Note: This is a message from the RMR President that was emailed to all amateur senior clubs on 28 April 2021.
So this is the penultimate message everyone has been waiting for (the ultimate one obviously being the “all clear! let’s play!”)...
Return to Play
First of all: I want to give a special shout-out to Jeanna Beard, who is RMR’s VP of Communications and the RMR Board’s designated Return to Play lead, as she has gone above and beyond in guiding our union through the pandemic for the past year-plus. This would have been incredibly difficult to navigate without her expertise and willingness to lead.
With that said, I've updated the RMR Return to Play Calculator based on the latest info. we have and… it looks like we’ll be largely ready to play in mid- to late June! As a reminder, the calculator is a best guess effort and is based on Colorado since most of the teams are there. Each state will hit Stage 5 at a different pace but everyone is still expected to follow the same guidelines, and teams can only play teams from other Stage 5 areas and as local health guidelines permit in conjunction with RMR. It's possible that Utah & Wyoming will be open before Colorado but they'd be limited to playing other union members in their states (or union-approved outside opponents). Please visit the RMR Return to Play page to stay up to date on your state's Stage, and put in a request to the master calendar (see below) when/if your state hits Stage 5.
Now that we’re in the home stretch of people getting vaccinations, we will be able to see how accurate our guesses have been. As a reminder, the RMR Board’s stance has been that we will return when it is safe to after everyone who wants a vaccine has had the chance to get one. With vaccine appointments now widely available, it’s looking like we could be 7-8 weeks from potential competition (appointment this week or next, 3-4 weeks for next appointment, 2 weeks for immunity, 2 weeks of contact training). I greatly appreciate everyone’s patience in the management of this pandemic, and our community’s common resolve to tackle this thing together. It’s been a genuine blessing to see everyone largely on the same page.
So…. What are the next steps?
Rocky Mountain Rugby will continue to update the RMR Return to Play page with stage updates to guide club trainings.
It is extremely important your club continues to follow the guidelines for each Stage as determined by Rocky Mountain Rugby. Additionally, the RMR Board of Directors requests that you explicitly note what stage your training will be held in when advertising or communicating your training to your club and the community. We believe that having participants understand the limitations of your trainings will reduce frustrations on your end.
The RMR Board is actively working on Stage 5, and what matches/competitions will actually look like when we get there (e.g. “Contact rugby must be permitted by the local health department and governing union in the region of both competing teams.”). To ease out of the pandemic and to ensure we’re all keeping each other safe, competitive activity for those interested will be centrally coordinated by RMR this summer. Ideally, we’ll have some single-site events for everyone’s first or second competitive activity so we can collaborate on maintaining standards together, but that’s TBD based on clubs’ feedback.
With that in mind, if you're interested in having competition this summer, please fill out the RMR Summer 2021 Competition Interest Form.
This summer could still encounter bumps if and/or as the pandemic makes new twists and turns. To that end, we can’t perfectly predict what everything will look like on the road ahead. As of now, the one thing RMR is comfortable in saying is that we will not provide sanctioning or approve match official support for any game/event that is not on the RMR Master Calendar (events will be added to the website as they are approved).
If you would like to plan or schedule activity to include in RMR’s masterplan, you may request permission to do so using the RMR Master Calendar Event Request Form. This form is to help us stay on top of what everyone wants to do so we can be aware of the best ways to keep each other safe. For example, if Cowpie is able to happen and you want to go, we want to know via this form.
Please note that the RMR Board will take violations of the updated guidelines very seriously. It is heavily encouraged that your club checks the RMR Return to Play page regularly and adheres to all guidelines and protocols as agreed to in your RMR Return to Play Request Form. At a minimum, discipline for violating these guidelines shall include:
When/as you do return to training, please note that, as we recognize that players aren't typically drawn from single counties in major metropolitan areas, you must adhere to the *most restrictive* government guidelines for your region. This is an updated guidance from RMR. Example: if your club is in an area with two counties, and County A has guidelines in line with Stage 4 and County B has guidelines in line with Stage 3, your club is in Stage 3. It does not matter if you train in County A that is in Stage 4, as it is likely you still draw members from County B which is in Stage 3.
Given where we are in the pandemic, we don’t anticipate this being an issue, but we’re noting it now in case an issue escalates in a county within a metro area. For example, if one of the Denver counties were to experience a variant outbreak that resulted in a lot of sudden restrictions, RMR would expect clubs to honor those restrictions even if they trained in a different county, as it is difficult to always know where all of your players live.
To keep matters simple, we’re using the U.S. Government’s determination of metropolitan areas to determine what counties you should be paying attention to.
I continue to pester USA Rugby about reduced dues for this summer or a bridge rate into next year, but it doesn’t seem likely at this time. As many of you are likely aware, USA Rugby dues run from August to August. With a June re-start it doesn’t make sense – to me, at least – to ask you to pay the full dues rate. While USA Rugby won’t budge (so far), the RMR Board is in discussion about how to structure our reduced dues accordingly. RMR has no intention to ask its members to pay a full-year dues rate for a few weeks in the summer. It is extremely likely that we won’t charge more than $10 or so given that you’ll only get a few weeks of playing time. We’re also very aware that everyone will be asked to give $100+ (total) again in August, so we’re trying to make the summer as affordable as possible for those interested.
Currently, you may acquire a Certificate of Insurance from USA Rugby by meeting their minimum standards (15 players + club registration + certified coach). This year, that player standard can be achieved by signing up for ‘Training Player Memberships’ at a reduced rate, which can then be ‘upgraded’ to a ‘Senior Player Membership’ when/if players intend to play in matches. The ‘Training Player Membership’ is a reduced cost option but it does not work for playing in matches.
