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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 5/9/22

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. Dodge
    2. Kolberg
    3. Keuppens
    4. Hanlon
    5. Kurylas
      1. Regrets:
        1. Young
        2. Hughes
        3. Roche
        4. Fosco
        5. Lemming
        6. Martin
        7. Dale
  2. Gulf Coast Super Regional
    1. Dodge: Gulf Coast Super Regional went really well. Thanks to everyone that worked their butt off to make this happen. The D2 Women’s team from the Carolinas/GA area was a no show, so we had to make some rearrangements for that, but we made it work. 20 minute water breaks were in action thanks to the Houston heat. The Red River teams did not advance, but the tournament itself was great.
    2. Keuppens: Was there a reason the stadium was not available?
    3. Dodge: It was available for $15,000.
    4. Keuppens: Ah.
    5. Dodge: The visiting teams were very appreciative of everything. As far as the documentation bit, the Red River clubs were head and shoulders above the rest. A few GU’s do not use CMS, so it was a bit of a learning curve for them. Tam did a great job checking everything in advance though so no issues. Next year the Super Regional will be somewhere in the southern region, and the other unions are going to reciprocate what we put into action for this year (streaming, major airport, etc)
  3. 15s Promotion / Relegation under RRRC Promotion & Relegation Policy 
    1. Automatic per policy:
      1. Dodge: As far as promotion is concerned. There is no room for automatic promotion on the men’s side as all teams were from multi-sided clubs. On the women’s side, San Antonio Riveters are eligible, but from the results this weekend, I am keen to keep them in Women’s D2. Women’s D2 has been hit pretty hard by COVID across the country and as a union we should focus on raising the rest of the women’s D2 teams as opposed to pulling San Antonio and putting them in D1. My opinion is that we have too many women’s clubs with too few players to really compete in XV in that bracket. Perhaps we can play sevens across the fall in smaller clubs and reform in the spring for an XV season.
      2. Hanlon: I don’t think that’s really going to help, the best players will just go to the best clubs.
      3. Keuppens: Maybe we should table this conversation until the parties mainly representing the women’s game (Fosco, Roche, Young) are on the call?
      4. Dodge: I got pretty involved this year when I looked at my club.
      5. Hanlon: In New Zealand we had everyone play once, then be reseeded into different divisions based on how that first match went.
      6. Keuppens: I tried something with the men’s comp a few years back and can look into it.
      7. Dodge: Does anyone on this call think San Antonio should be forced up into D1 because they won their division and had a +28 point differential average in all games? None.
      8. Dodge: For automatic relegation as per the policy states, we have a number of teams eligible on forfeit basis alone. Our rules on forfeits do not distinguish between played and unplayed because it denies the opposing club the ability to play a league match. This is for promotion/relegation as opposed to fines/etc. I haven’t had time to dig into it, we did discuss last month’s meeting, but does anyone have time to look at who is subject to automatic relegation?
      9. Kurylas: Who has the list of all the unplayed forfeits?
      10. Dodge: It is in last month’s meeting
      11. Kurylas: OK I can look through it and compile a list of teams that are subject to automatic relegation.
      12. Dodge: Awesome. I also don’t know what a league structure would look like if we subject all those clubs to automatic relegation. I would like to stick with the schedule where the multi-side clubs all play each other and single-side clubs play each other if the leagues are still viable.
      13. Keuppens: I agree and I think there needs to be a national level conversation on the delta that exists between single sided and multi-sided clubs. Until we can progress to a National D1B championship pathway, I believe most of the single-sided clubs will continue to suffer in competition with the multi-sided clubs. You could argue the D2 teams that are advancing to the National Championship aren’t “true D2 teams”. Regionally though there’s a delta between true D2 and D1b. If we can find a way to bridge that gap.
      14. Dodge: Yeah the only way is if we group promote a number of D2 clubs in California or Florida to D1. I had a conversation with a few of the Tampa and Palm Beach guys this weekend on the lack of D1 in the country and travel was the biggest concern.
      15. Keuppens: Yeah if you look at the rosters in the Gulf Coast final, Charlotte had several players who recently played in the MLR. And Austin had several D1-quality players. So the question is – are these really D2 teams? Seems like there is a lot of sandbagging going around on the D2 level. This hurts the difference between D1 and MLR, because then MLR may feel that club rugby in the states isn’t viable. And we need MLR to view our club programs as a viable pathway.
      16. Dodge: I don’t disagree with that. No one club in Florida will step up and become D1 because then their closest competition is here.
      17. Keuppens: What was the format when the Huns/Reds all were D2 and went up to D1? Seems like there was a big agreement.
      18. Kolberg: I can only speak for Dallas. We just made the decision that we weren’t going to go D2, because we were striving for better. Both the Huns and we announced it at the big TRU meeting.
