TRRA Youth Referees Shine at Brazoria

This past weekend, the Texas Rugby Referee Association was honored to supply the referee team for the Brazoria Spartans Youth Rugby Tournament held in Alvin, TX. This event was entirely officiated by U-19 referees, shining a spotlight on the young talent that USA Rugby has in the referee pool.

19 total youth referees descended on the suburb of Houston, TX, including six traveling cross-country on exchange from the Potomac Referee Society of the Mid-Atlantic. Ages of the youth referees ranged from 11-19, with many referees officiating players who were older than them on the day.

The tournament boasted 42 total matches – a mix of 7’s, 10’s, and 15’s – with age groups from 3/4th minis, to Middle School and High School. One of the day’s highlights included High School Boy’s Varsity sides competing in a round robin, of which 6 referees were able to officiate. 4 of the 6 had never before refereed at that level. TRRA Member Peyton Olivas (14) was one of those 4 [pictured below, left].

5 of the youth referees were brand new to officiating, having taken the L1 Referee Course only a week earlier in Houston. Texas Rugby Referee Association Vice-Chair Tim O’Gara was the educator for that course and the referee manager on the day. Colleagues reported, “Tim worked tirelessly to make this event happen. His passion for the number of youth referees to grow and for the kids to have the experience and support so many of us missed out on was palpable. This event was phenomenally run and officiated, and Tim was the cornerstone to making this happen”.

The youth referees were supported outstandingly by a skilled team of referee coaches, coming from all over the country and internationally to volunteer to coach the next generation. Fernando Garcia (Mexico) [pictured below, far right] and Phil Klevorick (Back10Pros) were an invaluable addition to the coaching crew.

The TRRA youth referees in attendance are now all eligible for selection to an exchange to Potomac Referee Society in late July, in an effort to grow the ties between referees both within a region, and cross-country.

This event would not have been possible without the support of the Katy Barbarians, West Houston Lions Rugby Club, Rugby Texas, Potomac Referee Society, Houston Youth Rugby Association, Lost Afternoon Rugby Luncheon, Woodlands Youth Rugby, Back10Pros, The US Rugby Foundation, and the Texas Rugby Referee Association.

Special thanks to the organizational efforts by Ken Fraine (Potomac) and Tim O’Gara (TRRA) who put the pieces together for an amazing weekend.

Photos by Macune CCS

TRRA Board Meeting Minutes 2/3/21

As proposed at the TRRA AGM of 2020 – the TRRA Board will explore posting meeting minutes for all members. A record of the meeting minutes can be found here.

