Pilsner Urquell

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Texas Refs Redcarded TRU!

Yellow Rose of Texas Rugby clipped!
Ref's ejected. TRjUnta will hear no appeal!

At the recent TRU Annual General Meeting, the TRU unanimously decided to sever its relationship with the Society of Texas Rugby Referees! Some choices quotes from pronouncement from on high (full text at the bottom):
  • "All past agreements null and void."
  • "...[T]he TRU will no longer negotiate the STRR."
(That last, my fine feathered friends, in diplomatic circles, is what you do 30 seconds before you declare war - if you're a country).

(All of the opinions that follow are mine alone, I am not speaking for my club).

The Men's clubs, at least the DIII, were informed of this on Thursday, and stunned into silence. Or, more likely I'm guessing, so thoroughly numbed by tortured recent history of men's divisional reorganizations and half-assed experimentations with the TRU that it doesn't really register. Another season, another clusterhump.

This has been brewing for several years. The STRR has maintained its independence. The TRU has sought every financial detail from the STRR. The arrangement has been that the TRU pays the STRR a lump sum that covers all games for all clubs. There has certainly been a convenience to that for the clubs. But for several years, TRU president Dave Jenkins has desired greater information about where the TRU's money goes. The ref's have resisted.

Two AGMs ago, as I recall, Jenkins said he would be happy to pay the referee's expenses and fees for travel and the like, but that the TRU would like to see receipts first. You can see where there was going.

One concern of the referee's that has been explained to me in the past is the fear that if the TRU had complete financial oversight of the STRR, the refs would not be able to do things they feel they need to do to improve their organization, such as brining top-tier international referees to learn from and similar events.

I understand the fear of buying a pig in a poke, caveat emptor and all that. But the people and organizations here have been dealing with each other for decades at this point. The refs show up, call the games, and try to serve the game of rugby. They've done so even during previous conflicts with the TRU when funds were held up.

I sort of understand the TRU's concern, but as I've seen it explained by Jenkins at AGMs, I never saw too much weight to it. It almost seems to boil down to this:
  • the STRR sees itself as an independent contractor and presents a single flat fee that is all inclusive of what the TRU wants
  • the TRU wants an itemized line-by-line detailing of every element of what they're paying for (and ideally, line-item veto).
So, the TRU has formed a "Referee and Laws Committee" as part of the TRU. I'd have to check my notes but I'm pretty certain this committee was initially set up at the 2005 AGM when the break seemed likely.

The STRR has started publishing their own AGM minutes, Chairman's report and budget on their website in PDF form.

From what I gather, the back breaking straw is that the STRR reports they currently have $38,000 in the bank. I'm no accountant, but you can examine their budget for the last 4 years. But looking at the wild variations in their net profit/loss line for the last four years, it certainly makes sense to me that they need some money in the bank - especially in the case of late or withheld, which I've heard alleged but don't know with certainty.

Where's the last 4 TRU budgets?

Meanwhile, DIII is probably going to hurt for refs this fall. And the spring? With DI, DII, DIII and the youth teams all competing for a now diminished pool of refs....yeah...that's going to be fun.

I wish both organizations had enough of an endowment that they didn't need to charge dues at all. And I wish the USA would run over England and South Africa next month (You can do it, Zee!). But I'm not holding my breath.

Here's an idea: Lets forget about the TRU and hire the STRR to referee a season of "social league" rugby. Sure, that would mean no Westerns and no Nationals, but Texas teams don't do well at the level anyway.

Welcome to the knitting circle of texas rugby - a crazyquilt of ever-changing division structure and embittered souls who love rugby but hate each other. Wheeeee.

Maybe later this week I'll post about all the wacky laws changes that sound like utter lunacy from what I've heard (like allowing you to collapse a maul - brilliant!).

So, know any Level 1 Certified Refs in Texas that are free every Saturday for the next 8 months and are NOT in the Society of Texas Rugby Referees?

And now, for some Actual God-Damned Rugby!
These blokes play the Eagles today.

Someone tell the Sherpa to watch the last try very closely.

