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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 8/8/22

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. Young
    2. Dodge
    3. Martin
    4. Hanlon
    5. Leming
    6. Dale
    7. Fosco
    8. Kolberg
    9. Roche
    10. Hughes
    11. Kurylas
      1. Regrets
        1. None
      2. Guests
        1. Alamo City
          1. Bill Harmon – Alumni
          2. John Dewitt – Coach
          3. Nathan Mittelstadt – VP
  2. Alamo City Appeal to fine and Playoffs
    1. Dodge: We have a few guests on the call that would like to appeal Alamo City’s fine and bar from playoffs. To quickly recap they were slated to play in the MD3 playoffs last season against the Austin Blacks, forfeited that match, and failed to properly notify per our regulations that they would be unable to field a side.  As a result of the untimely notification, there was no time to find another opponent for Austin.
    2. Mittelstadt: Hi there, current VP of the Alamo City team. What was stated above as far as the late notice is correct. We were working really hard to find numbers to play the match and it didn’t pan out due to injuries and pending Red card evaluations by the TRU DC. We didn’t have the number required for a safe rugby game. We understand that we’re being assessed a fine and a ban from next year’s competition. We wanted a better understanding of the fine and or playoff ban. Upon reviewing the TRU Forfeit guidelines it doesn’t appear that a forfeit would allow for a ban for the next season? Does the RRRC have the ability to place that on the next season?
    3. Dodge:  I want to start by noting that this Committee’s purview is only for the competitive sanction and the TRU Board would have to hear the fine appeal.  On the Committee’s decision on the competitive sanction, my recollection of the discussion on that is that the forfeit policy didn’t contemplate this situation so we had to make a decision as a committee.  The circumstance of the very late notice which didn’t allow a match to be played was an aggravating circumstance. For a better explanation of the Committee’s discussion, you can read the notes from that meeting. 
    4. Hanlon: For the financial penalty it would also cover costs for the Blacks and the expenses that they incurred because of the late notice. They had made preparations for the event.
    5. Harmon: Did you get my email on how we think this situation could be resolved?
    6. Dodge: Yes, I believe the committee received that and it was circulated to this group. 
    7. Mittelstadt: I understand that there are costs for hosting a match, Alamo City is prepared to pay the fine. We would still like to appeal a ban from playoffs for the 2022-2023 season. We also would like to apologize for this because this isn’t something that is normal for Alamo City. 
    8. Dodge: What do your numbers look like? Have you been participating in 7s this summer?
    9. Mittelstadt: Numbers are looking better and we are recruiting. We played at Bloodfest and 7s by the Sea. 
    10. DeWitt: We also played at Shamrock 7s. When it comes down to it, we treat 7s as a social side. We tend to mix and mingle with other clubs. As far as numbers look and as the Head Coach we had a lot of people affected adversely with COVID and their employment. This was a huge factor for the club last year as we had players that didn’t have jobs and they didn’t have insurance. The entire season we played short and when it came down to Playoffs I expressed my worries for fielding a side for the game. We initially had numbers on Tuesday night but by Thursday players started backing out. 
    11. Young: On Tuesday how many players did you have committed?
    12. DeWitt: 15 at least.
    13. Young: This is where the problem lies, you knew you didn’t have it on Tuesday. The team should have contacted us and we could have done something. Notification on Thursday was just too late.
    14. DeWitt: I encouraged our Board to send notification but it doesn’t look like that was done. We’re recruiting hard and it’s looking better for us. We have lots of college players and they are eager to fill in.
    15. Harmon: I would like to add that yesterday that I met with some old rugby dinosaurs to discuss strategies with recruitment. We are finding that it is hard to recruit when our season will end without a playoff or possible Championship.
    16. Dodge: I’m looking at the current list of TRU contacts and no one representing Alamo City on this call is on our list. Kat reached out to all contacts two weeks ago but it appears no one from Alamo City responded.  Are Patrick Costello and William Hannon still admins at Alamo City?
    17. Mittelstadt: Yes, some of those contacts are out of date but some are valid. We are restructuring and revitalizing everything with the club. As DeWitt mentioned, COVID hit our club really hard but we’re rebuilding.