  1. Roll Call
    1. Roche
    2. O’Gara
    3. Low
    4. Johnson
    5. Bayazitoglu
    6. Herrera
  2. USA Rugby #RefFitRaffle
    1. USA Rugby has created a #RefFitRaffle that’s totally free to join at many levels (Social, Club, or High Performance). Last I checked we only had a few members registered and since the society with the most members participating gets a free L1 course, it would be great to get everyone on board. At a minimum the board members should all be participating. All you have to do is log your minutes worked out, not difficult, not requiring strava, just a great way to win some swag, get involved, and make the TRRA look good 🙂
    2. Bayazitoglu: Yes definitely we can push that!
  3. Lonestar/TRRA
    1. Roche: Okay this is going to be long but please bear with me. Firstly let me state that we must consider a base assumption here: referees are a finite resource. This has been shown throughout the existence of rugby (while not the direct number but rather the correlation to active number of teams and clubs in the area). With that established, we begin – We know Lonestar and TRRA separated a few years back. Regardless of the people involved in the split (and frankly I don’t know/don’t care about anyone specifically involved) I’d like to clarify mine and the TRRA stance on the status of Lonestar Referee Society. TRRA contracted out to many different rugby governing groups. The largest of which is TRU, then Rugby Texas, then Lonestar, followed by an assortment of social tournaments or D1A games. There are not enough referees in Texas (anywhere in the world to be clear) to cover every match every weekend. TRRA puts a ton of money back into referee development and education and thus must protect its source of income (which is about 80% from the TRU). The TRU collects the same amount of dues from all players from D1 to D4, therefore all those teams deserve (and pay for) the same level of coverage of referees. So that’s our base – we need to prioritize TRU matches (of varying qualities) in order to continue providing education and development opportunities to our members in the capacity we have and hope to continue and improve in the future.** So enter Lonestar. They need referees for their matches. They created a group of referees who wanted to prioritize those matches. Now in a perfect world, these two groups can co-exist. Remember referees are a finite resource. So not all games will get covered. Ever. But here is a chance for a group to prioritize a group of games, which is what TRRA does, on a larger scale for a larger organization. Okay so now we have Lonestar and TRRA operating independently. The biggest issue arises when TRRA was made aware of Lonestar assigning referees with no experience to matches and providing no one to assist them/coach them. Now from a TRRA point of view, possible future referees are being set up for failure, as well as the likelihood of something catastrophic happening in a match regarding the safety of players involved. The TRRA, who is in the business of growing the game of rugby as well as the referee pool, must intervene as these actions are a net bad for rugby in general. So why did the TRRA attempt to ban anyone that refereed for Lonestar in the past? Because by having our members support a society that was not training their referees, they were promoting something that was dangerous and a “net bad” to rugby in Texas. Okay so that’s the stand. TRRA fears for the safety of the players, the desire to become a referee after having unpleasant experiences, and the proven growth of this entity that is a “net bad”. SO thanks for sticking in this far. Hopefully you understand a bit more about the stance and why things are what they are in the past. Moving forward from this, TRRA recognizes that a society can exist independently to focus and prioritize their own unions or competitions and TRRA should not try to prevent suitably trained members from making their own decisions on which games THEY wish to referee and prioritize. I had a discussion with Doug Corrigan and Jamie McGregor from USA Rugby. Jamie led Doug and I to a few great points that I would like us as a board to consider moving forward:
      1. Two referee organizations can co-exist if they have a clear purpose of who they serve
      2. College matches are NOT the place to “blood” new referees
      3. Training and Education is better suited by the TRRA since we have more resources and members suited to the task
      4. TRRA must recognize that Lonestar has a purpose and should allow their members to join Lonestar and referee those games without fear of retribution
      5. Lonestar should NOT be in the business of competing for Youth and High School matches 
      6. If Rugby Texas or other organizations feel that their matches are not being suitably covered, they should discuss this with TRRA through the appropriate channels and not through seeking other resources,
      7. Assuming there is no competition and instead cooperation, training resources should be SHARED between the two societies
      8. Both groups should cooperate in driving participants to the L1 refereeing course. A rising tide lifts all boats.
    2. Roche: Fantastic, now doesn’t that all look good. SO. TRRA has the infrastructure and the resources to take referees from an L1 course and assist them into their first matches. And our members have the CHOICE if they want to referee college men’s matches in Texas. So in order to move forward, I believe we must recognize Lonestar as the referee group prioritizing the Lonestar collegiate conference and allow our members to dually-CIPP with them without any negative action being taken upon them. And Lonestar will recognize that TRRA is the best society to take in new referees and use the Rugby Texas youth landscape in order to train them until they reach a point when (if they want to) they will be able to join Lonestar to prioritize college matches. Now naturally this has differing timelines for all individuals. Someone may have one or two youth matches and be ready for a college men’s match. And if they ONLY wish to ref college men’s matches, they are more than welcome to only join Lonestar. TRRA will not look down on or shun anyone who does this. Likewise Lonestar will actively seek to recruit referees and encourage them to join TRRA to get their base training and into the referee landscape in Texas. Whew, what a fun ride. Who’s got thoughts on that?
    3. Roche: **I’d like to also draw attention that the TRRA has a robust contract with Rugby Texas games and through Tim O’Gara’s tireless work last year at L1 courses and referee camps, he was able to grow and train an entire group of youth referees and coaches that focused and prioritized Rugby Texas matches. Under his tutelage, more than 20 U19 referees picked up the whistle and officiated U19 and a few breaking into collegiate and club matches by the end of the season. So while I draw attention to prioritizing TRU matches, it must be known that by doing that – by allocating resources appropriately and in the most fiscally responsible way – we are able to achieve our goal of being able to prioritize all rugby games in the state.
    4. O’Gara: My Thoughts are that The TRRA is a meritocracy – Fitness improvements, Game day management improvements and Big decisions made correctly lead to better games for our members.  It’s so much effort by leadership at the TRRA, years worth of hard work and dedication by several board members over several years to establish the meritocracy.  At LS the most dangerous of situations, lack of fitness or any game management skills and horrible decision making sometimes from more than 22 meters from goal is prevalent week in and week out.  The result is usually, in fact the result is always, that the same ref is at the same level the following weekend.  We are guilty by association, the general public and the players in college rugby paint all refs in Texas with the same brush.  They are not aware that these refs are not part of the same society.  This is Rugby Union, without union rugby is lost.  One society only should exist, democracy to elect the board and meritocracy for appointments.  LS exists for those that cannot live up to those minimum standards.
    5. Ozzie:  I am glad to hear that Doug agreed with USAR and TRRA that Lonestar refs would not interfere with youth and high school.  It’s irrational to suggest that the TRRA can’t handle needed Texas high school capacity since the season has not yet started.  We have heard concerning comments from various sources that specific high school varsity teams are suggesting they will contact a Lonestar ref directly to ref a gams; such an action would be a conspicuous avoidance of the spirit of USAR directions and Doug’s agreement, to say the least.
    6. Ozzie:  I also find it amazing that a proper sporting organization such as Texas high school varsity level rugby would let teams select refs.  The value of an independent referee society is oversight, feedback, improvement, avoiding local team bias, game assignment based on merit and performance, technical and fitness standards, and professionalism.  
    7. Ozzie:  That being said, Tim received from Doug (on behalf of Rugby Texas) early this week the final Texas HS boys varsity schedule, with instructions to appoint refs as indicated.  Tim also confirmed with Doug, several times to make sure, that the TRRA will appoint and bill those listed matches as normal.  We all understand that this COVID year may need flexibility as teams adjust to player and field availability.
    8. Ozzie:  Finally, it is unfortunate that at the moment due to College COVID restrictions there is no Texas college D2 men’s 15 season (I have two sons with the LSC, each of whom is an officer on a differing LSC men’s rugby club); so and discussion of registering with Lonestar for this 20-21 college school year is moot.
    9. Ozzie:  Also….since I have been involved with the TRRA, we have invited the entire rugby community to our field trainings; and before and during COVID we put on public subject classes via zoom—heck, the teachings are available right now, for the entire world, on our YouTube channel.
    10. O’Gara: I’d also like to note that Lonestar is actively seeking more matches at the Youth and High School level which goes against what they’ve agreed to above
    11. Roche: Yes I am assuming that is because they have been awaiting our board’s formal discussion and will cease immediately once we notify Jamie and Lonestar that we agree on the above.
    12. Low: From everything I have read above, it seems like Lonestar wants to partner with us to use our resources to train their referees, etc. From all the emails I read, I don’t see a ton of benefit for us. I have previously played in and reffed in that conference and I guess I don’t really see what we gain from this partnership.
    13. Roche: That’s very fair Drew. I just want it to be clear to anyone who is considering refereeing in Texas to land somewhere where they are set up for success, and currently without any sort of partnership, potential referees are either falling in with us (and getting training) or falling in with Lonestar and getting no training and support. If our partnership can protect potential referees who are given the wrong information and think Lonestar is a good place to start off – we can possibly be the reason a referee wouldn’t quit.
    14. Low: Also to veer a bit off course I think the TRRA is in a very interesting situation with the pandemic and no rugby in the TRU. We have a TON of high-quality referees looking for matches and it would be shocking if Rugby Texas coaches didn’t want to utilize them and instead went elsewhere for referees.
    15. Roche: To clarify, are we all on board with the above agreements discussed by Jamie/Doug/I – primarily that TRRA Referees who want to prioritize collegiate men’s matches may dual-register with Lonestar with no repercussions from the TRRA given that Lonestar also upholds their agreements, primarily they are not in competition for non-collegiate matches. APPROVED.
