TRRA Board Meeting Notes 8/3/20

As proposed at the TRRA AGM of 2020 – the TRRA Board will explore posting meeting minutes for all members.

    1. Roll Call
      1. Roche
      2. Martin
      3. Herrera
      4. Waller
      5. Bayazitoglu
      6. Regrets
        1. O’Gara
    2. New Board
      1. Roche: First, welcome to Cesar Herrera and Mary Waller our new regional representatives! The start their terms in September but we wanted to welcome them in early to ease the transition.
    3. Kit Update
      1. Tanks
        1. Roche: Tanks are in production – about 39 unisex and 9 women’s preorder. The tanks were at cost so the TRRA made no profit, everyone paid what the tank cost to produce.
      2. Boonie Hats
        1. Roche: We also ordered 36 boonie hats to be put in the store, they are also in production and will be available to order soon!
    4. Membership Registration
      1. Roche: Obviously we are in the unknown with COVID, we don’t know when we will return and when we are able to play/referee again. Add onto that, USAR hasn’t finalized insurance carriers yet. So this is the time of the year we would be encouraging members to re-CIPP and make sure their memberships are good to go for 20-21. Currently members cannot even CIPP as USAR hasn’t finalized anything. So what do we want to do in terms of asking members to re-register and pay dues? It doesn’t seem right to ask for full membership dues when we don’t know what will actually happen this year, and how much rugby will occur. I don’t want to wait too long and have a massive rush a week before games start and members aren’t registered – but also don’t want us to only have half a year and ask for full dues.
      2. Waller: I agree, it doesn’t seem right to ask for money right now.
      3. Herrera: I agree as well, as well as USAR isn’t even prepared to collect CIPP money and we don’t know how much USAR will be charging.
      4. Martin: Has there been talk of uncoupling from USAR and their insurance?
      5. Roche: So NCR is going on their own road, but there’s already issues with that in regards to how games between them and USAR teams will be covered. As referees, we need to make sure we are covered in any game we referee.
      6. Martin: It sounds like the best move is to wait for more direction from USAR.
      7. Roche: Absolutely. On one hand, it’s not even our decision since USAR has not finalized insurance providers so if you tried to go CIPP today, you couldn’t. UPDATE: After this meeting, USAR posted about collecting for membership starting 8/10. The TRRA advises members to avoid registering until we explore more. 
      8. Martin: We can’t even start pre-charging the 265$ (TRRA dues + CIPP fee) because USAR may decide the new CIPP fee is 40$ and we have to refund everyone.
      9. Roche: Yep. I just want this to go out to the members and they can see “oh don’t worry about CIPPing yet, the TRRA is monitoring the situation and will let us know when we should start CIPPing” instead of not saying anything and letting people drop a bunch of money and not refereeing any rugby.
      10. Roche: Along with this, we have to consider the “paid positions” within the TRRA (admin, treasurer, assignments, education) are mostly paid by dues. So I believe the 7’s manager role (the only position still getting a stipend) should lapse at the end of August and no roles should be restarted until we start collecting dues again. Thoughts?
      11. Martin: Agreed
      12. Martin: Will monthly webinars continue?
      13. Roche: I mean, I will try, but I am already running out of ideas. It’s hard to focus on an hour on the scrum then go sit on your porch for the next three weeks and not get within 10000 miles of a rugby match. 
      14. Herrera: I have a friend in sports psychology that may be interested in providing us with a webinar!
      15. Roche: That would be cool. I am all for webinars continuing. I need help in coming up with what people want to hear about and more professionals to assist us.
      16. Martin: I am on the NorCal referee email list and they are all watching a specific game then coming together to share 2 or 3 things on a monthly call.
      17. Roche: Oh that’s cool, maybe that would work well as a regional thing?
      18. Membership Dues
        1. Roche: We have more time to talk about this since we aren’t collecting these right now. As chairman, I wanted to create different tiers of members, so full-time versus part-time would pay different dues and maybe get different kit. So reffing over 5 games a season you would pay more dues but also receive two jerseys, etc. This would involve having a different tier for most dual player-referees, where they would pay less up front and if they ended up refereeing as much as someone like Chris Pugh, we could hold a few payments until they paid up as a full member.
        2. Waller: I also think a different tier for high school players. It’s a lot of money for a younger kid and if we lowered the payment bar for them we could get more involvement. Maybe some of them just start off as ARs and we have an AR-only membership.
        3. Roche: The good news is that with Sportlomo, we can create different tiers with different payment amounts.
    5. Referee Payments
      1. Roche: So in Tim’s EOY speech, he mentioned possibly upping payments to 100$ per game. I ran these numbers and in this past year we had about 400 matches between September-March 7th. Increasing the referee payments to 100$ a game would cost us about 10,000$ more than we paid out this year. If we extrapolate from 2018-19 season, we have on average 650 games a year. That’s about 20K more paying out to referees. We would go bankrupt. So we cannot pay 100$ a game to each referee and continue to operate as we do. If we wanted to eliminate our additional insurance, referee camps, our AGM, anything fun, monthly webinars, etc – we could do it. But since that’s what makes us the best ref society in the country, it seems irresponsible to eliminate everything that makes us great just to pay the referees more. And we also need to note that TRU pays us for our games BECAUSE we provide this training to our referees. So if we increase referee payments, eliminate training, TRU will cut our payments and we will go bankrupt anyway. I played with the numbers a bit and do believe a few things need to increase such as referee coaches and possibly AR-ing. I just don’t know if a 5$ increase in an AR assignment is really worth it versus having something else like a monthly get-together paid for by the TRRA. I do want to find a way to pay referees more, but it’s a delicate balance.