      19. Keuppens: So it was just two independent clubs that made that decision at the same time.
      20. Dodge: But that’s joining an existing D1 comp, not creating your own.
      21. Keuppens: We’ve seen existing D1 comps go extinct, maybe not a conversation for us but one that can be had at the next level. Maybe it’s like Gordon’s proposal or a Hong Kong format where you play and place yourself. 
      22. Hanlon: We’ve spent 10 minutes talking about teams in other regions, but the focus is how we can help our teams and our region. The difference between multi and single-sided clubs is the number of players being used. Multi-sided clubs are using a pool of 60 or so players to fill out their d2 side. There’s no real cohesion there. We as a competitions committee are supposed to run a competition and make rules. We’ve been a little fast and loose this season with situations we haven’t seen before. It all comes back to the decisions we are making and what we are doing. In the first call, Dodge said the goal is to send the BEST team to the national championship. So how do we create the best competition and find the best team?
      23. Dodge: I don’t know if we can ignore the national rules.
      24. Hanlon: No I don’t mean that, but why are we discussing what California teams are D1 or D2 or what, they need to figure that out.
      25. Dodge: I think we have “D1 players” all over the country but they sometimes don’t live in a town with a D1 club and don’t want to travel or move or play MLR. We have to consider what is happening outside our region in order to put  the best team that can prevail against the opposition. Maybe Palm Beach isn’t a d3 club here, we just need to figure out how to deal with it. I don’t think we’re going to solve that here tonight.
      26. Hanlon: So the player spreadsheets and data I sent through, this committee is not representative of the entire state. There’s a lot more members of multi-sided clubs on this council. If we’re going to be talking about competitions moving forward, maybe we should take a bottom up approach and create a stable base. We were just being a bit fast and loose with the rules. We talked about the national substitute rules, and they could only have 4 but then our teams had 5 or 6. If you start a D1 game you can’t start a D2. We’ve had players starting in both games. We’ve had D1 starters on the bench in D3 games. I looked at our registration form. I’ve been at the games and there’s only 20 players but CMS will have 23 and substitutions that didn’t exist are in CMS. 
      27. Dodge: I think we should call that out when it’s happening.
      28. Hanlon: In Germany we had to confirm rosters before the match. Here the CMS rosters aren’t even locked until the week after. I did the statistical analysis and in the Huns/Reds game in November there were no substitutes marked in the match but I looked at the photos and clearly substitutes plates. If we have printed rosters and the referee signs off on it, then there is no messing around after in CMS. 
      29. Kolberg: We used to do that a few years ago when CMS first started. The opposing team got a copy of our roster.
      30. Hanlon: I think it’s a simple thing and just needs to be signed off on. Without that, there’s a way of gaming the system. When teams forfeit, the roster is usually much different than would be if it played. Let’s tighten up the rosters and stick to the rules we make.
      31. Dodge: Everyone has the opportunity to do a bookcheck before a match and we are supposed to be exchanging rosters. I think it’s a tall order for the referee to keep track of substitutions that closely. That’s probably more than we should put on a referee.
      32. Hanlon: Don’t the referees mark who came on and who came off?
      33. Keuppens: They mark that a substitution was made. Is there a way to program CMS so a roster change cannot be made post kickoff? You can go on your phone and change the roster during a match. Maybe if it can automatically lock at kickoff.
      34. Hanlon: How do we address the substitutes then?
      35. Dodge: There are four hard subs and four soft subs. Hard subs are people who have not played in a lower division match. Soft subs can play in a lower division match. I looked at your data and there were some things I didn’t think were correct. I think some data was based on preliminary rosters
      36. Hanlon: Rosters were always done the wednesday after the match. I’m looking at subs that are not noted in CMS but happen and affect eligibility. I saw a game where a player was a sub, but was never marked as subbed in, but then got a yellow card later in the match.
      37. Dodge: We can have referees mark substitutes and compare the numbers of how many subs there were after.
      38. Keuppens: I don’t think these are malicious, CMS can be a bit clunky and I think if we had an easy app based proces, it would be easier to do. Usually clubs have one or two people that are really good at using CMS. There’s no excuses on the sub mistakes but I believe the process can be easier. I agree with you Gordon, there is an issue, but I think it lies with the system itself. I think it was developed for levels that have more organizational support than most clubs.
      39. Hanlon: I think it was your club that didn’t put in a fullback for D2 but then the starting prop for D3 was the starting fullback for D2. If we go through the CMS today, there are more clubs that have more than 4 soft subs. At least three teams have had games with more than 4 soft subs.
