RSPBA clarifies World’s Grade 1 judging matter
The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has finally clarified the contentious judging matter at the 2023 Grade 1 World Pipe Band Championships, the first known comments from the organization since August 19th, just after the final competition results were announced.
In the minutes of the RSPBA’s October 7, 2023, Board of Directors Meeting, published on the RSPBA’s website on Friday, October 27, the document explains in detail how the organization arrived at its decision to exclude Friday Grade 1 MSR piping judge Nat Russell’s results from the final tabulation, and adds, ultimately, that the “review is ongoing.”
Pages 16 and 17 of the minutes provide a step-by-step summary of what occurred over the two days, beginning with a confirmation of what pipes|drums reported shortly after the competition: “the arena director was not satisfied with the number of numerical errors and competitor omissions within the first summary handover.”
The RSPBA summarizes, in detail, an emergency meeting that was called at 7:30 am, Saturday, August 19th, that included members of the association’s Adjudicators Adjudicator Panel Management Board (APMB), including APMB convener John Wilson, a Saturday Grade 1 Medley piping judge, saying, that members of the APMB “were attending this meeting in an advisory capacity with a duty of care to the adjudicator and his well-being. It was made clear that confidentiality was paramount and that actual result placings should not be disclosed during the discussion, as in addition he and the secretary were later judging the grade 1 medley.”
The report goes on to outline that there were “several attempts to explain to the adjudicator. The Director was genuinely worried as to what he perceived to be the adjudicators lack of clarity and understanding of the actions required to resolve this issue.”
As further attempts reportedly failed, “Both the APMB Convener and Secretary agreed that this was NOT the way the adjudication summary process should be executed. Personal records and third critique copy sheets was a compulsory integral part of the process, to stay on track when trying to record an order of merit as you go. It was stated by us to them that this was not the normal adjudicator persona we had experienced in previous service from this adjudicator.”
The report then says that RSPBA officials elected not to push the matter further with Russell before he was to judge the Grade 4A qualifier competition at 11:30 a.m.
“The Chairman revealed the outcome and tone of the meeting to the Convener and Secretary on the Saturday afternoon, confirming that a decision had been taken to exclude the adjudicators submission.” – Minutes of October 7th RSPBA Board Meeting
“It was agreed that [RSPBA Board Chair] Kevin Reilly and [RSPBA Vice-Chair] John Hughes should meet face to face with the adjudicator in question, early afternoon, after he became available from his Saturday morning adjudication duties. This would allow the adjudicator to address these issues in person and if necessary be given the opportunity to revisit and explain his summary document if he felt it necessary.”
The summary says that, after further attempts by Reilly and Hughes to clear up the matter with Russell after his Grade 4A event was done, “The Chairman revealed the outcome and tone of the meeting to the Convener and Secretary on the Saturday afternoon, confirming that a decision had been taken to exclude the adjudicators submission.”
A special meeting was held a few weeks later: “The adjudicators summary sheet was seen for the first time by the Convener and Vice Convener who met at Washington Street [RSPBA headquarters] to discuss critique sheets, disparities, etc, on Tuesday, 12 September. The Secretary saw the summary sheet for the first time on Wednesday 13th September, (online) with the Convener and Vice Convener at RSPBA, HQ, to continue the annual monitoring review of 2023.”
Another meeting was held a few days later: “The adjudicators summary sheet was seen for the first time by the remaining APMB/ADG [Adjudicators Development Group] members on Friday 15th September. First impressions from all in attendance agreed that the summary sheet had not been executed to a satisfactory standard and critique sheet content failed to support the placings submitted.”
Despite requests for commentary and clarity, the association apparently adhered to protocol, convening emergency meetings, making emergency decisions, and now, compiling and publishing a detailed report.
The summary report concludes, “We therefore support the Directors findings and observations made on the day. This was a unique situation with no precedent to refer to. The RSPBA Chairman and Vice Chairman acted in a very professional manner with strong focus on the integrity of the event and the association, including all the members involved. The review is ongoing.”
Though the RSPBA did not make a public statement on the matter on the matter until the publication on October 27th of the minutes from the October 7th Board of Directors’ meeting, the association has now clarified the matter.
Before then, the only known comment about the matter was an ambiguous message delivered to each of the 16 Grade 1 bands immediately after the results were announced. According to our survey of Grade 1 pipe-majors, none reported receiving any additional insight or explanation on the matter.
Despite requests for commentary and clarity, the association apparently adhered to protocol, convening emergency meetings, making emergency decisions, and now, compiling and publishing a detailed report. Why the organization did not simply state that it was reviewing the matter in detail, adhering to protocol and that a statement and summary of the matter would be made in due course is unknown.
The minutes of the October 7th Board meeting also refer to the organization putting new policies and procedures in place to help safeguard against similar judging situations: “A discussion took place on how the Adjudicator critique sheets used to be looked at to see what retraining all the Adjudicators required. This needs to be looked into further.”
In other topics, the minutes highlight that a “Grade 1 different format concept is still ongoing with Liaison Group,” suggesting that the current MSR and 5-7 medley requirements could be augmented or replaced.
The RSPBA also reported that the dates are set for the 2024 World Championships, and the Scottish Championships have been secured for another three years. As for the UK, British, and European Championships, the organization “is continuing to work with various Councils & Promoters for the remaining 3 Championships. It was highlighted to the Board that Councils are currently experiencing financial difficulties.”
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