone is thinking about flying to Dubai and wants a free trip, maybe try being a referee!
          17. Martin: This is true! We make great referees and we want more!
          18. Tate: Yes, we’re all about promoting referee recruitment, just tell us how we can help!
          19. Young: I believe there is at least one  L1 referee course coming up, I’m verifying.
            1. Martin: L1 Referee course in Tulsa on 3/6!
            2. Young: Yes, trying to get all the details, USAR has changed their Learning Platform and I don’t see a way to find the course details. I sent an email to USAR about it.
        2. Head Injury Assessment (HIA)
          1. Tate: I didn’t think we did these?
          2. Martin: That is the point that I’d like to bring up. We’ve had several referees reach out asking us to remind club coaches that this is not done below the International or MLR level in the US.
          3. Tate: Yes, we can re-emphasize this for all the club coaches. As Shawn has stated, HIA are only done at the MLR and International level.
          4. Martin: TRRA does use recognize and remove and that is the preferred method of dealing with concussions. If a referee deems that a player must be removed from the field, they are the final decision maker in that area. The referee is also the sole arbiter of a match per World Rugby Law 6.5a.
          5. Young: Do we need to say what I’m hearing…that club coaches are not agreeing with the referee?
          6. Tate: Yes, that is what I’m assuming. 
          7. Young: Ok, we will put up a post on the website to re-emphasize this.
        3. Tech Zones
          1. Tate: This is a reminder that the TRU utilizes technical zones for all matches. Let’s get back into the swing of things!
          2. Young: Same thing, we’ll post a reminder.
      2. Forfeits
        1. 12/11 W Houston vs Woodlands – W Houston played forfeit
        2. 1/29 Blacks III vs Quins III – Quins unplayed forfeit
        3. 2/19 HARC W vs Quins W – Quins played forfeit
        4. 2/26 Huns v Little Rock – Little Rock unplayed forfeit
        5. 2/26 Little Rock W vs DARC – DARC unplayed forfeit
          1. Young: So far the only unplayed forfeit is 1/29 by the Quins men. We know we have a few in the pipeline for 2/26 but we’ll discuss those next meeting if needed. We have a policy around this unplayed forfeits.
          2. Tate: The unplayed forfeit policy only comes into play when notifications weren’t made to the right people.
          3. Young: Kat, were the right notifications made?
          4. Roche: Yes, they notified Friday night. 
          5. Tate: Ok, that is late. The Quins were supposed to travel to the Blacks?
          6. Roche: Yes. The Quins did still travel because the D1 sides were playing. The referee was not able to be reallocated so it was a burden to TRRA.
          7. Tate: Ok, this sounds like a situation where we need a fine. We will apply the policy as written. 
          8. Young: Ok, so it’s a 1st offense for the season so it’s $150 plus referee costs; $150 to the club, rest goes to cover referee fees. I will notify the Quins.
      3. College W – Playing 7s and a few XVs matches
        1. Young: Just an FYI, they are mostly playing 7s as the clubs are rebuilding with 2 or 3 XVs friendlies happening.
    3. Championships
      1. Request for hosts for RRRC/TRU Championships
        1. Young: We’ve received none. Window closes Feb 28.
        2. Dodge: Bill Taute told me that the Blacks were interested. 
        3. Tate: Ok, let’s push a reminder to all the clubs and all ping clubs individually. If we don’t get any applications by the deadline we can make other choices.
      2. USAR request for hosts for 2022/2023 events
        1. Young: I’ve asked Erik if there have been any applications but haven’t heard back. Their window closes Feb 26.
        2. Tate: Yes, we had the same conversation last week that no suitable bids have come in that meet the requirement that the Council will go out and solicit from specific clubs. Let’s push out another reminder about this as well.