      2. Herrera: I think it’s important for retention. How do we convince new refs that it’s worth it to give up a Saturday away from playing?
      3. Ozzie: I think referee coaches should be paid more if they submit the coaching report. We had a lot of referee coaches out there who never filled out reports.
      4. Roche: So one thing I want to get out of this group is – will 5$ more a Saturday really excite you more than something “team-building-y” convince you. So like meals at a tournament. If every tournament you attended you had a dinner provided by the TRRA afterward, would that be better than 5$ more a game?
      5. Waller: I guess it depends on the person. I would prefer event-type things because it makes it more memorable and creates a more fun atmosphere. But some people really may want or need that 5$ more a game.
      6. Martin: It’s harder to have events in the North versus Central or South.
      7. Roche: That’s so true, is it fair if we have dinner at every event if 75% of the events are in the Central or South?
      8. Herrera: I think those events are important because its the social-building atmosphere of our community.
      9. Roche: What if we allocated Regional Reps a budget monthly to host an “event” like a night at a pub or a fro-yo sesh or something just fun for the group. Or you could save up the allocation and have a bigger event? What would y’all think if you had a budget for anything like that?
      10. Herrera: I would think quarterly may work better than monthly – start slow and see how it builds.
      11. Waller: I think that’s fair.
      12. Roche: I’m not trying to put pressure on yall to organize, I just think it would make more sense than me sitting on a cloud in Austin deciding how the Dallas area is going to team-build.
      13. Herrera: I would definitely delegate to other individuals to get different tastes.
      14. Roche: Maybe just having the knowledge that the TRRA has a budget instead of nickel and diming each event? So you know you can ask for money for things like this.
      15. Martin: We used to have a Christmas party in the North and it was awesome. I miss the monthly meetings we used to have. There is something behind face to face contact.
      16. Waller: Christmas party sounds great!
      17. Roche: I think a Christmas party would be great! Just to wrap this up for the minutes – these are options. You can have 5$ more a game or this money can add up and we can have these events or whatever. I have been in the position where I needed the money, so I definitely understand but I want to decide based on what is best for the majority of the members. I don’t want us 6 to make a decision as “comfortable adults” I just want to get feedback from members. Action Item: Regional Reps get feedback on what members would prefer.
    6. WR Transgender Athlete Ban
      1. Roche: WR is considering banning transgender athletes from the game. Currently USAR operates under the Olympic guidelines which allows these athletes to play. I’ve had people reach out to me wondering where the TRRA stands on this issue. I have asked Rebekkah Portlock to sit on some forums hosted around the country to better identify what we should be doing. But I wanted to get y’alls opinions on what we should be doing or saying.
      2. Bayazitoglu: World Rugby hasn’t made a decision yet. We as referees are mediators of the laws. I’m not in charge of identifying what kid is enrolled in what school or whatever. We just enforce the laws as best as we can, and support the decision (and the laws) as they are created.
      3. Roche: I think we all definitely have our own opinions as humans and individuals but as the TRRA, what do we say as a professional referee organization.
      4. Waller: I’ve had situations before and it’s super awkward. It’s not our job to decide, we just officiate the game. I think we do need to add something to our resources to help referees who may come into this situation so we know what to do.
      5. Bayazitoglu: I don’t think we should jump in any conversation right now with a statement, as the TRRA we don’t really have anything to do besides officiate the laws. When WR and USAR come out with a decision, I think we need to send something out to referees to remind us that we do not make eligibility decisions, we just referee the game in front of us.
    7. New Business
      1. Bylaws:
        1. Martin: Where are the Bylaws? How are we with that.
        2. Roche: I have edited an old old version of the bylaws. According to those bylaws, we need a majority vote to approve the bylaws so I will send them out to the regional reps for review then hopefully we can approve them by the membership within the month. Action Item: Review Bylaws and send to membership for approval
      2. R&L Committee
        1. Martin: Any new words from the R&L committee?
        2. Roche: They’ve postponed their last few meetings. Last I heard they were electing temporary individuals in roles but there is no real urgency with no clear return to rugby.
      3. Referee Travel
        1. Herrera: I wanted to address having referees travelling across the society and around regions once we do return to rugby.
        2. Roche: Definitely. Last year we were very cautious of budget so in fear of overspending we seriously cut back on travel within society. Once we realized how much of a surplus we had from being over-cautious we began planning for more travel (then COVID hit). This next year, with a much better idea of budget, we will have referees travelling around regionally.
        3. Herrera: We also have some referees from Peru that are interested in coming over. SERRS used to have referees from England come in and a ref would host them for a week or so and we’d set them up for games.
        4. Bayazitoglu: I think that’s a great idea.
        5. Roche: I’m all for it. I always just figured no one was available to host, so many of our members live in little one-bedroom apartments so it would be difficult. But I probably should have asked around more.
        6. Bayazitoglu: Also many conferences are moving games to the spring, the referee demands may be very interesting in February, March and April. We could open up spots to foreign referees or refs from other societies to assist us.
        7. Martin: we may also have a LOT of games and have to work with TRU and Rugby Texas on adjusting games from 2pm on Saturdays.
    8. Meeting Adjourned (8:45pm)

