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TRU Board Meeting Notes – 5/15/23

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. Kurylas
      3. Martin
      4. McPhail
      5. Dodge
      6. Hiller
      7. Tate
      8. Tomsak
      9. Ohmann-Wilson
        1. Regrets
          1. None.
    2. Forfeits
      1. NEW
        1. 4/1 DARC vs Huns MD2 – Huns unplayed forfeit, notification on time
        2. 4/1 Corpus Christi MD3 QF – Corpus unplayed forfeit, notification on time
        3. 4/15 BARC v HARC W – BARC played forfeit, notification on time
        4. 4/22 HARC v Quins W – HARC unplayed, notification on time
        5. 4/29 Utah vs Austin W – Austin played forfeit, notification on time
          1. Young: Nothing for the Board to act on, this is just the running list.
          2. Dodge: Just looking at this, and the Previously Reviewed list, it seems more than normal?
          3. Tate: Yes, it is more than normal. We are still not back to pre-COVID levels as far as members and ability to finish matches. If this continues we need to keep an eye on it and try to diagnose what is causing the problem. Usually the lack of bodies is a symptom of administration as far as coaches and team support. We need to make sure that we need to provide teams with the right tools and that is what the Summit can be used for. I have been thinking there is a rugby culture issue with the Union. I can remember a time when forfeiting a match was unthinkable. 
          4. Dodge: Agreed, more info is needed.
          5. Tate: You’d go with 12 and lose by 100 points but you fulfilled the match.
          6. Dodge: Yes, I have seen clubs go with 13 players and win. Maybe it is a change of culture in that more people are living their lives online rather than in person, damaging recruiting or the willingness to travel?
          7. Tate: I think there are a lot of things…teams used to travel by carpool and now players go in separate cars. The world is changing and I’m not sure our culture has completely absorbed those changes. 
          8. Dodge: We may need to review the forfeit fine policy, it is currently geared towards covering the Union (referee cost) and host club. We don’t penalize teams (other than competitively) for forfeits reported early.  Maybe it needs to be more stick than carrot? Some leniency for forfeits makes sense to me, but at some point forfeits begin to threaten the competitive structure.
          9. Tate: We have pretty broad control over our local competition while the National eligibility really focuses on the number of games of teams and players. For example, if in order to avoid a forfeit, a team needed to borrow a couple of players from their opponent and we wanted that game to count in the standings…I think we have the freedom to do that. As long as everyone is registered.
          10. Dodge: I don’t know if the changes to the eligibility rules go that far. This would almost be a MD4/WD3 standard where we allow guest players.
          11. Tate: So, I’m dating myself but I’m thinking about the old days where we were short on players and we borrowed players from the other club. This was before competition systems and such and no one cared. This wouldn’t affect teams at the top of the competition but it would allow teams at the bottom to have matches. If we eliminate the penalty, does it help make sure games happen?
          12. Dodge: I don’t know if the eligibility rules would allow this, but putting that aside, what would it mean for clubs that were advancing?
          13. Tate: Right, we wouldn’t want to put any of our clubs in jeopardy. The top teams more than likely wouldn’t need to borrow players. 
          14. Dodge: Let me make sure I understand, you are suggesting that the match is counted as a league match? 
          15. Tate: Correct. If you do a played forfeit and borrow players then it does count as a league match. Does the fact that the game is going to be counted as a loss a disincentive?
          16. Dodge: Seems like the flip side is if this proposal is a disincentive to recruit enough players to fill a full side registered with your Club. 
          17. Tate: I have a lot of opinions about that but they are not likely to be approved. I believe that an 8 person roster is very bad for growing the game. A 2 person or a 4 person bench means that you need to recruit five or more. But getting from 23 to 50 is a huge difference. I have seen clubs sit on 27 or 28 players while their core is getting older and suddenly the club isn’t viable because 5-10 players leave, retire, go across town, etc. This is really what MD4 and WD3 were supposed to be, a place for matches to happen and that could be Bside or new sides. This enables clubs to put a second side on the field while sharing players if needed.