        3. Dodge: I also sent Bill Taute the USA application as well because he was asking about hosting Round of 8.
    4. Grants
      1. Zach Getson – Maccabi Games (plays for Dallas Harlequins)
        1. Young: This was approved via email, same as other Maccabi Games recipient.
      2. Madison Ohmann-Wilson – PR 7s tryout
        1. Tate: This is an interesting question that I don’t think we’ve ever discussed. Now that we’re in this new world of professional rugby our traditional grant process might not quite fit. No one has asked but no one but what we do if someone asks for a grant to try out for the MLR? How would we treat a grant like this? Do we want to treat it as a National team tryout or do we think it’s different?
        2. Young: The one thing I would point out is that she has to travel out of state. There are no PR 7s in our state at this time.
        3. Dodge: Seems a bit of a slippery slope to me if it’s professional rugby.
        4. Tate: Agree, it’s a professional opportunity.
        5. Roche: Agree, it’s a bit of a slippery slope and is not like trying out for the National team.
        6. Wilson: Is this a selection venue for USA Rugby?
        7. Young: It is loosely affiliated but not an official selection venue (that I’m aware of). 
        8. Tate: I think we decline on the grounds that we support National team tryouts and amateur rugby but we’re not supporting tryouts for professional teams. Is there any objection to that motion? None. APPROVED.
    5. USA Rugby U23 All Stars
      1. Application Approved
      2. Proposed Budget
        1. Tate: We talked about this last month, if we put in a team we have a spot. Wendy did put in an application that was accepted. So the question is, how does it get funded and to what extent is TRU able to support it? Wendy has done some work on a proposed budget that includes what the expected costs will be and all of that information. 
        2. Young: Yes, you talked about this last month and I apologize that I was not able to attend that meeting. USAR has announced a new opportunity for U-23 players this summer. They’ve renewed the U23 National All Star Tournament (NASCs) that was done a few years ago. In the past we played in the “West” with Rocky Mountain and Mid-America. USAR has now re-done the regions and we’re lopped in with Mid-America and it also includes Louisiana. The effort will directly feed the anticipated 2029 Women’s RWC and 2031 RWC happening in the US…there is a renewed interest in identifying young female high performance players. We submitted an application and have been approved but would like the blessing of the TRU and to request monetary support. I have a proposed budget and some data to share with the board.
        3. Tate: The costs are what they are because the team would have to travel outside the region. 
        4. Dodge: So there are 181 college players registered?
        5. Young: Yes, as of 2/15. 
        6. Kurylas: Does this include Senior U23 players that aren’t participating with colleges?
        7. Young: It does not, pulling data in Sportlomo is a bit challenging. We are absolutely looking to include those players. This is just a straight pull of college players that are registered. We also have an opportunity to include Louisiana and we will be reaching out to those teams.
          1. Young: In past formats we would include non-TRU/Mid-America players but charge them a “fee” to ensure costs are covered since they haven’t paid Union dues. In this case it would be players from Louisiana and perhaps any from Oklahoma that aren’t in the TRU or Mid-America.
        8. Tate: The gist is that we are collecting revenue from the collegiate women in excess of what we generally provide to them?
        9. Young: Correct, it is obvious that the women’s colleges don’t take full advantage of everything the TRU has to offer but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support them in this endeavor.
        10. Tate: I do think that comparing dues paid vs service provided is a good thing. We have not typically paid or the clubs have not asked for playoff travel grants. We budget around $15-20k annually for playoff grants and those often go to bigger clubs. It’s been a few years since proper Nationals but we always offer playoff grants. Note that the playoff grants are tied to the number of registrants and there is a minimum that is offered so smaller clubs get an equitable amount. So the ask is $4,000, correct?
        11. Young: Yes. Mid-America is going to ask their Board for the same amount.
        12. Tate: How do we feel about this? I can tell you that we have that money but in the last few years we have made a dent in our savings. We need to have Board approval on this.
        13. Dodge: Do we anticipate that this event will be annual?
        14. Young: That’s my impression, they have a venue for U-19 players but don’t have a strong way to identify U23 players outside of the various College Conference competitions.
