October 31, 2012

RSPBA addresses Brieg World’s over-time issue: sorries all around, but no change

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, after more than six weeks went by since several bands complained that Bagad Brieg exceeded the maximum six minutes by six seconds in their Grade 2 qualifying heat at the 2012 World Pipe Band Championships, addressed the matter at a board of directors meeting on October 13th, and decided that Brieg’s third prize overall and first-place in the drumming would stand.

The organization agreed that the complaints from at least four other Grade 2 bands would be “upheld,” and the concerned bands would receive an apology. The directors also agreed that Bagad Brieg’s six-second error “was not their fault.”

According to an insider, at the meeting the group decided that “discretion should not have been applied, and at the end of the day Brieg won the drumming [in the Final] fair and square on the day.”

Brieg played within the six-minute time limit in the Final by increasing its tempos in places.

The group also determined that no discretion of any kind will be given at future competitions. If a band arrives a minute late to the starting line, or over-plays or under-plays its medley by even one second, it will be disqualified without question.

Each circle at RSPBA competitions has a board member who is supposed to monitor timing. The board member on Brieg’s Grade 2 qualifier circle at the 2012 World’s was reportedly in his first year, and allegedly alerted RSPBA vice-chairman John Hughes about Brieg going over-time. Adjudicators have no role in monitoring duration of medleys or numbers of players.

According to more than one source, no official blame was laid on any RSPBA representative for the error.


  1. As P-M of a Grade 2 band that didn’t make the final, I can tell you that I really don’t care about the 6 seconds over or under. We did our best to get our medley in the correct time zone [and succeeded], but I would be very reluctant to see a band that succeeded on so many other levels be DQ’d for the 6 seconds over. Moved down a placing in that event, maybe. I see the 4-6 minutes as a guideline, and in putting together selections we make sure we have room for a slower play” on the day that keeps us under 6 by aiming for the 5:30-5:40 mark. When a band slips up and misses the mark

  2. So, with regards to the official timekeeper who was ‘ring side’, the assertion is that you need experience to effectively watch a stopwatch…? Wow. Glad I stayed in school. All things aside, it was an unfortunate oversight. But there’s no moral victory in stripping a band, that was clearly adjudged to have deserved to go through to the final on its music, of the right to play on in the final. Bands that are calling for their blood need to take stock and realise their hue and cry says a lot about them also. Move on, people.

  3. Every performance at the worlds varies in time, from band to band. That in itself does not disadvantage or advantage any bands unfairly. I do not see an issue here simply because a band ran over the limit by a whopping 6 seconds. Minimum and maximum time limits have a function – that is to ensure that the overall event runs to time and can be blocked in regular increments for scheduling purposes. I do not believe they were ever implemented for the sole purpose of strict enforcement and penalisation of bands that run over the maximum, or under the minimum by a mere handful of seconds. That is mean spirited and far too draconian, even for the RSPBA 😉 Bands and individuals that are complaining that Brieg has suffered no penalty (apart from this very public and unfair towelling by some people on the most viewed website in the pipe band caper) should be careful what they wish for. By their reckoning, one second overtime means you’re out…? Hmmm…..a slippery slope indeed, with no grey areas at all. Is that what we want, really? Maybe these plaintiffs would also have us go back and retrospectively DQ each and every band that didn’t have all pipers get their pipes up on time…..? We have video evidence that can be subpoenaed from dozens of sources. Let’s create a police state and have a running clock on the big screen. The crowd can count it down and heckle bands that run overtime. Wow, what a great show of goodwill that would be. Not. In my opinion, what we do requires a grey area for the sake of the art form. It is there but I guess people will either love it or hate it, depending on which end of the bargain they’re at. Don’t complain and help set an unreasonable precedent now because it might be your turn to be on the upside one day.