  4. Level 1 Course – Houston
    1. Roche: We recently had a L1 course in Houston where Tim and Paul were teaching so that’s fantastic for them! I believe we had 6 participants, which is good starting off. Hopefully we will be able to drive up participation a bit more when rugby really starts getting going again.
    2. O’Gara: It was a really fantastic experience. Paul Graham and I were able to lead sessions and Steve Parrill was there to supervise and offer assistance as needed. We really enjoyed it and are looking forward to leading one more training before we are fully certified as educators and can venture off on our coach to make everyone a referee!
  5. Rugby Texas Schedule
    1. Roche: The Rugby Texas schedule has been given to us and is being entered into WTR as we speak. I will share the law variations the U19 are playing with, as well as COVID-19 protocols that must be followed by all referees participating in these matches. There are matches in all major metropolitan areas so if you are interested in refereeing you should register now with the TRRA.
    2. Low: I think it’s really important to make it known to the members that this is not REQUIRED. Anyone in the TRRA or the greater rugby community in Texas should not feel pressured to have to participate. These games are being played with law variants and are solely to ensure youth are out there playing sports and learning valuable lessons. This is not a do or die moment for any referee and they should not feel like if they don’t want to participate that will be held against them.
    3. Roche: Absolutely Drew, thank you for bringing that up. I could not have said it better myself. As a referee who is aspiring to great heights like many of us on this call and in the TRRA, it is so so important to know that this is not the moment that is going to make your career. This is just to ensure the youth have appropriate outlets and channels for learning life skills and we are there to facilitate that. So if anyone is concerned their lack of participation is going to affect their rugby career, please know it will not and feel free to reach out to me directly if you want to talk a bit more.
  6. Treasurer Status
    1. Roche: With matches on the calendar, I think it is finally time we bring Drew into action. I will create his access to the bank account and Zelle as well as work with him to make sure we have a good reporting system for invoicing and monitoring where the Referee Development Fund money goes. Anyone opposed to that? None. APPROVED.
  7. AR / Referee Coach Payment
    1. Roche: We discussed in August and September about raising the payment for AR’s and Referee Coaches. Reading off the minutes we agreed on keeping AR’s at $25 but bumping referee coaches to $50 per match. I would like to make a caveat for increasing referee coaching – AS LONG AS they complete a full referee report, are not fulfilling another role during the match, and send an email with the contents of the referee report to both the referee, regional representative, and RDO. Most of our referee coaches do this but some are only assigned as a coach for a JV match when they have the match afterward. They can still provide valuable feedback, but for the full $50 I think you really need to put in some active coaching effort.
    2. O’Gara: Referee Coaches must speak with a referee a few days before the game to discuss their game plans. Then attend the match, support them (NOT COACH THEM) at half-time, and afterward give them two good things and one area to improve upon. There are 12 comment sections in the coaching section in WTR, and they do not all need to be filled out. That is a performance review not a coaching session.
    3. Low: Is there a place for higher-performance referees to coach referees and AR their matches? 
    4. Roche: I’d rather not have someone assigned as both because then one of their duties is not being fully focused on. I think AR’s (particularly if they are experienced) can and should give helpful advice after a match, but not in the same capacity a fully committed referee coach assigned to the match can.
    5. O’Gara: We used experienced AR’s with almost all of our newer referees in their first matches, then the less experienced referee could also learn by supporting the experienced ref in the middle in their match.
    6. Low: Yes, I’m just hoping we can give new referees support with experienced refs on the touchline for them instead of prioritizing the middle for the person with the most experience and putting new people on the touchline.
    7. Roche: Absolutely, I agree with that.
    8. Roche: I’d also like to emphasize that this list of requirements for the referee coach to receive the higher stipend is not an attempt to create a long impossible list of things that have to be done but rather to acknowledge a proper referee coach is putting in as much time as a referee and deserves to be paid as such. Most if not all of our referee coaches are already doing this much work when assigned to a match and to coach a referee. So is anyone opposed to these requirements as listed above for a referee coach assigned to a match that wishes to receive the full $50 stipend? None. APPROVED
  8. TRRA Yearly Dues
    1. Roche: So it’s February and we only have 6 months of the season possible, I’ve been having thoughts about the $175 we are charging for dues, and wondering if we should continue to charge the full amount or offer a discount.
    2. Low: I think as long as we are upfront with the members about what the season looks like, it is their choice. Also, we always have the option of refunding or putting a credit towards next year or providing bonus kit etc.
    3. Roche: Yeah absolutely. How do we feel if we keep it on the table to discuss once we get a little further into the season and really see what opportunities are available for our members? All agreed. TABLED
  9. USAR R&L Committee
    1. Roche: So we have received the three candidates for Chair of the R&L Committee and since I do not know two of them and the other is the one I nominated… I have a pretty good idea of who I am leaning to vote for but will continue to share all the information with you as I get it. Voting will be before our next meeting so look on the WhatsApp for that information.
  10. New Business
    1. Referee Development and the Pathway
      1. Roche: So Tim mentioned he wanted to speak on Referee Development and plans of action and Drew I think this tunes into what you mentioned too. How do we get refs from here to here to here to here and focus on everyone individually with limited resources. Which is essentially our sole purpose as a society. Tim do you want to start?
      2. O’Gara: Sure! Overall I think we have a great starting process. We get interested members into an L1 course then immediately into a WhatsApp group with New Referee Officers and Regional reps. We have trainings within weeks of the L1 course that all new refs can participate, we have referee development camps where referees get multiple shots in the middle with experienced AR’s and Referee Coaches on the sideline watching them. Our L1 participant to center referee rate is better than most of if not all the other L1 courses in the USA. From our L1 a few weeks ago, two of those referees have already had a chance to ref in the middle. So our format to take an interested party through L1 to their first game is great. It’s after they have taken a few assignments, how do we communicate their biggest work-ons and how to really improve. I think a lot of it goes on the referee to take their own development and figure out what they want to commit to it – watch webinars, ask questions, etc. So keep doing what we are doing right well and we need to find a way to do the other stuff better.
      3. Roche: I agree with all of that. I think our Referee Development Camps have been instrumental into getting brand-new referees into the middle. I know that was your project Tim and I really applaud you for what you have done and will continue to do in the future. I believe for those next steps, what referees really need are games games games. I know when I was coming up and was free any weekend or evening, I would go volunteer to run touch, I would go on vacation and contact the local society to see what’s available. I’d always have my hand up and never turn down anything.So I do agree that some of that is on the referee. But I also believe we as the TRRA can share that message and let people know what it really takes.
      4. O’Gara: I believe some people WANT to get there and some people EXPECT to get there.
      5. Roche: This leads me to something I’ve wanted to discuss. Assignments. Now to be clear – no one will ever assign perfectly. No matter how or what you do in regards to assignments, someone always thinks they’re getting the short end of the stick. Sometimes they’re absolutely right and sometimes they’re wrong and think they’re still right. So despite that, I still want to (as a society) work on getting it as right as we can. And I fully acknowledge that this isn’t excluding myself, I have made poor decisions in the past and that’s why I really care about making it better. But how do we balance? For instance we have MLR referees who need warm-up games and almost-MLR referees who need games to prove they are the same caliber as MLR referees and not quite there referees who need those same games to prove they are there, and etc etc etc. There’s just not enough for everyone. But we still need to be better at it. Unfortunately I don’t have a perfect answer. What I am sure of – is I want everyone who is registered with the TRRA getting games. I want to say fairly – but also acknowledge that people aren’t always available the same amount? So should someone who is available 4 weekends get 4 games and someone who is available 16 weekends also get 4 games? I believe there needs to be discussion about assignments on every level. I don’t want anyone making decisions by themselves.
      6. Low: It makes sense to pair your assigners with someone else for discussions sake. Because you have someone who isn’t often available versus someone who always is and both of them still need games. Having a sounding board is important.
      7. O’Gara: It is important though that we never assign someone to a game they are not capable of refereeing.
      8. Roche: Agreed. I think there needs to be a level of transparency around it. If we don’t assign someone to a game because we don’t think they can keep up, we need to let them know. That way it is back on the referee to take action on what they can improve upon.
      9. Low: We should always have an answer to why someone was or wasn’t assigned to a match.
      10. Roche: So this isn’t something we necessarily need to vote on but I would like us all to think about it.
      11. Low: Can we have an action item for each regional rep/assigner to choose someone they trust and think will assist them best in making decisions?
      12. Roche: I think that’s a good action item. Our regional reps should take a look at who has a bit of a different thought process, but is also aware of the referee landscape and discuss with someone they would like to make assignment decisions on.
      13. Bayazitoglu: I think this is a great call, I know last year Tim and I spent multiple hours a week discussing the best way to assign matches – what games will be top-level, which referees are finally available and haven’t had a game in a while, etc. There’s so many moving parts.
      14. O’Gara: When we only had three assigners, it was very tough because everyone hated us for making the assignments.
      15. Roche: Well, much like how players always think the ref is wrong – the assigner is ALWAYS making bad assignments. But this way there’s more people to spread the blame around.
  11. Meeting Adjourned