        15. Dodge: Are there any other Unions that could join in with us?
        16. Young: It’s driven by USAR and they have applications from all 8 Regions. 
        17. Tate: They divided the country into regions and lumped the TRU in with Mid-America. Other regions are stand-alone or combined as well.
        18. Tomsak: How does the Senior women compare to the college, the registration numbers?
          1. Young: We were talking about this on an RRRC email, so I have those numbers, I pulled these on Jan 31:
            1. 2019-2020
              1. Senior Women: 315
              2. College Women: 232
              3. Senior Men: 1,345
              4. Total: 1,892
            2. 2021-2022
              1. Senior Women: 267
              2. College Women: 181 (updated to be data from 2/15)
              3. Senior Men: 990
              4. Total: 1,254
          2. Tate: We are running about 60% behind on registration numbers due to COVID and we’re not unique in that, the entire country is seeing this. One interesting thing to note is that the % of membership for women is going up. In 2019 we were 24% and now we’re at 31%. 
          3. Dodge: When did we add the collegiate women? Or are all of those numbers post?
          4. Tate: It was before 2019. It’s been at least 4 years?
          5. Young: Yes, we’ve had the college women back in the TRU for a few years now. On the Senior side, we have also added two new women’s teams (BARC & Rage) in the last few years. We’ll also benefit from OKC Crusaders W joining our union and the WD3 format has encouraged growth in registrations as well.
        19. Tate: Let’s not get sidetracked, we have had a very successful women’s Senior All Star program for years, we’ve been talking about reviving a men’s Senior All Star program next year and we have another opportunity in front of us for U-23 women’s players. This is an event that we haven’t budgeted for because it popped up from USAR earlier this year. If we were to sustain this on an ongoing basis it might affect how we budget for other things like the Mary Graham All Stars or a men’s All Star competition. For this year it’s a one-time not budgeted expense that we didn’t contemplate. We might have come at it at a different angle if we knew it was coming.
        20. Dodge: How good do we feel about the Mid-America contribution?
        21. Young: I don’t have much insight into that. KJ is my contact and she is aware that I’m requesting support  from the TRU and she is doing the same for her Union.
        22. Tate: Would it make sense for us to reach out and talk to Mid-America and between us come to an agreement? If the two Unions contribute different amounts it could have some odd outcomes.
        23. Young: Yes, I think that makes sense.
        24. Tate: Ok, I will take on that task and get with Mid-America.
          1. Young: While we wait on any agreed upon budget, can the staff begin posting about tryouts and our intent to participate?
          2. Tate: Yes, of course. We don’t want to lose any time or momentum. 
    6. Sales/Inventory Update
      1. 2021
        1. Cost: $3,587.44 (50th Anniversary Polos, TRU Polos, Balls, Hats, Stickers, Koozies)
        2. Total Sales: $2,348.00
      2. Young: Just a quick update, we bought swag for the first time in a long time and we had an initial expense but we’ve made up quite a bit already. We have quite a bit of inventory leftover and should be in the black soon. I’ll continue to bring this inventory to RRRC and TRU events as I’m able to.
    7. 501c3 Update
      1. Tate: I have made my mission to finish this status before my term is over. To get the thing organized and all the paperwork finalized I set an initial Board of myself, Dodge, Drew and Wendy as a secretary. There is no money yet and won’t until we get a determination and we alert our members. Then we would transfer everything over to the new entity. The goal now is to get charitable status. To that end, the lawyers sent out documents for signature. Did everyone I mentioned above receive them?
        1. Tomsak: Yes.
        2. Dodge: Yes.
        3. Young: Yes.
      2. Tate: Great, so before we move over to the new entity we need to review the old bylaws and make any changes we need to make. Any changes would be applied to the new entity. So I propose that we get the signatures in place and that allows the lawyers to pursue the 501c3 status. There wouldn’t be any money in it until we take it to the membership and we have agreement.
