July 09, 2014

The Grade 1 and Grade 2 World’s draws: some sitting pretty, others look for upside

WorldChampionshipsThe random draw for the eight competition grades at the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships has happened, and bands around the world are closely examining their placement, which, in larger grades and pools of contestants, can have a substantial impact on their chances of doing well or leaving the park dejected.

A total of 23 bands are entered in Grade 1, and 22 in Grade 2, each grade broken into qualifying heats.

Reigning champions Field Marshal Montgomery will be pleased with their position, playing eighth in Grade 1 Heat 1, sandwiched between Bagad Cap Caval of Brittany and New Zealand’s Canterbury Caledonian. The resurging 2010 World Champions, St. Laurence O’Toole of Ireland, perhaps have the best placement of all strong contenders for the title, second-last in the same heat as Field Marshal.

2014 European Champions Inveraray & District will be happy, on eighth in their 12-band heat, right after perennial contenders Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia.

But those bands are almost certain to qualify for the final round the following day no matter where they are drawn, and it is not clear whether the final event will have its own draw after the results of the qualifier are known, or if original draw from the qualifier will be applied.

A band’s placement in the order-of-play can also dramatically change its collective attitude over the month leading up to the August 15-16 World’s, with a draw often either casting a pall on a band’s hopes and dreams or putting a solid spring in their step as they approach the big day at Glasgow Green.

Perhaps not so fortunate of the Grade 1 bands vying for qualification are the likes of Canada’s 78th Fraser Highlanders and Dowco Triumph Street, drawn second and third, respectively, in their heats, each with a perceived contender for the title in ScottishPower and Simon Fraser University immediately after them. But that juxtaposition can also be considered a big benefit, adjudicators able to compare them quickly with perceived strong-seeds.

“My initial impression was disappointment when I saw that we were drawn to play second – we’ve not had much luck with draws this year,” said Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe-Major Ryan Canning. “However when I realised it was in the second heat, meaning that if we qualify we’d play seventh or eighth out of 12, I was happy with that. Of course we still have to play well enough to qualify first of all!

“While the draw overall is quite good for us (should we qualify for the final) I think the most balanced option would be to do a new draw once the qualifying bands are known. It would be very disappointing to have to play first on in both the qualifier and the final especially given that it’s over four performances now and not just two.”

“There are many ways to guess the potential psyche of the adjudicators’ relative to your position of play on the day,” commented 78th Frasers’ Pipe-Major Doug MacRae. “Insofar as that goes, we have no reason to over-analyze our draw. From the band’s point of view, though, we are happy to be playing between Fife and Power. As The 78th Fraser Highlanders continue to improve, it makes for an excellent opportunity to perform our music surrounded by two exceptional bands.”

Adjudicators are always a factor, too, and this year the judges for the Grade 1 qualifying heats for the most part are likely to be considered free of . . .


  1. If you’re good enough then you’re good enough, especially given the MSR and Medley qualification and final, a welcome change made last year. Playing in a heat of 11 or 12 then a final of 12 is surely not an issue, I know many judges who will tell you Grade 1 is actually the easiest Grade to judge, so with no more than 12 bands at any time I don’t think this is an issue. As no announcement has been made to the contrary then assume that your draw number is the number you retain throughout the event, but again in a maximum 12 bands does it really matter.

  2. You sound like someone that plays in a band which spends £300 to get to Glasgow and not one which forks out 100 x that just to fly there. Draw doesnt matter? Isn’t that the usual number of first grade bands at a normal major? Gieyerheadashakeladdie. You must be connected with the rspba!!!

  3. Actually I spend a lot more than £300 to get there, although I fail to see how that is relevant. If a band is good enough over MSR and Medley they will get through. With 6 from 11 and 6 from 12 going through in each heat then if you don’t make it let’s not look to blame the draw. That’s my point, I’m failing to see yours apart from £30,000 to fly to the event. What I’d like to hear from you is how you think it should be? With representation from USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia in Grade 4B with heats of 19’s and 20’s early in the morning, I’d say they’re in a worse draw situation than Grade 1. I don’t need to be connected to the RSPBA to know several judges, the pipe band world really isn’t that big.



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