October 31, 2010

RSPBA downgrades EUSPBA’s City of Washington

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has announced its formal regradings, and again has downgraded a non-member band that competed at the World Pipe Band Championships. The City of Washington Pipe Band of Washington, DC, has been moved to Grade 2, according to an RSPBA announcement.

City of Washington finished second-last in the Grade 1 qualifying round at the 2010 World Championships, besting only the Tayside Police, which subsequently disintegrated as a band following the competition.

Despite agreeing at 2005 Alliance of North American Pipe Band summit not to re-grade non-member bands, the RSPBA did not accept the entry to the Grade 1 event at the 2008 World’s from the Oran Mor Pipe Band of New York, also an EUSPBA-member band. In 2001 the Prince Charles Pipe Band of San Francisco, then in Grade 1 under the Western United States Pipe Band Association, had its entry rejected two weeks before the World’s. The band went ahead and competed in Grade 2 and was then upgraded by the RSPBA after finishing fourth in the Grade 2 competition.

In 2006, the RSPBA took it upon themselves to elevate the British Columbia Pipers Association-member Robert Malcolm Memorial II Pipe Band of Vancouver to Grade 1. The upgrade was followed by the members of the band parting ways with the Simon Fraser University organization, and eventually establishing the group with the Triumph Street Pipe Band.

While Grade 1 bands at the World’s routinely compete with at least 15 pipers, City of Washington took 10 to the field – two more than the minimum defined by RSPBA rules. Despite the band finishing second-last overall, it placed ahead of three others bands from one piping judge and four others in ensemble.

EUSPBA President Jimmy Bell said that he had “no comment just now” on the matter, but confirmed that it was the first he knew of that his organization had heard about the regrading. At publication time, City of Washington Pipe-Major Dan Lyden had not yet responded to pipes|drums’ request for comment.

The RSPBA also regraded the North Coast Pipe Band of Cleveland, Ohio, from Grade 4 to Grade 3. North Coast is a member of the Midwest Pipe Band Association. Several bands based in continental Europe were also regarded.

No Grade 2 bands – RSPBA-members or otherwise – were moved to Grade 1.

RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton did not respond to an e-mail inquiry.


  1. City of Washington have been beaten by Toronto any time they have played against them in the last 6 years. Toronto did not compete at the worlds, therefore they didnt have an MSR ground on which to base their opinion! FAce it, CoW have been bad for a long time – all you RSPBA haters” would hate them if they did anything right! If they moved the worlds out of Scotland

  2. I suspect everyone will survive the RSPBA decision folks. It is their sandbox. They can and will do whatever they think is best for their association. CoW does not need the EUSPBA to hold their hand. Its really nobody’s business but theirs. The Speaker” is a little over the ?top? in his posts. Relax

  3. I’ve always laughed at the philosophy that in order to win the worlds, overseas bands have to serve an apprenticeship” by attending several World’s contests before they are truly given a chance. I really believe that we have evolved past this old school way of thinking and realize that for the most part the best performing band on the day gets the prize. The grade 1 Worlds is

  4. This article is totaly biased against the RSPBA. What has NOT been noted is that this regrading only affects the bands if they come to Scotland. They can pretend to be a Grade 1 band anywhere else they want! The RSPBA runs the worlds, therefore, it has the right to regrade bands for it accordingly compared to the previous years results. And, the other association has no need to be notified, this is why they weren’t! The RSPBA made the correct decision here. Maybe the other association should buck up its ideas and grade its bands properly!

  5. Totaly. So why didnt the Toronto Police get downgraded?? They did worse off the judges than the band that did. Just asking. Amazes me the hornets nests the R.S.P.B.A. cannot help but to bash several times a year every year.

  6. According to the World’s results on the RSPBA website, CoW was rankled 16th and 15th in piping. CoW’s main competitor at home, Oran Mor, was ranked 17th and 18th in piping. It’s interesting to note that CoW had better piping scores than Oran Mor with half as many pipers. CoW, from what I have heard of them, has been able to maintain a Grade 1 standard despite their low numbers. It will interesting to see how long this downgrade lasts.

  7. I thought the article was well written, straight forward, even objective. Sorry for City of Washington, but so it goes. Shooting the messenger serves no purpose.

  8. I think the real message here is, 10 pipers does not constitute a gr1 pipe band. I tend to agree that most bands are wasting their time attending this contest if both corps are not absolutely polished. The times have changed resulting in a much higher calibre of playing all thru the grades. The present gr2 is the gr1 of the 80/90’s and would compete with anything from the previous era. The grading system needs to be reviewed as it has lost it’s original intent in terms of creating an even playing field. Also some bands have an added advantage of playing with larger numbers that should be addressed. If we want to play with a proper grading system, then maximum numbers should be included as well. Play the game right, else it’s all a farse!

  9. I want to play in masonsapron’s band!!! Nothing like a week in Jamaica….can it be January? Good luck to the City of Washington. They have been working hard to field a good band for many years, and giving lots of players a leg up into bigger bands, also. Hard lines if they are downgraded, but it shouldn’t affect the spirit or content of what they do. Although the RSPBA originally said at an ANAPBA summit that they would respect the gradings of ANAPBA members, I think the intervening years have proven that they will make adjustments as they see fit. It’s their contest, of course, so they can make whatever rules/decisions they see fit, be it regrading, dropping judges, or….stay tuned!

  10. I think that the RSPBA’s guideline is how a band compares to the rest of the Grade 1 bands. Say what you like about Toronto police, their standarard of playing was good, just their selection was dubious. It is nigh impossible to compare grades at tthe other side of the planet – just like football Hibs and Tottenham may be in the Premier leagues in their own country, but are they comparable, maybe yes, maybe no – they need to play in each other’s league to get some sort of handle on how good either team is. Until then any comparison is mere conjecture and we should accept teh RSPBA’s ruling

  11. Right on! Masonsapron, I would like to join your band! Oddly, I don’t have too much of a problem with this. Our band got upgraded to 2 back in 98, and we held onto that for probably 5 years to long. Sometimes you need to take a step back to take a couple forward. They still have good players and should be able to make the best of this. Good luck CoW!



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