TRRA Board Elections 2020-21

On June 20th, the TRRA AGM was held as a virtual event for all members to attend, it was also recorded for members who were not available to watch at a later time. As part of the AGM, the Board for the following season was elected.

We had a record-breaking 14 members running for 5 Board positions, congratulations to all that ran and the following who were elected to represent next season.

Chairman: Kat Roche

Vice-Chair: Timmy O’Gara

North Representative: Mary Waller

Central Representative: Cesar Herrera

South Representative: Ozzie Bayazitoglu

Categories AGM

COVID-19 Guidance for TRRA Referees

The Texas Rugby Referee Association Board is advising their members NOT to referee this weekend March 13-15th. If you are still assigned to a match you may decline the assignment in Who’s The Ref.

ALL Rugby Texas matches have been postponed until after a Board Meeting on 3/30.

TRU has posted the following notice and will send out more information no later than Wednesday March 18th by 5pm.

Meanwhile please take the following precautions:

  • Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections;
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment;
  • People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash their hands).

As this situation develops, the TRRA will be in communication with our members both through email and regional WhatsApp groups.

Any questions or comments can be directed to: admin@texasrugbyref.com

Who’s The Ref – User Guide

Who’s the Ref is the premier referee scheduling software used by the TRRA for appointments. We’ve recently updated our User Guide on the website. See the changes HERE.