    18. Kolberg: What were your pre-COVID numbers?
    19. DeWitt: We’ve usually had upwards of 25+ registered.
    20. Hanlon: I think it’s wonderful that you’re exploring new avenues but I’ve been involved with teams and there is always great excitement about these matches. Dotting the Is and Ts should be done well before Friday…shouldn’t it? You gave late notice and therefore the Austin Blacks were rested more than the other teams and that is a huge disadvantage.
    21. DeWitt: I totally understand that, I’m pretty angry that we didn’t play. I’ve been with the squad for 25+ years and this would have been my FIRST playoff experience. I can understand your frustrations and we dropped the ball. We want to apologize and we’re doing what we can to show you that this won’t happen again. 
    22. Mittelstadt: The other thing would have been if we had shown up with a short roster it may have been unsafe and a win for the Austin Blacks regardless. 
    23. Dodge: On the communication front, I would ask that you update your Contacts.
    24. DeWitt: We have club emails setup but many weren’t checking them like they should. We’re reinforcing that again.
    25. Mittelstadt: I agree and this new Board will be using the correct communication channels and ensuring our information is accurate.
    26. Young: Can you explain your Board makeup?
    27. DeWitt: Our Board is nine individuals and four of them are new. We do have some players that are aging out and we are looking to move them into Alumni roles. 
    28. Young: Ok, what about administrators?
    29. DeWitt: We don’t really do administrators but rather sub-committees. This is how we involve young players and they help out which leads to them becoming a Board member eventually. I wanted to ask about the playoff ban and that you mentioned that it isn’t in the rules?
    30. Dodge: That’s correct.  If you wanted us to point to a specific rule that if a team forfeits a playoff match this happens, we can’t do that. This is a situation that we hadn’t imagined and so the committee fashioned a ruling around an existing forfeit rule. 
    31. DeWitt: If you do try to enact this policy without it being written, is this something that you would add into the policy for the future?
    32. Dodge: This committee has historically followed precedent and in situations that have not arisen before, fashioned a remedy based on the existing rules that apply to analogous situations. An example is a team that knowingly played an unregistered player, and listed him under the name of a registered player on their roster. That situation we didn’t imagine and so we made a ruling based on the existing rules for playing ineligible players, recommended the TRU impose a fine, and reported the situation to the Disciplinary Committee. Was there something specifically codified to follow in that situation? No but we made a ruling based on the existing rules regarding the effect of playing an ineligible player and took further steps based on the evidence that this was done knowingly and in a secretive manner.
    33. DeWitt: My concern is that we’re missing out on Playoffs with a fresh crop of players that want to compete. They are indicating that they feel like they “are wasting a year”.
    34. Roche: What do you think would have been an appropriate sanction for this?
    35. DeWitt: My personal opinion is that we’re already paying a fine of $350 and an appropriate warning would have been to put us on some sort of probation. If we could have fielded every game without forfeiting and/or giving proper notice per the guidelines if we did have to forfeit then we should be allowed to play in the playoffs. If we don’t follow those guidelines then we aren’t allowed to play in the playoffs.
    36. Dodge: What you are describing as probation is the current policy–if you forfeit a league match, you are banned from playoffs.  If we follow your logic that the forfeit of a playoff match has no consequences in the next season, there would be no sanction for the forfeit.
    37. DeWitt: There is no written rule that says you forfeit then you are banned for the next year. It feels like we’re the guinea pigs.
    38. Mittelstadt: To answer your question, Kat, we feel that a probation period is appropriate. Alamo City has never done anything like this before. We recognize that the TRU hasn’t had to deal with this before either. I would like to say that if there are any issues in the 2022-2023 season with Alamo City then we will be banned from playoffs.
    39. Roche: I appreciate that and it was something we talked about, we know you’ve been a club with a long history. My question goes along the lines of Dodge’s point, if the point was to put you on probation for this upcoming season and then you forfeit then the sanction is the same. So the outcome is the same for what you’re proposing and you’re asking for a slap on the wrist. Forfeiting a playoff match the day before deserves more than a slap on the wrist. Is there anything more that you could offer that would be an appropriate sanction?
    40. DeWitt: What about probation for two years?
    41. Mittelstadt: My opinion would be that the fine is sufficient.
    42. Roche: The fine is completely different and given by another committee. This is the competitive sanction.
    43. Hughes: We need to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, not just with you but with all of our teams. We’re putting the schedule together and already fielding requests from teams concerned about the MD3 playoffs, they are concerned that this will happen again. They are proactively reaching out asking us to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
    44. Fosco: Unfortunately you were the first ones to do this and we did have to make a ruling. As others have pointed out we feel that this deserves consequences.