          18. Dodge: Assuming the eligibility rules would allow what you’re suggesting, I’d like to get a little more information about why teams are forfeiting before we make any changes. I’d hate to see this used as a loophole. Pre-COVID there was also a discussion of the MD2 South sides having MD4 sides, given their relative geographical concentration, and the existing concentration of D4 sides in the DFW area. That division has flexible eligibility rules which might be a better avenue for growth than making RRRC/TRU specific eligibility rules.
          19. Tate: Maybe we need to rebrand that division. Maybe it needs to be called the Bside or Growth division. 
          20. Hiller: Developmental division.
          21. Dodge: I don’t know that branding is the issue, but we need a core of teams to participate in it. The only 3 that participate in the North are DRFC 4, Las Colinas and Ft Worth’s second side. We need critical mass for D4 to work, preferably in all of our major cities.
          22. Tate: This could be a whole meeting by itself. I think it’s worth thinking about and I know how to do it one on one but I haven’t figured out how to generalize that experience for the Union with league structures that encourage growth..
      2. Previously reviewed
        1. 12/17 Little Rock vs Denton M – Denton played forfeit
        2. 1/14 – Huns III vs HURT II M – HURT unplayed forfeit with late notification / TRU fined per policy
        3. 1/21 Grand Prairie vs HURT M – GP unplayed forfeit, notification was done before deadline, no additional sanction
        4. 1/14 Corpus Christi vs ORC M – ORC unplayed forfeit with late notification, TRU fined per policy
        5. 2/4 Shreveport vs Kingwood M – Kingwood unplayed forfeit with Sat morning notification
        6. 2/11 OKC Crusaders vs Denton M – Denton played forfeit
        7. 2/18 Blacks v Grand Prairie MD1 – GP unplayed forfeit by, notification on time
        8. 2/18 Arrows vs Kingwood M – Kingwood played forfeit, notification day of
        9. 3/4 Quins vs Valks W – Valks played forfeit
        10. 3/4 Denton v OKC Tribe M – Denton unplayed forfeit, notification on time
        11. 3/4 Little Rock vs Dallas W – Dallas played forfeit, notification on time
        12. 3/25 Dallas vs Austin Valkyries W – Austin unplayed, notification on time
        13. 3/25 Huns vs Grand Prairie MD1 – GP playfed forfeit, no notification
        14. 3/25 HURT vs Grand Prairie MD3 – GP un-playfed forfeit, notification on time
    3. Disciplinary
      1. Judicial Office Training
        1. Tate: We are excited to note that Zachary Hiller is attending Judicial Office Training in a few weeks. Also the Senior Club Council is endeavoring to have people all over the country to engage in that training. So Zach will be attending on behalf of the TRU but the hope is to have lots of people engage with it.
        2. Hiller: I’m excited to attend and glad the Union is prioritizing this training.
      2. John White Misconduct Decision
        1. Tate: We had a disciplinary matter that was filed by one of our members. It was not filed by anyone on this Board. Because a large number of individuals on this Board and the DC Chair were copied on some of the texts, it was felt that there were conflicts and that ruling on the matter would be inappropriate. Therefore it was moved to the USA Rugby Disciplinary Committee who did their own review, investigation and ruling. I want to consult with Megan Braun on how we should handle the publication of the ruling and such.
    4. RRRC Championships
      1. Recap
        1. MD1: Austin Blacks
        2. WD1: sHARCs
        3. MD2: San Antonio
        4. WD2: Little Rock
        5. MD3: Austin Blacks
    5. Gulf Coast Super Regionals
      1. Recap
        1. The only advancing club from the TRU is the MD3. San Antonio M and Little W both had very tight matches and should be incredibly proud of their performance and season.
    6. USA Rugby Nationals – Jun 2-4
      1. Young: The USAR Club Competitions Committee has released the Team Packet and it’s on the USA Club RX site. It is a working document meaning that there is lots of information in there and more detail will be built out soon.
