May 13, 2014

RSPBA moves Stuart Highlanders to Grade 1; still in Grade 2 with EUSPBA

RSPBA, and that the RSPBA said that the band was regraded due to the influx of Grade 1 band players.

It is not known if RSPBA-member Grade 2 objected to Stuart Highlanders’ Grade 2 status following its Oran Mor merger, but another source said that “the RSPBA received a complaint after that announcement and decided to regrade after reviewing their current roster and comparing it to Oran Mor’s last roster.”

The RSPBA some years ago agreed in 2005 at an ANAPBA summit meeting that it would cease the practice of regrading bands from other associations and adhere to grading reciprocity. The organization has regraded several bands that entered the World Pipe Band Championships in their home association grade, only to be moved after entering. The RSPBA rejected the San Francisco-based Prince Charles Pipe Band Grade 1 entry in 2001, Oran Mor’s entry to Grade 1 in 2008, and City of Washington’s application for Grade 1 in 2010, each band subsequently competing in Grade 2.

The Robert Malcolm Memorial Grade 2 band was upgraded to Grade 1 by the RSPBA following the band’s success at the 2006 World Championships. The band subsequently disintegrated, with most of the members joining the then-Grade 3 Triumph Street Pipe Band, catapulting it to Grade 1 within two years.

“Any such agreement like [grading reciprocity] was way before I was involved with the EUSPBA in any official capacity, so I can’t speak confidently on that,” MacNeill said. “I think the EUSPBA certainly has the ability to set its own standards and grading.  I’m quite pleased that I feel this has continued to improve locally and become more in-line with a ‘world standard’ grading.  We have had bands at all grade levels competing successfully aboard in recent years. However, at the same time, I think that bands and solo players have to be aware when they travel abroad that they must be prepared to play by the standards, rules, and regulations of the association they are traveling to.”

RSPBA Executive Officer Ian Embelton had not responded to pipes|drums’ request for comment at publication time.


  1. I think this is pathetic. What is the point of a home society if all they do is bow down to the rspba? Let this band have success on the field first before seetting them up for the slaughter that is the premier grade. As it is half the bands in grade 1 should be downgraded, or the top 12 or 15 in grade 1 upgraded to premier. Grade 1 has the largest spread of any grade. Why is everyone allowing the rspba to continually move the meter at its every whim?! If local societies are allowing the rspba to call the shots as they see it (having never heard the band play), then the euspba should start allowing their judges to place bands based on their chanter/reed combination a-la the rspba of the not too distant past. Stop being sheep folks.

    1. I agree with Andrew Adams. What is really ironic is the EUSPBA is using EUSPBA funds to fly a RSPBA judge over to judge the Colonial Games this coming Saturday (this was done well before any of this hit the fan). This judge is scheduled to judge both grade 2 band events and guess what? The Stuart Highlanders are competing!
      In hindsight, and if (BIG IF) the RSPBA powers knew about this, I would like to think the RSPBA would have at least entertained the possibility of any sort of final decision on grading being postponed pending one of RSPBA’s own judges getting a good listen.
      Let me be clear, I am not suggesting one judge’s opinion should be the only factor considered. On the other hand a live, ears on judge’s opinion certainly wouldn’t hurt either. I think all sides/opinions would agree that the ultimate goal is to get this grading right. Including the RSPBA.
      Since the opportunity is there, it is a shame it looks like it is going to be missed. Unless, of course, someone from RSPBA is reading this and will at the very least give this novel reconsideration idea more than a passing thought.

  2. While I have friends in Stuart Highlanders and wish them every success for their unsolicited future, this and other recent inconsistent Grade 1/2 decisions highlight the current dystopian restructuring agenda at play behind closed doors. To summarise what has happened in recent months: 1. Buchan win Worlds and Champion of Champions with 29 points out of 30 and are somehow deemed not worthy of promotion. 2. Three functioning, healthy and contributing Grade 1 bands were relegated to Grade 2 without any prior warning. Two of these bands have been irreparably damaged. 3. Several bands who have either partly or not at all contributed to Grade 1 in the last few years escaped relegation. Ballycoan return to Grade 1 next month after several seasons absence as if they’ve never been gone, yet Bleary and District were relegated in identical circumstances. 4. Stuart Highlanders upgraded to Grade 1 before they’ve played a note in competition this year. When you see things layer out in this fashion, it is easy to see there is something badly wrong. Either that or there is some ulterior agenda at play. Avoiding conspiracy theories, things appear to be dysfunctional at best. It is hard to see how any of these decisions are fair, consistent or approached in the interests of the bands concerned, their members or their competitors. Lack of consultation goes hand in hand with no accountability. Something stinks and these decisions are destroying bands.



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