Published: May 29, 2019

Opinion: Clean Break – a call for change – Part 2


The WPBA Tour – a restructured global major championship circuit

The WPBA Tour would turn the pipe band season into a nine-month circuit, with bands having the opportunity to participate in more events than they currently do and compete for championship points outside the UK.

  • New Zealand Championships (March)
  • Australian Championships (April)
  • Scottish Championships (May)
  • US Championships (May)
  • English Championships (June)
  • Ulster Championships (June)
  • Irish Championships (July)
  • South African Championships (July)
  • Canadian Championships (August)
  • World Championships (August)
  • European Championships (September – relocate to Alden Biesen, Belgium)
  • South American Championships (November)

All events currently exist at present and will continue as managed by their host organizations, but with new WPBA Tour Championship status, which creates equal opportunities for bands regardless of where they are located geographically, allowing bands to compete as often as their finances and logistics permit. It turns the current system of a three-month major championship season confined to the UK, with a nine-month closed season, into a nine-month global season with a three-month closed season.

The RSPBA’s Champion of Champions table would be replaced with a new WPBA Tour Championship Leaderboard, with 10 WPBA Tour Championship Leaderboard points awarded in every grade at every championship. The WPBA Tour Championship winner will be the band in each grade that accumulates the most WPBA Tour Championship Leaderboard points in the year. A cash prize would be awarded to the WPBA Tour Championship winners in every grade at the end of season.


Realign grading structure globally to ensure consistency and parity in every member association: Grades 1 to 6 and Novice Juvenile.

Player registrations and transfers

No movement of players during competition season. All movement and registration of players to take place in closed season transfer window 1 December to 28 February. Registrations and transfers administered by home associations and database shared with WPBA.


The host of each event is responsible for the appointment of adjudicators to their home championship subject to approval by WPBA. World Championships mandated to draw a balanced international adjudication panel from every member association. All WPBA adjudicators required to abide by enhanced code of ethical conduct governing conflicts of interest, relationships with competitors and influencing WPBA rules and policy.

Professional standards, code of conduct and complaints

The current system of administering and investigating complaints is inadequate, unfair, offers far too narrow time bar limits, and lacks confidentiality. The hearing system is unfair to the accused, lacks impartiality and sanctions lack consistency.

The current system of administering and investigating complaints
is inadequate, unfair, offers far too narrow time bar limits, and lacks confidentiality.

WPBA would adopt a new system involving:

  • Professional standards for staff, representatives and adjudicators. Policy will require stricter management of conflicts of interests to prevent conflicted adjudicators from judging business associates and customers, immediate family members, and students.
  • Updated code of conduct for players and band committee members.
  • Appointment of an independent group of ombudsmen empowered to investigate complaints, hold disciplinary hearings and recommend action and resolutions to complaints and grievances.
  • A new secure SafeCall confidential complaint reporting system direct to ombudsman.
  • Time bar on complaints extended from 14 days from date of incident to six months from date of incident.




  1. The association for many years has needed fresh blood and innovative people so this is not a recent occurrence. I first played in 1975 with Craigmount High and even as a young naive drummer finding my way in the pipe band world it didn’t take me long to understand the association was run by very old unimaginative people (some would say traditionalists) . It must be said these people in the main were volunteers which should be greatly appreciated, however my point here is not about criticising them for all the good work and efforts, but more so on how they were led and the lack of vision even back then on the way forward for the world of pipe bands.

    Going back to Scott’s article I feel that his suggestion is good, however it could lead to the end of pipe bands totally as it could be viewed as elitist if it was not supported below his suggestion. By this I mean the finances required would out weight the possibility of the grass roots bands being able to support such events . The tours Scott talks about are a good model to look at and if we take golf as the main comparator the main Pro tour is supported by regional tours across the world such as in Scotland the “Tartan” Tour. If Scott’s idea could be shaped in to a top tour supported by regional tours across the world it would be something that might allow grass roots bands to flourish and give either bands or players something to aspire towards.

    I think Scott is being very brave in putting his head above the parapet in a world where opinions are rife but ideas are limited, however having played with Scott at Shott’s and knowing he only wants the best for the pipe band world I can see he is trying to start a debate and hopefully a debate where people take the time to read and try to develop something that will continue to allow us to see and hear our finest piping and drumming musicians doing what they do best.

  2. Again the article from Scott is good, worthwhile and has some interesting ideas but i still believe that this does not address two fundamental issues:
    1. How do you promote pipe bands in such a way so to encourage increased participation from young people?
    2. How do you ensure that the numbers of competing pipe bands is increased to foster a better and more meaningful competition?
    Worldwide competitions and a world piping association is an excellent idea but you would want lots of pipe bands to ensure success.
    Can i put a challenge out to Scott as something worth analysing?

    Take a look at at the bands competing this year and take a look back at a similar competition 15, 20 years ago. Note the bands that no longer compete or are basically defunct. My band is one of them by the way.

    Where have those bands and those huge numbers of players gone? Does anyone know, does anyone care? Would it not be worth enquiring about?

    I can tell you that walking around Lurgan last week on a horrible day when sensible people would have stayed home, was unbelievably eye opening and was widely commented on. The amount of people who are walking about in civvies, no longer playing but very obviously quite capable of playing and still with an interest in piping is astonishing
    However i would suggest that because grade 1 with their huge bands and grade 2 with pretentions to be in that same league are so dominant on the scene that it leaves the ordinary Joe feeling that the scene is completely out of his/her depth and no longer reachable so they then just quietly retire. Would it not be worth talking to some of those people to ask them their views on the current pipe band scene? It might make for a very interesting conversation.


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