The letter to Men's teams (but missing the letter to the STRR referenced)
Dear Men's Club Div.1 and Div.2 club managers,

The email below will be sent tomorrow morning to the Society of Texas Rugby Referees (STRR) by Texas Rugby Union (TRU) President Dave Jenkins. The TRU has been trying to get the STRR to become a part of the TRU for several years with a board position on the Executive Committee but the STRR has insisted on maintaining independence - much as the USA Referees did until the recent reorganization made them a part of USA Rugby. The STRR has insisted that they are an independent contractor. However, the TRU and it's member clubs are STRR's only customers and the source of virtually 100% of their funding.

This drastic action approved unanimously this past weekend at the TRU Annual General Meeting resulted from STRR's disclosure that they have over $38,000 in their bank account with additional payments expected from the TRU for the Fall season. We, the TRU Executive, find this disclosure completely at odds with STRR's claims to the member clubs over the past several years that they were going broke and that the TRU would not pay them what they needed to run their society. We're convinced that STRR misrepresented themselves to the TRU, their sole source of funds, and therefore delcare all past agreements null and void.

On a positive note, the TRU has established a Referees and Laws Committee within the TRU with a seat on the Executive Committee. The TRU welcomes any and all STRR referees to join the TRU and participate in the R&L committee.

As USA Rugby discovered last year in their reorganization effort, the union responsible for organizing the competitions and the referees need to be in the same organization with common purposes and common goals.

While we anticipate some bumps in the road this Fall as we work through this situation, we don't expect any road blocks. Your clubs may have to use in-house resources for some of your "friendlies" and 2nd-side matches but rest assured that the TRU is working diligently to effect a smooth transition to an in-house referee society.
Alan Sharply (TRU Director of Competitions and DI Secretary)
...[B]ut this is not a new dispute - it's been going on for three+ years.. The TRU executive committee has resolved (unanimously, I might add) that the TRU will no longer negotiate the STRR. They have been fired and will not be rehired.

I am currently in Chicago at the USA Rugby Board of Directors and Congress meeting and the fellow Congress members I have spoken to were shocked by our decision but applauded the TRU's stance.

We have contacted the D1 and D2 clubs and asked them to step up to fill the referee void for the Fall season and the response has been impressive.

I'm confident we'll get through this Fall and have a TRU in-house Referee's Society up and running for the Spring season.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Practice Starts September 4!

Regular practice for the 15s season will begin Tuesday, September 4 at Jack Carter Park. Map to the park in on the link to your left. Three weeks between first practice and first game!

The first bit of our schedule is:

September 22: Stephen F. Austin at home
October 6: Cowtown Tourney
October 12: Denton at home

Or course, that might change, and we might have a game before Cowtown (I'll post an update ASAP).

After YATR (Yet Another Total Reorganization) we are now in Division III North, which includes:
  • DARC
  • Arlington
  • Denton (ineligible for post-season play for forfeiting at Westerns)
  • Fort Sill
  • Fort Worth (voluntary relegation)
  • Oklahoma City Crusaders
That's a tougher division for us, really, though Denton in ineligible for post-season play since they forfeited their game at the Westerns, which hurts all of Texas). I don't know what happened there and would like to (Ox or Jay, let us know).

And there is something being called "RuggerFest" for April, which appears to be a mandatory random-draw inter-regional tournament, and the game will count for standings. I am extremely dubious of this kind of gimmick. It only adds noise into the signal of sorting out who the best teams in a region are. It will almost certainly be moot for most teams by that stage, but there might be the odd upset that changes who goes to the semifinals - so you can have a good change of playing the same team again. So, it's got that going for it. (If you're going to add noise like this, it needs to be at the beginning of a season, not the end).

There's some kind of "second" DIII division in the works, for the Diablos, The Reds III, Woodlands III, and I'm not sure who else. Sounds like a Social division to me, which is
probably a good thing.

Someone tell the Sherpa and Luby to come home. They know they want to. How many Eagles in the World Cup to the Quins and the Reds have?

