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)