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RRRC Competitions Committee Notes – 7/10/2023

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. Kurylas
    3. Fosco
    4. Keuppens
    5. Martin
    6. Dale
    7. Horn
    8. Norton
    9. McPhail
    10. Hughes
    11. Hanlon
    12. Curl
      1. Regrets
        1. Roche
  2. 7s
    1. TOLA
      1. Keuppens: The standings are updated and for the men, Huns Blue are leading with 16 points with the Blacks at 14 points. A few other teams could catch up but they’ll need to stop these two teams. On the women’s side, Dallas leads with a tight race between the sHARCs, Quins, Valkyries and Maulgaritaville. There’s still lots of time left for this tournament, good luck to all the teams.
      2. Young: I’ll have the graphic updated tomorrow and will push it out!
      3. Keuppens: Have trophies been sent to Drew yet?
      4. Young: Not yet, will do that soon.
      5. Kueppens: Thanks!
    2. RRRC
      1. Men
        1. Dallas and the Huns have qualified for Nationals by leading the RRRC and performing well at the 1st Midwest Crossover tournament.
      2. Women
        1. HEB have completed almost all of their requirements as a club (need an updated copy of Constitution and Bylaws) and have participated in 2 tournaments. 
        2. Keuppens: As they are the only designated women’s team that would like to advance they have also qualified for Nationals. Congratulations!
      3. Trophies
        1. Keuppens: Have the trophies been sent?
        2. Young: Yes, trophies and medals are already with Kolberg.
        3. Keuppens: Great.
    3. Nationals Aug 12-13 in Madison, WI
      1. Keuppens: We’ve announced that Nationals will be in Madison, WI this year at the Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex. This is a really cool complex where multiple clubs play at and we are happy to be giving money back to the community. 
      2. McPhail: I’ve been helping with the bid and the communication has been great so far. Looking forward to the event!
  3. 2023-24 League Structures & Schedule
    1. Appeals to TRU Board
      1. HURT MD3/MD4 Relegation
        1. McPhail: We have only heard from one club that would like their relegation. This has been shared with the TRU Board and they will review next Monday.
    2. MD4 Structure:
      1. South: HURT (pending), Kingwood, HARC, Woodlands, Chupacabras (5=HorA / 4=H&A).
      2. North: Reds, FTW, Celina, Las Colinas, Diablos, Denton
        1. McPhail: Great work by Gordon and Blake working on MD4. There is understandably a bit of trepidation about if this will work, but the general consensus is that this was a really great idea.
        2. Horn: Yes, the clubs were great and very willing to work on this.
        3. Hanlon: The teams in the South are pretty excited as it will help them see new clubs instead of playing the same teams all the time. On top of that, this will allow clubs to play, grow and develop…then the transition to D1/D3 won’t seem like such a big leap.
        4. McPhail: Depending on how many teams that end up in MD4 it could still be home and away OR home or away. We’re trying to keep the travel local and it will be a spring only schedule. We’ll continue to also review the MD4 Guidelines now that the structure is almost there.
        5. Horn: Have we got confirmation from Woodlands and HARC yet?
        6. McPhail: I talked to HARC and I believe Gordon talked to Woodlands. Ft. Worth is also interested.
        7. Horn: Great.
        8. Dale: What about Lost Souls?
        9. Kurylas: I had reached out to them but didn’t hear back. I’ll reach out again.
        10. McPhail: What about a Grand Prairie second side?
        11. Kurylas: Not right now but we’ll see.
        12. Hanlon: I had a conversation with Mason Hering who is the commissioner of the D1A. He was curious if those players could participate in the division since there is no National Pathway?
        13. McPhail: I think the only issue is that they need to register with the TRU.
        14. Young: Yes, we’ve allowed this before when the college season is doing 7s, players can register with any club that they’d like. They just have to register with the TRU since those leagues aren’t always associated with USA Rugby.
