March 28, 2024

World’s and European Championships Grade 1 roll call

Less than five months’ time is left before pipe bands converge on Glasgow in August for the week of the World Pipe Band Championships.

This year, there’s a new wrinkle with the European Championships on Sunday, August 11th. It’s a rare opportunity to attend two RSPBA major contests in the space of a week.

As we do, assuming all Scottish-based Grade 1 bands will attend both events, we asked those based in Northern Ireland, Ireland, North America, Australia and New Zealand about their plans.

Based on feedback and inside information, Grade 1 at the World Championships should comprise 14 bands, down from 16 in 2023, and the European Championships at Perth, Scotland, four days earlier, will see a Grade 1 entry of at least 12.

  1. 78th Fraser Highlanders, Canada
  2. City of Dunedin, USA
  3. Closkelt, Northern Ireland
  4. Field Marshal Montgomery, Northern Ireland
  5. Inveraray & District, Scotland
  6. Johnstone, Scotland
  7. Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia, Scotland
  8. Police Scotland & Federation, Scotland
  9. Police Scotland Fife, Scotland
  10. ScottishPower, Scotland
  11. Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Scotland
  12. Simon Fraser University, Canada
  13. St. Laurence O’Toole, Ireland
  14. St. Thomas Alumni, USA

While two US-based bands are an increase this year for that country, no New Zealand bands will make the trip even with another major championship that might have made the trip more enticing.

What about the European Championships in Perth on Sunday, August 11th? In January, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association announced the addition of the competition only four days before the first day of the World’s on Friday, August 16th.

As with the World’s, we assumed that every Scottish-based Grade 1 band would attend the European, but checked with Grade 1 bands travelling from Northern Ireland, Ireland, and further away.

Here are the Grade 1 bands (alphabetically) we believe will compete at the European Championships:

  1. City of Dunedin, USA
  2. Closkelt, Northern Ireland
  3. Field Marshal Montgomery, Northern Ireland
  4. Inveraray & District, Scotland
  5. Johnstone, Scotland
  6. Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia, Scotland
  7. Police Scotland & Federation, Scotland
  8. Police Scotland Fife, Scotland
  9. ScottishPower, Scotland
  10. Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Scotland
  11. St. Laurence O’Toole, Ireland
  12. St. Thomas Alumni, USA

That will be 12 entries for Perth. Of note, Simon Fraser University does not plan to compete. The 78th Fraser Highlanders are reportedly still considering it.

We asked representatives of bands not based in Scotland for any comments they’d like to provide regarding having a major championship on the weekend before the World Championships, and here are verbatim responses. We agreed not to attribute comments; not all comments are from bands attending either event this year.

  • “I think the major the weekend before is a good thing for foreign bands, but it will be a double-edged sword, especially for a top contender, if things don’t go their way for results or if the weather is really rotten. One week to fix a waterlogged bagpipe isn’t much.”
  • “I’m not in favour of it to be honest. I don’t think it’s right that it’s been done like this.”
  • “Two championships wouldn’t make much of a difference as we’d be doing Perth anyhow as a minor, so I guess it’s a good thing overall – two championships for overseas bands.”
  • “Genuinely I don’t believe it benefits any band having a major five days before Grade 1 World’s starts. Including the Canadian bands who will need time for pipes to adjust to the climate.”
  • “We attend the World’s every year, so having another championship nearby won’t have any effect for us.”
  • “My thoughts are that many years ago we should have taken the Cowal slot for the World’s and had a major the week before, and you could have had 260 bands (at that time) in both competitions as it would have all the bands travelling having two majors to play at. At the time, Cowal was very flat after the World’s with only the home bands playing against each other. So, I’m all for it.”
  • “We don’t have a problem with the timing, but more logistical issues like work commitments for some members, needing to travel back for a couple of days after the European.”
  • “Yes, the more the better.”

It appears that a major championship right before the World’s isn’t ideal or preferable for some bands, mainly out of concerns about the weather and challenges with taking more vacation time and additional expenses.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the European Championships might affect the outcome of the World’s.






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