Includes:

– How to submit Match Reports

– How to submit Disciplinary Reports

– Added information on Applying for a User Login

– Added information on updating User Contact

Battling the Referee Crisis

Before creating the TRU Master Schedule for the 2019-2020 Season, the TRU and the TRRA convened and engaged in strategy sessions concerning the shortage of referees in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. The growing numbers of teams and players is fantastic for the growth of rugby, but it means more matches each weekend; yet the number of referees did not increase. Compared to the 15-20 active [meaning available more than 2 weekends per month] referees in each the Central (Austin and San Antonio) area and South (Houston) area, Dallas has about 5 active referees.

In order for the TRRA to meet the growing demand for referees in the North, the Master Schedule moved some Club matches to Sunday. These teams were informed that if they sent current players to the L1 Officiating course, and those individuals began refereeing with the TRRA (5 or more games in the season), their teams would be eligible to move those Sunday games back to the coveted Saturday time-slot.

The August 2019 TRU Summit held two separate L1 Officiating courses. 31 individuals attended these courses, but the hardest challenge was still ahead of the TRRA – how to convert these new L1 attendees into independent referees who are comfortable and confident refereeing a match without assistance or supervision.

Participants of the L1 Officiating Courses - TRU Summit August 2019

The TRRA Board worked on a two-part solution: (1) Providing adequate training to new referees and (2) Promoting player/referees or “Dual-Track athletes”.

The first part of this solution was spearheaded by TRRA Chairman Tim O’Gara – Referee Development Camps.

These camps are held across the state, typically following a recent World Rugby Level 1 Officiating Course, as a stepping stone for those brand-new to refereeing to train on the pitch, both with teams and with other officials. At the camps new referees experience picking up the whistle and taking the center along with simulations and trainings on the adjoining pitch. Tim O’Gara recalls the challenge put on him by Kenny Forehand, “We had to change the culture associated with the role of the CMO. We need to design a practice that’s as challenging as any competitive team would expect on [Tuesday/Thursday]. When refs come to a development camp it’s as challenging as any rugby practice they would go to.” The TRRA hosted four Referee Development camps in 2019 – Denton, Abilene, Katy, and Alvin, TX.

The Denton fixture was the kickoff event for these series of camps. Five CMO’s (certified Coaching of Match Officials individuals) along with four experienced referees took to the fields to train 12 new referees, the majority of which were certified in Dallas the weekend before at the TRU Summit. Brad DuLong, a member of Alliance Rugby Club, attended the camps before beginning to accept assignments on his own. “The biggest thing the ref camps helped with was having a course set up with multiple stops and a different penalty calls at each stop. This helped me when running up on a situation game time to make a solid call with knowledge. There were times we had added player/refs yelling at us which helped make us focus on the situation at hand.” Brad has been able to put that practice into play often, as he lives in the North [Dallas/Fort Worth Area] where the referee crisis is largest.

Referee Development Camp - Katy, TX October 2019

From Denton, the next camp was held in Abilene, TX. Located a 2 ½ hour drive from Dallas, Abilene has always been a hard venue for referees to reach. Referee Coach and current D1A Referee Jarrod Ford commented on the large number of young referees who attended these camps, “I’ve never seen a more enthusiastic group of new referees jump in with two feet.” Jarrod was acting as CMO and running AR for both the Abilene and Denton camps.

Heading into the last few weeks before Cup Season started – two camps took place, one in Katy and another in Alvin, TX. The Houston area camp attendees were strongly represented by youth and women referees. Two-time camp attendee, Bay Area Women’s Rugby player and TRU All-Star Anna Torres shared, “It’s good to get feedback from the game immediately, even when just reffing half a game”. Feedback to referees from trained coaches is invaluable in the development process. At these camps, the referees were able to come straight from the field (after a cool-off period), share their questions and concerns, and have feedback available immediately. O’Gara comments, “CMOs gave three points to these new referees [post-match], two things they did well and one thing to improve on – professional rugby players get coached this way – never more than one thing to fix at a time”.

Referee Development Camp - Alvin, TX November 2019

The second part of the referee shortage solution was the promoting of “Dual-Track Athletes”, those who both play and referee during the season.

There has been a long history of Dual-Track Athletes in the Texas Rugby Union. Other Rugby Club Head Coach and President Justin X. Hale has been both refereeing and playing for years. During his years playing 7’s – with Raggamuffins and Austin Huns – he would disappear after a match just to be found on an adjoining pitch with a whistle in hand.

