Decision: Grade 2 bands allowed to play up in Ontario

Published: March 31, 2013
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After months of deliberations, Grade 2 bands in Ontario will be allowed to “challenge up” at select contests, going head-to-head against bands in the top grade – but only if there are three or fewer bands competing in Grade 2, and only where the Grade 1 event is an MSR.

But at many, if not most, Ontario contests that will be a moot point, since there are only two Grade 2 bands – 400 Squadron and the Ottawa Police – in the jurisdiction.

Concerns were reportedly raised about the extra time that it would take to have Grade 2 bands added to the Grade 1 mix. There are only three accredited Grade 1 bands in the PPBSO circuit.

“In my view, this is a very positive development, particularly in light of the fact that there are only two Grade 2 bands resident in Ontario right now,” said Andrew Hayes, pipe-major of the Ottawa Police Pipe Band.  “The opportunity to challenge up against the Grade 1 bands will be exciting for our members, and will give us a reason to attend the Ontario games leading up to our trip to the World Pipe Band Championships this summer.  In my view, this should also motivate the Grade 1 bands, and this can only be viewed as a positive decision that will enhance the vibrancy of the Ontario pipe band scene.”  

In a statement to all Ontario-based Grade 1 and Grade 2 bands, PPBSO President Duncan MacRae wrote, “The PPBSO Board has decided to proceed with Grade 2 bands challenging up for the 2013 season. The competitions will be at games with Grade 1 MSRs only with score sheets and a ranking provided.”

At least two Ontario competitions will likely see Grade 2 bands challenging up, with Cobourg and Kincardine offering an MSR in Grade 2, although the Cobourg Highland Games may attract out-of-province bands with the Scottish Grade 1 powerhouse Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia scheduled to make the trip to perform in concert and compete the next day.



Hayes added that his band is planning to travel to compete in Grade 2 at the World Pipe Band Championships in August.

Sources have said that one PPBSO-member Grade 1 band was not in favour of the Grade 2 challenging up rule because it might affect their reputation and confidence if a Grade 2 band were placed ahead of them. The three Grade 1 bands in Ontario are the 78th Fraser Highlanders, the Peel Regional Police, and the Toronto Police.

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  1. bake

    I for one, as a spectator would certainly enjoy more contest entries. Why limit to only MSRs? If a grade 2 band has the stones” to put together 2 medleys

  2. Rolly

    Wow! I guess I have not been paying attention over the past few years, but only two grade two bands and just three grade one bands in Ontario! Boy, things have changed since I played there in the 80′s. And I thought the prairies had their problems with getting people together to make up a band. It’s tough all over it seems.

  3. PipesReady

    Rolly, I think the total number of players in G1 and G2 bands is at least the same (if not higher) than the 80s. The difference is that the bands are now much larger. For Gr1, 75 plus pipers “back in the day “would make up 5 or 6 bands. These days, that same number is just about enough for 3. Word on the street is that the Ottawa Police (gr2) are a huge band this year (and last year, we thought they were large). A wealth of talent joining the ranks. I think the gr1 band that opposed the challenge up” ruling may be nervous about that. ( and with good reason ) 400 Sqn (gr2) is also enjoying some new additions to their numbers. Looks like things just got a bit more exciting for 2013.”

  4. Bagpipermann

    Any Gr I band that feels threatened by a Gr II band really ought to wonder what they are doing in Gr I…..

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