    45. Dodge: Gentleman, really appreciate you coming on here and bringing up your concerns. The committee will take time to discuss this. 
    47. Dodge: After hearing their concerns/appeal is there any motion to change our ruling?
    48. Dale: talking about precedent, if a player gets red carded in the last match of the season and the DC gives them a 4 week suspension it follows on to the next season?
    49. Young: Correct, it follows them until their next rugby match.
    50. Dodge: Yes and there are lots of things that we don’t have written rules on.  An example is the sucker punch in the handshake line at the end of match…we didn’t have a rule for that but we did sanction that club.
    51. Fosco: My opinion has been that we have been lenient in the past and it has hurt us. I know this is a huge consequence for this team and I don’t negate this but at some point we have to put our foot down. This may be their first forfeit but there is a rule on the competitive penalty for a forfeit. I think the ruling should stand.
    52. Roche: I agree with Mo, there big line is that this will be so hard to overcome. Exactly, that is why you shouldn’t have done it.
    53. Fosco: Teams know when they have the numbers and when they don’t. It seems clear they knew on Tuesday that they weren’t going to have enough, and failed to communicate appropriately.
    54. Roche: One of the biggest factors for me is that they never even contacted the Blacks. We had to do that.
    55. Kolberg: It comes down to their lack of leadership. They should have told the TRU on Tuesday and confirmed on Thursday that they couldn’t do it. That would have afforded us time to try and find an opponent. This is cut and dry for me, they did the deed and have to pay the price.
    56. Hughes: I’m glad they brought their concerns forward but they didn’t bring any new information here that would change my mind.
    57. Leming: When we boil it down to the point that it’s a clerical error, that is a different type of conversation. I’m not negating the impact that their clerical error had but just to say that their Director of Operations didn’t communicate…I struggle with that a bit. Even though I’m from San Antonio, they do have a long history with the TRU they aren’t in the same boat as other clubs…they don’t have big pipelines and so I do recognize that this could be a SMU death sentence for them. I don’t want that to go unnoticed.
    58. Hughes: I hear what you’re saying but there are other factors. They almost didn’t have a team last year and barely made the playoffs. I don’t know that they will be a contender but I don’t see it being a death sentence when you’re rebuilding. You can play games and not worry about the playoffs.
    59. Leming: Candidly what I see happening is that their collegiate pipeline will go to San Antonio or go up to Austin.
    60. Hughes: Maybe, maybe not. If Alamo City has the culture they want, that is the difference maker. When we originally made this decision we noted that they could have played with 12 guys. They could have forfeited and picked up guest players. 
    61. Martin: I also don’t appreciate that they didn’t offer anything up as a meaningful alternative sanction. They asked for leniency. 
    62. Roche: They are basically saying go double or nothing.
    63. Young: I agree, I wouldn’t see this as a death sentence but rather a rallying charge. Go win the league and show us that you belong there.
    64. Dodge: I’m not hearing a lot of support or anything that would support a motion. Any objections to allowing our existing ruling to stand? None. APPEAL DENIED.
      1. Dodge: I will notify Alamo City of our decision and that they have a further appeal with the TRU if they chose. They can also appeal their fine if they so desire.
  3. XVs League Structures/Schedule
    1. Finalize Playoff Pathways
      1. MD1
        1. Kolberg: I emailed the MD1 Club Presidents asking for input and heard back from all but HTX. The Huns proposed an idea for the playoffs, instead of a top 4 it would be an overall 1v2. Majority were in favor of the proposal. 
        2. Dodge: We didn’t talk specifically about when the match would be played but I assume it would be on the same weekend as RRRC Championships? Any objection to that consensus by MD1?
      2. MD2
        1. Dodge: The teams in the true D2 competition banded together to stick up for West Houston and indicated that since we’re adding Kingwood back into D3…West Houston should be moved up instead of relegated. I was the tie breaker vote on WH’s relegation and after talking to their leadership I am willing to change my vote and undo their relegation. Does anyone have an objection to this? None.
          1. Dodge: Hunter read the notes and noted that we had mentioned that he was a one-man show. He shared that he isn’t a one-man show but that he is the representative to the various committees.
          2. Hanlon: According to Hunter they are investing a lot in the team. The structure of this competition is that if you lose a certain number of games then you are relegated. There is a geographical reason and local rivalries and it just makes sense that West Houston stays in D2.
