Published: December 31, 2006

RSPBA seeking input on altering Grade 2 at World’s

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) has distributed a questionnaire to Grade 2 bands that have recently competed at the World Pipe Band Championships asking for their input on whether the grade should emulate the “league-table” qualifying system currently in place for Grade 1.

A questionnaire, accompanied by a letter from RSPBA Executive Office Ian Embelton, asks whether bands “Yes – Agree,” “No – Disagree” or are “Undecided” as to whether a pre-qualifying system should be adopted starting with 2007. The questionnaire also asks for comments.

The cover letter outlines the potential system to reflect the system that has been in operation in Grade 1 since 2000. The system calls for bands to accrue points at the RSPBA major championships “held prior to the World Championships in that year.”

But unlike the Grade 1 format, there is no indication that non-RSPBA Grade 2 bands that gained a prize at the previous year’s World’s would gain a bye to the next year’s final.

“This means that non-Scottish bands will either have to make two trips to qualify, or do the ‘shotgun’ qualifier,” said a piper with a non-RSPBA grade 2 band. “This puts even the contending foreign bands at a disadvantage: two plays versus one. The qualifying [RSPBA-member] Grade
2 bands would not have that added ‘qualifying pressure.’ Currently, that is evenly distributed.”

Embelton’s letter suggests that six bands would pre-qualify based on the league-table system, and another six-to-eight bands would gain a spot in the Grade 2 final on the day of the World’s.

Several non-RSPBA Grade 1 bands have indicated that, instead of travelling to compete at the World’s, they will instead set their sights on the All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships or the British Pipe Band Championships so that they will be guaranteed of competing against perennial contenders for the World’s title, such as Field Marshal Montgomery and House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead – bands that have not had to go through the qualifying process at the World’s since the system began.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for more on this story as it develops.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a member of an overseas grade two band and this would be totally unfair if it went ahead. How many American, NZ, Canadian grade two bands can travel to the other majors to qualify for the final? None. Unless they made Maxville and other competitions qualifiers for grade two bands I say this idea has to get rejected.

  2. I am a member of a Scottish Grade 2 band but I agree with Dave’s comments that it would be unfair on foreign bands so there should be at least one competition in their own countries that are counted as qualifying for the worlds. A bit more thought required perhaps?

  3. The RSPBA is no doubt responding to comments about the size of the qualifying heats in Grade 2 at the moment. On the other hand, they are already stretched in terms of judging resources, and they can’t really expand the number of draws and stay with 4 judges per circle. Options would include 4 qualifying heats on Saturday, with 2 judges per circle [same number as at Bridge of Allan]. Four heats of up to 10 bands each, 4 go through from each heat to play in a 16-band final. Bands are seeded in the final according to their placing in the qualifier. Winning bands from each qualifier draw for spots 1-4 in the final. 2nd place bands in the qualifiers draw for spots 5-8 in the final, etc. Play an MSR qualifier (draw from 2) and medley in final (own choice). Or, as Duncan suggests, do step one on Friday. Have all the bands play, and finalists come back Saturday. There would be lots of North American judges available on the Friday, so you could likely even get two runs per band if you wanted.

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