Published: November 30, 2006

Update 2: RMM2 appealing to return to Grade 2

The Robert Malcolm Memorial II Pipe Band (RMM2) of Vancouver, winners of the Grade 2 event at the 2006 World Pipe Band Championships and officially promoted to Grade 1 by both the RSPBA and British Columbia Pipers Association, has asked to remain in Grade 2. Sources with the band have identified a loss of personnel as the reason.

“We feel that being upgraded to Grade 1 is the ultimate compliment from both the BCPA and the RSPBA,” said Pipe-Major David Hilder. “However, we find ourselves with many less players than we had in August.”

Hilder said that several players have been called up to the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, which is ultimately the final stop for pipers and drummers in the five-band SFU organization.

According to a source close to RMM2 speaking on condition of anonymity, several band members departed RMM2 since appeal was made. The same source confirmed that the pipers to move to SFU are Will Nichols, Micah Babinski and John Suthlerland. A fourth piper was also offered a position with SFU but declined. Two SFU pipers have reportedly left the band: Keith Paton of Seattle and Bernard Bouhadana of Copenhagen, who has joined Field Marshal Montgomery.

SFU’s roster of pipers, including the three new members from RMM2, stands at 23. SFU competed with 21 pipers at the 2006 World’s.

The thought of two Grade 1 bands within the SFU family made for active chatter throughout the pipe band world. Both the Toronto Police and Boghall & Bathgate organizations decided to fold their too-successful Grade 2 operations rather than face having to compete against them in the same grade.

Hilder added, “We are very proud of our players, and getting called up to SFUPB is the ultimate compliment for the players and a great testament to the success of RMM2. We wish them all the best.”

“We are extremely proud of RMM2 and wish it continued success on a long-term basis,” said Jack Lee, SFU pipe-sergeant and general manager of the SFU organization. “We believe that RMM2 is a strong Grade 2 band but not a viable, sustainable Grade 1 band. Since the World championships they have lost quite a number of players to SFU, retirement, etc.”

Lee added, “We don’t want British Columbia to become a graveyard for newly-promoted Grade 1 bands, as has happened in several other jurisdictions. The BC Pipers Association was ill-advised to promote them to Grade 1 without any meaningful consultation with the people involved. Their decision to promote did not adequately consider the current and future roster of the band or its ability to survive and flourish in Grade 1. We think the BCPA should down-grade them to Grade 2 right away and the RSPBA should follow suit.”

It is not yet known whether the BCPA or the RSPBA will honour RMM2’s request to be down-graded. The BCPA’s Music Board Grading Committee is chaired by Andrew Bonar, a prominent member of SFU.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. There is definitely more to this story. If a journalist would like to pursue an investigative report on this matter, it would probably help all the parties involved. It is very sad to discover that the pipe band community is just like any other – full of secrets and power plays. RMM 2 was a strong band, able to win the Grade 2 World Championship title, because they worked well together as a group, they were open and honest with one another, and they treated each other with dignity and respect. It was all about the music. Perhaps the real problem here is that their original goal of creating great music is being squashed by those in a place of power. How disappointing for the pipe band community.

  2. This is an interesting situation and I look forward to the outcome. It could be a while for this to settle out. In the end, I am not sure that this is a bad thing for piping in the lower main land. SFU has been a great promoter of bagpipes in the Vancouver area. While in Vancouver, I remember them refered to as the BOurg. Their feeder system is very successfull, obviously. But the down side of their success has been that they have gobbled up many of the areas top players leaving other bands short. As a feeder band, the idea is they are not supposed to move up, the people in the band should move up to the grade one band. However, if there is no room in the Grade one band, what do you do? Perhaps look at one of the many other struggling bands in the area, say MAple Ridge for example. IF many of the players moved from RMM2 to SFu that is great, if others moved to Maple Ridge in hopes they could help that band become grade 1, that would be great. Those left in the RMM2 would then promote from RMM3 to fill the ranks and the universe would again be in balance. The non SFU recieveing band say MAple Ridge could then take a run at Grade 1 and not have to worry about offending big brother.

  3. Seems to me that Windsor Police made the jump very well last year. Maybe he’s thinking of Drambuie, but that was a sponsorship matter not an issue of playing to a grade one standard.

  4. Having been the victim of an controversial upgrade by a Southern United States Pipe Band Association. I feel for those involved in the dilemma. It’s a shame that the associations and their perspective boards don’t take the time to speak with bands that are involved in questionable upgrades.

  5. Jim, Of course SFU does not want to become a feeder for any other band, however, like any good training system, you produce more good candidates than you need and pick the cream of the crop. Those left behind patiently wait for the next pick round or find greener pastures. That is why this is so interesting and may take a while for the effects to be felt. I am sure this is a difficult decision for all concerned. If there were another Grade one band in the area, there would be more oppurtunity for these players to move. But if they are disgruntled that their shot in the big leagues has been taken away, it may spur them to move any way. Why not look to a band that has possiblilities of moving up without having big brother veto the move. It seems to me that a previous article indicated that Maple Ridge was in a recruiting mode.

  6. There is definitely more to this story. If a journalist would like to pursue an investigative report on this matter, it would probably help all the parties involved. It is very sad to discover that the pipe band community is just like any other – full of secrets and power plays. RMM 2 was a strong band, able to win the Grade 2 World Championship title, because they worked well together as a group, they were open and honest with one another, and they treated each other with dignity and respect. It was all about the music. Perhaps the real problem here is that their original goal of creating great music is being squashed by those in a place of power. How disappointing for the pipe band community.

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