TRRA Board Meeting Minutes 1/4/21

As proposed at the TRRA AGM of 2020 – the TRRA Board will explore posting meeting minutes for all members. A record of the meeting minutes can be found here.

  1. Roll Call
    1. Roche
    2. Herrera
    3. Johnson
    4. Low
    5. Bayazitoglu
    6. Regrets
      1. O’Gara
  2. Regional Fitness Challenge
    1. Roche: Central won so they still get their event. Do you guys have a date planned for that or no?
    2. Low: We’re going to allow the holiday COVID spikes die down before planning anything.
    3. Herrera: Yep here in San Antonio things are getting pretty bad.
    4. Roche: Awesome, figured, wanted to remind you that’s still there.
  3. USA Rugby Referee Coach Educational Series
    1. Roche: So Rosalind Anderson (RRSNY) reached out to me regarding a three-part series hosted by Jamie McGregor on some Wednesday evenings through March. We have the opportunity to open this up to a FEW TRRA Referee Coaches. I think we should strategically choose our coaches, just because I know we’ll have many that WANT to participate. We have a short window so I don’t want to make a giant application process, but I also don’t want to just hand-pick and leave someone out because we “don’t like them” (which we like everyone but that’s what some people think).
    2. Low: I would think the people who had the most referee coaching assignments should get top pick.
    3. Roche: Do you think that’s too “top-down” of a selection process? So our best Referee Coaches get the most assignments and the best training? How can we level the playing field for everyone?
    4. Johnson: Do you have anyone you are thinking of?
    5. Roche: I’ve got a few names but they’re probably the ones who have already gotten the most training. Do we want to focus on the again and again?
    6. Bayazitoglu: Could this resource be allocated to someone who might be a great future referee coach?
    7. Roche: Yeah that’s what I’m thinking. I also don’t want to gamble it away on people who think they want to do it then decide they don’t. Then no one got this training that stayed around. I want to think about who can attend this course, then take that information and share it around again so everyone gets it.
    8. Low: I think someone who has a solid baseline and has shown us they have referee coached would be a good fit.
    9. Roche: I also want someone who WANTS to do this instead of us just hand-picking who we think is the best.
    10. Johnson: What’s our timeline?
    11. Roche: We have to have people by Friday. Should we do a formal application or just “throw your hand up if you’re interested?”
    12. Low: I think just send an email and ask who is interested.
    13. Bayazitoglu: Also ensure these people are available for the trainings and committed to attending all of them, then people will self-screen.
    14. Roche: Is anyone from this group interested?
    15. Herrera: Me!
      1. O’Gara also indicated interest via email.
  4. USA Y&HS Rugby Committees and Chairs
    1. Roche: Did you get the email I forwarded regarding this? It’s very similar to the Club and R&L committees. I’m thinking of just shooting this out and seeing if anyone is interested. I’m willing to back whoever from TRRA needs some additional assistance in self-nominating. Feel free to share this around your rugby circles.
  5. USA Rugby R&L Nomination
    1. Roche: So the referee organizational body (R&L committee) asked for our nominations/vote on our representative from the Red River. We reached out to Derek Summers who indicated his interest and voted offline unanimously for him. So Derek Summers will be on the National  R&L Committee representing the Red River Region!
    2. Roche: We also get the chance to nominate (and I get the power of voting) for the Chairman of this committee. If you have any ideas of anyone in society that is poised to take over a National Referee Committee, please let me know. 
    3. Bayazitoglu: I don’t know many people on the National level and I don’t know anyone in society that would be prepared for anyone like that. I think you know the National landscape much better than I do.
    4. Roche: That’s fine regarding nominations. I will definitely let you know the formal nominations before it comes time to voting if anyone has additional information they want represented when I’m casting my vote.
  6. Membership Due Refunds
    1. Roche: So we do need to figure out what happens if we don’t have ANY games for the rest of this season. What do we do with membership dues? Should we do full refunds? We’re going to have to take a loss on the NASO membership fee part that we already spent for each member. Maybe if we have 7’s we give all referees who choose to ref 7’s a special 7’s jersey?
    2. Bayazitoglu: I think we should definitely wait and see what happens. By the end of the season we can always ask if someone wants a refund or donate it to the referee development fund.
    3. Low: We can also ask if they want to roll it over to next year.
    4. Roche: Wow never thought of that! This is why we have a TEAM of people thinking. Great call Drew.
  7. New Business
    1. Johnson: I’ve received an email from a member of the Rugby Texas board trying to recruit referees in the north area for Rugby Texas Games.
    2. Roche: That’s alarming as we have a formal contract with Rugby Texas and they should really talk with us before sourcing referees elsewhere.
    3. Roche: Anything else?
    4. Herrera: I have some questions for the High Performance Group but we can chat offline.
  8. Meeting Adjourned: 8:08pm
    1. Next Meeting: Monday Feb 1 – 7:30pm

Edited 1/8/2021 7:28pm. A previous release of these minutes incorrectly identified the Rugby Texas Board member Doug Corrigan of attempting to recruit current TRRA members. This has been deleted as it was discovered he was not specifically targeting TRRA members and rather all trained referees.

TRRA Board Meeting Minutes 11/23

As proposed at the TRRA AGM of 2020 – the TRRA Board will explore posting meeting minutes for all members. A record of the meeting minutes can be found here.

  1. Roll Call
    1. Roche
    2. O’Gara
    3. Bayazitoglu
    4. Johnson
    5. Herrera
    6. Low (Treasurer)
  2. Holiday Gifts/Cards
    1. Roche: We agreed on our last call (and over text) to have holiday gifts made, and we discussed kit bags but decided to put a hold on that until we have a better idea of rugby coming back. I have the holiday gifts at my place now. I’ve created a form that we can send out to ensure that we have correct addresses and make sure whoever is receiving our emails is supposed to be.
    2. Roche: So we would need approval for the shipping cost on that, plus envelopes and cards. Anyone opposed? NONE.
  3. HPG Group
    1. Roche: Cesar how is that coming?
    2. Herrera: Derek is interested in assisting with that/heading that up. We are currently trying to set up an in-person training in San Antonio so we can discuss that as well. 
    3. Roche: I’m also saving the information we are receiving from the MLR Ref Trainings so we can use that in trainings as well. Any other thoughts or ideas anyone has right now about the HPG group?
  4. Rugby Texas Contract
    1. Contract 2021
      1. O’Gara: So our contract from last year was created as a two-year contract so it runs through June 2021. We have plenty of time to create a new contract. They also have a new compliance officer and he’s really easy to work with. So we were planning on adding a “referee development section” to that.
      2. Roche: Tim sent me a bunch of great ideas to add into the RT contract, essentially clubs must participate in at least 1 Referee Development Event (have refs come to training, send players to an L1, host an L1, have a training game) and I think its great.
      3. O’Gara: And if clubs can’t even find time to do ONE of these things, they can open the checkbook and pay the applicable fee. We just want to avoid perpetuating the us versus them culture. I mean referees don’t just fall off of trees.
    2. Rugby Texas Liaisons
      1. O’Gara: I also want to invite Chris Hanson (RT Compliance Officer) to one of our board meetings where we discuss RT. We can talk about it in the beginning then he can leave. This was the lines of communication are clear and the message is coming first hand.
      2. Roche: Absolutely. Last year we had Kirk Tate on our board meeting and I think we bored him to tears, but he is always invited to sit in! We are not hiding our communication and would rather have everyone knowing what is happening. Anyone opposed to having Chris Hanson sit in? NONE.
  5. Ref Development Fund (PayPal)
    1. Roche: Something we discussed before. Having the PayPal be the dedicated fund for referee development. Also dedicating a bit more of our (Drew’s) time to move the match fees that members donate to the ref development fund, into that account. I saw Scott’s spreadsheets and he was identifying and tracking all of the match fees that were slated for donations, and I just want to push that a little further and make monthly or weekly deposits into that PayPal account. So Drew, do you have any thoughts on that?
    2. Low: I can definitely do that.
    3. O’Gara: I think it will help us back up the members that donate ALL of their match fees into this fund, we can directly show them that money is in a separate place and is going to what they donated it to.
    4. Roche: I also think something that will come up is that while we have a sum of money in there and anticipate some will be donated by members, I want to ensure that we always have Referee Development in our budget. So every year we may put X amount of money back into that fund and that will be added to match change fees, member donations, etc. Anyone opposed to this? NONE
  6. Integrity
    1. O’Gara: I did a course with USA Rugby this past week called “Integrity”, it takes about 15minutes and it has to deal with insider trading. In rugby we might unknowingly share information. There are probably people gambling on these games and we need to be aware of the information we are sharing that we receive as referees. We sometimes get information before many other people because we are involved in the game before it takes place. So I will send that link out to the group and I think we should all take it.
    2. Roche: Cool, we will look for that link!
  7. Regional Fitness Challenge:
    1. Roche: We all know the Central group won the regional fitness challenge, and I think Drew is hosting that? Just make sure y’all keep the receipts and I can Zelle you the reimbursement. You have $300 to spend on that. Congratulations and I look forward to my invite despite currently residing in Dallas.
  8. New Business
  9. Next Meeting: January 4, 7:30pm

TRRA Board Minutes 10/26/20

As proposed at the TRRA AGM of 2020 – the TRRA Board will explore posting meeting minutes for all members. A record of the meeting minutes can be found here.

