September 23, 2013

UK drops to 11 Grade 1 bands after RSPBA downgradings

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has relegated three of their bands to Grade 2 status bringing the number of member Grade 1 bands to an all-time low of 11, eight being from Scotland.

Following the organization’s Music Committee’s recommendations, which still need to be ratified by the RSPBA’s Board of Directors, Scotland-based Kilts & More-Dysart & Dundonald and Torphichen & Bathgate, and Seven Towers of Northern Ireland will have to contend with Grade 2 status in 2014.

None of the organization’s Grade 2 bands were recommended for upgrading.

Assuming the recommendations are made official, Grade 1 bands based in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland will be:

  • Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia (Scotland)
  • Cullybackey (Northern Ireland)
  • Denny & Dunipace-Gleneagles (Scotland)
  • Field Marshal Montgomery (Northern Ireland)
  • Greater Glasgow Police Scotland (Scotland)
  • Inveraray & District (Scotland)
  • Police Scotland Fife (Scotland)
  • Ravara (Northern Ireland)
  • ScottishPower (Scotland)
  • Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia (Scotland)
  • Vale of Atholl (Scotland)

Although St. Laurence O’Toole of Ireland competes at all RSPBA major championships, it is considered an “overseas” band. Denny & Dunipace-Gleneagles survived its first year in Grade 1 following upgrade after 2012. The first transition year to Grade 1 is thought to be by many the most difficult move for competition pipe bands.

Despite the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) and the Toronto Police at the World Pipe Band Championships finishing behind some or all of the bands that were relegated, neither were recommended for downgrade, as the association has taken upon itself to do in the past.

While Scotland is down to eight top-grade bands, Canada has seven in Grade 1, New Zealand five, Australia four, the United States two and France one.

Following the World’s, Kilts & More-Dysart & Dundonald Pipe-Major Greig Canning announced his resignation. The band has not yet announced his successor.


  1. hmmmm…..if you skim 8-10 pipers (and commensurate ratio of drummers) from each of those 11 bands, reducing them to numbers we used to see, there could be as many as 6 additional top quality bands in Gr1 without reducing the overall quality throughout the grade¡­¡­¡­¡­. just sayin¡¯¡­¡­¡­¡­.

  2. Calum – there are potential PMs in every band, often a few. This is especially the case in the top 6 bands. Recent examples highlight this – e.g. Ryan Canning. I could reel-off another 6 names from that particular band. That’s just one of the top 6. If there aren’t PM’s in waiting in certain bands, it is no coincidence that the bands in question are not successful. No succession planning or clear and successful messages being issued to the rank and file. It just seems easier to stay put and enjoy the success where you are. But there would be at least a dozen suitable candidates across the top grade that I can think of without taxing my brain.

  3. In response to Denny staying up, it’s typical that bands coming up grades get 2 seasons in which to find their feet and this was Denny’s first season, that said they have done well. Torphichen, Dysart and Seven Towers have all had 2 or more seasons. Wonder if Ravara were also considered, although their Worlds qualifying places were an improvement.

  4. The Grade 2 bands can always apply/appeal and ask to be promoted to Grade 1. In the same respect the bands who have been recommended for downgrade can also appeal and ask to remain in the Grade.

  5. I don’t think this is fair on Grade 2 bands. Fair enough 3 bands have dropped out of Grade 1 because they are struggling , they might struggle in Grade 2 to be honest, but the top 2 consistently this year in Grade 2 should go up. It happens in all other forms of sports or whatever you want to call it. These bands have worked hard all year to be the best and they should be entitled to a crack at the top grade as their reward.Of course this is only my opinion.



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