          3. Roche: I struggle with the wild ups and downs. They had three sides, they were away…I’m getting whiplash. 
          4. Dodge: Kat, I’ll tell you that I took some comfort that they have played in Lonestar, Bloodfest, 7s by the Sea, River City and Cherrybone. They tried to get into Hell or High Water but it was full. That’s not a bad run and it takes logistics to get teams together and have them travel. I know it’s 7s and not XVs but they’ve at least got it together to do that much. We could put the same conditions on then that we did for Kingwood or Huns D3.
          5. Young: I’m really torn here, what Dodge is saying makes sense, what Gordon says makes sense and what Kat says also makes sense…I realize that isn’t helpful.
          6. Hanlon: I think they need consistency and I think MD2 will give that to them. They have had ups and downs but this could help level them out.
          7. Young: This is almost what we’re asking of the Quins W this year…
          8. Hughes: We have to look at the planned division and if we move them up, we may act differently if there were more teams. We have to look at the whole picture.
          9. Dodge: And remember that what started this conversation was that we went back to the teams and showed them playoffs options. They were all complicated and if West Houston goes up to MD2 it makes it a bit cleaner. 
            1. Hanlon: I motion that West Houston remains in MD2, reversing our previous vote of relegation. Probation based on the previous conditions by Huns D3, etc. 
            2. Leming: Second.
            3. Dodge: Any opposition? None. APPROVED.
      3. MD3
        1. Dodge: HURT has requested to be able enter a D3 side. This request was not made until after we considered promotion and relegation, and admission of new clubs / sides, in July.  We pointed out that because of the structure they would be playing in the MD3 South and that could put their sides in multiple locations. Their response was that they would have double headers and arrange it so their sides don’t play on the same weekend for away matches. I responded that this defeats the purpose of having single sided clubs playing together because it could potentially give the larger club an advantage. Not that this would be done intentionally but you may bring some of your MD2 to the D3 match because you need to fill out the side, and the MD2 guys are gung ho to play. I asked if they would be comfortable with the Kingwood conditions around the number of players and asked for a response by Friday, and followed up on Sunday.  I haven’t heard back. It seems that they have a team and a half…enough players to probably build out a second side, but not enough to play two away matches on the same day.  I’d like to see those players play, but if we add them to MD3 South we’re creating an imbalance in the MD3 competitive structure by creating a subdivision with 6 teams, when the other MD3 subdivisions have 5.
        2. Leming: A couple of the Houston teams were offering players to West Houston early in the season last year. I say that because when we collapsed the true MD2 there was a caveat that the home team would hold a B-side or 3rd side match. I think one of the things to watch is registration transfers to fill out sides. 
        3. Dodge: Are you saying that you think there will be playing opportunities for HURT players that are more along the lines of B-side matches?
        4. Leming: Yes, that for sure but also the potential that if other Houston sides are struggling we may see these players transfer mid-season (legally).
        5. Hughes: I motion that we don’t allow HURT to enter a second side into the league competition for 2022-2023. They are free to play friendlies or social matches.
          1. Leming: Second.
          2. Dodge: Any opposition?
            1. Hanlon: Yes, there are guidelines in place for multi-side clubs and they should have that opportunity. I know this means there would be knockons to the schedule but let’s give them a crack.
            2. Kolberg: I agree with denying the request.
            3. Hughes: It almost seemed like HURT offered this up to try and help even out the MD3 South. It seems to have fizzled now that we have Shreveport in there. I don’t know how strong the desire is to move into D3 South. Without a strong message from them I don’t know why we should disrupt this division.
            4. Fosco: Could we request a response by a certain date?
            5. Dodge: I did that and haven’t heard back after two requests for a response. I circulated that email string to the Committee earlier this evening.  My feeling is that they would have responded back by now if this was something they really wanted to pursue. If they can go out and get some friendlies then we can revisit this for the next season. Any further discussion? None. Roll call vote on the Motion to deny HURT’s request to field a second side in MD3 South:
              1. Young: Abstain
              2. Martin: Yes
              3. Hanlon: No
              4. Leming: Yes
              5. Dale: Yes
              6. Fosco: Yes
              7. Kolberg: Yes
              8. Roche: Abstain
              9. Hughes: Yes
              10. Kurylas: Yes
                1. Yes, carries and HURT’s request to have a second side play in MD3 South is DENIED.
    2. Draft Schedule
      1. Dodge: Travis, does this give you a good start on the schedule? 
      2. Hughes: Yes, I should have a workable schedule by this weekend.
      3. Dodge: How is the WD1 schedule going?
      4. Roche: We work with Travis on the schedule. The majority of women’s teams want to be aligned with the men.
      5. Young: We have gotten lots of blackouts dates but we may need to go back to some clubs because they asked to be off for entire months.