    3. Women’s
      1. McPhail: I talked to KC over the weekend about how the women’s discussions are coming. Can you update the committee?
      2. Curl: Long story short we have looked at several scenarios to restructure the women’s division. We proposed one structure to the teams that we felt addressed concerns with travel costs, weather and other concerns that we had heard from the clubs. We proposed a hybrid D1 and D2 where the top four would play for Nationals and the bottom half would play for a local TRU Championship. Unfortunately the clubs didn’t approve the proposal and we appear to have a divide in how the teams want to participate. Most of the D2 teams appear to be focusing on playing socially instead of competitive. So we have a bit of a struggle with creating a structure that works for everyone and helps grow the women’s division. As of now we’re going back to our options and reassessing. We would like to encourage clubs to respond to our inquiries quickly as we try to formalize the league structure.
      3. Young: I would encourage the women’s reps to keep considering the other scenarios that we had looked at. In my mind the hybrid D1/D2 with sHARCs, Austin, Little Rock and Quins means that the teams that want to be competitive can do that and have a pathway. Then a TRU only D2 would sHARCs II, San Antonio, Dallas, Round Rock and BARC. This seems to be the option that solves most of the issues…this type of format can also allow teams to grow. One concern that has been highlighted is that some of the top teams are worried about the overall competition level with this structure. We continue to recommend that all teams look for matches outside of our Union and those that are at a higher competition level. The women’s reps are feeling a bit of pressure to get this done but we need time to continue looking at all the scenarios. Typically we have the entire month of July to settle this…has that changed?
      4. McPhail: We haven’t stated a date yet.
      5. Young: If we could do that, that would be very helpful. I understand we want to get the schedule going as quickly as possible but it feels like we’re being pressured to move really fast.
      6. Hanlon: We want something that works so I don’t think we should force the women to work faster than they need to. The other leagues also aren’t done either so it’s not like the women are behind. 
      7. Curl: I would appreciate some more time. What if we had until July 24 to continue working on this?. 
      8. Young: That seems fair to me.
      9. McPhail: We have this as an agenda item later on, let’s talk about it when we get there. In general, how are the women’s division looking as far as teams? Anyone dropping or adding?
      10. Curl: Same teams as last year except for the Valks dropped their second side. Everyone else is still participating. No new teams this year.
    4. MD3
      1. Hughes: We’re working on it, hoping to have more clarity by next week.
      2. McPhail: Yes, once the TRU hears the HURT appeal and determines what to do with the New Clubs.
    5. MD2
      1. Hanlon: For the TRU Shield that we’re proposing I was thinking of doing a set of Longhorns. How would I get that approved?
      2. McPhail: You would need to send a budget request to Kirk and Wendy.
      3. Hanlon: Ok, I’ll do that.
      4. Young: The only thing I would mention is that it can be custom but it also needs to be storable and repeatable. We’ve had trophies disappear over the years and we can’t always be replacing them.
    6. Spring only League season for which / all divisions?
      1. McPhail: What leagues want to play Spring only?
      2. Hughes: Definitely the D1 sides…usually lower divisions want more time between matches. It also depends on how many matches each side is playing. 
      3. Martin: TRRA prefers things spread out and not all in the Spring. We do service the TRU but also many other conferences.
      4. Hanlon: There will be fewer D1 matches this year with Grand Prairie dropping down. How does that help referees?
      5. Martin: It would seem like that would be helpful but it’s only 6 or so games. Particularly in the North we are always spread thin because of where the clubs play (field locations). Don’t forget we cover Shreveport, Little Rock, OKC and we have to cover D1A as well so we may have someone send referees to Lubbock and College Station. The more we can have matches at one or two fields that is the most helpful. This isn’t as much of an issue in Austin or Houston but particularly in the North that is always an issue.
      6. Norton: When does D1A normally play?
      7. Martin: Typically late Fall and early Spring.
      8. Curl: I think the women will continue to play in the spring, It is the overall preference.
    7. Next Steps
      1. Date to have League Structures Finalized
        1. McPhail: Ok, what if we say that league structures have to be done by July 24? Then we can get that over to Travis so he can start working on the schedule. We want to get the schedule to the teams ASAP so they can review and start booking fields/making plans.
        2. Hughes: I think this is OK, the real pressure is getting the schedule to the clubs so they can reserve fields. The women sometimes come in a bit later and that seems to have worked for them.
        3. McPHail: Ok, we’ll go with July 24 then.
      2. Share schedule with clubs on what date?
        1. McPhail: We want to try and get the schedules to the clubs to review by August 1. That opens the review period where teams can negotiate and make changes.