      2. Dodge: There is still one Super Regional left, right?
      3. Young: Yes, Northern is this weekend. You can find out more about their SR here: https://www.midwest.rugby/2022-23-northern-super-regional/. They do not appear to be streaming their event.
    7. Team Grants
      1. Tate: We have an amazing grant program with the TRU where we reward the teams that make it past the postseason. We have three teams that made it to Gulf Coast, Blacks MD3, San Antonio MD2 and LIttle Rock WD2. Then Blacks MD1 and sHARCs for WD1 also made it through to Nationals. So, the Austin Blacks are receiving a grant for MD1 and MD3. San Antonio and Little Rock received grants for traveling to Gulf Coast. Now that the sHARCs have qualified, they will also receive a grant. All of our teams should be very proud and we wish those that have moved on the best of luck!
      2. Young: We get questions about this every year so I want to mention that the team grants policy can be found in our Operating Procedures: $25 per registered player will be allocated for the club per playoff round. Maximum grants is the dues paid by the club that season and minimum is for 28 players. 
      3. Dodge: Ok, so as I understand the policy, the Austin Blacks should get ½ of their TRU dues per player for their 119 registered players for MD3 travel to the Orlando Super Regional, plus ½ of their TRU dues per player for their 119 registered players for the MD1 side to travel to nationals in St. Charles? But, no team can get a travel grant that exceeds the aggregate sum of what their players have paid in TRU dues?
      4. Tate: Correct. San Antonio got a grant of ½ of their TRU dues to travel to the Super Regional in Orlando. If San Antonio had advanced to Nationals, they would have received a travel grant of the other half of their TRU dues as a travel grant to St. Charles, MO.
    8. 7s
      1. RX registration of “new” clubs
        1. Young: We received this question from a club: if they should register as a new club or use an existing one for 7s? This is a women’s club that will be pulling players from around the state. We’ve gone back and forth on this for years and my quick recommendation was to use an existing club. Transfer players and a coach and as long as everyone is registered it’s fine. Getting a new club in RX can be a lengthy process and clubs would have to pay another registration fee.
        2. Tate: I understand your reasoning and I’m OK with it in the short term. I think long-term we should have clubs set up a new team in RX. It can be a new club identity and makes it a clean break and easy for eligibility and such. If I were doing a 7s team that is going to compete in Qualifiers and I wasn’t associated with an existing club, I would make a new club. If clubs have problems getting their registration through just reach out to Wendy and Hansel.
        3. Kurylas: What about transferring players?
        4. Young: That is where it gets a little tricky, if it’s inter-Union then we can oversee that. From outside the Union or from At-Large then we have no insight into those. We would recommend that clubs start all of this planning and requesting transfers EARLY.
    9. AGM – IN PERSON and scheduled for Saturday, Aug 26 at 3pm
      1. Young: We will be having an in-person meeting this year as we are in need of a new TRU President and we have a whole slate of elections between the RRRC and TRU. Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) is officially scheduled for August 26 at the Summit in Fort Worth.
      2. Tate: We need to make sure folks know about this, can we plan for updates and push it every 2 weeks or so? We really want as many people to come as we can get.
      3. Young: Yep, we will really push this on all of our channels.
      4. Elections
  • President – Sep 2023 (3 year term)
      1. Vice President – Sep 2025 (3 year term) Tomsak
      2. DI M Rep – Sep 2025 (3 year term) Dodge
      3. W Rep – Sep 2025 (3 year term) Wilson
      4. DII M Rep – Sep 2024 (3 year term)
      5. DIII M Rep – Sep 2024 (3 year term)
  1. HOF – Aug 26 in Ft Worth
    1. Hotel Block
      1. Young: We have settled on a hotel in Fort Worth and have reserved a block of rooms. The block always fills up so get your reservation in! 