  1. Roll Call
    1. O’Gara
    2. Roche
    3. Herrera
    4. Johnson
    5. Bayazitoglu
  2. Advantage Referee/TRRA Webinars
    1. Roche: We had our first one last week and had 38 participants. We had a couple of team coaches as well which is great to see. Those numbers are good, I would like to see a bit more on the call but am hoping that people are watching the replays. Be sure to push it in your regional groups, send to the email chains as well to link in people that aren’t in the whatsapp. It’s super beneficial and we can really learn a lot.
    2. Bayazitoglu: I thought it was great. It exceeded my expectations which were already high. I did the summer series that Advantage Referee put on and I thought this was more on point. He took a general knowledge and focused it on your local union referee. It was useful for a brand new referee, a middle of the road referee and the high performance referee.
  3. Treasurer/Bank Update
    1. Roche: Drew has indicated his interest and sent over a proposal that we all received. Anyone else who is interested please indicate your interest by letting any of the board members know! We would like to know before the end of the week.
  4. Membership Registration
    1. Roche: So far we have 9 members: Yip, Reagle, Cousins, Cole, Rouse, Roche, Summers, Jones registered. I have sent kit to Sam Reagle who is new and added him to the email list. He’s in the Central region (San Antonio). Grant Cole has joined as a referee coach, which is awesome. All of these members have been registered under NASO. Robert Hays has also registered since I last sent in payment to NASO, he (and whoever else registers this week) will get in the NASO group I send in on Friday.
    2. Roche: Also so everyone is aware, the rest of the Referee Societies may or may not be on strike with USA Rugby? It still seems pretty unclear to me.
    3. O’Gara: What was the reasoning? Dues?
    4. Roche: Many of the societies were frustrated with the lack of representation and the fact that dues were not decreased like player and admin dues were. To me it seemed like anger towards the governing body with the effect of taking it out on the sport and participants. I feel like everyone was waiting around for USA Rugby to tell them what to do and what was going to be done in regards to education and continued training and then got frustrated when USA Rugby made errors. This also all seems like wishful thinking that USAR (who just went through bankruptcy and has always had some issues) was going to magically be great at this? TRRA and TRU have operated under the policy that USAR is the governing body but we have always been at the forefront of our own referee and player/coach education.
    5. Herrera: So where does that leave us with Level 1 training and courses required by World Rugby? If we have people who want to take the L1 and begin training? Can we host courses?
    6. Roche: I do not know, I will reach out to John Clavin and see where we stand with that.
      1. Update 10/27 – There have been a few demo courses in the USA since COVID, trying to determine the best course of action for returning to in-person referee education courses. There is also a new shorter referee-overview course in the works, with hopes to be released at the end of this year.
  5. Assignments
    1. Roche: I don’t know what everyone is thinking regarding assignments. It’s usually a reimbursed position like treasurer. It’s a job that requires a lot of work and it’s difficult for one person to do and it’s difficult for many people to do, so pick your difficult! Did anyone have any “this worked really well” or “this definitely did not work well” from last year or years prior they would like to continue?
    2. Bayazitoglu: Tim and I worked really well together last year with the Houston area. I know you want to take a more holistic view, especially from the top level, but it works well organizing regionally. Tim, do you want us to put our hand up again for this upcoming year?
    3. O’Gara: Yes, and the year before I did Houston, Shawn did Dallas and Scott did central. Every week we would hop on a call and discuss what worked best for everyone. Scott would also do D1, but he would take our input for assigning those individuals. So if we operated that way again, I think our regional representatives would do a good job of assigning the local matches and having Kat handle the D1.
    4. Roche: I would definitely like some input on D1, and someone to bounce ideas off of. I personally know I made some errors last year in assigning which I had learned from and were hoping to rectify when COVID hit. There’s definitely a learning curve to the assignments so I think we need to have some experienced people involved who can see problems coming and know what to prioritize. Something I did not like from last year was how long it took for the schedule to come out. Some regions were posting three weeks in advance and some regions didn’t have assignments the week of. I don’t want to get any coaches emailing me saying “we don’t have a ref for Saturday” again.
    5. O’Gara: Are we are using Sportlomo this year?
    6. Roche: We’ve already paid for Who’s The Ref for another year so we will be using that again. I will be trying to demo some individuals in Sportlomo to see if it’s usable for the following year. The unfortunate thing is there’s no distances in Sportlomo so we can’t see who is closest to which game.
    7. Roche: Mary and Cesar, how are you guys feeling about assisting with assignments this year? I know Ozzie and Tim are in.
    8. Johnson: I am comfortable and eager to help, I wanted to assist last year but didn’t know how best to participate. I feel like I know all the members in the North and how to gauge best fit for games.
    9. Herrera: I am also game to help.
    10. O’Gara: Some of the issues we had run into in the past were that referees that had no business in D1 games were in D1 games.
    11. Roche: I think that will be a bit more clarified with the HPG that we have established and clarified the requirements for.
    12. Herrera: I am working on getting that [HPG] up off the ground but am unsure of who to reach out to start that group, I know some of the big players in Central but not a lot of South or North area referees.
    13. Roche: How about all regional representatives come up with a list of people, send it over to Cesar, then Cesar can email out “Hey you’ve been identified as someone who may fit this group, here are the requirements, are you interested, etc”.
    14. O’Gara: What if we get the CMO’s input?
    15. Roche: I think that’s also another discussion, do we want to identify specific high performance referees?
    16. O’Gara: We have CMO’s who are excellent with new referees but might not give enough to referees pursuing the National level.
    17. Herrera: I do think we need to separate the CMO’s who wait to raise their game to the “next level” versus the ones who just want to coach new referees.
    18. Roche: Does someone want to take the lead on that?
    19. O’Gara: I can take the lead on that. I tried to do this last year by starting a CMO WhatsApp group but everyone has different ideas. Different ideas on even just what to put on a match report. I wanted to go for consistency and just focus on three areas, two the ref did well and one the ref could improve on. We still had a few totally debilitating reports that just essayed everything the referee did wrong in every minute.
    20. Roche: I saw some fantastic reports from Tim O’Gara.
    21. O’Gara: There were only one or two of us actually filling out the reports! I recall getting slaughtered every week with 5 page essays when I was coming up.
    22. Roche: I think that’s a big difference between CMOs focused on new referees and ones focused on the HPG. Also where we get a lot of return on the Advantage Reports. We should just see who is willing to put more effort in and raise that level.
    23. Roche: So compensation for assigners? I like what we’ve proposed for the treasurer position, half advance and half afterward?
    24. Johnson: I am good with doing it without compensation, I wasn’t really expecting any.
    25. O’Gara: Last year we actually had to switch up our system in the middle because it wasn’t working. A few years ago we just did bonuses at the end of the year if all went well.
    26. Bayazitoglu: That also allows us to solicit paid help in the middle of the season if we are not meeting expectations.
    27. Roche: I like that. I also do a bit of admin work and am happy to sweep up afterward if I notice things are falling through the cracks.
    28. Bayazitoglu: Kat you’re not accepting money now are you?
    29. Roche: Not currently, I’m not doing much. During the season I won’t hesitate to ask for a little help if I am slaving away at this.
    30. Bayazitoglu: Awesome, we don’t want you spending 20 hours a week for free labor.
  6. New Business
    1. Winter Kit Ideas
      1. Roche: Okay one last thing to toss around. Can anyone think of something TRRA branded to add to the store for the winter/holiday season? 
      2. Herrera: TRRA Holiday Sock??
      3. Roche: We might just have to make custom ones.
      4. Herrera: Where are we on kit bags?
      5. Roche: I can ask Leah, the only thing is if we go BLK kit bags, they get very expensive.
      6. Herrera: When I was in CA, I was the envy of the refs because I had the nicest kit bag.
      7. O’Gara: A few years ago we did kit bags and we preordered and got our names on them. They were $80-90.
      8. Herrera: Or the old school canvas bags?
      9. Roche: I’m not a fan but that’s just me. Patches?
      10. Herrera nods enthusiastically.
      11. O’Gara: Face masks? 
      12. Roche: Someone else mentioned that. I can explore that as well.
      13. O’Gara: What kind of patch? Like an eye patch? To cover my one good eye?
      14. Roche: I’m putting this in the minutes. Also is everyone good with sending out holiday cards again? We did it last year and it wasn’t very expensive.
      15. Herrera: Baseball hats or trucker hats?
      16. O’Gara: Did we get the boonie hats?
      17. Roche runs off camera and returns wearing a boonie hat. Roche: Like THIS?
      18. O’Gara: I have to get one of those.
      19. Herrera: Who’s great idea was that…? 
  7. Meeting Adjourned 8:20pm.