        2. Hughes: Games usually start the second weekend of November if anyone is wondering. I usually work backwards from when we know the Nationals date, then Super Regionals are chosen  and then we choose RRRC Championships. From there I can build the entire schedule.
        3. McPhail: Ideally Super Regional should be 2-3 weeks back and then our Championships is 2-3 weeks back from that?
        4. Keuppens: Yes, I think 3 weeks is best.
        5. Young: Do we want to wait a bit until we know the date for Nationals, I believe it is being reviewed by the SCC soon? Last year we got surprised when they moved the date of Nationals. 
        6. Hughes: That makes sense. I can also build the schedule with tentative dates and then just shift around once we know it. That won’t stop the work that I am doing.
        7. Dale: If the MD1 Championships is played at the same time as our Championships they don’t have a Super Regional and so they will still have a big gap like we did this year. Maybe we should have the MD1 play at Super Regionals?
        8. Norton: Could we play at Super Regionals?
        9. McPhail: Yes, you could play there.
        10. Keuppens: There may be considerations for player eligibility…
        11. Norton: But then we could get stuck having the top D1 TRU teams playing in the True South in 2025? Is that setting a bad precedent?
        12. Young: That year you just play at home.
        13. McPhail: There have also been discussions at the USAR Club Competitions Committee that every team has to play through a Super Regional. Wendy, where are we with that?
        14. Young: We haven’t had a meeting for July yet but that concern was raised by some Unions and there are informal conversations happening.
        15. McPhail: I would encourage our D1 reps to start looking at possible scenarios for Super Regionals. It may be an exercise in futility but let’s be prepared.
  4. RRRC Championships
    1. McPhail: We are hearing some complaints that teams don’t want to continue with back to back games on a Championship weekend. What if we did home SFs and then “Finals” only at the RRRC Championship? What does that do for player welfare? Revenue vs Cost?
    2. Norton: I would be open to that. 
    3. McPhail: I don’t know what that does for TRU budget, marketing and referee resources.
    4. Young: I think it’s doable but my first thought is that we could only stream the Finals and this would stretch our administrative resources pretty thin. 
    5. McPhail: What if we did Regional SFs? Like in the North, South and Houston and we picked different weekends?
    6. Young: Again, I think it’s doable but it could stretch our resources.
    7. Martin: We would still have multiple referee crews going out so it doesn’t really help with resources?
    8. McPhail: What if we had 4-5 matches at one venue? Would that help?
    9. Martin: Would that be a black out event?
    10. Young; Yes, we would have to make sure that no other games are happening in the TRU. We can’t control other conferences.
    11. Hanlon: Part of being the #1 is that you usually get a home game. This may take that away. If we do this I would advocate that the QFs are at the higher seed.
    12. Young: That’s a good point. 
    13. McPhail: I think that is the preferred way but I’m worried that we will run out of weekends.
    14. Hughes: That’s my concern…we already have so few weekends with Holidays and makeup weekends. This could mean games are starting earlier. I can make a mock schedule so we could see what it would look like.
    15. McPhail: That would be helpful.
  5. Gulf Coast Super Regional
    1. McPhail: I shared the draft GCSR document. The Summary is that we’d like to put out bids out by Jan 1 & announce by Feb 1. Need to pick dates based on RRRC / USA championships (May 18/19?)
    2. Young: The USAR Club Competitions Committee has recommended May 17-19. I believe the SCC is discussing this proposal.
    3. Keuppens: Yes, I think it is being discussed on the SCC.
    4. McPhail: If everyone can review the above document that would be helpful. 
    5. Young: We may need to ask for hosts of RRRC Championships and Super Regional at the same time. 
    6. McPhail: When did you post last year?
    7. Young: I believe we posted in December, we did it very early. I think we should do that again.
  6. Documentation Reviews 
    1. Promotion and Relegation Guidelines for inconsistencies
      1. Young: Upon reviewing the posted guidelines we found that the appeals section could use a bit more information. I’ve updated the website with the committee’s recommended changes.
