Australia takes open approach to RSPBA judging issue
The Australian Pipe Band Association has decided to take an open and frank approach to the RSPBA’s decision in February to suspend six “international” judges due to perceived lack of compliance with policies.
The APBA has made public on its website a “journal” that outlines its version of the milestone events surrounding the issue that have transpired since 2004, when the RSPBA first discussed an expansion of its judging panel to include adjudicators from Australia, British Columbia and Ontario.
APBA President Greg Gordon said that the journal “will be the platform for my further negotiations with [RSPBA Chairman] Kevin Reilly.”
Using direct, matter-of-fact language, the journal catalogs the interaction between the APBA and the RSPBA on the issue from 2004 until the present. Its latest entry states, “RSPBA action on 2 Nov 08 in suspending ‘international adjudicators’ for 2009 was based on the false premise that the affiliated associations had failed to meet an agreement. The matter is unresolved.”
At the heart of the dispute is the RSPBA’s decision to put international judges Greg Dinsdale, Ken Eller and Bob Worrall from Ontario, and Nat Russell, Brian Niven and Sam Young from Australia in “suspense” due to the judges’ allegedly not providing sample score sheets from pipe band competitions run by their home associations.
The RSPBA contends that this was a stipulation agreed to in 2005, when four of the judges went through the RSPBA judging examination process. Because Russell and Worrall had been judging RSPBA competitions since as early as 1989, they were not required to sit the exam.
The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has had a formal examination process for adjudicators since 1988, and Dinsdale and Eller have full PPBSO accreditation.
pipes|drums has learned that the judges impacted, despite numerous requests, have received no correspondence of substance from the RSPBA since the matter came to light.
One of the affected judges said that the annual Adjudicators’ Training Meeting, held every year during the week prior to the World Pipe Band Championships, is “in limbo.” He said, “If we are in suspense, the National Council will have to make a decision on our participation, and even holding the event might very well be an issue. As of now, we have no formal notification that the meeting is scheduled.”
At least four of the international judges – Eller, Russell, Worrall and Young – currently plan to be in Glasgow in August to attend Piping Live!, the World Championships and some of the smaller pipe band competitions as spectators.
The RSPBA made a formal statement on the matter at its annual general meeting in March, saying that the suspensions would be reviewed upon receipt of sample scoresheets. The Australian judges have maintained that they provided sample sheets before the RSPBA made its 2009 judging allocations.
International judges are required to pay for their airfare and most of their accommodation when they travel from Australia or Canada to adjudicate RSPBA events. UK-based RSPBA judges routinely have all of their expenses paid and receive a generous fee when they adjudicate events outside of the UK and often will bring members of their family to create a holiday out of the opportunity.
A Facebook group named “We’re sorry the RSPBA discriminates against judges that are not Scottish” currently has 862 members.
The RSPBA has not commented on the matter directly to pipes|drums despite repeated requests.