TRRA Board Meeting Minutes 9/28/20

As proposed at the TRRA AGM of 2020 – the TRRA Board will explore posting meeting minutes for all members. A record of the meeting minutes can be found here.

  1. Roll Call
    1. Roche
    2. Herrera
    3. Bayazitoglu
    4. Johnson
    5. O’Gara
  2. Kit Update
    1. Roche: Tank tops are in, so far getting a lot of positive feedback from those. All other kit stock is good since, ya know, nothing much has happened since August.
  3. Treasurer/Bank Update
    1. Roche: I finalized the process in getting the Chase Bank account transferred from Scott to me. Tim and I both have debit cards linked to the TRRA Bank account. The CPA’s payments are automatically coming out so we’re still good there. I reached out to the CPA to let him know about the change over as well and he said he was going to verify with Scott. Haven’t heard back from that, but I assume we are all good on that. I am still waiting for the PayPal information. So the next question I want to broach – do we want to have a paid treasurer position for this upcoming year? This person would be in charge of sending payments to all referees, ARs and coaches. Ensuring only referees and coaches whose match reports are submitted are being paid. Checking in the reports to ensure the ARs assigned actually turned up to the matches etc. We can easily create a login for Chase for someone to do this, but it’s definitely a big role. What would our qualifications be and what would the stipend be for someone taking on this role?
    2. Johnson: I think it’s a really important position and requires attention to detail. It should definitely be a reimbursed job, but not sure on a good number,
    3. Bayazitoglu: During the busy season it’s a very challenging job.
    4. O’Gara: Isn’t it all going through Zelle?
    5. Roche: Yes but someone still has to individually go through all the games and pull the information.
    6. O’Gara: The difficulty last year was that when something went wrong, it was difficult to correct the errors. Other than those few times, it went very smoothly with Scott last year.
    7. Roche: I am willing to do it but definitely don’t want to take away a position from someone who wants to step up and get more involved.
    8. O’Gara: We should post the position and see who puts their hand up and has a good resume.
    9. Bayazitoglu: We also have to consider the other roles that may get reimbursement, Scheduling is definitely a large role.
    10. Herrera: I like the idea of sharing the wealth, we need more people involved at the top level who will lead the pack in the future.
    11. Bayazitoglu: What are your thoughts about scheduling Kat?
    12. Roche: So my plan with scheduling is to hopefully have a liaison if not a dedicated scheduler for D1 games, ideally someone like Scott or Derek since they know the landscape. Then have someone working the rest of the assignments with separate individuals maybe running the high school?
    13. Johnson: What about having schedulers by region?
    14. Roche: We did that last year and while it worked, i think we all operated in our own bubble and it seriously hindered referee travel, so I would either not want to do that again or at least make sure we are working together more.
    15. Bayazitoglu: In Houston, it’s nice in theory to separate High School from the rest of it but you’re using all the resources every day we needed refs. They scheduled games on Saturday so there was overlap between club and high school scheduling.
    16. O’Gara: We would schedule the best ref to the best game, and sometimes that would be the high school games not Club D1. 
    17. Bayazitoglu: Also if we have a development game that’s planned to be a blowout it would be a good opportunity to be a training game.
    18. Roche: I would not like these high school games to continue competing with Club games. Especially in Houston the focus seems to be covering high school games instead of club games. I do not want to cover any Saturday High School Rugby Texas Games.
    19. Bayazitoglu: We did enter into a 2 year contract with Rugby Texas.
    20. Roche: They broke that contract at least 12 times with their late changes, so I don’t see the validity of remaining in that contract.
    21. Johnson: High School Girls have to play on Saturday when there’s tournaments far away in Laredo etc that schedule for Saturdays.
    22. Roche: I played three years of High School rugby and we always played on Sunday.
    23. Bayazitoglu: Since it’s a transition year and with COVID, maybe it’s not a great time to try to enforce this change. What if we wait until the end of this contract to rediscuss. 
    24. Roche: I disagree, I do not want to go through what we went through last year.
    25. Johnson: If there’s regional play, it should have to be on a weekday but if it’s cross-state play it has to be on the weekend.
    26. O’Gara: When the youth clubs complain about lack of referees, they are just exposing their lack of involvement to give referees.
      1. Referee Assignors tabled to next meeting.
  4. Membership Registration
    1. NCR
      1. Roche: NCR sent out an email to all Chairs of LROs and wrote that referees are automatically covered under NCR for those games. In Texas those games are in the Lonestar conference so we currently do not referee them anyway.
      2. Bayazitoglu: Should we register anyway for NCR?
      3. Roche: It’s not required, we’re automatically covered but anyone who wants to – can. 
    2. USAR
      1. Roche: Membership is available through USA Rugby, we have all our dues applied and members can register but are not required to immediately. You just need to be registered before you get a game and you don’t want to wait until the last minute.
  5. HPG
    1. Roche: I am looking for someone to step up in this group and kind of gather individuals together – maybe have a group chat once a month about a game or anything. I would want to volunteer myself but I do a lot of stuff. I feel like someone would be willing to just host a meeting and pick a game to discuss. We can provide Zoom links, but we want to create a platform where people can bounce ideas off one another and use a team environment where they can develop.
    2. O’Gara: We can reach out to the HPG group and see if anyone wants to step up. We can create opportunities for everyone to learn through this group but we need to have a starting point. We could partner a CMO with the group to maybe take this lead?
    3. Herrera: I would be happy to head this up.
  6. Training—Richard Every
    1. Roche: Richard has put together an outline for us for a four part series to have biweekly in October and November. I think this would be a great benefit to all our members and we could record these and always have them. So for me this is really a no brainer to benefit our members.
    2. O’Gara: We have paid people in the past to do this and I think having Richard involved is just incredible.
    3. Roche: Is anyone opposed to this?
      1. None opposed.
  7. Liaison for Rugby Texas 
    1. Bayazitoglu: Rugby Texas asked us for a referee to join their Board calls. I was the representative informally, but this year do we formally want to appoint someone to be on that board?
    2. Roche: I would like to have someone who understands our assigning pains but understands both sides of the fence.
    3. O’Gara: I would like to volunteer for this role, I was very involved in the High School level.
      1. None opposed.
  8. Sabercats updates re possible field access; ref certification; coordination
    1. Bayazitoglu: I talked to Grant and asked if we could use their pitch for referee training. They are waiting for final confirmation from the president of the Sabercats. Their HTX squad is currently having practices and has the lights on, so we are able to use a small section of their pitch to have our own training. As time goes on we may be able to use their practices for referee training sessions on rucking and unopposed situations. He also wants the entire HTX squad trained as referees so he wants to have L100 courses for them. Then a few will join the TRRA to ref High School games and youth. Everyone is welcome to sign up for those courses when the Sabercats host them.
  9. New Business
    1. Referee Trainings
      1. Roche: We’ve had two in Dallas, it’s been fun to get everyone back together and back thinking about rugby. Anyone else have anything planned?
      2. O’Gara: Ozzie do we want to get something together for Saturday?
      3. Herrera: I’m planning to reach out to San Marcos and just put something together for October, set a date and just see who shows.
  10. Meeting Adjourned