    2. Review of MD4/WD3 Guidelines 
      1. Young: I also updated these on the website.
  7. Final list of names that are standing up / down for RRRC elections at AGM
    1. Elections
      1. Men’s DI – Dale
      2. Men’s D2 – Hanlon
      3. Men’s D3 – Kurylas
      4. Women’s – Fosco (not running again)
      5. At Large – Roche (not running again)
      6. TRRA (Martin not seeking re-election)
        1. Keuppens: Would we consider splitting the 7s out so we could nominate a TOLA and RRRC rep? Trying to manage both of these is too much for one person. We’ve also tried to backfill or have a sub-committee but that hasn’t seemed to help.
        2. McPhail: Would it be a voting position?
        3. Keuppens: Yes, I would view them as a divisional representative. I always want to get more people involved.
        4. Hughes: We also talked about this when D4 was created…there was a roadblock in that the Bylaws had a set number. If we want to start adding more positions we need to address it in the Bylaws.
        5. Norton: Isn’t there another At-Large position that hasn’t been appointed?
        6. Hughes: We’ve used the position in the past to bridge the Colleges or even some of the D1 teams that aren’t in our Unions. I’m not opposed but we would need to do it by the Bylaws.
        7. Young: If I recall correctly when Alan set up the committees USAR really wanted a set number of people on the committees. Some committees were bloated and unorganized.
        8. Hughes: I recall that as well, Sharpley really made it a big point.
        9. Keuppens: I would really like to advocate for this, it’s a big job and it’s too much. Frankly it’s been myself, Wendy and McPhail doing it for 15 years. We’ve tried to recruit and find folks that can be fully committed while being unbiased. 
        10. Norton: Maybe if we look at the Bylaws we can add a TOLA rep as a non-voting position. The challenge I see is that there aren’t really TOLA clubs like the other divisional positions. Who would be voting for it? If we have it as an appointed, non-voting position it gives a bit more flexibility.
        11. Keuppens: It’s kind of the de facto position that we’re in now. So I don’t know if that is any different.
        12. McPhail: Can we have a council of the hosts and they elect a representative?
        13. Young: I like that.
        14. Hughes: I also like that.
        15. Keuppens: We sort of did that in the past…I’m not totally opposed but I’m open to ideas. Having hosts involved is always a good thing.
  8. Call on Aug-14th? Meeting at AGM 26th?
    1. McPhail: Is a meeting in August going to be helpful for the schedule?
    2. Hughes: LIke we’ve been talking about, we need to get the alignment done by July 24. I’ll make a mock schedule looking at QFs, SFs and Finals on different weekends. But I don’t know if we need to have a meeting?
    3. McPhail: Ok, we’ll keep it TBD for now.
  9. Summit – Aug 25-27 in Ft. Worth
    1. Young: We’ve already received 40+ registrations, surpassing the usual numbers for this time of the year. It’s no surprise that Coach L1 and L2 are popular, and we have seen the most signups for the Rugby Knowledge Pathways which is really exciting. We are hoping to see more for Referee Talent Development as well as this is a very unique section with the sole purpose of offering continuing education for our existing referees. We strongly encourage clubs to identify leaders and players with potential and send them to this event. Building a strong support network within your club, with people fulfilling various roles, will contribute to its overall strength. Do note that if you sign up after August 14 you will not receive lunch or a conference shirt. Registration completely closes on August 21. We anticipate that this event will sell out and we continue to urge clubs to get registered NOW.
    2. McPhail: How are the sanctioned teams that need to go to the Summit doing?
    3. Young: I’ve heard from all the clubs. Everyone else has told me they are signing up or already have one person registered. Just a reminder that we required that these clubs send TWO representatives.
  10. AGM – Aug 26 in Ft. Worth at 3pm
    1. Young: We will hold an in-person AGM at the Summit on Saturday afternoon at 3pm. More info going up on the website soon.
  11. HOF – Aug 26 in Ft. Worth starting at 6pm
    1. Young: We are very close to selling out this event with 200+ tickets already sold. Currently we only have less than 60 tickets left and we are hearing that several other tables will be purchased this week. I know I sound like a broken record but this event will sell out so buy tickets NOW.
  12. New Business
    1. None.
  13. Meeting Adjournment (9:30 PM)

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