At the moment, members of your club may register for every category except for the ‘Senior Player Membership’ that is required for playing in matches. We intend to activate that category on a club-by-club basis once we approach Stage 5 and once your club has turned in all the required paperwork, but that concept is technology-dependent and USA Rugby’s new registration system (SportLoMo) doesn’t make anything easy. The RMR Board intends to finalize this week the exact rate we intend to charge for the summer, but it is not currently attached to any registration figure. As noted above, we don’t intend to charge more than $10 this year. However, how that is added to the training & playing rates is somewhat complicated so we haven’t made a final determination. If you have players that register without paying the anticipated $10 summer dues, please note that we will send your club an invoice for the amount owed.* This should be settled by Friday of this week.
*Note: USA Rugby has apparently turned on our registration multiple times while testing, so some of you will owe player dues anyway, unfortunately.
Other News & Notes:
-RMR still intends to launch a new version of the website and move from rockymountainrugby.org to rockymountain.rugby in the immediate future. However, we’ve delayed this switch until the summer in order to prevent any hiccups with everyone’s return to play. The switch will also involve an update to the RMR Brand, including a new logo. If there's something you'd like to include, please email me (email@example.com) and I will see if we can integrate it. Until then, bear with changes you may see to the menu as we prepare for the template overhaul, etc. I will also update the team pages as we get closer (I know we need to add the Scots, for example).
-RMR launched an ‘Opportunity Board’ last Fall for teams to post opportunities for coaches, administrators, etc. Currently, we are allowing 1 free post per club due to the format items are posted (it is more labor intensive than I'd like), but we anticipate converting the board into an easier format that will involve unlimited free coaching/admin posts once we update the website. More Info
-The 2021 RMR AGM is scheduled for Saturday, June 5. It is likely this event will be online-only but we are exploring possible venues to make it an in-person event with an online/call-in option. This year’s proposed bylaws should be available by Thursday, May 6 – which will also be the close date for the nomination of officers. If you have an agenda item you would like to submit, it must be submitted in writing no later than Saturday, May 15. Last year's agenda is located here. Most of the agenda items are fairly standard to each year (roll call, good standing, reports, policies, bylaws, elections, & new club applications) and I anticipate we'll continue to have time allocated for Return to Play and USA Rugby Reorganization.
-The 7s National Championship is still scheduled to take place this August, so Rocky Mountain Rugby is trying to figure out the best way to help our interested teams qualify. Please plan on there being a local 7s qualifying tournament sometime in late July. Hosting/location/etc. is TBD. We know a lot of teams don't usually participate in the qualifying division but we're going to ask that competitive teams make an effort to do so this year since we don't know if our normally-competitive teams will be able to go to other tournaments much.
-Rocky Mountain Rugby rolled out an updated ‘Find a Club’ feature to assist clubs in attracting players, coaches, admins, etc. To build this feature, we used the info. we could find for each club but please check your club within the feature to ensure we have the right links to your social accounts, website, etc. Rocky Mountain Rugby intends to start pushing emails highlighting this feature to all 23,000+ contacts in our listserv database, so it’s really important your information is correct. If you have a training calendar that is linkable and constantly updated, this will especially be helpful to your recruiting.
RMR Find a Club Feature
RMR Club Update Form
-USA Rugby was running a bunch of online education courses that I was going to share information about, but they’ve all seemingly disappeared from the USA Rugby website in the past week or so. Today, some of them came back online at a new link for courses. I will pass more information along about courses as the season approaches, but Rocky Mountain Rugby is also trying to assess when it will be safe to host courses in person again. For now, there are some intro. courses online and I'll ask what's going on with courses disappearing. Strength & Conditioning and the Intro to Coaching / Intro to Officiating courses are supposed to have an all-online these days.
-The Fall scheduling survey will be sent out in a few weeks as we get closer to the AGM. For the men’s clubs (putting on my Men's Club Director hat for a second), we intend to stick with the plan approved last year and the competitive season will be in the Fall. We will set our Fall finals weekend when/if we have more information about national playoff pathways. We will also maintain a Spring local cup league for late April into May (no more March restarts), and the national playoff finals will likely be in May as well.
-We still intend to bring back All-Stars as discussed in previous meetings. The final determination will be made once we see what participation numbers look like (and the dues collected accordingly). For now, we’re in discussions with the Southwest union about driving down to meet them in New Mexico in December (men & women), and we’re also looking at a men’s all-star event in New Orleans and a women’s all-star event in Austin as additional (potential) programming opportunities. We can discuss this more at the AGM.
-If anyone has any further questions that we can assist with in a group format,we have the following 'town hall' / 'open call' times available:
Friday, April 30: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm | Erik Geib available for questions, concerns, etc.; this includes general R2P processes & protocols and overall competition & union questions. Erik is not a public health expert and will defer nuanced questions about specifics of stages, etc. to Jeanna.
Sunday, May 2: 9:00 am - 10:00 am | Jeanna Beard available for questions specific to R2P details
Tuesday, May 4: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm | Erik Geib available for questions, concerns, etc.; this includes general R2P processes & protocols and overall competition & union questions. Erik is not a public health expert and will defer nuanced questions about specifics of stages, etc. to Jeanna.
Town Hall / Open Call Link (same link for all 3 meetings): https://meet.google.com/nzz-uszh-mun
Table of Helpful Links:
RMR Return to Play
RMR Return to Play Guidelines
RMR Return to Play Safety Plan Checklist
RMR Return to Play Request Form
RMR Summer 2021 Competition Interest Form
RMR Master Calendar Event Request Form
RMR Master Calendar
RMR Opportunity Board
RMR Find a Club Feature
RMR Club Update Form
RMR 2021 Annual General Meeting Information
All the best,
President, Rocky Mountain Rugby
Chair, USA Rugby Club Competitions Committee
p: (214) 316-9363 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org
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