TRRA Board Meeting Minutes 8/31/20

As proposed at the TRRA AGM of 2020 – the TRRA Board will explore posting meeting minutes for all members. A record of the meeting minutes can be found here.

  1. Roll Call
    1. Roche
    2. O’Gara
    3. Bayazitoglu
    4. Johnson (formerly Waller)
    5. Herrera
    6. Martin
  2. 2019-20 Board
    1. Roche: First of all, this is our last meeting with the 2019-20 Board attending. I want to thank Tim, Ozzie, and Shawn for all their hard work. For me personally it was a pleasure to be a part of. We jumped wholeheartedly into it and learned to work together as a team. We had some differing opinions and long chats but overall I believe the society is running strongly and that’s what matters most. I couldn’t have done it without yall. 
    2. O’Gara: Agreed and echo you on that, thank you for all your hard work as well.
    3. Roche: Shawn will be the only member not returning to the Board for 20-21 so thank you Shawn for everything, I’m sure you’ll be happy to have your Monday nights back 🙂
  3. Kit Update
    1. Boonie Hats IN STORE
    2. Tanks ON THE WAY 
      1. Roche: I’ve been asking Leah. They were shipped from the factory in Vietnam on 8/31 and will arrive in MN hopefully next week and then ship to all who ordered.
    3. Kit Stock is all good
      1. Roche: Our backstock of classic TRRA kit is full, we should be prepared for this season and our new referees.
      2. Herrera: Are we stocked with youth socks? Because that’s what I need
  4. Treasurer/Bank Information
    1. Roche: Scott reached out adn wants to get rid of the bank information by 9/1. He’s really busy, I’ve tried to get with him a few times. The plan is to transfer the bank information into my name, I need someone else on that account because i don’t want to be the only person with access.
    2. O’Gara: Is Scott saying when he adds you he is removing himself?
    3. Roche: Yes.
    4. O’Gara: And we’ll need a new address on there?
    5. Roche: Yes
    6. O’Gara: Do you have your address in Dallas yet?
    7. Roche: Yes but I would rather have a more permanent address than my apartment on there.
    8. O’Gara: If we add another person to the account they should be in Dallas as well in the event that we need the same people at the bank at the same time.
    9. Johnson: We’ve got a house and I am more than willing to step in and be on the account.
    10. Roche: Awesome! We can get together and get that done ASAP after moving. So the initial transfer process just requires someone in the bank with him to sign the account over. The online information can be shared with other people so a person not in Dallas can take the place of treasurer. So as the Board we can begin looking at possibly bringing a treasurer on board to be responsible for billing unions that use our services and paying referees. We will have to discuss requirements, qualifications, and compensation for this individual.
    11. Martin: Will the Treasurer have to have their name on the bank account?
    12. Roche: No I don’t think so. They would just be the manager of making sure we are getting paid and paying referees what they are due. I am more than willing to do this if no one steps up but I’d like to open it up and see if anyone is particularly interested.
  5. Membership Dues and Registrations
    1. Roche: USAR sent out a notification that members should begin registering but failed to notify the unions or clubs that they were doing this. Our system (for TRRA)  isn’t actually set up right now so no one CAN register under the TRRA. So once again, we encourage members to NOT register (which you can’t right now…) until we send out a notification that it is time to register. If for some reason members registers as a referee before we encourage it – they won’t be reimbursed for any dues they pay if the price changes after they register.
    2. Roche: The next big discussion point is “What should dues be?” My biggest thought is that I want to have a lower dues structure for youth referees. The first question is what is a youth referee? U19 or U23 (high school or college) and if yes, then what should those dues be. My initial thought is 70$ for youth referees since it’s the cost for a single game. Plus the 65$ that USAR charges (subject to change pending conversations). 
    3. Martin: Plus the cost of the L1?
    4. Roche: Yes. To start from scratch. Currently we don’t have a cost structure for L1 courses because that is also subject to change.
    5. O’Gara: I know Deep South is discussing not having fees at L1s because they believe it is preventing people from starting.
    6. Roche: I do agree with that, but right now do not have any of that background information to make those changes nor (according to the Referee and Laws committee) are those decisions concrete right now. So we can’t have that discussion and make those calls.
    7. O’Gara: So when people register in Sportlomo do they have different options of membership they can buy?
    8. Roche: Yes, so we can make a required age for youth referees that has a lower cost associated with it.
    9. O’Gara: So do we want to set the age?
    10. Roche: So first question – do we like the idea of having different fee structures?
    11. Johnson: I like that, we just need to agree on an age.
    12. Martin: We were also discussing a different structure for player/refs correct?
    13. Roche: Yes, later! So does anyone oppose a different fee structure? NO.
    14. Roche: So I am proposing that Under-23 referees (as of Sept 1 of that year) pay 70$ in yearly dues to the TRRA. Any objections? NO. APPROVED.
      1. O’Gara: I think under 50 🙂
    15. Roche: The question that goes along with that is are we still going to provide U23 referees will full kit when they register and pay that fee? Right now the cost of the kit we send out to brand new refs is about 130$.
    16. O’Gara: So we don’t have any L1s this year, so the number of new kits this year will be minimal. If we do have a few new referees, we’ll balance that cost out in a few games.
    17. Martin: So what would be a disadvantage to only sending youth refs a jersey and shorts?
    18. O’Gara: I think that if a ref doesn’t have a full kit, and they show up – the teams can see they have a new referee. Versus if we give everyone the same kit, we are uniform and the teams can’t cast pre-judgements.
    19. Johnson: What all comes in the kit?
    20. Roche: Jersey, shorts, socks and touch flags.
    21. O’Gara: Do you send the same color to everyone?
    22. Roche: Yes yellow jersey to all.
    23. O’Gara: Gold….
    24. Roche: At one point i considered sending different colors to different regions but then we’d just have three different referee societies.
    25. Martin: My only pause is losing 50$ to each new referee.
    26. Roche: Yes agreed, and they are youth referees who tend to be a bit more fluid in their lives so we can’t really make any guarantees. 
    27. O’Gara: But if we do give someone a kit and the lower fee, we make it back in a few games. So it’s only the members who never take the center that we lose money on.
    28. Roche: I also want to mention that players who have taken the L1 and are CIPPed as something, are able to referee a match as long as there is a CIPPed ref coach watching them. So for the youth youth tournaments, we can have “referees in training” and referee coaches instead of individually making sure all the youth are fully CIPPed and members with us.
    29. Roche: My next proposition is that I want to make it more accessible for people to dual ref and play. I have a lot less ideas for this one.
    30. Martin: How much do players pay now?
    31. Roche: 35$ for USAR, 50$ for TRU club dues, and their individual club dues.
    32. Bayazitoglu: We could treat player/refs similarly to youth referees?
    33. Roche: I’m just confused at where we will draw the line. How many games does a player have to play? And ref? Do we require minimums?
    34. O’Gara: With the sponsorship we were always honest, if you really needed it, it was there. How many did we sponsor last year?
    35. Roche: The reds sponsored some of their own players, we sponsored a few players/refs.
    36. O’Gara: Last year I had them call me up and if they promised to ref a few games in the middle I would sponsor them.