  4. I hear what you are saying Lawrie and agree with you for the most part. However the RSPBA took this whole business of being under time or over time into account when they suggested the requirement to be between 4 and 6 minutes.(can’t remember exact limits) Pleanty of room to manouver there. And, as has been stated before, bands have compromised the overall balance of their medley by taking out parts (or as brieg did themselves, in the final,play it faster). You are all for exagerating the situation of what would happen if a band is a second over or a second under. I honestly do think they should be disqualified, because if you are stupid enough to sail that close to the wind, when you have +/- a whole minute of a 5 minute medley (that is 20%, yeah math genius) you deserve to be kicked out. It is like reversing a truck into a valley the size of a football field and hitting the side of the valley, if you are such a bad driver, you better get out of the truck. (doubt my math adds up to 20% in the truck analogy mind, May Euler continue to rest in peace)

  5. I just went to the RSPBA website and checked the results for Gr2 at the Worlds. Guess what? Yep, Brieg are still there, and so they should be. If we’re going to get down to margins of one second, they’d have to use a fully automated system that starts and stops recording the time – certainly one that does not rely on a human being reacting to the sound of a band striking-up. And where does that end….? In court if we are going to be this pedantic and petty. What possible ‘unfair advantage’ did this give Brieg over everyone else? What basis is there to argue that everyone else who ‘played by the rules’ (thus suggesting Brieg bent them) were disadvantaged/compromised in doing so? Nothing. The whole thing is a pedantic nonsense. Personally speaking, to penalise/DQ a band for breaching what is essentially a guidance rule that helps to keep the event on schedule would be grossly unfair. That hasn’t happened here, thankfully, and we move on. One thing is for sure – Brieg will be well inside the margins next time!

  6. Just for the record, I am pleased Brieg were not Disqualified, All I am saying is, I think Portland had a justified reason to feel hard done by. And yes, you would like to think Brieg will reconsider the timing of their medley and be right in the middle the next time. I think it was a crazy move from Brieg to spend thousands of euros as a band and flout with the rules, because I know another band that were not so silly (Portland). You don’t need super sophisticated timing machines, a lad with a stop watch is fine (I actually had more a problem with the Rspba statement than the actual ruling, which I do think is the right decision on this occasion, to let the result stand). I just think it is the RSPBA statement that didn’t add up, (for reasons stated in previous post) not brieg’s performance. I don’t think brieg cheated either, that is over the top. (i just happened to have read an article about lance armstrong before hand and couldn’t resist the comment, on tin of beans sight, it was out of context) On a final note, who is to know if Brieg didn’t lose the overall title because of rushed tunes, and the problems that rushing the tunes caused, (maybe a bluter here and there from a nervous piper for example) Personally I think it was amazing that they managed to speed up, and keep calm, and get a result. I bet if you asked the band members if they would prefer to play exactly as they wanted to in the final, or rush for fear of being dq’ed which they would prefer?

  7. The RSPBA rules say 4-6mins, its doesn’t say 3:50ish to 6:25 or so. If you make a rule then stand by it. The PM has 364 days before the Worlds’s to prevent an issue like this. Were they the best that day, I am sure they were. The Association needs to be more accountable and practice what they preach, or throw the rule book out the window entirely. If I flew that far to win and lost due to a circumstance like this – I would be right ******!

  8. One thing that only occurs to me now…where is Bagad Brieg on this whole thing?? Why don’t they make some sort of statement? Didn’t Killeen voluntarily hand back their prize for not playing with enough pipers at a major this year? Not saying that Brieg should do that but they really should say something no? Maybe its all part of the Breton culture…play a little longer, nevermind the fuss, have a bit of wine…life is good…

  9. Iain & Laurie are on the right track here. We’re going overtime on the overtime issue. 2012 is history. Nothiing will (or should) change the result now. While we’re talking about a contest, we’re also supposed to be having fun doing this. Just let it go. Better to move on to 2013 with lessons learned and try again. Cheers,

  10. to reiterate my point (that was not posted for some reason) I am glad brieg were not dq’ed. I have a problem with the rspba announcement, not the result.

  11. Experienced band competitors should realise that there are 2 Directors at each competition ring & only 1 of them holds a stop watch. On this occasion the one with the stopwatch was NOT the one in their first year. In my opinion, on this and other forums, the newer Director is being made a scapegoat. There was none of this when 78th Fraser Highlanders were 10 seconds over their time.



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