      3. Dodge: So it would be a shell until an agreement is reached?
      4. Tate: Correct. We can take donations and such and they are tax deductible but that gets hairy. I do know that once we have 501c3 status that it can help offset the Summit and HOF expenses. We do pay quite a bit in tax for those events and that could be removed when we get our status.
    8. Female to Male Gender Marker Change
      1. Young: I have received a few inquiries from teams about gender marker changes, in the example I received they are looking to change their gender marker from female to male. The player is essentially changing their pronouns but not transitioning at this time. The USAR policy doesn’t directly cover this situation but I reached out to Mike Keating (contact info included in link) at USAR and he indicated that regardless, players would need to reach out to him on an individual basis to determine next steps. Part of the reason to reach out to Mike would be to catalog any medications that are being taken or considered. Some medications would prohibit the individual’s participation as they are performance enhancing and are prohibited in rugby.
      2. Tate: Let me understand, the concern is not about their pronouns but we have female players playing in female competitions who may be taking medications that would be deemed performance enhancing? Is that the concern?
      3. Young: The question is if we have an individual that indicates a gender marker change but doesn’t begin transitioning or taking medications, do we care if they continue to play women’s rugby?
      4. Tate: No, I don’t think we care about pronouns. If they are taking medications that give them a competitive edge or using drugs that are prohibited, then we have a potential issue.
      5. Young: My next question is if we received a report around a player that is taking medications that are prohibited what are the next steps? These are obviously very sensitive issues but we want to follow guidelines as required.
      6. Tate: The TRU is obligated to follow all USAR and USOPC guidelines regarding this and any known issues should be reported to them. The answers can be complicated and we may need to verify with USAR, the USAR DEI and USOPC for further guidance. 
      7. Young: Thank you.
    9. USA Rugby Talent ID Camps
      1. Tate: Another event that we were surprised about and there is an event in Austin. I know the Huns aren’t hosting but don’t know who is. We will try to provide updates as we can.
      2. Young: I’ve reached out to the Blacks but haven’t heard back. The AGs could also be hosting…I will reach out to them. Hopefully USAR will update their website because there are no details beyond April 3 in Austin.
    10. USAR Senior Club Council Updates
      1. New Chair
        1. Tate: I am no longer the Chair of the USAR SCC, the new Chair is Al Lucas. The other seats are being renewed or filled as well. 
      2. USA Rugby Senior Club Committee Chairs Nominations
        1. Tate: They are also soliciting nominations for the USA Rugby SCCC, these are heads of Discipline, Competitions and so forth. Nominations close February 26. If anyone in our Union is interested or if you have anyone that you think would be a good fit, the Union can nominate them. It would be great to have a TRU as a Chair of any of these. I think the committees that have the opportunity to advance the interests of our members would be Competitions or Eligibility. 
          1. Tate: Also note that the Competitions committee is being split into two with one focused on XVs and the other on 7s. The two codes are very unique and have different concerns.
        2. Dodge: Does that mean that Wendy and I are done with our committees?
        3. Tate: Once the Chair is seated they will review the committee members and you could be renewed or replaced.
    11. New Business
      1. Round of 8 – May 5-7
        1. Dodge: Nothing has really changed since the RRRC meeting a few weeks ago, I’m still waiting for confirmation from True South. Most likely the Round of 8 will be in Dallas or Houston. Divisions we anticipate participating:
          1. MD1/WD1 – only if a playoff match is required
          2. WD2/MD3
          3. MD3
        2. Young: If you can let me know the location ASAP I can let our streaming guy know, just in case we want to stream.
      2. Elections
        1. President – Sep 2023 (3 year term)
        2. Vice President – Sep 2022 (3 year term) Tomsak
        3. DI M Rep – Sep 2022 (3 year term) Dodge
        4. W Rep – Sep 2022 (3 year term) Wilson
        5. DII M Rep – Sep 2024 (3 year term)
        6. DIII M Rep – Sep 2024 (3 year term)
          1. Young: Just tracking this for the year, we will have three elections later this year.
    12. Meeting Adjournment (10:16 PM)