  2. Summit – Aug 25-27 in Ft Worth
    1. Hotel Block
      1. Young: Same as above, we have a block of rooms reserved for the Summit. Get booked because the block will fill up quickly.
    2. Course Registration
      1. Young: Course registration will be opening soon!
      2. Dodge: I’ll be heading up the administrative course this year. I know that eligibility rules compliance was brought up on the RRRC call, what other topics would this body like covered?
      3. Tate: Excellent, could you cover the importance of providing matches for players and how important that is for recruiting? I know this isn’t obvious but it’s how you can run a successful club. I think the more things we can offer that address the challenges that people have than the better off we will be. Navigating the bureaucracy is part of it but the real value is understanding how a side gets to 100 players. How do they manage that? How do DARC and Huns have their own land? How does a club go to the playoffs and not go broke?
      4. Dodge: Absolutely. Those are great topics. I also plan to send a survey out to all Club admins and see what admin challenges they face. Hopefully we can address some of those as well.
  3. 2023-24 Season
    1. Promotion and Relegation
      1. Tate: There’s only been about 50 comments on the posting from the RRRC about this. It is the same misconceptions and assumptions that we see every year. P&R is a two step process with an initial alignment with a comments and appeal period. All we’ve done is put out an initial alignment and we are in a period of comment by the clubs. Anyone can bring forward reasons for promotion or relegation before a final alignment is made by the RRRC. The appeals period is the opportunity for a club to cite things other than the obvious field results which could include coaching changes, finances, travel, player numbers, player turnover, club infrastructure, all those things can be taken into consideration. Clubs are encouraged to check the RRRC notes and respond to them directly if they desire to be in another division other than the initial division alignment.
      2. McPhail: Thank you to those that have been engaging on the Facebook thread.
    2. New Clubs
      1. Collin County Copperheads M in Anna, TX
        1. Young: They are the only club that has started the formal process, they have done their application and participation agreement so far. Hansel is engaging with them.
  4. MG All Stars – Dec 2-3
    1. Format change
      1. Young: Since we had so much interest last year we are considering adding a third tier to the event this year. That would mean we move to a Cup, Plate and Bowl which would allow for 12 teams. We would still do full length matches and teams would only play in their tiers but winners would get hardware. Returning teams will be reseeded and new teams will enter into the Bowl and work their way up. We are pretty sure we’ll be in Houston this year, just confirming a few more details.
      2. Tate: I love that we are opening up the format. We want to be able to accommodate as many All Star teams that want to come. I think the tiered competition is fine and will build competition through the years. It also helps keep clubs coming back because they want to continue moving up in the tiers or maintain their status.
  5. 501c3
    1. Tate: No new news.
  6. New Business
    1. Eligibility Issues
      1. HTX M – players were on multiple rosters
      2. Ft Worth M – player was not on Ft Worth roster
      3. OKC Tribe M – no eligibility book at QF or Championships
      4. Ft Hood M – no eligibility book at QF or Championships
        1. Tate: The RRRC has shared that there were four issues with eligibility. I’m going to go from the bottom up. Ft Hood M showed up at Championships without an eligibility book. This has happened before with other clubs in the past and they were given the same considerations as before. The match was played under protest and documentation was to be sent in before the end of the weekend. As it happened they lost and so it ended there. They had a certified coach but he was on the field so the sideline was not “manned”. I believe the last time this happened was in 2019…the way we have handled it in the past is to probate sanctions as long as they send representatives to the Summit. We know the military teams are transient and leadership turnover is frequent. My feeling is that this is an opportunity to train a few folks up on their coaching staff.
          1. Tate: I also believe the military base has been renamed to Fort Cavazos.
        2. Dodge: I’ll be sure to build this into the admin course. I think the pre-COVID we instituted a program of spot checks of the eligibility book. We gave notice to the clubs before we did them but that might help going forward. That may be an option to help make sure clubs are sorted early.