Zee Eagle Has Landed (in France)

DARC Winger Zee (known at home as Takudzwa Ngwenya) has progressed from the USA Eagle's 7s to a member of the USA Eagles World Cup Squad! One of 4 wingers, we're hoping he gets the opportunity to run against some of the best in the world - and with England and South Africa in the USA's Cup pool, that will be true as soon as he gets on the field!

Hopefully, he'll get some time in the USA vs. Munster match this Sunday (August 26) in Chicago. Setanta will be airing the match live at 2 PM Central.

So, who's got Setanta and a BIG Screen? Or shall we all find a bar with Setanta and invade it?

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Fried Mudfish

Put another Mudfish down in the books. DARC would like to thank all 14 teams that came out and participated in the 21st annual Mudfish. Despite the mercury rising to over 100 degrees, everyone seemed to have fun. What's more important is that no one was seriously injured or suffered too badly from the heat. I hope everyone had a chance to watch the U-13 exhibition match. The kids sure seemed to have fun.

If you didn't have a chance to purchase this year's t-shirt and would still like one, please let us know; we still have a few left. Thanks again to everyone that came out and played and another big thank you to all those gents and ladies that helped me and Greg run the tournament.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Get Soaked for Mudfish Friday at Bennigan's Sport

Friday night, the DARC Knights are having a pre-Mudfish meetup for all Mudfish players, spectators, fans, friends, hangers-on, and those generally curious about rugby, or just a good time. We'll be at the new Bennigan's Sport in Addison starting around 7 PM.

Bennigan's Sport has reserved the lounge area for us and are extending happy hour pitcher prices for us. They have a rugby theme, which is something you don't often see in the US, and none of the old traditional knick-knack bric-a-brac you see in the normal Bennigans.

With a strong enough showing, perhaps we can entice them to show Rugby World Cup games coming up next month.

Map. It's on Beltline in Addison between Montfort and the Dallas North Tollway (where the old Bennigan's used to be).

The "Grandpa's Fridge" Bucket is highly recommended for some old school flavor - it's 6
can's of beer that you might have found in your grandfather's fridge, or perhaps your own youth if you're old enough. It will definitely give you the taste of nostalgia. (Bloo also recommends the Mai Thai (but it needs an umbrella).

Someone tell the Sherpa.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Mudfish XXI - This Saturday

I guess it's time for another Muddy update. Everything gets rolling this Saturday at the crack of dawn. Weigh-in will start at 7:30 am or as soon as the scales are balanced. Cash, check, and Visa/Mastercard are accepted for $150 per team entry fee. The officers meeting is scheduled for 8:30 am and the first game (Super Mudfish) for 9:00 am. The first regular matches (we'll start with Minnows to give the big boys a chance to catch their breath) will kick off at 10:00.

The shirts have come in and look great; take a look at the pictures below. A big thanks to Greg for taking care of those and the trophies. Last year's left overs will also be available for purchase as well as other items in our club inventory. Our game balls are being supplied by Ram Rugby USA (http://www.ramrugbyusa.net), and they may have some stuff for sale too. Monster Energy Drink is also supposed to making another appearance! WooHoo, we love caffine! The after party is, as usual, at the Tipp.

For DARC members, be at the field at 6:30 am. We've got a lot of work to do in order to have everything ready for weigh-in which starts at 7:30 am. I'll be hauling the trailer down and will have everything we need except the shirts, Greg is bringing those. We need ALL available DARC members to show up ready to work. There are still a few preferable jobs to had for the asking, but you need to be quick. If you can't make it early, let me know before Saturday and I'll assign you to the cleanup crew.

Dave is working on something for Friday night at Bennigan's SPort in Addison and the after party at the Tipp. I'll post more when details are available.

See you all at the park!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Pirates of the Lake Highlands

We just got the finished artwork for this year's Mudfish shirts from the classic Mudfish artist, Joel Hickerson of Grin Dog Illustration & Design (Grindog.com) . Very nice!

Remember, Mudfish this year is

To get you in the spirit of the Mudfish..."My Name is Mud."