The TRRA knows the value of these Dual-Track Athletes; they are fit, committed to the game, and knowledgeable of the current laws. They just needed a way to make refereeing more accessible to players who may shell out upwards of 400$+ a year just for club dues. Thus, the Dual-Track Scholarship was born.

Photography: Norma Salinas

With commitment to refereeing a certain number of games during the season and making themselves available for in-season matches, as well as attending Referee Development Camps, a current player could seek scholarship to cover their yearly dues to the TRRA (which covers NASO Membership, access to trainings, full kit for first-year referees, and more). At time of publication – nine referees have taken advantage of this opportunity. More referees have been sponsored by their home clubs. Both West Houston Lions and Dallas Reds have promoted and funded referees to the TRRA.

O’Gara wraps up with his thoughts, “We need 100 referees next year to keep up with the growth of the game in this state; not just names, but fully trained referees.”

The TRRA continues to show positive growth and engagement from members. With another L1 Officiating Course on the horizon and two more Referee Development Camps scheduled for 2020; the TRRA looks forward to the new year and the thick of the 2019-2020 Cup Season.

For more information on Referee Development Camps or the Dual-Track Scholarship please contact Tim O’Gara at togara@texasrugbyunion.com. For more information on becoming a member of the TRRA please visit our “New Referee” tab on this website or email TRRA Admin Kat Roche at admin@texasrugbyref.com

Houston L1 Course

Are you considering retiring from playing but still want to be a part of the game?

Maybe you want something to do on the off weekends when your team isn’t playing and earn a little extra pocket money?

Maybe you’re looking for the next big challenge?

Maybe you just think we look really really cool? (We agree with you on that.)

Consider becoming a referee!

First step is signing up for a Level 1 Officiating course – lucky for you there is one at the end of this month in Houston, TX at the new Aveva Stadium.

When: October 26th, 2019

Where: Aveva Stadium, 2055 Mowery Rd, Houston TX 77045

What: The best course ever!

For more information visit the registration website or email the TRRA Administrator Kat Roche

FREE Referee Camps

Have you recently been certified at an L1 course?

Maybe you’ve taken a couple of seasons off of refereeing and want to shake the dust off?

Check out our FREE Referee Camps!

Please note Ruck or Treat has been cancelled – we will be at Lake Highlands Park on 10/26

Our first two camps were massive successes in the Denton and Abilene area, and we have three more coming up! Experienced referees will be there to help you from the sideline or the pitch, as well as certified CMOs to prepare you for, and debrief the match with you.

There’s never been a better time to hone your skills as a new referee!

Contact Shawn Martin or Tim O’Gara to register. Spaces are limited at each so register early!

2019-2020 TRRA Membership

The 2019-2020 Membership Cycle is in full swing! In order to be eligible for assignments from the TRRA, you must complete the following items:

Make sure you select ‘Texas Rugby Referee Association’. CIPPing with us includes a charge that covers your yearly dues.

2. Update Availability in Who’s The Ref

For more information on how to update your availability – check out the page on the TRRA website here!

3. Sign the Code of Conduct

Make sure you read and agree to all parts of the TRRA Code of Conduct. Once you have signed this, you may send it to admin@texasrugbyref.com

4. Stock up on Kit

Make sure you’re looking fresh for the new season with BLK TRRA Kit. If this is your first season with us, contact admin@texasrugbyref.com to get sorted with your new kit.

5. Take the Law Exam

Make sure your rugby mind is turned on and test yourself with the newest Law Exam from the TRRA. Challenge yourself!

TRRA Board Elections

The TRRA Annual AGM was held June 22nd, 2019 after the Bloodfest 7’s tournament in Austin, Texas. Elections were held for the 2019/2020 season, and the following positions were awarded.

Chairman : Tim O’Gara

Vice-Chair: Kat Roche

Secretary: Ozzie Bayazitoglu

This Board will officially take over on September 1, 2019 and lead until August 31st, 2020 with re-elections held next TRRA AGM – June 2020 (official date TBA).