      40. Kolberg: It seems to me that a lot of what we are talking about is failure to whoever is putting in data. It’s not that hard. On D1 and D2 games, there’s no reason you cannot give rosters to a number 4 and have them monitor subs. It sounds like people aren’t doing their jobs and we are trying to work something out where people cover other’s asses.
      41. Dodge: Anything further on about league structure? I guess this is just a general league concern. Moving on to new clubs and expansion sides.
    2. New Clubs / Expansion Sides:
      1. Dodge: The sHARCs want to add an expansion side. Any other clubs anyone has heard about? 
      2. Kolberg: Do they have the people?
      3. Dodge: I told Paul he needs to look very closely at the numbers they have. They’ve been doing a lot of recruiting and are going to play a lot of sevens this summer. Pretty preliminary in talks right now but we need to come up with a set of criteria to stress test teams in order to test new and existing clubs for viability. What do you guys think? What existing clubs did the prior season is a good data point. Participation of sevens is another data point. We have to make decisions on league structure and promotion during a time period that precedes the next season. Do we do some sort of fall comp to determine spring league comp?
      4. Keuppens: I love that concept. Even if it’s a brief thing. Those matches can even count for nationals. We can do North/Central/South. We can kind of guess who the top and bottom teams are entering the comp. If we talk to every team in the union in the middle of the summer about where they are going to be in January, you’re going to get an optimistic answer. No one will say “we’re screwed please relegate us”.
      5. Kolberg: It seems to me that we should create the highest level of comp in the fall to showcase and promote the players who want to be in the MLR. If we have that competition, the MLR teams will come and watch our players. I think that’s what we should do in the fall.
      6. Hanlon: Is the all-star comp still going ahead?
      7. Dodge: There are discussions on a men’s national all-star comp in the fall. There’s talks of a regional comp working with the MLR.
      8. Hanlon: From working in the MLR, its not high on their agenda. If you do combine with MLR they will put their coaches and admin in place. How do we develop our coaches in admin? That’s another tangent. Are you considering putting Men’s D1in the fall?
      9. Dodge: No I think it’s more of the lower level teams that we can play out and then decide where they fit in the competition. This will encourage players to register early.
      10. Hanlon: Maybe we have a regional D4 that plays to be in D3. If you can’t show up for four games in the fall how do you play 7 or 8 matches in the spring?
      11. Keuppens: I think that model helps clubs gain momentum in the fall so they can continue to the spring. I think a comp in the fall is great, and can be treated as a pre-season.
      12. Kurylas: if some clubs struggle with numbers and long seasons, will this help or hurt them? I love the idea but asking a D2 or D3 single sided club to play 13 or 14 matches might be a lot.
      13. Keuppens: In the Northeast we played a split schedule due to winter. It creates some unique challenges but they make it work. The precedent exists. Perhaps you only have to enter one side or you’re only held to the performance of your top side. I know coaches from overseas argue that we don’t play enough rugby in america. 
      14. Hanlon: I’m looking at the standings. For the whole D3 comp, the Huns D3 had three forfeits. McAllen came last but didn’t forfeit a match. I see clusters of forfeits but they are not entirely widespread. Maybe we should just ask the D3 clubs what they want.
      15. Kurylas: We did play a lot of rugby this year.
      16. Hanlon: If you think of what percentage of your club will play in what percent of games. An individual might play 3 or 4 games of rugby and one friendly. If we can organize this in the fall, and then have everyone ready to go in the spring. 
      17. Dodge: Gordon and John do you want to reach out to the D3 clubs and see what they liked and didn’t like this year regarding divisional fit and comp structure?
      18. Keuppens: One more thing on league structure. I’m of the personal opinion that continuous sides are better for league competition. I would be in favor of encouraging a D1 to have a D2 rather than a D3. I feel it’s more challenging for players to move between D3 and D1 than ½ or ⅔. I would like to know John’s opinion on this.
      19. Kurylas: From my perspective, I had a desire to be continuous, but playing D2 would be a real stretch for our D3 players. A few have played D1 because of injury.
      20. Keuppens: But not all players are aspirational, so they are able to play D3 but have no desire to play D1/2.
      21. Hanlon: Was that rule changed with Phil Camm and the Griffins?
      22. Dodge: We didn’t make a change, it was changed and we allowed clubs to take advantage of it. The first time we allowed it was with the Quins. I’m not a huge fan of the non-contiguous sides. It makes it very complicated with the structure we have now. Especially when a different D2 club hops in to fill that gap with triple-sided clubs. Maybe we add those non-contiguous sides to this fall comp to see where they land.
      23. Keuppens: Perhaps that’s a set up to fail type situation. If the D1 guys play down, it may rank them higher but then the full season comes up it’s all D3 true players.
      24. Hanlon: If a single sided club won D3 and was subject to promotion but said they’d struggle we would tell them to recruit and get better.