      6. Dodge: Yes, the intent of asking for blackout dates is to work around weddings and such, not wishlists!
      7. Dodge: Tentative dates for playoffs, our dates are confirmed but USAR need to be confirmed:
        1. 4/22-23 RRRC Championships
        2. 5/6-7 USAR Round of 8
        3. 5/19-21 USAR Championships
  4. Rugby Xplorer
    1. Young: As previously mentioned we’re moving from Sportlomo and our current CMS to Rugby Xplorer. We’re doing the backend work now and expect registrations can be accepted with our new provider in the next 1-2 weeks. The registration cycle is technically opened but memberships won’t expire until August 31. 
    2. Dodge: Can we share the training videos and FAQs to our membership? The clubs will need to set up their Administrative Contacts. I’d also like to have TRU member training sessions if possible.
    3. Young: I’m nervous about Kat or I hosting one of these sessions as we’re just learning ourselves. The new UI is very user friendly but we need time to understand the system as well. 
    4. Dodge: Maybe we can ask USAR to do another session.
    5. Martin: Is TRRA considered a club in this scenario?
    6. Young: Yes, I believe so.
    7. Dodge: Did TRRA set up a fee structure in Sportlomo?
    8. Martin: Yes. 
    9. Young: Good catch, we need to get TRRA set up in RX as well. I’ll send an email to Jess at USAR so we can have an entity set up for you.
  5. 7s Update
    1. RRRC
      1. Dodge: Reds won for the men and sHARCs for the women, congratulations! They now move on to the USA Rugby National Club 7s Championships to St. Louis next weekend (see schedule).
    2. TOLA
      1. Dodge: Dallas White won for the men and Grand Prairie won for the women. Congratulations!
  6. Summit
    1. Young: Signups are looking strong, we still need more registrations for the referee courses or we may have to cancel one. Note that course registration closes on Aug 22, hotel block closes Aug 12. 
  7. HOF
    1. Young: Ticket sales are very strong with almost 150 seats already sold. Ticket sales end Aug 22 and the hotel block closes Aug 12.
  8. Elections
    1. Young: Posting soon! Open positions:
      1. MD1 – Kolberg
      2. MD2 – Leming
      3. MD3 – Hughes
      4. Women’s – Young
    2. Dodge: Wasn’t there another At-Large spot that was Chair Appointed?
    3. Young: Yes, there is a second At-Large that has previously been appointed to MD4 when it was really vibrant and by a College rep in that past.
    4. New Chair Election Process
      1. Dodge: Since I’m not running again, how did we do this when Alan stepped down? 
      2. Young: We did this in 2017: https://texasrugbyunion.com/2017/09/12/rrrc-chair-nominees-wanted-rrrc-competitions-committee/, we asked for nominations and then the Competition Committee reviewed.
      3. Dodge: Ok, I think we can follow this recipe and do it all together. Voting would be the difference here as the Competition Committee accepts the member’s nomination and then puts it forward. 
      4. Fosco: Yes and we held a call with the final nominees and then we agreed on their worthiness. Then we had an election among the Competitions Committee.
      5. Dodge: Ok, let’s stick with that. I know the Terms of Reference indicate that the Competitions Committee members are who will vote for the Chair, not general members. 
      6. Leming: And it would be the newly seated members who vote.
      7. Young: Agree.
      8. Fosco: Absolutely.
      9. Dodge: Ok, so we would seat the committee in Sep?
      10. Young: Not quite, probably October. We have indicated that we would follow the TRU format, accept nominations, forum at the AGM and then digital vote afterwards.
      11. Dodge: Ok, I think we can follow that with the caveat that the Chair is voted on by the Comp Committee.
  9. Summer AGM
    1. Young: Reminder that TRU Summer AGM is Sunday, September 11.
  10. New Business
    1. None.
  11. Meeting Adjournment (10:00 PM)