    37. Roche: I just don’t want to only go off of promises.
    38. Herrera: What if we have a part-time referee membership and a full-time referee membership? And if dual-tracks are part-time and have to make themself available for a certain number of matches in order to be eligible.
    39. Roche: I don’t want someone to have to decide at the beginning on the season to have to decide whether they are part time or full time.
    40. Bayazitoglu: We could just do it on a case by case basis?
    41. O’Gara: And if any of us in this group would call up the player’s home club and ask the club to pay the fee, I think they would. Most of the clubs benefit from having a referee on the team and are willing to pay. Case by case is probably the way to go
    42. Johnson: How many dual player/refs did we have last year?
    43. Roche: That’s where it gets cloudy. How many did they play? How many did they ref? Is it just CIPPing as both to qualify. We had a large number, especially in Dallas. It’s harder to schedule dual athletes since they have their own schedule to adhere to. Justin and Jason Bramow are two of our best examples. They actively reffed and played. A fair number of dual athletes only did one or two games which doesn’t even cover their dues, and I don’t want to be picking pockets like that. I want them to be making some pocket money.
    44. O’Gara: Yeah it’s very different across the board. And it changes as the season continues.
    45. Roche: So this coupon code for Sportlomo I really like because then everyone is registering for the same membership instead of picking or choosing part time/full time. What about a 100$ off coupon that a dual athlete can apply for? They fill out a form and we can check that they are CIPPed with their club, pay their club dues, and are active. It’s not really about the cost, I just want to be able to reward people who are trying to grow the game and make it less money upfront to do as much as possible in rugby.
    46. O’Gara: I think that’s a great idea. As long as this coupon code can’t just be obtained from anyone, it has to come from the top.
    47. Roche: Yes I want to be able to reward people that have gone through the stages and really deserve it. Not just click a button and get a coupon.
    48. O’Gara: Sounds like the way to go.
    49. Roche: Any opposed? NONE. APPROVED.
    50. Roche: and we can approach it every year. So if you didn’t play at all the previous year, you probably aren’t the best candidate for the following year.
  6. Bylaws Vote
    1. Bayazitoglu: So I did some research. I asked former TRRA Board members and our accountant and no one has a recent copy of the TRRA Bylaws. What we have is the Bylaws from the prior entity which was a non-profit 501c organization. The entity we have today is technically a different company, which is still non-profit since we do pull a profit, we just don’t take all that money for ourselves and pocket it. With this organization, the first thing that should have been done was create a set of bylaws. My conclusion is that we didn’t adopt bylaws. Which we should do. We’re not in trouble though because our statutes allow us to function without bylaws. The statutes that govern a non-profit corporation allow the Board to adopt the bylaws without a member vote. I propose that we keep it the way it is, the default rule, that the Board adopts the bylaws. I’ve sent around a draft of the bylaws. It’s pretty basic, just the bare bones of how to function that still gives us the flexibility to change some positions as required. The one requirement that is needed is that there is a Secretary and a President “or Chair” and they can’t be the same person. So we need to identify someone as the secretary. The main duty of the secretary is to keep the records of the organization.
    2. Roche: Thanks to all your hard work, I think you would be the best candidate for this role.
    3. Johnson: All you!
    4. Bayazitoglu: I was afraid you’d say that. It’s not really any additional titles or honors, it’s just required to function as a non-profit corporation. 
    5. Martin: So if I understand correctly, we have to have a Chairman and a Secretary and a Board elected by the members and outside of that we can really run the society as we need. The Bylaws are just legal formalities.
    6. Bayazitoglu: Yes basically! 
    7. Roche: Wow. Thank you for doing all this work.
    8. Bayazitoglu: So my next action is to let you all read everything and submit edits, then we can all vote to approve by email within the next week. I will then send to our accountant to keep on file. 
  7. Handbook Update
    1. Roche: I updated the handbook next year, it was really the same thing but with different formatting and some yearly updates. I would like to do that again, but really finalize and formalize the HPG (High Performance Group) and give something for our members to aspire to. I would like it to have clear measurable requirements. I propose a minimum fitness test score, recorded or witnessed twice a year; two completed Advantage video reports – not having film is not an excuse. If they are in the HPG they are aspiring to games at the National level and they must know how to use Advantage.
    2. Martin: And they have to do a webinar. Or some sort of educational requirement.
    3. Roche: I was thinking of them having their own monthly meeting that they are required to attend and discuss. For webinars for the upcoming year I was visualizing paying top level referees to prevent webinars (like Scott or Derek or Canada Refs, etc)
    4. Bayazitoglu: For the educational requirement they can coach newer refs, or attend ref camps, etc.
    5. Roche: Do we want to make a minimum number of things they have to do?
    6. Martin: Will we have a minimum grade score required to be in this group? Or can a C3 showing potential be in the group?
    7. Roche: I think any member that wants to be in the HPG  as long as they fulfill these requirements. As senior members in this society, we should be on the lookout for people who will fit in this group as well. But there need to be requirements and they have to be met. People have to hit minimum fitness test scores, they need to do Advantage reports.
    8. Bayazitoglu: A fitness test is a hard requirement, you have to hit it. Advantage reports as well, they’re good for development. But for the educational requirement we can be a bit more vague, they must be active in helping the society. Each referee may find their own niche they enjoy fulfilling.
    9. Martin: One fitness test a season? Fall/Spring? Beep/Bronco.
    10. Roche: Yeah like the old National qualifier, you have a window to submit a score. Maybe not even that strict. I’m not trying to be a dick about it, but we have to have some sort of requirement. Like how are people qualifying for this group? How do you get in it?
    11. O’Gara: South refs used to do it at a regional meeting. We’d play touch a little bit, alternate who was reffing, cool down a bit then go into the Bronco or Beep. Then it’s fun and you’re getting stuff done.
    12. Roche: I love that idea. But also to lower the requirement for our regional reps so we don’t have to force them to plan the whole event if they don’t want to – you can find a local team who is running it and just share the info with your region.
    13. Roche: So do we want to set the standard for fitness test right now? I’m happy to allow a 6min Bronco?
    14. Bayazitoglu: For HPG? I think it should be faster than that.
    15. O’Gara: At least 5:30.
    16. Roche: I want to have an attainable standard that many refs can hit. I’m okay with 5:30, I’m okay with 5:45. Last year’s MLR was 5:30 requirement. I want to make it a bit more accessible.
    17. Bayazitoglu: We can do 5:45 and assess if that’s good enough and discuss changing it.
    18. Martin: I mean making people actually take a test and submitting a score is enough of a barrier. So many people won’t do that bare minimum.
    19. **Sidebar as we discover Shawn is wearing a Dallas Jackals hat**
    20. Roche: So 2 Advantage Reports, 5:45 minimum bronco test twice a season and suitably giving back to the local referee community through coaching or education. APPROVED.
  8. New Business
    1. None

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