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April 10, 2020

I hope this message finds you all well and everyone is staying safe through these unprecedented times.  We definitely find ourselves in a world we are all learning to deal with in different ways.  We hope all of you are doing well and able to stay safe as this pandemic makes waves all over the world.
As a USA Touch Board, we have talked through the implication of this pandemic to our sport and what it means to us for this year and even beyond.  We have come to a decision in this current environment that we will cancel any plans to hold any USA Touch events in 2020.  Although we have some time to potentially plan something, with the moving target that State, Federal and Health authorities are also struggling with, we have decided to focus fully on some back-end processes and systems and focus on 2021.  
As disappointing as this is to everyone who had hoped there would be an event, we are also not excited about this decision, but know it is in the best interest of public health.  We also know the strain running an event would put on the organization and each club as we would not be able to secure any assistance from referees or officials from other places in the world.  As you all know, our event relies heavily on referees visiting from other FIT member associations.  We need to refocus on building referees inside the country.  With that in mind, we have begun to break down our referee courses into online modules that will be rolling out this Fall.  We are looking forward to being able to reach more people and make these educational pieces more readily available.  
There has been some talk surrounding some clubs running an event where they would organize an event and each club is welcome to do what they feel is best in their area.  We haven’t been able to completely vet the registration system that we have used with USA Rugby for the last two years because of their obvious issues, but we are also looking to open our own process if we aren’t able to come to a mutual agreement.  As we have cancelled all events, we will not have a registration process this season and will not be able to provide COI’s for events or training.  We will have more information on this by the end of the Summer.
Looking forward to 2021, we are planning a massive come back.  As we have lost some momentum by missing this whole season, we want to double down on preparing for the next World Cup cycle and offering ways for educational pieces with coaching along with our plan to prepare for the 2023 World Cup.  As with the referee education, we will be looking to offer coaching certification online.  2021 will also have multiple camps throughout the country where we will also offer referee and coaching learning opportunities along with the ID camps to find players to represent the United States at the next World Cup.
The other big initiative we have for 2021 is running a stand-alone Junior National Championship.  We are vetting through locations for this at the moment, but intend on running this event in June of 2021 with age grades to be determined.  It will focus on High School players.  Running this event outside of Nationals will allow us to do so much with the event along with completely focusing on the Junior player base.  We will be able to offer referee and coaching development and feedback while players don’t have the added worry of having to turn around and play a game like they would at the Open and Masters Nationals.  This initiative has created some excitement as we know this will help the sport grow in the Junior space that we haven’t been able to do a lot with on a National stage yet.  With the Youth World Cup moving to 2022, we now have an extra year to prepare our Juniors to be at that event in Manchester, England during the summer of 2022.
We look forward to the time where we can see you all again in the near future.  Please stay safe through the remainder of the year and we wish you all the best.

OJ Hawea

USA Touch President

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