      25. Keuppens: I think we did ourselves a disservice but not forcing promotion earlier, that’s we applied the “can only object once”.
      26. Dodge: And we pushed San Antonio up from D2 to D1 and that was a disaster. 
      27. Hanlon: I think if we remove the National Pathway for D2 and D3 we would see who really wants to win a national title and wants to be a social club.
      28. Dodge: Back to new clubs and expansion sides, Rugby HTX wants to be a full member and not just play friendlies.
      29. Keuppens: As far as player movement, how does that work with MLR?
      30. Dodge: I think they are still subject to the rules as they apply to all D1 clubs. 
      31. Keuppens: At the end of the day we need more D1 men’s competition. I think from a competitive standpoint it makes sense.
      32. DodgE: Yes, we need a D1 club in Houston. When they first approached me I was thrilled.
      33. Keuppens: And two years ago they were getting quite good.
      34. Hanlon: The MLR rules are whatever we want or whatever it says. We can actually decide how many games. Unless it’s a national level thing.
      35. Dodge: Yeah it’s a national rule. You can play up to three MLR matches before being barred from the comp. For D2 its two and D3 its one. As people become more comfortable with the MLR, it will likely become looser, not tighter.
      36. Hanlon: I wonder if it will then become like New Zealand in terms of suspension too.
  4. 7s
    1. Dodge: Let’s go on and move to sevens. Conversations there are seeding, ref subsidizing, and qualifier capped entry fees.
    2. Keuppens: So seeding you are asking seeds to nationals that we get. Probably one guaranteed, same standard as previous years. Unfortunately the second seed from Texas always finishing dead last or second to last. (or lower than last). I’m looking at a few multi-pathway avenues where we can have a handful of seeds. At the end people can apply for those seeds based on how hard it was to qualify. It’s a bit of a moving target because last year’s Nationals wasn’t quite consistent or qualifying based. That being said, there are no other regions that have been guaranteed more than one. It will be based on what we feel the strength of their participants will be. That will base off rosters and early performances. It might be that every region gets 1 seed. There’s also a third option I’m looking at where the top two silver cup teams after pool play go to Signes cup and the bottom two are dropped down. Then it makes pool play more relevant. I’m trying to create a committee with representation from all over but not many people put their hands up to volunteer. There are also a number of struggles with the old CR format. For instance Frontier has very few teams but are very good. SoCal has a ton of teams but isn’t very strong. NorCal is looking at a PRP type model where they combine to share their seeds. Then PNW gets left out and has to do their own thing. The South is trying to get more competitive.
    3. Dodge: Bottom line is, we shouldn’t count on more than one seed coming out of Texas.
    4. Keuppens: Its not not possible but don’t count on it.
    5. Dodge: So talking about referee subsidizing.
    6. Keuppens: Yes we spoke about creating a grant to subsidize the cost of referees for sevens, helping out the hosting club. But then in order to do that we would have to cap the entry fee so clubs can’t just pocket that additional cost. In order for those tournaments to be economically viable that grant would have to come first.
    7. DodgE: We haven’t discussed the TRU level first. There is an existing format though right?
    8. Keuppens: Yes, in the hybrid format there is an existing cost-splitting format. The convo might be had as if the hybrid tourneys are subsidized. I’d be concerned from an equitable standpoint because then the non-hybrid TOLA tourneys would be at a disadvantage.
    9. Dodge: I recall it being if 15% of teams are competing for qualifying teams then 15% off ref fees?
    10. Keuppens: I think it was a set fee. If it’s a set fee then it would discourage teams from going. Making it the percentage of teams conflicts with the social tournaments trying to build up. I think it’s been a 1:1 you get X per team. It’s based on referees, they are allocated to do a certain number of games per day, etc.
    11. Dodge: I’ll try to dig my notes from it. I’m sure it’s in the TRU notes as well. In the TOLA list we should add the Denton tournament on May 21. We should get them to provide a website link to provide in the schedule. 
    12. Kolberg: Are you going to make the decision next week on the cap on the qualifiers and the referee portion?
    13. Keuppens: It has to be next week right?
    14. Kolberg: Bloodfest has their entry fees set right?
    15. Dodge: I understand that if a cap is implemented then Bloodfest will rebate those teams. 
  5. HOF
    1. Nominations – Due by May 15
    2. Save the Date – HOF Banquet –  August 27, 2022 in Houston, TX
  6. Summit/AGM – Houston, TX on August 26-28, 2022
  7. Upcoming Milestones
    1. Dodge: Here are the upcoming milestones for this committee:
      1. League Structures/Divisions – June
      2. Elections – August with AGM/Summit (open nominations in July)
  8. New Business
    1. None: 
  9. Adjournment at 9:30pm