        3. McPhail: We did talk about that on the RRRC call. I suggested Spring Break or at least once or twice a season to make sure that when we get to Championships clubs have books and essentially pre-checked. I also think we should recommend that every club has an administrator on their roster.
        4. Tate: USA Rugby doesn’t currently have an administration course and that is why we are creating it. We can start it as a goal, a requirement and something that we can build up. 
        5. Young: In our Club Requirements we have it as a goal that every club should have an administrator.
        6. Kurylas: I wonder if this is a turnover factor for them, they had a book last year because Kirk and I checked them in.
        7. Tate: The second club is the OKC Tribe M with a very similar fact pattern. They showed up but didn’t have all of their documentation, they played their Saturday match under protest and they won. They were able to get all of their documentation in by Sunday morning before their second match and we were able to confirm the team they fielded was legal. Again it highlights the lack of administrative capacity or the lack of paying attention. For them I would recommend the same process of sending a few folks to the TRU Summit and specifically the administration course. If they don’t attend then the probated fine would apply.
        8. Kurylas: On the RRRC call we recommended that these two clubs have to send two representatives to the TRU Summit.
        9. McPhail: Correct, the RRRC is not able to fine and so we wanted to get this issue over to TRU Board for review.
        10. Tate: Going forward I would like to remind the RRRC of their right to hand down sanctions, fines are up to us but the RRRC does have the right to make competitive sanctions if they see fit.
        11. Tate; Ok, so the motion is to have Ft Cavazos and OKC Tribe send at least two representatives to the TRU Summit and they must at the very least attend the administration course. 
        12. Hiller Do we want to include what happens if they don’t attend?
        13. Dodge: I always thought competitive sanctions rather than monetary fines are best. Frankly I think the RRRC should take that up first. 
        14. Tate: Yes, I agree that the RRRC should review again. From our end, I would suggest that the sanction is that these clubs must send two representatives to the 2023 Summit and if they fail to do so then they will be considered a club not in good standing. They would have to resolve their standing before being allowed to compete in the Fall.
        15. Hiller: I motion that Ft Cavazos and OKC Tribe must send two representatives to the 2023 Summit and if they fail to do so then they will be considered a club not in good standing. They would have to resolve their standing before competing in the Fall.
        16. Kurylas: Second.
        17. Tate: Any further discussion? None. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
        18. Tate: Ok, the next two are not play-off specific and were ongoing throughout the season. Ft Worth M had a player who registered by accident with Ft Wayne instead of Ft Worth. He was not present on their roster and they were notified through our ‘name withheld’ issue multiple times. This player played in multiple league matches but was not properly registered with the club. It was only resolved through an eligibility waiver late in the season. The problem that I have is that not that the player registered with the wrong club but the club chose to proceed without trying to resolve the issue.
        19. McPhail: Essentially we didn’t discover the issue until the playoffs because we couldn’t verify the player. The team was writing the player in on their paper roster and felt that covered their bases. They received plenty of notice that there was an issue but it was not properly looked into.
        20. Tate: This is clearly an administrative issue but it almost seems to be willful neglect rather than ignorance. This is not an issue of them playing a ringer so to speak. Technically they played a player that was not eligible and if we had discovered it earlier those matches would have been ruled a forfeit per policy. It is unfortunate that we didn’t catch it sooner because it could have been dealt with earlier. As Dodge mentioned, competitive sanctions are more effective than fines. 
        21. Dodge: I agree. I think it’s a technical violation but the clubs (including mine) could have also helped us discover this if a book check had been done. Clubs could have helped identify several of these issues if there was more in-season book check occurring. Not to excuse the behavior but there are other ways to resolve this.
        22. Tate: So the question is…do we want to take similar action as we have done for Ft Cavazos and OKC Tribe? Or do we chalk it up as something that we keep a closer eye on for next year?
        23. Dodge: What was the RRRC’s recommendation?
        24. McPhail: We felt it was a lesser degree of willful intent and so this would be a mid-range violation. Book checks have been in policy for decades and clubs should catch it first and then we are the backup. I think it falls under the same recommendation as the others that they attend the TRU Summit and specifically the Administration course.
        25. Kurylas: I motion that we impose the same as we did for Ft Cavazos and OKC Tribe.
        26. Dodge: Second.
        27. Tate; Any further discussion? None. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
        28. Tate: Ok, the last one is HTX. HTX had a player that wanted to transfer to West Houston. HTX and the Union released the player and he played in several matches for West Houston. But the player continued playing for HTX in MD1 matches and he played with West Houston. HTX approved this transfer and the player received notification of the requested transfer and its approved status through RX notifications via email. It is hard to believe that West Houston wasn’t aware that this player was also playing with HTX in league matches. In particular HTX requested to join our MD1 competition as a full member this year where previously they were playing as an affiliate member that was not eligible for playoffs. This change in membership status meant they had to follow all the eligibility requirements like all of the other clubs. This is clearly an eligibility violation and unfortunately it was not caught during the season with our challenges of getting up to speed with RX. Luckily it didn’t have any playoff implications.
        29. Young: RX also has a unique feature that allows players to be on multiple rosters as that is allowed in Australia. They will not be adjusting that feature at this time so we could continue to have issues like these.
        30. Dodge: Did he bounce back and forth between the two rosters, playing for one Club one week, then the other the next, then back to the first, all in league matches?
        31. McPhail: Yes, he is eligible for selection because RX allows him to be on multiple rosters.
        32. Dodge: OK, I just wanted to make sure that he didn’t put in a transfer, but never play a league match for the transferee club (here, West Houston).
        33. McPhail: No, that is not what happened. He requested transfer in the fall and it was processed. He then played several matches with West Houston and HTX throughout the season.
        34. Dodge: This would have been allowed if they were affiliate members but since they requested to become full members that is not allowed. I had a conference call with HTX when I was RRRC Chair before last season started and expressly explained that full compliance with the Eligibility Rules would be required if HTX wanted to compete for a Club national championship.
        35. Tate: Yes and I had the same conversations. McPhaill, I believe you also had recent conversations with their coaching staff?
        36. McPhail: Yes, after the issue was discovered.
        37. Tate: Ok, so how do we respond? We’ve spoken about spot checks and that is a positive step that will help in the future. These minutes will serve as a notification but we should also remind our members that book checks are the way to “catch” these issues.
        38. Tate: I don’t know that HTX sending people to the Administration course at the Summit resolves this.
        39. Dodge: I would suggest the Board impose that requirement, but that if HTX fails to attend, the RRRC should consider declaring any matches in which the player participated in a forfeit. Perhaps that would be a deterrent. Alternate sanctions, including expulsion from the MD1 competition, if the RRRC thought that was appropriate, given that attracting players to the HTX academy is their primary goal, could also be appropriate. I don’t believe expulsion from the league would be a good look for HTX.
        40. Tate: Are you recommending that the TRU and RRRC apply that sanction OR only if they don’t send someone to the Summit?
        41. Dodge: The latter. The lesser penalty is to send someone to the Summit.
        42. Tate: If they don’t send someone to the Summit then we move to the “stripping” as you mentioned?
        43. Dodge: I motion that we impose the same sanction but if they don’t send someone to the Summit we will effectively “strip” HTX of those matches that the player participated in.
        44. Martin: Second.
        45. Tate: Any further discussion? None. Any objections? None. APPROVED.
      5. RRRC Oversight
        1. Tate: Let’s add this to the next agenda but we can clarify for McPhail where his committee ends and the TRU begins. We can empower that committee and make it clear where the boundaries are.
        2. Young: You got it.
      6. USAR Dues Increase
        1. Tate; Discussions over community agreement and 2023-24 USA member dues are ongoing between the SCC and National Office. We will discuss that and TRU dues in our June meeting. Due to inflation, members should be aware there is the possibility of an overall dues increase.
  7. Meeting Adjournment (10:30 PM)